Scotch Malt Whisky Society of Canada March 2021 Outturn

by Evan

The lineup chosen by the SMWS Canada for March is insane.

Feel free not to take my word for it – I am an unabashed SMWS fan and I should not be trusted. Regardless – by bottle stats alone you know that this Outturn is going to be a wild ride. Of the seven bottles new bottles for the month, FOUR of them are higher than 60% ABV. Of those, THREE are North of 64% ABV. Now, take a look at how many bottles in the lineup have some sort of sherry cask influence imparted on them. Go ahead and scroll down to the SMWS info below my own tasting notes – I will wait.

Now, do you see what I mean? You may have also noticed that one of the bottles in this Outturn isn’t filled with Scotch Whisky. Instead, it is the first time we have seen an SMWS bottle from a Swedish distillery. Fun stuff!

Read on for my own tasting notes on these bottles.

On the nose, I get some typical grassy and floral notes for a Linkwood along with the hint of waxiness, lemon bonbons, cotton candy and spicy ginger. The palate shows waves of orchard fruit including green apples, yellow pears, apricots and yellow plums along with juicy fruit gum and an earthy, peppery, grassy note. It all balances nicely with a surprisingly smooth finish.

The nose on this Glenlossie shows golden raisins, dried apricots, coconut shavings, lychee. The palate goes toasty and shows some nice maturity with wood spice and waxy notes plus a bit of stroopwafel, shelled sesame seeds, Marcona almonds, and a tinge of minerality and a slight oaky dryness on the finish.

Bodega indeed – the sherry is strong in this young and bold Glentauchers! The nose starts with fruit leather and keeps going right into full-on leather hyde notes along with pipe tobacco, pancake syrup, and full-on Shirly Temple mocktail notes, grenadine, fake maraschino cherry and all. The palate is, in a word, RICH. Deep notes of dates, dried blueberries, Chambord and Cassis liqueurs, and blackberry jam. Delicious stuff!

The nose on this Glen Moray shows that we are continuing into sherry territory on this one. Fresh wood varnish, bananas flambe, wood spice, cashews and Mackintosh Toffee all show up aroma-wise. The palate starts big and gets bigger as time goes on with notes of yogurt-covered raisins, polished oak, dates, dried apples, and walnuts.

Big sherry again on this Macduff, but going more into balsamic and cherry cider notes as well. The nose also shows maple syrup glaze, fruit leather, strawberry jam, cherry cola, and hot buttered rum mix. The palate gives spicy cinnamon and ginger in a boozy fruit cake plus a touch of dark chocolate and cinnamon chewing gum.

The nose shows chicken soup with barley, lemon and acetone scented cardboard, Galliano liqueur, and lemon zinger tea. On the palate, this peated Loch Lomond gives us a salad consisting of smoky thyme sprigs, sliced fennel bulbs, small yellow tomatoes, quinoa and basil and a drizzling of olive oil.

This first bottling from High Coast Distillery in Sweden shows notes of black forest cake on the nose along with lavender potpourri and eucalyptus, whipped butter with sage, and Dettol. The palate is a mix of spearmint Tic Tacs and Thrills gum, lox, dill and capers on top of herb-infused cream cheese spread on a poppyseed bagel, finishing with peppermint and licorice tea.

That is all from me for now. Don’t forget we have plenty of past releases you can browse anytime our Scotch Malt Whisky Society Pages.

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This 13 year old Speysider is 59.1% after maturing in a refill ex-bourbon hogshead.
Flavour profile: Light & delicate.
Outturn: 311 bottles.
Panel’s tasting notes: “We found a nose bursting with stone fruits, soft fabrics, burlap and the precision of clean, knife-edge cereals. In addition we noted Turkish Delight, waxed canvas, pressed wildflowers and marjoram, vase water, tomato vines in a greenhouse and lemon zest. With water there was a renewed abundance of fresh flowers such as daisies, dandelions and geraniums. Also grassy notes, under ripe apples, blueberry muffins, fresh wool, snapped twigs and potting sheds.
The neat palate displayed the tartness of green apple with sunflower seeds, trail mix, rapeseed oil, unsweetened granola and a rather gravelly minerality. Water gave us chamomile tea, chopped chives, digestive biscuit, flapjacks, lemongrass and Edinburgh rock. Enchanting stuff!

