Leslieville Scotch Society

…or as Siri calls us, Gillespie Bill Scott Society.

27
Dec 2013
Posted in Scotch Nights by Matthew at 12:16 am | No Comments »

Nose: heather and butter notes. Not quite floral, like old old potpourri, vanilla and a bit of playdoh.
Palate: screwdriver (vodka and orange juice) and leather.
Quick finish

14
Jan 2012
Posted in Scotch Nights by Matthew at 8:02 pm | 1 Comment »

Nose: peat smoke and rubber boot
Palate: hot and heavy, a little sharp around the edges.
Medium finish.

14
Jan 2012
Posted in Scotch Nights by Matthew at 8:01 pm | No Comments »

Nose: peat smoke and leather sandal
Palate: smarter more refined less balls than the 10 but much mellower
Lingering finish

14
Jan 2012
Posted in Scotch Nights by Matthew at 7:59 pm | No Comments »

Nose: peat smoke and new running shoe
Palate: Band-Aids and ballsy. a bit more aggressive than the 10 possibly due to the higher alcohol content of 48%
Medium finish

 Rob and I found ourselves at Yonge and Summerhill over the last couple of days and seeing as he had 300+ dollars worth of LCBO gift certificates we decided to do a little shopping. What Rob purchased was three B’s: a Bowmore 15 Laimrig cask strength, a Benriach 15 Dark Rum Cask, and a Bruichladdich 18.
I picked up a Glen Fiddich 15 Solara Cask that was on sale for 58 bucks. Since Rob had most of the new whisky,  it made the most sense for the get together to be at 
Chez DeBoer-Daley. 
When I arrived in attendance were Rob, Reagan Andrew and Sandy and Rob and Andrew had just opened and we’re about to have the first taste of the BenRiach 15 Dark Rum Cask.
Oh it was so yummy.
Dark and sweet and oh so Rummy…
sorry.
Just after we began our drinks Rod and Virginia showed up.
The gals were drinking the St-Germain cocktail with champagne. I brought a bunch of games over but we never ended up getting to them. We are just too fun on our own I suppose. The next up in our drinking adventure was the Bowmore 15 Laimrig. The nose on this thing was just so crazy and multifaceted ( refer to the tasting notes). After that we had the Bruichladdich 18. Again just an absolutely  beautiful scotch, and that concluded our trip through the 3B’s but what came next is the stuff of legend: a head to head to head showdown between 3 Laphroaigs;
Rod had brought the 10 and the 15, 
and we were already doing a head-to-head tasting of those two when Dave and Nancy showed up from their dinner date and Dave had brought along the quarter cask creating the perfect storm or the right conditions for a head to head to head!
There were a few visits to the porch and we all marveled at the new winter that had come to us. After that we killed Drew’s Glenlivet 18, we had a Corner Creek bourbon and we opened and had a Glen Fiddich  15.
It was another night of über-smudginess in Leslieville. So much laughing at so many funny funny things. The last thing I remember was singing with Drew and Rob to the tune of Kumbaya  ”someone’s thinning my Lord,  Jude Law’s hair…”
After that,  it’s all blackness and blankets…

1
Nov 2011

Bob McKittrick and I went to the LCBO sponsored Whisky Rocks event held at College streets “The Mod Club”. The event was to kick off the LCBO’s “Whisky Shop” promotion and to raise money for Dixon Hall, not The Dixon Hall Music School as the emcee repeatedly indicated. I guess it was easier to tie in to the music angle; whisky and rock music …together at last.
On the bill was Big Sugar and opening act Divine Brown. I was stopped by an employee who was doing video interviews as I went in and gave him a minute long shpeel about what I like about Whisky. It’s a good thing he interviewed me before the event.  When we got into the hall I was instantly disappointed to discover that ther were only 4 whiskies being served and that they were all Canadians:  Crown Royal Black, The Spicebox, Collingwood and Revelstoke spiced Whisky.
This not to say that I have a bias against Canadian whisky, quite to the contrary, I have tasted some great examples of whiskies made here. But here we come to the point: people are different and have different tastes. If you want to pour your whisky in a glass of ice and drown it in Coke, you are welcome to do that, and if that’s what you like, then these whiskies are perfect for you. One of them (I think Revelsoke) even advertised “It calls out for Cola”.

