Archive for February, 2010

Signatory Vintage and Gordon & MacPhail Tuesday, March 9th At La Boheme In Burlingame California – Scotch Whisky News








Come and Taste a Wee Dram Scotch Tasting / Seminar
Two Major Independent Bottlers:
Signatory and Gorgon & MacPhail
Variety of Single Malt Scotch Whiskies From Lowlands to Islay

 Tuesday, March 9, 2010  6 pm

 TO BE HELD AT:  La Boheme Restaurant
 1425 Burlingame Ave  Burlingame, CA 94010

 Sponsored by K & L Wine Merchants and hosted by Chris Uhde

 To reserve a space please call 650-364-8544
 Admission is $ 50.00
 Must purchase tickets in advance – Space is Limited
Isle of Skye – Ian MacLeod, Benromach, Edradour, Bladnoch Un-Chillfiltered – Signatory, Cragganmore Un-Chillfiltered – Signatory
Laphroaig Cask Strength – Signatory.

Linkwood, Highland Park and Caol Ila Port Finish – Gordon & MacPhail

Visit K&L at

Amrut NAS (61.9%, OB, ‘Cask Strength’ bottled Sept 2007) – Indian Whisky Tasting Note


Amrut NAS (61.9%, OB, ‘Cask Strength’ bottled Sept 2007)

The second of three tasting notes this week featuring the single malts of Amrut Distillery. The undiluted nose is of tinned fruit cocktail and vaguely earthy at first but after some time in the glass it opens up and become floral followed by some un smoked pipe tobacco (the sweet kind) and then some nice wood spice notes (think of antique furniture). Very nice indeed. With water it become very familiar; ah yes, scotch! It is still very sweet and earthy followed by the wood spices. Everything is OK so far…. The undiluted taste is some unlike the nose at first but this quickly changes as it charges through sweet, earthy and then blasts into the wood notes and then the pipe tobacco. The floral notes make a late appearance but are very subtle. There is also some dry dusty malt an then some citrus. With water it’s more approachable and gentler; sweeter and mellower, the earthiness, the sweetness and the pipe tobacco all work together. The finish is very spiced and dry while being very long, after a short while the tinned fruit cocktail and the citrus make an appearance. The finish continues on for quite a while and is very pleasant. After a few minutes the finish is some smackingly good gentle malt and gentle oak notes.

Another very good whisky from Amrut Distillery (The NEW Bangalore Torpedo).


Score 85 Points

Visit Amrut Distillery at



2 of 3 scotch Indian Whisky by Amrut Distillery this week…….

Spirit of Toronto 2010 Tickets On Sale March 15th – Scotch Whisky News


Tickets on Sale Monday, March 15th!

First order of business: tickets for Spirit of Toronto 2010 go on sale Monday, March 15th at 10am sharp. These will be available directly from Roy Thomson Hall, in person, by telephone, by fax or online (weblink to be confirmed when activated). To receive an automatic ticket notification the night before, visit and enter your email address.

Springbank CV 2010 Release At Loch Fyne Whiskies – Scotch Whisky News

logo1_fine2Loch Fyne Whiskies News has stocked a new item, ‘Springbank CV’

Springbank CV
46% abv
£28.49 inc vat
£24.25 ex vat

Loch Fyne Whiskies


Amrut Distillery of Bagalore India News


Rumors are swirling that Amrut Distillery is once again about to release a new product that will ‘stir the world again’.

Whisky Intelligence will let you know once the embargo has been lifted!

Amrut NAS (50%, OB, ‘Fusion’, Batch No. 01 July 2009) – Indian Whisky Tasting Note


Amrut NAS (50%, OB, ‘Fusion’, Batch No. 01 July 2009)

Amrut Fusion derives its name due to the fact that it uses two barleys: Indian and Scottish – with the latter being peated. The Whisky Bible 2010 awarded Amrut Fusion Indian Whisky of the Year; Third Finest Whisky in the World. Distilled, Matured and Bottled by Amrut Distilleries Limited, Kampirura, BAGALORE, India.

The nose is very pleasant, sweet with tropical fruit and toffee followed by some gentle peat smoke, fruit cake and then some really excellent wood spices (think of cedar, bees wax, brandy and perhaps a very slight hint of clove. This is cracking stuff. And what a lovely nose; it only improves with more time in the glass. With the addition of time some hints of malt also emerge, both slightly green and toasted. The taste is sweet and malty followed by some excellent peat smoke and then some amazing fruit comes charging in followed by some exquisite dryness and then the mild greenness (which is not a detraction). The wood spice is a beautiful complement to the overall taste. Amrut have hit all the right notes here. The finish is warming, sweet and fruity followed by the wood and peat notes, there’s wave after wave of the wood notes and then the finish changes to reveal the green malt, more wood spice that makes the latter part of the finish quite dry. The finish is very long and the overall effect is to look for another sip……

Sensational stuff, well done Amrut.


Score 87 Points

Visit Amrut Distillers at

1 of 3 scotch Indian Whisky by Amrut Distillery this week…….

