Scotch Malt Whisky Society of Canada October 2020 Outturn

by Evan

I am behind in posting this, so lets get down to it! Here are my thoughts on the October Outturn for the Scotch Malt Whisky Society of Canada;

  • 82.22 – On the nose: mint, sage, lemons, chamomile. On the palate: Juicy with a spicy zing to it. Nutty notes like pistachios and macadamias along with pear puree and a peppercorn-like heat.. The herbaceousness on the nose gives way to to the fruitiness and spice on the palate.
  • 59.59 – Ahh, Teaninich. I have been really enjoying any Teaninich I have tasted over the past few years. SPOCK’S EARWAX does have some wax notes to it -  but at least it doesn’t smell Vulcanized. It is also missing the green and grassy notes I get a lot of the Teaninich’s I have had. Illogical! The nose evokes creme brulee, tapioca, creamy mango bubble tea plus a dash of citrus and mint. The palate shows starts soft but builds up to a wonderful juiciness. Mango, pineapple and fruit cup syrup all jump to the fore. I cannot tell a lie: The whisky is soft and doesn’t have a very long finish, but man is it delicious.
  • A5.2 - Now, we shift gears, going from distilled grain to distilled grapes with this Armagnac. MUSK-COATED CANDYFLOSS is full of maraschino cherries, maple candies, and fennel along with a touch of leather jacket and shoe polish on the nose. To taste it has plenty of cherries again, plus molasses, earl grey tea, cloves, and orange slices. It is a shame we cannot do in-store tastings right now because this would have been fun to see people react to blind. I feel like there are a decent amount of rum notes in this Armagnac. The duality makes it a fun sipper.
  • 37.131 – Back to Scotch – this time from Cragganmore Distillery. I had to look up the first word in the name for TARANTELLA TONGUE DANCING. Tarantella apparently is a rapid southern Italian dance or piece of music for said dance that is written in a quick 6/8 time. Sounds like this should be an interesting strike to the palate then! Firstly, the nose evokes a lot of the STR cask the whisky was finished in with plenty of polished wood and fruit notes such as mandarin oranges, cherries, and ripe bananas. On the palate I don’t personally get the dance, but I do get the intermingling of cask char, fruity wine notes and orange marmalade. It is sweet up front with some nice wood spice notes. I can’t really pick it apart more than that at the moment so I will just say if you are a fan of STR casks, you should check this one out.
  • 29.257 – I am almost afraid to talk about this one. It is a 21-year-old single cask Laphroaig, so it be two things at the very least: expensive and good whisky. The SMWS Canada put this bottle in front of the tasting panel for the Alberta Beverage Awards and what do you know! It tied for Best in Class in the Whisky Category. How good is it though? Is OUT OF LEFT FIELD worth the money? I have a mortgage and three young kids, so my mind says no. My nose however wants to be stuck in a glass containing this whisky 24/7. Soft coastal peat, cooked pineapple, dates, cherries, Fisherman’s Friend lozenges, railroad ties, lemon meringue pie, and parma violets. The palate liquid smoke, char-grilled pineapple, fresh blackberries, chamomile tea, lemon honey ginger tea, black liquorice tea, and a dash of salt. To me, it is surprising that this was finished for more than a year in a first fill Oloroso cask. The clean sherry is there but it never manages to overpower the whisky within. This is a great bottle because of that.
  • Battle Axe – This is a peat and Islay-driven blended malt bottled at 50% ABV. The youngest whisky in the blend is 8 years old. The nose is oily, salty and smoky with citrus notes. It makes me think of Caol Ila of the hop. On the palate I get the same, but with plenty more going on such as sweet coconut water, honey, banana chips, vanilla ice cream, and dark chocolate on the finish. This is another very well-but together blend from the SMWS
  • 16.41 – This is the second peated Glenturret that we have seen from the SMWS Canada. The first surprised many with the style of peat this Highland distillery evokes; It definitely is not coastal. For me, the nose is full of dense chocolate fudge, fresh coffee grounds, and black forest cake. The palate spins out more fruit and sweet notes than the nose with marshmallows melting in hot chocolate, or perhaps between the sandwich of graham cracker and chocolate in a s’more. Apple pie, and the savoury and sweet notes of sauteed mushrooms on steak. The combination of dark earthiness and sweet notes work very, very well.

You can more information on these as well as other SMWS bottles by visiting our website.

Cheers,
Evan
[email protected]
Twitter and Instagram: @sagelikefool
Instagram: one part of @kwmwhisky

 

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Andrew’s Interview on CBC Calgary’s The Eye Opener – Wednesday September 23rd, 2020

by Evan

There has been a social media storm in the whisky world over the past week. The storm started with a certain Panama hat-wearing person naming the Alberta Premium Cask Strength Rye his ‘World Whisky of the Year’. His press release on this award not surprisingly coincided with the release of his annual book of whisky scores. Media jumped on the press release and the nearly sold out Alberta Premium Cask Strength became completely sold out shortly thereafter.

