Malt Messenger No. 100 – Big News
It has been an exciting couple of weeks of tastings at KWM. Our Spring Single Malt Festival, falling on the night of the Raptors big victory was a huge hit. We were worried attendance would suffer, but though a handful of people left early to catch the final quarter, we had perfect attendance and an insane range of whiskies.
The following night was the first of two Signatory Vintage 30th Anniversary tastings, showcasing an epic range. The tasting went off without a hitch, and unsurprisingly, the 35 year old Port Ellen took top honours. But, the surprise of the range was Cragganmore 33 Year, which also happened to be the only Bourbon cask matured whisky in the range. It very nearly edged out the Port Ellen. I have tasting notes out for all of the Signatory 30th Anniversary whiskies we brought in below, and will have a blog post up soon. We have requested more bottles of the Port Ellen, Bunnahabhain and Cragganmore for the Fall.
This is the 100th full edition of the Malt Messenger. There have probably been twice as many Malt Messenger Bulletins over the same period, shorter newsletters, but still this is a milestone. Sadly, I don’t have an archive of all of them, otherwise I would go back and look to see when the first one went out. It was definitely well over a decade ago, likely 2005 or 2006. What is certain is that a momentous occasion such as this can’t go by with out some equally momentous news… How about two new KWM exclusive casks, including the first ever exclusive single cask of Glen Scotia in Canada, possibly North America!
The other new single cask is no slouch either, it is our 3rd Berry Bros. cask this year, and an older one at that. The Berry’s “Mystery Speyside” 1995 KWM Cask, is a sherry matured cask strength 23 year old at the bargain price of $170. We’re not supposed to tell you the distillery’s name, but we’ve left you with a not so subtle clue, below.
Our Summer Tasting Schedule is out, and open for registration. We have some really interesting new whisky tastings, and our first ever Gin Festival. You can kick off your Canada Day weekend tomorrow night at the shop as Evan presents “Canadian Whisky Rising.”
Balblair Distillery is currently going through a re-branding, moving to age statements. When we were given the opportunity to scoop up the last of the superb Balblair 1990 3rd Release, we jumped at the opportunity. Matured in Bourbon and Sherry, this whisky is dangerously drinkable, and very well priced for a 26 year old at $180.
The Balblair isn’t the only deal in this Malt Messenger, there are also some single malts and a blend from Alexander Murray, which the Alberta importer is blowing out. The highlights, in my not so humble opinion, are the Glen Moray 12 Year and the Monumental 30 Year Blend. The Glen Moray is soft, fruity and very complex. For a cask strength 12 year old single malt it is an absolute steal at $62 (originally $90).
But there is more, we also have new whiskies from Glen Scotia and Loch Lomond. In the case of the former, some older expressions (18 25 year olds) and in the case of the latter a 12, an 18 and two whiskies bottled to celebrate the British Open.
We also have have a new single malt from the charming Cotswold’s Distillery in England. The Cotswold’s Founder’s Choice is a single malt matured in Jim Swann STR casks, and it doesn’t disappoint. Think Kavalan Vinho, but a little lighter…
We also have a pair of new releases from Yukon Brewing and Distilling’s Two Brewers range, releases 14 15. Release 15 was finished in PX Sherry and Release 14 was made from the same barley the brewery uses to produce their famous Midnight Sun Imperial Stout… very cool! Evan has written up tasting notes.
We also have older whiskies from Karuizawa and Wiser’s details below.
Last but not least, the Signatory 30th Anniversary single malts aren’t the only range I’ve tasted for this Malt Messenger. I have also written up my own tasting notes on five whiskies from the Old Malt Cask 20th Anniversary range. We’ll be featuring them at an all but sold out tasting on July 9.
I hope this 100th Malt Messenger finds you well. Please let me know if you have any comments, questions or requests. As always, in the event of a discrepancy in price, the Point of Sale at KWM will be taken as correct.
In This Edition
- New Glen Scotia 1999 KWM Cask – A New First!
- New Berry’s Mystery Speyside 1995 Single Malt KWM Cask
- Get a Head Start on Your Canada Day Weekend…
- New Summer Tasting Schedule
- Historic Release: Balblair 1990
- Massive Price Drop on Alexander Murray!
- Introducing: Cotswold’s Founder’s Choice
- New Whiskies from Glen Scotia
- New Whiskies from Loch Lomond
- Two New Two Brewers Single Malts
- Introducing: Karuizawa 1981 En Soi
- My Thoughts Tasting Notes on the Old Malt Cask 20th Anniversary Whiskies
- Recap: The Signatory 30th Anniversary Tasting
- Wiser’s 35 Year Patience Pays, and So Does …
Kensington Wine Market
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Our First Ever Glen Scotia Single Cask
The First in Canada, Possibly North America!
Our fist exclusive Glen Scotia is from an Ex-Bourbon barrel filled in July of 1999 and was bottled in March of 2019 after 19 years at 53.6%. 227 Total Bottles. The first official bottling of Glen Scotia ever to come to Canada, possibly North America. We have some suspicion that this is a Bourbon Hogshead, or possibly even a Sherry Hogshead. Lots of internal debate on that. Having visited the distillery recently, my impression was they did not have much in the way of sherry casks, especially from this era. Yet another mystery!
