New beers for the first half of May!

Hello thirsty people!

I hope you all made it out to Beerfest this year. I had a blast seeing some friends, old and new. Tried some pretty tasty beers as well I might add! It’s a great opportunity for me to get some ideas for new stuff to bring to you fine folks! In this small post, I have most of the fun new beers brought in for the first half of may. Some are limited, so I wouldn’t wait if you any of these sound tasty. Enough of my blabbering, take a look at what came in!

New Evil Twin beers!

Coffeenade coffee lemon IPA($7.19, 355mL can)

Rainbownade IPA with a ton of fruit added($7.69, 355mL can)

Kolata Pineapple, coconut, lactose($6.79 for a 473mL tall can)

Nasty Trunks ($6.79 473mL tall can)

The rest!

Collective Arts Dark Fruit Gose Tons of dark fruit, limited quantities ($5.09, 473mL tall can)

Knee Deep Tahoe Deep ($6.59, 473mL tall can)

Knee Deep NE Auburn ($6.59, 473mL tall can)

Muksoka Summerweisse Tropical Wheat ($4.39, 473mL tall can)

Muksoka Cool as Cuke ($4.39, 473mL tall can)

Rogue Kulture Clash (Imperial blonde blended with Kombucha) ($18.29, 750mL bottle)

New Belgium Tartastic Strawberry-Lemon ($21.99, 6-pack bottles)

Bridge It’s Wit ($9.59, 650mL bottle)

The Bruery The Wanderer For fans of Russian River Consecration ($17.69, 375mL bottle)

The Bruery Frucht: Raspberry ($12.29, 375mL bottle)

Ribstone Creek Roggenbier ($10.79, 650mL bottle)

Moody Sublime Pineapple Heffe ($9.19, 650mL bottle)

These have been some of the most colourfull beers I’ve seen in a while, so the shelves are super attractive right now. That’s about all I have to give at the moment, except for maybe a tease of what may come. In the near future, we’ll be seeing some interesting and amazing beers from Toronto’s own Burdock, as well as 2 Crows from the east coast. Finally, this week and next will see a few cases of American cult beer Founder’s Kentucky Breakfast Stout! This is the first time it’ll be available in Alberta, and you better believe it won’t last. Feel free to send me a request for a bottle or two

Ok, that’s all I’m going to say for this week. I’ll finish off May’s new beers in the near future! Cheers!



Twitter: @ShawnsBrewsCGY

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Scotch Malt Whisky Society of Canada Spirits Release

The Scotch Malt Whisky Society has been on our shelves and in Canada for over 6 years now. Earlier this month was the 79th monthly Outturn and the Canadian chapter of the SMWS has brought in around 500 single cask releases over that time.

Since its inception 35 years ago in 1983, the Scotch Malt Whisky Society has primarily bottled Single Malt Scotch from single casks, at cask strength and un-chill filtered with no colouring added. They have bottled Single Grain Scotch from distilleries all over Scotland as well. Over the years this singular focus has expanded to include bottlings from numerous distilleries outside of Scotland such as Ireland, Japan, India, and the USA. Nothing has been bottled from Canada yet though…

They have also expanded into bottling other barrel-aged spirits such as Rum, Cognac, and Armagnac. The Society also recently released its first Blended Malt.

And now we have before us its first Spirits release. Five bottles have come to Canada for this special release, and only one of them is a Scotch. Even more curious: one of them, of all things, is a Gin.

Before leaving you with the tasting notes I want to thank everybody who attended these special SMWS tastings as well as Peasant Cheese for providing the small bite compliments for us to nibble on during.


GN1.1: Gee wiz
The Society’s very first gin from a distillery in Glasgow and coming in at 50.1% after spending a few months in a 2nd fill barrel
Outturn: 255 bottles
Panel’s tasting note: “The very clean, green and fresh aroma of juniper was soon followed by lime juice with a dash of eucalyptus syrup and a hint of sweetness from sugar coated lemon flavoured candy. Plenty of sweet perfumed flavours greeted us on the palate neat gently balanced with green peppercorns preserved in brine and a sprinkling of Herbs de Provence. Diluted, we got transported into a pine forest by the sea with Dover sole being prepared using chopped fresh herbs, fleur de sel and grated lemon zest, whilst in the finish it reminded us of a sweet/salty fresh lemon soda.” $102

A2.1: Amarena amaretti
This 6 year old Armagnac is 57.5% after maturing in an Armagnac barrel
Outturn: 573 bottles
Panel’s tasting note: “The nose draws you in with enticing sweetness and fragrant fruits – stewed plums, ripe figs, Amarena cherries, dark chocolate, marzipan and plum jam. It later develops toffee, cola cubes and Liquorice Allsorts, with an intriguing background of leather, tobacco, resinous wood and Persian rug shops. The palate is complex and satisfying, with a lively tongue tingle of orange soda and woody spice (nutmeg, clove, cinnamon, anise, toasted oak). The fruits are earthier now – prunes, syrup of figs, orange oil and dark cherries in syrup, with an interesting undertow of black tea and Amaretti biscuits.” $198

C4.1: A tantalizing tightrope
This XO Cognac comes in at 57.5%
Outturn: 478 bottles
Panel’s tasting note: “The panel found this a most sophisticated nectar with light and fruity pear drops, fermenting apples, gooseberries and dessert pears with floral lavender oil, violets and a twist of fresh eucalyptus leaves. Then heady linseed oil on printer paper, artist’s varnish and almond oil came to the fore closely followed by freshly sawn pine wood and a dew sprinkled Limousin oak forest at dawn. The superbly clean palate trod a thin tightrope between fruity and dry as black cherries, fresh pomegranate, physalis and chili heat performed their dance. With water came herbal notes of rosemary and sage with rhubarb liqueur and dusty tannins.” $210

C3.2: Strolling through bliss
This XO Cognac comes in at 60.9%
Outturn: 554 bottles
Panel’s tasting note: “Strolling past a lady’s new oak dressing table in a glorious summertime garden, the air carried sweet scents of delicate perfume on a silk scarf with a cloud of dusty talcum powder that blended with the floral bouquet from the beds of carnations, geraniums and pink roses. Wild flowers gave way to rosemary and lots of fresh mint surrounded by coconut matting, juniper berries and angelica. There was a wicker basket containing fresh carrots, still clad in dry earth that sat beneath an apple tree. Opening a pack of praline chocolates we sat beneath a tree of black cherries to shelter from the hot sun.” $220

