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Cricket Tour – Dram Tasting Second Edition | Blog # 76

So here I am again on the annual Glenmore Cricket Club tour of Vancouver and Victoria. 

Sneaking along a delicious bottle of unique whisky adds a touch of the civilized to the mostly rudimentary fun of beer, cricket, darts more beer and really good mates.

This time around the hotel in question is right in the heart of English Bay in Vancouver and I got to use a glass tumbler instead of last years plastic cup. Way to step it up!!

The whisky of choice that I grabbed out of my basement before jumping into the car with 3 other guys and heading off on this years cricketing adventure is a 16 year old Craigellachie from A.D. Rattray.

Bottled at the cask strength of 54.7% in a first fill ex-bourbon barrel, there were only 320 bottles available of which a mere 60 came to Canada. This whisky was distilled in 1989 on the 9th of October and bottled in 2006 on the 10th of August, the second year that A.D. Rattray whiskies were available in Alberta. Cask number 3881 and 16 Years Old.

It was apt that this particular whisky was chosen as my last day on tour was spent at the 3 Valley Gap resort a short distance away from Craigellachie, British Columbia. made famous by the driving of the last spike in the Trans Canada Railway. It was named after the president of CPR Sir George Stephen who traveled to Britain to source desperately needed funds. After success Sir Stephen telegraphed a message back “stand fast Craigellachie”.

The CPR heritage train food and beverage manager has at times thought about an exclusive cask of Craigellachie and one day there may well be a CPR bottling. Something to look out for if you are a history buff or just love trains and the gorgeous Rocky Mountains.

So onto the whisky tasted in a Best Western Sands rock glass while overlooking English Bay.

Colour: Burnished gold
Nose: Plenty of oomph there even in a big open tumbler, waxy spring blossom honeycomb.
Palate: Far more savory on the palate with herbaceous notes of fresh soft hay bail tinged with an undercurrent of sourdough garlic bread fresh out of the oven. Really interesting whisky and quite different to other Craigellachie casks that I have tried.
Finish: Long and even more savory leaving a lingering whiff of garlic which is really cool. Vampires beware of this dram. Through it all the sweet little slab of honeycomb weaves its way adding a great layer of complexity.

If you can find this dram I would suggest nabbing one. Try Chateau Louis in Edmonton who have a remarkable library of A.D. Rattray bottlings.

Just when I thought I had a handle on whisky I get this little beaut that expands my mind yet again.

A fabulous dram to take on tour and one that some of the cricket club boys readily agreed was worth bringing.

Until next year when I pop another cork on the cricket road trip have fun drinking great whisky under any circumstances.


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.


Scotchy Scotch Scotch Part 3 | Blog #65

Phew so many whiskies so few days…

Time for a breather and a couple of nights with my first Scotch supplier and good friend James Cowan. Working for A.D. Rattray at the time that I first met him he has worked for several companies including Tullibardine, Benriach and now Sazerac.

It was great to spend some time with James and his family in a lovely wee little town about half an hour out of Edinburgh.

Kerry & James Cowan Kerry & James Cowan “They have the cutest Ragdoll cat in the world.” -Cindy

A great night with James making his famous spinach pasta kept from getting to messy by our commitments in the morning (probably a good thing). The only drams tried that night were two expressions from James previous employers, a Benriach 22 year old special edition single cask and a Benriach 17 year old peated both which were delicious whiskies.

Up early and into Edinburgh on the bus for our rendezvous with Stuart and Wilma Nickerson of the Malt Whisky Company. I worked with Stuart for over 5 years when he was at the helm of the newly refurbished Glenglassaugh distillery. Stuart did such a great job in bringing the distillery and the brand back that, ahead of schedule, it was sold to the Walker family owners of Benriach which enabled Stuart to start a new venture that he had been working on for over a decade behind the scenes.

Waiting for the bus into town. Waiting for the bus into town. Jonathan & Stuart Jonathan & Stuart Urban Angel, Edinburgh Urban Angel, Edinburgh

The Malt Whisky company released it’s first independent bottling last year. Fittingly it was a 40 Year Old Glenglassaugh (see my blog #26 about the sample’s timely arrival via Canada Post). This year The Malt Whisky Company will be the 4th independent bottler in the 2nd Edition Scotch Whisky Advent Calendar. Over eggs benny at Urban Angel in downtown Edinburgh, details were thrashed out for some really great drams to find their way to calendar customers.