Glen Scotia 1999 KWM Cask 359 – 53.6% – 19 Year ex-Bourbon Barrel – Andrew’s Tasting Note: “Nose: cola cubes and old fashioned root beer; delicate smoke, a touch of wasabi-ginger and salted caramel; a touch of the classic Glen Scotia dirty engine oil, honey dew melon, mango and brown sugar round out the nose. Palate: big, rich and oily, very oily; this is classic Glen Scotia with a fine balance between the dirty engine oil soaked rags, subtle maritime smoke and delicate fruits; more salted caramel, root beer cola cubes and Chinotto; melons, mango and Granny Smith apples make way for wasabi, sliced ginger, clove and nutmeg. Finish: long, coating and oily; like the palate it moves in layers, with traces of fruit, spice and dirty engine oil; creamy and fruity for the finale. Comment: this is a cracking Glen Scotia; it was made at a time when the distillery was severely neglected, almost decrepit; I have long marvelled at how this distillery produced such beautiful whiskies, especially the older ones, almost despite itself; this whisky is not for everyone, but if you like the classic Campbeltown style, there is much to love here!” – $220
New Berry’s “Mystery Speyside” 1995 Single Malt KWM Cask
We’re not supposed to tell you the name of the iconic distillery it hails from, but we can hint!
Our latest and greatest Kensington Wine Market exclusive single cask is our Berry’s “Mystery Speyside” 1995 KWM Cask, bottled at 48.9%. The whisky was matured 23 years in a sherry cask, which I suspect it was a Refill sherry seasoned American Oak Hogshead; but who knows… yet more mystery! We’re not supposed to tell you the name of the distillery, but we can drop hints (see photo to the right). 246 total bottles… oh and it comes with a tube!
Berry’s Mystery Speyside 1995 KWM Cask – 48.9% – 23 Year – Refill Sherry Hogshead (American Oak?) – My Tasting Note: “Nose: brandy soaked cherries, ripe plums and fig jam; loads of creamy floral vanilla, bright tangy Manuka honey and juicy orange pith; decadent and velvety. Palate: sweet, creamy and coating with great body; the whisky starts slow and rapidly balloons on the palate like a soft, plush, velvety sponge; loads of orchard fruits: brandy soaked cherries, dried apricots, ripe plums and more fig jam; the floral vanilla, tangy Manuka honey and juicy oranges are still there with some decadent spice and soft earthy leather. Finish: fresh, fruity, floral and creamy; the orchards fruits linger long with floral vanilla and more decadent spices. Comment: it takes a lot to get me excited about Glenrothes, especially sherried Glenrothes, but this is excellent; the distillery’s signature floral-citrus character shines through, buttressed by juicy orchard fruits, rich honey and velvety vanilla; I hope BBR never turns the taps off, they keep offering us amazing casks; no frills, no fancy bottles, just great tasting and amazing value whisky!” – $170
Get a Head Start on Your Canada Day Weekend…
with Canadian Whisky Tomorrow Night at KWM!
We are toasting Canadian whisky tomorrow and launching a really exiciting new Alberta whisky… but we can’t say exactly what until tomorrow. Evan has put together a phenomenol range for Canadian Whisky Rising, which you won’t want to miss. Only 4 tickets left.
Canadian Whisky Rising – Thursday July 27 – With the explosion in micro distilling in Canada, it’s time to have another look at Canadian whisky, craft to corporate, from coast to coast! – $40
Register in-store, by phone 403-283-8000 and online!
New Summer Tasting Schedule
We Have a Wide Range of Tastings to Keep You Refreshed During the Dog Days of Summer!
Whisky Spirits Tastings, all start at 7PM:
- Old Malt Cask 20th Anniversary – Retro Malts – Tuesday July 9 – The Old Malt Cask brand turned 20 last year and released some very special single casks to celebrate. Naturally, our first instinct was to have a tasting! – $40
- Out of Islay: The Other Peated Malts – Tuesday July 16 – Our favourite whisky Island is synonymous with peat, but it isn’t the only place that produces smoky whisky. Join us in an exploration of peated whiskies from around Scotland and the world beyond! – $30
- Gin Festival – Thursday July 25 – Our Gin tastings keep selling out and we constantly have people asking for more… so…it must be time to introduce a full-on GIN FESTIVAL! No cocktails needed in this one – just GIN (and maybe some tonic?)! – $40
- The Price is Right: Scotch Edition – Tuesday August 6th – The wine staff had so much fun with the concept that the whisky staff went ahead and stole it! Can you taste the difference between a top shelf dram and a bargain bottling? Find out whether you’re the frugal sort or if you truly have expensive taste in this blind Scotch tasting. – $40
- BenRiach Batch 15 – Thursday August 8 – We’ll dip into a selection of BenRiach expressions from Batch 15, whiskies aged 9-26 years of age. This is BenRiach so we know to expect the unexpected; peated malts, rare cask finishes and more. And you know it will be good! – $75
- Blinded by Bourbon – Thursday August 15 – Brown paper bags are covering all the bottles for this blind Bourbon tasting. We are hiding your biases from you and giving you the chance to discover – or rediscover – a new favourite! – $35
- Indie Cred: Unofficial and Exciting Whisky – Tuesday August 20th – Official bottlings are usually good and often great, but everybody loves an indie darling. We’ll indulge in some of Scotland’s best-kept secrets, which typically come in small batches or single casks, and on occasion…a dose of mystery! – $50
Register in-store, by phone 403-283-8000 and online!