This 22 year old Speysider spent 20 years in ex-bourbon wood before being transferred into a 2nd fill Spanish oak PX hogshead, and comes in at 53.1%.
Flavour profile: Deep, rich & dried fruits.
Outturn: 232 bottles.
Panel’s tasting note: “Slightly restrained, the nose slowly divulged barley sugars, chocolate profiteroles, maple candy and bourbon biscuits – digging deep, we found earthier elements (pipe tobacco, rhubarb, nutmeg, cappuccino, seasoned oak). The palate offered sugar-coated fennel seeds, clove-flavoured brown sugar, camp coffee and roasted parsnips – ginger, cumin and cardamom on the finish.
The reduced nose gave us creamy toffee, Crunchie bars, dark chocolate with cherry pieces and coffee and walnut gateau. The palate now had blackcurrant cough sweets, liquorice, moist tobacco leaf, ripe gooseberry and a dry, seasoned oak finish. After 20 years in ex-bourbon wood we put this into a 2nd fill Spanish oak Pedro Ximenez hogshead.”

From a 2nd fill sherry butt, this 7 year old is 66.2%.
Flavour profile: Deep, rich & dried fruits.
Outturn: 602 bottles.
Panel’s tasting note: “Unashamedly lavish aromas of raisins and sultanas plunged into the oily opulence of walnuts, olives and Serrano ham whilst a background funk encapsulated strong black tea and the warm air of Jerez. A mouth-coating swirl on the palate engulfed us in a world of root beer and strawberry wine with heavy juniper berries, prunes and leather as a tingle arrived from wasabi peas.
Water revealed hidden secrets in a bodega as dark chocolate melted over Brazil nuts with brown sugar and liquorice. A heightened complexity now drew us into soy sauce and balsamic glaze with truffle oil and brandy butter. Touches of salt remained on the tongue with a lasting warmth that suggested cognac, calvados and even dark navy rum.”
$134.99 SOLD OUT

This 11 year old Speysider was matured in a refill Oloroso puncheon and is 64.9%.
Flavour profile: Spicy & dry.
Outturn: 621 bottles.
Panel’s tasting note: “The first comments were ‘wonderful’, ‘warm’, ‘embracing’ and ‘a Sherry lover’s dream’! We were further captivated by the aromas of walnuts, dates, raisins and tamarind, and when we took a sip there might have been the slightest hint of a struck match. What followed was truly superbly nutty, like a bone-dry Amontillado sherry with walnut cake, leather and even the slightest hint of smoke.
Diluted we prepared a pork schnitzel with onions, bell peppers and mushrooms in a paprika spiced sauce and we washed it all down with a glass of Icelandic Björk birch liqueur – certainly for the more adventurous souls!”

After 5 years in an ex-Oloroso butt, this 7 year old Speysider was transferred to 1st fill Pedro Ximenex butt, and it’s 65.2%.Flavour profile: Spicy & sweet.
Outturn: 585 bottles.
Panel’s tasting note: “A fantastic deep amber colour was followed by an aroma which transported some of us to Jerez eating a slice of jamón Serrano next to a bowl of black olives, while others were in the Caribbean sipping rum and eating dark chocolate. Strong, powerful and fierce like flamenco with the feisty rhythm of percussion and guitar – a belter of a dram!
With water we could sense the stomping of the dancer on the floor while the tune on the palate now more like a rumba – elegant and breathtakingly beautiful. After five years in an ex-Oloroso sherry butt we transferred this whisky into a 1st fill Pedro Ximenez sherry butt.”

From the Highlands, this 14 year old is 53.3% after maturing in a refill ex-bourbon hogshead.
Flavour profile: Lightly peated.
Outturn: 277 bottles.
Panel’s tasting note: “Thick plumes of black smoke bellowed from the glass, epitomising the very essence of ‘burntness.’ Through the heavy smog came notes of rosemary and thyme and substantially charred wood coated with linseed oil. The palate was chewy and scorched, wrapping rich gravy around eminently maritime components that embraced fishing nets and fishermen’s rain coats in a ship’s engine room.
With water we found ourselves at the harbour sipping on cappuccinos among the lobster nets and fish baskets, as puffs of smoke from a tug boat blew in the sea air. The palate had sweetened and ventured into roasted chestnuts and toasted pine nuts, dotted with seaweed and a sprinkling of chimney soot.”

