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!

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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.

[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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Italian Job

by Abigail

Anyone who knows me knows how much I love Italian wine. It’s incredible to see the diversity of the grapes, the regions and the wine styles in Italy; there is a wine for every occasion! But, I feel like only a handful or so Italian grapes get the recognition. For this tasting, I decided to focus more on the unknown grapes of Italy that are just as good (if not, better) as Sangiovese or Pinot Grigio.

Barone Pizzini Franciacorta Rose 2014
Oh Franciacorta, one of my favourites! This is THE CHAMPAGNE of Italy (sorry Prosecco). Based in the modest region of Lombardy, Franciacorta wines show just as much elegance and complexity as their French counterparts. The wine goes through the same process (traditional method) as Champagne and they also focus on the similar grapes (Pinot Nero, Chardonnay and Pinot Blanco) creating wines with a similar premise, but unique character. The Barone Pizzini Rose 2014 is one of my favourites on the market right now. A blend of Pinot Nero and Chardonnay that spends 40 months on lees and 6 months in barriques, this wine has complexity beyond its price point. This sensual and idyllic expression of Pinot Noir is transformed into notes of underbrush, currant, and blueberry together with hints of rose petal in the glass. The structure and balance of this wine are interwoven in a lingering tension between its rich flavour and acidity. Barone Pizzini was also the first Franciacorta producer to be 100% Organic!

Belisario Pecorino
Pecorino needs to be the new replacement for Pinot Grigio, seriously! It’s fresh, vibrant and can easily be consumed on a patio in the summer. Situated in the beautifully picturesque valley of the Esino River, Cantina Belisario is full of wonder. It’s a winery focusing on the breathtakingly humble traditions of the Marche region, producing native grapes such as Verdicchio, Pecorino, Passerina and Lacrima. Their wines speak stories of their home, telling tails of the terroir, tradition and showcasing their enlightening complexity.

Marche is one of the smaller Italian regions, responsible for producing only about 2% of Italy’s total wine volume. Even so, Marche is in the lead for organic agriculture, continuously producing upwards of 22% of Italy’s total organic wine production, an impressive feat for this modest region. Belisario is much the same, only focusing on organic agriculture, letting the grapes grow as they need.

Oddero Langhe Bianco Collaretto
Oddero is one of the most historical wineries in Barolo. Dating back to the end of the 18th century, Oddero was one of the first to officially bottle Barolo wines. They also produce only organic wines, which is not a small feat for a legendary producer like themselves.
Like stated earlier, I wanted to showcase some other wine styles from Italy. This Chardonnay/Riesling blend is fresh and vibrant, yet subtle. It demands your attention, but yet, might need a touch more time in the bottle to show its full potential. Continue reading

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Dear Customers, Suppliers & Friends,

We have been closely monitoring the evolving threat of COVID-19 and wanted to assure everyone we are following the advice of Alberta Health Services and Health Canada and will continue to do so as the situation develops. We took the following steps earlier this week to mitigate the risks to our staff, customers and suppliers:
– Staff have been asked to frequently wash their hands and avoid touching their face.
– We have increased the frequency with which we sanitize commonly touched surfaces and items within the store, as well as the bathroom.
– We have installed hand sanitation stations around the store for use by staff and customers.
– We are monitoring the health of staff and will ask them to self-isolate should they show any symptoms indicative of COVID-19.
– Two employees returning to Calgary this weekend (March 14) from out of Country have been asked to self-isolate for the next 2 weeks in accordance with guidance from AHS.
– We are also asking customers who have potentially been exposed to the virus or who are showing symptoms indicative of COVID-19 not to come to the store.
– We are also asking customers who have been to affected areas, or who have returned to Canada since March 12 not to come to the store.
– We are offering free delivery for orders over $50 within city limits to customers who are either self-isolating or who are concerned about being out in public. Please call the store for more information.
– We are also proceeding for the time being with all of our scheduled tastings and events, though we are taking adding precautions, are providing hand sanitizers on every table and we are asking all persons mentioned above to contact us to cancel their tickets.
– We are also relaxing our tasting cancellation policy and will offer store credit for anyone unable or uncomfortable attending, as long as they contact us prior to the start of the event.

