Learn With Us

When it comes to whisky, there's a lot to learn. Luckily, there are some dedicated individuals in our group who love to share what they've learned along the way.

Whiskey and the women who love it

posted Aug 10, 2018, 11:26 AM by Whisky Belles   [ updated Aug 10, 2018, 11:26 AM ]

On Friday, Aug 10, 2018, the Whisky Belles were thrilled to be part of a on-the-air tasting with CBC Radio. 

Listen to the segment on the CBC website: https://www.cbc.ca/listen/shows/edmonton-am/segment/15573094

"The Whisky Belles are a group of women 'reclaiming' whiskey tasting. Adrienne speaks to Nichole Olenek and Eva Pang about why they love whiskey."

Hosting a Whisky Tasting: Nosing & Glassware

posted Jan 18, 2018, 3:58 PM by Whisky Belles   [ updated May 28, 2018, 8:09 AM ]

When drinking whisky it is important to ‘nose’ the whisky before you take your first sip. Nosing gives your palate that first indication of the flavors you may taste and is a large part of the whisky drinking experience. 

We suggest taking your time when nosing a whisky. Typically, our nosing process looks something like the following:

For your first nosing hold the glass about a hand's width from your nose. Give the glass a light swirl* and breathe in the aromas. This is especially important if it is a cask strength whisky you're trying.

On the second nosing cut the distance and take a deeper breath. This will bring out additional aromas you may have missed on the first pass. 

With the final nosing bring glass to your lips and breathe in the whisky. This gradual introduction helps to prevent burning your olfactory senses.

When it comes to whisky, repetition is never a bad idea.

Glasses on counter

If the experts and our experiences are to be believed, different glasses provide different nosing experiences.  There are a number of different reviews of glasses that you can read at your leisure; we have linked a few of our favorites below:

Knowing the different types of glasses is good information to have in your back pocket, but drinking whisky is really about enjoying your dram.

Traditional whisk(e)y glasses include

Recently, there has been a growing trend of glass snobbery in the whisky world resulting in a number of re-designs of the whisky glass. These new glasses attempt to change the whisky experience in a variety of ways. Some are designed to facilitate the addition of the warmth of your hand to heat up the whisky while others focus on removing the possibility of heat transfer from your body. The market has expanded to include unique shapes with designers claiming the backing of science. These glasses are meant to address the challenge of light alcohol vapours escaping up sides of the concave shape while heavier aroma vapours rise slowly up the center of the glass. There are even glasses that are half frozen with ice.

New glass ideas include

While we agree that different glassware can result in a different whisky experience, we don't believe that there is a right or wrong style of glassware to use. It's all about the experience and whichever glassware you prefer is always the right glassware.. 

Whichever glass you choose, have fun. When you're ready, feel free to try a new glass or two and compare the nosing and tasting experience to find your favourite.

* We're aware of the swirl/anti-swirl controversy in whisk(e)y circles. Since our purpose is to have fun and enjoy the experience, we've decided to come down firmly on the pro swirl side. 

Hosting a Whisky Tasting: Food Edition

posted Jan 18, 2018, 1:15 PM by Whisky Belles   [ updated May 28, 2018, 8:09 AM ]

If you're not having fun at a whisky tasting, you may be doing it wrong.

Hosting a whisky tasting is a great way to share a bottle or six with friends and other whisky explorers. What we enjoy with our whisky tastings is also ensuring there is good food at hand to munch on and balance out the alcohol that we are consuming.

Cheese

Cheese and whisky just seem a natural pairing to enjoy. We do recommend that looking for good salt and fat content in the cheese you will be pairing, as it is important to balance out the flavors and body of the whisky. As there are many cheese options available too many can complicate the palate so try and select a nice variety. Choose one or two different types of milk cheese such as cow, sheep or goat, a blue, a hard and a rind cheese.

Some things we've learned along the way include:

  • Mellow cheddars, brie, camembert and soft sheep’s cheese pair best with lighter whisky styles. 
  • Cheese with a high salt content like pecorino, manchego or even mature cheddars pair well with island whiskies that notes of iodine, smoke and peat. 
  • Aged rind cheeses with their salt crystals pair well with more intense whisky notes. 
  • Blue cheese can pair well with heavy whiskies and even the sweetness of bourbons.