G4.14: Absolute enchantment
This 33 year old single grain whisky comes in at 50% and after 32 years in ex-bourbon wood we transferred this to a 2nd fill toasted oak hogshead for the remainder of its maturation
Flavour profile: Old & dignified
Outturn: 178 bottles
Panel’s tasting note: “This was an absolute enchantment – attractive, balanced, vibrant and full of interest. The nose had banana toffee, crème caramel, cinnamon swirls and butterscotch; with additional hints of fresh wood, apricots, porridge and antiseptic. The palate echoed that sweetness (chocolate, fudge, custard creams) but also found undertones of tobacco, Fisherman’s Friends, spiced rum, nutmeg, orange peel and sugar-coated fennel seeds. The reduced nose added crystallized ginger, demerara, iced caramels and vanilla. On the palate – coffee and walnut ice-cream mixed with understated muscle rub – easy-drinking, complex and relaxing. After 32 years in ex-bourbon wood we transferred this to a 2nd fill toasted oak hogshead.” $260

Many SMWS bottles tend to sell out fast due to popularity. If you are looking for an older release it might still be available though. You can check out what we have in stock here. If any SMWS bottles show as being out of stock on our website please contact us – we might be able to get more.

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Classic Malts: Spring 2018 Edition

By Whisky Comrade Hunter

Why is the term classic useful? Spoiler, it isn’t.

As I have voiced in previous versions of this blog, each discussing the recurrent “Classic Malts” class we teach here at the Kensington Wine Market, I don’t feel the least affection to the term “classic.” As a term, it is obtusely gimmick driven. This is a by-product of the, ahem, how to put this sensitively, capital driven market? In plain words, large companies employ such terms to invoke a feeling of assurance in the consumer. One can rest easy knowing that their purchase of a “classic” single malt is certified, pedigreed by years of distinction, or, maybe by a crack team of specialists who have worked out the perfect expression of Scotland’s naturally designated regions. This very real team of highly trained professionals work tirelessly so you don’t have to. A sample of our very real interaction with said team:

What malt beverage should you be putting in your mouth? Well novice (that’s you, sport), as we assume you are if you endeavour to train yourself on the classics and work up a sturdy foundation of knowledge on matters of whisky, take your pick of our premium range. What other authority ought you put stock in but our own? Leave the free-thinking to us, we know what is best.

I am comforted knowing that such people have the highest regards for my well-being and ease of enjoyment. These “facts” of the matter are not mere recommendations, and if you don’t think they are portrayed as such you might ponder the way in which the term “classic” is employed by those implied. But, if you are one of those fickle “free-thinkers” that won’t settle for “the facts,” we might make some interesting headway. What makes certain scotch “classic” for us? What I mean by this is, for example, when one has a friend over, what whisky is to be served; for, let’s be serious, if they are not drinking whisky you aren’t going to have them over in the first place. I, for one, have a small variety of my own “classic” malts that I offer to all unacquainted, a sampling of fares that I feel adequately give the right idea of what to expect when drinking whisky. But where does this leave us? You might cry out “But what right idea? The right idea of scotch as a whole? That is ludicrous to even intimate there could be such an esoteric spirit that could capture the whole of Scotland’s national spirit. And it cannot be indicative of a region, Comrade Hunter, for you have long since denounced and exiled such regional designations. So what right idea are you to offer?” You have snared me, I am in a bind. And I concede, but I do not do so without also winning something in return. This matter is truly the trifle of a relativist. What does this mean? Only that the matter of identifying the “classic” malts of Scotland is truly a relative affair. Whatever malt one identifies as typical of some malt trope, another may offer a different option as identifying the same trope. Further, we need not confine ourselves to simple conceptions of lines drawn on a map to define our tropes. Perhaps the idea of sherry matured malt is perfectly captured by the Aberlour A’Bunadh, to which I say nay, proffering Glenfarclas 105, to which yet another fictional adversary interjects claiming, quite wrongly, Dalmore 12 is the perfect example, but still another opinion. The malts that we choose as the consumers of the stuff are more apt at defining such a term as classic than those ordained by the mystics of Scotch whisky, and that goes for not only classics, but even reviewers. Now, to those observant folks that may have realized that what I do whenever I talk about whisky, recommend spirits, attempt to guide your hand to the right choice, is very much similar, if not quite the same as the portrayed example above. But there is one thing you must consider: that I am simply the omnipotent expert and cannot be wrong. Trust me, I wouldn’t give you, dear novice, a bum steer. Here are the whiskies I expertly hand selected for my crack team of scotch professionals who convened April 18th of 2018 for a session of “Classic Malts; or, What does it mean to be Classic?”

Before jumping right into the bottles selected, a brief on the reasoning for why I chose this lineup. As is hinted above, I chose bottles that I believe will equip an individual with the adequate knowledge to make future purchases. The idea is that with a proper introduction to unique and arguably more prevalent styles (identified by the use of the word “tropes” above) one will be equipped to make future purchase decisions by their own knowledge. For example, these styles can be defined by the American oak influence they have, or perhaps a wine barrel maturation, or perhaps the degree of peatiness they exhibit. All of this I attempted to capture with the below malts with the intention of offering a very generalized yet informative tour of Scottish whisky. I always hope that these introductory classes equip the tasters with this knowledge, perhaps not apparent at face value given the lineup (considering the class is meant to be introductory and the whiskies are by no means “introductory”), but ideally in a way that cultivates an intuitive, implicit understanding of what one appreciates. Now, on to the spirits.

