Toronto 2015 Visit – Part Two

Saturday 2nd May (Continued)

So onto the show….. Johanna asked us if we’d like to do another Masterclass at this years show , which we said yes to , and it was agreed we’d do a Caol Ila one . I’ve only ever done a Caol Ila Masterclass at the Feis Ile and i have to say it is , in my eyes , a very much under-rated Peated Islay Malt , It is also the most consistently good one !

(Click on Photos to see full size)

tasting photo

I decided to be sneaky as well and throw in a “Ringer” , i asked our good friend Francis if we could Acquire a sample of his yet to be released Daftmill , he agreed and back at the end of February we went up to see the Cuthberts and pick out a sample ( Dirty job , someone had to do it…..)  

Choices, Choices....

Choices, Choices….

Hmmm..... Which one ?

Hmmm….. Which one ?

I decided to be a bit sneaky and do the tasting blind , i asked them to try the first two together as they were both unpeated (not mentioning one of them wasn’t a Caol Ila ) , asked them their thoughts and then told them one wasn’t an Islay) and asked them to tell me which one wasn’t , Most of them got it wrong ! We then proceeded through the rest of the tasting only revealing what was what after they’d tried it . So the Tasting consisted of……..

1st Dram – Daftmill Cask No.21, Filled 3rd September 2007 ,Sample drawn 1st March 2015 , 59.6% from Fresh Bourbon Barrel (Heaven Hill) .

My Tasting Notes . Nose – Initially digestive biscuits then freshly cut meadows , hugely fresh , lots of butter ,  vanilla , touch of spices and custard . Very exquisite and complex nose , beautifully fresh . Palate – Shows it’s youthfulness at first but that soon vanishes , very fresh across the palate again buttery , sweet , vanilla , a delight to have in the mouth , oily and chewy . Finish – Long , sweet and butterscotch toffee .

It was a great pleasure to introduce this malt to a North American Public Tasting it certainly went down well !

2nd Dram – Stitchells Reserve , the 2013 special release from Caol Ila to celebrate Billys retirement .

3rd Dram –  53.52 , a 1993 7yo from the SMWS , a feisty young dram that has it all !

4th Dram – 53.93 , a 1980 25yo from the SMWS , this one showed that well aged Caol Ila can be exquisite but retain all the Distillery Characteristics .

5th Dram –  The killer dram of the class , i still don’t know how Johanna got a bottle of this but it went down very well , the 30yo Special Release from 2014 , all i can say is Wow ! that’s to the taste and not the price !

So after the class we retreated to the main hall to savour the 2015 Gala , Spirit of Toronto is one hell of a show , it has everything , great drams , great music , great food and fantastic people . I mainly concentrated on the Canadian Whisky , The Union Local 613 guys and Gals had a fantastic table of Canadians , got to try amongst others an Alberta Premium 30yo , the Highwood 25yo Calgary Stampede Centennial (again) and an absolutely amazing Wisers 18yo from yesteryear , Stunning ! It was great to actually try it up against the current Wisers 18yo at their table . Melanie took a shine to a few drams including the Nikka Taketsuru 12yo and the Chivas 18yo . We had a fantastic night , Johanna and Charles certainly know how to put on a show !

By the end the time difference was catching up with us and we took a lovely walk back to the hotel to catch some Z’s .

Sunday 3rd May

We decided we were going to be the Full Tourists today and do a bit of sightseeing , after breakfast i had a visit from Rob  (@WhiskyFan2112) for a bit of a natter about Rush , Toronto and Whisky ! He also very kindly left me a bottle of Forty Creek Port Wood Reserve, Very Much Appreciated Rob you are some guy ! Thanks also go to Rick (@rmculver) and Paul (@MarkhamWhisky) for their generosity , you guys spoiled us rotten ! Thanks!!!

We decided to visit the Islands as it was something we wanted to do last year but never got the time and boy did we pick a glorious day to do it on ! Red Hot !!! It’s a lovely little ferry ride over , you get some great views of the City Skyline and all for $7 return ! The island is really nice , well looked after with great beaches . We decided to take the Tourist Train tour around to see as much as possible .

Toronto View 2 Toronto View 1
Toronto View 3 Toronto Skyline 1
Melanie on Toronto Islands Avenue of the Island
Melanie on the Beach 1 Melanie on the Beach 2
Sign post Island-stitch
Gibraltar Point Lighthouse Ned Hanlan Tug
Central Island 1 CN Tower from Centre Island 1
CN Tower from Centre Island 2 Melanie on Central Island
Ferry at Centre Island Terminal Melanie on the Ferry

Toronto Skyline 2

We headed back to the Hotel via the Queens Quay LCBO (got to pick up supplies for home !) , freshened up and then hit Melanies Favourite Toronto Bar , The Library Bar in the Fairmont Royal York Hotel . It was a very relaxing night with some great drinks and a superb Lobster Linguine .  

Melanie at The Library Bar 1929 Beer

So it was off to bed for our final sleep in Toronto…..

Monday 4th May

Our last day and it’s a full one , the flight didn’t leave till 11.35pm ! We’d had a breakfast every morning this trip (it was in with the room) , Melanie took a liking to the Eggs Benedict , myself , for the last 3 days i’d been having the Full “Canadian” , there is just something so nice about Pancakes with Bacon smothered in Butter and Maple Syrup ! We left our bags at the hotel and went off for a wander to places new . First stop was Summerhill using the excellent TTC Subway , there were several reasons we headed here , Paul had told us it had some really nice Real Estate and a very nice LCBO which used to be a Railway station and was also Geddy Lees local one !