If unsure at first start by pairing body with body and flavor with flavor between your whiskies and your cheeses. Keep in mind that the more powerful a whisky the more powerful of a cheese to compliment it and not be lost in the tasting.

Cured Meat

As with cheese, cured meats just seem a natural go to when drinking whisky. Cured meats have a range of flavors that can complement the whiskies you are planning to drink. They can bring additional sweetness, saltiness, smokiness, spice and even some sourness. With spice, cured meat flavours can vary from hot spiciness to savory spices.

Some of our favourites include:

  • Cured pork – there are many different varieties from prosciutto to schinkenspeck and lomo to coppa. Cured pork tends to have more complex flavors and is generally drier. As the flavors are subtle they can be over-powered by a strong whisky. Try pairing with something with more citrus notes. 
  • Cured Beef – bresaola and cecina are both popular cured beef varieties that while having an intense meaty intensity it can have sharp acidic tang notes and smoke notes. You can pile on the smoke and complement with a smoky whisky but this can equally stand up to sweet and briny whiskies as well. 
  • Salami – some common varieties include herbed or peppered salami, Geno salami, cacciatorini, pepperoni and even chorizo. Salami as a whole can range in flavors from funky, fiery, delicate, bold, smoky, tangy and sweet. Each variety has its own characteristics. Taste test your selection understanding the flavors that the meat has and play with your whiskies to see what flavors are enhanced. 
  • Game – game can be an interesting one to play with when paired to whiskies. There are many different types of game out there from deer which can have tangy sour notes of the wildness of the meat to the fatty notes from duck to the dry and salty notes from elk and bison.

Starch

Having a starch at a whisky tasting is important for a couple of reasons; they provide a palate neutralizer that can be used to help clean a palate between whiskies and they help absorb the alcohol being consumed. Starches are a great companion to a charcuterie board.

The most common starch is a fresh crusty bread similar to a French loaf or baguette. You can also use crackers as an alternative. It's really up to you. Of course, it helps if you know the preferences of the people you are hosting as well.

Chocolate

Chocolate is one of those wonderful additions to a whisky tasting that has just as many flavour options as the whiskies. We like to include both milk and dark chocolate options at our table. Dark chocolate comes in different percentages. Generally, a high percentage listed on the label is an indicator of more intense  chocolate flavouring and less sweetness. This is a very broad over generalization; different cacao beans do have different sweetness levels and flavors as well. Consider trying different cacao bean varieties and how they interact with the whiskies you taste.

Milk chocolate contains more milk or cream in addition to the cacao beans and sugar. Some prefer a sweeter chocolate when drinking whiskies as they find it helps to mellow out some of the flavors from the whisky.

We recommend having both dark and milk chocolate when including chocolate at a tasting. This way you'll have something on hand that appeals to all your guests. We do tend to avoid many of the flavored chocolates (i.e. ginger infused) as these can overwhelm the whiskies. We find chocolate with sea salt a safe compromise, but you do have to be aware that the added salt can radically change your palate when drinking whisky.

Nuts and Dried Fruit

This is really a personal preference and allergy dependent, particularly for the nuts. A couple things to keep in mind is keep it simple, go for no extra sugar or salt. When choosing your nuts and dried fruit think about the flavors of the whiskies you will be tasting. 

Some thoughts to keep in mind as you start selecting nuts and dried fruit:

  • Bourbon cask whiskies tend to have more fresh fruit notes of apple, pineapple, and coconut. 
  • Sherry casks usually go towards the dark dried fruits of figs, dates, and sultanas. 
  • Sweeter nuts and dried fruit can contrast better with drier whiskies, such as peat-heavy Islay whiskies. 
  • Bitter/sharp nuts and dried fruit will balance out sweeter drams, like American whiskies 
  • Heavily roasted nuts will lend an almost smoky undercurrent to un-peated whiskies.

Pickles

With pickles you don’t want to lose the whisky to the salt and vinegar or pickle brine flavourings. That said there are some fun pickled foods that do go well with whiskies. These include:
  • Dill/pickled cucumbers 
  • Pickled garlic 
  • Olives 
Pickled herring offers an interesting profile when paired with a very smoky and peaty Islay whisky. The medicinal iodine notes combined with the peat and smoke from the whisky pair well with the salty fish notes of the herring and creates a candy-like effect. Be careful or you'll find yourself eating a lot of herring while drinking the whisky.