This 7 year old from Sweden comes from a new oak barrel and is 60.6%.
Flavour profile: Peated.
Outturn: 231 bottles.
Panel’s tasting note: “We felt like walking through fields of purple heather at sunset with the sky matching the ground in terms of colour (a lovely pastel hue), but then there was a smoking fire disturbing the tranquil scene. We took a sip from a hipflask – wow! Delicious, searingly sweet smoke was joined by venison carpaccio with caramelized walnuts.
With a drop of water, we discovered additional fruity apple smokiness next to stuffed Greek vine leaves with currants and pistachio called dolmades. The palate now had plenty of sweet smoky fruit flavours like baked apples and red cherries balanced with a slightly menthol and herbal finish.”

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Book Review: Wine Simple

by Abi

It is easy to get lost in the delusion of wine. Everyone including your grandmother has their own opinions and their own unrequested suggestions of what you should drink. Points this, points that. Bordeaux’s Out, Burgundy’s in. Natural wine is just a phase of the millennial youth best paired with locally sourced toast and avocado spread. Shiraz is where it’s at.

Ugh. All of these opinions can be confusing and tiring, to say the least. But why? Why do we need someone else to give us opinionated advice on wine when we just want to try new and delicious things? We don’t! We know what tastes good to us, we just need to figure out what that means!

Many people have shied away from learning more about wine because they simply feel as if they will never know enough to enjoy wine because let’s face it, it’s daunting. It’s daunting as all hell! Even us, the wine professionals get overwhelmed with all the information! I’ll be the first to admit, I know a lot but I also do not know anything at all. Wine is one of those humbling experiences, where the more you learn, the more you understand that you will never be able to take in all there is to know. And plus, I get paid to be confused, navigating my way through mountains of wine books and articles to help you guys out!

Still, wine should be an approachable subject, right? I mean, most people drink the juice, so why isn’t it? Maybe it’s the institutionalized class-system, or maybe it’s the egos and the snobbery that sometimes go along with it. Who knows. Whatever it is, we are seeing more and more push back against much of the confusing and polarizing information. We are also seeing more bright spots in the wine world shine light on more inclusive approaches to wine. One of these stellar objects is Aldo Sohm.

Wine Simple: A Totally Approachable Guide from a World-Class Sommelier is as simple and as approachable as the title suggests. This is a book designed for people who simply just want to know more, so when they go to a restaurant or visit a boutique shop, they can be confident in what to look or ask for. It’s an extremely well-put-together guide that teaches you the best jargon to use when you’re looking for a great glass or bottle.

One of his first notes is that “it’s my job to help them find the perfect glass. But I can’t do it without them.” Speaking the truth there, Aldo! Us wine professionals love to offer help and our ideas on what you should be drinking, but you are the only person that knows exactly what you enjoy. That is why we sometimes ask those annoying questions of ‘what do you like? What’s your go-to wine?’ and so on. This book is an easy way to learn how to answer these questions, allowing you to find that delicious bottle!

Aldo Sohm is a Master Sommelier, who, unlike other wine writers, is constantly bouncing around restaurants assisting customers. And it’s not just those customers who are looking to spend a chunk of change at Le Bernardin, a 4-star restaurant in NYC, either. He also helps casual folk find perfect $11 glasses at Aldo Sohm Wine Bar. This, for starters, is someone that you can learn from. He is working with a diverse array of people each day, where he is constantly honing his knowledge and refining his approach to help everyone find their perfect bottle of wine. You can see this in his writing. There isn’t any forceful language of “you should like this, or you shouldn’t drink this.” He knows that people aren’t looking for that, they are looking to drink the shit they like!

This beautifully curated book will teach you basic geography and basic know-how of wine in a simple, yet artistic way. Not only does he inform you of the basics of each region, but he also gives you tips and tricks on how to order from a wine list and how to shop for wine! But, he takes it a step further! Want to learn how to open a bottle? Also has a section on that! How about taking a sabre to that champagne? Aldo has got you covered! Confused about what glass to serve it in? Turn to page 204. Need a great pairing for your favourite Nordic dish? He’s got your back! It’s honestly incredible how much USEFUL information Aldo has crammed into these pages.

