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When whisky is just not enough | Blog #118

“My wife Cindy and I recently came back from what is becoming the most intense and fun few weeks of the year.”

The task of choosing 25 unique whiskies for our Scotch Whisky Advent Calendar just got more exciting with the addition of a new product this year that required some additional hard work for the old taste buds.

“The time spent with our friends at Wemyss, A.D. Rattray and Malt Whisky Company to mull over the carefully selected lists of amazing drams was a treat.”

Our journeys took us from London to Edinburgh and then across Scotland to Glasgow, Kirkoswald and Stirling.  We are adding some extra sources for whisky this year and all will be revealed as we get closer to the release date. I must say that it’s fun to have some time behind the wheel on the left hand side of the road and despite the odd torrential downpour the weather was very kind to us as we wove our way through the lush green Scottish landscape.

Some real highlights this trip included time with our amazing bottler’s Craigton Packaging. Lugging my kilt all the way back to its birthplace was well worth it as Cindy, dolled up in an exquisite gown accompanied me to the Ben Charity dinner in Glasgow with Rachel and Kevan. A grand evening of hobnobbing ensued, with industry legends aplenty and the regaling of side splitting tales detailing the unique lifestyle in Glasgow.

Dinner at the Dunblane Hydro with the crew from Angel’s Share Glass was a stand out as well. The Kailyard restaurant at the Hilton Dunblane is world class and well suited to such a grand property. Watching master glass blower Tom make us a whisky angel ornament the next morning in their wee studio in Bridge of Allan was fantastic and it will be certain to take centre stage on our Christmas tree this year. Angel’s Share Glass is expanding so fast that they are building a new studio. You can check out their fun crowdfunding campaign here if you like whisky and beautiful glass.

Cindy Kissing the Blarney Stone ... twice! Cindy Kissing the Blarney Stone … twice!

With a couple of extra whisky sourcing visits thrown in our list was looking pretty good by the time we headed for Ireland to visit with the Hyde brothers. Being our first time in Ireland we were blown away by the hospitality and generosity shown to us. Staying at the amazing Hayfield Manor we were spoilt with an outstanding dinner and a tour of Blarney Castle to kiss the Blarney Stone. Cindy kissed it twice for good measure and is sure to have double my luck from here on in.

“Tasting their rum finish and the new 1916 was really exciting and we can’t wait to get them both over to Western Canada.”

Touring through the impressive barrel storage we were really impressed with the amount of whiskey that the Hyde’s have aging away for future releases. Tasting their rum finish and the new 1916 was really exciting and we can’t wait to get them both over to Western Canada. The weather in Cork was gorgeous and even allowed for a cigar and Hyde Rum finish combination on the patio after a fabulous walk downtown visiting some great bars . A pint of the local Murphy’s Stout was a must and of course I couldn’t leave without also adding a pint of Guinness as well. Just to top off a great side trip was the opportunity to meet with Jennifer Nickerson daughter of Stuart (Malt Whisky Company) and hear about Tipperary Single Malt Irish Whiskey that will be on it’s way to Western Canada shortly, stay tuned for more.

Fontana di Trevi Rome, Italy Fontana di Trevi Rome, Italy

No whisky (and more) sourcing trip is complete without a visit to magnificent old Roma and an afternoon with the Samaroli boys. It is always such a privilege to visit such an ancient and historic city. Our favourite scene this year was walking to the Fontana di Trevi at 2:00am after checking into our old city hotel. The fountain has been completely refurbished and looks amazing. At 2:00am there is hardly anyone there and taking in the spectacular landmark without the usual crowds was something truly special.

Next week we are off to Seattle for the first Whisky Jewbilee of 2016. Looking forward to trying some really unique whiskies and sharing some fun times with our mates Jason and Joshua.

Until then stay tuned for some delicious whisky reviews and more right here at Singlemalting.com


Day 22 – Malt Whisky Company Tobermory 1994 | Blog #111

Welcome to the 5th whisky in our 8 day 20 year old + countdown to Christmas.

Tobermory Distillery Tobermory Distillery

Off to the Islands today with a whisky from the Tobermory Distillery on the Isle of Mull. Formally all whisky produced by this Distillery was called Ledaig (le-cheg). Now only the small amount of peated whisky released by Tobermory is given the Ledaig label. It was founded in 1798 and changed hands many times over the years including during the decline in whisky sales in the 80’s having all the warehousing sold off to be developed into apartments. Whisky is no longer aged at the distillery. Now owned by the Distell group of South Africa it remains the only distillery on Mull.

The Malt Whisky Company owned by Stuart Nickerson was originally only going to release whiskies that were 20 years and over. We snuck in a few under that for this edition and now get to taste something that Stuart had planned all along.

