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Month: October 2015

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.


Rye … oh My | Blog #83

What a spectacular Thanksgiving weekend. On the annual pilgrimage out to Lake Minnewanka and with a carefully concealed bottle of Stalk and Barrel Cask Strength Rye in tow to spice up our fall.

This is only the second year for us but our friends have been at it for 5+ years. Utilizing one of the Banff National Park huts and stoking the stove we get some meat of choice going and load up on the ample pot luck offerings.

With a balmy fall temperature of 11.5% C and glorious sunshine it was spectacular to say the least. What a perfect setting for my first taste of something I have been looking forward to for a long time.

You might recall my tasting notes on the Stalk and Barrel 46% 100% Canadian Rye in Blog #73

Having picked up Best New Canadian Whisky at the Canadian Whisky Awards in January their 46% rye has done well and is starting to be picked up by many consumers looking for awesome Canadian craft distilling.

Well, it’s hard enough to find many 100% rye offerings in the market let alone a cask strength version.

Stalk and Barrel 100% Rye Cask Strength

-Cask Number 34 (meaning the 34th cask ever that Still Waters Distillery has bottled)

-Bottle number 15

-Alcohol volume 61.4 aged in a first fill ex-bourbon American Oak cask.

This cask in it’s entirety is exclusive to Alberta and only 2 retailers. Keg N Cork in Edmonton and Wainwright Liquor and Cold Beer store in Wainwright.

Tasted in a unique Whiskies of the World glass from the festival of the same name in San Francisco. Interesting glass that will no doubt find it’s way into a blog down the line as I continue my search for unique whisky glassware and compare them with the same whisky like I did in blog #8 I chose this glass because of it’s ample opening as this whisky boasts a considerable strength.

Colour: Golden and tending towards Amber Maple (using a Canadian color analogy).

Nose: Sweet clove and honey with a slight medicinal character. Can’t quite wrap my mind around it…. like a floral infused antiseptic swab but in a good way. There is no doubt that this nose is powerful and I was careful to approach it very gently.

Palate: Wow, fairly bursts onto the scene packing big fruits like a drunken tropical fruit salad with everything thrown in. Papaya, Guava, Pineapple, passionfruit and banana laced with sweet tangerine pieces.

It’s like a complete Hawaiian cocktail in a glass thats dusted with a combination of sweet spices. Cinnamon, nutmeg and there is that clove again. Caribbean Allspice.

Finish: Lingering on there is an almost unending finish carried powerfully along all the way to your very core by the very pimped out cask strength ride.

Wow! … is all I can say. This is my first opportunity ever to try a Canadian 100% Rye at Cask Strength and it is amazing.

Water: Really softens the nose a lot and you can get a lot closer to the caged animal and almost rub it’s tummy. More vanilla notes at play here now and the medicinal character is gone. A much tamer beast like a carefully crafted culinary desert plate. I think I actually liked the big jumble of fruit character that the cask strength brought to the table today a little more but this more orderly display could easily seduce me to drink this watered more often than not.

Stalk & Barrel Rye Stalk & Barrel Rye

There are only 192 bottles of this available and I would highly recommend if you are a fan of Canadian Rye that this is a must for your back bar.

Well done Still Waters and congratulations on beating all comers as one of the smallest distilleries in the competition.

Cheers Eh!


Winter is coming | Blog #82

What a great time of year to get your thoughts turning to all things whisky. Apart from the huge amount of whisky related consumer events coming up there is just that chill in the air confirming that warming drams will be a mainstay to help get you through the long cold months ahead.

To kick the Autumn season off right my wife and I jumped into a little creative whisky warmer.

Boasting a fair amount of warming kick and some potential snuggle worthy time in front of the fire this is a whisky based fall drink not to be missed.

Hot Buttered Hazelnut Whisky


4 parts milk
1 cinnamon stick
2 parts whisky
1 part Frangelico
1 tablespoon whipped cream per individual serving
pinch of cinnamon (for garnish)

Bring the milk and cinnamon stick to a simmer in a thick-bottomed pot over low heat. Allow to gently simmer for 15 minutes, stirring constantly (if you don’t stir constantly, the milk on the bottom of the pan will start to cook onto it, and the next time you stir the pot little cooked milk bits will mix into the liquid. Not so fun.) Remove from heat, remove the cinnamon stick, and pour the milk into the serving glass. Add the whiskey and the Frangelico and stir to combine. Top with whipped cream and a sprinkle of cinnamon. Serve immediately.

We used a nice Highland dram for this as we did not want anything too heavy competing with the cinnamon and cream. Grab something handy from your collection that has a bit of fruit and a touch a sweetness.

Hot Buttered Hazelnut Whisky Hot Buttered Hazelnut Whisky

Whisky can be such a great base for so many drinks. Using decent whisky is a must. There is no doubt that the best cocktails I have ever had included only the best ingredients and especially the best whiskies. It’s like using great wine for cooking. The better the base the more flavorful the result.

Write in and give us some of your favorite warming drinks. We will work through all the entries and spend some time “testing” the best and post the most delicious on the blog in December. The winning entry will receive a set of 2 Angel’s Share glass Pot Still cocktail stirrer’s.

This is such a pretty time of year as the great outdoors puts on an amazing display of color. Enjoy it all while the leaves hold on as everyone in Alberta knows fall is just a speed bump in Winter’s path.

We have had a lot of you readers asking what events Secret Spirits will be participating in between now and Christmas.

Here is a short list of events that you can find us at:

October 3rd – Rocky Mountain Smokeout – Stoney Nakota Casino (sorry you missed a great night)

October 16th and 17th – Rocky Mountain Food and Wine Festival – Calgary

October 30th – Scotch Whisky Advent Calendar Sneak Peek – Wine and Beyond McTaggart Edmonton

November 4th and 5th – Zyn the Wine Market – Whisky Tasting and Scotch Whisky Advent Calendar sneak peek

November 4th – Whisky in the Warehouse Willow Park

November 6th and 7th – Rocky Mountain Food and Wine Festival – Edmonton

November 7th – Whiskies of the World Festival – Co-op Calgary

November 10th and 11th – Wine and Beyond Whisky Week Windermere and Emerald Hills – Edmonton

November 19th – Whisky fundraising event in Red Deer in conjunction with Liquor Crossing – Red Deer

November 20th – Single Cask Whisky tasting at Andrew Hilton Wines and Spirits – Lethbridge

November 21st – Crowfoot Wine and Spirits Whisky Festival – Calgary

November 28th – Whisky evening at Point McKay Wines and Spirits – Calgary

December 1st  – Scotch Whisky Advent Calendar 2nd Edition Launch Party. By invitation only.

I hope to see you at least once to one of these amazing events.


*Photos compliments of our fav food photographer Eva Kosmas Flores