Some More Rye

Another Batch of Canada’s Finest courtesy again of Mr De Kergommeaux  ! Some new , Some revisited……

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Canadian Mist 40%

Takes a little while to open up but eventually the nose contains the distinctive Butterscotch along with rye , freshly cut straw and Spices . The palate has wholemeal bread toast , rye , toffee , spices , an absolute treat . The finish is medium long , peppery and orange marmalade on toast (don’t know where that came from !)

A lovely dram , a nice sipper !

(Bronze Medal Winner , 2014 Canadian Whisky Awards)

(Value Whisky of the Year Export Market , 2014 Canadian Whisky Awards)

Collingwood 40%

This was the first Canadian Whisky I ever tried , On our first day in Toronto in Piper’s Gastropub in the basement of the Fairmont Royal York Hotel , to be honest I wasn’t that impressed (I was with the Bison Burger I had with it !) so it will be interesting to see how it does now after having had a bit more experience with Canadian Whisky ! This is Distilled at the Canadian Mist Distillery , the twist on the whisky is that staves of toasted maple wood are added to the stainless steel marrying vat to further mellow the whisky (it’s amazing what trivia can be gleaned from Davins canadianwhisky.org site !)  . There is something on the nose I can’t just identify , not bad I hasten to add , it is a quite complex nose to me , a hell of a lot going on , dried fruits – currants and raisins , a hint of rye but there is a lack of sweetness compared to other drams . The Rye is more predominant on the palate and there is more of a toffee sweetness than on the nose , there is more of a sourness to this than anything else , obviously I prefer the sweeter drams . The finish is longish and spicy .

Still not impressed with this , there is still something I just don’t like about it  , can’t put my finger on it , one less for the shopping list…….

Canadian Club Small Batch Classic 12 , 12yo 40% (Batch Lot C12-217)

 Very Soft nose , first thing that hits you is the rye , then a very nice Christmas Cake aroma – Dried fruits , spices – it actually becomes very spice laden later on . Quite a complex palate , Dusty Rye , Butterscotch , wood spices , pepper amongst others . Once again on the finish there’s a hint of lemon , is that a Canadian Club thing ? A Surprisingly good dram , wasn’t what I was expecting from CC .

Ninety – Two Decades of Richness 20yo 45%

From the Highwood Distillers in Alberta , released at 45% , this spent two decades resting at the High River Distillery even surviving a highly destructive flood in June 2013 . Apparently this is 100% Corn Whisky made with stock acquired from Potter Distillery when they purchased it , same stuff as the recent Cadenhead release . The nose is rich and creamy , green fruits (apples and pears)and butterscotch . The palate is very creamy , butterscotch , hint of butter and a touch of pepper . The finish is medium , sweet and spicy .

A very good 100% Corn whisky , gets better with each sip , would be interesting to see how it improves with say a full bottle . My only disappointment  is that having tasted the older -24yo – and stronger Cadenheads release from Potters this isn’t as impressive . I’ll have to seriously revisit this again ! Though thinking again I may be being a bit hard on the Ninety……

(Bronze Medal Winner , 2014 Canadian Whisky Awards)

Pike Creek NAS 40%

 Referred to as the export edition , this is made for the US market by Corby Distillers (a subsidiary of Pernod Ricard) , made at Hiram Walkers distillery in Windsor , this is double barrelled – finished in Port casks and matured for 7-8 years as opposed to the Canadian home edition which is 10yo . A lovely fruitiness mixes in with the rye , a hint of creamy toffee fights with the red fruits , the port gives the Pike Creek a lovely twist against other Canadian whisky . The palate has a wonderful mix of red fruits , rye and butterscotch sweetness . A joy to swirl around the mouth ! The Finish is long and Spicy  .

Luckily I’ve been able to pick this one up in the UK recently but Davins sample has given me the chance to Head to Head it with it’s Canadian Elder Brother . This is one of my favourite Canadian Drams .

(Bronze Medal Winner , 2014 Canadian Whisky Awards)

Pike Creek 10yo 40%

This one is for the “Home” Canadian Market , I first tried this one in ‘The Keg’ in Toronto and was immediately impressed with it , seems slightly more relaxed on the nose for the extra 2-3 years maturation it has over the NAS but nose wise there’s not a great deal of difference in it , red fruits rye and toffee .  There isn’t much difference in the palate either though it does seem to have an extra layer of spiciness to it , it has a wonderfully long , warming , spicy finish to it .