I could go on and on about how useful it is, or continue to rave about the approach that is taken on those pages, but you should see for yourself. This is a great book to add to your bookshelf and will be a great reference for any wine lover whether it is a new passion or a long and happy marriage. If I’m being honest, I wish I had a book like this when I first started to learn about wine. The extremely approachable way it reads makes it far more fun than picking up that thick wine encyclopedia or dry tome of wine scores any day of the week!

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Scotch Malt Whisky Society of Canada February 2021 Outturn

by Evan

For now, you can read on for my take on the bottles in the February 2021 Outturn below. Quirky (and possibly kinky) bottle names ruled the month in homage to Valentine’s Day. Maybe you will find a new love for yourself or somebody else within this list!

44.129 – Based on the colour of the whisky, this 15 year old Craigellachie looks to be quite a bit different from last month’s sherried-high-alcohol insanity that was the quickly sold out 44.117. How will MUSCLE SPROUTS compare? On the nose, it is musty with plenty of tea-like notes as well as shredded wheat cereal, ginger, lemons, lime peel, and a touch of Juicy Fruit chewing gum. On the palate, it has a zingy beginning before broadening into richer – like a sparkling wine changing into a Rieslings in the mouth. It has notes of both, along with more lemon and ginger, thyme, and other savoury notes that I can’t quite put my finger on. It manages to be rich yet delicate at the same time – like a really good Pho broth.

35.263 – The nose of this 12 year old Glen Moray carries much of that winey-oily-fruitiness that the distillery does so well. It also shows plenty of fresh, dusty grain notes as well as buttered whole-grain toast, chalky hard candies, golden delicious apples and ripe grapefruit skin. On the palate, it is bursting with juice and fruit with sunflower seeds, cracked pepper plus a drizzle of olive oil over it all.

12.42 – This is the first Benriach we have seen in a while from the SMWS Canada. GETTING FRUITY IN THE MALT BARN is 10 years old, which means it was distilled during Alistair Walkers’ time in control of the distillery and makes me excited to taste it! The nose shows coconut shavings, jujubes, milk chocolate, an Arnold Palmer (mocktail made from a 50/50 mix of iced tea and lemonade), and toasted almond shavings. The palate is round and creamy with pear pie notes (crust and all), lemon tarts, vanilla and oak tones, and a bit of angel food cake and white icing.

Big Swirl – This is the Blended Malt Scotch with a sherried edge that the SMWS has put together. It has a stated age of 10 years and is bottled at 50% ABV. On the nose, it shows raisins and dried cranberries, a bowl of Licorice allsorts, strawberries in whipped cream, molasses and hints of something more spice-driven. The palate reveals cranberry juice, freshly picked raspberries, a bit of peppermint candy cane, red velvet cake, cherry pie, mint leaves, and the slightest dash of cinnamon. This is a very well-put-together dram. Others might prefer the richer sherry of Exotic Cargo, but this is more to my liking.

7.244 – This is the first Longmorn we have gotten from the SMWS Canada in a while. Like many of you, I am still trying to chase the dragon from an excellent run of 7’s we had a few years ago, which included 7.167 – THE INDIAN SPICE TRAIN. Man, do I wish I had purchased a bottle of that. This WITCHCRAFT will be different than that dram, as it is the result of TWO ex-Bourbon Barrels that were married together in a first-fill PX Sherry Butt. I believe this the first time we have seen this type of ‘single cask’ from the SMWS. The nose is deep and rich with maple syrup, Earl Grey tea, root beer, vanilla pod, dates, and black licorice. The palate is dense, like Christmas fruit cake, but still manages to hit higher notes instead of being stuck in syrupy sherry. I get mandarin orange slices, brown sugar-glazed carrots, licorice tea, cherry juice, raspberry jam, and Twizzlers.

122.31 – 5 years old? Uh oh. But wait! This is a peated Loch Lomond? Now I am excited! Let’s give TARRY TARRY NIGHT a go. On the nose: yes, it is young. It has the peat plus starchy barley and wood pulp/cardboard that Loch Lomond seems to exhibit and that a love so much. It also shows an interesting combination of green tea with lime zest and a menthol cigarette held by some tall skinny model in a magazine advertisement from a 1990s Rolling Stone magazine note to it. Open up that magazine in your memory: it even has that slightly metallic printer ink on glossy magazine paper note to it. On the palate, it is juicier than you would imagine with passion fruit, freshly squeezed lime juice, pineapple slices, coconut water and minty mojitos. Plus, you are now for some reason eating that menthol cigarette advert from the vintage Rolling Stone mag. I love Loch Lomond and the wackiness they create – including this dram.