G&M Miltonduff 10 Year
A return to a fan favourite, I believe I poured this at the last two Classic Malt classes I have hosted. The reason for doing so is not because of my inherent laziness, but because this bottling handily expresses the character of American oak. Tons of vanilla, citrus, grassy, and toffee tones, this is the perfect expression of what to expect when buying American oak matured spirits. As per my usual ascription for these type of whiskies, I would label this one a summer patio spirit. Fresh, vibrant, and near refreshing, this whisky is great for a hot day. – $80

G&M Glen Grant 2008
This bottling was the second favourite at our last Classic Malts class and filled the same role as the middling sherry cask example. A combination of barrels used to mature this spirit creates a softer sherry impression that can be described as candied orange slices, Turkish delight, golden molasses and sultanas. These softer sherry casks offer a finer balance of character, falling in between decadence and elegance. Lastly, this bottling is a superb price for the quality and is an easy choice for any back bar. – $80

Lismore 18 Year
A step up in sherry influence, the Lismore 18 is rife with bigger fruit tones while maintaining a delicate and approachable character. Tones of fruit leather, nutmeg, ginger molasses cookies, dried mango, plum juice, iced black tea and cinnamon sticks. The easy drinking nature of the spirit is deceptive for it conceals the richness of character, but the weight of the palate does give credence to the sherry influence experienced. One of the easiest of sherry casks to drink in copious quantities. – $100

Cooper’s Choice Glenrothes Port Pipe Matured 2007
The designated option for the unique barrel maturation, the port pipe not only imbues this spirit with a pink hue but also a spicy, fruit punch cocktail of characters. Cherry lemonade, maraschino cherries floating in the drink, a boozy, brandy infusion, milk chocolate, this one really made me think of those syrupy cherries held inside a hollow chocolate. Further, it reminded me of the Bruichladdich Black Art first edition but on a budget. A little less complexity but packing a load of flavour. I’m not a fan of quirky barrels given my penchant for austere, distiller personality driven expressions, but this bottling I found quite compelling. A class favourite for the night as well. – $96

Compass Box KWM Blend
Never blow off the blends; such a sweeping pass at this portion of the Scotch industry would be a mistake. There are many persuasive cases of blends being unenjoyable, low-quality spirits, but there are many others, just behind the veil that offer a contrary experience. I would hold that this bottling offers just that. Done just for our store in collaboration with John Glaser, this bottling holds a concoction of silky, sweet old grains and soft, whispering smoke that reminisces of a vanilla bean dessert, beachside after a seafood barbeque. Delicate wood fire with touches of brine and a zesty brightness that enlivens the palate shows off what quality blending can do. – $160

Archives Ardmore 2009
The Comrade favourite of the night, and, as per the theme of all previous blogs I write, the one I recommend all come in to taste to fully experience. It brings to mind a chalky riverside hangout, minerally water, lavish firepit smoke, fresh ferns and pine boughs thrown into the flames, mint and burnt sage. This multi-layered smoke bomb is of the utmost quality and a standout release from a distiller most have yet to see a bottle from. Selected to show off a middle of the road peat level, Ardmore’s old school scotch personality meets a twist with this particular release being matured in ex-Laphroaig barrels. This adds a foundation of rich smoke I believe is quite peculiar to this bottling. – $150

Octomore 8.4 Virgin Oak Matured
The behemoth of peat, an unforgettable experience of brimstone and fire. The idea behind this one was to stain everyone’s palate with peat so that they may forever remember what it means to be peaty. Ashen, cindery fire eaten by the handful, the virgin oak cask portraying peppery heat and wooden spice. Delightful to some, painful to most, this whisky is a challenge to face for those brave of nose and tongue. – $150


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Scotch Malt Whisky Society of Canada Outturn for May 2018

Well, it looks like we have finally shaken off the cold and snowy grasp of winter. Our brief respite of road construction and pollen and mould fueled allergies can now be enjoyed.

May seems to a blockbuster month: A new Star Wars film and a new Avengers film hitting theatres makes it so you have to look hard to find something entertaining not yet owned by Disney. Luckily for us, they have not yet bought the Scotch Malt Whisky Society!

This month we find ourselves enjoying a distillery rarely seen in SMWS bottles – especially within Canada. Also joining the party are three cask finishes, and two peated malts but no Islay in sight; one of the peated bottles hails from the Highlands, the other from the Orkneys.

This Outturn follows on the heels of Kensington Wine Market’s first ever SMWS bottle sale which was very well received in late April. If you are looking for an older release it might still be available though. You can check out what we have in stock here. If any SMWS bottles show as being out of stock on our website please contact us – we might be able to get more.

As always we would like to give a big thank-you to our awesome neighbour’s Peasant Cheese for supplying the small bites for the tastings.


Without further ado, here is your SMWS Canada May 2018 Lineup:


30.98 – Bring on the dancers
This 25 year old Speysider is 46% after maturing in a refill barrel
Flavour profile: Juicy, oak & vanilla
Outturn: 168 bottles
Panel’s tasting note: “The nose evokes a Moulin Rouge dressing room or the set of Cabaret – perfumed dancing girls, silk scarves, a wooden fruit bowl, tobacco, apple strudel and paint. The palate is a delicate, dainty thing – subtle perfumed sweetness, pineapple and new wood – sweet and juicy as a Pink Lady apple, but more drying on the finish. With water, the nose really finds its voice and sings a sweet madrigal of tropical fruits, cranachan, Caribbean punch and picnic baskets in apple orchards. The palate is now fresher and juicier – peach and apricot flans, caramel apple granny cake and hints of barley and putty.” $267.99

44.86 – Four seasons in one glass
This 10 year old Speysider was matured in a refill barrel and comes in at 60.8%
Flavour profile: Sweet, fruity & mellow
Outturn: 196 bottles
Panel’s tasting note: “Our journey began with the smell of fresh and green foliage after a rain shower, which then dried into dusty flowerbeds of sweet scented petals. Lavender, rose and jasmine combined with wisteria, elderflower and apple blossom, hot from the sun’s rays. Apple blossom turned to apple juice and then cider as we found ourselves in a damp forest eating brioche bread and digestive  biscuits. Truffles, walnuts and wood chips blended with the earthy smell of the forest floor. As the air took a cooler stance we warmed ourselves by the fire with hot cups of earl grey tea and glasses of mulled wine with a good helping of fresh ginger to accompany spicy pear crumble, stollen bread and perhaps a cheeky glass of apple schnapps to finish.” $142.99

