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Nov 2011
Whisky Rocks, for me, not so much.
Posted in Scotch Nights by Matthew at 4:12 pm | No Comments »

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.


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