Malt Messenger No. 98 by Andrew Ferguson – The Spring is Finally Here Edition! – Whisky News


Malt Messenger No. 98 – The Spring is Finally Here Edition


I am off to Japan in a few days, and safe to say there will be some time spent hunting for and learning about Japanese whisky. A big chunk of it is vacation though, so if you are accustomed to emailing me to place orders, between May 15 and June 14 you will want to place your orders online, or by emailing Until then though, for the next 3 days, I am still your man. Before I pack up and board my flight, there is a lot to fill you in on at Kensington Wine Market. We have loads of new products, news and special offers to tell you about.

We are just 5 days away from the 27th Birthday Whisky Festival, the kickoff to our Birthday Sale Weekend. The day before on Wednesday, May 15, we are hosting the Cadenhead Small Batch Blowout tasting, which will feature 7 Cadenhead Small Batch single malts, aged 20-24 years, all of which will be 30% off. Best of all, the cost to attend is just $30. At the time of writing there are still 5 tickets available.Tickets are also selling fast for the following night’s 27th Birthday Whisky Festival. We will have 100 odd whiskies open for tasting, the vast majority of which will be 10-35% off. Some of the weekend’s best deals are at risk of selling out before the sale at the Festival on Thursday.

Demand for the Ardbeg Day Master Classes at KWM surpassed our expectations, and so we have added a 3rd Master Class to take place at 11AM, before the 1PM and 3PM seatings. All 3 Master Classes will feature six Ardbeg single malts including the new release Ardbeg Drum. The $25 Master Class ticket also includes cover for the Ardbeg Day: Carnival on Islay event taking place at 4:30, just down the street at Oak Tree Tavern.

The Scotch Malt Whisky Society, the World’s largest whisky club, has just made it easier to become a member. It is now as simple as buying a Society whisky with a retail price of $180+gst or more, and it includes your first year’s membership. This is only an option for new members, and not a means of renewing current or lapsed memberships. Further details below.

We have a new Compass Box KWM exclusive Blend, which you might have caught in the last Malt Messenger Bulletin. The  Compass Box Great King Street KWM Marrying Cask No. 8, is big, rich, decadent and spicy. Just a tad over 200 bottles have come in, and it is selling fast! Staying on the Compass Box front, the  Stranger & Stranger is also in, and I have written up my own tasting note on this lovely whisky too.

We have some exciting, and sadly rare Springbank releases too. There are four new annual offerings, Springbank 12 Year Cask Strength (bi-annual), Hazelburn 14 Year Oloroso Cask, Longrow Red 11 Year Pinot Noir (sold out unless we can get more), Longrow 18 Year and Springbank 21 Year. There is also an Alberta exclusive single cask of Longrow, the  Longrow 17 Year Chardonnay. It is no secret that I’m not a fan of most wine casks (especially red wine, unless re-charred), whether matured or finished, but this one is excellent.

The  Arran 21 Year, distillery bottling is due on Wednesday! The initial shipment to Alberta was quite small, and won’t last long; half of our allocation is already spoken for. It shows Arran’s continued commitment to offering their customers fantastic value. It is rare to see distillery bottled 21 year olds at 46%, rarer still to see them priced anywhere near $200! We are planning to open a bottle for the festival on Thursday…

There are also three new expressions of Glenglassaugh, and a lovely Bladnoch 1990 25 Year bottled by Alexander Murray. In the case of the latter I had low expectations owing to the low abv, but suffice to say it surpassed them; otherwise would I be mentioning them. We also have details on the May 2019 Outturn of new Scotch Malt Whisky Society single cask, single malt, Scotch whiskies, and a pair of JP. Wiser’s Alumni Series whiskies, with an NHL tie in.

I also have newss on whiskies from Laphroaig, Macallan and Highland Park, as well as tasting notes on 3 new independent bottlings.