71.47 – Citric spicy whisky lassi
This 10 year old Speysider was matured in a refil barrel and is 60.5%
Flavour profile: Spicy & sweet
Outturn: 187 bottles
Panel’s tasting note: “A citrus zing on the nose reminded us of home-made lemonade or breakfast grapefruit (including cherry) – other comments included an arts and crafts room, cinnamon and manuka honey. The neat palate was intense and penetrating – dry chili and pepper heat, rhubarb and ginger jam, chewing willow twigs, malt extract and Moroccan roasted vegetables. The reduced nose had basketwork, honey-cluster cereals and harvested hay fields or sugar cane plantations – also hints of gin, cucumber, lime and mint. The reduced palate was sweeter and still quite distinctive – butterscotch, coconut, walnut fudge, strawberry jam on hot-cross buns and an Indian drink called ‘lassi’.” $128.99

58.21 – Old-fashioned confectioners
This 11 year old was finished in a new oak hogshead after previously maturing in an ex-bourbon hogshead and comes in at 58%
Flavour profile: Spicy & sweet
Outturn: 220 bottles
Panel’s tasting note: “The nose gave us floral perfumes (lavender, heather, nasturtium), Turkish Delight, lemon puffs and apple crumble, with hints of sandalwood, eucalyptus and five spice barbecued ribs. The palate was intensely tasty – clove, liquorice, sweet cinnamon, chili chocolate, crystallized ginger and robust oak. The reduced nose evoked an old-fashioned confectioner’s (lucky tatties*, marzipan, toffee and sugar-coated fennel seeds) – also oak, pine, cumin and spiced rum. The reduced palate had pink peppercorns, dry ginger and Indian curry spice; mint chocolate and menthol – but the pleasant sweetness of pineapple, butterscotch and Danish pastries made it all very clean and tasty – we wanted more. (*cinnamon dusted fondant sweets vaguely resembling potatoes). Previously matured in an ex-bourbon hogshead.” $149.99

39.151 – A blue lady and a seraph’s smile
This 19 year old Speysider was finished in a 1st fill Pedro Ximenez butt after previously maturing in an ex-Oloroso butt and is 58.4%
Flavour profile: Deep, rich & dried fruits
Outturn: 592 bottles
Panel’s tasting note: “The nose is smooth and indulgent – like being served Blue Lady tea* and After Eight mints on a polished mansion house table. With time fruits open up – tangerine, kumquat, peach schnapps, prunes and figs. The palate is mouth-filling, velvety, smile-inducing and sweet as a Seraph’s smile – maple syrup, moist brown sugar and rum and raisin fudge; then come hints of ginger, nutmeg and oak and some green apple and sherbet. The reduced nose offers cinnamon swirls, marshmallows, sun-ripened sultanas and toffee pennies. The palate combines thick honey and fudge sweetness with melon, mango and sherbet dip-dabs; cinnamon and leather to finish. (* black tea flavoured with citrus and exotic flowers). Previously matured in an ex-Oloroso butt.” $209.99

4.236 - Island holiday snapshot
This 14 year old from the Highland Islands comes in at 56.6% after maturing in a refill hogshead
Flavour profile: Lightly peated
Outturn: 279 bottles
Panel’s tasting note: “The nose provoked a lengthy panel debate – was it a picnic on the wild flower machair or the remains of a barbecue bonfire on the shore? Either way it was an interesting island holiday snapshot. The palate was quite a sensation – lively but lovely and balanced – honeyed porridge and blancmange sweetness with lots of perfumed floral smoke. The pointless debate continued with water – the picnickers taking langoustines from a basket and the beach guys pouring lavender water on driftwood embers. The reduced palate – either scallops and Thai prawns or kissing a perfumed woman – depending, maybe, on how hungry you feel.” $188.99

66.110 - Peat for beginners
This 12 year old Highlander comes in at 60% and after spending 10 years in an ex-bourbon hogshead it was transferred to a 2nd fill white wine barrique for the remainder of its maturation
Flavour profile: Peated
Outturn: 186 bottles
Panel’s tasting note: “The nose approached with a delicate restrain, softly laden with the barbecued wafts of bacon, roasted sweet potato and smoked chestnuts on ham. Toasted banana mingled with singed porridge and the freshness of lemon skin on the sea breeze. The palate was less than restrained with a giant sized smack of delicious peppered steak and ribs in barbecue sauce. Sweet and sticky with a tongue tingling twist of cloves and char before caramelized onion chutney blended with lavender and lemon lollies. The finish carried the meaty delights of glazed ham and beef stock with salted almonds and burnt wood. After spending 10 years in an ex-bourbon hogshead this was transferred to a 2nd fill white wine barrique for the remainder of its maturation.” $151.99

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Tight Wad: Budget Friendly Finds

By Dave Tyler

On Friday the 13th of April I was lucky enough to do my first class after having been away for a while and it was one of my faves!  Finding something delicious and that doesn’t break the bank can be tricky sometimes but we were fortunate enough to have the opportunity.  Almost all of these wines were my first time trying them and I would definitely say that I was pleasantly surprised with all of them. There were definitely a few standout gems but overall it was a great evening had by all.  For being Friday the 13th I would say that we were quite lucky actually!

I am going to go through the wines in the order that we tried them.




Dunes & Greene Pinot-Chardonnay Brut Sparkling
This is one of my favourite sparkling wines for a great price!  If you’re looking for a budget winner this would definitely fit into the category.  There is something wonderful about bubbles and it’s even more fun when they are so affordable! This great tasting sparkling wine is from the Eden Valley region of Australia. Made from a blend of Chardonnay and Pinot Noir it shows delicate aromas of lemon zest, fresh strawberries and cream. On the palate, look for Chardonnay flavours of subtle citrus notes and fresh acidity. The Pinot Noir complements this by adding richness and texture. The result is a full flavoured sparkling wine with a refined finish. Enjoy with appetizers, seafood, Chinese takeout or just whenever you feel like sipping (or quaffing) some bubbles. $18.99

Fox Run Vineyards Traminette
This was one of my favourite wines of the night.  I was so impressed by the quality and even more so because I haven’t had the chance to try a wine made from Traminetter grapes before either.  Traminette is a grape cross of Gewürztraminer and French American hybrid grape, Joannes Seyve 23.416. You get a lot of the same characteristics of the Gewurztraminer, but the vines are hardier, produce more, and resist cold better.  It was actually created in 1965 at the University of Illinois. A very unusual wine made in New York State’s Finger Lakes region! “This relatively new grape shows aromas of fresh fruit salad, along with exotic tropical fruit notes. We recommend serving this wine lightly chilled as an aperitif. Enjoy this wine with savoury dishes,” according to the winery team. $16.99

