Thursday, 18 December 2014

How Whisky Brings People Together

This past Sunday was a big day for me in terms of whisky activities. I took part in a twitter tasting and then joined my whisky club for our annual whisky Christmas party, dubbed "The Twelve Drams of Christmas.

Back in the end of November I received an invite to take part in a cross Canada twitter tasting of the Ardbeg Supernova 2014. In all 15 people from across the country were chosen to give their opinions on this whisky which Ardbeg has called it's peatiest. The tasting was hosted by Ardbeg and none other than the wonderful whisky fabric spreading Whisky Lassie.

Ardbeg Supernova 2014

When it came time to begin the tasting I felt much of the familiar feelings of excitement that come with trying a new whisky. This time though the feelings of apprehension, timidity and anxiousness that I experienced on my first couple of twitter tastings were not present. I knew what to expect and now I felt like I was in my element. I was eager to share my thoughts and to learn from some of the knowledgeable participants. One thing I learned was that the peatiest whiskies are often younger and so lighter in colour.  Overall I enjoyed the whisky very much and this was the fourth expression I have tried from the Islay Distillery . As I had tweeted "I have never met an Ardbeg I didn't like." I will say that I still prefer the Corryvrekan but that's a hard whisky to top. Tasting notes for the Supernova are as follows:

Nose: Honey sweetness is followed by pine, coal and wood smoke. Given time notes of spices, particularly cinnamon become pronounced. 

Palate: Mouth feel is smooth and offers good creaminess. My initial impression is like a wave of crystal sugary honey, this leads into a smoky bonfire of pine and spruce. Reminds me of the Yukon.

Finish:  Sweetness lingers beyond the smoke. in the background is a slightly bitter medicinal note.

This whisky really reminded me of making out with the sweetheart by a roaring bonfire. Their is beauty and warmth that can only come from sharing an intimate moment by a fire in the great outdoors.

Now as if that wasn't a great enough highlight of the weekend I was then off to the Whitehorse Fine Malt Society annual Christmas party. This is a low key get together where I feel privileged to hang out with some very warm, interesting and fun individuals. There is also always a fantastic spread at this pot luck style event. At this party we get an opportunity to try the December whisky, and all of the other whiskies that were tasted throughout the year. On top of that we always have a special guest whisky.  Decembers tasting was the Macallan Cask Strength and the special whisky presentation was the Balvenie 30 year old. 

The Twelve Drams of Christmas

The Macallan packed a punch with its 60.1 percent ABV; however, it remained classy and refined as well. I didn't keep a copy of my tasting notes but will say that I recall Christmas cake was a big tasting note and that it was delicious.

The Balvenie 30 year old broke my heart. I had picked this bottle up at a duty free shop in St Thomas, in the US Virgin Islands. I was so proud to be presenting it and when I popped the cork off I was devastated to see it break. I had not only been denied that lovely pop sound that happens as the cork slides out but was now faced with the prospect that the whole bottle would be ruined. It was suggested that a corkscrew be used to get the remaining piece of cork out. This only seemed to push the cork in further. I attempted to remove some debris from the rotting cork before another attempt at its removal and then "plop" it fell in. I was so upset. I felt embarrassed and ashamed. Like I had let my whole group down, like I had failed them. In my state I became focused on trying to remove the cork from the bottle. Another attendee then suggested a technique for pushing the cork piece to the side so that we could pour ourselves a drink of this exciting dram. That's when the light went on. In my panic and frustration I had forgotten that we could still drink this whisky and that the world was far from over. Life could still be pretty good. I was surrounded by good people, delicious food and a line up of whisky that would make most connoisseurs green with envy. So sit down and drink the 30 year old Balvenie we did.... And you know what? It was freakin' good.

Nose: Lemon zest, peaches and cherries. Fruity and delicious.

Palate: Cherries, wood, barley, and salted dark chocolate. so smooth in the mouth.

Finish: The wood and barley notes hang on and in the back I detected a slight hint of mint.

This was definitely a quality whisky and I was very happy to have had the opportunity to try it.

The Horror
There were several other whiskies available for tasting and they were good too. I won't go into specifics here as I feel I've already gone on long enough. What I will leave off with is this: For me the attraction to whisky goes beyond the artistry, craftsmanship and science that is involved. I do love the way it triggers my senses with colours, tastes and smells but I find that the the most important quality is how it can bring people together. That is the true beauty of whisky.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

who exactly is this sweetheart you made out by the fire with?

also, very brave of you to share your feelings of ashamed and embarrassed -- glad you were able to move past it and enjoy the dram!