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2017 Tasting Notes

This page contains details of the tastings we sponsored or attended in 2017.

While we do sometimes include notes about the drams savoured during tastings in our posts, please feel free to ignore them. Tasting notes are very personal and vary from one individual to another. How we describe the nose, taste and finishes is dependent on the past experiences, scent and taste memories of each person. 

Tasting Notes

  • Click the title or scroll down the page to read the complete post.
  • Canadian Club 40-year-old (11/07/2017) There is always the excitement and thrill of attending an event, more so for a launch party of a product. Tonight, the Belles were able to get into the launch of Canadian Club 40-year-old to the Alberta market in Edmonton. I will pause here as there is no doubt a few eyebrows regarding the brand Canadian Club. If you are like us, we grew up with this being the mixing rye found on the shelf of many homes next to the bottle that had that cool purple bag that you always fought to claim between siblings. There is a pre-conceived notion about the name. It is straightforward and doesn’t sound necessarily mystical nor is it hard ...
    Posted Nov 16, 2017, 9:48 AM by Whisky Belles
  • Zuidam Distillers (16/10/2017) *EVENT CANCELLED* We have been informed by Vines Riverbend that they have had to cancel this event. All attendees with tickets will be contacted to arrange for refunds.The Whisky Belles will be attending to the upcoming tasting with Patrick van Zuidam. He will be at Vines on October 16 and will be presenting gin, genever, single malt rye & whiskies. If you are curious to try something a little different this is a tasting not to miss.  Zuidam Distillers are the fabulous folks behind the amazing Millstone whisky we auctioned off at our recent charity event. Craftwork Spirits generously donated the Millstone whisky and some great bourbons featured at our July fundraising event.  We'd also like to thank Vines ...
    Posted Nov 16, 2017, 8:36 AM by Whisky Belles
  • Emerald Hills Wine & Beyond (06/21/2017) The Good Life: Scottish Malts, Irish Whiskey, and Cognac. On June 21 we traveled to Wine and Beyond Emerald Hills to explore the worlds of Scottish malts, Irish whiskey and Cognac. As I’ve had limited exposure to Irish whiskey over the years and none to cognac, it seemed a great time to dip the toes into new waters. Noel, GM of the Emerald Hills location, presented some of his favourite expressions and was gleeful in his descriptions of the joys of cognac. At $20 a ticket for 7 whiskies, tickets to the tasting were a bargain. Noel has a few rules when it comes to whiskey; I’ve done my best to capture them below: 1.    It doesn’t ...
    Posted Aug 29, 2017, 8:56 AM by Whisky Belles
  • Edmonton Scotch Club (05/27/2017) I’m not one to take notes or read up on the latest whisky trends. Apparently, that’s all about to change. I’ve found a cute little notebook that never has to leave my purse and now have a reason to use all the fancy, schmantzy pens in my collection. Luckily, the Belles were able to score a few tickets to the hottest tasting this spring. A fortuitous reason to introduce said fancy pens to the cute notebook. The Edmonton Scotch Club has been around (officially) since January of 2015 and this spring they hosted the 2nd Annual Edmonton Food Bank fundraiser. Their inaugural #Drams4Fams event raised $4000 for the Edmonton Food Bank and $1000 for the Mental ...
    Posted Jun 28, 2017, 1:55 PM by Whisky Belles
Showing posts 1 - 4 of 4. View more »

Canadian Club 40-year-old (11/07/2017)

posted Nov 16, 2017, 9:37 AM by Whisky Belles   [ updated Nov 16, 2017, 9:48 AM ]


Canadian Club 40-year-old whisky
There is always the excitement and thrill of attending an event, more so for a launch party of a product. Tonight, the Belles were able to get into the launch of Canadian Club 40-year-old to the Alberta market in Edmonton.