The Malt Whisky Company will be focused on whiskies that are 20 Years and older with a separate label for “new releases” that will be bottled as NAS expressions (that could get some comments going).

Stuart has been squirreling away casks now for well over a decade and has some lovely old stock and some younger exceptional casks as well. Using a combination of quality casks many of the whiskies Stuart has acquired have been re-racked into better oak. It was great to catch up with Stuart and his wife Wilma as we enjoyed a really outstanding brekky on a gloriously sunny Edinburgh morning.

I don’t want to give anything away but there are some amazing treats on the way as a result.

Remote Unst, Scotland Remote Unst, Scotland

Stuart was heading to Ireland which was why he was all the way down South in Edinburgh about to catch a flight. Stuart’s other endeavor is the Shetland Island Distillery way up at the Northern tip of Scotland in Unst. Maybe next time we are in Scotland we can take the 4 hour+ trip and various ferries to get all the way up North. I will keep you posted on the progress of this distillery as it moves towards getting whisky into cask

Thanks again Stuart and Wilma for a fabulous meeting and for some equally awesome drams.

Not yet done for the day and toting our sample Scotch Whisky Advent Calendar, Cindy and I made our way up the Royal Mile to Edinburgh Castle and spent most of the day exploring this iconic feature of the Edinburgh skyline that adorns the back of the calendar. With a spectacular view and various museums to visit it takes hours to even make a dent in everything to see.

If you go to the castle, don’t miss the 1 o’clock gun, fun to see a close up view of a modern “cannon” go off.

We managed to get a couple of great shots of the calendar “posing” in front of the castle which was worth me lugging the 3+ Kilo package around all day. Desperate now for another pint and looking for one of the great selections of Royal Mile pubs, we found our way to Deacon Brodie’s Tavern. A really great pie and local real ale made it the perfect stop while overlooking the hustle and bustle of the mile.

Right, enough working for one day, time to grab a bus back to James for a family feast and some whisky by the fire.

James and his wife Kerry really spoiled us as beer, wine, amazing espresso and finally whisky flowed around a fantastic dinner. Relaxing in the lounge by the wee fireplace I was offered a number of amazing drams as James spent some time under the stairs hunting out some big guns. Firstly just to get going a 37 Year old Glendronach was offered up. Not a bad start (hehehe). With James having worked for Benriach that also purchased Glendronach, he had several amazing bottles. This expression gave me pause and I knew it was old but wow the fruit was fantastic. Righteo James what’s next. Hmmm … Tullibardine 32 year old anyone? Yummy aged Highland delight is all I can say. Well while we are on an over 30 kick, why not finish off the Scotch drinking with a 38 year old Benriach. James all I can say is that I am coming back and spending a week…. hope that’s ok with Kerry 🙂

Finally after all that amazing Scotch James just had to give me a taste of something extremely rare. William Larue Weller Straight Kentucky Bourbon. Expect to pay a grand for this if you can find a bottle. Sen-friggin-sational is all I can say. I love great whisky/ey in all its forms and this was one absolutely stunning bourbon. James you are the man.

With our Scottish leg coming to a close we had one last amazing brunch with James and Kerry before being graciously deposited at the Edinburgh airport.

Next week I will close this 4 part series with the final Italian chapter of our whisky laundering trip.

See you then.


Scotchy Scotch Scotch | Blog #63

Wow! Great to be back in Scotland again … after a rainy bus ride from Edinburgh airport to Glasgow that took twice as long. We later learned that the Celtics were playing Milan and Glasgow was packed with football fans. For those that must know the game was tied 4 goals all.

Craigton Bottling Plant - Jonathan, Cindy & Kevan Craigton Bottling Plant – Jonathan, Cindy & Kevan

Day 1 and Cindy and I were up and early heading to Craigton bottling. Not until we had sampled the full Scottish Breakfast available at the Hilton Glasgow complete with haggis which Cindy worked on and a lovely bowl of creamy porridge covered in fresh cream and a healthy portion of Ballantines Scotch Whisky. Definitely a first for me. A big thanks to Rachel who picked us up and along with Kevan gave us the grand tour of the Craigton plant and helped to nail down some of the finer details in bottling so many wee 50ml bottles for the second edition Scotch Whisky Advent Calendar.

