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An Aussie and a Jew walk into a bar… | Blog # 124

This week while on the road in Chicago with none other than Single Cask Nation founder and all round awesome guy, Joshua Hatton, we decided to do a joint blog on a couple of interesting whiskies. Having never done this before we ask that you please bear with us as we hope that it all makes sense.

“We are breaking this down into two parts firstly to taste a unique American Whiskey and then in part two a Single Cask Scotch Whisky.”

After wandering the aisles at Binny’s for a considerable amount of time Joshua and I settled on a compilation whiskey from 4 different distilleries called Four Kings. Pretty much exclusive to Binny’s it really fit the bill as something unusual that neither of us had tried before or knew much if anything about.

So the two of us went into tasting this bottle with no pre-conceived notion of quality or otherwise apart from the good reputation of the distilleries in question. After eyeing off various hotel vessels like coffee cups and even sanitary plastic wrapped water cups Joshua had the brilliant idea of asking for wine glasses. So with wine glass in hand and parked in the hotel lobby lounge of the Hampton Inn near the Chicago O-Hare Airport we cracked the bottle.
Here is my take on it and for comparison and to see the whole event from Joshua’s perspective then you can read his blog here…

Four Kings 2015 Craft Whisky Collaboration Corsair Distillery, FEW Spirits, Journeyman Distillery, Mississippi Distillery

Numbered bottle 364 of 800 – Rye Whiskey 40% ABV
30 Gallons of whiskey from each distillery for this blend. Celebrating Chicago whisky week 2015. Interesting to find out who made the final decision on the makeup of the blend or if it is just four equal parts  from the four distilleries which would be rolling the dice a little if they were looking for a great balance of their differing styles.

Four Kings Whiskey Four Kings Whiskey

Colour: Some deep reddish hues from this combination of 4 different Rye’s. The only age indicator on the bottle is on the back label stating that it is over 1 year old. Rusty Amber would be the closest I can get.

Nose: Instantly distinctive softer rye spice with a herbaceous greenish note and a flourish of flora but not in a bad way. Like lying in sweet fresh grass in the summer time with the heady scent of mum’s flower garden wafting in and out on the breeze. Might be the unique glass but seems a touch hotter on the nose than it should be for 40%. I really like this softer rye nose and could easily call it a “pretty” whiskey at this point.

Palate: Wow … was expecting more a bit more punch on the spice side but it’s very muted to almost non existent up front. I really wish I could be tasting this at 46% as it seems to be missing some of the full character I was hoping for at 40%. Angostura bitters in the background and a very palate drying delivery. Feels like there is a fair amount of corn involved in at least a few of the mash bills as there is a light floral sweetness permeating the palate that reminds me of a hand full of tiny hard candies that I had as a child. They were pastelle colours and really all tasted the same regardless of what colour they were but were delicious, not overly sweet and just a touch chalky.

Finish: Fairly short when compared with a lot of American Rye I have had in the past. I would have liked these guys to be a bit more bold like a lot of their whiskies are in isolation. This collaboration is however an easy ride that is a unique rye experience and very pleasant.

“I would say that the nose is the real winner on this whiskey. I would definitely love to try some of their other collaborations as I hear that the blended malt is really interesting.”

Joshua and I indeed had different takes on the Four Kings which is a good thing as everyone comes to the table with a different palate and mindset. With the American side of the equation safely negotiated we delve into something Scottish next week.

Until then, le’chaim!


Day 23 – A.D. Rattray Bunnahabhain 1988 | Blog #112

Back to Islay today for one of my favorite Islay Distilleries. 

Bunnahabhain founded in 1881 it is now owned by the South African Distell group. Bunnahabhain boasts the more approachable Islay experience. Indeed it is a lot softer on the peat than the other distilleries on the island although in recent times there have been limited edition peatier expressions released.

Bunnahabhain Distilley Bunnahabhain Distilley

Just 8 miles from the the town of Port Askaig the Bunnahabhain distillery is near the northern tip of Islay looking out on the Isle of Jura.