This in itself is not new. The same thing happened in 2015 when the hat-wearer bestowed the same award on another Canadian Whisky: the Crown Royal Northern Harvest Rye.

The man in the Panama hat has been a divisive figure within the whisky industry for years. Some individuals and many companies lauded him and his scores for his ability to create buzz around brands that then saw a bump in sales. Others have seen him as doing more harm than good for the industry, creating artificial scarcity through somewhat dubious, and potentially self-serving, scores and awards that only showcase his own personal taste in whisky and book-selling.

What really caused a stir though, and continues to send waves through the industry, are a series of Tweets by Becky Paskin, former editor of Scotchwhisky.com, who pointed out some of the sexist and misogynist language the author of the whisky scores book wrote into his tasting notes. Becky’s comments were a catalyst for others in the industry to chime in on how much of a disservice this is for women, whisky drinkers, and the whisky industry alike.

Whisky brands and companies, taking this all in, started to distance themselves from both the man in the Panama hat and his scores and book. With the uproar caused, Andrew was asked for his take on it by CBC Calgary’s The Eyeopener.

In an interview with David Gray, Andrew was asked to comment on the allegations of sexism against Jim Murray and the Whisky Bible. The interview was quoted in an article posted on CBC News Thursday afternoon: “Calgary distillery unsure it’ll promote its top rating by Whisky Bible after book deemed sexist by industry.”

A few of people have asked if there was a way to stream Andrew’s Wednesday interview. CBC was kind enough to send us a digital copy. You can hear it by clicking the link below!

CBC Calgary Eyeopener Interview – Sexism & the Whisky Bible

I am no fan of Jim Murray or his Whisky Bible but, like many, I have purchased a few of his books over the years. My interest in his ratings and writings waned when I eventually came to realise that they didn’t offer much actual information and only represented one person’s opinion. I moved onto books such as the great Malt Whisky Yearbook and followed blogs and websites such as Scotchwhisky.comWhiskyfun.com. Along the way I even found an awesome site written by a fellow Calgarian. It isn’t updated as frequently now, but you can always come into the store and ask for his opinion.

That is beside the point though. And if my own journey through the whisky world does not align with yours, that is fine. Neither of us has to be wrong. What should go without saying now and forevermore, is that sexism and misogyny have no place in the whisky industry or anywhere else.

Regardless of your or my personal feelings on Jim Murray and his book, it is important to understand that his word is not gospel. There are plenty of people – both professional and enthusiast – that offer well-thought-out writing, blog posts, bottle reviews and more on Canadian Whisky, Scotch, Bourbon. What makes them great is not just their knowledge, insight, or opinions but their respect and treatment of anybody interested in whisky.

The best people in the whisky industry aren’t the ones looking to talk at you and sell a book. The whisky people worth paying attention to are the ones that are ready and willing to have a conversation.

And I will keep saying the same thing until I have something published.

Cheers,
Evan
[email protected]
Twitter and Instagram: @sagelikefool
Instagram: one part of @kwmwhisky

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“World Whisky of the Year” Alternatives

by Evan

Alberta Premium Cask Strength has been awarded quite a few accolades since it was first released in October of 2019. When it first hit our shelves and we had a chance to taste it, I wrote up my own tasting notes for our web description. I ended up being a whisky Nostradamus with this comment:

This is going to win some awards, and rightly so. It has been a long time coming, but it is great to see Alberta Distillers showcase what their 100% Rye is capable of.

My comment is now easy to stand by – Alberta Premium Cask Strength has been given high marks and awards by Whisky drinkers’ professional and hobbyist alike.

Now it has become one of the most talked-about whiskies this year, joining the likes of Pappy Van Winkle, Ardbeg LatestStrangelyNamedSpecialEdition, Yamazaki ANYTHING, and a host of others that people ask for at liquor stores where the answer usually starts with “No, but we do have…”. This is followed by the staff person at the liquor store showing you some potential alternatives that you may enjoy just as much.

This response often comes as a disappointment to the potential customer trying to track down the bottle, which is understandable. If you are that potential customer: I am sorry. You were excited about getting their hands on the Alberta Premium Cask Strength and likely wanted to taste for yourself what this “World Whisky of the Year” is actually like. It does not help you if I say it is a great whisky, and deserving of this attention because that will not get you any closer to acquiring a bottle of it.

What I can tell you are there are plenty of great whiskies out there, just waiting to be discovered. There may even be some that you personally enjoy more than that elusive unicorn bottle that is impossible to find. If you keep an open mind and are willing to try some bottles out, you might find one or two that you fall in love with.

