‘Friends of the Quaich’ located in Qualicum Beach, British Columbia on Vancouver Island, Canada. Genesis – The beginning of ‘Friends of the Quaich’. We had an all Canadian start, in as much as Jack Maclean, David Jomini, Willie Odendaal and Ian MacDougall were attending a Pancake Breakfast (very Canadian with Maple syrup). The breakfast was sponsored by Q.B.A.N.A., an acronym for ‘Qualicum Beach Area Newcomers Alumni’. While the boys were partaking of the fayre on offer, the small talk turned to whisky, most likely because one of the group said, “a dram would go down well with these pancakes”. At this Willie proclaimed, “Lets start a whisky club”, the others immediately agreed and so the seeds were sown.
It was decided to inaugurate the new club within the auspices of Q.B.A.N.A. and so it was done, ‘Friends of the Quaich’ was born in 2004. By 2005 the club had reached its maximum membership, being set at 16 persons, this number was arrived at as each member hosts the monthly tasting in their respective homes and so available space was a consideration. It was then decided to spin off a new sister club ‘The Gentle Glens’, the two clubs meet annually at our summer BBQ and of course we do communicate our tastings. In the 10 years and 300 different whiskies from all over the world, members hunt for unique brands whenever on vacation or in different Provinces of Canada or the USA.
The club send Angels their tasting notes monthly, here is the latest set of tasting notes.
Friends of the Quaich. Tasting August 18th 2014. Our hosts: Michael and Janice Baird. Special guest honorary member Allan Baird (Mike’s brother) visiting from Ayr, Scotland.
First up. Oban distillery edition 2011 55.2% ABV. Purchased directly from the Oban distillery while on tour with McLean’s Tours Scotland, May 2011. Nose: Orange zest, Tangerine Palate: Seville Marmalade. Very smooth, no alcohol bite. Finish: More orange, hint of ginger, MacIntosh’s toffee right at the end.
Next up: Auchentoshan Coopers reserve, 46% ABV. Bourbon hogsheads, non chill-filtered. Auchentoshan is triple distilled, Nose: Oak, sherry and bourbon. Palate: Big oak, hazelnuts and almonds with the sugar crust of Creme Brûlée. Finish: Almonds, and oak, gooseberries and green tea. Next up: KaVaLan Taiwan , cask strength, 56.9% ABV. From I-LAN in Taiwan. Aged in white oak and air seasoned. After aging in the oak it is then placed in fine European fine wine casks. The casks are charred to bring out the fine characteristics of the oak. Nose: Ripe melon, mango, burst of vanilla and toffee, Palate: Coconut, toffee, burnt caramel, melon. A little water opens the complexity. Finish: Explosion of fruit with long lasting toffee. Lastly: Shieldaig 18 year old 40% ABV, Speyside. Named after the Scottish village in the western highlands, it’s slowly matured for 18 years and bottled by William Maxwell Co. Nose: Toffee, toffee, slight almonds. Palate: Peaches, toffee. Finish: Sharp toffee with a burst of sweet fruits.
The 16 strong club, with a couple of friendly Scots added, toured Ireland with Angels/MCLEANSCOTLAND last year … Our fantastic Irish whisky tour. What an incredible adventure. Great hotels, great whiskey venues, great food and fabulous company, as well as terrific tour guides Paul and Liz and a big mention to our wonderful bus driver Mark, who showed us more of Belfast than even the locals have seen, a big thanks to Mark for making Belfast amazing. We stayed in castles, dined in castles and imbibed in castles, Clontarf was a great stay and allowed us easy access to all of Dublin, and the staff were great, as was the whiskey tasting. After three days in the capital city and a wonderful reception by The Lord Mayor we were off to points south and yes much more golden spirit. Tulamore D.E.W., a nice way to spend a Monday morning on tour, wonderful drams and a warm glow we were off to Cashel and then to Kilkenny.
Tonight we spent a lovely evening as guests of Robbie, (a charming fellow), at Dylan’s Bar and a special discount for patrons of Mclean’s Tours, well done Paul. Today Tuesday we toured Kilkenny Castle, home of the Dukes of Ormonde, definitely worth the visit here. Waterford Crystal was next up, a few souvenirs in crystal later we were off to the Middleton Distillery and a marvellous deluxe tasting, we won’t mention how many whiskies, there must be a law against it, and oh do try the Middleton Barry Crockett, wow! We stay at the Middleton Park Hotel tonight and dinner is included (as were most dinners). The hotel has prepared the most succulent grilled salmon, we Canadians pride ourselves in the art of salmon cooking, but this was first class cuisine.
Up in the morning and off to Galway, with a stop at Blarney Castle, bucolic gardens and of course the climb to kiss the famous stone. No tastings today, but yes, we tried MCLEAN’S ‘Bus Tasting’, and so we indulge while stopped, it breaks up our longish drive today and is much enjoyed by all, all except for Mark our driver and we do save a little for him when is driving day is over. A short drive to Kilbeggan and it’s famous distillery and another deluxe tasting, this time it’s Tyrconnel, Connamara and of course Kilbeggan, Connamara the only peated whiskey distilled in Ireland and wonderful stuff it is, try the Turf Mor, you won’t regret it. After a drive to Donegal we stop for the night at Lough Eske Castle, a five star hotel with a wonderful lounge bar and restaurant, living the good life here. Off to the Giants Causeway for a visit and then down to Bushmills, another super tasting, we even get some ‘New Make’ (Paul found it under the bar, shame on him), anyway it was great, a private room and I have to admit, one couldn’t drink all that was offered, one has to pace themselves responsibly.
After staying the night in Portballintrae (lovely spot), we’re now into day six and still lots to see and do, a short drive to Belfast and the Titanic Exhibition, a very interesting two hours spent here and well worth it and then Mark’s amazing tour of Belfast. Now we’re off to Drogheda, (after another Bus Tasting) and an evening at the Scholars Inn, just lovely and the food excellent, try the Pork Belly appetiser, to die for. A visit to Slane Castle for yet another tasting of their house brands. Two nights here in Drogheda and a special tasting in the hotel and a meet and greet with His Worship the Mayor of the city.
Alas we are starting our last day as we drive from Drogheda back to our starting off point of Dublin, we check into our hotel and then, yes, we’re off to Jameson’s for another deluxe tasting, a great way to end our fabulous, wonderful, amazing Irish adventure, thanks again to Paul, Liz and Mark for making our time in Ireland the most memorable of trips, we will never forget our wonderful time spent with all of you. Paul; This was their tour last year, the club tour every two years with us and we look forward to them coming over. I must say there were lots of bottles purchased on this tour, for the coach tastings and to take home, Grand stuff!