A final wee note, if you are thinking of holding off purchasing some of the whiskies in this email until the sale, it is worth noting most of them will not be on sale at all. With the notable exception of the Cadenheads listed below, should they not sell out at the tasting!

All of the products in the Malt Messenger can be purchased in-store, online or by phone, subject to availability. Don’t hesitate to email me with any questions or requests. Lots to read in this Malt Messenger, so let’s cut to the chase.



In This Edition

  1. Cadenhead Small Batch Blow Out Tasting
  2. 27th Birthday Whisky Festival 7 Sale
  3. A New Way to Join the Scotch Malt Whisky Society
  4. New Compass Box Great King Street KWM Marrying Cask #8
  5. New Springbank Single Malts
  6. The Compass Box Stranger & Stranger is Here
  7. Introducing: Arran 21 Year
  8. Three New Glenglassaughs
  9. Introducing: Alexander Murray Bladonch 1990 25 Year
  10. My Tasting Notes: On 3 Curious Indies
  11. Four Vintages of Laphroaig 25 Year
  12. Wiser’s Alumni Series
  13. SAVE $35 of Macallan Rare Cask
  14. Highland Park 25 & 30 Year Are Back
  15. The Scotch Malt Whisky Society Canada May 2019 Outturn

Andrew Ferguson

Kensington Wine Market

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Cadenhead Small Batch Blow Out Tasting 

Seven Whiskies, 20-25 Year of Age, 30% Off! – Wednesday May 15 7PM – $30 

We get so many good releases of Cadenhead, that it is inevitable that some of them will slip between the cracks. We are blowing out a selection of Cadenhead Small Batch whiskies ahead of our 27th Birthday Sale, that didn’t get as much love as maybe they should have when they first came in. We have selected 7 of them, all single malts, all aged at least 20 years of age for a special one off tasting. The cost for the tasting is just $30, and all of the whiskies sampled will be 30% off too. We have selected whiskies from Aultmore, Glen Moray, Glen Spey, Linkwood, Speyside, Strathmill & Tullibardine, all aged between 20 & 25 years of age. This tasting would be a steal at twice the price!

Here are the 7 Blow Out Whiskies, available at 30% off. Some of them like the Glen Moray, were overshadowed by other products, like our own exclusive cask of Glen Moray! Four of the 7 have been reviewed by Whisky Fun and have scored 85 or 86pts. In a point obsessed world, this might not sound impressive, but they still fall in to the “very good” category. Cadenhead is in our opinion one of the best, consistently good independent bottlers; especially at older ages. At 30% off, these are all a steal!