I started with all of these whiskies neat, with a little water on the side. First up: Collingwood. This was actually my favorite of the event, still it had too much of that corn sweetness on the nose for my liking and seemed rather one dimensional on the palate, no real progression, and then a decently long finish where I almost wished it was quicker. Wow, I really am becoming one of those spoiled whisky guys. Sorry about that. It was more drinkable and opened a little with water, but not exactly to my liking. I did like the bottle design, although I overheard a girl say it looked like a giant cologne bottle.

Next up: Crown Royal Black. It was OK, but really seemed more like a fully developed marketing strategy than any real departure from the regular Crown Royal. Usually, the nastier the anagram the whisky name makes, the better it is, but not in this case. Crown Royal Black = Loyal Brown Crack.

The last two, The Revelstoke Spiced Whisky and The Spicebox are basically so full of vanilla, that is all I can say about them.
If you like vanilla flavoured alcohol, run out and buy both of these. In Coke, in soda, in 7UP or ginger ale or over ice cream,
it’s one big vanilla world. YAY!!!

During this less than incredible journey along the Canadian whisky trail, the crowd was treated to the sounds of Divine Brown who was kinda on par with the Whisky; She sang really well, and the band was alright, but there wasn’t anything really memorable. Big Sugar came on and they totally rocked the house. We stayed for most of their set but by that time, Bob and I really needed something good to drink, so we split.

We walked across College st. to a great little bar, The Emmet Ray. They have about sixty malts handy, and the gal working the bar was well informed and witty. First order of business: “I’ll have a GlenFarclas 15 neat please”. Oh, so much better now.
Bob and I drank a few really exceptional malts here: The Ledaig from Tobermory on Mull was a real stand out, so much going on here…awesome complex nose, great salty briny notes on the palate, round lovely finish. The LSS recently bought this for Rod’s BDay, but I didn’t know it was so good. Other highlights were Cornerbrook Bourbon (will buy this and describe in greater detail) and The Sazernac Rye (ditto). This American rye is what I had hoped for from the Canadians at Whisky Rocks, but it’s as if in all that corn and vanilla, they forgot what made Canadian whisky great in the first place.

 