Historic Release: The Balblair 1990
A 26 Year Old Single Malt for $180… Less a Penny!
We jumped at the opportunity to take this whisky on as an exclusive, as a historic release. A replacement for the old 1989 vintage, this 1990 is the 3rd release of that vintage, bottled in 2017. It was matured in a mix of American oak Ex-Bourbon casks and European oak ex-Sherry. The whisky was bottled at 26 years of age, making it a bargain at $180. 89pts Serge @WhiskyFun.org.
Balblair 1990 3rd Edition – 46% – 26 Year – Matured in ex-Bourbon Sherry – Andrew’s Tasting Note: “Nose: dark chocolate shavings with orange peels and dark fruits: figs, dates and prunes; some soft old leather and a touch of tobacco; waxy, and antique-y with assorted Jelly Bellies, melons and mango; a slightly earthy dunnage warehouse note with wood spices. Palate: rich, round and fruity; more Jelly Bellies, Fruit Source bars, dark fruits: raisins, dates and figs; soft leather with more chocolate, tobacco and earthy dunnage warehouse notes; honey with a base of creamy vanilla; light decadent spices: ginger and cinnamon; fresh and fruity. Finish: long, elegant and coating with the darker sherry notes leading the charge; more decadent, candied fruit tones with fading spices, leather and tobacco leaf. Comment: Balblair is one of the forgotten gems of the Highlands; they are currently going through a rebranding, moving towards age statements; this 3rd edition of the 1990 is a beautiful older malt with a lovely sherried profile; we won’t have this much longer.” – $180
Massive Price Drop on Alexander Murray
Savings of 30-50% on the Original Retail!
If you aren’t familiar with independent bottler Alexander Murray, that might be because at least in Alberta they were an afterthought brand under the BreakThru Beverage umbrella. BreakThru is a massive agency, one of who’s clients is Diageo. Long story short, the whiskies have been gathering dust for 3 years due to a lack of promotion. In three years I had never been offered a sample of a single one of them or even information on the line, which is a shame, because have tasted all 5 whiskies below, four of them are very good, and the fifth not bad! Three of them are bottled at 40%, which as you know, doesn’t get me all that hot and bothered. But none the less all three drink well, especially the 30 year old Blend and the Mortlach. Shockingly, my favourite whisky of the 5 might be the 12 year old Glen Moray, which at $62 is a steal! All 5 whiskies below have been discounted 30-50%. They won’t last long, so I settled in and wrote my tasting notes for each between 8AM and noon today… Let me know ASAP if any are of interest. There is one other whisky available, at 15 year old Dalmore, which was $135 and is now $75, but the only reviews we saw online for it were not favourable. As for the others, these may be the best deals we get this summer, and they won’t last:
- Alexander Murray Caol Ila 2006 8 Year – 40% – Ex-Bourbon Barrels – My Tasting Note: “Nose: a mix of coal dust, sauteed scallops, tarry peat, heather honey and orange Starbursts; coastal and maritime with a touch of cantaloupe and doughy vanilla. Palate: creamy, malty and sweet with smooth elegant smoke; more orange starburst candies and lemon oil; the tarry peat is still there, as is the coal dust and the maritime tones; sauteed scallops are still there, wrapped in chewy bacon. Finish: coating, creamy and maritime with more elegant smoke; medium-long and light. Comment: this is a lovely Caol Ila, how much great still could it have been at 46% of cask strength? never the less, for $60, it is a solid buy!” – $60+gst (Was $95)
- Alexander Murray Glen Moray 2002 12 Year – 56.7% – Matured in Ex-Bourbon – My Tasting Note: “Nose: delicate, honeyed, floral and fruity; a fine balance of malt and oak; Honey Nut Cheerios; rose petals and hibiscus oil; loads of creamy vanilla and bright citrus. Palate: big, rich and honeyed with a creamy vanilla backbone; more floral hibiscus and rose notes; toasty with barley sugars and more bright citrus; melon, still nutty, Honey Nut Cheerios without the milk; some decadent spice: cinnamon on butter toast and sliced fresh ginger. Finish: light and creamy, decadent, coating and fruity with crisp spices. Comment: run, don’t walk, for $62 this is a no brainer!” – $62+gst (Was $90)
- Alexander Murray Monumental 30 Year Blended Scotch Whisky – 40% – Matured in Sherry Bourbon – My Tasting Note: “Nose: sherried, nutty and chocolate-y; wet Jujubes, dried cranberries and chocolate covered espresso beans; firm new leather and a touch of muddy peat and burnt rubber; some soft, floral vanilla underneath and the promise of some decadent spice. Palate: big, rich and nutty; very sherried with loads of caramel, candied fruits (cherry and orange) and brandy soaked Christmas cake; still chocolate-y, with more espresso, peat and rubber; candied ginger, nutmeg and anise; more floral vanilla and honey. Finish: medium long, creamy, fruity and floral; sweet caramel, candied fruits and spices slowly mellow out. Comment: while I would have rather seen this at a higher proof, the whisky is very drinkable; it doesn’t hold a candle to the Berry’s 40 Year KWM Blend, but it is also less than 1/3 the price; for $135 this is a steal! – $135+gst (Was $190)
