Scotch Malt Whisky Society of Canada November 2019 Outturn

Wow! November arrived in full force here at Kensington Wine Market. In the first full week of the month we held a sold out whisky festival, which itself was sandwiched betwixt two days of SMWS tastings. As with October, the November tastings for SMWS at our shop sold out incredibly fast. Due to this, we added a FIFTH tasting, which itself sold out as well! All told, We hosted five SMWS whisky tastings and at our whisky festival over four straight days. It was like running a sprint and a marathon at the same time. Luckily, the groups at every one of these events were fun to hang out and chat whisky with, which made the time fly!

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Stillin’ Gin’s Still In

by Shawn

Another month, another dozen gins to hit the market.

No, seriously, there are so many new gins assaulting the province every month I can barely keep track. My poor shelves don’t get a moment’s rest! Though it’s a pain to keep on top of it, I do have to admit that it makes these gin tastings more fun. I definitely enjoy putting together a well-rounded lineup featuring -mostly- new gins that showcase the different styles along with varied and interesting botanicals. So here’s what I have this time! If you read on, you’ll see what I mean. Let’s see, we’ve checked the dry box, the sweet, the floral, the fruity, the oaked, and even a classic genever!

My guests came, we laughed, we had some good conversation, and ate some fantastic cheese. This evening was a no brainer, and if you haven’t been to a KWM gin tasting… Wait, make that a SHAWN gin tasting, then you just gotta come see what it’s all about. I wax poetic, I geek out, and I guarantee everyone (including me) learned something. Read on for a look at what we tasted our way through this time ’round:

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Scotch Malt Whisky Society of Canada October 2019 Outturn

by Evan

Winter is coming. Or so they say. We have already seen snow on the ground, though most has since melted. In Calgary, and in many parts of Canada, that means it could be any month between January and December. Doesn’t really narrow it down much, but looking at the Calendar tells me that we are indeed now in October.

Our busy fall season is now in full swing here at Kensington Wine Market, and we received clear evidence of that in how quickly the four Outturn tastings for October sold out. If only there was enough time in the day, we probably could have sold through a fifth tasting as well.

With October being busy, November will be absolute chaos when it arrives, with the four Outturn tastings being sandwiched around a sold out Whisky Festival. Fun times. Are we getting close to peak whisky? Is such a thing even possible? I have my doubts, but only time will tell.

Back to the present Outturn. Here is what October and the SMWS Canada have given us to salivate over:

  • Our second SMWS Canada bottling from the underated distillery 115 (Knockdhu, also known as anCnoc). 8 years old and flawless in my books. Creamy, oily and fruity with a bit of spice. So well put together at such a young age. This will likely be sold out very soon, if it isn’t already. I would suggest looking at 12.18 – WHATEVER FLOATS YOUR BOAT as an equally-as-good alternative. BenRiach and Knockdhu both seem to have the combination of young single malt and well chosen oak casks dialed in – or at least the SMWS knows how to pick great casks from both of these distilleries!
  • Toffee and Turf from Lowlands distillery #5 was a fun second bottle in the lineup, exhibiting candied red fruit notes (Twizzlers and Nibs!) before moving through big spice and then earthy notes on the palate. The nose is great, and the transitions it goes through on the tongue are a lot of fun to experience. This is my favourite SMWS bottling from distillery 5 that I can recall tasting.
  • The third bottle in the tasting lineup is the first SMWS bottle we have seen in Canada from distillery #113. This workhorse distillery was purpose built to make single malt to be used in blended Scotch, and even indie bottles are rare. At seven years of age, THYME FOR A BANANA offers what you would expect based on the name – a combination of fruity and herbaceous character at a solid price.
  • We jumped from the very young to the respectably aged with A BRIDE IN A WAXED JACKET, which to me comes across as a remarkable mashup of Glen Grant and Clynelish in style. This 25 year old is a complex combination of wax, fruit, musty dunnage, and more. I guess I haven’t tasted enough from distillery 46 to really peg its style down, but this one is excellent no matter what it tastes like.
  • The fifth bottle in the lineup was just slightly younger at 21 years old, having spent time in two casks which previously held different styles of sherry. That sherry cask influence shows in spades, but the distillery character on SUCCULENT, SCINTILLATING AND SUBSTANTIAL is not covered up at all. Sherry cask fans need to check this one out.
  • We head into peated territory with FULL STEAM AHEAD!, but the peat is soft and very well balanced by the big, sweet malty notes throughout. This is a gorgeous bottling from a Highland distillery that specializes in peated single malt.
  • We finally landed on Islay with the last bottle in the linup, titled SPOT ON! The name says it all. This has all of the earmarks of the distillery it hails from in my opinion, in all the right ways.