  1. Cadenhead Small Batch Aultmore – 51.8% – 20 Year – Hogsheads – Producer’s Tasting Note: “Nose: ginger, peaches and cream, freshly cut grass, tarragon. Palate: bung cloth, lemon zest, coriander, black pepper. Finish: all spice, golden syrup, honey then some citrus notes.” – $185 – 85pts Whisky Fun
  2. Cadenhead Small Batch Glen Moray 1992 – 50.9% – 24 Year – ex-Bourbon Hogsheads – Producer Tasting Note: “Nose: Peaches and slightly earthy. Palate: Golden syrup and quite floral. Green apple skins, touches of cocoa powder, mango and passion fruit. Finish: Growing syrupy fruit notes with a soft earthy note.” – $225
  3. Cadenhead Small Batch Glen Spey 1995 – 57.9% – 22 Year – 2 ex-Bourbon Hogsheads – Producer Tasting Note: “Nose: grassy notes and porridge move to  vanilla pods. Palate: Quite peppery.  Grassy notes continue before grapefruit comes through. Finish: Long and zesty with lemongrass.” – $210
  4. Cadenhead Small Batch Linkwood 1997 – 53.7% – 20 Year – 2 ex-Bourbon Hogsheads – Producer’s Tasting Note: “Nose: Lemon curd followed by strawberry jam and apple pie. Palate: Black peppercorn, cinnamon sticks and butterscotch. Finish: More cinnamon with coriander and toasted white bread.” – $188 – 86pts Serge
  5. Cadenhead Small Batch Speyside 1991 – 51% – 25 Year – ex-Bourbon Hogshead – Producer Tasting Note: “Nose: Initially meaty, cured ham with melon and a faint medicinal note. Palate: Polished oak, red cherries, touches of granite and then toffee apples. Finish: Gingerbread and lashings of melted butter.” – $245
  6. Cadenhead Small Batch Strathmill 1992 – 45.9% – 24 Year- 1 ex-Bourbon Hogshead and 2 ex-Bourbon Barrels – Producer’s Tasting Note: “Nose: Pineapples, mango, papaya and cooking chocolate. Palate: Cherry tomatoes, haricot beans, coconut, chocolate flakes and oranges. Finish: Green bananas, slate and wet leaves and a hint of ash.” – $ – 86pts Whisky Fun
  7. Cadenhead Small Batch Tullibardine 1993 – 43.6% – 24 Year – 2 ex-Bourbon Hogsheads – Producer’s Tasting Note: “Nose: coconut oil, pear drops, butter scotch, milk chocolatey mice, cubed pineapple. Palate: syrupy, dried  bananas, apricots,  oranges, ginger. Finish: shortbread, caramel, milk chocolate, rice pudding, white grapes.” – $225 – 85pts Whisky Fun

Register in-store, by phone 403-283-8000, or on our website!


27th Birthday Whisky Festival 

Kick Off Our Birthday Sale Weekend with the Opportunity to Taste From 100 Whiskies!

I’m not sure why we used to call our Birthday Whisky Festival mini, because it wasn’t.  There was still close to, if not more than 100 whiskies open for tasting. Reflecting back, it was probably just how we chose to differentiate it from the Spring Single Malt Festival a month later. This year’s festival will be no different than the last couple, other than the fact that we’ve put an end to the whole “mini” label nonsense. The 27th Birthday Whisky Festival is the kick off to our Birthday Sale Weekend, and a chance for a head start at some of the weekends best deals. A number of these items will sell out that night, so don’t miss out. Tickets are just $50, for a glass, a chance to sample from 100 odd whiskies at fantastic prices, sausage rolls, cheese, charcuterie, Evan (wait… what? – E) and more! The SALE is store-wide and runs May 17-19.

Register online, in-store or by phone 403-283-8000

We will send out a Malt Messenger Bulletin on Friday highlighting all of the Sale deals!


A New Way to Join the Scotch Malt Whisky Society 

Membership in the Scotch Malt Whisky Society Has Never Been Easier 

There are now 3 ways to swing open the doors to the World’s largest whisky club. Buy a membership, buy a membership kit, or simply buy a bottle priced at $180 or more*. The Society has 26,000+ members around the world and branches in more than 20 countries. The Canadian branch holds monthly tastings in 4 cities and releases more than 80 different cask strength, single cask, Scotch whiskies, and a few other curiosities. Membership has never been easier, so what is holding you back!

From the Society: “We love bringing whisky lovers all over the globe together and being part of their whisky journey. With this in mind we offer a variety of options for membership. (Please note we are not a Scotch-of-the-Month club.) Choose which one is right for you and get started on your single cask adventures.”

Membership Including Welcome KitMembership Including Bottle*Exclusive access to SMWS bottlings√√√Discounted price for monthly tastings√√√Membership card√√√Unfiltered magazine√√√Access to SMWS Members’ Rooms√√√Discount on SMWS drams at global partner bars√√√Three 100ml limited release bottles of SMWS whisky √ SMWS journal √ Copper lapel pin √ Voucher for $15 off a Society bottle √ 750ml bottle valued at or above $180  √ $125$230Minimum $180*Applies to brand new memberships only; not applicable towards membership renewals or members who are lapsed and wish to re-join.

