A regular release from Bunnahabhain, this 12 year comes at us aged primarily in ex-bourbon casks but composed with 30% ex-sherry which elegantly lends some beautiful colour and fruit sweetness to the expression. This whisky is somewhat of a darling in my circle as I am sure it is in every circle, mostly because it comes at a price of $60ish CAD and is one of the most drinkable whiskies on the shelf.
Whenever I am introducing the land of Islay to a new whisky drinker, there is not a better choice than Bunna 12. With all the fresh sea like characteristics quintessential to the region but with less of the peat punch you’ll get in the Laphies and Laggies, makes it a perfectly palatable introduction to the genre.
ABV – 46.3% / Age – 12 Years / Mash – 100% Malted Barley / Region – Scotland (Islay) / Cask – ex-Bourbon (70%) & ex- Sherry (30%)
Mike Brisebois (Distell Brand Ambassador) happens to be a good friend of the society which makes a lot of people around here pretty happy. The perk of this friendship is that Bunna 12 tends to flow around our tasting like water. Along with our other faithful pre-dram – Deanston 12 year, Bunna 12 is a perfect way to wet your palate and get those buds ready for the evening or even turn your buzz into a night ending fizzle. Like I said, water is sometimes the second most beverage consumed at these tastings…
It’s funny, I have been drinking this whisky for so long that when someone asked me what my tasting notes were… I kind of froze. I then thought to myself, I have been drinking and enjoying it for so long that I never really stopped to actually appreciate it. So… in the realization of my complacency, I figured I would pull myself together to complete a review and tasting notes. Here we go…
NOSE – A waft of sherry along with some fresh briny citrus from the get go. After nosing past the citrusy sting, the Islay character very subtly shines through with earthy smoke.
PALATE – A significant richness you do not normally find in a 12 year. Full of earthy, nutty, sherried fruitiness and spice with a slight botanical character reminiscent of an unripe mango or a lemon peel. Intermittently throughout is a very light peat and smokiness, but not a crude peat like we are used to but vegetal like you’re burning the fresh branches and leaves from the vineyard, grapes and all.
FINISH – The finish is light and pleasant but carries nicely with all the lingering qualities of the palate. Short to medium in length which is perfect for this dram because the drink-ability of it makes sure the next sip is never far behind.
I should really come up with a measuring basis for these reviews to provide some context but until then you will just have to read my mind. Based on value alone, Bunna 12 scores high for me. Its no secret that I have a soft spot for this whisky and highly recommend it to all drinkers alike. My rating is 8.6/10.
Raw cask…. One of the best bottling styles there is. This is as close to straight outta the cask as you can get. Non-chill filtered? This is barely even filtered, period. There are damn “floaties” in this bottle! Lots of them!! Char bits, fatty oil deposits, you know… all that stuff flavour comes from. This bottling literally has it all.
The first thing I noticed in this dram, this is not the huge funk bomb style of Ledaig we are all used to. Don’t get me wrong, there is funk, it’s just not smacking you across the face as much as it typically is. There is a peculiar sweetness to the nose. A kind of fruit sweetness. Like opening a can of fruit salad, you know the ones with those little red fruit pieces that everyone tries to get but there’s only about 3% of the entire fruit salad made up of these red fruits. With the Ledaig-ness added in, it noses just like that fruit salad with some pepper added in all while sitting down next to a simmering fire, ready to eat it.
Woah. Sweetness immediate on the tongue. Like a thick oatmeal with brown sugar spread over. Quickly followed by all kinds of brash flavours. Maritime influence shines through. Briney, peaty and heavy. Almost an ashy or smoked vanilla note slips out from the back. The Ledaig shows itself here. That musk and funk comes through but slightly different than in most Ledaig.
The finish is like fireworks in your mouth. A ton of noise being made all over but trails off fairly quickly. That spicy peat and musky maritime note holds on and a menthol note shines. Like smoking a menthol cigarette after eating a spicy peppered chicken wing….while sitting on a beach beside a fishing boat and a fire flickering away.
The Two Brewers Cask Strength Single Malt was the first up in our tasting last Friday and representing our Canadian choice for the evening. At first sip it was received rather controversially across the room but as everyone dove into their second and third tries, this northern charmer started to win over some hearts. From expressions of perplexity turning to eyes assentingly looking to one another bringing a collective sigh of relive. It is unspoken but you can tell the prideful Canadian inside us all really wants our home country picks to succeed and stand up against the greats from around the world so its always nice when it comes to fruition like it had.