Preserves

Much like pickles there is a need for caution when considering including preserves at your whisky tasting. Many preserves rely on extra salt, sugar and vinegar as part of their recipes. Keep this in mind as these extra flavors can overwhelm your whisky. This doesn’t mean you have to exclude them, more so, consider what will be the best for the people attending and the food you have selected.

Don’t feel that you have to have just these items available. Explore foods and see what pairs well or doesn’t pair well too. When hosting a whisky tasting it is all about having fun.

Some fun ideas that we have explored in the past are:

  1. Candy and whisky 
  2. Smoked meat and whisky

The Wonderful World of Sharing: Whisky Samples

posted Jan 18, 2018, 12:15 PM by Whisky Belles   [ updated May 28, 2018, 8:10 AM ]

We enjoy drinking and finding new whiskies almost as much as we also enjoy trading samples. This is a great way to share some of our favorite whiskies with others and to explore whiskies we wouldn’t typically find or purchase ourselves.

When trading samples it is important to discuss the amount as there are different containers that each person will use to trade their samples in. A 1oz. sample is a very typical amount to trade but you may be asked to trade up to 2-4oz. Make sure you do discuss this expectation with your whisky trader.

Bottles

Once an amount is decided upon the choice of container is really up to you. There are 3 main types of bottles that whisky traders will use. There are the Boston round bottles, Nalgene wide-mouth bottles and mini liquor bottles. Many of these bottles can be found online or purchased at your local camping supply store. What is important is the bottle is food safe and won’t leak when filled with liquid.

Commonly used bottles for trading include:

Before filling your bottle we recommend ‘cleaning’ your bottle. If you are reusing a bottle from a previous trade or even reusing factory filled mini liquor bottles you can wash the exterior with warm soapy water and remove the label. Once the bottle has dried, we recommend washing it again in vodka. We typically use the cheapest un-flavoured vodka we can find on sale. You're not going to drink the vodka (we hope), just use it to clear out any residual liquor and soap residues. If the bottle has previously had liquor that had a strong taste profile, you may have to vodka wash the bottle several times. Don’t forget to vodka wash the bottle lid as well. Let the bottle and lid air dry before filling.

Labeling

Once you have an agreed upon sample size and selected your container it's important to have a label on the container to let your trading buddies know what's in the bottle(s). We have found that having a sheet of pre-printed labels on hand makes swapping samples very easy. Simply fill in the blanks with the info relating to your trade. 
Whisky Belles Trading Label

ProTip: Use a no-smudge pen when filling in the details of the whisky that you are swapping.

We've included a copy of the label that we use. As you can see, it contains the basic information most whisky aficionados are interested in knowing.


Filling

It's time to fill your bottles! To make the job easier we use a small funnel that fits the opening of the mouth of the bottle we are using. Like our bottles, we wash the funnel with vodka. It's a good practice to clean the funnel before using and between fillings if you're filling bottles with different whiskies.

During filling, leave some space at the top so it doesn't overfill. Wipe the bottle down to make sure there is no alcohol on the exterior before applying the label or the label may not stick.

Have fun trading!

The stuff whisky is made of

posted Nov 24, 2017, 8:52 AM by Whisky Belles   [ updated May 28, 2018, 8:10 AM ]

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Barley is one of the key ingredients to making scotch whisky.  To start the process of making the spirit, the barley has to be malted.  This process, germination, is started with the barley being steeped in water, then spread out over the malting floor.  In this picture this is a stone malting floor which can hold up to 14 tonnes of barley.  The barley is left for five to seven days and turned every four hours day and night.  The barley is turned regularly by hand to control the temperature and rate of germination.







(Bowmore)


The first picture below shows the barley at the being of the malting process while the second picture shows the barley at the end of the malting process when it is called ‘green malt’. This is the point where the barley has converted the starch to sugar that is needed to continue the process to producing the spirit.