Plan B Chardonnay
Seriously tasty Chard at a price that cannot be beat! “This is a modern Chardonnay from the wonderful Margaret River region of Western Australia. Margaret River is world-renowned for producing excellent Chardonnay. Sourced from vineyards across the southern, cooler end of the district and bottled whilst still fresh and lively,” according to the winery team. “Chardonnay is the disputed King of the whites and holds the trump card. The King is nervy and elegant, with a mineral accent and backbone of citrusy acidity. The velvet cloak, the creamy countenance and steely resolve, it’s all there; in a perfect textural juxtaposition. $16.99

Backhouse Pinot Noir
It’s not often that your able to find a delicious Pinot Noir at a great price but this definitely fit the bill.  Easy-drinking Cali Pinot that is almost too easy to drink! Here’s what the winery has to say about it: “Soft and elegant with crimson colour and flavours of plump red berries and dark cherry on the palate. Pairings: Savoury dishes and roasted meats.” We agree! One to buy by the case for your next casual party, or to have on hand as your house red. $19.99

Best’s Gold Rush Cabernet/Merlot Blend
Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate calls Best’s winemaker Viv Thomson — whose great-grandfather bought the winery in 1920 — “one of Australia’s great living wine treasures!…Still very much an under-the-radar producer, Best’s is no newcomer in Australia. In fact, this winery plays an integral part in the history of Australian wine. Founded in 1866, Best’s is one of Australia’s oldest family-owned wineries with some of the oldest vines in the country.” Pair this well-balanced, well-priced red blend with burgers, steak, ribs, you name it. $19.99

Feudo Maccari Nero D’avola
Nero D’avola is wonderful grape from southern Italy, originally Sicily that you don’t see too much of.  It needs lots of heat and very dry conditions. That’s why it does so wonderfully in its home soil.  This little gem is fantastic. For being this price and drinking so amazing I think it was the sleeper hit of the night.  91 points from James Suckling for the 2015 vintage of this intense red wine from Sicily! The review: “Very aromatic and enticing with dried strawberry and spice character. Medium to full body, silky tannins and a savoury finish. Hints of citrus and berry on the finish.” $21.99

Botijo Rojo Tinto
This wine from the Aragon region in Spain is named after the “Botijo” clay water jugs that have been used in the area for centuries.  ”One of the most exciting projects in the whole of Aragón. All their vineyards are dry-farmed, head-pruned and all the grapes hand-harvested,” according to Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate! This well-priced, rustic, fruit-driven red wine is deliciously quaffable and made with indigenous yeasts and grapes grown on old vines. Don’t miss your chance to try it now.  It is hard to believe the wine that you get from this bottle for the price! $19.99

Lan Reserva Magnum
This was the most expensive wine of the night, however, it is the equivalent of 2 bottles.  This was by far the favourite of the night! If you have never had a Magnum this is definitely a great entry point to try it out.  This is a 2010 mostly tempranillo wine that already has some age on it and is drinking fantastic. It is aged in French and American oak barrels for up to 16 months and then aged in bottles for 24 months before being released for sale.  It is soft and elegant with lots of fruit flavour but also some developing tertiary flavours of earth, forest floor, mushroom and just plain delicious! Try this magnum to get started and you will never turn back from how amazing it is to crack open a bottle with friends. $59.99


It was so much fun to get back into teaching tastings and such a wonderful group of people to share it with as well.  I can’t wait for my next class and really hope to see you there!

Twitter: @smilingvines
Instagram: @tick_ec

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April Beer Highlights

Hey everyone! I hope the gradual and impermanent shift to warm weather has brought a certain thirst! I know it has for me, and you’ll see this reflected in all the beers I brought in throughout the month. I wanted to give you a quick update on some of the quenchingly delicious brews I’ve been excited about this month. The following are all available now, but some in limited quantities, so make sure not to miss out!

Cascade Midnight Bramble ($31.49 for a 750mL bottle)

The Bruery Girl Grey ($20.21 for a 750mL bottle)

The Bruery Or Xata this interesting, horchata inspired beer needs to be tasted by all. Drink very cold, maybe do a fly in the back alley before bowling. ($18.49 for a 750mL bottle)

The Bruery Orchard Wit Wits are not my favourite style by a long shot, but The Bruery’s in-house souring strain puts this beer in the right place to be loved by all (including me). ($9.69 for a 375mL bottle)

Township 24 Meridian Black Lager ($6.09 for a 650mL bottle)

Old Yale Juicy Tropical Hopped Sour ($9.59 for a 650mL bottle)

Founders Azacca IPA ($21.39 for a 6-pack of bottles)

Phillips 6ix IPA ($13.79 for a 4-pack of tall cans)

Phillips Tiger Shark Citra Pale ($3.07 for a 473mL tall can)

Collective Arts Mash Up the Jam Dry hopped sour ($4.29 for a 473mL tall can)

Steamworks Tropical Tart ($3.39 for a 473mL tall can)

Blindman Nelson River Herb/Hopped sour ($14.19 for a 4-pack of cans)

Founders All Day IPA cans ($17.29 for a 6-pack of cans)

Alright, that’s about all for now! Maybe I’ll see you all wandering the gross, frat-boy-filled isles of beer fest this weekend. Bring food… and stay hydrated!

Twitter: @ShawnsBrewsCGY

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The Kentucky Bourbon Trail

by Evan

Back in October of 2017, Andrew and I visited Kentucky and a number of distilleries around the state. In late March of 2018, I ran a Bourbon tasting and showcased whiskey from the distilleries we visited on the trip.

That was the lineup from the tasting, and each bottle featured comes from a distillery we visited.

1 - Maker’s 46$70

From Maker’s Mark Distillery in Loretto, Kentucky comes the Maker’s 46. For years, this distillery only produced one Bourbon – the titular Maker’s Mark.