Summerhill LCBO

 It is a really nice LCBO retaining some of the original station features and it has possibly the best selection of all the LCBO’s we’d been in . Even though it was still hot we felt our first raindrops of the trip while out here . We headed back to the City Centre and transferred to “The Red Rocket” for a trip out to Neville Park (Route 501), we were going to look at the beaches but when we got to the Terminus it started raining so we got the same car back to the centre , there’s always the next time ! It’s a great way of seeing the city and well worth a ride out on one .

We decided to hit the Red Lobster again for a late lunch before winding our way back to the hotel via Tim Hortons and a few bars……


So it was a limo back to the airport and the flight back to Manchester with time for one last Ontario Wine and beer…….

Fish Eye

The flight did actually get back to Manchester early ! We also got a special mention on the flight announcement as the Flight Director was the same guy as our outward flight and recognised us ! I was slightly over our duty free allowance (3 bottles of whisky) and declared it , they actually let us off with the duty and tax for being so Honest ! Wasn’t expecting that in Manchester…..

Whisky Haul Wine Haul

The Spoils of the trip !

A big thank you to our Canadian Friends for making this trip so pleasurable !


The two Word Docs we handed out at the tasting can be read here……

Caol Ila tasting

Daftmill Info

And Melanies Camera Photos can be viewed HERE

My Photos can also be viewed on my Flickr Account HERE

Toronto 2015 Visit – Part One

After last years trip to Toronto for the Spirit of Toronto Whisky Gala we decided to return this year , originally as punters but Johanna talked us into doing another Masterclass once she heard we were coming back ! As soon as the date was announced (about the time of last summers Islay trip) we booked up the flights and Hotel . Once again we flew with Air Transat but this year we stopped at The Novotel on The Esplanade . 

Thursday 30th April 

Having drove down the night before to Manchester we arrived bright and early at the Airport for the 12pm flight only for the flight to be delayed for 5 1/2 hours ! There was a slight technical problem with the cabin lights , so at 5.30pm we finally took off for Canada . I have to say that once again the “Security” at Manchester once again excelled themselves at being such happy characters……. Unlike the Canadian Border Patrol who tend to make jokes about things , especially when they spot you’ve declared 12 bottles of whiskies on the entry form ! After a nice conversation they only charged us $50 duty (don’t ask!) . After a great Limo drive to the Hotel seeing all the buildings with lights on , we dumped the cases in the room , freshened up and like sensible people hit the bar ! Melanie hit the Lailey Unoaked Chardonnay and i had  Alexander Keiths IPA  . After a couple we hit the sack.

Friday 1st May

After a Hearty breakfast we went out for a wander somewhat overly dressed we found out , after a walk around St Lawrences Market we returned to the Hotel and stripped down to T-shirts as it was hot ! St Lawrences Market is probably the best Market we’ve ever been into , the food selection is superb and beautifully presented , the place is spotless !

(Click on the photos to see full size versions)

St Lawrence Market 1 St Lawrence Market 2

The meat selection is amazing and the fish selection is out of this world ! If we lived near it i think we could easily do a lot of shopping in there !

We took a slow walk along to the Distillery District from there , after a wander around the shops we met up with Johanna and Charles for a bite to eat at Pure Spirits , once again we went for the Pure Spirits Pappardelle  accompanied by some Ontario Wine (when in Toronto….) . Now last year when we hit this restaurant we were left in the dark by a power cut and missed something that Johanna pointed out , their bottle collection……

Pure Spirits Collection

 These were all bottles to do with the Canadian Company Hiram Walker who happened to own the Gooderham and Worts Distillery which is the site where this restaurant happens to reside . Hiram Walker also happened to own a certain Islay Distillery in the late 70’s / early 80’s and we happened to spot a couple in the display……..

Ardbeg New Make Sample Ardbeg Sample

Ooh to try these ! J & C dropped us off at the hotel and we freshened up before meeting up with them at The Keg for an Evening Meal , also present were Angus MacRaild , Phil and Simon Thompson , Yuki Yamazaki , Kentaro Wada , Igor Kossov , Paul the owner of the Bon Accord and our great friend from Toronto Wendy Harker . Much merriment was had over the night before ourselves and Wendy headed off for a nightcap at C’est What and to meet up with a few other Toronto whisky Drinkers – Paul and Nancy , Rick and Ivo . I have to say that the C’est What was absolutely roasting that night , probably not the best way to visit a bar for the first time . We had a great night and it was great to finally put faces to names , meet old friends and make some new ones .

Saturday 2nd May

Show day ! After breakfast we took a wander north from the hotel , Melanie did a little shopping therapy before we hit the Red Lobster for a late lunch……

Melanie at Red Lobster

She done a great job of wrestling with the Ultimate feast !

On the way back to the hotel we encountered a parade through the centre of toronto to commemorate the Liberation of The Netherlands in 1945 by Canadian Armed Forces .

Holland Liberation Parade 1 Holland Liberation Parade 2

Holland Liberation Parade 3

Seeing it was such a glorious day (in the mid to high 20’s C ) we decided to stop at one of the many pubs on our hotels street for a drop of refreshment , we chose the Tilted Kilt , an interesting one by my good woman……. 

Melanie at the tilted kilt


We were joined by another internet friend who i’d briefly met at last years Spirit of Toronto , Raj Sabharwal (@WhiskyRaj) from Purple Valley Imports . We had a great natter in the sun with a great guy , we then bid our farewells before heading back to the Hotel to get ready for the show……..

Hotel Road

The Esplanade

To be Continued……