I will pause here as there is no doubt a few eyebrows regarding the brand Canadian Club. If you are like us, we grew up with this being the mixing rye found on the shelf of many homes next to the bottle that had that cool purple bag that you always fought to claim between siblings. There is a pre-conceived notion about the name. It is straightforward and doesn’t sound necessarily mystical nor is it hard to pronounce. It just is. So, it is not surprising that it is often overlooked, even by us. That said we jump at the chance to talk to the people who are from the distillery to learn and develop a new appreciation for something a little more local to home.

Back to this evening – in the glass this evening is a 40-year-old Canadian whisky. Looking at the color and knowing a bit about the brand the first thought on sight is a little light for a rye perhaps. We are surprised to learn that the whisky is 100% corn mash in once filled American oak barrels and barrels that previously had rye in them, that had been heavily charred. You may need to read that again, I know we stumbled over that too.

This was placed into barrels back in 1977 in two batches, one in August and the other in October. There it sat in a warehouse outside of Windsor, Ontario. The loss to the angels in the first three years was easily 3% each year and for the next 5-8 year grew to 3.7-3.38% each year. So, what Canadian Club did differently it they kept topping up the barrels, so from the initial 1,000 barrels that were laid down the end results for us 40 years later is 7,000 bottles in the Canadian market only. Now we know you are thinking what came to mind next to us, Canadian whiskies have no prohibition to using caramel coloring for providing a consistent product. In this case, no caramel coloring was added, and it is non-chill filtered. When this came out of the barrels it was 60% but on tasting Canadian Club decided to bottle at 45%. Don’t let this turn you away as this is really a special bottle.

Not only is there craftmanship in the whisky but also in the packaging. The bottle is designed in a decanter style with a thick glass base, with a hand engraved emblem on the back of each bottle. The thick cork was designed in Italy and the neck of the bottle is wrapped in silk thread. This detail in not only the liquid in the bottle but in the packaging just makes a statement of take us seriously.

This whisky is worth the wait and we suggest letting it sit and open for a minimum of half an hour.

Looking at the color in this whisky it has a beauty pale toffee look. It brings to mind the color of hot maple syrup poured into snow to eat as a candy – it’s a Canadian thing. Nosing this whisky is a treat, there are notes of toffee, caramel, butterscotch, caramel corn. There is some vanilla, light spice a softness of cinnamon that teases the nose.

On the palate there is a soft mouth-filling buttery feel. The sweetness from the nose is very subtle in the mouth, with some nice pepperiness and rye hottest on the back of the palate. The smoothness of this whisky is wonderful and isn’t overpowered from the oak barreling. There are soft spice notes that lingers, that bring to mind dark Christmas pudding with a brown sugar sauce.

The finish is warm and creamy, evoking a comfort feeling as you sit enjoying this whisky. We are looking forward to coming back to this whisky and doing a second tasting.

Zuidam Distillers (16/10/2017)

posted Sep 26, 2017, 11:57 AM by Whisky Belles   [ updated Nov 16, 2017, 8:36 AM ]

*EVENT CANCELLED* We have been informed by Vines Riverbend that they have had to cancel this event. All attendees with tickets will be contacted to arrange for refunds.

The Whisky Belles will be attending to the upcoming tasting with Patrick van Zuidam. He will be at Vines on October 16 and will be presenting gin, genever, single malt rye & whiskies. If you are curious to try something a little different this is a tasting not to miss. 

Zuidam Distillers are the fabulous folks behind the amazing Millstone whisky we auctioned off at our recent charity event. Craftwork Spirits generously donated the Millstone whisky and some great bourbons featured at our July fundraising event. 

We'd also like to thank Vines for hosting this amazing event.  Pro Tip: Mention the Whisky Belles when registering and get a discount on the tasting fee!

Emerald Hills Wine & Beyond (06/21/2017)

posted Jun 25, 2017, 10:32 PM by Whisky Belles   [ updated Aug 29, 2017, 8:56 AM ]

The Good Life: Scottish Malts, Irish Whiskey, and Cognac. 