Or you might end up like me, falling off the deep end and discovering that you love all whisky, be it Canadian or Scottish or peated or made with rye or barley or corn or a combination thereof. There are many amazing whiskies being made and bottled – and that is why we carry hundreds of different labels and styles in our whisky section.

 

Looking at the shelf can be daunting. Where do you start? For today, let’s focus on possible alternatives to the whisky of the moment: the Alberta Premium Cask Strength. Continue reading

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Scotch Malt Whisky Society of Canada September 2020 Outturn

by Evan

I have no movie review or recommendation this time around, so just go ahead and watch Kung Fu Hustle again. And again. And again.

Labour Day long weekend has come and gone, and it back to… normal? Who knows. The kids are back to school (or being homeschooled) and the KWM Whisky Calendar is close to being finalized. We can’t do much around Kensington Wine Market to provide you with a sense of normalcy beyond just keep on keeping on, and that is what we plan to do.

The Scotch Malt Whisky Society of Canada is also doing the same. Here are the latest seven bottles in the September of 2020 Outturn, with my thoughts on them:

  • 26.136 – In my book, Clynelish is always welcome in any outturn. It tends to be full of verve and excitement when young (aren’t we all), and with age, it gets even better (I wish I could say the same!). With a name like CANDY FLOSS AND CAROUSELS and a stated age of 8 years old, this should plenty of that Clynelish vivacity. Let’s see: The nose gives honey and salty corn nuts along with baked apple, peach and pear. There is a touch of waxy character and roasted malt along for the ride. On the palate, I get a generously salty delivery with lots of the already stated fruits, corn nuts, and peanut skins as well. The palate reminds me a wee bit of Beachcomber, sans the peat and missing a touch of that big fruity zing. It finishes with a touch of creme brulee and Cracker Jack popcorn. On the whole, this isn’t really colouring outside the lines for this distillery, but it is delicious nonetheless. It is pretty much what I personally want from Clynelish – though I do wish it was older. Then again, they can’t all be 24 Year Old Single Casks costing $340, can they?
  • 95.36 – This is our second Auchroisk from the SMWS Canada, with the first coming to us recently in the June 2020 Outturn (that was 95.32 – BLONDIE BOMBSHELL). Like it’s predecessor, BODY BUILDERS IN BALL GOWNS is a touch on the high side when it comes to ABV at a dainty 66.1%. Not only is that 0.1% higher than June’s, this one also has a more awesome and evocative name. At least to me… Let’s check out the muscles and lace on this guy (or gal): On first nosing, it is all fresh and candied ginger for me, plus sunflower seeds, chamomile tea, hay, and a mix of cream soda and lemonade. To taste: Woah, that is indeed big. The alcohol is definitely there, but so are macadamia nuts, shortbread cookies, green grapes, spicy ginger ale and a squeeze of white grapefruit. Impressive. It is zesty and quite tasty. It is like holding onto a lit stick of dynamite and finding out that is actually a birthday sparkler – I mean sure, those sparks do burn off some of your arm hair, but you do still get to keep the arm!
  • 48.110 – With a name like SOOOOTERNES!, you are definitely given an idea on what this Balmenach will be about. Nose: Vanilla custard and golden raisins, Galliano liqueur, honeycomb, and a dash of reduced balsamic drizzled over toasted oak staves and charred oat biscuits. On the palate it is BIG. Tangy, fruity, floral and viscous all at once. Lots of that white dessert wine made in a small subsection of Bordeaux – what do they call that stuff again? Lemon candies and wine gums, pineapple cubes, mint leaves, chilli spice and a touch of mustard powder. It is winey, but even if that is not your thing the spice and sweet notes cover any off-putting astringent notes up. If I had to pick a wine cask for whisky that wasn’t sherry it would probably be Sauternes, so this one works nicely for me!
  • 93.124 – In my June 2020 Outturn Blog Post I shocked the whisky world by stating that Glen Scotia was one of the top three whisky distilleries operating in Campbeltown today. That wasn’t hyperbole – I stand by what I said and I dare you to convince me otherwise. Now that my reputation is on the line, this 16 year  old Glen Scotia that the SMWS have dubbed 3AM DONER KEBABS better live up the the pedestal I have put it’s distillery on! The nose is very promising, with ashy tropical notes abound. A bit of parma violet plus barbecued prawns in a mango chili sauce and a squeeze of lime. For the palate I get those prawns again, this time they were tossed into a sweet and spicy gumbo with a bit of smoky okra Anybody else hungry? This dram is creamy, ashy and fruity all at once and just all-around drop-dead gorgeous. Damn.
  • 44.116 – I believe this is the first Craigellachie SMWS bottling we have seen in more than two years. Crazy! What does this 8 year old aged in 2nd fill Oloroso Sherry give us? Well, first of all it makes the high ABV from 95.36 just a warmup: PIRATE SHIP IN A STORM weighs in at a gargantuan 68.2%! That is SMWS single cask RUM territory. For the nose, I get caramelized onions, plum sauce, dates, melted dark chocolate, maple glazed bacon, and dark roast coffee grounds. The palate is massive with lots of dried (and burnt) dark fruits. Raisins, dates again, Dark chocolate ganache, nutmeg, molasses, gingerbread, Christmas cake, a can of Coca Cola, and Tom Cruise’s leather bomber jacket from Top Gun; flight badges, fur-lined neck and all.
  • 66.163 – Usually it is the Ardmore’s that embrace the weirdness of it all, but I am not sure that this one, titled A PERFECT FINISH TO A PERFECT DAY, will hold a candle (or a struck match) to the Craigellachie I tasted just before. I had better check, just to be sure. The nose on is smooth… It has the prototypical young Ardmore combination of peat, ash, and cereal. I get smoky Weetabix notes like I often do, but I am also finding chocolate mousse, really good espresso coffee, granola bars, and dried cherries. To taste it has more cherry notes, into the pretend maraschino stabbed with a cocktail sword that is currently drowning in your Shirley Temple. It shows a pleasantly sweet grain note, oatmeal with raisins and cream. Pralines and Belgian waffles with freshly whipped cream drizzled in syrup also come to the fore. This is a peated whisky for Summer if I have ever had one. Sweet and unpretentious, unlike me.
  • 53.275 – Our journey through the seven-strong lineup of the September SMWS Canada caps off with GAUZE AND EFFECT from Caol Ila distillery on Islay. The nose is sooty and salty with cured and barbecued meats, but a touch floral as well with a dash of lavender and potpourri mixed in. On the tongue, it is salty, creamy and ashy with charred meats and cooked fruits. Like a mix of oranges and Fisherman’s Friends along with peach and strawberry puree to sweeten it all up. This is another solid young-ish 53. Peated whisky always shows better than unpeated whisky at a young age. Even then: there is no other Islay distillery that we so many very good young single casks come out of. Thank goodness for Caol Ila – may its stills never go silent!

