Leslieville Scotch Society

A couple of guys left giving each other scotch on birthdays.

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


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!

This was the first kinda’ nosing in a long long time when you consider that we haven’t had a get together where we had a bunch of new bottles to explore together in a dog’s age, and tonight there were 4. That’s a good number, 4. Well Rod is talking about having read a review of a newly aquired single malt, the Glen Grant, and how some dude said it was his favourite in this book, and “wait, I’ve got that book and I go to get it off the shelf. I pull it down wondering when the last time I had read this and then I think: Christmas, it was around Chritmas. I open the book to look in the index and there is an envelope stuffed in the first few pages of this book. It is a red Christmas envelope with Holly and Pointsetta’s all over it. I open it up and it’s a card from Ginette’s auntie Mo and inside it is a bank draft for $4000.00.  It’s her inheritance from her Grand Dad passing away… we never figured out that that money was still around! Ginette assumed I had put it in our savings and it had just got eaten by debt and I assumed Ginette had put it in our savings and it had just got eaten by debt. Now….. THAT is a good way to start a party!!! Mexico? Maybe!! And now to four new whiskies!!!! First up was the Allta-Bhannie 12. Awesome shit. Calling back memories to Rod’s very favourite, the recently departed,  Signatory Cask Strength Allta- Bhannie 27. Then we had the Glen Grant. Holy crap…we were all ready to dig into Rod’s new bottle of Glen Grant, when in walks Gooderham with a same said bottle, just recently deflowered and wants men to drink her… Well of course we did. Tasting notes will be posted separately from this post. Next off the blocks was the first of three in a pairings trio: two Glen Scotia 1992’s, one finished in a bourbon cask and one in sherry. Each one some sort of blessing, so good accompanied by such good friends and the laughing.  Then we had an eye dropper 1/8th shot of Auchroisk 28 to A B with the newly acquired Auchroisk 18. Well it can’t be said often enough. The Auchroisk 28 smells, feels, and tastes like God’s vagina. The 18 is Gosh, God’s younger sister. I mean, someday she may really be something, but right now it’s unfair to compare the 18 with the 28. That said, stellar and uber stellar. Then we ventured to Islay. It was no subtle hike. We fell down a hill into a full on onslaught of peat: The Signatory Cask strength Bunnahabhain 9 year old “Heavily Peated” and the Bruichladdich “Peat”. Not for the faint of heart, to be sure, but then that’s just more for us who would sell our sibling’s for a bit ‘o’ this. There were cushions and patios and small glowing embers and laughter that echoed through Leslieville, and laughter that echoed through Leslieville.

If my booze-soaked memory serves me, we went shopping at the Summerhill LCBO to spend the final gift cards Rob acquired for his birthday and to do some post-Christmas exchanges. What was bought was a Glenallachie 13, a Dufftown 12 and a Litttlemill 16; also a Yamikaze 8 year old vatted malt. I exchanged my Forty Creek Port Wood for a Glenfiddich 18. We went to Rob’s and had some and took some tasting notes but only Rob knows what became of those. One of them was Sardines, one of them was Krispy Kreme donuts, one of them was a trip to the front porch, and it gets pretty blurry after that. The fact that there have been a few shopping trips and more than a few nights of whiskey since then really illustrates why it is so important to write these posts while still loaded at 3 or 4 AM on the night in question.

Dec 2009

Amazingly, I got a second wind tonight after watching the new “Scrubs”. Rod showed up with an “What?! Thank you bro, Oh No you Didn’t!!!” birthday surprise procured at a duty free shop in Mexico; the super obscure Knockando 12 year old: super yummy by the way, but that’s another story. Next in Rapid sucession did come Rob, then Dave, then finally puppy rattled Drew for “an celebration” as it were. So we all had some Knockando and tasting notes were written by Robert, who will no doubt be posting them any moment. Ginette made some Ginette drinks and we all got comfy.

Next up, the boys gave me a Balvenie 15 year old single barrel. WOW! Awesome stuff…Chocolate and Shi…ya know like “there’s too many mother ucker’s uckin’ with my shi…?” That’s the shi I am talkin’ about!!!

Then, I pull out a ringer from the SAQ; the Nikka Yoichi 12 Year Old, hither to un-seen round these parts. “Wowoeee Woweee Woweee” as said by Christopher Walken.

Then it’s all orange peel sculptures and Arthur and blah blah blah drinking, goodbye to the Ardbeg Uigeadail, Connemara original and 12, and the end of the Talisker 10 and the Lagavulin Distillers Edition. New bottles got, others gone, it is such a wonderful life. Forty five? Shmorty shmive.

Now it’s past three, goodnight to thee and me.


Dec 2009

First up, Dave!  Several new bottles opened, including:

-Oban 1995 Distiller’s Edition, which we tasted beside the regular Oban 14

-Glen Elgin 12 (brought back from Mexico by Dave)

-Glenlivet 15 French Oak

-Talisker Distiller’s Edition

We also had some Jura Superstition and Blackadder Peat Reek.  The highlight of the evening was the Glen Elgin, which is not available through the LCBO and was a new experience for all of us.  Tasting notes for the above are now online.