31
May 2011

Upon arriving at Harbour 60, Rod and I were given a very surprising whisky cocktail comprised of Famous Grouse blended scotch, ginger ale, simple syrup and lime juice. We were given this cocktail by Marc Laverdiere, the Edrington Group’s Canadian ambassador of the Highland Park and The MacAllan single malt whisky brands. He is a well dressed guy with a Quebecois accent and a genuine charm. You can tell instantly that this man loves his job.
“Wait, wait” Marc insists, “it needs more” and he tops up our drinks with the needed additional whisky. “Not bad for a summer day, eh?” he quips. It really was better than I was expecting. Harbour 60′s ever gracious Manager, Virginia Adams, introduces us to Marc as guys who know and love scotch. He smiles at us and I can tell we are going to get along. I ask him what is the single malt that is in the Famous Grouse (also owned by the Edrington Group). “Glenturret” he replies. Hmm. Rod and I ponder whether we have owned or tasted a Glenturret. I think so, but am not sure. Other guests are being served Marc’s cocktail, and as with us, he heads over to make sure the mix is right. As he does this, I pull out my iPhone and log into this site to check our collection for a Glenturret. As I do this, Marc comes up behind me and looking over my shoulder he asks ‘You have all those?”. I am scrolling through the list and there it is: Glenturret 17 Black Adder Bottling. If memory serves me, we (the LSS) bought this for Rod’s birthday a few years back. Rod and I explain the origins of the Leslieville Scotch Society, and how by buying as a group as well as individually, we have owned about 170 single malts and have about 140 bottles currently open. He gets a twinkle in his eye and I think we move up a few steps in his esteem. Rod and I take our seats and scan our evening’s taste – trip. There they are, all neatly poured and waiting for the right food pairings, 5 beautiful drams: The MacAllan 15 Fine Oak, The Highland Park 15, The Highland Park 18, The MacAllan 18 Sherry Oak, and to finish, the transplendant Highland Park 25. We finish our cocktails as the rest of the guests are seated and I know we are in for a treat. Marc addresses the room and as he speaks, you know it is his personal experience talking, not some shpeel he has given a hundred times. “We will start with The MacAllan 15 year old” he smiles. He gives a rather good background on the steps The MacAllan takes to impart their whisky with the woods that finish it. This includes making and exporting their own casks to Spain where they are first filled with Oloroso Sherry for a few years, before being filled with the young whisky that will steal that character many years later and, in the case of the fine oak, is then moved into American Bourbon casks. The MacAllan 15 was paired sublimely with Foie Gras Profiteroles with Quince Cream. Harbour 60′s chef absolutely nailed this. The subtle flavours in the whisky were perfectly enhanced by these tasty little nibbles. Next up, we had the Highland Park 15. This may have been Rod’s favourite. It has all these wonderful fruity things going on, peach cobbler, clove, dried apples. The Highland Park 15 was paired with a Prawn Bisque with Walnut Cream. As soon as I tasted the bisque the entire character of the whisky changed to cereals and Premium Plus crackers with old Chedder. I was a little surprised how drastic this was. While the food  pairing with The MacAllan 15 had worked so well, this one kind of obliterated what I had been enjoying in the Scotch. To each his own. Next up, what more than a few, including F. Paul Pacult’s spirit journal, determined to be the “Best Spirit In The World”, The Highland Park 18. This was paired amazingly with what must have been a 15 oz, perfectly cooked, melt in your mouth, baseball of beef, Grade A Masterpiece. Honestly, if you have never been to Harbour 60, you probably have never had a steak this good. At one point I actually poured a bit of my Highland Park 18 on to my plate to dip steak in. There aren’t proper words for how good this was. Do you remember that scene from “When Harry Met Sally”? As I glanced around me, there were some serious food and drink people trying hard not to scream “This is so F***ing Good!”. OK, OK. Deep breath. With each new course, Marc would stand before us and speak of his passion and speak about our next whisky, almost apologizing for interrupting our meals, and yet happy to be taking us on this journey. A few times he motioned towards us when talking of others who love and study whisky and that felt pretty cool. As he got up the last time, he spoke of the respect and love of the men who had made this Highland Park 25; men who had nurtured it and cared for it, knowing full well they would no longer be working at Highland Park when it was finally bottled. He spoke of special occasions, and how market studies had shown that the average whisky buyer has 6 bottles at home, ( he full on smiled at Rod and I here) and how they usually have one special one, something kept on a back shelf, brought out to be shared when it meant something to do so. He told of how he had enjoyed a Highland Park 25 with 7 or 8 friends in the middle of some ruins in the middle of the night on Orkney in the pouring rain, and how one sip took him back to that place. As we drank this most amazing of drams, I sat and looked around this beautiful dining room and wondered how in the world I ever got to be so lucky.

 

23
Oct 2010

Well, Rod and Matt headed down to this year’s Whisky Live full of optimism only to be dashed a little. Granted, there were some surprises, but not what you would want.
Firstly, the absence of Glen Fiddich who kinda stole the show last year with their overlooked 18 being poured so freely,,,3 out of the five of us went and bought Fiddich 18s shortly there after, and then this year; no Glen Fiddich at all. In fact the show seemed quite a bit smaller than previous years… But enough about that. This year was a different kettle of fish, to be sure. The first bit of good news is Nikka, the Japanese distillery have a new release of Yoichi 10 year old. They have a wonderful expression of what has the smokieness of an Islay, combined with a honey-ness that is not speyside, not lowland, but it it’s own thing. We tried a 12 Vatted malt and a Ten single malt. Both really outstanding examples of this Japanese hybrid, although the Ten was just that much more bold. Really sweet with vanilla giving way to a musty finish. Next after that was a Highland Park 18 for me which was fully justified in every award they have won. I mean “come on. If you don’t love Highland Park 18, you might as well give up drinking whisky.” Well. Rod and I tried various things but, let’s face it, we’re becoming snobs when it comes to whisky. It’s hard to get excited when whomever trots out their 12 year old or even their 15, as something to be impressed by, and we’ve got 18′s and 21′s of their’s at home. None the less we had some awesome scotch…