- Alexander Murray Mortlach 19 Year – 40% – ex-Bourbon Hogsheads – My Tasting Note: “Nose: decadent, honeyed and fruity; tropical, oxidized, waxy and anitque-y; the nose has a maturity beyond its years; a touch of the classic meaty-shulphurry Mortlach house style, but the decadent notes–treacle sauce, creme brulee and whipped cream–and the tropical fruits–kiwi, pineapple and guava–are the stars of the show. Palate: sweet, fruity and honeyed with an elegant, creamy and oily mouthfeel; more big decadent notes: creme brulee, whipped cream and dulce de leche; the tropical fruits are still there too, though trending towards to richer mango and papaya sort; all this with a backbone of soft floral vanilla. Finish: medium-short, but fresh, fruity and decadent. Comment: were it not for the short finish, and the low alcohol, this whisky would have been an absolute star; still, the nose is gorgeous, and the palate no slouch; this is a sessionable whisky, dangerously easy drinking, but with some structure and complexity; curiously, not much of the “meaty-sulphury” classic Mortlach notes; at $85 you cannot go wrong.” – ONLY 2 BOTTLES LEFT! $85+gst (Was $156)
- Alexander Murray Tomintoul 1999 15 Year – 53.9% – Matured in Ex-Bourbon – My Tasting Note: “Nose: honeyed and nutty, with a savoury salty flourish (seaweed wafers?), and even some wasabi; malty, toasted oak, white fruits and building spices: cracked and white pepper. Palate: very honeyed, grassy and toasty, loads of spice and juicy malt; baked apple, under-ripe pear and the spices: cinnamon, clove and hot white pepper; as it settles down it becomes more floral and honeyed. Finish: long, coating and warm with crisp but fading spices, juicy barley and toasted oak. Comment: this is a very woody Tomintoul, Bourbon fans will find something to love here.”
– SOLD OUT!!! $72+gst (Was 140)
Introducing Cotswolds Founder’s Choice
A Jim Swann STR Cask Matured Whisky
The second ever release of Cotswolds whisky to find its way to Canada, the Founder’s Choice is a cask strength whisky created by marrying STR (shaved, toasted and recharred American Oak red wine barriques) casks. The whisky has been bottled at 60.9%. “World Whisky Awards 2019: Best English Single Malt!”
Producer Description: “This cask strength release from the Cotswolds Distillery comes from our founder Dan’s favourite casks: shaved, toasted and recharred American Oak red wine barriques. These uniquely active casks give a rich and intense maturation to the distillery’s fruity spirit, offering toffee, oak and red fruits, and a beautiful, deep colour. The barrels were designed by our good friend, Dr Jim Swan, to whose memory we dedicate this special bottling.”
Cotswolds Founder’s Choice – 60.9% – Matured in STR Casks – My Tasting Note: “Nose: decadent, toasty and very spicy; loads of dark sweet caramel, shredded coconut, cherries and orange rinds from an Old Fashioned cocktail; peppery and earthy with subtle chocolate and leather. Palate: big, rich, decadent and very spicy; cinnamon hearts, cloves pulled from honey baked ham and licorice root; more dark caramel, demerara sugar and espresso dregs; the candied orange and cherry notes are more shy on the palate, overlaid with notes that become more chocolaty and peppery with earthy leather and sweet tobacco. Finish: long, spicy and decadent with Dutch licorice, coffee dregs and demerara. Comment: For a young malt at more than 60%, the whisky isn’t sharp; it is bold, rich and unapologetic though; feeling a chill on a damp summer night? this will warm you up!” – $125
New Whiskies from Glen Scotia
An 18, 19 and 25 Year…
I remember Glen Scotia as the run-down also-ran Campbeltown Distillery of more than a dozen years ago. At the time it had crumbling cast iron washbacks with giant flakes of rust breaking off and mixing in to the fermenting wort. The still looked rough and the distillery as a whole looked neglected and generally sad. Despite this, even then, it was distilling some fabulous whiskies. I am thrilled to see some older malts from Glen Scotia, with an 18 and 25 landing in the market next week. Both whiskies scored 91pts with Whisky Advocate, and even higher with an unsavoury character I am not fond of naming or promoting! We also have a 1999 KWM exclusive cask arriving next week, which I’ll have more on in the next PCU, after I’ve had time to sit down with the whisky and write it up. In the meantime I’ll just tease you with it.