We spent some quality time cuddling old barrels in the Craigton warehouse – there were some decidedly yummy looking casks (no we didn’t try any).

Suffice to say that the bottling and packaging for this years calendar is in good hands with Kevan and Rachel.

Right, time for us to go source some whisky!

Picked up by Iain from A.D. Rattray we were whisked out to the “Scotch Whisky Experience” in Maybole, Ayrshire which is an interactive whisky experience and shop front for A.D. Rattray independent bottlers. Without giving anything away we looked at and tasted some mighty fine drams while scarfing down delicious sandwiches and cake.

The Scotch Whisky Experience - Maybole The Scotch Whisky Experience – Maybole

A.D. Rattray, as a lot of you already know, was my first foray into the world of single cask Scotch and it’s wonderful to still be working with them almost a decade later. Nick, Francis, Iain and the rest of the team poured on the hospitality and after some fierce negotiations a suitable list of whiskies was agreed upon and our journey to completing this years list had begun.

“After some fierce negotiations a suitable list of whiskies was agreed upon and our journey to completing this years list had begun.”

Time for some serious whisky drinking with our host Iain in all of his favorite Glasgow haunts. First stop was Stravaigin for a pint and dinner to get some fortification in place for the whisky to come.

“All I can say is this is a must for your next visit to Glasgow as the food is sensational.”

Off to the Ubiquitous Chip which is legendary in Glasgow for our first dram of the evening. Bruichladdich Bere Barley was just the ticket to get our palates off to a good start. Not wanting us to miss anything we were then off to The World Famous Bon Accord which is one of the best whisky bars in Glasgow. It was great meeting owner Paul and the team and we were even ushered behind the bar for an impromptu photo shoot. First dram on the bar was an A.D. Rattray Glen Grant 20 Year Old bottled exclusively for the Bon Accord. Yummo!

The World Famous Bon Accord - Glasgow - Iain, Jonathan & Cindy

We got to learn all about the ringing of the bell initially warning us of the impending last call then ushering in the last call and eventually telling us to get the heck out! While all this bell tolling went on we still had time for another dram and I chose a proprietary bottling of Glen Deveron (MacDuff) as I had never tried it before. Always great to try new whiskies.

By this stage Iain had split the scene to get a late cab ride home and Cindy and I were fortunately within walking distance of the hotel.

What a great first day in Scotland and our first in Glasgow.

“Ahem….. remember as you read this that Cindy and I were fully engaged in dedicated field work and whisky sourcing. Any resemblance to a “vacation” or fun junket is purely coincidental.”

Day 2 and we were once again escorted by Iain and his fabulous fiance, Zoe, who firstly took us out to the Southernmost Highland Distillery Glengoyne. Literally sitting on the Highland side of the road that divides the Highlands and the Lowlands the whisky is distilled on the Highland Side and then moved to the warehouses to age in the lowlands. Fun stuff.

A very pretty distillery, Glengoyne has an exceptional visitors center and tour which really shows in an easily understandable way the impact of casks and aging. I would highly recommend anyone visiting Glasgow to make the trip to Glengoyne. During the tour we did of course get a chance to try some whisky and the Glengoyne 12 Year Old was a nice easy dram to get started with.

“Back to Iain’s for some ridiculously good cheeses and a cleansing ale to round out an amazing time with the good folk at A.D. Rattray.”

More whisky to be tasted though, and so it was that Cindy and I closed out our Glasgow experience with firstly a visit to the un-named pub … seriously, it has no name! … where I broke protocol being that it was the best Bourbon bar in the city and had a Sazerac Rye.

(Later we found out it’s name is Chinaskis)

“This spot is brilliant with it’s candle lit tables and cozy but buzzing atmosphere.”


One last visit to the World Famous Bon Accord which just happened to be on our way back to the hotel. Couldn’t have planned it any better. It was here that Cindy had her first ever full dram of whisky ordering the Auchentoshan Three Wood. After my visit to Glengoyne earlier in the day, I just had to try something older from them and so had a dram of the Glengoyne 21yo in hand when Cindy and I toasted the success of the first leg of our 4 supplier journey.

