Kensington (KWM) Calgary Spring Whisky Festival – Scotch Whisky News

Kensington (KWM) Calgary Spring Whisky Festival 13th June, 2013

The Kensington Spring Whisky Festival is so popular that it’s sold out months in advance and a second ’emergency’ mini Festival was scheduled the following week to deal with the extra demand. Whisky Intelligence was fortunate to be invited and flew to Calgary to attend the Thursday evening event.

KWM is not a physically large store but its foot print on the Canadian whisky scene is far out strips its diminutive size. The whisky team is led by their in house ‘scotch guy’ Andrew Ferguson who has a passion for whisky that is infectious.

KWM seeks out many varieties of whiskies and works relentlessly to expand their whisky selection, as an example their selection of Japanese whisky is showing rapid growth, many of which are exclusive to KWM. They also bottle around 6 to 8 single casks a year which are exclusive to the store and many customers are consulted in during the selection process which KWM describes as ‘whisky democracy’.

They are run an astonishing array of tastings throughout the year and these tastings are jam packed with all types of highly sought after whiskies. Customers are kept up to date by Andrew’s popular and detailed Malt Messenger (which is often published on Whisky Intelligence).

They are also the retail home of the Scotch Malt Whisky Society in Alberta and they host the very popular 1st Friday Outtrun Tastings which have expanded to two events on the 1st Friday and then a third on the Saturday evenings, such is the demand for Society whiskies.

The Festival is supported by local agents and their tables are arranged throughout the store and amongst the racks of wine and spirits. Most tables feature between 6 and 8 different whiskies from all over the world although the malts from Scotland predominate. The Festival lasts for 2 hours however WI was able to gain access 30 minutes prior to the opening; time spent in reconnaissance is seldom wasted! A count of the whiskies on offer topped out at 110 which is pretty amazing selection.

W.I. sampled Glenglassaugh 26yo, Dalwhinnie 25yo, W&M Port Ellen 30yo, Hammer Head Czech whisky, two single 2005 casks exclusive to KWM which are due to arrive in a month or so, the new Macallan Ruby, SMWS Laphroaig 20yo 29.124, the very recently released Ardbog, Laphroaig 18 (a dram or two it must be confessed), Arran 16yo (again, a dram or two – a point not lost on the hyper observant lady behind the table), Tomatin 25, Tomatin 30yo, G&M 1979 Dallas Dhu and a 1980’s vintage G&M Glen Albyn. The W&M North British 50yo was also on offer however the pours were microscopic so it was impossible to achieve any sense of the whisky however the pours were adequate if one merely wanted to say they had tried a 50yo whisky; as a sales tool such a small pour was a failure.

Naturally a purchase or two was made; a SMWS Laphroaig 29.124, a 16yo Isle of Arran (see, those extra pours did the trick), Ardbog and a Wilson & Morgan Port Ellen 30 Year (Exclusive to KWM, only 12 bottles of this whisky have been made available to Canada. From sherry butt 2031, distilled in 1982 and bottled in 2012 at 57.7%. This is one of just 420 bottles.)

Enough is good as a feast as they say and soon time was up, the pourers were packed away and it was time to call it an evening for the following evening was the Ultimate Ardbeg Event…details to follow.

If you plan on attending one of Kensington’s Whisky Festivals (held in the spring and the fall) then sign up for the Malt Messenger via their website ( and purchase your tickets early!

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