53.327 – We are back to a more typical peaty dram from Islay for the final sample of the Outturn. This Caol Ila is 10 years old. On the nose, KEEPING THE FIRE STOKED exhibits salty sea air, ozone, clamshells, dried seaweed snacks, and lemonade. On the palate, I get oatmeal with apple slices, a BLT sandwich, grilled scallops, and Fishermen’s Friend lozenges. For all of that, this is a very grain-driven Caol Ila. It has minerality, but it remains smooth and fresh on the nose and the palate.

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Singles Awareness Day

by Tracy

February 15th Is Singles Awareness Day!
Yes, that’s really a thing. Ugh. As if Valentine’s Day wasn’t enough to draw attention to our loneliness, now there’s another “holiday” to remind us of our non-coupleness.

For those of us who are romantically challenged, choosing the right wine is an important part of a single person’s life. It’s okay… I’m here to help you. Unfortunately, I can’t help you pick the right date – you’re on your own for that – but I can ease your mind when it comes to pairing wines for the right mood, occasion or maybe even the right person. Now go put on your party dress and let’s celebrate! Okay okay. Don’t. Go put on your pj’s, grab a bottle of wine and let’s watch reruns of The Golden Girls (thanks, Amazon Prime).

It’s Your Party. Go Ahead, Cry if You Want To
Let’s face it. Breakups are never easy, no matter what the situation is or who made the decision. Breaking up is hard to do. Neil Sedaka even wrote a catchy little ditty about it (thanks, Mom). It’s very important to make sure you’re ready for anything as you pick up the pieces and move forward. If I was you (and, well… I am) I would grab a box of tissues, throw on The Notebook, and make some sweet & salty kettle corn popcorn. Now open a magnum of Champagne. My recommendation: Champagne Dumangin Cuvée 17. Unlike you and your last partner, these two belong together.

Think Outside the Box
When it comes to both dating and wine, it’s easy to stick with what you know. Some of you even go back again and again to whatever feels familiar, long after you’ve walked away. You really shouldn’t do that in your dating life, and you sure as h–e–double-hockey-sticks better not do that with wine! There are literally THOUSANDS of options out there for you to try and they are all pleading with you to get out of your comfort zone and take a chance on something new. We tend to go back to the same handful of wines when we browse the shelves while rejecting other fabulous recommendations. Maybe the label isn’t your style. Maybe you’ve never heard of that grape. Maybe it’s from a country you’ve never been to. Try it anyway! You just might fall in love with an unusual – and perfect – addition to your collection. I highly recommend a bold Italian that will make your mouth water. Here’s one: Titolo Aglianico del Vulture 2015. Continue reading

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Scotch Malt Whisky Society of Canada January 2021 Outturn

by Evan

If you are reading this, then give yourself a well-deserved pat on the back. Even better – give yourself a round of applause! Hug your loved ones. Kiss your dog or cat if you are an animal lover. Somehow, you managed to survive the absolute horror show that was 2020. That does call for some rejoicing. How best to celebrate what will hopefully be a happier (or at least more stable) spin around the sun for us all? By tasting through the first Scotch Malt Whisky Society Canada Chapter’s first Outturn of the year, of course! I have seven dram samples in front of me, so I had better get cracking!

A4.1 – The SMWS Canada has chosen to ring in the new year by starting with a dram from their spirits range. Dubbed ELEGANT AND INVITING, this is an Armagnac. I have been a fan of what I have seen for Armagnac from the SMWS so far – any chance you get to try a brandy at cask strength has to be a good thing, right? On the nose, I find this has plenty of wood notes and cherry sauce, along with dashes of cinnamon, orange peel, fruit leather and Christmas cake. The palate is remarkably big and chewy upon first sip – especially for a first dram – before it settles into syrupy sweet notes of dutch liquorice, boozy fruit cake, roasted hazelnuts and walnuts, Grand Marnier and cloves. This is a decadent dram for a number one!

