Monday, 29 February 2016

Glen Breton Ice 17 Year Old

Today is a great day to taste another Canadian Single Malt whisky. This one is from the Glenora distillery, Canada's first single malt distillery. This whisky also claims another notable first:

"The world's first single malt whisky aged in ice wine barrels."

The distillery is located on Nova Scotia's Cape Breton Island and the ice wine barrels are from the Jost winery which is also in Nova Scotia. My understanding is that this whisky is rather rare as it was only available in 250 ml. bottles. Which makes it all the sweeter of a gift from my parents. Thanks mum and dad.

In the spirit of trying to pair the whisky with local music I opted for Sloan's second album "Twice Removed". My initial instinct was to play some maritime Celtic music but I was sad to see that my collection is lacking in that area. It's okay though "Twice Removed" is a great album and Sloan is one of the greatest bands to come out of Canada.

Nose: initially I get grape (influenced from the barrels?) there is a sharpness and a lot of malty tones. I also detect a soapy character.

Palate: Really hot, this is a cask strength whisky after all (54.6%). I also get lots of malt, cinnamon and some grape. There is then a bitterness that takes over that is hard to ignore.

Finish: The bitterness wrestles with the malt tones and then becomes soapy.

As this is a cask strength I am going to add a splash of water to see if that improves things.

Nose: now I get butter right away. There is also caramel and some floral tones.

Palate: Much mellower, I am finding a lot of complexity to the whisky now. The malt and cinnamon has now become a sweet fresh baked buttery cinnamon roll, grape notes surface timidly and never take center stage. The bitter soapy notes are still present (unfortunately) but much more subdued. The positives almost succeed at hiding them in the background.

Finish: As should be expected the finish is much smoother and cleaner. The bitterness that was present briefly on the palate did not show up here.

What an incredible difference adding a splash of water can make. I am usually against it as I think the whisky should be able to speak for itself in a pure, unadulterated form and also because it is hard to recreate the measurements.

I am not sure if I would recommend this whisky. I can see a certain amount of positives but i found that bitter soapy note to be really disappointing. Once I added the water it was a much more enjoyable product, so much so that I poured another dram, but still...

As for the pairing I actually enjoyed it. I haven't listened to Sloan in years. The music is rocking without being distracting. It allowed me to really use all of my senses without ever feeling overwhelmed by any aspect.          

Tuesday, 16 February 2016

Two Brewers Yukon Single Malt Whisky

Sometimes even things we enjoy doing can feel like a chore. At that point you can force yourself to keep doing it or you can back off and see if the spark comes back. That seems to have been my situation. Blogging started to create internal pressure and I backed off. Recently though something new came out that I had been impatiently awaiting for over 7 years. Perhaps it will be but a spark or a full re-ignition. Only time will tell. All the same I am extremely excited for this tasting.

Yukon Brewing has been producing finely crafted beers since 1997 and in 2009 they added a still to their operations. They released several unique spirits but I don't think I am alone among Yukoner's who had their hearts set in eager anticipation for the day when a whisky would be released. Well the day finally came. On this past Saturday (February 13, 2016) the Yukon Brewing Company released their first batch of Single Malt Whisky.

The company made the release very special. I felt like I was a part of something big. I waited in line for almost an hour to get one of the 850 listed bottles and I am certain others waited even longer. I then returned later to the celebration event. At the event bag pipes played, there was cake and of course there were samples. These came from a cask that they tapped into in front of everyone. Even our Premier got up to issue a congratulations and to pull the ticket for a draw. The prize was bottle number 500, which I didn't win.  

Now this being a Yukon whisky it only makes sense that I would pair it with Yukon music. So I have opted to listen to The Undertaking Daddies' - Post Atomic Hillbilly. It is one of my all time favourite bluegrass albums and I think a must have for any fan of the genre. The story telling is captivating with tight and virtuous instrumentation.

I feel like I should be saying so much more but really eager to get this tasting on:

Nose: Tart juicy citrus at first. I then imagine a cantaloupe served with vanilla bean ice cream and clover honey.  

Palate: The mouth feel  is creamy. My impression is creamed clover honey spread over dark well done toast.  I detect a sherry influence and the faintest note of mint on the fade.

Finish: A long finish that hints at mint and citrus zest.

I am really impressed by this release and can't wait for further releases. The music of course paired well. Country and bluegrass tends to lend itself really well to the tastes of whisky and I think this one was particularly well matched because of their shared geography. If only I always had an option to find music that was from the same town as the beverage.