Laphroaig 10 Cask Strength (With Batch Number) At Loch Fyne Whiskies – Scotch Whisky News


Laphroaig – Cask Strength OB 10yo 57.8%alc.

High strength, but also more flavoured as a result of less filtration when compared with the 10yo – 40%alc.

For Laphroaig fans this is THE ace.

Price excluding VAT: £38.21
£44.90 Including VAT at 17.5%

Visit Loch Fyne Whiskies at


The Single Malt & Scotch Whisky Extravaganza 2010 Schedule – Scotch Whisky News


The Extravaganza takes place during the spring and fall seasons. Each event is held at the finest hotels and private clubs in the United States to ensure an  elegant, comfortable and relaxed environment.

All Events 6:30 pm – 9:00 pm

Registration begins at 6:30 pm


MARCH 25, 2010

APRIL 14, 2010
Business Attire (No Denim or Athletic Attire)

APRIL 15, 2010

APRIL 23, 2010
Jackets Required (No Denim or Athletic Attire)

APRIL 29, 2010
321 17TH STREET DENVER, CO 80202

MAY 20, 2010

OCTOBER 7, 2010
Jackets Required (No Denim or Athletic Attire)

OCTOBER 21, 2010

OCTOBER 27, 2010

OCTOBER 29, 2010
Jackets Required (No Denim or Athletic Attire)

NOVEMBER 11, 2010
NOVEMBER 12, 2010
Jackets Required (No Denim or Athletic Attire)

NOVEMBER 16, 2010



Full details can be viewed at

The Extravaganza is hosted by the Scotch Malt Whisky Society and the Robb Report.


Free 1968 Miniature From Single Malts Direct (With Purchase – Naturally) – Scotch Whisky News




Visit Single Malts Direct at and to access the “click here to see bottles

Kensignton Calgary Malt Messenger No. 37 – Scotch Whisky News


Malt Messenger No. 37

Dear Malt Messenger Subscribers,

The Vancouver Olympics are in full swing, and there is a lot of excitement in the air, but I’ve another reason for you to be excited, our BenRiach cask is finally here! With the help of twenty of our customers at a tasting in May we selected a 1994 Madeira Finished 15 year old bottled at 57.1%. It landed in store about two weeks ago, and I have been itching to get something out. This is a superb whisky, it is without exaggeration one of the finest expressions of BenRiach I’ve ever had, and I’ve been through the warehouse 4 or 5 times! There is more on the BenRiach 1994 KWM Madeira Cask below, as well as BenRiach itself, which is our featured distillery this month.

On the same shipment as the BenRiach we also received the new Glendronachs: 12Yr, 15Yr Revival and 18Yr Alardice. These are whiskies for fans of big sherried Speysiders, and if that’s your taste, they won’t disappoint! And there are some other newly arrived treats as well, like the Auchentoshan 1978, Laphroaig 25Yr and Octomore 2. All three of these are coming in, in extremely limited quantities, and won’t last long. You can read more on each below.

I am also in the works of planning and booking Scotland Distillery Tours for 2010. I am going to try to put together an Orkney and Northern Highlands tour for May. This Spring is going to be very busy for me both professionally and personally so any other tours will have to wait until September when I am hoping to offer a full slate. September Tours will include tours of: 1) The Speyside; 2) Islay and the West Coast; and if there is enough demand an Orkney’s and Northern Highlands Tour. My tours are a week long, are restricted to a maximum of 6 to 7 participants and will get you the kind of access to distilleries you could never get on your own. Other than your flights and your first and last nights’ accommodation I look after all the details while you get to sit back and enjoy the beautiful country side, excellent meals and of course some first class whisky! There is more detail on my tours below, don’t hesitate to drop me an e-mail if you’re interested at Over the course of the next month I hope to get a “Ferguson’s Whisky Tours” website up and running.

Finally, I set aside a little space in the February Malt Messenger each year to plug the local whisky club I’m a part of. The Calgary chapter of the Companions of the Quaich meets 6-7 times a year for whisky dinners and tastings, and is a great way to meet other whisky geeks. We currently have a membership of about 40 people and are always open like-minded individuals who share a love of the malt. Last night was in fact our 4th Annual Founders Dinner at Buchanan’s Chop House. While enjoying a four course meal we sampled a range of Macallans including: Fine Oak 15, 21, 25, 30 and Sherry Oak 18 and 25 year olds.  It was a superb event. I have a little bio on the club below, as well as how you can join.

February has a reputation for being the dullard of months, lacking in excitement and enthusiasm. But the Olympics are here, the underdogs won the Super Bowl and for the first time ever Alberta’s received some Laphroaig 25Yr! Chin up, spring isn’t far off and there some excellent new whiskies to be had.

I hope you enjoy this edition of the Malt Messenger.


Andrew Ferguson

PS-There are also some amazing deals to be had on Bruichladdich—see below—with some whiskies dropping as much as 30% in price!