Two Brewers Whisky , distilled by a couple gentleman up in Whitehorse, Yukon who began their path brewing beer have now managed to put themselves on the map within the world of whisky. Although the climate up north there is not ideal for aging whisky Bob and Alan continue to maintain enough innovative forethought and unique fermentation techniques to consistently produce a good quality juice.
This particular release like the all their others is a limited one and Two Brewer’s first Cask Strength expression.
ABV – 58% / Age – 7-8 years / Mash – 100% Malted Barley / Region – Canada (Yukon) / Cask – New Oak
NOSE – A little rough and tumble on the nose which kind of stood in front of the sweetness which I would of liked more of. Trailing that initial youthfulness though was some nice hints of vanilla, malt and oily leather similar to the inside of a ball glove.
PALATE – Like I mentioned earlier, the palate for most of us really started to open up on the second and third sip. Very viscous on the tongue but displaying a nice salty sweetness once it rested the palate. As it hits the roof of your mouth, a peppery spiciness and more leather finishes it off. On the third go around most of us added a couple drops of water which really brought those sweet qualities to the top of the taste buds with notes of apple, toffee and vanilla while lessening the pepperiness.
Finish – A subtle sweetness slightly lingers before the peppery spice completely takes over. Medium in length but sits more at the roof of your mouth versus the back of your throat.
Adolescent in nature, this whisky was just less polished than those single malt scotches in its price range. Overall a decent pour though which has me rather excited to try some of Two Brewer’s other stuff.
Truthfully speaking, factoring in all the variables, Glenmorangie Signet is my favorite single malt. It is a uniquely crafted masterpiece with a rich distinctive profile that is unrivaled among whisky’s of its ilk and cost class. When Signet is brought up in conversation, you can expect to hear “chocolate in a glass” from anyone who has tried it and anyone who knows me, knows I love my chocolate!
Glenmorangie markets this release to perfection, with a sleek regal bottle design combined with dramatizing the secrecy surrounding the recipe and ages of the casks they use to blend this magic juice but… when you create such a consistent expression like this, then you can have a little fun things and people will play along. Plus, it’s that visage that makes this bottle so intriguing and why its always proudly placed on the top shelves of whisky collections around the world displayed in a way it will always remain an interesting conversation piece and an even more impressive pour.
Created by Glenmorangie’s Director of Distilling, Bill Lumsden, this creation was the first single malt to use a method that involves roasting ‘chocolate malt’ barley at high temperatures which evidently brings out that chocolate taste we are all so familiar with. In combination with this process, some of the distillery’s rarest and finest of their collection, aging for as long as 30+ years in bespoke designer casks which are blended together meticulously to create this chef-d’oeuvre. The Glenmorangie Distillery actually shuts down for a full week each year, known as Signet week, to focus solely on the production of the ‘chocolate malt’ which is roasted in much smaller quantities in order to persuade out those rich flavors of chocolate and espresso. The rest of the profile is created by the assortment of casks selected for maturation including ex-Bourbon, sherry butts and even new charred oak.
ABV – 46% / Age – unknown / Mash – 100% Malted Barley / Region – Scotland (Highlands) / Cask – ex-Bourbon & ex- Sherry butts & new charred oak
NOSE – Terry’s chocolate orange combined with malt, raisins and an array of spices like cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, pepper, etc. Honestly reminds me of walking into my moms house after baking her signature coffee cake.
PALATE – This is where the chocolate and espresso flavours come in droves along with a beautiful sweetness of dark fruits like blackberries, plums, and BC cherries and a perfect accompaniment of oak cask influences of bourbon and sherry.
FINISH – Classic highland like finish with some subtleties of chocolate and espresso remaining. Slightly dry and spicy down the throat.
Magnificence in every aspect and a perfect low calorie substitute for desert after a nice dinner. I strongly advise everyone to own it.
With Batch 01 come and gone, Batch 02 of the first barrel aged single malt whisky in Alberta’s modern history was released in limited quantities just before Christmas along side the familiar signs of “only one bottle per customer” just to make sure the love is spread as far as possible throughout the local markets. This is very exciting for an Alberta born whisky man like myself and I have no doubt the community around me feels the same. Eau Claire Distillery who has already received international accolades for there spirit releases have demonstrated the same dedication to quality and workmanship into producing their single malt, made of 100% Alberta grown barley from the soils of the Turner Valley area. Southern Alberta is world renowned for producing some of the best barley and rye in the world which is why scotch makers purchase it for their own distillery’s, so as Eau Claire has so plainly put, “it is only natural that we turn that agricultural gold into fine whiskies.” Makes sense to me!
