Cab is King!

by Abigail

Calgary can be a cold, cold place during these dark winter months. It’s a time of year where we want to cozy up as much as possible, with us cooking hearty meals, wearing as many layers as we can, and finding any excuse to cuddle up with a blanket and a good book. Given this time of year, there are very few people reaching for a cold, light, and crisp glass of wine after venturing out in -20 and -30-degree weather, so it is only fitting for us to focus on something bolder.

In this tasting, we are focusing on the most popular of all reds, Cabernet Sauvignon. Cabernet Sauvignon is the most planted varietal on the planet, producing some of the world’s most sought after wines, According to my co-worker Bryan, we probably have some growing on the moon already. But what is it that makes Cabernet Sauvignon so popular? Why don’t we delve through the grape’s history and find out? Continue reading

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Raking Bourbon Great Again!

by Evan

Our Kensington Wine Market Bourbon tastings have been very popular over the past year, selling out quickly every time we host one. The upside of this beyond getting to open up new bottles of Bourbon and American Whiskey, is that each tasting gives us a new opportunity to poke fun at Trump. When we heard him saying that he did about preventing forest fires in California by raking the forest floor of all of that incredibly flammable material – something he apparently learned from those crafty Fins, the name of this Bourbon tasting pretty much wrote itself. Continue reading

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Fortified Wine: Port and More

by Abigail

Oh, it’s that time of year again where winter is now in full swing. The holidays are over, it’s getting colder (again), and now is the time to put on even more layers of winter clothing.

Even though we spend a lot of time complaining about the winter season here, there is still something quite endearing about it. We have an excuse to stay at home and cozy by the fireplace or spend as much time (and money) on the slopes, eat hearty meals (because a salad will not do when it’s -20 outside) and it’s the time of year when port is most enjoyable to consume.

There is a lot to enjoy with port, but what if we expand our horizons, and explore more fortified wines that are just as good as warming us up in the winter, and even some that will quench your thirst during the summer!

What is a fortified wine?
Fortified wine is a style of wine in which fermentation is stopped by the addition of a neutral wine based spirit (typically brandy or eau de vie). They can range from dry to sweet, depending on the style. In order to create the desired sweetness, the winemaker chooses when to add the spirit to the fermenting wine; If the winemaker is aiming to create a sweeter wine, they’ll add the spirit early on in the fermentation process, for a dryer style, they’ll add the spirit later.

The Tasting Lineup: All Fortified - All The TIme.

Continue reading

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SMWS Canada January 2019 Outturn

by Evan

Happy New Year Everybody!

2018 seemed to fly by at a speed causing sonic shockwaves, becoming past history faster than it ever was present. Now, we are back, feet on the ground, in early 2019. New year to live in, new whisky to taste our way through. As it should be. Take a deep breath, allow yourself a quick stretch, then hop back aboard and buckle in once more for another spin around the sun. The pace of it all can be dizzying to be sure – that is why you should make time to sit back and relax every now and then. Is there a better way to do so than with seven new green bottles filled with cask strength goodness? I doubt it, and if there is I don’t really want to know about it anyhow.

The first Outturn of 2019 brings us a plethora of refill barrels and hogsheads, but a surprising amount variety as well. You would think that all of these once or twice (or more?!) used casks would give us a lot of bland and plain whisky, but they definitely do not. Variety and nuance can be found in this Outturn. Here is a peek at what is on the docket for SMWS Canada bottles this month: Continue reading

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The 25 Best Selling Whiskies of 2018 – KWM’s Whisky Year in Review

by Evan

As we gently dip our toes into a new year, it is both a time to look forward and a time to look back. I cannot tell you all of what 2019 will bring for whisky here at Kensington Wine Market. Sure, you can pretty much guarantee there will be another KWM Whisky Advent Calendar, but what about upcoming single casks and exclusives? Some we can’t talk about yet, as the stock isn’t here or the pricing isn’t finalized. Some, we haven’t even selected yet.

So instead, let us cast our gaze back to 2018 and take a look at the year that was. Andrew commanded suggested we do a write-up revealing our top 25 best-selling whiskies of 2018. The idea sounded like a good way to keep my job fun, so I went to work on what became the overly verbose, unruly, lumbering beast full of links and ideas that you see below.

If you look at our list below, along with a list of the best-selling whiskies from around the world, you might be perplexed. Can this really be our shop’s list of best sellers? How is it that this list doesn’t include even one single bottle from the five top-selling single malts or twenty top-selling whiskies in the world?

This is what makes our shop different from other wine, beer and whisky retailers out there: We do carry much of what the big brands have to offer, but our primary focus is selling the more exclusive and unique styles and bottles that you might not be able to find elsewhere. That is why many of our own, specially selected, KWM single casks and store exclusives make up this list.

Sadly, some of these best-selling bottles are now out of stock. I have provided a few alternative options to these sold out bottles where possible. This is the nature and one potential downside to single casks and small batches. It is also part of what makes them so exciting and fun. The uniqueness of each cask is what draws us in, and that is a big reason why we spend a lot of time and effort searching for new casks to bring in.