All of this information, plus the information on previous releases that are still available can be found on our website here. If any SMWS bottles show as being out of stock on our website please contact us as we might still be able to get more.

Cheers,
Evan
[email protected]
Twitter and Instagram: @sagelikefool
Instagram: one part of @kwmwhisky

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Scotch Malt Whisky Society of Canada August 2020 Outturn

by Evan

Kung Fu Hustle is the best combination of a Martial Arts movie and Looney Tunes Cartoon that has ever been made.

In my teens and twenties, I was a bit of a kung fu movie junkie. I loved Jackie Chan flicks, with their slapstick vibe. I would grab any movie I could from Blockbuster that featured the actor. That era of my life has three movies that still stick in my mind as classics of the genre. Those are the Matrix (the first one. They didn’t make any more after that. There was no trilogy,), Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, and Kung Fu Hustle itself. The first two are just about all serious in their style and story despite the respective sci-fi and mythical motifs they hang their martial arts scenes on, and that is fine. Kung Fu Hustle though? It has the thinnest historical veneer and the barest of stories that still manages to have enough meat on the bone to get you smoothly from one action and comedic set piece to the next.

I still enjoy all three of these movies, but Kung Fu Hustle is the one that leaves me with a smile on my face just thinking about it. When I noticed that it was back on Netflix, I had to watch it again. It had been at least a year, so it was time.

And that is why it is nearly 11 PM and I am now just getting to tasting the lineup for the Scotch Malt Whisky Society of Canada’s August of 2020 Outturn. This isn’t procrastination, I swear! Just like Kung Fu Hustle, it needs my full and undivided attention when it is put in front of me.

So, what do we have going on this month? Time to dive in!