Before I forget, BOOTH OF THE YEAR goes to the guys running the Dun Bheagan / Hart Brothers booth. Thank you Robin for your time and info. They had an awesome variety {Mortlach, Caol Ila, Glen Dullan, Gragallachie among others} and gave really fair pours for 1 ticket. Rod and I also enjoyed the Bowmore table, although I had really expected to see the 18 because I saw some at Cooper Street last night.
At the end of the night (4:20 AM) I have to say my favourite of the night was the Hart Brother’s Mortlach 13. Candy apple. caramel and a round end note to finish. Just fab. Well now it’s goodnight for I am going to a Laphroaigh tasting at the Harbor 60 Restaurant tomorrow and need some recovery time. Adieu.

Insert your own mental image to describe the rapid passing of 30 hours…

Unlike this year’s Whisky Live, The Laphroaig nosing at Habour 60 was an absolute treat!

Rod, Richard Lewis and I arrived at the uber swank steakhouse and were ushered into the bar where we were greeted by waiters serving a Laphroaig cocktail called “Smokey Bitter” that had been created by Franco, the resident mixologist. It was a pretty good icebreaker and something to sip while all the guests arrived (about 50). Our host, Simon Brooking was just awesome. His quick wit, love of Islay, toasts and even singing made the overall experience truly memorable. After all the guests were assembled in the bar, he suggested a group photo outside. Seeing as it was pouring rain, the plan was adjusted with the lobby as the location for the picture, but it was just too crowded. Ah, bugger it. I mean this is real Islay weather going on outside, so with a smile, and on a lark, we headed out in to the rain and posed for a picture that will end up on Laphroaig’s website. We headed back in doors a little damp and were seated in the lower dining room.  Simon sang a song to begin the event that spoke of a love for that damp corner of Heaven, Islay. We started with the Quarter cask and all the while Simon spoke and showed slides at the front of the room, describing the origin’s of Scottish whisky and about the regions and their traits. He said “Islay is known as the Happy Island…there are 3000 residents and 8 distilleries!”
We moved on to the Ten year old,  which is returning to the LCBO within weeks and toasted Bessie Williams who over saw the Laphroaig distillery for a great many years. I think Simon’s toast was: “I raise my toast to another and the other I toast to is She (Bessie), in the hope that she’ll toast to another, and the other she toasts will be me”. I really wish I could remember all his toasts for they were wonderful and we had one before each new dram. After the Ten we had the 18. Well well well…this is among the best whisky I have ever had, Islay or otherwise, so perfectly round, so balanced, so sublime and even though we moved on to a 25 and then something called Dargous? (rhymes with Gorgeous), but I was still sort of missing that 18. The good people from Beam Global informed us that the 18 will be in the LCBO at the end of November at $179.00. Already the wheels were turning and ‘should I get 1 for myself or should the group buy 3′ oh wait a minute, be here now, there is still some 18 in my glass, and returning to the present, I had another sip.
Through out all of this there was an incredible ever changing plate of food.

Here is the menu from this awesome nosing thanks to the very helpful Harbour 60 manager Virginia Adams:

B A R   F A R E

Double Smoked Bacon
Stuffed Cherry Peppers
Assorted International Cheeses
Prosciutto

Kalamata and Picholine Olives served with Feta Cheese and Guendilla Peppers (first – on the tables prior to arrival)

P L A T T E R S
Mini crab cakes with red pepper aioli
Smoked salmon with herbed cheese
Roquefort cheese with grilled pear
Seared scallops with Soya and ginger
Seared Ahi tuna with wasabi mayonnaise
Mini lamb chop with mint oil
Braised Short Ribs on Grilled Polenta with Oven Roasted Tomato and Basil 
Grilled Chorizo Sausage
Mini Sliders (burgers) with Truffle Mayo

Dark Chocolate Grand Marnier Truffles

So many yummy things and all these images of Islay…it is settled, the good lord willing and the creek don’t rise, Rod and I and family and friends will be going to Islay the last week of May 2014 for our 50th birthdays.  All and all, this was an amazing, really well run event.
Well done Harbour 60 and thank you Beam Global!

