Today was a big day of firsts for me. I tried my first "un-aged" whisky and took part in my first "Twitter Tasting".
The music for this post is a live jazz album by "The Quintet". The Quintet was a super group comprising of Dizzy Gillespie, Charlie Parker, Bud Powell, Charles Mingus, and Max Roach. If you don’t know who they are you likely aren’t a big fan of jazz. The performance took place on May 15, 1953 at Massey Hall in Toronto. It was apparently the only time this group recorded together. The recording is well known among jazz fans.
Through twitter I was invited to take part in a cross Canada whisky tasting by Johanne McInnis better known in the whisky blogger world as Whisky Lassie (whiskylassie.blogspot.com). It is a big honour when a whisky blogger of this caliber invites you to take part in something, and so without hesitation I said yes. An event like this is an opportunity to exponentially increase my growth and education in the whisky world.
The tasting works like this: A distillery provides samples to the participants and as the name implies people tweet their tasting notes. This is done together in real time. The distillery also takes part and is available to answer questions. For this tasting the distillery was the Toronto Distillery Company. The whisky is an un-aged whisky. The distiller took organic wheat from a farm north of Toronto and created this distillate. For more information view their web site. (http://torontodistillery.ca/).
I had originally become anxious that I wouldn’t be able to participate in this posting as I had not received my sample going into the day of the tasting. Blessings were smiling upon me and the sample arrived just in time for the event. The tasting began a little chaotically. With close to 40 participants and only the second tasting in this group there was a lot of excitement and eagerness to share notes, which many of us began to do before the host could introduce the distillery. It probably didn’t help that I am so new to Twitter. I must admit that I became a little overwhelmed trying to conduct a tasting and keep on top of all of the tweets. Once it settled down and everyone got on the same page I could see that with a little practice this would become much easier and even fun. I did note that my notes were not totally out of line with the masses, and I found that comforting. Honestly if I had gotten smoke and licorice and someone else had gotten banana cream pie and passion fruit I wouldn’t have been bothered. It’s just that in this situation this became evidence that we were all tasting the same whisky, sharing the same experience. The kilometers between us shrank.
Having said that let us get to the tasting notes.
Nose: I got fresh baked bread right off the hop with lemon zest. I also detected a “yeasty” character.
Palate: There was grapefruit and a soapy or floral tone here. The fresh baked bread lingered. As I continued to taste a buttery creaminess became apparent joined by a fruity sweetness. There was also some salt in the mix.
Finish: Short and clean. There was a slight spicy tingle.
Overall I found this product to be a pleasant surprise. When I first saw it I thought it would be similar to vodka or gin. It is unlike anything I have tried before. It is not what I would think of when I think whisky, nor what I would reach for when I’m in the mood for one. However, it is still a quality product and the craftsmanship is noticeable. I would love to see what a few years in a bourbon cask would do to this. I also think that this spirit would make a fine martini. I look forward to seeing what other grains would taste like. Being un-aged this spirit really above all gives a voice to the grain. Peat drying, wood aging and cask finishes add lovely characteristics, but this gives a real understanding of the whisky. This is whisky in the raw. Tasting and comparing wheat, barley, corn and other grains in this format will allow me to really understand appreciate whisky in a more complete way.
Before signing off I would like to extend a sincere thank you to the Toronto Distillery Company and Johanne McInnis for their generosity and hard work. I know the distillery was hoping for honest feedback about their product and I hope that they received that.