Malt Whisky Company Tobermory 1994 21 Year Old – Aged in a Bourbon Hogshead then transferred to and finished in an Oloroso Sherry Hogshead. Cask # 13 (which would have been the sherry). Bottled at a cask strength of 57.3% ABV.

Colour:     A little deeper tarnished gold look to it. The Sherry cask did not really impact with a ton of colour. I’m not sure how long it spent “finishing” in the Oloroso.

Nose:     Sherry influence here, warm forest berry compote and dried prunes. A waft of sea salt and white pepper.

Palate:     Full and complex right off the bat, some rich sherry flourishes of dried red fruit potpourri underpinned by creamy dark/milk chocolate blend. A little like the Swiss Milka brand of chocolate so creamy and melt in your mouth that once you opened a bar it was history. Not really get much in the way of that saltiness anymore.

Finish:     Drier than I would have expected from an Oloroso cask finish but very long and warming at cask strength. The fruit and creamy chocolate stay and run to the finish line.

Water:     Just a few drops and soft oh so softly she goes. The berry fruits sweeten up a touch and seem more like slightly over ripe rather than dried. The creaminess is there even more and the mouth melting chocolate note is more milk chocolate now than dark. The finish still lingers long with that peppery touch coming in right at the end. For me this one is perfect with the addition of water.


Good work again Stuart on a delicious cask from the Islands.

** Joshua Hatton give us his thoughts HERE

You can find one of the 60 bottles of this sherry infused Tobermory at the following retailers:


Coop Wine Spirits Beer

Zyn The Wine Market


Wine & Beyond

Vines of Riverbend

Bin 104

Interesting that on this day last year in the first edition we also visited the Islands with the 1992 Samaroli Sherry Glen Scotia in this blog #54

Tomorrow we are off to our last stop on another island that has it’s own region. I am really looking forward to it.

See you then…


Day 6 Malt Whisky Company Tullibardine | Blog #95

Tullibardine in Blackford was the first distillery I ever visited in Scotland. 

Back to the Highlands today for a Distillery that was closed for almost a decade. Iconic white washed walls and decent access from Edinburgh make this a good visitor attraction. Much like Tomintoul, Tullibardine is a modern distillery in Scottish terms having been founded in 1949.

Once the site of a brewery, legend has it that King James the IV purchased beer for his coronation in 1488 there. Like many things in Scotland even relatively new distilleries have tremendous ties to the past.

Tullibardine Distillery Tullibardine Distillery

Tullibardine has to this point focused on traditional Highland whisky that is non-peated and has those hallmark honey and heather notes. Now owned by Picard Vins & Spiriteaux Tullibardine has gone through a few changes in packaging since its resurgence and has made good market impact here in Canada.

Malt Whisky Company Tullibardine Bourbon Cask Strength 60.9% NAS. Cask number 33. Highland region.

The Malt Whisky Co. Tullibardine The Malt Whisky Co. Tullibardine

Colour:     As you would expect from a youngish Tullibardine in American oak the colour is quite light.

Nose:     Freshly rolled waffle cone with a scoop of French Vanilla, reminds me of walking into the D Dutchman Dairy Ice Cream parlor in Sicamous BC. I get there every year twice on the annual Cricket tour to BC. I always look forward to their amazing hand crafted ice cream. Sorry back to the whisky (love emotive memories conjured up by this great spirit).

Palate:     Creamy vanilla malted milkshake.

Finish:     Sweet vanilla runs through this entire whisky and should be added to the boards at Peter’s Drive in. “Malt Whisky Company Tullibardine Bourbon Single Malt” – hmmm that would be a yummy shake.

Really balanced for a younger Single Malt from Tullibardine. Having had some of their newer expressions since reopening in 2003 this would rank right up there as a fabulous expression if you like classical American oak aged Highland.

On this day last year in the 1st Edition we tasted Samaroli 1995 Tormore 18 Year Old. Blog #38

**My friend and fellow blogger Joshua Hatton is blogging side by side with me this year as our special guest. Be sure to check out his take on the Malt Whisky Company Tullibardine Bourbon Cask HERE.

Only 60 bottles of this lovely Highland are available from the following retailers:


Crowfoot Wines and Spirits

Calgary Co-op Wine Spirits Beer

J. Webb Wine Merchants

Zyn The Wine Market


Wine and Beyond

Bin 104

Onward and upward as we complete a full 7 days of tasting tomorrow.

I hope you are holding tight to your seats so far and have kept all arms legs and personal belongings inside the ride at all times. We are definitely going to be picking up steam as we work our way through and I promise that the lead up to Christmas this year is going to absolutely blow you away.

Hohoho…. I feel a lot like St Nick right now sneaking into your homes and placing a tiny wee gift under your tree every day.