In This Edition

1.       BenRiach 1994 KWM Madeira Cask

2.       Distillery in Focus – BenRiach

3.       2010 Scotland Distillery Tours – The Orkneys and Beyond

4.       Laphroaig 25Yr

5.       Macallan Fine and Rare 1973

6.       Auchentoshan 1978

7.       Compass Box,  John Glaser & Eleuthera

8.       The Companions of the Quaich

9.       This Just In: Octomore 2!

10.   Bruichladdich Price Drops

11.   The Brora Tasting – New Date – March 12th

12.   New Products

13.   Coming Soon

BenRiach 1994 KWM Madeira Cask – $109.99

Last June 20 customers of the Kensington Wine Market and I sat down to sample cask samples from BenRiach distillery with the purpose of selecting one to be bottled for the store. We called the tasting Whisky Democracy. The idea came from a tour I’d led the year before where six of my travelling companions and I had selected a cask of Springbank at the distillery to be bottled exclusively for Kensington Wine Market. What struck me was the pride and personal ownership they all took in helping to select the cask. I thought, why not enfranchise a greater number of people, and Whisky Democracy was born.

The cask we selected, 4810, is a Madeira Hogshead. The whisky—distilled in 1994—was originally matured in American oak Bourbon casks before finishing in this single Madeira barrel. Matured a total of 15 years, 250 bottles were filled in September of 2009 at a natural cask strength of 57.1%. The whisky has been bottled without colouring or chillfiltering. It is sweet, spicy and soft; full tasting note to follow further below.

Originally it was hoped the whisky would be here in time for our cask release party in November.  Special guest, Alistair Walker of BenRiach distillery would be on hand to help us celebrate the launch and hopefully sign some bottles. Unfortunately the cask was accidentally shipped to another continent (my recollection is that it made it to South Africa) before being redirected back to Canada. Inconvenient though this was, there is a twist of irony to it.

As mentioned, our whisky was finished in a Madeira wine cask, and Madeira wines have an interesting history. Fortified with neutral cane spirit (eventually brandy) in a style similar to that for producing port, the wines became popular with the Dutch East India Company. The wines were taken by ship down the coast of Africa, around the Cape of Good Hope and across the Indian Ocean to the Dutch East Indies. On the voyage the wines were affected by the transformative movements of the ship and the intense heat. On one of these trips the wines completed a full circle, returning to the islands of Madeira having been cooked by the heat and oxidized by the air, but the resulting wine was very popular. A new style of wine was born, whose makers object was to do everything possible to spoil it. For a while Madeira was made by maturing wines on long sea voyages and in many cases by crossing the equator. This was however a very expensive way to make wine and eventually new methods were developed. But it is interesting to note that our cask of BenRiach too crossed the equator on a long sea voyage, and whether that journey had any perceptible effect or not, our latest cask is exceptional!

 The whisky’s just arrived, and more than 50 of the 250 bottles have already sold, most of them pre-committed to by attendees of the Cask Release Party in November. While I doubt this cask will sell out as quickly as our Tullibardine PX Cask (11 days), it won’t last long. I have set aside some of the numbered bottles 1-12 but will not be selling the others on such a basis. If you want one of these 12 bottles please let me know ASAP 1-3 are already spoken for.

My Tasting Note:

Nose: very sweet, maple syrup, barley sugar, some soft treacle notes, ginger and cinnamon, some soft vanilla and raisiny fruits.

Palate: warming and spicy, soft but firm toasted oak, more barley sugar, pan fried honey and sweet spices: ginger and cinnamon.

Finish: clean, soft and sweet, drying late with subtle spices.

Distillery in Focus BenRiach

BenRiach is an interesting distillery, independently owned and operated today, it has spent more of its years mothballed than in operation. Established in 1897 by John Duff & Co. just south of Elgin, it was purchased but two years later by its neighbor Longmorn Distillery. In 1903 the distillery was shut down in the wake of the Pattison Whisky Crash. The Pattison Whisky Crash was brought about by a couple of brothers from Leith who ran a business that purchased whisky from distilleries on credit. They built an impressive house of cards to finance a lavish lifestyle (sound familiar) and when a bank finally refused to honour a bill the whole house came tumbling down on them.

Although BenRiach’s maltings were kept in use to supply Longmorn, the distillery didn’t produce whisky again until 1965 when it came under the ownership of The Glenlivet Distillers Ltd. In the subsequent years it became a part of the Chivas group of distilleries. In 1978 the Canadian firm Seagrams took over Chivas, and within 5 years it was producing a portion of heavily peated whisky at the distillery (to make up for Chivas’ lack of an Islay distillery). In 1994 Chivas released the first official bottling of BenRiach, a 10 year old. It never caught on though, and was always considered to be of substandard quality.

In 1999 the malting were decommissioned, and in 2001 Pernod Ricard bought the Chivas group from Seagrams. Within a year BenRiach is again mothballed, but not for long. In 2004 a South African group, Intra Trading, headed by former Burn Stewart Director Billy Walker, purchased the distillery. They immediately set about building a brand where there was none before, and within months of the purchase they had released 5 new bottlings, including a peated expression. Like Springbank and Bruichladdich before them these whiskies were released at 46% without colouring or chillfiltering.