- Glen Scotia 18 Year – 46% – Oloroso Sherry Finish – Producer Tasting Notes: “Nose: The higher peat content gives a more sweet and smoky character and a beautiful rounded finish. Palate: Rich deep vanilla fruit flavours, apricot and pineapple, plump sultana. Finish: Long and dry with gentle warming spice.” – Whisky Advocate Tasting Note (91pts!): “New for 2017, this was matured for 17 years in bourbon casks before being finished in oloroso sherry casks for 1 year. The nose is fragrant, with prunes, oranges, vanilla, and faint wood polish. Ultimately, ozone. Silky palate delivery, with sweet sherry, honey, and dark chocolate-coated orange fondant creams, then a note of angelica. The finish offers spicy plain chocolate and a suggestion of sea salt.” – $190
- Glen Scotia 25 Year – 48.8% – Producer Tasting Note: “Nose: Bracing Atlantic breeze gives strong maritime influence. Palate: Red apple and tangy orange peel with vanilla syrup and caramel sweetness. Finish: Long lingering sea salt with a spicy note of ground ginger. Whisky Advocate Tasting Note (91pts): “Maturation took place in refill bourbon casks before a final 12-month period in first-fill bourbon casks. Lemon, ginger, pine resin, and a hint of sea salt on the nose, then banoffee pie develops. Luscious on the palate, with subtle spice, a touch of ashy smoke, and principally big orchard fruit notes. Drying in the lengthy finish, with a wisp of smoke, brine, and peppery oak. Glen Scotia at its characterful best.” – $700
- Glen Scotia 1999 KWM Cask – 53.6% – 19 Year – ex-Bourbon Barrel – Producer’s Tasting Note: “”Sweetness up front then spices start to build, cloves, allspice and ginger. There is fruitcake, raisins, sultanas and figs ending with a little oak tannin edge.” – $220 – My Tasting Note Coming Next Week!
New Whiskies from Loch Lomond Distillery
Two New Core Releases Two New Ltd. Editions!
Loch Lomond was built in the 1960s by the owners of Littlemill Distillery as a workhorse. It has been little known most of its life owing to the fact that it mainly produced bottom shelf blends and inexpensive single malts. The distillery is almost unknown, even to the most seasoned whisky drinkers, but there is potential there. Some of the releases under Andrew Gray, formerly of Bruichladdich, had a lot of promise, but the packaging was atrocious. The Loch Lomond 12 Year scored 88pts with Whisky Advocate, and the 18 scored 90pts. I am looking forward to trying both!
- Loch Lomond 12 Year – 46% – Matured in ex-Bourbon, Refill Recharred Casks – Producer’s Tasting Note: “Nose: Crisp green apple, ripe pear and refreshing citrus lemon with background notes of golden cereal. Taste: Orchard fruits and lemon meringue. The deep fruity character of pear lead into citrus lemon, vanilla meringue and light biscuit sweetness. Finish: Medium length with gentle wood smoke and a lingering peaty tang.” – $84
- Loch Lomond 18 Year – 46% – Matured in ex-Bourbon – Producer’s Tasting Note: “Nose: Green apple and grapefruit aromas fuse before the sweet character of honeysuckle and mature oak comes through. Taste: Full bodied and rounded. Elegant wood notes of toasted oak and cigar box become green fruits with apple and gooseberry. Finish: Long finish with dried tea and tobacco leaf in balance with soft medicinal peatiness and wood smoke.” – $135
- Loch Lomond the Open Special Edition – 46% – Matured in “3 Types of American Oak” – Producer Tasting Note: “Nose: Soft fruits, peach and pear, with vanilla syrup. Palate: Sweet and fruity. Honey and peach, some orange citrus and creamy vanilla. Finish: Medium length, a touch of smoke gives way to lasting fruit notes.” – $73
- Loch Lomond Open Collection Royal Portrush 19 Year – 50.3% – Finished in Claret or ex-Bordeaux Wine Barriques – Producer Tasting Note: “Matured in American Oak casks from its own onsite cooperage ensures that the fruit character has been maintained through the maturation with the addition of honey sweetness and other tropical fruits coming to the fore.” – $320
Two New Two Brewers Single Malts
Batch 14 15!
Two Brewers has definitely made a name for itself as one of Canada’s leading craft brewers. They are a distillery heavily influenced by brewing, as you will see in Release 14. As always, only very small quantities are available:
- Two Brewers Yukon Single Malt Release 14 – 43% – Produced from Dark Chocolate Malts (same as used for Yukon Brewing’s Midnight Sun Espresso Stout) – Evan’s Tasting Note: “Nose: Tia Maria coffee liqueur, dark chocolate, hazelnuts and Nutella, espresso beans, root beer, damp, mossy earth in the middle of a forest, cloves, fried plantains, trail mix that contains dark chocolate and raisins. Palate: coffee liqueur again, chocolate covered espresso beans, candied ginger, root beer, cola candies, peanut Glossettes, pistachios and a touch of black licorice. Finish: spicy and dry but still leaving a lingering sweetness. Comments: Wow, the roasted malts used in this release definitely did their thing! Glad that they bottled this at 46% ABV versus the more standard 43% they typically use for Two Brewer’s releases.” – $100
- Two Brewers Yukon Single Malt Release 15 – 43% – Finished 5 Months in PX Sherry – Evan’s Tasting Note: “Nose: vanilla, banana peel, golden raisins, apple-cinnamon oatmeal, toffee drizzle, Juicy Fruit chewing gum, light oak spices and a dash of salt. Palate: oily with some salt and spice notes up front leading to sweet notes of peanut brittle, marshmallows, Crunchie Bar, salted caramel. Finish: short and sweet with spice on the back end to cleanse the palate and get you ready for another sip. Comments: A spicier style than I remember noticing on previous Two Brewers releases, but it still hits the typical distillery style of with notes of bananas, peanuts and sponge toffee leading the way.” – $100
Introducing Karuizawa 1981 En Soi
A Very Rare Japanese Single Malt from the Yuuka Series!