Maker’s Mark has been bottled since 1959 – though this distillery was built in 1889. Before being sold to Bill Samuels Sr. and becoming Maker’s Mark Distillery it was called Burks Distillery. Bill Samuel Sr.’s wife Margie Samuels named the whiskey, created the label and came up with the idea for dipping the neck of the bottle in red wax. Maker’s Mark’s Mashbill contains Red Winter Wheat instead of Rye.

Maker’s 46 was introduced for the first time in 2010. While it it is distilled and aged in the same way as the regular Maker’s Mark, it eventually undergoes a unique cask finishing before it is bottled. Maker’s 46 is finished in barrels with specially made heads which hold a group of French oak staves in place, immersed in the whiskey that is added.

2 – 1792 Small Batch Bourbon$69

Formerly called Ridgemont Reserve, the 1792 Small Batch Bourbon is made at Barton Distillery which resides just outside of Bardstown, KY.

The distillery is owned by Sazerac Company, who also own Buffalo Trace Distillery. The whiskey brands that are made at Barton may not have the same prestige as those from its sister distillery which makes Weller, Pappy Van Winkle and George T. Stagg amongst others, but the juice they produce here is excellent. The regular 1792 Small batch is great bourbon, but it would be great to see more of Barton’s whiskey hit Canada and Alberta down the line.

Barton also creates other whiskey brands that we do not see such as Very Old Barton, Kentucky Gentleman and Kentucky Tavern.

3 – Rittenhouse Bonded Rye$55

This was our only “Bonded” or “Bottled in Bond” whiskey of the night.
Bottled in Bond Rules:
- All whiskey in the bottle must be produced by one distillery and by one distiller over the course of one distillation season.
- The whiskey must be at least four years old.It must be bottled at 100 proof / 50% ABV
- The whiskey must be aged in bonded warehouses under United States federal supervision.
- The label on the bottle has to state which distillery it comes from and also where it was bottled.

4 – Valinch & Mallet Heaven Hill 8yr$185

Both the Rittenhouse Rye and Heaven Hill Bourbon were made by Heaven Hill Distillers. Heaven Hill has a few properties in Kentucky. We did not visit their main distillery in Louisville which is usually not open to the public, however, we did visit the Evan Williams Bourbon Experience in the same city.

We also visited Heaven Hills’s Bourbon Heritage Center outside of Bardstown. This is also the location of their rickhouses holding ageing barrels of whiskey. This was home to the main Heaven Hill Distillery up until a massive fire in 1996 destroyed the distillery and seven warehouses on the property.

The Heaven Hill company was started by a group of investors after the repeal of prohibition in 1935. It was eventually bought entirely by the Shapira family. It is now the largest family-owned distillery company in Kentucky.

5 – Blanton’s Gold Label$102

Blanton’s Bourbon is made by Buffalo Trace Distillery near Frankfurt, KY. The tour we were given was the best one of our trip. That is saying a lot, as the other distilleries we visited were all hosted by friendly and informative staff as well.

Buffalo Trace Distillery was once called the O.F.C. Distillery and then George T. Stagg Distillery. Buffalo Trace is the oldest continuously operating distillery in the United States. It is one of only a few distilleries that managed to stay in operation during prohibition, obtaining a license to make whiskey for ‘medicinal purposes.

Our Buffalo Trace tour was lead by Freddie, an awesome guy full of the knowledge of the property and the day to day workings of the distillery as well. Freddy has worked at Buffalo Trace for years and knows the distillery inside and out.

Blanton’s was the first modern Bourbon brand focusing solely on single barrel bottlings when it was introduced in 1984. It is usually between 6-8 years old and aged in Warehouse H. This is the only metal-exterior warehouse at Buffalo Trace.

6 – Michter’s 10yr Single Barrel Bourbon$240

Michter’s Distillery in Lousiville is not usually open to the public and requires a private booking set up well in advance. Everything we were shown on the distillery tour spoke of Michter’s push for quality and attention to detail. This isn’t a hodgepodge of old and grimy industrial buildings like Buffalo Trace or Barton: it is new and kept incredibly clean. The building that houses Michter’s seems to have been picked with the thought of future expansion in mind – there definitely is room to expand.

Michter’s Distillery is relatively young. Many of Michter’s current releases are made from spirit sourced from elsewhere. Michter’s 10-year Single Barrel Bourbon does state that it is a Kentucky Straight Bourbon, so it was distilled in Kentucky.

7 – Knob Creek Single Barrel$65

Knob Creek Bourbon is made at Jim Beam Distillery in Clermont, Kentucky. Originally introduced in 2010, the Knob Creek Single Barrel used to carry a 9 year age statement, however, the number has been removed in recent years.

The Beam family has a storied history in the Bourbon and whiskey world, with family members working for many different distilleries and playing a prominent role in both Jim Beam and Heaven Hill.

Similar to Heaven Hill – Jim Beam also has a distillery experience located in downtown Louisville that is worth a visit.


8 – Wild Turkey Rare Breed$51

Wild Turkey was named such by an executive from Austin Nichols, who poured some barrel proof bourbon for friends on a wild turkey hunt. The whiskey was a hit and the next year he was asked to bring more of that Wild Turkey bourbon for the annual hunt.

Wild Turkey Distillery in Lawrenceburg, KY was the distillery I was most excited to visit. Over the past few years, the whiskey that Wild Turkey makes has made me stand up and take notice – especially the 101 Bourbon and Rare Breed.

Wild Turkey Rare Breed is created by marrying batches of bourbon aged 6 to 12 years old.

And that was our tasting! Favourite of the night was a tie between Blanton’s Gold and Knob Creek Single Barrel.

Cheers and until next time,
Twitter and Instagram: @sagelikefool
Instagram: one part of @kwmwhisky

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New Beers Through March 2018

Greetings beer fans! I know it’s been a little while since I’ve put one of these together, but it’s about time I get back to these bi-weekly updates so you can plan your weekly tasting! I’m going to highlight some of the more notable beers to hit the shelf over the past month or so and hopefully get your mouth watering. Check out these new guys, and right after I’ll mention a few returning beers that you definitely don’t want to miss. Here we go!