More info: or 


My Tasting Notes on 3 Curios Indies 

Archives Glen Keith, Whisky Fassle 1991 Mystery Single Malt & 1993 Sherried Blended Malt 

The small European independent bottlers are putting some pretty solid products on the market. They are often pricey, but the quality is almost always there. Still, its important to taste them, just to be sure… I opened these three whiskies along with the Bladnoch above for my Rare Malts Tasting. They did not disappoint!

  1.  Archives Glen Keith 1995 – 56% – 22 Year – Hogshead Cask – My Tasting Note: “Nose: creamy, honeyed, floral and tropical; English scones with clotted cream and strawberry jam; lemon and lime juice; waxy tallow candles and canvas tents; Marcona almonds and French bakery treats; a touch on the tropical side. Palate: sweet, honeyed and creamy with a backbone of firm but yielding oak; floral with building decadent spices: candied ginger and fennel; cane sugar, apple jelly and Jolly Ranchers; there is also a touch of under-rype tropical fruits. Finish: long, coating, creamy and decadent; crisp spices and rich oak; fresh and mouthwatering. Comment: this is a lovely little Glen Keith, a distillery which lay closed from 1999 until the early 2010s; it is a whisky which shows well with age, owing in part to the fact most of the spirit is matured in refill casks, subtly developing delcate layers as it oxidizes and mingles with the wood.” – $290
  2. Whisky Fassle Speyside 1991 Fine Single Malt – 48.8% – 27 Year – ex-Bourbon Cask – Rumoured to be Macallan – My Tasting Note: “Nose: creamy and doughy, marzipan and almond paster croissants; loads of white fruit and a touch of floral perfume; the oak is starting to make its presence felt, but is still a deft touch. Palate: toasty, floral and drying; there is still a load of white fruit, but also some raspberry puree; doughy with more floral vanilla, almond paste croissants and marzipan; hot white pepper and candied ginger; warming, spicy and decadent. Finish: long, warm and spicy; the whisky remains rich, layered and decadent with a touch of elegant smoke? Comment: this would be a brilliant fireside whisky on a cool summer night; elegant and complex but also mellowing! – $375
  3. Whisky Fassle Fine Blended Malt 1993 – 54.3% – 24 Year – Sherry Hogshead – Presumably ex-Edrington Blended stock, Macallan, Highland Park etc. – My Tasting Note: “Nose: doughy with Christmas cake, dark chocolate, treacle sauce and sticky toffee pudding; soft leather, a touch of tobacco, salted caramel and soft peat smoke. Palate: round, rich, spicy and fruity; the elegant peat smoke makes a bigger impact on the palate which is oily and sherried; more Christmas cake, flourless dark chocolate cake with pink peppercorns; building spices, leather, chocolate and tobacco; sticky toffee pudding with treacle sauce. Finish: long, warming and spicy; more sherry notes and crisp smoke; finishes dry and salty with gentle peat oils and earthy-sherry tones. Comment: whereever this mystery Blended Malt stock is coming from, keep it coming; it almost never disappoints! – $300


New Compass Box Great King Street KWM Marrying Cask #8 

Our Second KWM Exclusive Compass Box Blend  

This is our second KWM exclusive Compass Box bottling, and there are just 210 bottles. The blend was composed of Cameronbridge, Linkwood, Highland Malt Blend and Clynelish between 7 and 13 years of age. It was put in to a French oak cask for marrying, where it continued to rest for two days shy of two years.