On to Edinburgh for the next installment of Calendar Whisky Sourcing 101.






Off to Scotland for a wee dram or two!! | Blog # 62

So after almost a decade since my only visit to the home of all things Scotchy, my wife Cindy and I are about to embark on a “seek and secure” mission for the second edition Scotch Whisky Advent Calendar.

As you would have read in Blog #60, my first night in Scotland was something special. I have actually tried to work another trip into my schedule many times since then without any luck. Given how many cases of whisky I have sold in the past decade it’s amazing that 10 years have passed before heading back to the originating source for so much great whisky.

So on the eve of what should be an epic trip that will become the focus of my next 2 or 3 blogs I think it’s worth dipping into another notable bottle from my collection.

A.D. Rattray as many of you know was really what got me started down this path that has become a major focus for my life. So something old and unique was the thought I had when I dipped into the whisky cupboard to see what I could find.

A.D. Rattray 1969 Strathclyde Single Grain – 37 Years Old – Distilled on the 10th October 1969 and bottled on the 3rd of June 2007.

This was the first Single Grain whisky I had ever tasted let alone sold. Founded in 1927 The Strathclyde Distillery is a Lowlands distillery (as are most grain distilleries). Situated in Glasgow Strathclyde is now owned by Pernod Ricard and finds its way predominantly into the Chivas Brothers blends.

Tasted in a Glencairn whisky glass (the sort with the clean top edge as opposed to the less expensive option with the rounded lip).

Cask Number: 010722 – Ex Bourbon Barrel – 173 Bottles only.

Bottled at the cask strength of 54.4%

Colour: Tarnished Gold

Nose: Mercy me but that’s a fabulous nose. Tropical fruit – ripe papaya, coconut – hints of the 12 year old St Nicholas Abbey Rum from Barbados, toffee coated coffee beans, Dirty Banana.

Palate: Still hefty at 54.4% even after 37 years, firm oak but not overpowering, dried fruit platter, banana crisps, Macadamia, rich mouth feel and a touch tingly.

Finish: Certainly a lot going on here and freshens up on the finish with some lighter fruit character coming through with some coconut cream smoothing it all out.

Water: Lifts the fruit, freshly dipped caramel apple on the nose and really softens down the zesty tingle of cask strength into a more even palate. Again almost a tale of two whiskies with and without H2O. Delicious either way but today my preference would be straight up.

Single Grain is a rarity to find as only a precious few barrels are kept in the back corner of the warehouse to get to be 3 decades +. These are almost without question released by independent bottling companies like A.D. Rattray.

Personally I love older Single Grain whiskies. Grain whisky in general is certainly less complex than Malt however when it sits around for a few decades or more it definitely steps up to the plate.

Interesting to note that consumer interest in Single Grain has increased a lot since this A.D. Rattray Strathclyde came out almost 7 years ago. The 25 year old Girvan from Blog #46, that was the sole Single Grain in the 1st edition calendar, was the first whisky to sell out to retailers looking for the limited number of 700ml bottles available.

There is a very unlikely chance that any of these bottles of Strathclyde would still be on shelves in Alberta at this point. I do want to use this tasting though to maybe get you thinking more about trying some older Single Grains.

If you have had some experience with Single Grain let me know in the comments. I would love to get some feedback.

Over the next few weeks I will be regaling you with our whisky adventures in Scotland with A.D. Rattray, Wemyss Malts and the Malt Whisky Company and then in Italy with Samaroli.

Until then it’s up, up and away for now.


I’ve Lost My Marbles! | Blog # 60

Ever tried something really special? Perhaps it was the setting, or the company or the quality of the dram itself. A combination of all three could make it one of those cherished memories to last a lifetime.

So it was with my first night ever spent in Scotland. A whisky newbie at the time I arrived with my wife Cindy in Edinburgh to be greeted at the airport by a young and passionate James Cowan who was the brand ambassador for A.D. Rattray.

After a delightful dinner down by the waterfront and Cindy tucked away in our lovely B&B room it was time for James and I to head out to some whisky haunts.