Nov 2009

A small, impromptu gathering at the Stoyles’s, and before you know it, the bottles come out:

Speyburn 10, Acnoc 12, Macallan Cask Strength, Old Pulteney 12, Glendronach Original 12, Blackadder Peat Reek 10, Glenmorangie Nectar D’Or, Aberlour 10, Cragganmore 12, Scapa 14.

Much laughter and frivolity, a round of White Russians at 2am, another great night with great friends.

It’s a pretty good life.

As Rob mentioned, there were no new surprises at the Whisky Live 2009, but the Glen Fiddich 18 was a healthy reminder of how easily we forget the big obvious brands. This 18 was so yummy in fact, that I went out looking for a bottle the very next day, and that’s when I saw it: Scapa 16 official bottling at a whopping $120.00! It’s Longmorn all over again; a sexy new bottle with an embossed sailboat, new graphics, and two more years in the barrel takes us from “I can’t believe it’s not butter” awesome 14 year old at $55.95 to this new bottling at better than twice the cost.

It is the responsibility, nay, duty, of all members of the LSS to try and scoop up some bottles of the 14 at once, for when they are gone, they will be gone.

Now, that’s not to say I didn’t buy the new 16, and that combined with Rod’s 2 new acquisitions, a gaelic blend (whose name escapes me) and a distillers edition Caol Ila, made for more new whisky’s tasted than at the entire Whisky Live 2009, on the very next evening. The Scapa 16 is very good, sort of ‘the more refined older brother who is in town for the weekend, and I suppose you can crash on my couch” but certainly not twice as good as the 14.

Nov 2009

Society members had all but resigned themselves to missing this year’s Whisky Live, until some last-minute passes were acquired by Rod, and a contingent was dispatched.  It has to be said, a somewhat disappointing experience compared with 2007’s event.  Not very many interesting or unusual whiskies to be had; although to be fair, we didn’t participate in any of the master classes.

The biggest thumbs-down went to the Tullibardine booth, or more specifically, the guy who was pouring at the Tullibardine booth.  Now, Tullibardine is one of our favourite new discoveries, and we have purchased many of their offerings through the LCBO. We were excited to see a couple of new expressions at the booth, and were dismayed when presented with what could not have been more than a half-ounce pour for our two-ticket payment.  I understand that there is an official “pour size” for the event, and that Tullibardine may have been new on the scene.  However, given that ALL the other booths were eschewing the official regulator caps in favour of normal human-sized pours, and that the particular cap this gent used was clearly fault, it left a bad taste in our mouths that he refused to play along with the rest of the distilleries at the show.

The best booth?  Hands down, Glenfiddich.  First of all, those guys knew how to pour drinks.  But more than that, the 15 and especially the 18 year old were both very, very good whiskies!    Runner-up would have to be Glenmorangie, largely because they were pouring healthily from their store of Ardbeg 10, which we haven’t been able to get here for some time.  Good news is, it’s coming back to the LCBO this month.

Via Allegro had their usual food-pairing setup, although the scotches on offer were somewhat more pedestrian than last time (Cragganmore 12 and Lagavulin 16 instead of Rosebank 22 and Talisker 25).  A”name that scotch” blind tasting was fun too, although I’m still waiting for them to call me with my prize.

All in all, it was worth going, at least just for the last portion.  But the best part of the evening was returning to Leslieville, where we were free to pour whatever size drinks we wanted, from a bar that had better bottles on offer than most at the show.

Oct 2009
Posted in Scotch Nights by Matthew at 12:15 am | 4 Comments »

The LSS has been a full-on torrent of almost non-stop drinking since the Wood on Wood night, but there is no post which could possibly convey all that has gone on. The spring and summer were / are eternal witness to some truly outstanding blow outs. Cottages. Camping. Some Birthdays. A whole lot of really, really great whisky. And it was on one of these Matisse-smudged afternoons of laughing and breaking that we found ourselves drinking some nice cold Gritstone beer. Gritstone. Hmmm. That’s got some cool letters. And it began: Anagramming what we were drinking at the time.

Here is our list of anagrams thus far:

Gritstone = Strong Tie, Groin Test, and our fave, Tiger Snot.
Moosehead= Some hoe ad, or more reverentially, O Mead Hose…
Trailhead= Death Lair

And then we moved to Scotch..

Glenmorangie = Morning Eagle, Large Gino Men, and arriving eventually at Man Groin Glee.
Auchentoshan = Chase a Hot Nun
DunBheagan = Hun Bandage
Glenfarclas = Flag near Sac (thanks to Regan)
Connemara = Co-Ream Ann
Talisker = Ale Skirt
Ardbeg = Red Bag
Balvenie = Evil Bane
Tullibardine = Till Bad Urine
Rosebank = Ok, No Bears.
Cragganmore = Regan, Go Cram or less politely, Go Cram Regan!
Glen Garioch = Raging C-Hole
Dalwhinnie = We Nail Hind.
The Macallan = The Anal Clam.
BenRiach = In Her Cab.
Lagavulin = A Gal In Luv.
Bowmore = Rob Meow or Mow Robe.

And so it goes. Actually, seeing this list in print is kind of disturbing.