85.64 is next on the docket. This is a specially chosen bottle that the SMWS Canada has  to donate the proceeds from. The cause they will championing for newly launched Giving Spirit campaign will change with a new bottle launch each quarter. The proceeds from BAKED BANANAS AND BURNT BACON will be donated to Big Brothers Big Sisters of Canada. I am guessing many of you have already purchased a bottle given the good gesture and cause this supports, but I should give my notes on it anyway, right? The nose offers up toast with marmalade, wine gums, crisp malt, rich vanilla and a nice soft floral note underneath. The palate shows white pepper, chamomile tea with honey, lemon bonbons, plus a waxy and slightly drying finish. This is a tasty dram from Glen Elgin that leaves one feeling warm inside from both the whisky and the supported cause.

93.138 – My heart is all aflutter just with the excitement of having a Glen Scotia in this Outturn. I have really enjoyed the 93s we have seen over the last year or two from the SMWS, so SUSPEND YOUR DISBELIEF has some lofty standards to live up to in my mind. For the nose: Cotton Candy. Seriously. McCormicks Marshmallow Strawberries, confectioner’s sugar, lemon-infused olive oil, dryer sheets, assorted jelly beans, cream soda, and so much more sweet delights. I think I developed a few cavities just nosing this one. Hopefully, my teeth don’t just give up and fall out now, but on the palate, I get watermelon jolly ranchers, a touch of dry oak, saltwater taffy, and more of all of those confections and candy that you loved as a kid but now your doctor and dentist warn you about. There is also just the slightest touch of floral peat. This bottle is absolutely insane!

Okay, now that I am back from brushing my teeth and flossing, it is time to give 68.38 a try. On the nose of this Blair Athol named BUTCHER SHOP QUARTET I notice some buttery and savoury notes such as chicken stock, buttered toast, a touch of dill, dim sum egg custard tarts, and steely, dry Riesling. On the palate, the sweet and savoury combination continues with low sodium bacon, honey glaze, burnt caramel, lychee, and honeydew melon. This is a wild ride, and a fun one at that.

Speaking of wild rides, next up is a Craigellachie at 68.5% ABV(!). Put on your crazy pants and get ready for 44.117 which is oddly named HAPPINESS IS A WARM BUNG. I would give you kudos for not letting your mind slip into juvenile mode when given a name like that to contend with, but I know you would be lying.  I am not sure why the SMWS chose to put a double entendre in the name that could easily be taken as a single entendre if you don’t know that ‘bung’ is indeed a term for cask closure. I guess they are trying to educate us all! On the burning nose hairs, this massive Craigellachie shows chocolate-dipped bacon, maple syrup reduction, walnut liqueur, and molasses. To taste I get much more of the same. That is not a slight – this whisky is just so damn big and sherried that it is hard to pull apart in a quick fashion. There are plenty of dried fruit notes, but they do get a bit buried in the burly, meaty, spicy, syrupy palate. If you find sherry bombs such as Aberlour A’Bunadh and Glenfarclas 105 too light and watered down, then I think I found a dram for you!

Up next we enter in to peated territory with a Caol Ila titled BURIAL AT SEA. On the nose 53.317 shows notes of barbecue pork ribs (I didn’t want to say bacon for the third dram in a row), roasted red peppers, mezcal margaritas, hickory sticks, smoked applewood, burnt apple crumble, and flint striking steel. The palate is salty, creamy and oily with more savoury barbecue notes (must… not… say… bacon…), iodine, overripe lemons, and spicy pad thai.

For the final dram in the Outturn, we have a young, peated Bunnahabhain. 10.190 – MAKE MOINE A DEVIL is sadly sold out as it was a lottery bottle, but let’s give it a try for completeness’ sake anyhow! I usually prefer my young, peated Bunnas to be from ex-bourbon, but this ex-sherry number shows a nose full of grape must, crumbling peat, pepperoni and peppercorns, Worcestershire Sauce, Soy sauce, black olives, and more (Can I say bacon again yet or is it still too soon?). The palate is more sweet and floral than the nose would lead you to believe with thrills gum, dates, dried blueberries, HP Sauce, and chocolate-coated espresso beans. Fun stuff!