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(Laphroig)


The barley is transferred from the malt floor to the kiln, this is where the barley is heated, halting the germination and smoke from the peat fueled fire is introduced to the barley.  Germination of the barley is stopped once the required levels of sugars have been achieved by the conversion of the starch in the barley which started on the malting floor.  You can see the grated floor and the blackened timbers of the ceiling from many previous batches of heated and smoked barley.

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(Laphroig)


Some level of smoke from peat-heated fires are introduced from the kiln to the barley.  This adds the phenols, that smoke to the whisky spirit.  Islay has a reputation of being heavily peated with 20-25 ppm (parts per million).  Unpeated or non-peated whiskies are typically made using hot air for drying the barely and not a peat fire.

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(Laphroig)            (Kilchoman)


Peat is this wonderful decaying vegetation or organic matter that is used to fuel the fires of many a whisky kiln in Scotland and Ireland.  As you can see from these pictures the peat bogs are rather soggy.  To harvest the peat, it is cut out in ‘bricks’ and left to dry before it is collected and used back at the distillery.

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(Connemara, Ireland)             (Bowmore Peat Bog, Islay)      (Laphroig)



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Once the malted barley has been dried it is milled.  This is where the malt is separated in the husk, the grist, grit and flour.  The ‘grist’ consists of three parts: 15-20% husks (coarse), 70-80% grits (medium) and 5-10% fine flour.  Each distillery follows their own recipe and preference for the proportions of the grist.  These proportions are important, so the extraction of fermentable sugars during the mashing process is as effective possible.  




(Laphroig)



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After the ‘green barley’ has been ground down to ‘grist’ it is passed through to the ‘mash house’.  The ‘grist’ is mixed with three lots of water at increasingly high temperatures to leech out as much sugar as possible and maximise the yield of alcohol.  It is this ‘liquid sugar’ known as ‘wort’ that is needed to make the alcohol.




(Kilchoman)


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Here you can see how the grist is kept moving as it is mashed to extract all the fermentable sugars.  The wort from the first two water courses is drained into "washback" vessels for further processing, whereas the third course is retained as the first charge in the next batch.




(Bruchladdich)



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The shape of the stills adds to the characteristics of the spirit that it produces and many distilleries will repair their pot stills until they have worn out and when they create a copy they will include each dent the original still had.  For the distillation process the spirit goes through two distillations.  The first takes place in the ‘wash’ still and can take the spirit up to 22% alcohol, often referred to as low wine.  The ‘low wine’ is collected as it condenses and distilled a second time in ‘spirit’ stills.  The ‘spirit’ still take the alcohol content up to 68%.  Each distillery has their own view of when best to ‘cut’ the spirit to be barrelled for their final product.  (Laphroig)



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(Kilchoman)



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The ‘spirit safe’ allows the distiller to analyse and manage the spirit coming out of the pot still without coming into contact with the spirit itself.












(Bruichladdich)


The ‘new make spirit’ or unaged whisky, is then placed in oak casks to mature. By law, all Scotch whisky must be aged for a minimum of three years in oak casks, though many single malts are matured for much longer. The whisky continues to develop and change as it spends time in the wood, and maturation periods of twenty years or more are not uncommon. During the time it spends in the wood, a significant percentage of each cask's content will evaporate. The lost product is known as the angel's share.


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(Kilchoman) (Laphroig)

Whisky Rainbow

posted Nov 24, 2017, 8:24 AM by Whisky Belles   [ updated May 28, 2018, 8:10 AM ]

Sample Whisky Rainbow

One of the Belles recently attended a tasting and the following whisky rainbow was used as a tongue in cheek description of whisky colors for men.

It's a cute and catchy visual resources that did what it was supposed to do. It made us think about how we describe colors as we examine the whisky in our glass. This becomes a sticking point for many whisky drinkers and can be taken too seriously. 


Whisky Belles Whisky Rainbow
Rather than getting caught up in determining the ‘right’ color we took a shot at developing our own whisky rainbow, referencing our own day-to-day experiences to name the colors we saw. It sounded easier than it was at first; we too, took it too seriously and began googling color palettes and such. As we looked through the pages and pages of colors it stopped becoming fun and we stopped looking. Instead we looked back at the colors in the glasses and started to draw from our own memories and what thoughts the colors evoked for us. This is what describing whisky is about. It is personal to each drinker and just because you may have a different answer than someone else it does not mean your answer is wrong. Your experiences color how you see the world and taste the world.