  • 85.59 – I have been digging some other recent Glen Elgins from indie bottlers recently, so I am excited to see where Beer Pong takes me. It is indeed beer-forward in style, with fermenting, floral and yeasty notes coming through along with waxy fruit and candy such as nibs on the nose.  On the palate, there are wine gums and jujubes all over the place – including those black ones that taste like anise/licorice. It even has the tang and texture of black licorice on the tongue. Very enticing whisky, with a nice bit of black pepper on the finish.
  • 77.57 – As the name suggests, this one goes waxy on the nose as well, but in a different way. There is citrus, wax, and candy cane on the nose for me along with a touch of grassiness and hay. Wow. very waxy again with plenty of juiciness in the mouth. Like eating a taffy candy with the wax wrapper still on it. But better, obviously. A bit of polished wood on the finish as well. I don’t feel that I have pinned down Aultmore whisky yet when it comes to it’s typical characteristics and DNA, but I quite like this expression.Edit: What was I thinking? This isn’t from Aultmore Distillery – it is a Glen Ord. Mea Culpa. I will stick with the rest of what I said there, though. I know Glen Ord for grassy and citrus-driven notes when young, but not much more personally.
  • 7.197 – Ahh, Longmorn. It has been at least a few months since we have had a 7 in an Outturn, and look how sherried this one is! This should be interesting. On the nose: Yup – that is indeed sherry. Lots of black tea and dried fruits to be had. Cherries, strawberries, Cracker Jacks and Bazooka Joe Chewing gum to top it all off. On the palate, I get massive amounts of red fruits. Cherries, raspberries, cranberries and a bit of bitterness from the sherry, though not in an off-putting manner. This is indeed bold and sherried in style – impressively so for only being eight years old.
  • 28.43 – Wait – a potential second sherry bomb in the same Outturn? Unheard of! Like the Longmorn just tasted, this Tullibardine is from a first fill butt – this time specifically labelled as being Oloroso sherry in style. Nose: Plenty of dried fruits again, but leaning into butterscotch, buttered toast, pancake syrup, and dates in style. For the palate, it is rich and nutty. It tastes like a Fruit cake that is so laden with fruit, nuts and booze that it weighs more than you do. Dates again, pralines, walnuts, fig newton bars, and maple syrup. This is dark, rich, decadent and desert-like sherry. It is so rich that just nosing it could create cavities.
  • 29.252 – Look at that first number before the decimal hits. Twenty-nine. That would be a Laphroaig, so you know it isn’t going to be cheap. Will it live up to the cost? On the nose: Damn. Damn you Laphroaig, with your wonderful tropical fruit notes that come out with enough time in the right cask. It is ashy. It is medicinal. But oh boy it is also mangoes, pineapple, passion fruit, yellow kiwi and more in the glass along with oysters, hay bales, and dunnage. The palate is a touch oilier than I would expect from Laphroaig – not in a bad way though. Salty with hazelnuts and macadamia nuts and plus those tropical fruits coming out again. It goes a bit floral and soapy on the finish, but not in a terrible manner. The palate is good and solid but for me, it is the nose that makes this one.
  • GN1.5 - Peppermint or peppercorns is the second gin we have seen from the SMWS in Canada, coming to us more than a year after the first one. On the nose, it is fresh and vibrant with rose hips, jasmine green tea, cucumber slices and capsicum along with well-integrated citrus. The palate shows anise, lavender, grapefruit, and a touch of black pepper. It works on its own quite nicely, but it makes me want to pour in a smidge of good tonic water as well. Very well balanced gin!

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Scotch Malt Whisky Society of Canada July 2020 Outturn

by Evan

Here we are and it is already July. These “interesting times” we are living through just keep on rolling by, for better or worse. This pandemic has been difficult on us all. This is petty and self-serving, but one of things I miss the most is getting to run the monthly SMWS tastings here at Kensington Wine Market. Getting to chat with all of you SMWS members and make a fool out of myself by coming up with bizarre tasting notes was something I always looked forward to.

We will get back to that fun eventually, but for the time being I have to relegate my thoughts to digital screens only. I hope you will bear with me regardless!

As we did in the long ago, before Covid-19, the SMWS Canada drops to six new releases from the typical seven for the summer months of June, July, and August. So we have six new bottles to look at (though one is already sold out!). Let’s take a look at the lineup:

  • 6.32 – The first time we have seen Macduff in a green bottle in Canada. Macduff does have official bottlings, but for those it is called The Deveron, or Glen Deveron in Duty free shops. Let’s give Knickerbockers at a wedding a go and see what gives. I find green apples, nectarines, honey, and a dash of salt on the nose along with soft vanilla and oak. There is also something cooling in there, like eucalyptus or menthol. The palate is oily and tangy with a pleasant saltiness again. Butterscotch, apricots, candied ginger, plus cookies and cream ice cream come through nicely as well. This is a very tangy and tasty start to the lineup.
  • 113.24 – Young Braeval from a first-fill barrel and a fairly high ABV of 63.4%. Nose: wow, as the name suggests there are some pretty good floral notes on this one. I also get light, flakey pastries with icing sugar on top, steel-cut oats, lemon drizzle, and diced pineapple as well. For taste, it is big and juicy – mouth-wateringly so! Also mouth-tingling in a nice manner thanks to the high alcohol. Lemonade, saltine crackers, ginger heat, salt and vinegar potato chips, This is a tightly wound but very expressive whisky at the same time. Lots of other bottles at this young age would be weird and jagged and all over the place, but somehow this seven year old is laser-focused on the nose and the palate.
  • 59.58 – Teaninich has become a distillery I watch for when it comes to indie bottlings. It tends to have a fun combination of gassiness, minerality and juiciness – at least from those that I have tasted recently. How will This ain’t no pussycat fare? Let’s see. The SMWS tasting notes mention waxiness right off the hop, I and get that. Not sure if it is from the power of suggestion or not at this point, but regardless there it is. There is a grassy note in there as well – possibly because I am looking for it. I also get fresh mint sprigs like you are muddling with lime wedges to make a mojito, chamomile tea, and honeydew melon on the nose. The palate shows coconut, pear juice, mint again, shortbread, lemon zest, and a slight waxiness and dryness on the finish. There is a fair bit going on in the glass on this one – I don’t think my notes really do it justice. I really like how this one is put together.
  • 139.4 – Okay, we have to get a bit serious for this one. I am sure that many of you see the black bottle and then see the NAS, then decipher the code for the distillery and are left with a lot of questions. Me too. Right off the gate, I don’t want to like this one. I want to rail against it based on price and lack of transparency when it comes to age, but then I heard from three people I trust at work that this bottle is a knockout. Andrew and Curt. They have tasted more than I have and have very well-developed palates. They both love this one. To top it off, our beer buy Shawn loves it as well. In my opinion, he is the best at breaking things down on the nose and palate in our store. Part of me wants to not like on principle even more so, just to go against the grain. But I had better give this a try and see what is going on in the glass. The stats on Spellbindingly sublime say 1st Fill Barrique for the cask, so this is probably one of those mythical STR casks that aid Kavalan in creating some of their mythical bottlings in the Vinho series. The nose gives new leather, rooibos tea, balsamic vinegar, cranberries, coconut shavings, dried mango, and earthy, perfumed cigar notes. To taste: BIG. This is one of those whiskies that grabs your tongue and takes a long time to let go. Concentrated black tea, cloves, pineapple, mango, polished oak, leather – both the fruit and the hide kind, cayenne pepper, paprika, and more and more tangy tropical fruit and wood. To summarize: Okay, I get it. This one is very, very good. It is essentially a thesis on why Kavalan is in the upper echelons the international whisky scene. The SMWS bottled one hell of a cask with this one. For those of you that, like me, saw the no age statement and balked at the price – GOOD NEWS – it is already sold out!
  • The Beachcomber – Now, let us head back to Scotland for this Blended Malt. This seven-year-old is all ozone and coastal notes along with Beachwood and citrus with a touch of wax on the nose. It doesn’t come off as just youthful the way you would expect with a seven-year age statement. The palate is downright delicious, with salty notes colliding with ripe peaches and pears, a touch of ash, lemonade, pickled ginger with just a touch of wasabi on a California roll (no soy sauce though). Even the finish reminds me a bit of sushi. Maybe I am just hungry, but at any rate, this is a stellar blend. I enjoyed Old Fashioned, but I believe this now takes the top spot in SMWS Blended Malts that I have tasted so far. The nose is a bit soft, but that palate is great.
  • 70.38 – Only 83 bottles in the outturn on this one, and the SMWS Canada managed to nab just about all of it! Balblair, finished in an ex-Bowmore barrel. Sounds very enticing. The nose offers lavender, potpourri,  and earthy smoke with an ocean breeze in the background. The palate is salty and juicy with some smoke and a nuttiness to it. I get jujubes, saltwater taffy, salty cashews, and honey-roasted almonds with a bit of chili spice. The Bowmore’d Balblair is a lot of fun. B + B = B² indeed – this is definitely a case of a cask finish being even greater than the sum of its parts.

All in all, I REALLY enjoyed this lineup. I don’t feel there was a weak link in the lot. I tasted through the series in this order over a period of two days. On day one I really thought that Teaninich would take the cake. By the time I tasted the final three on the second day, I had to retaste 59.58 just to see if it stood up to the rest. Good news! It does.

If you are looking for other Scotch Malt Whisky Society releases, we usually have a good stock of bottles in our store. These can be viewed online through our website as well. If a release shows as out of stock, feel free to contact us (or me) via phone or email and we can look into it for you. If your favourite bottle sadly gone, I can try and line you up with something similar in style. For any questions SMWS or whisky related, you can reach me via the email listed below.

Cheers,
Evan
[email protected]
Twitter and Instagram: @sagelikefool
Instagram: one part of @kwmwhisky

Here is your July 2020 SMWS Canada Outturn

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Scotch Malt Whisky Society of Canada June 2020 Outturn

by Evan

For those of you that have been hiding under a rock (a wise choice) during the Covid-19 pandemic, here are a few important links for your perusal to help get you caught up on the past few months Outturn-wise:

Tools like this can be crucial in the time we are in since we have not been able to host tastings and we do not have most of the bottles open to sample people on due to that. I deeply feel the absence of hosting the in-store SMWS Outturn tastings, and I miss interacting with all of you that attend dearly. Hopefully, we can figure out a way to run an online version for future Outturns, but we haven’t quite reached that yet. We will possibly get our ducks in a row and be able to offer something of that ilk soon…