We will continue to review and update our policies as the situation develops.

If you have any further questions about the precautions we are taking, free delivery or our in-store events don’t hesitate to contact the store.

Andrew Ferguson
Kensington Wine Market
1257 Kensington Road NW Calgary Alberta T2N3P8
P. 403.283-8000 Toll-Free. 888.283.9004

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Scotch Malt Whisky Society of Canada March 2020 Outturn

by Evan

Hop into spring? That remains to be seen.

It is March, shadows have been seen or not seen by prognosticating rodents from whimsical and try-hard small towns all over North America, and we now all wait to see which prophecies are true and which are not. Perhaps the groundhogs do know more than the average Farmer’s Almanac, but we humans are nonetheless stuck waiting to see what happens.

Especially here in Calgary. Right now, looking out the window, it kind of does look like spring, with the sun shining and the snow melting. But hey, ten minutes from now there will probably get a snowfall warning and need to break out the long johns once more as a cold snap rears its ugly head.

At least it is March. Spring should arrive at some point in the future, regardless of pandora’s shadow being or not being visible by some small critter that never asked for this task. The groundhogs have had their day in the sun (or not) for the year so we should leave them alone. April is just around the corner anyhow, then the Easter Bunny will be given its time to shine.

Before that though, we do still have March to get through, spring or no spring. What can always be counted on are new green bottles from the Scotch Malt Whisky Society of Canada to arrive at the beginning of each month. Rejoice SMWS fans, for the SMWS Canada, have a better track record of delivering than any soothsaying vermin that I am aware of! Continue reading

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Wine 101

by Bri

Somm: Making wine exciting and terrifying for Millenials the way Sideways did for Gen-X’ers

Wine 101 was the first wine course I took years back while living in Vancouver. It is what inspired me to dive in deeper and start my exploration into the extensive world of wine. The vast amount of knowledge was, to be honest, very overwhelming. I definitely had my doubts if this was the right path to take mostly due to the Somm show on Netflix. The dedication, rigorous work and crazy palate (and noggin) those individuals had me thinking…..yeah maybe not. Slowly, I dipped my toes into this world and finally, I just accepted that I had the control to choose the speed and amount of information thrown at me. Since that realization, it has been magical. The amount of history blows my mind daily. It was such a treat to teach this wine 101 class if by some chance I gave someone some information that blew their mind, then the circle is complete. Please join me with the following tasting notes and wines which I chose for the evening.

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The Perfect Pair

by Abigail

Valentine’s Day is all about spending time with your special someone. We notarize the idea of splurging our significant others with chocolates, flowers, wine, and cheese, and stress ourselves out to make sure Valentine’s Day is the most romantic day of the year. I think this is fully bogus, to be completely honest. We lose the magic, we pressure ourselves as well as our spouses and aggravate our credit card for some commercialized ideal. Instead, why don’t we just take a step back, relax and just enjoy ourselves?

This tasting was created to show how to pair wines with food, to allow you to make a special pairing at home, to bring the romance back into date night.

How to Pair Wine with Food
I always look at pairing as if I was creating a meal; what flavours would work together, and what components do I need to balance out the dish?
When it comes to creating the perfect pair, we look at the elements of the dish vs the elements of the wine. Here is a basic guide of what to look for:

  • SweetnessThe general rule is to have a higher level of sweetness in the wine than in the food. Sweetness in food increases the perception of bitterness, astringency, acidity, and alcohol whilst decreasing the perception of body, sweetness, and fruitiness in the wine.
  • AcidityAcidity is generally a good thing with a pairing, especially if you have a very high acidity wine where it brings everything into balance. But if you pair a somewhat acidic dish with a low acidity wine, the wine will show as flat, flabby and lifeless.
  • SaltSalt is GOOD! Just like cooking, salt helps enhance the flavour, and it also helps increase the perception of the body while decreasing the perception of acidity and astringency.
  • Heat/SpiceSpice isn’t great for wine. It increases the acidity, bitterness, astringency and creates more of a burning sensation from the alcohol. Having a wine with lower alcohol levels and a touch of sweetness will be best for anything with a punch of heat.
  • Bitterness – Bitterness in food will increase the perceived bitterness in the wine you are having as well. This part is subjective. If you’re one of those people that drinks your coffee black, you’ll probably love it. If you’re a person that loves their coffee with all the additions, maybe skip it.
  • UmamiTreat similar to bitterness. Umami basically brings out the worst in wine and will increase the bitterness in most wines. Trick to use when pairing umami-rich foods with wine? Add salt! Salt helps enhance the wine and somewhat counteracts the effects of umami. Continue reading
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Single Barrel and Very Small Batch Bourbon

by Evan

Even though I seem to write a lot of these blog posts and do a lot of tastings here at Kensington Wine Market, the tastings themselves usually only fall into three categories.

  1. Scotch Malt Whisky Society Outturns each month
  2. Canadian Whisky Tastings
  3. Bourbon and American Whiskey Tastings

We do plenty of other tastings at the shop when it comes to whisky. Especially, you know – Scotch Whisky tastings specifically. But when you work with the likes of Curt Robinson and Andrew Ferguson – they tend to have the Scotch Whisky region covered. That is just fine by me. Along with the SMWS, Canadian and American Whisk(e)y are playgrounds that I am happy to make my own.

The SMWS Outturn tasting helm was passed over to me from Andrew mostly due to time constraints on his part. My love for single casks and cask strength Scotch was already long in the tooth before I started running the tastings, but has become even more galvanized because of it. Canadian Whisky kind of became mine by default when it comes to tastings and my love for the new craft distilleries popping up and the old guard big distilleries here in the Great White North developed organically over a short period. Bourbon and American Whiskey? I have to thank KWM Alumnus Hunter Sullivan for that. He is often missed by staff and customers alike for his incredible tasting notes and singular personality, and he was a font of knowledge when it came to Bourbon. I fell in love with Scotch first, but thanks to Hunter and also a trip to Kentucky with Andrew a few years back, this love has extended itself into Bourbon and American Whisky along the way.

So that is why I enjoy running these Bourbon tastings so much. Luckily Curt and Andrew don’t fight me for these tastings. They can stick on their side of the sandbox and I will stick on mine with you guys!

A quick rundown on what makes Bourbon… Bourbon:

  • Bourbon has to be made in the United States. It can not be produced in other countries.
  • Bourbon can be and is made in other states besides Kentucky. Kentucky just happens to be the largest producer of Bourbon by a vast margin.
  • Bourbon must be made from at least 51% Corn. Straight Rye must be at least 51% Rye. Straight Wheat Whisky must be at least 51% Wheat.
  • It must be initially aged in charred Virgin Oak containers. There is no minimum age requirement for Bourbon.
  • Straight Bourbon must be at least four years old unless specified on the label.
  • Straight Bourbon cannot contain any added flavouring or colouring.
  • Distilled to a maximum of 80% ABV.
  • Put in Barrel at a maximum of 62.5% ABV.
  • Bottled at a minimum of 40% ABV.

Being left alone to do these Bourbon tastings allows me to pick what I want to pour. Typically this means I create a lineup that is composed of whatever I have thought tastes remarkably good recently and bottles that are relatively new that I am excited to try. Those in attendance either get to be benefactors of my amazing selections or stuck tasting through a lineup that could only be interesting to me. It is all a matter of perspective, and I prefer to keep mine in the first person.

To make things even more self-centred and all about me, I decided to run through the lineup I selected blind, only revealing what the bottles and pricing was after having people vote on their favourites for the night. Here is the lineup of foisted upon everyone in the tasting:

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