There’s not a lot of difference between this and the export version , more relaxed on the nose and an extra layer of Spiciness to the palate , Maybe I need to pick up a bottle of this on our next visit…..  

(Bronze Medal Winner , 2014 Canadian Whisky Awards)

Many Thanks again to Davin , more info about these drams and Canadian whisky in general  is available at his Candianwhisky.org site

 

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All Rye-t on the Night…..

The Canadian [Whisky] Odyssey Continues…..

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Highwood Canadian Rye Whisky 40%

Made from Canadian prairie rye and wheat , The initial nose was of freshly baked bread , then lots of rye and vanilla , just noticed the wonderful legs in the glass…… Lovely mouthfeel , very smooth , lots of butterscotch on the palate , vanilla , spices and rye bread . A lovely . long sweet (Butterscotch) finish , smooth and very pleasurable !

A really , really nice Whisky , don’t know the age of it but it gives the impression of well aged , Well Recommended !

(Bronze Medal Winner , 2014 Canadian Whisky Awards)

(Value Whisky of the Year Domestic Market , 2014 Canadian Whisky Awards)

Lot No.40 43% (2014 Batch)

According to some “The Mother of all Ryes” , A very distinct ‘Rye’ nose , out on it’s own ! There are vague other smells in there but by god the rye is overwhelming and wonderful with it ! Whoosh ! Now that is fresh rye bread on the palate with a sprinkling of pepper and spices . Amazing ! After dancing around the tongue the finish just goes on and on . Brilliant ! Ok another one for the list…..

(Gold Medal Winner , 2014 Canadian Whisky Awards)

Masterson’s 10yo Straight Rye 45% (Batch 001 Barrel #F2-038)

A lovely mixture of Rye , spices and butterscotch on the nose mixed with a splash of vanilla . Quite Earthy and dusty , one of them drams you could sit and  nose for ages . Pretty much carries the nose on across the palate but with the Rye more to the fore , smooth as a babies bum . The finish is quite long and loaded with wood spices and vanilla but the Rye holds them back successfully . A pretty potent dram , think that extra 5% makes the difference !

Masterson’s 10yo Rye 45% (Batch 005 Barrel #A2-062)

What an absolutely delightful nose ! Heavy on the rye , lovely butterscotch and spices with vanilla , pretty much on par with Batch 001 but seems even better , even more Earthy and dirty , wow you could just sit with this glass for ages . An even more wonderful palate , huge on the rye again , cloves , wood spices and a touch of Butterscotch toffee . The finish is long , spicy and sweet .

 This is one cracking dram , one definitely worth hunting down and buying a bottle !!!!

(Gold Medal Winner , 2014 Canadian Whisky Awards)

(Connoisseur Whisky of the Year Export Market , 2014 Canadian Whisky Awards)

(Award of Excellence Innovation: Masterson’s 10-Year-Old Rye Barrel Program , 2014 Canadian Whisky Awards)

Stalk & Barrel Rye Whisky 46%

This is extremely pale compared to the other samples , the initial nose is of very young whisky , it actually smells of fresh cut hay , not much of a rye smell which I’m very disappointed in . I’ve left it for a little while and the rye has opened up a tad , still a touch too young though. The palate is slightly better , hot and peppery with a touch of sweetness but still the youthfulness dominates . the finish is medium to long but spirity .

When I saw this in amongst the samples I was over the moon , I must admit I’m very disappointed that it is so youthful , there is potential there but this is way too young for my palate , Maybe , like Kilchoman , it will reach its full potential when it’s left to age for a good while…….

(Gold Medal Winner , 2014 Canadian Whisky Awards)

(Best New Whisky , 2014 Canadian Whisky Awards)

Many thanks to Davin at canadianwhisky.org for the Samples .

A Forty Creek Vertical

Just before Christmas i received a parcel from Davin de Kergommeaux containing 35 samples of Canadian Whisky , due to illness over the holiday period and since , i haven’t been able to try them ! Now i’m up to it i’ve started to taste them…….