Before I get teary of eye and runny of nose thinking about what I cannot do right now, I had better focus on what I can. Since I cannot do it in person, I can at least annoy from afar with my own tasting notes on the June 2020 SMWS Outturn of six fresh new bottles. Here are my thoughts on what you have to look forward to in purchasing one of these fine emerald beauties:

  • 66.159 – This is bizarre – not only do we have an Ardmore at the start of the lineup, we also have an Ardmore that is not donning a light or dark green cap colour-wise. The SMWS characterizes this is sweet, fruity, and mellow. Could it be an entirely unpeated 66? Is that even done? Let’s see! On the nose, it is earthy and honeyed with roasted peanuts, Cracker Jack popcorn, plus peaches and cream. The palate gives an oily texture along with a salty and spicy tingle. More of that Cracker Jack note something through along with honey, graham crackers and baked apple crumble. It is a touch drying on the finish like peanut skins and Golden Grahams cereal without milk. The salty, spicy and sweet notes keep your mouth watering. I do not detect any peat, and I am shocked by that. This veers into Old Pulteney territory style-wise for me, though a bit richer on the palate. Very surprising for an Ardmore!
  • 95.32 – This is the first time seeing a 95 from the SMWS Canada, so it could be interesting. Beyond the occasional old and overpriced official bottlings and some younger inexpensive bottlings from Cadenhead, you don’t see Auchroisk distillery bottlings every day. How does this one stack up? Well, on the nose shows some of that very high ABV (66%!) as well as lots of cereal and floral notes. Chamomile and vanilla jump out for me. On the tongue it is buttery and a bit hot (not too shocking) with lemon drop candy and tapioca pudding showing through. There are plenty of grain and sweet cereal notes again. It is hot, but not in an off-putting manner.
  • 52.29 – Old Pulteney! This looks exciting – 17 years old and from a first-fill barrel. The Society deems this to be Spicy and Sweet, will some of the coastal and salty notes of traditional Old Pulteney show through? The smell of a real Christmas tree jumps out of the glass with fresh pine needles and juniper notes, along with a dash of lime, grapefruit, and gooseberries. Kind of like a New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc but with oak. The wood and spicy juniper come out on the palate again along with candy cane, salt, cracked pepper, and lemonade. The wood does make it a bit drying on the finish, but not in an over the top way.
  • G7.16 – I saw that this Single Grain Scotch Whisky was finished in virgin oak and I was intrigued – The last grain I can recall having in this style was amazing G4.14 – AN ABSOLUTE ENCHANTMENT . That was a long-gone favourite of mine that was finished in a toasted oak hoggy. Will G7.16 fill those big shoes? The nose gives curious notes of rooibos tea, sesame oil, a touch of balsamic vinegar, polished wood, toffee and milk chocolate (think Caramilk bar). The palate is buttered toast, pralines, maple syrup, Amaretto, and cinnamon scones along with juicy apples, pears and peaches all together in a cobbler. Near the end it goes a dash tannic and bitter, but I don’t care. For me, this is love at first taste.
  • 93.102 – Allow me to make a bold statement: Glen Scotia is easily one of the top three Campbeltown distilleries around today – don’t let anybody tell you otherwise. The SMWS bottles we have gotten from this distillery recently have all been treats. This is younger than the past few, so let’s see how it holds up. In the glass, it noses as sooty, dirty and coastal upfront, but some nice fruit and malt notes are hiding in there as well. I get dried mango and coconut strips. Woah. The fruit comes out much more on the palate, which is salty and oily with a touch of yellow Listerine mouthwash, but also yellow kiwis, freshly cut mangoes, and ham and pineapple pizza. The sale and fruit and a dash of coastal peat stick around for the finish. Delicious stuff.
  • 66.154 – Lastly, we bookend the night with another Ardmore. This one is wearing its more familiar green cap and stripe. Which one will be more exciting between the two? This one shows medicinal peat and a touch of acrid smoke right up front on the nose, along with eucalyptus, tar, and very roasted malt. The palate is sweet, salty and nutty with Nutella, espresso beans, chocolate mousse, cooling spearmint, and apple butter. Is it better than the first Ardmore? Well, it is more like what you would expect from Ardmore. Whether it is better or worse I leave to you!

My two cents aren’t worth a dime, but hopefully you enjoyed reading my thoughts regardless of what they add up to. Read on below for the SMWS official tasting notes on the Outturn. I shall talk at you again in July!

Cheers,
Evan
[email protected]
Twitter and Instagram: @sagelikefool
Instagram: one part of @kwmwhisky

Here are the six new releases in the June 2020 Outturn

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Scotch Malt Whisky Society of Canada May 2020 Outturn Part 2

by Evan

Part 1 of the May 2020 SMWS Outturn can be found here

Better late than never is the motto I have been living by recently, as evidenced by how long it has taken me to get May’s SMWS Outturn blog posts out! Here is part two of the SMWS Canada May 2020 Outturn, which features the final three bottles in the lineup. If you are playing catch-up (like me), you can find my blog post on the first four bottles here. Enough with the preamble lets jump right in!