I remember back when bottles like this ran for $300-500, and they were a tough sell. We’d open them for tastings, people would acknowledge they were excellent, and still be reluctant to buy them. Now the world wants them and the prices are crazy, and showing no signs of abating. In London and Paris there are whisky shops with dozens of different bottles of Karuizawa priced for £6,000.00 – £20,000.00 or more. Unlike distilleries like Macallan, where the prices are skyrocketing even though they are still in production, Karuizawa, like Port Ellen and Brora is a finite commodity, and one day it will be gone!
Karuizawa 1981 En Soi – 57.3% – ex-Bourbon Barrel – 86pts Serge @WhiskyFun.org: “Sherried Karuizawas – not to mention ex-Château Mercian wine casks – are more famous than the bourbons, but is that justified? Let’s see… Colour: full gold. Nose: impressively oaky, we’re wandering throughout a large carpenter’s workshop and this is a very unusual and very pleasant feeling. Once these first feelings become subtler, some fudge, some quinces and a fistful of Havana cigars start to come through, together with more cellulose and cinnamon. Hints of cow stable too, tea… I have to say this could be an old Yamazaki ex-bourbon in my opinion. With water: rounder, with more sweet spices. Spicy sponge cake? A woodiness that’s usually more to be found in some teas. Mouth (neat): big and oaky again, with bags of bitter oranges too. It’s rather a grassy kind of oak, quite acrid and very cinnamony, which makes it a little difficult when undiluted. A real fighter, we’re very far from those vanilla bombs that pop out everywhere these days. With water: some kind of spicy apple juice! Also cinnamon and quinces. Finish: long, still oaky, with a feeling of sawdust and tea. Comments: I find this excellent, but maybe less unusual and spectacular than most other old Karuizawas. In a way, it’s more ‘normal’ – no I didn’t say ‘ordinary’. SGP:471 – 86 points.” – $14,888.99
My Thoughts Tasting Notes, on the Old Malt Cask 20th Anniversary Whiskies
Not a Weak One in the Bunch!
I am really impressed with the casks selected by Hunter Laing to mark the 20th Anniversary of the Old Malt Cask range. We brought in a number of them as exclusives, opened them for our Festival, and they showed very well. We are featuring the range and a couple of additional whiskies in the Old Malt Cask 20th Anniversary: Retro Malts tasting on July 9. In the meantime, you’ll have to make due with my tasting notes:
- Arran 21 Year – 50% – 1997 – Refill Sherry Butt – My Tasting Note: “Nose: chocolate sauce, thick caramel, candied fruit and fig jam; soft leather, fruit cake and apple strudel with whipped cream; the feel on the nose is silky, there are layers I can’t even reach… but the pleasure is in the effort. Palate: big, rich, candied and fruity; chocolate sauce, more rich caramel, Jujubes and orange peels pulled from an Old Fashioned cocktail; bags of fruit, more figs, citrus and white fruits: the apple strudel with whipped cream is still there. Finish: long, soft and creamy; more fruits, Jujubes, caramel, vanilla and whipped cream. Comment: simply lovely; silky, fruity, honeyed and decadent; this is a flawless single cask of Arran, and a dangerously drinkable one at that!” – $235
- Mortlach 11 Year – 50% – 2007 – Refill Sherry Butt – My Tasting Note: “Nose: creamy, floral and honeyed with loads of berry fruits; a touch of that meaty Mortlach signature note overlaid baked apple and fresh pears. Palate: sweet, creamy, honeyed and floral; tangy berry fruits, white chocolate, soft leather and grapefruit peel; becomes spicier: cinnamon hearts, candied ginger and assorted hard candies. Finish: light, fresh and spicy with good length; the mouth waters and bright berry fruits circle for another pass. Comment: I need to sample this side by side with the KWM Mortlach from last fall, I can see similarities, but a side by side comparison is called for!” – $105
- Tamdhu 20 Year – 50% – 1998 – My Tasting Note: “Nose: vanilla dipped strawberries, shortbread cookies, creamed honey on buttered toast and a side of marmalade and rhubarb jam. Palate: fresh but punchy; tingling spices face down toasted brown bread with butter and creamed honey; dried pineapple, more marmalade and rhubarb at first but it faded fast; bright and citrussy, lots of orange and a touch of leather. Finish: medium-light, creamy, honeyed and citrussy, soft spices. Comment: you don’t see a lot of old Tamdhu anymore; a good buy for an 18 year at 50%.” – $175
- Teaninich 19 Year – 50% – 1999 – My Tasting Note: “Nose: creamy, exotic, tropical and fruity; decadent with the nose feel of a much older malt; white fruits, mango, papaya and agave nectar; crepes with a touch of powdered sugar and lemon juice. Palate: soft, creamy and floral; beeswax and tallow candles; more tropical fruits (mango and papaya), dulce de leche and agave nectar; classic thin French crepes with powdered sugar and lemon juice. Finish: medium-long, coating, creamy, sweet, fruity, toasty and floral… I think that’s everything; lots going on here. Comment: this is very Littlemill-esque; perhaps not quite as waxy, or as linseed-y; this is a fantatic malt, a fine selection to mark Old Malt Casks 20th Anniversary, and one of the best Teaninichs I’ve ever had!” – $160
- Laphroaig 12 Year – 50% – 2006 – Refill Sherry Butt – My Tasting Note: “Nose: ozone, juicy malt, hickory smoke and sea-salt; Russian caramel, burnt orange peel and salty Dutch licorice; lemon juice, seaweed wafers, melons and cream. Palate: Old English Butterscotch, smoked creme brulee and more Russian caramel; tarry with more hickory smoke; juicy malt and briny-medicinal notes: detol in a dirty mop bucket; orange, lemon and melons beneath the surging sweet peat; mossy, earthy and tarry with fennel and anise. Finish: long, coating and medicinal with juicy malt, tarry smoke and briny caramel. Comment: this is a big, juicy and punchy Laphroaig; chewy with lots of layers but no rough edge; dare we call it an Old School Laphroaig?” – $210
Recap: The Signatory 30th Anniversary Tastings
The Most Baller Signatory Tastings Ever?!