I could regale you all with the details of the entire evening, however my focus is on one particular dram. Our last stop for the night was at the trendy nightclub Tiger Lily. Scanning the back bar for an interesting dram we spied a 1973 Auchentoshan. Distilled on the 14th of March 1973 it was bottled on the 8th of July 2005 a mere two months before my visit. Coming from a single Sherry Butt and bottled at a cask strength of 55.5% it was a very unique offering.
We decided to split the dram as it was 25 pounds for one ounce.

The bartender grabbed a tumbler and filled it to the brim with ice and was about to pour our lonely ounce when James and I in unison cried out “no ice”. With disaster averted it was poured into a clean tumbler and passed across the bar.

Auchentoshan Distillery Scotland Auchentoshan Distillery Scotland

Auchentoshan, a lowland distillery that triple distills its Single Malt is very much stylised as a fresh grassy and floral dram that is perfect for breakfast or anytime you want to savour the delicate side of whisky.
This sherried cask of Auchentoshan is another beast altogether.

Tasted for the purposes of this blog again in the comfort of my dining room using a Reidel whisky glass.

Colour: Violin bow resin with burnt red highlights.

Nose: Soft expensive sherry and sweet dried figs with caramel fudge, more dried fruits emerge, apricot, prune and marmalade. Sticky Toffee Pudding.

Palate: Rich palate filling and expansive. Deep backed leather chair with mahogany inlay, dried fruit in abundance and a backbone of semi-sweet to dry sherry. Lasting finish of aromatic suptle citrus potpouri. All of this at over 55% wow. This is a sherried whisky lovers dream.

Water: A burst of caramelized bitter orange takes over and extends the finish even more.
For a 32 year old whisky that started life so delicately this was a fantastic sherry barrel/s to still have so much fruit and balance.

It was an impressive dram to end the night on way back almost 10 years ago. I thought of course that I would never taste it again until back in Calgary later the next year I stumbled across a bottle at Varsity Wine Merchants. I had never spent even close to the $750 price tag on this whisky a decade ago so after a little haggling I became a beaming happy buyer lovingly cradling it my arms. Money well spent.

The fun part of this is that the bottle I had in Scotland was a 700ml and quite often with a limited bottling you don’t see it in any other size. The bottle I picked up in Canada was part of the release that went to the US and was a 750ml version. Amazing that something so limited would be split into different bottle formats. Awesome!

So why the marbles? For a dram of this magnitude in both dollars and deliciousness I only seldom crack it to pour for the odd occasion. As air gets at it over the years it does oxidize and lose its fruit and complexity. To stave off father time I replace the whisky with marbles keeping the precious liquid right at the top of the bottle neck. This keeps the amount of air to an absolute minimum and allows for the full enjoyment for many years to come. I would highly recommend this losing of your marbles for any special drams that you want to keep going for years and years.


James later went on to work for Benriach in the far east and currently works for Sazerac in Europe as their brand ambassador. Thanks James for that first night in Scotland, it will never be forgotten.

Jonathan & James at the Stronachie Distillery ruins.

Write in and comment on one of your most memorable whisky experiences.


Advent Day 24 – Christmas Eve – A.D. Rattray 1999 Bowmore 14 Year Old Single Malt | Blog #56

Welcome to Christmas Eve everyone!

Over the years we have had some very special casks of Bowmore from Tim Morrison’s own stock at A.D. Rattray (some of you might still have some tucked away).

I wanted something special from A.D. Rattray for Christmas Eve as they are responsible for my first love affair with Scotch Whisky.

Mr Morrison closely guards his good barrels of Bowmore and it is like proverbially pulling teeth to get access to one these days. Bowmore is the oldest Licensed Distillery on Islay founded in 1779. Lot’s of rich history and legends surrounding this distillery. It is also very iconic with its expansive white washed walls and emblazoned “BOWMORE” beckoning out to Loch Indaal.

Whisky: A.D. Rattray 1999 Bowmore 14 year old single malt

*Cask # 2261 – Sherry – Cask Strength 58.3% alcohol – non-chill filtered*

Bowmore 14yo Bowmore 14yo

Colour: Another lightly coloured sherry casked whisky. Wedding band gold.

Nose: Medicinally sweet with just a touch of hickory smoke and BBQ’d salmon.