In the last 6 years the distillery hasn’t looked back. It purchased the rest of the stocks of BenRiach from Chivas (at bargain pricing), expanded the range of BenRiachs to 15 regularily available whiskies (including cask finishes, peated expressions andwhiskies up to 30 years of age) and even bought out another distillery, Glendronnach.

Kensington Wine Market normally carries the full line of BenRiachs. At the moment we have the following available:

BenRiach 1994 KWM Cask – See above section. – $109.99
BenRiach 12Yr – Fruit, barley and honey. – $56.49
BenRiach 16Yr – Honey, vanilla, cream and spice. – $77.99
BenRiach 20Yr – Apples, chocolate, vanilla, spice and nuts. – $105.49
BenRiach 15Yr Madeira Finish – Exclusive – Sweet, soft spices, honey and butterscotch. – On Order From Scotland – $82.49
BenRiach 15Yr Dark Rum Finish – Toffee, cinnamon, grassy and sugar cane. – On Order From Scotland – $82.49
BenRiach 15Yr Tawny Port Finish – Chewy, chocolaty and earthy. – On Order From Scotland – $82.49
BenRiach Curiositas 10Yr – Massive peat, fruit, heather and nuts. – $57.99
BenRiach Authenticus 21Yr – Peat, chocolate, raisins and spices. – $120.99
BenRiach Herodotus Fumosus 12Yr – Exclusive – Big dark fruits, peaty, maple syrup and smoke. – $71.99
BenRiach Arumaticus Fumosus 12Yr – Sweet and smoky, clean with faint vanilla. – $71.99
BenRiach Importanticus Fumosus 12Yr – Massively earthy and chewy, dark chocolate and peat. – $71.99

May Distillery Tours – The Orkneys and Beyond

As some of you know I have started a small side business guiding small groups on premium whisky tours in Scotland. There are a number of companies which offer large group coach tours around Scotland’s distilleries, but mine are different. I keep my groups small, no more than 7 or 8 participants. This allows my guests to see and do things not possible with larger groups. Smaller groups help foster a better group camaraderie and a friendlier atmosphere. My tours also tend to highlight independent, smaller and more niche players in the Scotch whisky industry than do some of the larger outfits.  I have no problems with Glenfiddich, Glenlivet or Macallan distilleries, in fact both of my Speyside tours have visited them, however there are close to 100 single malt distilleries in Scotland, and bigger isn’t always better. Some of my best tours have been given by the smallest distilleries, like BenRiach, Tullibardine, Edradour and Springbank. Using my connections with the distillers and industry I will get you access to things most tours cannot.

My tours typically begin in Glasgow on Sunday mornings, when possible with a tasting at an independent bottler or nearby distillery. From there we move on to the region specific to our tour, visiting the most important and interesting distilleries along the route, whisky shops, historical and heritage sites, and if time, weather and interest permits a round of golf or two. Along the way we stay in 3 to 5 star accommodations and enjoy some excellent local fare (traditional Scottish cuisine is far better than its reputation). All of my tours finish in Edinburgh, with enough time for participants to check out the Castle and Royal Mile before we conclude with a whisky-dinner at the Scotch Malt Whisky Society. The Society is a private members club based in Edinburgh that purchases its own casks of whisky, which it bottles only for its membership. Their whiskies are superb, and their kitchens among the finest in the UK.

Participants book their own flights, and their first and last nights’ accommodation(though I do recommend they try to stay at the same hotel). The tour cost includes 6 nights of accommodation, breakfast, some lunches, some dinners, van rental, ferry costs (if applicable), all distillery tour and historical site related costs, my time and expenses as well as a tour ending whisky dinner at the Scotch Malt Whisky Society.  The following tours are proposed for 2010, further details on the September tours will be provided shortly:

Orkney and Northern Highlands Tour May 16th – 22nd

The Northern Highlands are possibly the most hauntingly beautiful place in Scotland. Bleak moorlands and rugged mountains drop precipitously into the North Sea. And the Orkney Islands beyond are just as breathtaking with some of the most interesting historical sites in the United Kingdom, like the chambered tomb Maes Howe, the 5000 year old stone village of Skara Brae, and the megaliths of the Standing Stones of Stennes and the Ring of Brodgar.

Beginning in Glasgow you have the option to fly or drive the scenic route up to the Orkneys with your guide (me). By car the journey’s a day long, but the drive is stunning and there are lots of opportunities to stop for a photo and enjoy the sights. We will spend the next three nights and two full days on “the mainland” of Orkney (the locals don’t like it referred to as an island). We will have a VIP tasting and Master Class at Highland Park and will spend the other day and a half soaking in some of the archipelago’s  other highlights like the previously mentioned Neolithic sites and the fascinating St. Magnus Cathedral. From Orkney, on Wednesday we will make our way down the coast of the Northern Highlands after ferrying trip past the Old Man of Hoy (a 500ft tall sea-stack off the island of Hoy). We will make stops at the Old Pulteney and Clynelish/Brora distilleries along the way.  Thursday we will visit Balblair and Glenmorangie distilleries before settling in for two very comfortable nights at the luxurious Glenmorangie House. The Glenmorangie House 16th century manor house which has been converted into a boutique hotel by Glenmorangie’s owners Louis Vuitton-Moet Hennessey.  The dinners are included at Glenmorangie House, generally four or more courses served at one great table, and the food is first rate. Friday there is time for golf and a tour of Dalmore distillery. Saturday we head to Edinburgh for our whisky dinner at the Society, stopping along the way to sample whisky from right out of the barrel at the Tullibardine distillery. Seven packed days you will not soon forget.