As you can see we found some fun color descriptors for the glasses of whisky that reflect colors in our lives and in some cases reflect experiences that provide the description of a color for us. This too is important to remember for when you are tasting whisky. Find the fun in it. Enjoy the experience and find the laughter too. We have added a blank whisky rainbow below that you too can try your hand at – go have some fun when you drink your whisky!

Blank Whisky Rainbow

Tastings, not just a man's world

posted Jun 27, 2017, 6:20 PM by Whisky Belles   [ updated May 28, 2018, 8:10 AM ]

Picture it, Sicily 1922…

Ok, you got us. The Whisky Belles weren’t around in 1922, but who doesn’t love a little Sophia Petrillo (Golden Girls) when setting the scene?

Where was I?

Oh yes…

Our founders have been dabbling in the world of whisky for a smidge of time. One Belle was born to Scots Immigrant parents with a family connection to Oban. As such, Oban (and Famous Grouse, naturally) were the standard family drams. It was all up-palate from there, developing into an ongoing love affair with peaty and smoked whiskies. The other Belles grew up in households where one parent drank bourbon while the other parent drank scotch. Whisky was always explored and discussed in the home.

It’s no surprise that we Belles enjoy our whiskies and are always looking to expand our own knowledge and understanding.  This leads us to attending various tastings and master classes. Whisky tastings are an economical way to broaden the palate, learn what you might like or dislike, try different whiskies and expand your general knowledge of the spirits, distilleries and processes. They often range in price from free (yippee!) to $100+ a ticket depending on who is sponsoring the event, which drams are included, and if the tasting has an additional purpose, such as selling bottles or raising funds for charity.

Time after time, we attend a tasting, see a few new female faces around the table and, at the end of the night, discover they have no intention of returning. Sure, some attendees discover that the drams tasted that evening didn’t appeal to them. More often, the feedback we hear from women is that they weren’t comfortable with things said during the tasting.

Oh, boy! Do we know what they’re talking about!

Beneficial as they are in introducing new drams to people, tastings also play a role in whether or not women return to another tasting event at a specific location in future or if they choose to spend their whisky budget elsewhere. Even being experienced whisky enthusiasts we’ve encountered sexist, demeaning and degrading remarks by male presenters, enthusiasts and distillers.  Some of this is intentional as they are playing to the room that is 99% men, some may dislike women drinking whisky, while others are parroting what they have seen and learned in the industry. 

We’ve decided to share some of our recent experiences to help other women understand that they are not alone; we face the same negativity that they do and in some cases. When we feel safe, we call it out for what it is; exclusionary behaviour.  One thing we’re certain, enjoying whisky has nothing to do with being a man or a woman. It is about enjoying the spirit in the glass before you.

Experience the first: Bringing sex to the table.

At a recent club tasting a Belle was sitting at the table with a small group of attendees reviewing the latest releases.  The gathering was small and filled with great banter and lively discussion. One of the attendees commented on the age of the whisky being tasted, it was the right age to drink and reflected that “just legal age” woman he preferred to copulate with. The sound of chuckling filled the room. The lewd discussion continued for the rest of the evening, every man in the room refused to meet the eyes of the Belle in attendance.  The Belle left the event aggravated by the behaviour and inspired to write this post!

Experience the second: The weak woman.

Another Belle recently attended a tasting where she was one of three women in the room. All three had encountered each other at tastings for years. Two were passing acquaintances of the presenter. After requesting a show of hands to see who was new to tastings and whisky in the room, the presenter proceeded to acted as if the women were the only inexperienced people in the room. Jokes we made about watering down spirit before introducing it to wives and girlfriends. Men were admonished not to give a women a cask strength dram, nor to bother introducing her to a peated whisky as it’s too strong and both the smell and taste are offensive to women. While the men nodded, laughed, and joked about how their women just don’t get whisky, the women in the room were left with a distinctly bad impression.

Experience the third: Cloak of invisibility.