Palate: Can’t for the life of me believe that this is almost 60%. Instantly warming and palate coating this whisky penetrates right down to your very core. A touch of life instilling tingle almost like the tip of tinkerbell’s magic wand. Sweet salty peaty notes and such richness. This is one amazing whisky for only 14 years old.

Finish: Don’t stop the ride I want to go around for another turn… Long and lingering the warmth now has taken over and gone right down deep into my chest and still the flavours persist. Drying at the end the slightly sweet iodine continues and rolls into peppered, candied smoked salmon with a maple glaze. Also brings to mind my lovely Cavendish blend smoked in my Cherry Wood Lorenzetti pipe.

Yum, yum, yum, yum, yum. 

Water: Brings out more of the sweet hickory smoky nose and then delivers balanced softer tones. Some creamy heather honey flitters in at the end. It ends like a 1998 Macanudo vintage cigar (my favorite). This is just for me personally everything I want from an Islay whisky – High fives all round Woot Woot.

**Curt from All Things Whisky has also been “Tasting” along with the calendar. Check out his notes HERE.

Thanks Tim and the A.D. Rattray team for allowing us to dip into the precious Bowmore single cask stock.

This is a really fantastic expression and harkens back to the first cask of sherried Bowmore we released as a 15 year old expression so many years ago when launching A.D. Rattray into the Canadian market.

I hope you are enjoying this lovely dram by the fire and basking in the warmth and glow of this special time of year. In our busy lives made all the more fast paced with unending technology and “smart” phones never allowing us to unplug, it’s life’s little treasures like these whiskies that force us to relax and give us a reason to pause and contemplate our blessings.

For those of you that have yet to embrace why Islay can be so incredible, I hope this Bowmore expression helps to fill in the blanks as to why the diversity of whisky is the reason its so amazing.

Tomorrow is Christmas Day. I hope and pray for all of you enjoying the 1st Edition Scotch Whisky Calendar this year that you are able to spend it with family and friends and to make it as special as possible.

I think I hear Christmas bells ringing…..better get to bed to give Santa time to get some goodies under the tree….


A. D. Rattray Website

Advent Day 17 – A.D. Rattray 1996 Glentauchers 18 Year Old Single Malt | Blog #49

Think back to day 13 and Wemyss “licorice Spiral” Glentauchers 1992 20 Year Old. Look at your notes and get ready to compare.

I wanted to show how unique each single cask is and having the same whisky from the perspective of two bottler’s is a great experience. The “Licorice Spiral” was in a Bourbon hogshead and at 46% which should give it vastly different character than the A.D. Rattray cask that we are about to try.

Whisky: A.D. Rattray 1996 Glentauchers 18 yo single malt
*Cask # 1177 – Sherry 56.1% alcohol cask strength non-chill filtered*

Glentauchers 18yo Glentauchers 18yo

Colour: Deep amber
Nose: Big at cask strength so go carefully into the fray. Sticky date pudding (sticky toffee pudding is the Canadian version), miles apart from the Wemyss Glentauchers.
Palate: Zingy on the tongue at cask strength but not overwhelming. Rich caramel sauce and bread and butter pudding.
Finish: Long and evolving this finish is delicious. elements of spiced citrus make a play.

Water: The nose develops a ginger snap character and the palate gets a soft chocolate wrapping and just a touch of anise.

This is a really delicious example of Glentauchers and couldn’t be more different in contrast to the 20 Year Old Wemyss cask. It’s exciting to see how different the same distillery can be given varying cask types. These two casks are only 2 years apart in age but vastly wide apart in flavor.

**Curt from All Things Whisky has also been “Tasting” along with the calendar. Check out his notes HERE.

This is why whisky is just so much fun.

To remind yourself a little of Glentauchers history just zip back to day 13 to refresh your memory.

This sherried version of Glentauchers is available from the following whisky mad retailers – only 60 bottles:


Britannia Wine Merchant


Vinestone Wine Co.


Sherbrooke Liquor


Andrew Hilton Wine and Spirits

Tomorrow we are off to a Distillery that had to change it’s name to avoid consumer confusion.

See you on the morrow …



A. D. Rattray Website

Advent Day 14 – A.D. Rattray 1988 Girvan 25 Year Old Single Grain | Blog #46

Welcome to what will be for many of you a unique experience. Single Grain whisky has been much maligned as the lesser ingredient in Scotch whisky blends.