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A Forty Creek Vertical 

Forty Creek Distillery , i have to say , produces some of my Favourite Canadian Whiskies , since returning from Toronto i rapidly dispatched a bottle of Barrel Select . Based in Grimsby , Ontario , the distillery was purchased in 2014 by the Campari Group . John Hall remains Chairman of the Distillery and Whisky Maker . John was awarded the Life Time Achievement Award at the 2014 Canadian Whisky Awards .

forty_creek 

Forty Creek Copper Pot 43%

This was actually the first ever Forty Creek I ever tried at last years Spirit of Toronto so never got to write notes for it . One of two FC’s I’ve got to sample at a slightly higher ABV of 43% . Rye and Butterscotch initially on the nose followed by spices (particularly Cloves) and dried fruit (currants, raisins ) , a fantastic nose . On the palate it’s the Butterscotch that you first notice and a chewiness , it’s almost liquid  toffee , eventually the rye emerges and a slight spiciness . The finish is very long and sweet (the butterscotch again) .

 This is an incredible dram , smooth and very pleasurable , one to add to the possible purchases list .

(Bronze Medal Winner , 2014 Canadian Whisky Awards)

Forty Creek Barrel Select 40%

I actually killed a bottle of this after our visit to Toronto so it will be nice to revisit it , Another fantastic nose , Rye , Vanilla , Honey , Butterscotch and Cask spices which I still find the same as my original tasting note , toasted oak a la Ardbegs toasted oak casks. Wonderful ! Creamy Butterscotch initially on the palate , a bit of vanilla and now I’ve tasted it on it’s own (via Potter Corn Whisky) I can now pick out a strong presence of Corn Whisky , not that that is a bad thing ! The finish is very long with Butterscotch and the corn whisky .

Another cracking dram , a one I wish was available in the UK , it would be a regular on my drinking shelf if it was !  

(Silver Medal Winner , 2014 Canadian Whisky Awards)

Forty Creek Double Barrel Reserve 40% (Lot 252 Bottle 04539)

Another one I’ve tried before but well worth a revisit…. The nose is loaded with butterscotch , vanilla and marzipan , very sweet , later on the rye emerges through the sweetness . A Beautiful nose . A delightfully spicy palate , silky smooth , a butterscotch sweetness and vanilla , superb stuff . A long sweet , vanilla finish , with spices that seems to go on for ages .

 This is one complex whisky , very pleasing on all aspects and a one that should please the any whisky drinking person .

(Gold Medal Winner , 2014 Canadian Whisky Awards)

Forty Creek 2014 Evolution 43%

 One of the Special releases from Forty Creek , this is the 8th John Hall has put together , limited to 9000 bottles . The Rye , Corn and Barley whiskies are aged separately for 3 years in White Oak barrels , then redistilled and re-barrelled in French Oak Cabernet Sauvignon for 9 years . Finally a few of Johns favourite casks are added to the mix . A strong dark fruit presence on the nose to start with , then vanilla and rye and oak spices . The palate again has the dark fruits (especially currants and raisins ) , it has a touch of sweetness , almost Rum and Raisin Chocolate – anyone remember the Old Jamaican chocolate bar ? The finish is surprisingly short for a Forty Creek , very creamy and raisins , that Old Jamaican Chocolate again .

 Not one of my favourite Forty Creeks , one I wouldn’t hunt down , but a decent enough dram .

(Silver Medal Winner , 2014 Canadian Whisky Awards)

Forty Creek Confederation Oak Reserve 40%

 Another special release (of 16,800 bottles) , this one has been matured in Canadian oak grown in a sustainable forest only 40 miles away from the Distillery . the Canadian oak is much more dense than the American species due to the long, cold winters . The oak is sent to Missouri where it is made into barrels and seasoned before returning to the distillery . On the nose there is a strong sweetness at first , our good friend butterscotch , lots of vanilla , dried fruits and wood spices . Again the palate has Butterscotch and vanilla but is loaded with wood spices , A hint of pepper comes through at the end . The finish is short to medium with pepper and vanilla and a strong hint of wood .

 This is another different take on Forty Creek , personally I prefer the standard releases to the specials .

 (Bronze Medal Winner , 2014 Canadian Whisky Awards)  

Canada Gold 40%

I had to look this one up on the tinternet  to find out it actually came from Forty Creek stable , Mellow on the nose at first for a FC , the usual Butterscotch , vanilla and rye are there but just not in big dollops . quite disappointing on the nose compared to the above samples . Smooth as a babies bum across the palate , heavy on the butterscotch , less so on the vanilla and spices , the finish is short and sweet with a touch of pepper and spices .