At another tasting, participants were passing around boxes and bottles to get a closer look at them. Reading, photographing, and making notes on drams is a pretty common occurrence at many tastings. A male attendee, who had previously indicated that this was his first ever tasting, and first time drinking whisky, by-passed the woman sitting beside him every time he passed the bottle. He reached around her, over her, but never once did he pass the box to her. This occurred all evening, despite watching the individual he passed the bottle to hand it to the woman for review each time he bypassed her. As the evening wore on, it appeared as if she didn’t exist and wasn’t worth interacting with.

Simple complaints? Perhaps. But the end result is that the whisky world loses something when a large portion of their market disengages. There are stores we don’t set foot in anymore, tastings we no longer pay to attend, and distillations we have no interest in purchasing because of the behaviour of some representatives.

As a business owner, distillery rep, or lover of the spirit, how women are treated during tastings should be an area of concern. As of 2013, nearly a third of all whisky drinkers in the UK were female (29%) while in 2015, Fred Minnick, author of Whiskey Women wrote that 37% of the US whiskey market was made up of women.

Our best piece of advice? Stop gendering whisky! Don’t suggest that “the little woman can’t handle the smell, or a cask strength dram”. Don’t advise the “men-folk” to water down their drams by 50% when introducing them to women. And if you hear an uncomfortable or sexist remark, don’t laugh. Don’t act as if it’s ok because everyone else is doing it. It’s no ok, and it won’t stop until our allies (specifically, other men) around the table loudly and unequivocally reject this behaviour at tastings and events.

It’s hard going against established stereotypes but everyone will feel much better when tastings are inclusive. When you’re presenting, emphasize that everyone’s palate will be different. Some will love sherry (*shudder*) while others will flinch at the smell of an Ardbeg Corryvrecken. Remind tasters (and presenters) that there’s no “one way” to enjoy your drink. Neat is great. Water opens up a different world to the nose and palate. Pipettes and droppers can help control water introduction to the spirit. Chocolate and cigars, should you be so inclined, can enhance the experience. And, most importantly, speak up when you hear something inappropriate. Loudly. Let everyone know what to expect at your tasting; no sexism allowed!

Finding Your Dream Dram

posted May 9, 2017, 11:27 AM by Whisky Belles   [ updated May 28, 2018, 8:09 AM ]

Author: Eva Pang

So you decided to give whisky a try, but don’t know how to pick something to try? No problem, delving into the world of whisky is all about tasting, tasting and more tasting as there are so many different kinds, all with different flavour profiles. Finding the dram of your dreams can be a lifelong adventure.

The first thing I suggest you do is to think about your favourite wine or beer and the flavour profiles they have. If you think about the flavours of the wines or beer that you like, you can usually find a whisky with a similar taste profile. The flavour of whisky can be wide and varied, and despite misconceptions, are not all smoky and peated. Although I will caution that with all whisky, you need to get over the “hot/burning” taste of the alcohol before you’ll taste any of the distinct flavours within, but once you do, you’ll enjoy whisky much more.

My favourite single malt scotches have flavours reminiscent of figs, plums, stewed apples, honey, vanilla and cocoa. Whisky can be sweet, spicy, dry, oaky, citrusy and smoky. You can use a website such as Master of Malt to look up whisky you see on restaurant menus or in the liquor store, and it will provide you with the flavour profiles so you can get an idea of which whisky you might want to try when you get the chance.

Second, the only way to really know what whisky you will or won’t like is to try it. There are a few different ways you can go about trying whisky without committing to a whole bottle. You can go to any restaurant or lounge and work your way slowly through their whisky offerings. This allows you to try an ounce or two without spending $60-$100 on a whole bottle that you might or might not like. The only downside to this is that most restaurants don’t offer a large selection, with the exception of The Bothy. As well, many restaurants seem to offer very similar selections, so there will only be so many you’ll have the opportunity to try if you go this route.

Another way of trying whisky before you buying is by finding a liquor store that offers a “try it before you buy it” policy. To be honest, I don’t know of any liquor stores off the top of my head in Edmonton that have this policy for certain, although I have heard there are a few that might. I know for certain that if you’re in Calgary, Kensington Wine Market will offer you a sample of pretty much anything they have – I imagine there are some exceptions to this rule, such as not sampling out bottles that are rare and extremely expensive – but pretty much anything else can be sampled. In Edmonton, Keg & Cork will have a number of options available to sample from their tasting bar; check back frequently as the tasting options will change. This allows you to try before committing your hard earned money to an entire bottle.