20
Jul 2010

• Dispatches from the Whisky Trail •

-since Matt still has the Official Tasting Notes, I will continue Drew’s Whisky Travelog-

We landed in Glasgow, picked up the car (hey Sandy, this one’s broken! The steering wheel is on the wrong side!) and headed off on the 3 hour drive to the Highlands and Muckrach Castle. http://www.celticcastles.com/castles/muckrach/

We were on our way to Perth, about 45 minutes in to the drive when we thought a wee pit stop may be in order. We pulled off the highway in a little town of Auchterarder and stopped into the first little rest stop we saw. Let’s see… what do we have here… family restaurant, outdoor outfitters, sweets and sheeps (your standard Scottish Tartan Tourist shop -like the “maple and mountie” shops that litter all parts of canada), Tullibardine Distillery, Starbucks…   Ah, here we are -Public Washrooms!  Ahhh.

…Hey, waitaminit!

Did that say Tullibardine Distillery?  (pronounced “tele BARD in”) And the Starbucks is actually IN the Tullibardine giftshop?  Honey, we GOT to go in! I really like Tullibardine, but you really LOVE the Starbucks!  Maybe you can take a tour of how they make a grande soy latte!

We didn’t do a tour, but we did do a tasting. 

18 yr Rum Finnish

12 yr Sherry Finnish

0 yr Pure pot still

2 vente chi lattes

I bought the 200ml rum finish.  Slightly more caramel than the sherry, and I knew they didn’t ship the rum finish over to canada. (official LSS Tasting notes to follow)

But the Pure Pot!  Wholly Honey-Fire Molly!  If that is what comes straight out of the stills (and it is!) I can see why by law, they have to age it for no less than 3 years in oak barrels!  It’s Scottish Moonshine, and I can see if there was any doubt where the real magic of scotch making takes place, the answer is all in the barrel!  Not that the Pure Pot didn’t have flavor… it was a thick buckwheat  honey sandwich on fresh sourdough bread that you then lit on fire and ate.  At 72% or 144 proof, that dram packs a punch! If Pure Pot was the national drink, Scotland would either have an unstoppable army of raging barbarians, or be a barren unpopulated wasteland after the Great Nation-Wide Bar Fight that would start somewhere in Glasgow after Last-Call on Robbie Burns Day and stretch out to the furthest reaches of the country, and the very last Scot standing, having no one left to fight, would then insult his own mother and then punch himself to death.

“I Came as a Uisge Pilgrim, and I Hope Many Will Follow”

•Dispatches from The Whisky Trail•

Scotland. What can I say.  Sandy and I spent a short, glorious week in a Highland Castle, along side the river Spey.  You be the judge.

The Scotland Tourism board has taken a page from the Wine Region Playbook, but then they malted it, and aged it in oak barrels for no less than 3 years, and the result is a magical journey down an amber brick road known as The Whisky Trail.  The Speyside region has over half of all the producing distilleries in Scotland, and I am sad to say that one week is not enough to visit them all.  But each and every small village, town, and hamlet has a very comprehensive whiskey shop or pub, and a quick chat with the barkeep or proprietor does invariably result in some delicious drams, good laughs, and a wee glimpse into the heart of Speyside.

Last night (June 14th) we had the official uncorking of the spoils of my travels.  The menu consisted of the following:

•a Glen Grant 31  (Douglas Laing’s old and rare platinum selection) single cask, cask strength, sherry cask, 1976, 58.6%.

•a Longrow 7 (Springbank, J&A Mitchell’s wood expressions) 5.5 yrs in bourbon, 1.5 yrs in gaja barolo, 2000, 55.8%

•a Glenfarclas 27 (1980 bottled 2007) (Family Cask) 1941 refill Sherry Butt, 50.1%

Our society tasting notes follow.