ABV – 43% / Age – 3~ years / Mash – 100% Malted Barley / Region – Canada (Alberta) / Cask – New Oak
Displayed humbly on their label is the use of a hand plow which I assume is to foreshadow their farming methods. There may be many variations of their motto, “From farm to glass” used by several distillers but Eau Claire uniquely embodies and encapsulates their beliefs and the true definition of what they stand for by that message. More specifically, for their rye and single malt whisky’s, Eau Claire’s farming operations actually use traditional horse farming methods to plant and harvest the grain. That my friend, is a true artisanal and organic approach to manufacturing, and whether its necessary or not, it is those kinds of efforts and ethics I can ride the bandwagon for.
NOSE – Hints of cheese, avocado and malt aromas near the start for me but quickly blossoms into floral and citrus with a subtlety of unripe banana and apple. The nose rounds off fairly nicely and comes together a little more the second time around with more of the sweetness and smell of alcohol coming through.
PALATE – The malt and fruity notes present themselves eagerly from the first drop with entries of vanilla, honey, butterripple and a trace of humus which gives a buttery or waxy like mouth feel. Overall, smoother and more flavourful than I expected finishing off creamy and citrusy but with a hint of banana again which my palate usually pulls out in younger whisky’s. A little more hearty oak influence will go a mile with its already good flavour profile.
FINISH – Light and gentle finish with a caressing sweetness and spice that linger on the back of the tongue.
Eau Claire’s passionate approach is clearly evident in this whisky they have created. From the nose to the finish, this single malt punches way above its weight class in every way. It takes real innovation and forethought to stand among the good single malts of the world, especially as a young three year old Canadian but in my eyes they have introduced themselves to the conversation and left behind a lasting impression. Reaching recognition is the hard part but they still have some road to travel. Some age will do wonders for this whisky helping it mature and balance the adolescence establishing it’s current ceiling.
My rating, which may be a little biased due to my desire for a local distiller like Eau Claire to succeed, is a 7.9/10.
Last up in our Inaugural Tasting, we opened the acclaimed release of anCnoc’s 1975 Vintage by the Knockdhu Distillery. Bottled in 2014 making it 39 years of age and officially older than most of the gentleman that took part in this Friday’s tasting. Distilled in the far northeast of the Speyside region almost bordering the Highlands region (why its considered a Highlands scotch), an area known for being an area rich is natural springs, local barley and inexhaustible peat. This limited edition single malt was selected from merely 3 casks, only producing 1,590 bottles. Aged for as long as it was, in a combination of Spanish and American Oak, surprisingly came out lighter in colour than most whiskies of its maturity. That being said, older whiskies tend to go down a little hot but this vintage finishes as smooth as butter.
ABV – 46% / Age – 39 years / Mash – 100% Malted Barley / Region – Scotland (Highlands) / Cask – ex-Bourbon & ex- Sherry
This single malt by anCnoc was impressive from all angles which is consistently in line with all their bottlings. The AnCnoc brand, still fairly new to the industry has been a nice breath of fresh air in the modern scotch world creating a reputation worth everyone’s time. From a storied and historical distillery over a century old, AnCnoc has combined classic infrastructure and values with new-aged innovation to craft some titillating expressions capable of turning anyone into a scotch drinker.
NOSE – The seductive sweetness of honey and orange rind entice you first followed by mildly toasted raisin bread and toffee cake. At the tail end of your inhale and lasting through your exhale right before you take your first sip is where the sherry makes it’s appearance flirtatiously preparing you palate for greatness.
PALATE – Impressively enough, after such a remarkable nose, the palate is something to admire. As those familiar characteristics manifest into a complexity of flavours the tip of the tongue is met with freshly baked bread pudding, allspice, mink oil, aged leather, tobacco and smoked oak.
FINISH – Full of charisma while being revisited by that lovely sherry zing is an oily mouth feel and a ton of oaky spiciness complimented by vanilla and subtle citrus.
By my standards this was as well crafted a whisky as I have tried. AnCnoc has delivered a range of age statements all performing above other bottles in their price ranges and this one was no different. Not many single malts aged for 39 years go for the price this one is sold at. I enjoyed the 1975 immensely so it rated an impressive 9.6/10.