The Recipe

  • 46% Cameronbridge from a Rechar Bourbon Barrel
  • 8% Linkwood from a First Fill Sherry Butt
  • 16% Highland Malt Blend from a Custom French Oak Heavily Toasted Barrel
  • 30% Clynelish from a Rechar Bourbon Barrel

Compass Box KWM Marrying Cask #8 – 49% – Finished 2 Years in French Oak – Andrew’s Tasting Note: “Nose: bright and fruity; soft, honeyed and decadent with some crisp spice; caramelized onions, Seville oranges, English marmalade, poached pear and tarte tatin; hot candied ginger, nutmeg and candied fennel. Palate: rich, fruity, decadent and very spicy; more candied ginger, cinnamon hearts, fennel and anise; the orange-citrus, baked white fruits and caramelized onion notes are still there, complimented by sauteed strawberry and stewed rhubarb; underneath the spice and fruits a base of waxy honey and floral vanilla. Finish: warm, coating and spicy; the spice tries to dominate, but the fruits and decadent oak gives as good as it gets. Comment: this is a massively spicy blend, big, bold and very fruity; the elegance of the classic Great King Street blend amped upped by 2 years marrying in French oak; delish!” – $94

Producer Description: “This unique bottling has been created especially from a single marrying cask used to mature the whisky after initial blending has taken place. Secondary maturation–a process used for every Great King Street whisky–used to be commonplace within the world of Scotch, but has become a lost art over the past 100 years. Full details of the specific marrying cask used to mature this whisky can be found on the front of this bottle (it was finished two days shy of 2 years in a French Oak Barrel/210 total bottles).We hope you find this information enlightening! Drink this Single Marrying Cask bottling any way you like, and above all share & enjoy.”


New Springbank Single Malts 

A New Single Cask of Longrow Bottled for Alberta & 4 Annual Releases  

Our favourite plucky, independent, stubborn and frankly too small (for demand) distillery has just released in Alberta new annual releases of Hazelburn Oloroso Sherry (a 14 Year this time), Longrow 18 and Springbank 21 Year. The quantities available are tight and as such, all are limited to just 1 bottle per person. The good news is there is also an excellent new 17 year old Longrow single cask bottled for Alberta. Matured in both Bourbon and Chardonnay casks it is lovely, and as it was a full Hogshead, there are a little over 300 bottles available for the market as a whole. So we have not put any restrictions on it, but it is a very good single cask though, so I don’t expect it to last long. My tasting note on the Lonrgow 17 Year Chardonnay Alberta Cask is below, as are details on the other 5 whiskies.

  1. Springbank 12 Year Cask Strength – 54.8% – 50% ex-Bourbon & 50% ex-Sherry – Producer’s Tasting Note: “Nose: Old fir trees – pine needles. Just like when you’re cleaning up all the pine needles from your Christmas tree. Werther’s original sweets, digestive biscuits, heather and honey. Palate: Rich & Malty; milk chocolate, honey, creme brulee and caramel shortcake. Then sandal wood shavings with typical Springbank coastal notes of sea salt and brine. Finish: Fruit notes with lemon zest, orange and hints of ginger.” – $105 – Limit 1 / Customer
  2. Hazelburn 14 Year Oloroso Sherry Cask – 49.3% – Matured in Oloroso Sherry – Producer’s Tasting Note: “Nose: Fruit and nut chocolate, raisins and almonds. Followed by summer fruits, dark chocolate and pecan pie. Palate: Leathery, raspberry coulis and milk chocolate. Freshly baked blueberry muffins and pear drops. Finish: Salted caramel, pepper, coffee beans and the waxiness of banana peel.” – $130 – Limit 1 / Customer
  3. Longrow 17 Year Chardonnay Alberta Cask – 54.6% – 17 Year – 7 Years ex-Bourbon & 10 Years ex-Chardonnay – Andrew’s Tasting Note: “Nose: thick, creamy, oily and tarry; lavender infused creme brulee, tapioca pudding and buttery-maritime peat oils; fresh strawberries, melon and citrus; lightly salted caramel, soft smoke and hot-decadent spices: ginger and cinnamon. Palate: still thick, buttery and oily; loads of caramel, including the salted sort, more lavender creme brulee and old English Butterscotch; there is a growing base of decadent spices: candied ginger and cinnamon sticks; the oily body holds soft peat and tarry tones while smoke drifts delicately overtop; the base is creamy with vanilla, honey and coconut; the decadence and peat leave little room for the fruits to pop up, but the melon, strawberry and citrus tones are still there, and overtime make their presence more prominently felt. Finish: long and bold; still decadent, coating, creamy and oily; layered just like the nose and palate. Comment: I have long been a sceptic of wine casks, but the wine influence here is deft, it is really the oak that is the star; time has rounded out the phenols nicely and pulled some lovely notes out of the ex-Bourbon and presumably French oak; if you like creamy, fruity and decadent peated whiskies, you will love this one; if you don’t, all the more for the rest of us!” – $215 – No Restrictions
  4. Longrow 18 Year 2019 – 46% – Matured in 75% Sherry & 25% ex-Bourbon – Producer’s Tasting Note: “Nose:Tablet and salted jerky. Followed by heather, parma ham and smoked applewood cheddar. Palate: Lemon zest, coffee beans, clotted cream, liquorice and cigar box. Finish: Black cherries, cracked pepper, worn leather, salted roasted nuts and a damp camp fire.” – $210 – Limit 1 / Person
  5. Springbank 21 Year 2019 – 46% – Matured in 45% Port Casks and 55% Rum Casks – Producer’s Tasting Note: “Nose: A delightful fruitiness bursts through; watermelon, strawberry laces, brambles and blueberries followed by crushed vanilla pods and glazed cherries. Taste: Chocolate covered oranges and Caramel shortcake! Deliciously full bodied, with tropical fruit squash, gingerbread and dried mango. Finish: A captivating Campbeltown Malt; sea salt, oily and fruity. Lemon sherbet, whipped cream, apple peel and salted pretzels complete this beautiful dram!” – $425 – Limit 1 / Person