Probable Itinerary:

Sunday – Drive to Orkney via Loch Lomond, Fort William, Loch Ness  and Inverness / Accommodation in Kirkwall 3 Nights
Monday – VIP Tour Highland Park Distillery / Island of Hoy
Tuesday – Historical Toru St. Magnus Cathedral / Neolithic Orkney
Wednesday – Ferry Past Old Man of Hoy / Old Pulteney Distillery / Clynelish & Brora Distilleries / Accommodation in Golspie or Brora 1 Night
Thursday – VIP Tour and Tastings & Balblair and Glenmorangie Distilleries / Accommodation & Dinner Glenmorangie House 2 Nights
Friday – Dalmore Distillery / Optional Afternoon Off or Golf
Saturday – Drive to Edinburgh / VIP Tour and Warehouse Tasting Tullibardine / Whisky-Dinner Scotch Malt Whisky Society

Tour Cost – Approximately $2800.00 to $3300.00 depending on the number of participants, keep in mind Scotland is an expensive country. What costs you a dollar in Canada will cost a pound in Scotland or about CDN $1.80.

Islay and the West Coast – September 5th – 11th

Probable Itinerary:

·         Sunday – Isle of Arran Distillery / Standing Stones of Machrie Moor / Accommodation Campbeltown 2 Nights

·         Monday – VIP Tour/Tasting Springbank, Glengyle and Glen Scotia Distilleries / Golf or Davaar Island

·         Tuesday – Islay Day #1 – Kildalton Distilleries (Ardbeg, Lagavulin & Laphroaig) and Kildalton Chapel / Accomodation in Bridgend or Bowmore 4 nights

·         Wednesday – Islay Day #2 – VIP Tour/Tasting Bowmore Distillery / Golf or Free Day

·         Thursday – Islay Day #3 – VIP Tour/Tasting Bruichladdich Distillery / Rihnns of Islay, Loch Gruhinart and Finlaggan

·         Friday – Islay Day #4 – Isle of Jura & Jura Distillery / Caol Ila Distillery and or Kilchoman Distillery

·         Saturday – Drive to Edinburgh – Whisky-Dinner Scotch Malt Whisky Society

* Further more specific details to follow!

The Speyside – September 12th – 18th

Probable Itinerary:

Sunday – Tasting Douglas Laing / VIP Tour & Tasting Tullibardine Distillery / Accommodation in Pitlochry 1 Night
Monday – VIP Tour & Tasting Edradour & Signatory / VIP Tasting Glenfarclas / Accomodation in Craigellachie or Aberlour (Location TBD) 3 Nights
Tuesday – Glenlivet, Aberlour and Macallan Distilleries
Wednesday – Balvenie Castle/  VIP Tour/Tasting Balvenie and Strathisla Distilleries
Thursday – Warehouse Tasting BenRiach Distillery/ Benromach and Gordon & MacPhail / Accommodation Elgin 2 Nights
Friday – Glen Garioch and Glendronach Distilleries / Lossiemouth & The Findhorn
Saturday – Drive to Edinburgh / Whisky-Diner Scotch Malt Whisky Society
* Further more specific details to follow.

 Undecided 3rd Tour – September 19th – 25th

If there is sufficient demand I will look at doing a third tour, either one of the three above tours: Orkney, Islay and Speyside; or a 4th tour I am looking at putting together. I call it Outliers and it includes: Oban, the islands of Mull and Skye as well as Bushmills in Northern Ireland.

If you are interested in participating in any of these tours please send me an e-mail at with the subject heading “Whisky Tour 2010”.

Laphroaig 25Yr – $549.99

For about 5 years now the only Laphroaig available in Alberta has been the Quarter Cask. Laphroaig fans and customers have frequently asked me when if ever we might see some other Laphroaigs like the 10 or 15 year olds.  For too long I have had to answer that “I didn’t know” or “that it was not likely”. Laphroaig’s previous representatives in Alberta, Corby, had little interest in growing the brand. But since Beam Global has taken charge (they own the distillery), I am hearing a lot fewer No’s and a lot more Maybe’s. The first bit of good news came a couple of months ago when I was told that Laphroaig 25Yr was on the way. We have been patiently waiting for it for weeks now, and it is finally here. The Laphroaig 25Yr is bottled at 40%, and was given a 94pt score in Jim Murray’s Whisky Bible. There is not much of it to be had, only 30 bottles province-wide. Kensington is taking at least 12 of them, only two of which aren’t spoken for. I don’t know when we will see the 25Yr again, or with some luck the 10, 15 and 18 year olds, but I’m a lot more hopeful.

