Johnnie Walker Green Label

A special anniversary requires a special gift. The anniversary in question was our 15 years of marriage, the gift was a bottle of Johnnie Walker Green Label. The Green Label is symbolic as it is a mixture of some fine whiskies with a minimum age of 15 years. But unlike the other whiskies in the Johnnie Walker range, the Green Label is a blended malt whisky. No grain whisky is blended into the carefully selected mix of malts used in its preparation. The box indicates that the Green Label is a mix of Talisker’s The Power, Linkwood’s The Finesse, Cragganmore’s The Heart, and Caol Ila’s The Mystery. The blend is bottled at 43% alcohol and is quite elegantly packaged ina deep green box with matching label.

Visually, the whisky is a smooth amber colour, not very deep but not pale either; somewhere between the Black Label and Gold Label.

On the nose, one finds cinnamon and black pepper with a hint of honey, fruits, and floral bouquet.

The palate is smooth and rich. There is a strong oak presence which combines with spices, a touch of peat, and a subtle sweetness that eases into dried fruit as one continues drinking.

The finish is not overly long but satisfying. Pepper lingers and hints of the dried fruit persist in the background.

A few drops of water creates a more vivid experience as the sweetness is enhanced. The pepper on the finish becomes more pronounced as well.

Overall, an excellent choice for a special occasion and a very thoughtful gift from my wife. This whisky was discontinued in 2013 but recently made a return to store shelves. It can be had for about $80 in Quebec and Ontario at the SAQ and LCBO respectively and US $55 in New Hampshire.

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Sivó – Le Rye Whiskyc

During a recent excursion to the Société des alcools du Québec, a particular bottle of rye whiskey caught my attention. The product in question intrigued me, not because of its age statement or rarity, but rather its provenance. The whisky had been produced right here in Quebec. Never having consumed a whisky of local origin, I immediately purchased the bottle and can now share with the world my impressions of a local product.

The product is brought to us by Sivó, a company claiming to be a master distiller. The product is called “Le Rye Whisky”, presumable the only rye produced by Sivó.

Sivó states that this rye “is distilled from local Quebec rye (2/3) and malted barley (1/3) and aged patiently in new oak casks, before being finished in Port casks.”. Sivó, based in Franklin, Quebec, notes that it won the New York International Spirits Competition in 2017 as best Quebec distillery of the year. I assume there was limited competition in that narrow category, but still, it’s something.

This rye is bottled at 42% and has a deep amber appearance. There is no age statement anywhere on the bottle.

On the nose, I am introduced to notes of ripe grape, honey, a hint of lemon, and clove.

The palate starts off with a tart, woody taste before turning to roasted nuts and black pepper. Eventually, it turns slightly sweet, but one must let it linger for a few seconds before arriving at this pleasant twist. The finish is long and satisfying, leaving peppery notes dancing on my tongue and reintroducing a light taste of honey and lemon.

Adding a bit of water opens up the nose, keeping the original scents but enhancing them. The palate adds some more spice and a faint memory of fruit. The finish remains the same.

Overall, I would rate this as a decent whisky at a reasonable price of $46 before any discounts at the SAQ. However, there are others in this price range that are better. If you are curious, definitely a bottle to try, especially if there is a promotion at the SAQ.

Johnnie Walker Blue Label

I recently turned 40.  

On such a milestone occasion, one tends to look back and take stock of one’s life, but also look forward and contemplate the future.  What better way than to do so than with a fine bottle of whisky, especially one received as a gift on such an auspicious occasion.

The bottle in question is Johnnie Walker Blue Label.  

On with the tasting!

The drink is a deep amber colour, looking quite good on a chilly midsummer evening.

The nose of this blend is a gift of honey, lemon, melon, and soft notes of pineapple.

The palate is similar, once again providing a sweet mix of honey, lemon, pineapple, just a hint of lemonade, but adding a twist of pear, loads of spice, and a touch of caramel.  There is a bit of rose petal in there and thoughts of mixed berries, but these are fleeting.  A smoother whiskey is hard to find, the blend is a masterpiece of care designed to please even the most particular of whisky aficionados. 

The finish is long and sweet.  A slight burn remains on the tongue, but the sugary remnant of honey and lemon lingers. A bit of smoke sticks around long after the other flavours have faded.

A touch of water accentuates the honey on the nose, but mostly tones down the intensity of the flavours.  I recommend not taking this whisky with any water at all.  The finish remains unmoved by the addition of water.

Overall, as fine a whiskey as one could hope and an excellent way to celebrate surviving 40 years. If one has some disposable income, a highly recommended whiskey and well worth the expense.  Cheers!

Fighting Cock

As the weather cools and the sun makes itself scarce, my choice in beverage leans towards the warming comfort of whiskey.  As I watch the rain (and yes, some flakes of snow) drop on this cool October evening, I am eased into a sense of tranquility by a small glass of the Fighting Cock.  I acquired this bottle on a whim recently and this seems like as good a time as any to experience its  offerings.

The Fighting Cock is a Kentucky straight bottled in Bardstown, Kentucky.  The bottle is sparse and likely unappealing to most casual and experienced customers alike.  The name itself seems meant more as a challenge to the consumer than an invitation.  As I mentioned, I bought this on a whim and had no idea what to expect.

Bottled at an angry 51.5% abv, the colour is rich with copper.  The bourbon is aged 6 years, though the age statement no longer appears on the bottle.

The nose is strong and starts the tasting experience appropriately for such a whisky.  A symphony of spice, vanilla, and caramel is supported by nuts and dried fruit.  This is a rich overture.

The palate does not disappoint.  It starts off sweet with honey and caramel, but quickly turns to spice, nuts, wood, leather, and vanilla.  There’s a change at the very end which I find hard to describe, like the flavours, as strong as they are, aren’t enough completely mask the strength the alcohol in the whisky.  Still, it’s quite nice and quickly forgotten.