Tasting this lineup made for a better way to celebrate a new year than nearly anything else I could imagine excluding inoculation. Hopefully, February, March and onward will be just as pleasant. For that I mean life itself – I know the SMWS drams will be!



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Merry Christmas! KWM 2020 Whisky Calendar Day 25: SMWS

by Evan

Merry Christmas, Everyone!

We made it, guys! It was hard work, but somehow we have gone through 24 drams in 24 days, and now we get to celebrate by tasting a 25th! Crack open the longer and larger door on top of your 2020 KWM Whisky Calendar and pull out that special, extra-large 100ml bottle: Today we have a gift from the Scotch Malt Whisky Society of Canada: this is SMWS

My reasons for writing these posts for each day are numerous, and they are all selfish. Here are the main ones:

  • I enjoy writing, and I especially enjoy foisting my own silly ideas and opinions on others. It makes me feel important.
  • I especially enjoy the feedback I get from those that read what I say. I am a fragile snowflake and thrive on the accolades and opinions shared with me. It makes me feel loved.
  • If Andrew was doing these posts, I would end up editing them and likely having to write quite a few of them anyhow given the constraints on his time. Why not cut out the middle man?

Sure, those reasons are part tongue in cheek, but there is a ring of truth to all three. Here is the main reason. It is still selfish though, so don’t go thinking that part wasn’t one hundred percent truth:

  • I get to discover and learn about these whiskies along with everybody else.

Yeah, I consider myself somewhat knowledgeable when it comes to the subject of whisky. I should be – it is a big part of my job. But I definitely don’t know everything. I am a whisky enthusiast first and foremost, and I am always looking to learn more.

These blog posts allow me to do a bit of research and learning myself. Like you, I might retain a fact or two after I write these posts, and hopefully, that will give me more anecdotes and ideas to use when helping you or somebody else select their next bottle. Hell, it even helps me pick my next bottle, all while getting to taste another whisky and read a little bit more about the distillery behind it.

I am thankful for all of this, and I am especially thankful that anybody would put up with my words as we tasted our way through the 2020 KWM Whisky Calendar. Thank you very much for joining me in this 25-dram undertaking!

Before I get even sappier, let’s launch into talking about today’s special whisky. Open the door at the top of your 2020 KWM Whisky Calendar and reveal The Scotch Malt Whisky Society 72.92 – A WONDERFUL WELCOME!

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KWM 2020 Whisky Calendar Day 24 – Loch Lomond 12 Year Old

by Evan

The End Is Nigh! – on the 2020 KWM Whisky Calendar. When we pull out this bottle we will have opened all twenty-four panels on the front of the Whisky Calendar box, and we will only have the special bottle up top to open tomorrow. What do we have to look forward to today, so close to the holiest of days when we crack into that secret and special SMWS bottle? For Day twenty-four we have the Loch Lomond 12 Year Old!

The Loch Lomond 12 Year comes to us from Loch Lomond Distillery. Founded in 1965, Loch Lomond is a bizarre operation that is capable of making multiple different styles of spirit all under one roof.  The distillery is capable of producing Single Malt, Single Grain, and Blended Whisky entirely at one site. It can and does do this, and it also makes Single Malt in and a wide variety of styles, including both peated and unpeated types.

There are a total of thirteen stills within the Loch Lomond Distillery, however, they are definitely not all the same. Included in this number are your typical swan-neck style pot stills: the type you see at most Scottish distilleries that make single malt whisky. Beyond that though, things get weird. There are also three pairs of straight-neck pot stills, which are sometimes called Lomond stills. One of these pairs has a water cooling system installed on the top of the still that the heated vapour hits before going through the narrowing neck/pipe for collection. This results in much more reflux and leads to a lighter, softer, fruitier spirit being produced.

Last but not least, there is a six-story Coffey/column still that is actually split in two to accommodate the three-story building it resides in. This still is used to distill malted barley, but due to SWA regulations it is still classified as Single Grain spirit. The whisky made with this still is used in their blends, but you can occasional find it bottled as Rhosdhu by indie bottlers.
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KWM 2020 Whisky Calendar Day 23: Ardmore Legacy

by Evan

Day 23 brings us something a little bit different: this is a peated malt from the Highlands. Today’s mini bottle is the Ardmore Legacy.