The Glen Grant I picked up in a little shop in Tomintoul aptly named “The Whisky Castle”.  www.whiskycastle.com  The Proprietor, Mike Drury, was truly the jolliest wag in all the shire, and a source of truths and tales as long and fine as his waistcoat, which was, in truth, the finest I’ve seen. Mike was 11 lbs of malted barley in a 10 lbs tweed sack, eager to share, quick to laugh, and humble in the appreciation of a fine dram. He is a genuine Malt of the Earth, and his Castle is worthy of a stop.

Glen Grant 31   (Douglas Laing’s old and rare platinum selection) single cask, cask strength, sherry cask, 1976, 58.6%.
Nose: Dark rum raisin with ripples of mincemeat and candied fruit.
Thin mouthfeel.
Palate: Melts in your mouth knobby tire esspresso beans giving way to hazelnut.
Long, but elusive finish.
This is the sort of dram I could imagine Brazillionaires sipping on their spacestations.

The Longrow was found on my last day in Edinburgh, at Cadenhead’s  www.wmcadenhead.com  (scotlands oldest independent bottler -est. 1842) on Canongate, the Royal Mile.  As this was my last day in Scotland, and my Scotch budget was nearing its limit, I asked the manager, Mark Davidson for a “Conversation Piece”. I told him what I had bought, showed him what we have had in the past, and asked him what we wouldn’t be able to find over in Canada.  He imediately pointed me to the Longrow…and then his assistant quickly passed me it’s tasting notes:  -”This bottle needs a straight-jacket…” I was sold.

Longrow 7 (Springbank, J&A Mitchell’s wood expressions) 5.5 yrs in bourbon, 1.5 yrs in gaja barolo, 2000, 55.8%

Nose: Like Laphroaig that’s been sitting in an old rubber boot.
Curdled milk sweetness…burnt rubber.
Palate: Like anchovies in 7-Up…like licking a robot’s taint (9 volt battery)…
baby puke in the pocket of a raincoat. Basically we’ve got a rubbery Islay kinda thing with a bit of wierd not really speyside sweet. To be sure, a conversation piece it is/was/will be…
Straight jacket anybody?

The Glenfarclas was my first REAL purchase, and it was direct from the distillery.  What can I say about Glenfarclas? It was on the main Speyside drag, half way between The Macallan and The Glenlivet, but set back from the highway, down a long sideroad through the trees.  It smelled delicious.  Like a distillery should. You could drive by, and probably DID a couple of times, without turning in. Very unassuming. As a Canadian, I gravitated to it like it was Kraft Dinner and Molson Export!  We didn’t do “the tour” but I did manage to tuck in at the tail end of a party of 10 from India who was doing a full-flight tasting with one of the great-great-great grandsons of the distillery as their guide.  Peter, I think… or perhaps  Ian (Eaon?)  He was the one that steered me towards the “Family Cask” line of whisky.  Glenfarclas is perhaps the oldest family run distilleries in Scotland , the rest being owned by booze super corps. (more on that later)  As  a result, we can quaff the fruits of one man’s forethought -George S. Grant – who knew the future of Scotch was not in blends, but in Single Malts. So as a result, Glenfarclas has “laid aside casks from every year of production, starting in 1952, and bottling only the best from each these casks, at least one from each year, and ending up with the longest and largest single vertical expression of any one distillery.”

I decided on the 1980.  Bottled Feb 28, 2007, 1 of 681 bottles, cask #1942

TASTING NOTE SPOILER ALERT!

This is one hell of damn fine dram!! Magic!

Glenfarclas 27 (Family Cask) 1941 refill Sherry Butt, 1980, 50.1%

Nose: Lots of high notes…honey gumdrops with icing.
Palate: Macaroons, apricots changing into lingerie…just so fucking good!
Finish: good and long and not quite gone.
A sip of this, could end a war.

I did smuggle back other Whiskys, and drank plenty more along the way, but those notes will have to wait.  I took notes on most everything I sampled, so the last couple of blank page of my “Lonely Planet- Scotland” is full of personal notes on scotch.

As it should be, Dram it!