This is the last whisky we will have in this years edition from A.D. Rattray and as the largest percentage of casks came from this great Independent bottler it is fitting to finish with something extra special.

A.D. Rattray Bunnahabhain 1988 27 Year Old – Aged in a sherry butt # 626 and bottled at the cask strength of 55.4% ABV.

Colour:     Jatoba (Brazilian Cherry) hard wood complete with a reddish hue.

Nose:     This is just an incredible nose, Old leatherbound books in a mahogany chest, A big plate of Christmas pudding slices and gingerbread. Cavendish blend pipe tobacco. One of the most intriguing noses so far in this edition. I could just sit here and sniff this for ages.

Palate:     Warming Christmas spices and flaming brandy over Christmas pudding.

Finish:     Long and throat warming with ongoing waves of earthy sweet spices, the sherry makes a showing which it well should after 27 years.

Water:     Just had to see what a few drops would do given the unusually high ABV of 55.4% after 27 years. Opens to toffee and sticky dates on the nose with a burst of that old Cognac burnt orange character on the palate. Finishing with a healthy portion of brandy infused heavy cream to coat everything.

An old whisky just does not get any more Christmassy than this.

Joshua gives us his take on this big sherried Bunnahabhain HERE

Last year on this day in the 1st edition we had the Wemyss Ginger Spice Glenrothes 1988 in blog #55

If you like this Bunnahabhain as much as I do you can find one of only 48 bottles available from these retailers:


Crowfoot Wines and Spirits

Coop Wine Spirits Beer

Willow Park Wines and Spirits

J. Webb Wine Merchants

Zyn The Wine Market


Wine & Beyond

Mmmm … well I have to say that things are shaping up well for Christmas. I hope that most of your shopping is done and that you can share some special time with family and friends.

Tomorrow we head to a brand new distillery not yet represented in either edition. Wemyss have the honor of providing our Christmas Eve dram this year and I know that is going to be perfect for ushering in Christmas day.

Look forward to see you tomorrow …


Day 21 – A.D. Rattray Glentauchers 1992 | Blog #110

Today we revisit the focus of our comparison study in the 1st edition calendar. Glentauchers was close to being the favorite distillery last year and for good reason. All 3 expressions were really delicious and unique.

Glentauchers Distillery Glentauchers Distillery

Given the opportunity to do another single cask from this distillery was not to be passed up. Glentauchers was founded in 1897. Mothballed by United distillers in 1985 it was sold to Allied in 1989 and restarted malt production in 1991. In 2005 Pernod Ricard purchased it and almost 100% of it’s production now goes into the Chivas Brothers blends.

Normally extremely rare as a single cask bottling we have been lucky enough to find 4 casks in the past few years so hopefully there will be more to come in the future.

A.D. Rattray Glentauchers 1992 – 22 year old, aged in a Bourbon hogshead cask # 6042. Bottled at the ABV of 48.7%. Last year the A.D. Rattray Glentauchers was 18 years old and a sherry cask no doubt miles apart from the dram we are about to have.

Colour:     Still quite light for 22 years old perhaps the cask was a second fill. Pale gold.

Nose:     Ahh this promises to be right up my alley. A freshly opened tin of those icing sugar powdered fruit drops. Also some honey blossom and scented candle wax. This is delicate and takes some time. Nosing can sometimes be more than 50% of the whisky experience. White chocolate.

Palate:     Creamy white orange fudge, the cask strength is balanced as is, so no watering for me on this one. Amazing how often citrus is the dominant flavor in delicate whiskies. Especially with American Oak.

Finish:     Throat warming notes of subtle citrus while the creamy mouth feel continues. White chocolaty goodness there as well right to the end.

Yummy at cask strength. Feel free to write in with your watering notes as I unfortunately finished my bottle without adding a drop.