Collective Arts Lunch Money: Light and easy drinking with nice floral, and crisp citrus notes. As the name might suggest, this is a great general lunch beer (and is here to replace the Stash Ale). ($3.59 for a 473mL tall can)

Du Claw Sweet Baby Java: jet black in colour with a full body and creamy mouthfeel. Its lightly sweet, malty flavour is accented by strong notes of chocolate, coffee and peanut butter, and balanced by a subtle hop character and moderate 6.5% abv. It finishes smooth, dry and roasty with notes of chocolate, espresso and peanut butter so tasty ($5.89 for a 330mL bottle)

Rogue Straight Outta Newport IIPA: A big, modern west coast IIPA with loads of tropical fruit, big citrus and piney sap tones, and a rich dank resinous bitterness. ($6.29 for a 473mL can)

Collective Arts Radio the Mothership: A big and fruity IIPA with loads of tropical notes and a rich, oily resinous hop profile. Not overly sweet for an IIPA which is nice because it keeps it drinkable and not overbearing. ($5.79 for a 473mL tall can)

Outcast The Forgetful Brewer IIPA: Thanks to the forgetful brewer at Outcast, we have this big and bold IIPA instead of the Breakfast Stout! Patrick added a ton of Citra to the whirlpool, followed by a double dry hop with Citra and Mosaic, and as of now is the most hops he’s ever put into a beer!($19.09 for a 4-pack of tall cans)

Banded Peak Southern Aspect IPA: Oh yes, more Calgary IPAs in cans please! Southern aspect is that new-school west-coast style, loaded with citrusy hops and tropical fruity flavours on top of a lightly sweet and medium bodied malty base. Delicious! ($17.79 for a 4-pack of tall cans)

Blindman Pierre Trun 1: Turn 1 is the first beer to come out of Blindman’s Foeders. This Golden Saison is crafted with 15 different yeasts and bacterias. The result is a bright and lightly funky and spicy beer. Available in limited quantities!($11.29 for a 500mL bottle)

Legend 7 Patience Pale: A moderate bodied pale with citrus, floral and lightly tropical hops. Light caramel forward malts provide a great base to showcase delicate hop notes without coming across too intense. ($16.69 for a 4-pack of tall cans)

Legend 7 Dark Gate Porter: Medium to full-bodied porter with chocolate, toast and hints of coffee. Fluffy carbonation keeps the body deceivingly light, though the density is certainly present. ($16.69 for a 4-pack of tall cans)

Nogne 0 Cellarman’s Reserve: This big imperial stout is aged in cognac barrels and comes across your palate like a monster. Boozy with generous toasted bread and hints of smoke surround deep dark chocolate and bitter coffee. ($5.59 for a 330mL bottle)

Nogne 0 Gamle Rygene Brune: This is a so-called imperial old brown. Big oaky tones with hints of extracted booze, partially dried grape liquor complete with a tang. Big caramel and dried fruit through the finish. ($5.59 for a 330mL bottle)

Nogne 0 Oude Bruin: Tangy rich caramel forward malts with generous notes of vinous acidity and a hint of vinegary tartness. Notes of ripe red berries and dried fruits blend together and ride through the finish with the lactic acid. ($5.59 for a 330mL bottle)

Aside from all those, I also have both Four Winds Nectarous AND Bellwoods Jelly king, so you can satisfy that hedonistic need for dry-hopped sours (I know I am). Oskar Blues Death by Coconut is still here as well, but not for long! Whatever we have on the floor is all that’s available until likely the end of the year. I think that’s about all for now, stay tuned for the next update and make sure to come say hi!


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Irish Whiskey Staples

By Hunter

Coming from my background of Scottish spirit appreciation, undertaking a tasting with its rival, southern brethren is something that I can not say I relish. Though my genealogical roots are steeped in both Irish and Scottish factions (along with many other European nations) my heart lies in the land of Scots; their remarkably ranging whiskies able to captivate one’s most demanding phenomenological imagination. In this sense I worry that those spirits of Irish origin may pale in contrast, and, behold, I would argue this claim is true. But leave that argument for now, and appreciate that Irish spirit for what it does best: indulgence in opulence. For myself, quality Irish spirit offers such wonderful hedonistic experience that it must have been conceived with intentions of being enjoyed in lounges belonging to those decadents of the past. Rich and silky, why would one strive for lofty heights when it is so comfortable and relaxed down here? All of your friends are waiting for your company; see, there is old Jameson, and Cooley, oh, and here comes Mr. Teeling. That is what Irish whiskey seems best at my friends, warm company and mellow enjoyment. What could trump that? One doesn’t need fanciful “layers” and “depth” when it comes to such experience. As we can always call on the pretensions of these spirits as laughable, Irish whiskey is the one who snickers at those who try, those who attempt to souse out the nuance of the glass. Come over here, instead, and just enjoy a glass. We’re all friends here, and you won’t find a restriction here for whose allowed get on the Irish whisky ride. Here is what we tried during Irish Whiskey Staples.

Jameson 18 Year
Start with a classic, start with a bang. If Jameson could make there standard even a 1/10th as good as this perhaps people would begin to give Irish whiskey a second chance. Everyone knows their first Irish whiskey experience, and if it was remotely good, well then you weren’t drinking Jameson Classic. This 18, on the other hand, is remarkable in its sultry, honeyed, tropical fruit punch bowl ways. A tall glass of this please; and lucky as you are, it won’t be a Scot serving it so you’ll at least get a proper ounce. $135

Jack Ryan Single Malt 12 Year
A richer bodied spirit in contrast to the Jameson by virtue of the malted barley spirit backbone. Vibrant and full of life, more like a Scotch than a classic Irish and a great way to introduce your friends to the Irish way of life. More custard and applesauce like with a perfumed background. Touches of fragrant woodshop and cinnamon smelly-felts. $110

Teeling Revival 15 Year Batch IV
Employing unique barrels to enhance the character of this spirit, Teeling chose to mature this particular spirit in Muscat Port Barrels, something I know little to nothing about. What I can say though is that this spirit is waxy, honeyed, peppery and has characters of orchard fruit juice. Very enjoyable, interesting, and definitively outside the standard context of Irish spirit. One of my favourites of the night. $175

