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Rocky Mountain High | Blog #84

What an awesome couple of days at the recent Calgary edition of the Rocky Mountain Food and Wine show.

With Brian from Whistling Andy on site we were locked and loaded with an array of delicious whisky and a couple of additional treats.

For those of you that have never been to this event it was held at Stampede over 2 days with 3 sessions for consumers to choose from. 4 till 10 on Friday the 16th and 12 till 4 and 6 till 10 on Saturday the 17th.

Always enjoyable for me, I love the interaction and to get a chance to basically rabbit on about my passion for hours on end with an endless array of interested whisky lovers making the pilgrimage to our booth.

Sporting the kilt and with the addition of the amazing Angel’s Share glassware we were definitely a draw card for the whisky faithful throughout the show.

Brian from Whistling Andy distillery in Bigfork Montana was awesome and one of the most passionate individuals you could ever meet when it comes to high quality small batch distilling. In a future blog we will be sure to interview Brian to try and give you some insight into their amazing family story. Brian was pouring their Straight Bourbon, Harvest Select Whiskey, Cucumber Gin and Hibiscus Coconut Rum.

Whistling Andy Whiskey, Gin, Rum and Moonshine Whistling Andy Whiskey, Gin, Rum and Moonshine

Also on offer was the 3 great Stalk and Barrel whiskies from Still Waters Distillery. Their 1+11 Canadian Blended Whisky, The Single Cask 100% Rye and the Single Cask Single Malt. From A.D Rattray we had the Stronachie 10, Stronachie 18 and Cask Islay. Last but definitely not least was the silky smooth Hyde 10 Year old Sherry Finished Single Malt.

On display and for sale at the Sobey’s on site store was the 2nd Edition Scotch Whisky Advent Calendar and as a teaser we also had the prototype Collector’s Edition which stopped passing festival goer’s in their tracks and really helped to keep us extremely busy the entire weekend.

I would highly recommend going to one of these events for a great night out and the opportunity to try some really amazing products that you might not otherwise ever have in your glass.

One of the topics of discussion was the $ 7000 bottle of Ledaig being poured which had people searching all over the show trying to find the booth and ante up for this rare taste.

For whisky lovers, the Gold Medal table was again at it with a huge array of whisky from Gordon & McPhail, Benromach, Kilchoman, Springbank and Tullibardine.

If you live in Edmonton there is still time to get your tickets for the upcoming Rocky Mountain Show on the 6th and 7th of November. I look forward to seeing you all there. Please come along and say hi and grab a taste of something you have never had before.

A big thanks to Mike, Cathy, Nicole and the rest of the team for putting on another professional show. Tired and extremely happy with the response it was really fun to enjoy one of Calgary’s must visit late night eating spots at UNA Pizza on 17th.

There is nothing better than that first cleansing pint after talking non stop for 8 hours. Add prosciutto pizza drizzled with truffle oil and arugula and an amazing glass of Blue Mountain Gamay and the night is perfect.

Thanks for all your support and for making this whisky journey that I am on so interesting.

Cheers!

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.

Cheers!

Whistling Andy Montana Straight Bourbon Whiskey

Written by Special Guest Blogger Joshua Hatton

State of Montana – 40% ABV – you can find this whiskey at these locations.

Just the name alone, Whistling Andy, brings back memories of watching Andy Griffith reruns when I was just a wee boy.  Remember the whistling theme song?

Now that I’ve put that in your head, it’ll be stuck with you for the next 2-5 days.

You’re welcome.

Ok, ok.  If you want that out of your head, try some Zappa on for size…

The chance to sample this bourbon came to me out of the blue.  The brand, Whistling Andy, was new to me and therefore, I was excited to give it a try.  Not much is known about this whiskey or detailed on their website. Here’s what we do know:

  • The bottle is from Batch 1.
  • It’s labeled as a “Straight Bourbon” yet has not age statement on the label so, according to the law as I read it, this bourbon should be 4 years of age or older and was, of course, aged in new charred or toasted barrels.
    • (Bourbon has no minimum specified duration for its aging period.[6] Products aged for as little as three months are sold as bourbon.[7] The exception is straight bourbon, which has a minimum aging requirement of two years. In addition, any straight bourbon aged less than 4 years must state the age of the spirit on the bottle.[8])   
  • The mash bill is at least 51% corn but the bottle label also states that there is Rye, Wheat and Barley.
  • The grain is 100% Montana grown grain (I dig the state pride!).
  • It’s bottled at 40% ABV (chill-filtered, too? not sure)

Let’s nose/taste/swallow (we’re not spitters here at the jewmalt.com HQ)

On the nose –  From the get-go there is a cinnamon gum note and scent of freshly ground grains/cereals.

Apple Porridge and creamed corn.  It’s not overly sweet.

Wait, baked pears are popping up with a side of Wasa crackers.  An interesting melange of notes.

On the mouth — Feels hot for 40% ABV (80 proof for my American readers).  It’s also much lighter and fruitier in taste than the nose lead on about.

Lots of chewy red candies and, get this, Honey Comb cereal.  The heat goes away after the first sip but some of that cinnamon from the nose remains.

 

 

 

The mouthfeel is a little thin (maybe a higher-ABV could have helped that?).  Black and green ground pepper corns bring us to the finish…

Finish — Drying and grassy with some good length to it!

In sum — Overall, it was a pretty good experience.  The nose to mouth experience was a little off-balance but I did enjoy the surprise of it.  You can’t judge all whisk(e)ys by their noses.  While I did enjoy this (and plan to share with others), I’d *love* to see a cask strength version of this whiskey.  I’ve found few whisk(e)ys that didn’t benefit from being experienced at cask strength!

Special thanks to Lisa and all at the Whistling Andy Distillery for the ample sample!

– Jewmalt

jewmalt.com