My Tasting Note:

Nose: BBQ sauce, hickory sticks, maple smoked bacon, kale, dark chocolate cake with sea salt garnish; with persistence some medicinal iodine notes emerge along with subtle peat.

Palate: palate is soft and chewy, salty peat slowly starts to emerge as do some sweet dark fruits; palate has a pleasing weight, gently coating the mouth while the whisky sheds its layers highlighting its complexity; surprisingly malty for its age, the whisky steadily becomes peatier with some light Christmas cake notes slowly emerging.

Finish: long, drying and mouth coating it finishes with clean smoke and some salt.

*Not at all what I expected, this Laphroaig is far more gentle and complex than I was prepared for! This little piece of history won’t last long.

Macallan Fine and Rare 1973 – $2379.99

This bottling of Macallan is from a collection known as the Fine and Rare. It is a series of Macallan vintages inclusive of 36 bottlings from 1937-1976 plus, a single vintage from the 20’s 1926. A collection of these whiskies came to Alberta about 3 years ago. Originally they were all destined for one customer—or so the story goes—but this was not to pass. The collection was originally purchased by Willow Park. However for some reason they returned the full collection a couple of months later giving other Alberta retailers the opportunity to sell some of the bottles individually. The only bottle in the collection that never made it to Alberta was the 1926, of which there were fewer than 40 bottles released. A bottle of the 1926 sold at auction for more than USD $60,000.00. Over the last three years Kensington Wine Market has sold most of the bottles in the collection, and we have one of them in store.

The 1973 vintage was matured in a single sherry butt, cask no. 6098. It was bottled at a cask strength of 60.6%. Jim Murray reviewed it in his Whisky Bible, giving it a score of 93/100 pts. His tasting note follows:

“Nose: the nose brittle and nestles behind barley and honey; some ripe pears add to the freshness; Taste: the honey is at the vanguard of a brilliant display of intense, sugar coated barley; Finish: the sweetness vanishes to leave the more mouthwatering, grassy malt elements; Balance: a superbly chosen cask for those with a sweet tooth in particular. If you know any women who claim not to like whisky, seduce them with this.”

Auchentoshan 1978 – 30 Year Old Limited Edition – $543.99

Auchentoshan distillery produces the only full time triple distilled whisky in Scotland. The distillery, often referred to as Glasgow’s distillery, is located at the foot of the Kilpatrick hills on the outskirts of Glasgow. This 1978 vintage release of Auchentoshan is a 30 year old whisky matured in Bourbon Casks that has been bottled at cask strength of 53.5%. Only 480 bottles have been produced with a unique pewter label. Only 18 bottles of it have come to Canada. And in case you want further proof why you should buy it, it’s selling for more than $100 more in the UK. Distillery tasting note follows:

“Nose: All butter shortbread, brazil nuts with a hint of tangerine zest.  Then comes the cooling eucalyptus fresh bracken and tobacco leaf. Taste: The palate is filled with malty, buttery notes at first which are complimented by the fresh zing of citrus and the Auchentoshan mint and tobacco leaf on the rear of the palate.”

Compass Box, John Glaser and Eluethera

As some of you may recall we used to stock the range of Compass Box products in the store. These were dropped over time due to a disagreement with their Alberta agency.  And then I had a chance meeting with John Glaser , owner and founder of Compass Box at the Victoria Whisky Festival (more on that in the next edition) in January. We were both being treated to a float plane tour of Victoria by the organizers of the festival and started chatting.  The conversation continued a few days later when John made his way through Calgary for his first visit.

John got his start in the liquor business in the wine trade and eventually found himself working for Diageo in Scotland. He fell in love with blending and the rest is history, well not exactly. John enjoyed his experiences at Diageo, but felt the blended whisky industry was falling behind many of the single malt producers with respect to innovation and quality. He wanted to introduce small batch blended whisky and greater innovation. Diageo wasn’t interested, so he decided to go about it on his own.

John describes his firm, Compass Box, as a boutique blender. Bottlings are done in small batches, and enormous attention is paid to detail.  John mostly selects whisky matured in American oak Bourbon casks as he feels that ex-sherry casks are too dominant.  I sampled 6 of John’s whiskies with him, and here are my thoughts:

Hedonism – Blended Grain Whisky – 18 year old blend of Cambus and Cameronbridge – it is very clean, soft, sweet, with very soft vanilla and light citrus notes. – $94.99
Asyla – Blended Whisky (50% malt & 50% grain) – This whisky is made from 100% first fill bourbon casks, focusing on malts like Linkwood which are lighter in style. – Like the Hedonism it is again very clean and soft, but creamier with gentle (non bitter) vanilla notes and subtle malt. – $46.99
Oak Cross – Uses signature French Oak casks for 50% of the malt whisky in this Blended Malt to add character and depth.  – Whiskies from Teaninich, Clynelish and Daluaine are used in the creation. – Sweet and spicy with a lovely mouth feel. – $TBA
Spice Tree – A Blended Malt made mostly from Clynelish, this is the whisky that made John famous, or in the case of the SWA (Scotch Whisky Association, a Scotch whisky advocacy and lobbying group  dominated by the bigger players like Diageo) infamous. Originally John had inserted flat staves into the middle of tired old barrels to add flavour to whiskies, but the SWA shut him down. So now, he puts new barrel heads on the casks made from the finest French oak, toasted to three different levels. – Licorice, loads of spices, and jam packed with flavour. – $TBA
Eleuthera – Is the name of an island in the Bahamas. This was a 2006 special release, it is sold out worldwide, and Kensington Wine Market bought the last case of it in Alberta. Key ingredient was a recharred 15 year old American oak Clynelish that was only made once; so the whisky can’t be duplicated. The blend also contains 20% Caol Ila. – Honeyed and waxy, with soft gentle peat a round creamy finsh. – $64.99
Peat Monster – 60% Caol Ila, 30% Ardmore (peated Speysider) and 10% Laphroaig. – In John’s words: “it is all about balance.” – The peat monster to me is anything but a monster to me, it is a gateway whisky to the other peated whiskies and single malts. The nose is very orangey, and the palate: sweet, spicy, and gently peated with salty, subtle vanilla. – $57.49
I will be phasing the Compass Box whiskies back in over the coming month or two. And the Eleuthera is only here as long as the six bottles last. If there anything you want sooner, I’m happy to consider it. The Spice Tree may be a bit longer.

The Companions of the Quaich

The Companions of the Quaich are a nationwide club of whisky enthusiasts with chapters in Calgary, Victoria, Vancouver and all over Ontario. On a personal level, I am the President of the Calgary chapter. Our Calgary Chapter meets once every couple of months for a whisky dinner or tasting, and some of the members will get together even more frequently than that. As mentioned last night was our 4th Annual Founders Dinner at Buchanan’s Chop House. As always, the food was excellent, but the whiskies didn’t disappoint either. Last night’s event was a Macallan theme with the following whiskies served: Fine Oak 15, 21, 25 and 30 year olds as well as sherry oak 18 and 25 year olds.

The club is a great way to get to know other whisky enthusiasts as well as enjoy single malts in the company of like-minded individuals. Members of the club also save 5% on their whisky purchases at the Kensington Wine Market. There is a small annual membership fee which goes towards supporting the events, but it more than pays for itself.

If you would like to join the Companions of the Quaich, or would like more information please send me an e-mail at with the subject heading “Companions of the Quaich”.

Octomore 2 140PPM

Bruichladdich’s Octomore 2, peated to a pheonolic content of 140ppm has just landed in Alberta in very limited quantities. It is the most heavily peated whisky ever produced! Although some 15,000 bottles have been produced worldwide, very few have found their way into this province. Kensington Wine Market has acquired 30 bottles, and it is doubtful whether we will ever see more of it, or the Octomore 2.2 Orpheus for that matter.  Collectors and peat freaks don’t hesitate, this won’t last long.

Nose: clean smoke and lots of it strikes first, followed by some buttery vanilla notes and chewy malt, sweet peat is hiding there, as are some grassy notes, but the smoke is very dominant; a final pass reveals soft peaty oils, aloe, oat cakes and more smoke.

Palate: very smoky and herbaceous, it is a little like an atom bomb going off in my mouth, but in a good way; there is smoke a plenty and lots of soft oils, followed later by firm peat, notes of fresh mint and wet grass, the vanilla is fleeting, but very sweet.

Finish: long, surprisingly mouth watering; my mouth is tingling with clean smoke, and sweet grassy oils coating my palate.

Bruichladdich Price Drops

There are some great deals to be had this month on single malts from Bruichladdich distillery. Bruichladdich’s agency in Canada is overstocked, and many of their single malts have been drastically reduced in price. This makes it an excellent time to stock up.

PC6 – Port Charlotte 6Yr – Was close to $120, now: $92.99
PC7 – Port Charlotte 7Yr – Was over $120, now: $96.99
Bruichladdich Manzanilla Cask – Was $79.99, now: $62.99
Bruichladdich Oloroso Cask – Was $79.99, now: $62.99
Bruichladdich 16Yr Bourbon Cask – Was almost $90, now: $77.99

The Brora Tasting – New Date – Friday March 12th – $125

Brora is one of Scotland’s iconic closed distilleries.  The distillery was founded in the town of Brora under the name Clynelish by the first Duke of Sutherland in 1819. Originally just the Marquis of Stafford, the Duke made his station and fortune through marriage becoming the largest landholder in Europe in his day. Sutherland was one of the most ruthless participants in the Highland Clearances, which forced peasants off their lands to make way for more profitable sheep. The Duke forcefully removed thousands of peasants from his lands; his men set fire to hundreds of homes in 1819 alone. Illicit distilling was rampant in the Highlands, and some of the last peasants to hold out ran their own small opperations. Sutherland established Clynelish distillery in 1819 to drive the last holdouts out of his lands.