Tyrconnell Madeira Cask 10 Year
Another unique barrel - though this one represents the more rounded, citrus-driven, nougat-like, classic Irish spirit. Holds qualities of orange Turkish delight and candied ginger. This spirit is very easy going, taking the title of the 2nd favourite of the night. I could imagine this one as being perfect after a long day of work; no thought required, just enjoyable. $98

Dunville’s Old Irish PX Cask 10 Year
Using the most sought after of barrels on the market at the moment, pedro ximinez sherry casks offering those richly decadent strokes that are appealing to many different palates. Thicker, if you haven’t caught on that is the thematic progression of this lineup, then the aforementioned with plenty of date and fig tones. Fruit leather, nuttiness, brandy snap tones; great for the old fashioned cigar lit evenings. $92

Black Adder Drop of the Irish
Young, potent, oily, and snappy, this unfiltered beast is a hearty spirit not for those with heart conditions of any sort. It is uncanny to see both young and full proof Irish spirit, and this is a key example of what to expect. Lemon candies, minerals like chalkiness, pink lady and granny smith apples, white pepper, big vanilla, lots going on for being so youthful. Fun and enlightening for an experience most will not be able to enjoy. $150

Connemara Peated Cask Strength
Truly strange to taste peated whisky from other lands, but a peated spirit from Ireland is even more uncanny. Considering that Ireland is the birthplace of the spirit I know and love, seeing it in peated form feels like something straight out of the past. It may not be immediately clear why this feels old timey, but one must imagine that most Irish spirit is currently unpeated, whereas centuries ago at its inception it was likely commonly found in peated form. Smokey kilns, barbeque sauce, freshly chucked wood chips, and a bit of soya character going on here. Interesting to say the least. $72


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Beer Meets Cheese

Hang on to your palates because this was one good tasting, and I’m about to tell you all about it. We all hear so much about wine and cheese, wine and food, wine and whatever… Not enough people know that beer is the true partner of cheese (and so much more at that!). It can meet all the same flavour criteria of wine and then some!

I picked 7 beers in a range that covers styles and piques interest. Peasant cheese tasted and picked out some tasty cheeses to match, and the lovely Michelle Chow came to help me by talking about the cheese, and provide better jokes than me. We guided our guests through each pairing, and I’m about to do the same for you!

Freehold Big Chutes Lager: This is a beautifully crafted lager with light biscuity malty tones and a hint of west coast hops. Citrusy goodness with mild pine notes but low on the bitterness. A French soft cheese called Le Dauphin was paired because it’s mild, creamy and matches the delicate tones of the beer.($4.19 for a 473mL tall can)

Dageraad Burnabarian: Lightly spiced with coriander and is brewed with oats for a silky mouthfeel. Low alcohol is true to the table beer style and makes this ultra refreshing. Fleuron de Brugge is the most popular cheese in Brugge, and it has a sweet flavour with a mild funk (just like the beer!), along with a creamy texture to help with the non-bitter finish of the beer.($9.19 for a 650mL bottle)

Wild Rose High Harvest Hemp IPA: This dank, tropical and silky IPA is done in the New England style. Big Piney hops with big fruity tones all over. The fuller mouthfeel is pleasant, cloudy and goes down easy with a mild but slightly oily finish. Le 1608 is one of Canada’s best cheeses, it’s mild with a bit of tang that compliments the hops nicely, and the slight nuttiness  matches well with the silky body of the beer.($12.39 for a 4-pack of cans)

3 Fonteinen Oude Kriek: A legendary Kriek if there ever was one! First time available in Alberta, 3 Fonteinen’s is tart and rich and spicy with generous flavours of cherry skins. Secret de Compostelle has a nice tart and lightly fruity tone that fits well with the sour fruity beer. It melts to be velvety creamy in the mouth which mingles with the acidity in the beer just like it’s supposed to. ($39.99 for a 750mL bottle)

La Trappe Oak Aged Quad: Heavy tones from French brandy barrels leave notes of vanilla and almond, on top of the caramel-like, slightly sweet flavour with a good, full body. Prestige de Brugge makes the most amazing pairing (and my personal favourite of the night) for this beer. It’s sweet with hints of nuts, caramel and butterscotch, very similar in tone to the base flavours of the beer. Being 3 years old now, this beer is not drinking near prime and has rounded out into a spectacular beer. (Now 25% off at a steal of $12.75 for a 375mL bottle)

The Bruery Cuivre: Cuivre is loosely brewed in the English-style Old Ale tradition using the house Belgian yeast strain and then blended using the solera method. It is a monster at over 16% abv, it’s generously sweet with notes of toffee, caramel and rum. Just as you might pair a blue with a sweet dessert wine, we did this here too. Blue de Causses is sweet, with generous funk, and a fairly creamy texture. The perfect pairing for a rugged, sweet and boozy beer. Feel free to stick beer this in your cellar and forget about it for up to 20 years (really, I think it’ll be fine). ($54.49 for a 750mL bottle)

Omnipollo Selassie: Rich and smooth with sweet cacao notes and generous coffee. More sweet vanilla tones come off with big boozy vapours and give way to the sweet malty finish. To be honest, I may not have a beer like this in a pairing in the future, but I really wanted to try it. The coffee is a little harder to pair, but we took Bella Lodi, which is in the family of parmigiano reggiano. Dry, semi-pungent and firm. It stood up very well with the beer while letting it shine through.   ($10.69 for a 330mL bottle)

Certain beers and cheeses really shone on their own, so I wanted to make sure I got all relevant opinions from my guests. In terms of pairing, the high harvest and Le 1608 came in first, followed by La Trappe and Prestige de Brugge, and Cuivre with Blue de Causses. The beers had a 3-way tie for favourite between Big Chutes, Burnabarian and Selassie, and the favourite cheese of the night was Le 1608 by a LONG shot.

I always find I learn so much with this particular tasting. I love challenging my ability to pick apart why certain things work together and use that in future meals, snacks, recommendations and so on. I certainly hope this was as educational for all my guests too! On that note, I will end this off. Keep your eyes open for the beer and meat pairing I will be attempting later in the month. I think it’ll be a blast. In the meantime, you can come chat with me at the shop, or shoot me an e-mail at, or follow me on twitter @ShawnsBrewsCGY.

Thanks for reading!



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