  • 68.29 – This guy is fairly clean on the nose with some vanilla and baked pastries along with floral notes. The palate gives a spicy tingle but is also very juicy and mouthwatering before drying out a touch on the finish. A bit of herbs and saltiness in there accent the juicy notes of pears, plums, and those tapioca balls used in bubble tea. Maybe a touch subtle on the nose at the start, but I really enjoy the taste of this one.
  • 13.65 – Lots of wood and tea notes up front for me on this one. I get spearmint, chamomile, granola and elderflower on the nose along with a dash of ripe citrus. There is a bit of musty dunnage and minerality in there too. The palate is juicy and fruity with some spice and then a nuttiness on the finish. Juicy as in Juicy Fruit Gum flavour-wise, along with sweet potato, candied carrots, pomelo and apricots. Adam Bradshaw from the Victoria SMWS shop mentioned that he enjoyed this one, and I can see why. Once again, it is lovely to see a naked Dalmore from the SMWS. The distillery makes good whisky when it isn’t Pattersoned to oblivion!
  • 137.2 – Oh boy. I think a lot of people were waiting for this guy. We were lucky enough to see an excellent peated English Whisky Company bottling from Cadenhead recently at KWM. It sold out fairly quickly – I wonder how this guy will compare? The nose is like the ashes left from a doused fire, along with some nicely seasoned wood, menthol, sea kelp and lavender. Like being next to a chain smoker that is wearing a revitalizing face mask. But more attractive. On the palate it is ash and wood, lemon curd, a dash of brine, Fisherman’s Friends, and crispy Pancetta. Tasty stuff.

That is all from me, for now. Read on below for the SMWS tasting notes and pricing.

Cheers,
Evan
[email protected]
Twitter and Instagram: @sagelikefool
Instagram: one part of @kwmwhisky

Here is Part 2 of the May 2020 Outturn

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Scotch Malt Whisky Society of Canada May 2020 Outturn Part 1

by Evan

Part Two of the May 2020 Outturn can be found here

Month three of Social Distancing is here, but so is part of the SMWS Canada May 2020 Outturn! The release is working a wee bit differently this month, as it has been broken up into two parts. The first four bottles below are part one. The second part with see three more bottles released mid May. Stay tuned!

A few things that you should be aware are happening – you know – beyond the obvious:

The Scotch Malt Whisky Society has been killing it on the social media front over the past month. I am talking both about our own Canada Chapter (@smwscanada on Twitter and Instagram) and the SMWS UK as well!

Both have been engaging with members online through Zoom Meetings, Instagram and YouTube Tastings, and almost daily Twitter Discussions. If you want to learn more about the SMWS or want to interact with your fellow whisky lovers, definitely give @smwscanada a follow on Twitter.

The SMWS Headquarters in the UK (Twitter / Instagram)have been putting out everything from printable colouring pages to Find Your Spirit Animal/Society Flavour Profile quizzes. I am apparently a Great Cormorant which makes sense since I love that oily & coastal style. You can find out what you are here.

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Scotch Malt Whisky Society of Canada April 2020 Outturn

by Evan

As I write this, it has only been 22 days since I started writing my blog post for the SMWS March 2020 Outturn. That feels like way more than a year ago. I think we all probably feel like we have aged more than a year over the past three or so weeks. Who knew that the planet could turn so completely upside down in such a short period of time – at least not without some form of war or a nuclear holocaust or both? Given neither of those things has happened as well (knock on wood), I guess should count ourselves relatively lucky?

What has transpired has definitely been a game-changer for all of us, if not in a permanent manner then at least for the short to medium term. We are all stuck in this fog and none of us know exactly when it will lift yet. For me, and for KWM it hurts. We as a store rely on tastings, in general, to showcase and sell the bottles that we bring in, and the seven new bottles brought in for the SMWS Canada Outturn each month the prime example of this. Not being able to host the SMWS tastings at the beginning of April means it is more difficult for people to taste them and in turn harder to entice members to purchase said bottles.

Selfishly, it also means that I don’t get to hold an audience captive in our tiny tasting room as we work our way through the lineup. That hurts me a lot personally. I enjoy the comradery of the groups that attend and the discussions that ensue as we work our way through each dram blind. I have always considered myself to be an introvert, so the amount that I will miss doing these tastings surprises me somewhat. I didn’t really understand how much I craved that kind of social attention.

Hopefully, we will get back to normal in the future, or some version of normal in which we can all get together and listen to me blather on about the nonsense I nose and taste in the glass. Doing this without an audience at home just isn’t as much fun. Sharing the whisky and my own version of nonsense with some like minds is what makes it so much fun. So, let’s raise a glass to a future in which we can do that safely again! Continue reading

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