All on it’s own however and especially as it gets older it is a wonderful whisky to behold. Over the years I have had other delicious older Single Grains like North British and Cameronbridge.

Girvan distillery lies in the lowlands and was founded in 1963. The Ladyburn distillery was also operating on site up until its closure in 1975. Girvan is probably best known for making what has become a staple Gin for many “Hendrick’s”.

Today is our only stop in the Lowlands and one that I’m sure you will be pleased that we have made.

Whisky: A.D. Rattray 1988 Girvan 25 to single grain

*Cask # 79184 – Cask type was not disclosed – 55.4% Cask strength non-chill filtered*

Colour: Looking at it from a playing the percentages angle I would say that it is definitely American oak as after 25 year the colour is still only mid gold.

Nose: Go gentle into this one as we have a fully fledged cask strength whisky in our glasses. Wow nose is taking me back to the small Australian bakery and a fresh Lamington. (insert link or picture) Lamington are a sponge cake dipped in chocolate and then rolled in coconut. This bottle could be called “Lamington” Girvan 25 Year Old. Amazing, can’t wait to taste it.

Palate: Creamy vanilla bean creme brulee topped with a lively light crust of toffee’d sugar. Surprisingly soft at 55.4% on the palate.

Finish: Danish pastry with a touch of pear glaze.

Water: Brings even more of the coconut out of the nose and instills some rich satsuma plum that takes over the finish.

**Curt from All Things Whisky has also been “Tasting” along with the calendar. Check out his notes HERE.

Most of the Single Grains that I have had in the past have been really dark and reminiscent of an Old Pappy Van Winkle. This Girvan is fresh and fruity and far more like a Single Malt than a Single Grain.

Fantastic work A.D. Rattray this is an absolute gem.

These lucky retailers have some of the only 60 bottles available:


Highlander Wine and Spirits

J. Webb Wine Merchants

Willow Park Wine & Spirits


Andrew Hilton Wines and Spirits


Ingredients Artisan Market

Tomorrow we taste the youngest whisky in this years calendar. Open your minds and get ready for some mind altering enlightenment.

See you then …


A. D. Rattray Website

Advent Day 11 – A.D. Rattray Stronachie 18 Year Old Single Malt | Blog #43

Today we have the older brother of the Stronachie 10 that we tasted 6 days ago on day 5 of our journey.

This is the new version released in the Alberta market only a month ago.

For those that tried the older version of the Stronachie 18 you will find this the same amazing value and one of the least expensive 18 year old whiskies in the market.

Whisky: Stronachie 18 yo single malt

*46% (Benrinnes) – non-chill filtered. Combination of Bourbon and Sherry casks roughly 50/50*

A. D. Rattray Stronachie 18yo A. D. Rattray Stronachie 18yo

Colour: Golden reddish hues

Nose: Honey and Heather in abundance and deeper richer spicy citrus covered notes than its younger sibling.

Palate: Honey and butter on malt biscuits with a lovely oily full mouth feel. Leads into some light clove and pepper.

Finish: Lingering and complex this is a dram with a lot going on.

Water: Tried just a splash of water and the spice gave way to more sweet citrus and just the faintest hint of marzipan right at the death.

**Curt from All Things Whisky has also been “Tasting” along with the calendar. Check out his notes HERE.

The first version of Stronachie 18 was always a favorite and this new version I think is even better. Certainly bang for the buck you just can’t go past this delicious 18 year old.

The Stronachie range having been in the market re-released for over a month is the only reason I have not been able to say that 100% of the 1st edition whiskies have not been in Alberta before. So for those of you that snuck in and grabbed a bottle of Stronachie 10 or 18 in the past 4 weeks you have had a tiny heads up on some of the calendar contents.

My preference actually on this was with just a tiny splash of water. How did you prefer it?

You can find Stronachie 18 by clicking on this link to Connect Logistics.


Ingredients Artisan Market

Tomorrow we jump on a boat and visit a region of Scotland as yet untouched on this years 1st Edition Scotch Whisky Advent Calendar journey.

I look forward to seeing you then for a fantastic Friday …


A. D. Rattray Website