25 – Benromach 10-Year-Old 100 Proof

This higher proof version of the already excellent Benromach 10 year is amazing and very well-priced for what you get. Springbank 12 year cask strength hunters, which are consistently disappointed that it is so sought after and nearly always sold out, should take note of this bottle if they have not already, as there are some similarities in style. Get it while you can! Bottled at 57% ABV or 100 British Proof, this bottling is sadly being phased out in favour of a cask strength Benromach. Here’s hoping it is just as good!

24 – Elements of Islay Peat Cask Strength / Full Proof

One of a duo (and sometimes a trifecta) of very good and inexpensive high-strength and heavily peated blended malts from Islay. This 500mL bottle of Blended Malt packs a punch at 59.3% ABV. This is also a great whisky for cocktails like our “Smoke n Coke,” which contain no actual Coca-cola products! Continue reading

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Merry Mex-mas! A festive Mezcal Tasting

by Shawn

Now I’m not sure how many people pick Mezcal as their go-to drink come winter time. I mean, it’s eggnog and rum and brandy season after all. Not to mention Peaty whisky season, but what about the other smoky spirit? I can’t say I like mezcal better than peated whisky… Do you have a favourite child? They are both so different, there is absolutely room in my heart for both. That being said though, I did want to bring some attention and love to mezcal in the offseason, because A) its popularity is still rising in our lovely city, and B) It’s the Christmas season, and I’m all in for unique gifts and giving people things they themselves have no idea if they’ll enjoy (but come on… for mezcal, they have to like it right?).

Ok, so showcase some different producers and different agaves, various price points, but forget that barreled crap (it simply kills the beauty of Joven mezcal). To further showcase the versatility of the spirit I can make a couple of cocktails, and bing bang boom, we’ve got ourselves a tasting! Oh, snap… food. Luckily our neighbours and kindred spirits Peasant Cheese is always there to make up some beautiful boards full of cheats, cheese, maybe add some chips and salsa, orange slices (gotta be authentic!) just to seal the deal. Alright, I think that’s everything! That along with 20 or so thirsty guests. Here we go! Continue reading

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Merry Christmas! – KWM Advent 2018 Day 25 – SMWS 72.65 – Winter Comforts

by Evan

Merry Christmas!

The gifts are unwrapped. The tree is tipped over.

The buzzy caffeine from that 50/50 mix of Irish cream and coffee you thought was going to get your through the day is starting to wear off.

The kids are occupied with that favourite new toy that Santa brought them. It will be lost, broken, or forgotten about by the end of the week but for now, the noise it makes is jarring and insidious. If it keeps up you may have to start actively plotting the toy’s early demise.

You find yourself blearily sitting in a cushy chair, intermittently nodding at a conversation happening between relatives of yours sitting on the other side of the room. As survival tactics go, this one will work perfectly until one of them asks you a direct question that cannot be answered with an enigmatic affirmative.

There was something else you were supposed to be doing right now. If you could only remember what.

Suddenly, you remember that the best gift of all still has one door left to open…

Continue reading

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KWM Advent 2018 Day 24 – Kilchoman 100% Islay KWM Cask 10 Year

by Evan

Image courtesy of @frombarreltobottle

This bottle may not be an incredible surprise to those of you that have tasted your way through one of our KWM Whisky Advent Calendars in years’ past. We have quite a history of putting a KWM single barrel Kilchoman in the Calendar at this point – in fact, this is the fourth KWM Kilchoman to be featured in as many years! And last year on this very same day of Advent we celebrated with a 50mL bottle of our very first 10-year-old single cask Kilchoman. It was a stunner, ranking for me personally as the best Kilchoman that I had ever tasted. The full-sized bottles are long since sold out but we do have a few minis left of that amazing cask. Does this year’s bottling stand up? We shall have to see…

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KWM Advent 2018 Day 23 – First Editions Aberlour 1995 KWM Cask

by Andrew

Image courtesy of @frombarreltobottle

I had to go back through our records to confirm this, but today’s malt is another first, it is the first time we have featured a whisky from the Aberlour Distillery in any of our five editions of the Kensington Wine Market Whisky Advent Calendar. Not only that, but today’s Aberlour is in itself a curiosity, atypical of the distillery’s house style and also one of the oldest bottlings we’ve ever seen from the distillery. But more on this unique whisky below, first, to the distillery. Continue reading

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KWM Advent 2018 Day 22 – Compass Box The Story of the Spaniard

by Andrew

Today’s whisky, the Compass Box The Story of The Spaniard is especially exciting because this is a preview of a whisky that hasn’t even hit our market yet. It is expected to arrive late in the 1st quarter of 2019. The Story of The Spaniard is the first new core release in the Compass Box Range in over 5 years. The whisky is also a change in style for John Glaser. In the early years of Compass Box, the first decade, few if any Compass Box Releases featured whiskies with sherry cask influences. Ex-Bourbon and French oak were John’s muses. I remember asking him why this was a little over a decade ago, and my recollection is that he told me he preferred the elegance and subtlety of American oak. Some of his go-to whiskies for Blending, like Clynelish and Coal Ila, often shine brightest in Ex-Bourbon. Continue reading

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