In 1967/8 a new Clynelish distillery was built next to the old one which was decomisioned. But demand for single malt whisky surged in the late 1960s and in 1969 the Old Clynelish was reopened as Clynelish 2 or Clynelish B. In 1972 Clynelish B starts using some heavily peated malt. In 1975 Clynelish B is renamed Brora and for the next 8 years they produced a heavily peated Highland single malt. In March of 1983 Brora is closed for good along with more than a dozen other Diageo distilleries in one of the industries great culls or extinctions. Though the stills remain in place, much of the other equipment has been removed and the distillery will never open again.

On Friday March 12th we will be having a Brora Tasting at the Kensington Wine Market. The idea is to present a flight of 6 different bottlings. At the moment we have 3 set aside and one on the way:

Rare Malts Brora 21Yr Distilled 1977 (This never sold in Alberta!)
Brora 30Yr 2006 Bottling
Brora 25Yr
Brora 30 2009 Bottling

I am also trying to source two further bottlings for the tasting.  Should I fail, I will substitute two bottlings of Clynelish, its sister distillery.  Whether we showcase 4 or 6 bottles, the tasting will be one for the ages.

New Products

BenRiach 1994 KWM Madeira Cask – Lots of information on our latest cask above. Sweet, spicy and soft. – $109.99
Glendronach 12Yr – By most accounts and improvement on the old bottling, matured in both sherry and bourbon casks the whisky is soft and creamy with some spicy sherry notes. – $55.99
Glendronach 15Yr – Oloroso sherry matured, and easily my favourite of the three! It is rich, dark and seductive with loads of complexity. – $77.99
Glendronach 18Yr – Also Oloroso sherry matured, the 18 is richer and more chewy but not quite as complex.  – $107.99
Balvenie Signature 12Yr – This replaces the old 10Yr, it is a vatting of Bourbon and sherry casks released to celebrate David Stewart’s 45th year in the whisky industry. – $69.49
Macallan 25Yr Fine Oak – Just sampled it last night, and oh what a dram! A little lighter than the Sherry Oak 25 year the whisky has lovely soft vanilla notes in addition to the darker richer sherry tones. My favourite of the Fine Oak line, it is a much better buy than the 30! – $445.99
Blackadder Raw Cask Macduff 1993 12Yr – Bottled from a single “oak cask” (no word on the oak type) with only the coarsest screening to keep out large splinters at a cask strength of 59.4%. The Blackadder whiskies are the closest thing you can get to sampling right from the barrel. I’m not sure what this is like, but I’ve yet to have a bad Raw Cask bottling. – $105.99
Octomore 2 – The most heavily peated whisky ever, and very limited, see above! – $145.99
Laphroaig 25Yr – The most refined and austere Laphroaig I’ve ever sampled; more info above. Only 4 bottles not spoken for. – $549.99
Macallan Fine and Rare 1973 – A very collectible 30 year old bottling of Macallan from the Fine and Rare series. Only 1 bottle in Canada.  More information above! – $2379.99
Douglas Laing Double Barrel Macallan/Laphroaig – A fine mess of Macallan and Laphroaig in one bottle, with some classic Macallan sherry notes butting heads with salty, medicinal peat from Laphroaig. – $89.99
Evan Williams Single Barrel Bourbon 2000 Vintage – 95pts Malt Advocate Magazine. “Very elegant, bright and silky smooth, with honey-kissed summer fruits, subtle tropical fruit (papaya, coconut, pineapple), gentle caramel, sweet corn, and soothing vanilla, along with a dusting of cinnamon, nutmeg and crisp mint. Pleasing, gently spicy finish.” – $49.49

Coming Soon

Kilchoman 2nd Release – Islay’s youngest distillery makes a surprisingly drinkable, and collectible whisky given that its barely more than 3 years of age.
Tullibardine 1966 – 27 bottles of a new cask of Tullibardine.
G&M Glen Grant 1960 – A rich sherried bottling of Glen Grant just shy of 50 years of age. Similar in style to the 1956 and 1958 bottlings.
G&M Strathisla 1960 – Fans of heavily sherried Strathislas with notes of leather, tobacco and Christmas Cake will love this one.
Springbank 12Yr Cask Strength – This will eventually replace the 100 proof bottling.
Springbank 12Yr Claret – Limited to 9000 bottles worldwide.
Springbank 18Yr – New Bottling – It is even better than the last bottling.
Springbank CV – The CV stands for ‘Curriculum Vitae’ and the whiskies are created using single malts of varying ages from each expression.

If you have any whisky questions or comments concerning The Malt Messenger please contact me by e-mail, phone, or drop by the store. Feel free to forward me any whisky news you feel should be included in a future issue of The Malt Messenger; it might just get included.

All of the products mentioned in THE MALT MESSENGER can be purchased in store, over the phone or from our website at All prices quoted in the Malt Messenger are subject to change!

Thanks for reading the Malt Messenger!


Andrew Ferguson
KWM Scotchguy

1257 Kensington Rd. NW
Calgary, AB, Canada
T2N 3P8

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