The society found a way to rate it even higher at 9.8/10, so you can imagine the enthusiasm around the room. Intoxication may have also played in anCnoc’s favour but what’s a tasting without a little fun?
Park Whiskey Society held our first tasting event at the end of November and without reservation, the evening was a total success. You could tell there was a feeling of dubious excitement among the guys as they introduced themselves and absorbed the environment. Which I can’t blame them for. They were all asked for and sent their money with no true explanation besides the fact we were going to use their funds to purchase whisky. How much? What kinds? Where from? Are all valid assurances that we could have informed them of but truthfully we were kind of just flying by the seat of our pants, optimistically expecting everything to fall nicely into place… which it certainly did. When you are as passionate as we are for whisky, good things just simply come together. So good that, we even had a surprise bottle slip into the tasting that left us all, jaws dropped and panties removed. It pays to surround yourself with amazing people!
Each tasting will experience representation from all over the globe with a few fixtures of course. One being, since we are proudly Canadian, we will always showcase a whisky from the great white north. Second and third being, there will always 2 scotches and a bourbon there as well. The remaining bottles will be made up of any other of the various whiskies or whiskeys from all over the world.
For this tasting we elected to start off with an internationally renowned Taiwanese Whisky from Kavalan. From the Solist series, this single malt, cask strength aged in Oloroso Sherry casks, possesses a completely natural and beautifully aphotic like colour and is a favourite for most from this distillery. Due to Taiwan’s humid and tropical climate, the maturation of their whiskies are accelerated which has afforded Kavalan the capability of producing some fairly high end juice full of rich aromas and flavours wonderfully complex. An essential edge for a young brand still in their infancy compared to the whisky giants around the world.
Representing Bourbon in our tasting comes from one of my favourite brands around the industry, Michter’s Distillery. Reliably bottling and releasing consistently great whiskeys, this Single Barrel 10 year is no different. It’s a very delicious bourbon and is more than deserved to be part of everyone’s collection. Worth the price tho? Maybe for the $100 USD I found it for in Minneapolis but up in Canada where is cost upwards of $230 CAD, I am not sure it is… Luckily for me I frequent the states. For those of you that don’t, there are plenty of Michter’s whiskeys that will still impress in lower price ranges.
Nestled in the cold Alberta plains where rye is born, the next bottle to make our tasting line up is a Canadian masterpiece, Lot 40 Cask Strength, aged 11 years. This limited release cask strength is quintessentially Canadian and has become the country’s darling within the whiskey community. The 100% Rye, aged in new oak is once again receiving the highest of praise across the country and internationally. It’s 2017 predecessor is almost impossible to find only a year later and I can only assume this bottle will follow suit. Snag one while you can before its too late. I can’t stress enough how important it is to have a few home grown beauties like this on the shelf to demonstrate some nationalistic pride. Canada still occasionally punches in a high weight class but never seems to get the attention it deserves in the whisky community.
Up first in the scotch department is Bunnahabhain’s 25 year single malt. This carefully created and methodically aged scotch is highly regarded with some very impressive accolades. Both sweet and smooth, this sherry aged whisky offers a complexity of flavours finished off by that signature kiss of Bunnahabhain peat smoke. This distillery is highly regarded and makes some unbelievable juice but this 25 year they have created is a stand out and is absolutely magnificent.
Lastly, we have the acclaimed release of anCnoc’s 1975 Vintage by the Knockdhu Distillery. Bottled in 2014 making it 39 years of age and officially older than most of the gentleman that took part in this Friday’s tasting. Distilled in the northeast of the Speyside region almost bordering the Highlands region (why its considered a Highlands scotch) known for being an area rich is natural springs, local barley and inexhaustible peat. This limited edition expression was selected from merely 3 casks, only producing 1,590 bottles. Aged for as long as it was, in a combination of Spanish and American Oak, surprisingly came out lighter in colour than most whiskies of its maturity. That being said, older whiskies tend to go down a little hot but this vintage finishes as smooth as butter.
None other than the godfather of bourbon himself! Looking so damn sexy was a bottle of Pappy Van Winkle 23 year standing heavenward, casting a shadow over the rest of the line up as if they weren’t there at all. Let me preface by saying, in Canada, this whiskey or any Pappy for the matter is pretty much impossible to come by unless you are going to pay a $100+ dollars for a single ounce in the couple bars that serve it. So, to see it grace our presence tonight was a pretty special thing. Full review coming soon.