On June 21 we traveled to Wine and Beyond Emerald Hills to explore the worlds of Scottish malts, Irish whiskey and Cognac. As I’ve had limited exposure to Irish whiskey over the years and none to cognac, it seemed a great time to dip the toes into new waters. Noel, GM of the Emerald Hills location, presented some of his favourite expressions and was gleeful in his descriptions of the joys of cognac. At $20 a ticket for 7 whiskies, tickets to the tasting were a bargain.

Noel has a few rules when it comes to whiskey; I’ve done my best to capture them below:

1.    It doesn’t matter how you pronounce the name on the bottle or how the bottle looks. All that matters is the taste.

2.    Drink what you like, when you like.

Can’t say I disagree with either of them…

Armed with my trusty notebook and pen, I made an extra effort to write down more about the drams to be sampled this time around. Prices listed were based on the pricing in the store on the day and are subject to change. Finally, I’ve made a commitment that I won’t rely on the internet to fill in any blanks in my notes. For example, I didn’t think to take a closer look at the bottles to see if the whiskey was chill filtered or coloured. Use your Google-fu to fill in any missing gaps.

 

Dram the first: Leoville Barton (Green Spot – Irish)

Dram the second: Midleton Very Rare 2013 (Midleton - Irish)

Dram the third: Balvenie 12 yr Bourbon (Speyside- Scotch)

Dram the forth: Glenfarclas 21 yr (Speyside - Scotch)

Dram the fifth: BenRiach Port Cask (Speyside - Scotch)

Dram the sixth: Hine Rare & Delicate VSOP (Cognac)

Dram the seventh: Hine Antique XO Premier Cru (Cognac)


As you’ve likely noticed from my notes, we didn’t stray outside of Speyside on the scotch side of things. Overall, I enjoyed the BenRiach most and brought a bottle home with me. I also appreciated the opportunity to learn about cognac however on the fence I might be about its flavour profile.

So, what did I learn about cognac?

It’s a variety of brandy mainly produced in a specific area of France north of the Bordeaux region (Charente and Charente-Maritime). Of these, the Grande Champagne and Petite Champagne regions are best known. Cognac is primarily made using Ugni blanc grapes, locally referred to as Saint-Emilion grapes. To carry the designation cognac, the brandy must be twice distilled in copper pot stills and aged a minimum of 2 years in French oak barrels from Limousin or Troncais.

Cognac carries official grades indicating quality: VS (Very Special or 3 stars) is the youngest variety with a 2 year minimum maturation in cask; VSOP (Very Superior Old Pale or Reserve) indicates that the youngest brandy has spent 4 years in a cask; XP (Extra Old or Napoleon) designates that the youngest brandy has been in the cask for 6 years; and Hors d’age (Beyond Age) is used as a marketing device for products beyond the standard VS, VSOP and XO age scale.

Cognac’s primary market is England and it used to be employed by the British Navy – prior to rum rations – as a method to keep the water supply safe to drink.

Edmonton Scotch Club (05/27/2017)

posted Jun 25, 2017, 10:18 PM by Whisky Belles   [ updated Jun 28, 2017, 1:55 PM ]

I’m not one to take notes or read up on the latest whisky trends. Apparently, that’s all about to change. I’ve found a cute little notebook that never has to leave my purse and now have a reason to use all the fancy, schmantzy pens in my collection.

Luckily, the Belles were able to score a few tickets to the hottest tasting this spring. A fortuitous reason to introduce said fancy pens to the cute notebook.

The Edmonton Scotch Club has been around (officially) since January of 2015 and this spring they hosted the 2nd Annual Edmonton Food Bank fundraiser. Their inaugural #Drams4Fams event raised $4000 for the Edmonton Food Bank and $1000 for the Mental Rescue Society. In 2017, they were determined to shatter that goal. With 80+ people in attendance and all of the $100 ticket designated as a donation to the Food Bank, #drams4fams was off to a great start! Throw in some amazing silent auction prizes and a fantastic bottle draw (or 10), and the event brought in an amazing $15,225 when all was said and done.