The pair of Signatory 30th Anniversary Tastings we hosted at KWM on June 14 and 20th are without question the most impressive Signatory tasting I’m aware of. We tackled a range of six Signatory 30th Anniversary bottlings, including a Port Ellen 1982, 35 Year. It is the oldest Port Ellen I’ve ever sampled. As a special treat we were able to compare this 35 year old to a Signatory sister cask of Port Ellen, also distilled in 1982 and matured in a Refill Sherry Butt, but bottled at just 25 years. All of the whiskies showed well, and would have been the star of the show with a lesser range. The favourites varried a fair bit over the course of the two nights, but there was a general theme. The 35 year old Port Ellen was the top whisky both nights, with, surprise… the Cragganmore 1985 finishing a strong second.On the first night the Glenlossie and Bunnahabhain tied for a respectable 3rd place, while that position was held by the Ben Nevis on the second. In all a great tasting, and a treat for yours truly as well to dip not once, not twice, but three times in to these malts. Someone had to write the tasting notes!:
- Ben Nevis 1990 – 59.4% – 27 Year – Fino Sherry Butt – My Tasting Note: “Nose: Eatmore candy bars, candied nuts and firm new leather; espresso beans and jujubes coated in dark chocolate; Russian caramel, with dried fruits; classic oxidized fino sherry notes. Palate: big, rich and nutty with prominent fino sherry notes; more firm new leather, loads of candied nuts and Eatmore; the Russian caramel and dried fruits are still there with more tropical notes of cooked pineapple and spicy mango salsa; decadent spices throughout. Finish: medium in length, bold, drying and sherried with spices and dried fruits; more flor. Comment: this is a very rich and nutty Ben Nevis, with the Fino Sherry really making its mark; no sulphur, though it is leaning toward the leathery-oxidized style of sherry; one of the most interesting and complex BenNevis I’ve tried; a bolder side of this malt, almost Glenfarclas-y!” – $780 – Only 1 bottle left!
- Cragganmore 1985 – 53.4% – 33 Year – Ex-Bourbon Hogshead – My Tasting Note: Nose: creamy, waxy, honeyed and floral with clotted cream and a basket of mixed orchard fruits; bursting with vanilla, beeswax and dewy summer gadens; sage and lavender; apples, peaches and melons; soft, decadent toasted oak; trending toward tropical fruits. Palate: still waxy, bursting with honey, vanilla and settling in to toasted oak and clotted cream; bursting with sweet caramel and more orchard fruits: candy apple, peaches n cream, midori mellon and even brighter tropical fruits: kiwis and pineapple; decadent spcices start to build along with savoury floral tones. Finish: long, coating, warming, decadent and elegant; layers of cream, oak, fruit and spices; starts to show its age at the end, but still within balance. Comment: this malt showed well during both nights of our Signatory 30th Anniversary Tasting, and it doesn’t disappoint here; remarkable how rich, fruity and decadent it is after 33 year with just the faintest trace of bitter oak on the finish; surprising for a presumably fresh, ex-Bourbon Hogshead of this age; possibly the best Cragganmore I’ve ever had.” – $1160 – 88pts Serge – 2 more bottles coming in the fall!
- Glenlossie 1984 – 56.7% – 33 Year – Refill Sherry Butt – My Tasting Note: “Nose: old school sherry, sticky toffee pudding and treacle sauce; Demerara sugar, cold tea and a hint of old Cognac: perfumed grape-y fruits, soft earthy leather and fruity tobacco; candied orange, caramel apple and dried, diced tropical fruits. Palate: rich, round and fruity; more old school sherry notes, sticky toffee pudding with treacle sauce floating in vanilla cream; tastes old, antique-y and Cognac-like; more grape-y fruits, earthy leather and fruity tobacco, not so much the perfume; on the subject of fruits, more orange (peels this time), dried apple chunks and some more tropical ones too: melons, mango and papaya; becomes increasingly spicy with everything from cinnamon sticks and fresh ginger to Dutch licorice; there is even some dark chocolate with chili oil. Finish: though the palate is big, bold and layered the whisky finishes more subtly; I hesitate to say the finish is short, it is just much lighter than the palate with vanilla, dried fruits and spices lingering long. Comment: Glenlossie is an underappreciated malt, and one we rarely see bottled anymore; this is a lovely Glenlossie, very old school style sherry with a lovely nose and palate; the only weak point, if you can even call it that, is the finish; very elegant and spicy!” – $1130 – Only 1 bottle!