Those are my thoughts on the Outturn. A big thanks as always goes to our neighbor’s Peasant Cheese for supplying the food compliment for the tastings.

Read on below for the Society’s own tasting notes on each bottle, plus pricing info.

Cheers,
Evan
evan@kensingtonwinemarket.com
Twitter and Instagram: @sagelikefool
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Tight Wad Oenophile: Back to School

by Bri

September is here and it’s time to get all the layers of clothing out and prepare ourselves for ……cold-weather season. Not only do we have to get those calendars back out to keep track of all the fall events. We are also in the season of pumpkin spice drinks and exercise pants with Uggs. Keep those anxiety feelings at arm’s length! The flip side is the kids are back in school and the daily summer hustle-bustle is slowing down just enough for some guilt-free affordable wine. Kensington Wine Market has many special wines however, we love those daily/ weekly deals. Plenty of variety that will satisfy any craving and also let you budget before the holiday season is upon us. The back to school tight-wad tasting took the overwhelmed in-store wine hunting and showcased seven wines that are budget worthy and delicious.

Ortega Rioja Young White 2017
Ortega Ezquerros is a family-run production based in Rioja, Spain. Starting in 1896 as a small collection of vines, Ortega Ezquerro continuously adapts and grows with the ever-changing wine environment, whilst maintaining their traditions and beliefs. This wine is a blend of 90% Viura, 5% Malvasía, 5% Garnacha Blanca. It’s balanced and intriguing, with beautiful fruit and floral characteristics and an underlying acidity that brightens up the palate. Continue reading

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Isle of Arran Distillery with Mariella Romano

by Evan

For our recent tasting focused on the the Isle of Arran Distillers, we were lucky enough to have Mariella Romano – Arran’s Global Brand Ambassador – lead us through the lineup.

The Isle of Arran has seen quite a few changes over the last three 25 years, at least when it comes to whisky. In 1995, just outside of Lochranza which is located at the northern tip of the island, the Isle of Arran’s first legal distillery in over a century opened. Now we are in 2019 and a second distillery has just opened on the island, this time at its southern edge in a town called Lagg.

The Lochranza distillery has always focused on distilling unpeated malt, with limited forays into peated malt happening during only very small amount of its operation. The Lagg Distillery, which is also owned by Isle of Arran Distillers, is heading into much more peated territory, making a burly, heavily peated new make spirit that comes off very earthy, fruity, and even mezcal like in style. Islay lovers will have to keep an eye out for futures releases from Lagg once it has whisky to release.

Here is the lineup that Mariella led us through:

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Cheese Please: Staff Picks

by Abigail

Initially, it was Don who was to present the wine component of the tasting, but unfortunately he fell ill just a couple days before (hope you are feeling better!) Fortunately I am one to always jump at the chance to host a tasting, but to do a tasting with Crystal? Even better!

This tasting is something to share with you all. There are no boundaries of region, country or style (well maybe a little bit of a budget boundary because my first pick would have probably been the jeroboam of Cristal we have, but alas.) We are picking wines and cheeses that get us excited, and we are sharing them with you!

Here is the line up from tonight’s tasting

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BBQ and Wine

By Brianna

It is no mystery that wine is meant to be paired with delicious food. That is why I love pairing my favourite drink with one of my favourite food. BBQ provides ampul of wine pairing opportunities. Caramelized burnt sugar, umami flavours and spicy toppings give us a wide range to work with. Spicy Australian Shiraz, off-dry Riesling, oaked Chardonnay and peppery Cabernet to name a few. A key factor is to pair bold with bold! No matter how crazy the flavours may get.

I decided to showcase six wines from different countries and a wide range of BBQ options to show the classics and diversity for the tasting. Beef brisket, smoked chicken with coleslaw, cornbread and grilled spicy sausage and halloumi cheese. Here are the wines of the evening, starting with the top favourites.