 Not a bad wee dram just doesn’t measure up to the full Forty Creeks , still worth a try though .

(Bronze Medal Winner , 2014 Canadian Whisky Awards)

Many thanks to Davin for the samples , More Canadian whisky info available at http://www.canadianwhisky.org/

Canadian Whisky Awards 2014

Last night at the Victoria Whisky Festival the results of the 2014 Canadian Whisky Awards were announced , Among the top awards were a life time achievement for John K Hall from Forty Creek Distillery and the Whisky of the Year went to Collingwoods 21yo Rye .

A full list of the winners is available at Davins site at http://www.canadianwhisky.org/news-views/canadian-whisky-awards-2014-canadas-top-whiskies.html 

Over the coming weeks i’ll be posting tasting notes of some of the medal winners…..

The [Whisky] Odyssey – Chapter 1

After the renaming of my blog i thought it was about time i put my own [Whisky] Odyssey down in words….. I suppose a bit of a background about myself is needed first , Born and Bred is the Great City of Newcastle Upon Tyne in the United Kingdom , My main interests had been Music and going out socialising , usually the two intermixed , spending most of the time seeing bands at the Local City Hall and the Famous Mayfair Ballroom . By the early 80’s i’d seen several of the Legendary Lindisfarne Christmas Shows and the likes of AC/DC , Van Halen , Motorhead , Ted Nugent , Genesis , Mike Oldfield and The Police at the aforementioned venues . My taste in drink had journeyed through most of the local brews (Amber , Exhibition , Brown Ale) , various lagers and was at the time mainly on discovering ‘Real Ale’ in the pubs where possible and suffering Snake Bite at The Mayfair (it was the only way to drink their beer…..) . On the Spirit front the only one i went near was Rum , But that was about to change……  

Chapter One

In the Beginning…..

The early summer of 1984 was a strange time , i’d just come out of a long term relationship and didn’t actually know where things were going to go . A discussion one night in a pub with my good mate Dave Embleton would end up having a profound effect on my life , a few pints the conversation got around to holidays , we both had a bit of leave to take – i actually had mine booked for the start of August – so we decided to do something , i had a tent and various bits of camping equipment , he had a motor so why not head off somewhere ? Scotland seemed like a good idea ! A few of our other friends gave us a few pointers as to where to stay , so one August Sunday morning we set off from Daves in his Bright Yellow Vauxhall Magnum for a camping holiday in the Highlands !

(Click on Photo to see large Version)

Clachaig_Inn

 

Our first destination was Glencoe , The Clachaig Inn to be more precise , This was the Clachaig Inn before it went all Swiss Chaletish , when you could actually camp outside it in the fields (fields being a loose term….) , it took some getting up there at that time , there wasn’t the nice wide road there is now up past Lomond , it was all narrow ‘hugging the Lochside’ type , it seemed to take us an eternity behind various Caravans . After pitching our accommodation , we hit the Clachaig , it was a great little pub with a pool table and something we weren’t used to….. McEwans Export on Draught ! McEwans Export was only available in bottles and cans in Newcastle , Which was strange as it was actually brewed at the old (now departed) Tyne Brewery opposite St James Park ! It was a delightful beer , went down really well (too well a little later in the Hols….) . After a few Dave asked if i fancied a dram , i said no , when he asked if i’d ever had a whisky i said i had , forced on me by well meaning parents in the shape of a Hot Toddy when ill and i hated it ! “I bet it was a blend , Bells , Teachers or something , i’m on about a Single Malt “. Not having a Clue what a Single Malt was Dave proceeded to educate me about them , after about 10 minutes i gave in and said yes .

Glencoe

Our Camping Spot in Glencoe , Yes that’s Dave!

 

So he came back with two small glasses containing an Amber Liquid , “Try that….” , i did…. To say that i was slightly shocked was an understatement , it was a Eureka moment , it didn’t burn , smooth as a babies bum , quite sherried  wow ! Eventually he told me it was a Macallan 10yo , a few more were consumed before we headed back to the tent…..