- Mortlach 1991 – 51.7% – 27 Year – Refill Sherry Butt – My Tasting Note: “Nose: classic big sherry Mortlach; Eatmore candy bars, chocolate fudge and aged brandy soaked Christmas cake; meaty and a touch leathery with both decadent and dark spices; wet Jujubes and licorice babies; a touch of sweet pipe tobacco. Palate: round, rich and spicy; this is big, earthy, leathery and nutty; more meaty-leathery tones with earthy dunnage warehouse notes and bolder, firmer tobacco than the nose implied; more crisp, decadent and dark spices: clove, anise, licorice root and wormwood; there is a touch of chocolate, like the nose, but it is unsweetened and bitter; the Eatmore candy bar is there too along with some chewing tobacco. Finish: long, drying, nutty and very spicy; this a bold, meaty sherried dram from start to finish. Comment: I know a lot of you are reading this with your thumb on the sulphur panic button… I’m pretty sure you won’t find any here, other than the characteristic meatiness of Mortlach whisky; having said that, this is a very darkly sherried dram, not a sweet style of sherried single malt; see a lot of parallels to Macallan 25 that was and Yamazaki 25 to boot; I’d be curious to see how this whisky opens up as it oxidizes in an open bottle; big, bold, lovely… Mortlach!” – $1050 – Only 1 bottle!
- Bunnahabhain 1978 – 47.8% – 40 Year – Refill Sherry Butt – My Tasting Note: “Nose: rich, sherried and nutty; classic sherry cask; Christmas cake, leather, tobacco and chocolate; candied orange, before mango, papaya and other more delicate tropical fruits emege; waxy and antique-y with cedar shavings; maple syrup and sweet licorice. Palate: big, rich and sherried; nutty, leathery and earthy with loads of tobacco; on the palate classic Christmas cake, dark chocolate and dried dark fruits: figs, dates and prunes; clove, fennel and anise; a touch of orange and more tropical fruits beneath; still waxy and antique-y. Finish: long, nutty, drying and sherried; leather, tobacco, dark chocolate and spices continue long in to the finish; the fruits mature later as the sherry notes tone down. Comment: this is a classic old sherry bomb, and a balanced one at that; layered complex and elegant without even a trace of the dreaded “S” word.” – $1850 – More bottles arriving in the fall!
- Port Ellen 1982 – 55.1% – 35 Year – Refill Sherry Butt – My Tasting Note: “Nose: savoury with a fine balance of elegant smoke, juicy fruits and salty maritime tones; Alaskan King Crabs and Nova Scotia Lobster dipped in butter; soft oily peats, dried kelp and ripe fruits: honey dew melon, lemon, pineapple and candy apple; salted caramel and white chocolate. Palate: creamy, fruity and savoury with more clean elegant smoke; the seafoody-maritime notes continue with scallops poached in butter with a balsemic reduction; more lobster and crab; the soft fruits are still there, as is the vanilla and salted caramel; still oily and tarry with a touch of Dutch licorice; the tropical fruits pop up again, ripe, expressive and a touch waxy; more bright lemon; silky and seductive. Finish: big, coating and very elegant; tarry oils, clean smoke, savoury seafood, salted caramel and long lingering lemon and tropical fruits cloaked in waxy vanilla. Comment: this is one of the oldest Port Ellens I have ever tasted, and it does not disappoint; there is an almost perfect balance between the oak and original spirit character; time has imubed tropical fruits and silky-waxy character; superb!” – $3000 – 93pts Serge
Wiser’s 35 Year 2018
Patience pays, and so do long memories and a sense of humour!
If you don’t know the story of our sad and complicated relationship with Corby’s, the Canadian arm of Pernod Ricard, and also the distributor for Wiser’s and all other related brands, I won’t bore you here. Except to point you in the direction of a cheeky video, where we tried to get Corby’s attention (click this link to see the video). It did, but not in the way we hoped. The Black Listed us, meaning none of their staff were to have anything to do with us, respond to our queries or enter our store. That’s ironic in a way, because they never did before… Long story short, we never received the 2017 Wiser’s 35 Year, or any of the other Northern Border Collection whiskies (refer back to video tagged above). So when we saw the Wiser’s 35 Year, 2018 Edition, sitting in open stock, we grabbed some before anyone could stop us. They may have black listed us, but we don’t black list good or interesting whiskies…
Wiser’s 35 Year 2018 Edition – 50% – 94pts Davin de Kergommeaux (Whisky Advocate): “Teasing out the threads of this perfectly woven fabric takes time. And what an enjoyable time it is! Big whisky with no dominant notes, but enticing suggestions of pine pitch, butterscotch, barley sugars, freshwater plants, sandalwood, cream, brisk peppery spices, sweetish baking spices, clean wood with vague tannins, and gorgeous orange bitters late in the finish. Apricots, hard peaches, and echoes of raspberries throughout.” – $205
Ok, I confess, bringing in this bottle was just an excuse to post a link to my YouTube video again!
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All of the products mentioned in THE MALT MESSENGER can be purchased in store, over the phone or from our website at www.kensingtonwinemarket.com. All prices quoted in the Malt Messenger are subject to change and don’t include GST. In the case of discrepancies in pricing, the price in our in store point of sale will be taken as correct.
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Kensington Wine Market
Calgary, Alberta, Canada
Article source: http://www.whiskyintelligence.com/2019/06/malt-messenger-no-100-by-andrew-ferguson-big-news-malt-messenger-news/