Ardmore distillery was founded in 1898 and was purpose built to provide whisky for Blending, as pretty much all distilleries were at the time. However with Ardmore that hasn’t changed much – even today just about all of Ardmore’s still being used for blending, trading stock, or selling.

Only a small portion of Ardmore Single Malt Scotch lands in official bottles released by Ardmore and its parent company Beam Suntory, and the only official bottle that makes its way to Alberta the Legacy that we will be trying. Ardmore does also release three other bottlings, but one of them is duty-free only and the remaining two have yet to make their way to Canada.

Beam Suntory seems to treat Ardmore as the red-headed stepchild in its Scotch Whisky portfolio. When it comes to profile and releases, Bowmore and Laphroaig get plenty of attention, being the Islay darlings that they are. Auchentoshan in the Lowlands gets similar treatment. Even Glen Garioch gets more releases, and that is saying something!

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KWM 2020 Whisky Calendar Day 22: That Boutique-y Whisky Co. Bunnahabhain 10 Year Old

By Evan

Day Twenty-Two in our 2020 KWM Whisky Calendar brings us another bottling from That Boutique-y Whisky Company. This is the fourth we have seen thus far – and the second we have Single Malt we have gotten from them. We are heading back to Islay today for That Boutique-y Whisky Company Bunnahabhain 10 Year Old!

2017 was the last time we had any Bunnahabhain in our KWM Whisky Calendar, which is a bit of a travesty by my estimation. Bunna is my personal favourite distillery on Islay – I love it for both unpeated and peated Single Malt distilled there.

Bunnahabhain Distillery is the northernmost distillery on Islay – it lays off the beaten path and is somewhat remote even when compared to the rest of the island. The distillery was actually only reachable by boat until the 1960s, when a road was finally built to it. Bunnahabhain is one of a trio of Scottish Single Malt Distilleries owned by Burn Stewart (Distell Group).

Burn Stewart and its parent company also own Tobermory Distillery on the Isle of Mull which we discussed on both on Day Four and Day Seventeen. and Deanston Distillery which resides on the Scottish mainland in Perthshire. Like its siblings, most of the flagship single malts Bunnahabhain range are bottled unchill-filtered and with no added colouring at the the curious but commendable strength of 46.3% ABV.

This Islay distillery was founded in 1881 and started its life making the heavily peated whisky that the region is famous for. For most of its history its whisky was exclusively used in blends such as Black Bottle, and even today only a fraction of its production is bottled as a single malt. In 1963 production was increased and at the same time the distillery’s style was changed to the lighter, unpeated single malt whisky it is known for today. Since 1997 there have been small amounts of heavily peated (35 PPM malt spec) single malt made each year but it is not what the distillery is known for.

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KWM 2020 Whisky Calendar Day 21: That Boutique-y Whisky Co. Strathclyde 31 Year Old

by Evan

We are going all Boutique-y once more: behind Door Twenty-one lives the oldest whisky in the 2020 KWM Whisky Calendar by a whole four years! This is the Strathclyde 31 Year Old Single Grain Scotch from That Boutique-y Whisky Company.

This Strathclyde whisky marks the second Single Grain Scotch Whisky in this year’s KWM Whisky Calendar, and possibly only second in this style we have ever put in during the six years of making our own Whisky Calendar. The first Single Grain was from a closed distillery we tasted back on Day Three. So, what is the deal with Strathclyde?

Seriously, I am asking.

I honestly don’t know much about Strathclyde Distillery off the top of my dome. I have only tasted a handful of bottlings from this distillery that I can recall – most of them have been from indie bottler Cadenhead. Give me some time and I will get back to you with a bit more information, okay?

— Hours Later —

Phew! Okay, so here’s the deal: Strathclyde is a Distillery located in Glasgow, on the South side of the River Clyde which bisects Scotland’s largest city. Like many Grain Distilleries that have come and gone or still exist, the Glasgow location means that it resides in the Lowlands region-wise. Strathclyde was one of two Single Grain Whisky-producing distilleries in Glasgow until Port Dundas Distillery was closed in 2009. With the recent boom times that Scotch Whisky has enjoyed, there have been a few other distilleries popping up in the city along the River Clyde but all of them are dwarfed production-wise by this veritable Grain Whisky factory. Continue reading

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