Glencoe , for the uninitiated , is a beautiful place , a fantastic valley where in the summer the sun doesn’t vanish till yon time at night , it is also very spooky due to a clan massacre that happened there ! So full of Beer and Single Malt we sat outside the tent watching the sun set over the valley top , Pink Floyd playing on the tape machine and a bottle of Mackinlays being passed back and forth – the reason for the Mackinlays was due to one of Daves relatives being in the drinks business and he got some off him . It was a very Spiritual first night camping in Scotland , for every reason !

Cool_Cat

All the ‘Cool Cats’ used to camp at the Clachaig….

 

After a good nights sleep we resumed our travels , i can’t remember the exact route but we did take in Applecross via Bealach na Bà  , Ullapool , Durness and Portree on Skye and all points in between . Applecross was interesting , not only for the hairy drive up the pass and all the midges but it was where i really let go of the earlier mentioned relationship and set a personal best for Alcohol consumed . The village is fairly small , the campsite is above it , there is two ways to get to the village from the campsite , the long way following the road or down the steep grassy bank , the first way is best recommended on the way back from the pub…… In the Village there was a row of Cottages , A shop / post office and the pub – The Inn – a good name as it was THE Inn , i believe it’s been renamed since , it looked a lot different to when we were in it when it was featured on the TV series Monty Halls’ Great Escape – Beachcomber Cottage in the late Noughties .

Bealach_Na_Ba

The view from Bealach-Na-Ba

 

We consumed a great amount of drink that night , we knew we were doing well when the Bar maid kept asking if she could have some glasses back . We had hit 8 pints with whisky chasers at one point , I’d never drunk that amount before or since ! I blamed the McEwans Export myself……. I do remember sometime after 12am asking the Bar maid if she wasn’t worried about trouble with the local police and the late drinking and her replying “No , that’s him over there…..”

Skye

Two happy campers on Skye

 

According to Dave on our way back i’d insisted the campsite was straight up the road and not on the right when we approached it , that would have been some walk up Bealach na Bà ! He also said as soon as i put my head down on the pillow i was out like a light till the next morning , Can’t figure out why ? Ullapool was a great stay over , excellent campsite , great pubs and a superb fish and chip shop at the Ferry landing  !  It was the first place i ever seen anyone ask if they could smell a whisky bottle – Dave in The Arch – and the first time i ever seen anyone turn into a jibbering wreck over Single Malt . We spent a great deal of the evening in the Ferry Boat Inn , it had a good selection of Ales and a very nice set of Malts , on one of Dave’s rounds he came back with two drams and all i could get out of him was “they had two , they had two , Bottles!” I eventually got out of him what had happened at the Bar , he spotted a bottle of Macallan 18 and decided to treat us to a dram, The Barman got the bottle and said “there’s only enough for one dram in this one….” Straight away Dave thought “Well that’s mine….” but then the barman added , “i’ll just go and get the other bottle !” , apparently at that time there wasn’t a lot of the 18 around and it was rare to get 2 in the same place , the shop where Dave bought his annual treat from only got a very limited supply . Amazing what Single Malts does to people…….

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Look….. Nae Bridge !

 

We had a great time on this trip , went on our first Calmac Ferries over to Skye and back , this was pre-bridge days and you still had the ferries from Lochalsh , saw some fantastic scenery , drank some great beers and i got introduced to the Water of Life ! Cheers Dave , It’s all his fault !!!!    

A New Year And a New Feel and Direction !

A Happy and Prosperous 2015 to all our regular visitors !

At this present time we should have been concluding another visit to Islay but due to a nasty little bug i’ve been laid up in bed all Holiday season and we ended up having to cancel our planned trip at the last moment . Seeing we now probably won’t be returning to Islay until about mid-2016 at the earliest now i’ve decided to change the blog slightly and move away from the Islay visits a touch , don’t worry any Islay visits in the future will still be reported here and all the old reports won’t vanish ! It isn’t really too hard to do as i tend to post more tasting notes , other visits etc more here now anyway , especially seeing Johanna has created such a travel monster ! LOL!!!

So basically i’ve renamed the blog (The inspiration for it came from a bit of Twittering from my good friend in Canada Gerald/@G2Whisky back in October- Cheers Mate !) and got a new URL http://thewhiskyodyssey.net – the old islayvisits.net will still get you here till sometime in May .

So what does this Year hold in store for us ? Who knows! Well there will be a mega Canadian tasting extravaganza shortly and a return to Toronto for a more concise examination of their Whisky Gala !