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Month: May 2015

Whisky Truly is the Water of Life – Hot Toddy time! | Blog #70

So after several years of no doubt dodging many cold. flu and beastie bullets I finally succumbed to a Spring bug. Despite plying myself and my wife with oil of oregano, pro-biotics and many other good for you substances this particular bug was hitting us and hitting us hard.

Devoid of normal olfactory senses and those of my little buds as well who had all given up and were in hiding till it was all over I turned to one amazingly comforting and helpful drink.

The Hot Toddy…

Now there are absolutely a limitless number of concoctions that can be made and I have tried some amazingly delicious Toddy’s in the past that I had just because it was yummy with no need for any affliction to instigate the warm and soothing cocktail.

Here are a few variations that have been my best friends over the past few weeks:

The Manhattan Toddy

-1 teaspoon of Manuka Honey – Manuka Honey taken from bees that feed on tee tree blossoms is reported to have antibacterial qualities as well as being deliciously earthy with a heathery floral character.

-Juice from half a fresh lemon

-One ounce of Red Vermouth

-One ounce of any Rye or Bourbon that takes your fancy. My tendency was to go Rye as the warming spice was just the ticket. For this version I used Stalk and Barrel from Still Waters Distillery.

A dashe of Bitters or Fernet-Vallet which was used for this version. This aromatic bitter liqueur from Mexico is amazing and comparable with it’s more famous French cousin.

Pour hot water onto the honey and lemon and mix well then add the vermouth and whiskey of choice.

Get in a comfy chair snuggled up in your bath robe and then just relax as the steaming cup of goodness does its work.

For the sake of this blog I’m going to take one for the team and mix up the above mentioned Toddy and do some proper tasting notes 🙂

Tasted in a hand made pottery mug from Barbados – If you are sick its nice to think about warm places, sunshine and crystal blue water.

Nose:     Takes a little while but the warming vapour gives up a plethora of earthy sweet cinnamon and clove spices, some citrus does come through along with a herbal almost medicinal aroma. I can almost feel it warming me up already.

Palate:     Bitter herbaceous notes wrapped warmly with earthy honey and lemon with a soft backbone of 100% Canadian Rye spice.

Finish:     The Fernet really lingers on the finish and you can absolutely feel it all the way down to a tingly warm tummy. Pausing between sips allows a little lemon to finally break through as the last fleeting flavor.

This is a delicious remedy with just the right amount of counterbalancing flavors in the sweet earthy Manuka honey and the herbaceous Fernet wrapped around soft spicy Rye with a citrus twist. If this doesn’t warm you up then nothing will.

For another take that I slotted in every 2nd or 3rd Toddy (not on the same day)

The Scotch Benny Toddy

-1 teaspoon of Manuka Honey (these ingredients are vital if you are actually under the weather)

-Juice from half a fresh lemon (must have)

-One ounce of Benedictine

One ounce of whatever Malt you have kicking around in your cupboard – I chose a nice Highland with its floral and honey character as the perfect combo. Why not go Islay and really give your cold some grief.

Open up your whisky/ey cabinet and play around with combos as much as you like. Really the honey and lemon with hot water and any type of whisky is a winner.

Hope most of you avoided any of the Spring time bugs and are rearing to go for what I know is going to be an amazing Summer.

Stay well my friends.


Till you’re blind – the FUN way to Taste Whisky | Blog # 69

There is nothing I like more than getting blind with whisky… and by that I mean not knowing what you are tasting.

There is something inherit in all of us that despite promising ourselves we will keep an open mind and not be biased that reacts when we see

a.     Packaging

b.     Age Statement

c.     Type of Whisky or Whiskey

d.     Distillery

All of the above can already predetermine a jaded or eager approach to the contents of the glass before us.

Take all that away and you are left perhaps somewhat floundering without a foundation or point of reference. It is by far the best way to taste whisky and also by far the scariest. Throw into the mix an intimate gathering of 30 people and yours truly poking and prodding for you to give your input on the completely unknown dram and it can be downright frightening. At least that is until the first few drams are safely tucked away.

This is the stage that was set for a fun tasting at Keg N Cork in Edmonton last week. An opportunity to run through 7 whiskies that were all part of the 1st Edition Scotch Whisky Advent Calendar from Independent Bottler’s Wemyss Malts, Samaroli and A.D. Rattray.

All people had to go on was what was in their glass. Color, nose and flavor were the only indicators of what lay within. Running through the 7 whiskies twice, everyone had a chance for a re-visit that included the revealing of each whisky and also to see the effect of a little time in the glass.