Last year on this day in the first edition we tasted the Wemyss Evergreen Forrest Cragganmore 23 Year Old. Blog #53

** Joshua Hatton give us his thoughts HERE

If you like this delicate Glentauchers then head over to these great retailers for one of only 60 bottles:


Coop Wine Spirits Beer

Zyn The Wine Market


Wine and Beyond

Vines of Riverbend

Everything Wine & More


Coop Wines and Spirits – Saskatoon

4 days to go and tomorrow we go back to one of our new Independent Bottlers for a whisky from an entirely as yet unvisited region – exciting times.

Within sight of some special times with family and friends. I love this time of year and can hardly wait.

I look forward to your company tomorrow.


It’s a Bourbon Stampede | Blog # 74

Bourbon is one of the rising stars of the whiskey world and the Alberta market is no exception. Bourbon as a category has exploded with shelf offerings going from a handful of well known names to dozens of smaller craft distilleries.

I have in the past touched on the odd Bourbon like Blog #14 where I reviewed the Hancock Reserve. Since that blog over a year ago where the selection in the US was massive by comparison, we can now find whiskies like the Hancock available in Alberta.

As Stampede fever once again grips Calgary I felt the need to reach for smooth sweet bourbany goodness. This time around I am teasing you all a little as this whiskey will not be available in Alberta until next year.

Whistling Andy is a small distillery in Big Fork Montana. My wife and I had the pleasure of visiting the distillery years ago when they were just starting to age their whiskey. It was a fabulous trip and the hospitality put on my Mike, Dana, Lisa and Brian was outstanding. If you are planning a trip down across the border then you owe it to yourself to stop in and try everything. A warning though… their fabulous Cocktail bar will test your mettle if you try to get through them all. A great little drinking hole called the Raven is close by on the lake and boasts some fantastic local craft beer on tap and a delicious menu to pair with.

Cindy and I had a really good time in Big Fork and plan to go back on our next driving trip South.

It has been a long time coming for the release of the Whistling Andy Bourbon and when it happened it was the first ever by a Montana distillery.

So let’s delve into the whiskey shall we….

Whistling Andy hand crafted Straight Bourbon Whiskey distilled from 100% Montana grown grain. Aged in American white oak barrels with a mashbill that combines sweet Montana corn with barley, wheat and rye. Batch Number 7. Bottled at 40% ABV.

Tasted in a Samaroli Spiegelau Whisky Glass. This unique glass was custom made for the Samaroli Independent bottling company by Spiegelau and is designed to enhance the delicate and elegant side of whisky. While not especially designed for Bourbon I thought it might be an interesting glass to use on this occasion.

Colour:     Light polished copper

Nose: Cherry ripe chocolate bar, cinnamon sticks, Crunchie – (Aussie honeycomb chocolate bar) – might be what would be created with a Cherry Ripe, Crunchie combo 🙂 There is a lot going on here and the combo of wheat, rye, barley and 60% corn have done a great job in layering complexity with underlying honey sweetness – A big bowl of Honey Smacks (honey coated puffed wheat cereal available in Australia. The Samaroli glass is very easy on the nose with the wider rim and makes it fun to delve right in there. I came back around to the nose after tasting and was rewarded with custard tart which was one of my favorite small bakery treats growing up. Creamy custard in a sweet pie shell dusted with cinnamon.

Palate: Light and easy mouthfeel with definite honeycomb and vanilla fudge opening to salted caramel. The heavier rye and barley notes join in on the mid palate with a hint of cherry tart and just a wisp of sweet pipe tobacco. For a younger whiskey this already has a ton of complexity to enjoy. I can only imaging how interesting this will be with more time in cask.

Finish:  Decent length on the finish with a little more of the rye peeking in with flourishes of sweeter spices. I think that this will lengthen as their stocks spend more time aging.

Great start for Whistling Andy and a really interesting mash bill combination. The nose for me is the standout and I could spend a lot of time hovering the old schnoz in this glass.

Would love to see a 46% or better yet a cask strength version that I could play with.

If you are on the hunt for small batch craft distilled Bourbon then hold onto your white hats. This little whiskey will be visiting a store near you in 2016.