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Scotch Malt Whisky Society of Canada September 2019 Outturn

by Evan

September always feels like a turning point in the year for me, and I probably I am not alone. Fall has not officially started yet, but summer vacation is over for many of us and the kids are back in school. This is the start of a busiest time of year here at Kensington Wine Market, as we ramp up for all of our fall tastings and festivals and prepare to sell and build our 2019 KWM Whisky Advent Calendar.

Society-wise, it means we return to seven new releases in the Outturn, instead of the six releases and one featured returning bottle as we run in June, July and August. Here is what we tasted our way through this month:

  • This Outturn is on the relatively affordable side of things, with only one bottle costing more than $200. Two of the bottles are available for less than $150 and the rest are priced between $180-$190.
  • The lineup as a whole has a fun chronology to it trading between fresh and style to more funky bottles for most of the tasting.
  • On the fresh side of things, we start with a young but very well put together Linkwood. This is one of my personal favourites from distillery 39 in recent memory. Style-wise, it compares well to the equally great BenRiach we had in August, but with more spice and and green wood notes coming through, and a little less creaminess.
  • In what could be a sign of a post-brexit apocalyptic future in which all Scotch Whisky comes from one single remaining distillery – we have two very different Loch Lomonds in this Outturn. One is older and unpeated (or perhaps shows the bearest hint of peat?) – the other is quite young and peated. Which is better? the 135 or the 122? That is for you to decide. I, for one, welcome Loch Lomond as are our new distillery overlords. May their multiple-society-number reign be righteous and true.
  • The first Glenlivet we have seen in a while is spicy and rich with vibrant fruit notes. It reminds me of a few SMWS and indie Longmorn I have enjoyed over the past few years or so.
  • The fourth bottle in the lineup comes from distillery 37 – which also gave us the most expensive SMWS bottle we have seen so far in Canada back in April of this year. This one is younger and does not break the bank. It is also shows some wonderful yet not over-the-top sherry notes and the barest hint of peat.
  • Possibly the funkiest bottle of the night was the 46.70, which shows a heavy Madeira Cask influence. I thought it would be divisive because of this, but it turned out to be more of a crowd-pleaser at the tastings.
  • Bottle number six comes from my personal favourite Islay distillery, SMWS number 10. It is on the unpeated side of things but big and oily and malt-forward with a bucket of salt on the palate. I honestly would have guessed this was from distillery 66 if I had tasted it blind without the cheat-sheet to read from.
  • I already mentioned the young, peated Loch Lomond, which was the last of the night, but good grief did I enjoy this one. It packs a lot of flavour and fun into a young whisky package.

Curious about the seven new bottles? Read on below – but first I would like to thank the always wonderful Peasant Cheese for providing the small bites to go along with our monthly pilgrimage up cask strength whisky mountain. Also, don’t forget we have plenty of past releases you can browse anytime on our Scotch Malt Whisky Society Pages.

Cheers,
Evan
evan@kensingtonwinemarket.com
Twitter and Instagram: @sagelikefool

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Women in Wine

by Bri

Women have always been involved in the world of wine. If you look back more than a century or two, their involvement may have not been traditional or even on purpose but women were and still are pivotal to the winemaking world. To write this tasting blog I have to be honest: I never thought specifically about women in the wine world. Before anyone gets upset it wasn’t a decision I made purposefully. Being caught up in a world that has many merits on knowledge, sometimes it can feel unrealistic without years for practice and a network of other like-minded people. Saying all that I am now jumping with joy that I was given this tasting because the history of women in wine are remarkable and many stories need to be told. The tasting not only focused on women winemakers but also vineyard owners, generational turmoil and historic serendipity. Let’s dive in and see the fascinating stories of six inspiring women within the current global wine industry.

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Vino Italiano

by Abigail

Italy is a country full of wonders. Not only does Italy have a wide range of beautiful traditional dishes, breathtaking architecture, and incredible landscapes, it is also home to some of the most historic and diverse wine regions in the world. Wine and Italian culture have been intertwined for millennia, even before most other countries had learnt the ways of viniculture. It has over 2000 indigenous grapes, and only a quarter of which have been documented, scattered across its mountainous landscape. The country itself is a narrow, long strip of land that extends itself from the cold continental Alps to the hot Mediterranean Sea, creating diverse climates across the regions. As a country, Italy is a force to reckon with when it comes to wine both in production volume and diversity of style. This tasting will only show the tip of the iceberg for what it is known for.

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