The finish is spicy and long, with caramel rounding out the wood and light overlay of honey.

Adding some water releases even more spice, dulls a bit of the alcohol, and even opens up a tinge of citrus  to the palate.  I highly recommend taking this with a bit of water, the strengths are made more strong and the weakness masked.

Overall, this is a substantial product and I am more than happy to have found it.  Available at the SAQ in Quebec for about $35, it’s a decent value.  Ontario does not carry it at the moment, naming issues may trouble the Queen’s subjects in that province.

Cheers!

  

Forty Creek Premium Barrel Select

Behold! Another Canadian whisky is honoured by its appearance on Uisge Beatha!  This distillery is relatively new to the market, having been founded in 1992.  The operations are based out of Grimsby, Ontario and were purchased from the founder in 2014 by Italian spirits company Campari.  The distillery has won numerous awards and the Premium Barrel Select is among the products appreciated by industry peers.

This particular product is bottled at 40% abv and is made from rye, barley, and maize.  A lot of work goes into this bottle.  Each grain is distilled separately and aged from 6 to 10 years in copper pot stills.  The casks used in aging are white oak barrels. Once aged to perfection, the whiskies are finished in ex-sherry casks for several months before being combined to produce the final product.

But enough of this history lesson!  On to the tasting!

In appearance, the whisky is a satisfying tone of copper.

The nose is a faint mix of grape and honey.  The drinker will not be overwhelmed by this introduction.

The palate is a sweet but spicy mix dried nuts, raisin, honey, pepper, and a touch of milk chocolate (or chocolate milk?).  

The finish is short, leaving behind memories of sweet fruits and dried nuts.

Adding a bit of water only dulls the experience, I strongly recommend this one be taken straight.

Overall, this is a decent whisky and fine for the average drinker.  However, at $24.50 in Quebec and $27.35 in Ontario, you can’t go wrong!

Cheers!

  

Pike Creek 10

This edition of Uisge Beatha features a relatively new product for whisky lovers, the Canadian Pike Creek 10-year-old whisky.  This whisky from the Corby family of distilleries, is aged 10 years in oak barrels for ten years and finished for a time in vintage port barrels.  Bottled at 40% abv, the label claims that the port imparts “fruitiness and warm toasted notes”. 

Looking at the glass before me, I note that the whisky is a visual treat, holdong magnificent copper colour that beckons me to hurry and begin my review.

The nose is of honey, raisin, maple syrup, melon, and a hint of vanilla.  It sounds like a lot, but the scents blend nicely to create an inviting aroma.

The palate starts with fresh fruit and sherry, warming into some toasted almond and spice.  There’s a bit of lemon In the mix, balancing some of those sweet flavours and making for a refreshing drink.  A velvet texture and smooth flavours help it go down easily.

The finish is medium to long, leaving a bit of burned almond, hot spices, and smoke behind.  

Adding some water doesn’t appear to do much to change the experience.  The aroma exhibits more sherry and smoke.  The palate shows more sherry and honey and the consistency becomes slightly less smooth.  The finish is a bit longer perhaps, a bit less spicy, and the sweet fruits are allowed to come through as a result.

Overall, this is a gem of a whisky, Canadian or otherwise.  It is no wonder it won the Best Canadian Whisky award at the World Whisky Awards in 2014 http://www.worldwhiskiesawards.com/pike-creek-10-years-old.20354.html.

This whisky is available at the SAQ in Quebec and the LCBO in Ontario for about $40, which in this reviewers experience is a decent price.  But if you’re in New Hampshire, you’re in luck…it sells there for a mere $25-$30, definitely worth the price of admission.

Cheers!

  

Whisky Showdown! MacAllan Cask Strength vs. Glenfarclas 105

It’s a Christmas miracle! Another Whiskey Showdown just in time for the holidays.

On this festive occasion, I pit the MacAllan Cask Strength against the Glenfarclas 105.

My regular readers, if any, will remember from my initial review of the Glenfarclas 105 that, in 1968 George S. Grant, the grandfather of the current chairman, bottled a cask at 105 degrees British Proof for Christmas and thus gave birth to the product.  Thus, this Whiskey Showdown is as timely as it is special.

The MacAllan is aged in its famous sherry oak casks from Jerez, Spain and is a benchmark of quality in the world of whiskies.

The MacAllan is bottled at 60.1% abv and appears a beautiful mahogany red bordering on copper. The Glenfarclas is similarly bottled at 60% abv and is closer to a golden copper tone in appearance.

The nose of the MacAllan is ripe with dried fruits, vanilla, orange, and hints of fig. The nose of the Glenfarclas is more sweet, sharing some of the citrus in the form of orange peel, but mixing in apple, pear, caramel, and honey. This is starting off as an exercise in contrasts as the two whiskies put on entirely different experiences on the nose.

On the palate, the MacAllan is juicy and filled with dried fruits and figs, hinting of vanilla throughout. The Glenfarclas starts with spices and fruits, apples, figs, and honey. Surprisingly, it’s quite dry on the back end. Much like the nose, there’s a big difference in the tasting experience.

The finish on the MacAllan is long and spicy, filled with orange and oak. Some smoke fills in the gaps. The Glenfarclas is warm and gritty, with fruits making a final stand to a nicely balanced whisky.

Overall, these whiskies are both good and worth a taste. They aren’t what I would call every day drams, however. I hesitate to make a call, these are so different and will appeal differently depending on individual tastes. Personally, I find the MacAllan smoother and more agreeable, but the big bold impression of the Glenfarclas does have its merits. Whichever you choose, I hope the holidays find you well and wish a wonderful new year.

Cheers!