However, the best way to try a lot of different whisky without a huge monetary investment is to attend whisky tastings and wine and spirit festivals. At tastings run at liquor stores, they can offer a variety of whisky from a single distillery, particularly if the tasting is being run by a sales representative for a specific brand, or the ambassador for a specific distillery. However, whisky from a single distillery can vary wildly in flavour depending on age, barrels used to age or finish them, whether it’s a blend or a single cask, and a whole variety of other factors. Liquor merchants sometimes run their own tastings, picking a variety of whisky that they enjoy or to show the difference between whiskies from various parts of the world. Festivals allow you to pick and choose which whisky you try or don’t try, and often have a wide variety of distilleries to choose from.

There are in fact, quite a few whisky tastings coming up in Edmonton, listed bellow for you. These will provide you with the opportunity to try a variety of different whiskies and learn a bit more if you’re new to this misunderstood spirit.

I’ve found the biggest mistake that most people make when trying to find a whisky they like, is asking a friend, a friend of a friend, a friends’ spouse, a friends’ dad, etc, what they enjoy, then going out and buying a whole bottle of that whisky. No two people will have the same likes and dislikes when it comes to wine, beer or spirits. Your taste buds prefer different things, your experiences will evoke different emotions when exposed to a particular flavour or smell, and even your specific body chemistry could make a difference. So even if they say “trust me, you’ll love it!”, choose flavours that appeal to you, and don’t try to convince yourself to like something that someone else does because they say it’s the number one ranked whisky in the world and therefore, you should love it. It doesn’t work that way and your personal preference should always take precedence.

Finding the perfect whisky for you takes time, patience, and a lot of tasting. Don’t give up if you don’t find it right away, it’s taken me years before I finally found a whisky that hooked me enough to enjoy it. So go to a tasting, try anything that catches your eye and I hope you’ll have fun enjoy exploring the world of whisky!

Why Drink Whisky?

posted May 9, 2017, 11:10 AM by Whisky Belles   [ updated May 28, 2018, 8:11 AM ]

Author: Eva Pang

Why drink whisky? It’s a reasonable question if you don’t already drink whisky, have never tasted whisky or have only tried it once before. In which case, you’re probably saying it more like “Why WOULD you drink whisky?” Potentially making a face while saying it.

Most people don’t generally start with spirits when they first start drinking. From my experience, most people generally gravitate towards beer and wine first, or fruity cocktails and coolers. All of these drinks seem more approachable, are better advertised and can have very low starting prices, giving them an edge in wooing younger drinkers.

Whisky has a lot of misconceptions to overcome including that it’s only drunk by men, it’s expensive, it’s for older people, and whisky all tastes the same. Being a woman in her 30’s who just discovered the joys of drinking whisky, I can certainly tell you that it’s not just for men, it’s definitely not just for older people and it does not have to be expensive. Although this might have the case a long time ago, the whisky industry is trying hard to dispel these myths and misconceptions.

Just like beer and wine though, whisky is unique and varied, with so many different brands, varieties, and ways to change the flavor, you could spend your entire life drinking whisky and still learn new things. Whisky can taste sweet, spicy, meaty, citrusy, and malty. The flavours can be gentle or bold and in your face. Prices can also range greatly and despite what people think, it does not have to be expensive.

So if you want to give whisky a go, start off with something classic, reliable and affordable. The Maccallan distillery is a well-known distillery in Scotland, and is amongst Scotland’s largest distilleries. The Macallan Gold is the first in The 1824 Series, and is very affordable and approachable for a newcomer to whisky. At only 40% abv, the alcohol content will be significantly higher than those used to drinking beer and wine, but not so high that when you smell it, you feel like it might burn off your nose hairs! It smells of lovely citrus with a hint of vanilla to it, and tastes lightly of citrusy, sweets and ginger. The finish is dry and short, so the taste won’t linger in your mouth and is an easy drink for anyone who has never tried whisky before.

So give whisky a whirl, and if it doesn’t take the first time, don’t give up! Sometimes it just takes the right whisky to get you hooked like I was! All it takes is one wee dram!

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