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.          


Johanne McInnis said...

I struggle with many of the Glen Breton whiskies... I often find soapy notes and super bitter finishes which is a huge deterrent for me unfortunately. :/

Whisky Phile said...

I am glad that I'm not alone on that. I always feel bad giving a bad review and do my best to talk about the positives.