Well done boys!

Now on to the good stuff. Remember how I wrote earlier that I’m not usually one to make notes about the whisky I drink?  Keep that in mind when you’re reviewing my notes from the evening.


Dram the first: Mac Na Braca (Victoria Caledonia)

Andrew Walls of the Victoria Caledonia distillery pranced to the front of the room with a kilt and a smile, cheekily asking “Let’s try some juice, shall we?”.

  • Age:231 days
  • ABV: 50%
  • Cask(s): American white oak seasoned with Portuguese dry red wine. Re-charred post wine.
  • Chill Filtration: No
  • Caramel Colouring: No

Mac Na Braca is not yet a whisky. It’s a single malt that Victoria Caledonia is currently selling by the cask. I’ll admit to being enchanted by Andrew and his storytelling as I didn’t appear to make any notes relating to nose or palate. Actually, I’ll need to use that line for most of the whiskies I tasted. I was so new at note taking that I forgot to write down the most important bits.

Dram the second: Glen Moray (Single Cask Nation)

Important lesson learned on this dram? How to properly pronounce Moray. It’s “Murray”, should you be curious.

  • Age:6 years
  • ABV: 54.7% (single cask/cask strength)
  • Cask(s): Madera
  • Chill Filtration: No
  • Caramel Colouring: No

Dram the third: Batch 5 (Two Brewers)

Dave Gardiner of Two Brewers brought a lovely donation to the event. He introduced this sour batch experiment that appeared to turn out well. The whisky came in at 43% ABV and had a salty nose with hints of banana.

Dram the forth: Glenfarclas 25 yr (Kensington Wine Market Exclusive)

  • Age:25 years
  • ABV: 52% (single cask/cask strength)
  • Cask(s): Sherry matured
  • Chill Filtration: No
  • Caramel Colouring: No

Dram the fifth: A Surge of Sweet Peat (120.8 – Scotch Malt Whisky Society)

Kelly and Robert, founders of the Canadian branch of the SMWS, donated this amazing bottle. This 13 year old Hakushu was not released to the Canadian market, which explains why the remaining bottle raised over $700 in the silent auction. A lovely drop with a 63.1% ABV, this was the highlight of many attendees evening.

Dram the sixth: Cask 5959 (Glendronach)

Jay Wheelock* introduced Glendronach with his usual flair. Who can blame him if you’ve heard the story of how this distillery found it’s footing on the whisky market. This was well rounded, beautifully rich dram.

  • Age:18 years
  • ABV: 53.6% (single cask/cask strength)
  • Cask(s): Tawny Port Pipe
  • Chill Filtration: No
  • Caramel Colouring: No

*  Jay was introducing this dram on behalf of the donor, who was unable to attend. If you recall who that might have been, feel free to provide an update in the comments. Thanks.

Dram the seventh: Amrut Canadian Edition

Whisky matures much faster in India than in Scotland. The Angel’s share in the south Asian country is approximately 13% a year, while in Scotland, it averages between 2-5% depending on the location of the distillery warehouse. Amrut sources their peat from Inverness and Goa, India has a special dispensation to make Port.

  • Age: ?
  • ABV: 59% (single cask/cask strength)
  • Chill Filtration: No
  • Caramel Colouring: No

Dram the eighth: Laphroig 15 yr (First Editions).

Matured in a quarter cask, this bottle was donated to the event by Keg and Cork and presented by Dave Scott. Matured in a quarter cask, it “uses your uvula as a punching bag”.

  • Age:15 years
  • ABV: 58% (single cask/cask strength)
  • Cask(s): Sherry matured
  • Chill Filtration: No
  • Caramel Colouring: No

 

Post tasting, the Belles were pretty worn out and headed home, but not until after they’d made some great connections in the local #whiskyfabric. 

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