To all a good night …


Day 2 Malt Whisky Company, Craigmills a Portsoy Distillery (Glenglassaugh) Sauterne | Blog # 91

That’s the longest title for one of my blogs ever. Welcome to day two. I hope everyone had a great time at the Launch party last night. For those of you that missed out please RSVP as fast as possible next year as there is limited space. Toasting in the Advent season with the Tomintoul 1999 was great fun.

So here we are on day two trying something extremely unique. Coming from the fledgling independent bottler Malt Whisky Company owned by the legendary Stuart Nickerson. Stuart for those unaware brought the Glenglassaugh distilley back to life from over 20 years in the wilderness. He did such a great job in fact that Benriach purchased the distillery ahead of schedule so he pretty much put himself out of a job. While working at Glenglassaugh Stuart was canny enough to start squirreling away casks for the launch of the Malt Whisky Company.

While the focus of the Malt Whisky Company is to bottle whiskies over 20 years old Stuart agreed to do a few special bottlings just for the 2nd edition calendar. There were a few left over bottles that did find their way to Germany.

The other very cool piece of info on this whisky is that Stuart personally distilled it himself and then threw it straight into the French Oak Sauterne Cask with his name on it. What most of us whisky geeks wouldn’t do to be able to distill our own amazing whisky including picking out the cask.

Glenglassaugh founded in 1875 is right on the coast and was closed for over 2 decades after being mothballed in 1986 and not reopened until 2008 when with Stuart Nickerson at the helm the Scaent group revived it. in 2013 the Distillery was sold to its current owners Benriach.

Glenglassaugh Distillery Glenglassaugh Distillery

One of the unique problems that independent bottlers have sometimes is the inability to actually put the name of the distillery on the label. Cask Islay from A.D. Rattray was one such whisky in the 1st edition (Laphroaig). This particular offering from Stuart was even a bit more tricky. Glenglassaugh was built on the site of the Craigmills farm and so it seemed a great name to let people know where it came from without actually having the distillery name front and center. A wee bit of revision had to be applied and so the local town of Portsoy was used so as not to be too specific. On our calendar labels we have Craigmills however if you are looking for it on the shelf to grab a 700ml you need to keep a weather eye out for Portsoy.

Now that everyone is properly confused lets get into the whisky.

Malt Whisky Company Craigmills Sauterne – 59.3% ABV – Sauterne Wine Cask – Highland

Colour:     Tailing from pale gold at the edges of the glass to tarnished gold.

Nose:     Went in slowly to the Samaroli glass because even with the ample opening the almost 60% is certainly there. Sweet flora and a distinct winey note, bees wax, honey nut cheerios & soap on a rope. Caramel Apple (my wife Cindy threw that one in).

Palate:    Belies its alcohol but feels like it could use a splash, we’ll get there.  Some youthful spice at play with a backbone of sweetness. Sauterne is a French botrytis affected wine. The botrytis fungus attacks the grapes causing them to internalize sugars in defence. This lovely concentration of sugar is what makes Sauterne so luscious. There is no doubt that the effect of the cask on this whisky is why it is so soft and sweet at a relatively young age. Perfume notes hit mid palate with chewy sweet beeswax coming in. The mouth feel is really full.

Finish:     Warming and long, candied white grape cluster. This whisky is crying out to me for a little water.

Water:     Nose after a couple of drops adds violin bow resin and on the palate much brighter sparks of creamed honey.

This Glenglassaugh shows how good a younger whisky can be in a high quality cask and a good master distiller. I’m not 100% sure on the age but would guess given when Glenglassaugh was cranked back up and because Stuart distilled it himself at around 7 years.

So first two days we have had Single Malts that have spent their entire lives in wine casks. This was also the first whisky ever in our calendar to come from a cask that previously held wine other than Sherry. Tomorrow we are going to get away from that and into something from the third independent bottler represented in this years calendar.

**My friend and fellow blogger Joshua Hatton is blogging side by side with me this year as our special guest. Be sure to check out his take on the Craigmills (Glenglassaugh) Portsoy Sauterne.

The First Edition Calendar Whisky on this day last year was the A.D. Rattray Autmore Sherry Cask 2007 – 7yo Blog #34

For those that loved this sticky infused Highland only 60 bottles are available from the following retailers in Alberta and Saskatchewan:


Co-Op Wine and Spirits

Zyn the Wine Market


Chateau Louis Liquor Store

Wine and Beyond

Everything Wine and More


Andrew Hilton Wines and Spirits


Co-op Wine and Spirits

Time to clean up that Samaroli glass and get it ready for tomorrow.

For those of you in Edmonton I look forward to seeing you tonight at the special extra launch party we organized this year. We will be doing whisky number one because after all it is still the launch of the 2nd edition and we all had so much fun drinking it last night that I just have to do it again.



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.