The whiskies in question were:

1.     Samaroli 2009 MacDuff 5 Year Old Single Malt – American Oak 1st Fill

2.     Wemyss Lord Elcho 15 Year Old Blended Scotch

3.     Samaroli 1996 Glentauchers 17 Year Old Single Malt – American Oak

4.     Samaroli 1997 Isle of Jura 16 Year Old Single Malt – American Oak

5.     Samaroli 1993 Sherry Glen Scotia 21 Year Old Single Malt – European Oak

6.     Wemyss Peat Chimney 12 Year Old Blended Malt

7.     A.D. Rattray 1999 Bowmore 14 Year Old – Sherry European Oak

Covering Single Malt, Blended Malt and a premium Blended Scotch made for a really diverse tasting.

The opinions and feedback on the whiskies were every bit as diverse as the group attending. Once everyone warmed up to the realization that there was no wrong opinions and that everyone had their own unique palate all sorts of wonderful flavors began to come out.

The addition of a little water and the extra time in glass also revealed how whisky can change to all present. The extra time in glass which is seldom a feature of most peoples whisky routine had the biggest impact with a lot more bouquet and range of flavors the result.

For my individual tasting notes on the dram’s above you can find them on my blog’s here:

1. Blog #47

2. Blog #42

3. Blog #52

4. Blog #44

5. Blog #54

6. Blog #36

7. Blog #56

Lionel and Dave at Keg N Cork put on a fantastic event complete with a meat and cheese tray which paired really well with different whiskies as the night wore on. Making it a point of pride for the excellent retailer, Keg N Cork have built up one of the best whisky selections in Edmonton and is a must visit for any whisky lover.

What a great way to spend a night and to continue on a whisky journey of discovery. It was exciting to meet many people that were at their first ever whisky tasting telling me that it was most definitely not their last. This is one aspect of what I do that I love the most. Spending time with like minded people and discovering how fun and amazing this drink that we love is. See slide show below …

If you are new to whisky or if you are a seasoned veteran there is something special, fun and challenging in a blind tasting. Alas, they are few and far between if you would like to experience one and have not yet had the chance.

Part of a club or attend regular tastings at your favorite whisky retailer? Then perhaps you can suggest to those in charge that they should throw a wrench in the mix and work on a blind tasting sometime soon.

I look forward to hopefully seeing your smiling and perhaps somewhat bemused face at a blind tasting near you.


Hyde & Seek | Blog #68

Even more exciting than our recent vacation in the deep South was receiving a very special sample bottle from Conor Hyde at Hibernia Distillery in Ireland, delivered safe and sound by the resort staff.

Irish Whiskey has been gaining momentum in popularity for years now with a lot of whisky enthusiasts hunting for unique and hand crafted Irish expressions over the usual big name brands.

There have not been a lot of independent distilleries on the landscape in Ireland for consumers to choose from. Cooley who championed themselves as “The Independent Spirit of Ireland” eventually sold into the hands of Beam then Suntory. Thankfully, the new management has continued the high quality work that John Teeling started in 1985. So up until 2013 there were only four operating distilleries in Ireland all owned by big companies.

With Irish Whiskey experiencing double digit growth there is now a rash of new distilleries opening which bodes well for a greater selection of Irish whiskey to be hitting shelves in the years to come.

Hyde President’s Cask 10 Year Old Irish Single Malt Whiskey is the first offering from Hibernia Distillers and is in the first instance sourced from Cooley after 10 years in Ex-Bourbon casks. Transported to West Cork it is then re-racked into Spanish Oloroso Sherry casks for a further 6 months before being cut down to 46% with West Cork Spring Water. No chill filtration or Caramel Coloring.

There are not a lot of choices on the market if you enjoy sherry influence in your Irish Whiskey so it was with excited anticipation that I popped the cork on this bottle and set to work discovering what Conor and Alan Hyde had put together.

HYDE Presidents Cask Irish Whiskey HYDE Presidents Cask Irish Whiskey

Colour:     Lovely rich amber a red hues, polished violin resin.

Nose:     Immediate semi-sweet sherry with a backbone of vanilla bean and orange peel.

Palate:     Full and malty with the semi-sweet dried fruit notes coming through, glazed figs, flamed citrus with a hint of savory spice…perhaps a faint dusting of white pepper.

Finish:     Delicious and balanced the double distillation adds some mid palate fullness that carries into the finish and the Oloroso Sherry influence seems to be married well to the 10 years in American oak. subtle but evolving the flavours continue.

This is one delicious Irish Whiskey.

Already one can see the attention to detail that the Hyde’s have put into this whiskey. No doubt if they continue to work this way with their own distilling we can look forward to some magical Hyde drams in 5 years or so.

In the meantime I am happy to wait knowing I can enjoy the Presidents Cask 10 year old.

Almost on the water making its way to Western Canada Hyde 10 Year Old should be available on shelves July 2015.

Sometimes you get the nicest gifts when on vacation. In this instance it made my relaxing time away an exciting whisky discovery opportunity.