The Compass Box Stranger & Stranger is Here 

And It is Excellent, Just Don’t Call It Whisky! 

Stranger & Stranger has been a big part of Compass Box’s marketing success over the years. To mark the 10th anniversary of their collaboration as well as Stranger & Stranger’s 30th Anniversary, John has put together this special blend. It is a Scotch Malt Whisky blended with wheat and barley spirit… ahem, is it Scotch or a whisky? 46%. 4802 Bottles Worldwide!

Compass Box Stranger & Stranger – 46% – My Tasting Note: “Nose: sinful caramel sauce and Manuka honey leads in to big juicy citrus: Starburst fruit candies, fresh squeezed orange juice and grapefruit bitters; doughy with more exotic fruits emerging: apricots, quince paste and ripe tropical fruits; very decadent and slightly floral with soft leather, vanilla bean and caramel chews. Palate: rich, creamy, coating and silky; still sinfully indulgent with a big, round oily and coating body; so juicy… ; more exotic and tropical fruits with bright citrus to boot; the dried apricot tones are still there with mango, papaya and waxy Starburst fruit candies; loads of floral vanilla, some soft leather and decadent crisp spices with a faint wisp of smoke. Finish: long, coating, creamy and elegant; fruity, layered and decadent; the finale is just as interesting and complex as the nose and palate. Comment: this is a brilliant spirit drink… crucially this can be called a whisky or a Scotch as 1% of the recipe is 18 month of grain spirit from the Girvan distillery matured in virgin oak; but who cares? this is yet another fine example of how innovation can come crashing up against well-intentioned but misguided rules of the road; if you are someone who takes comfort in clear definitions and labels this drink is not for you; if however you are someone who puts the liquid ahead of all other concerns, look no further; this stuff is brilliant and as an added bonus, the label, like the whisky, is another triumph!” – $295 – 2/3 Sold!

Producer Description: “Some may call it sacrilege, but we thought the addition of one year old ‘sacrificial spirit’ would be the perfect component to use in our limited edition blend to celebrate ten years of collaboration with our good friends at the package design company Stranger & Stranger. In the 30 plus design projects we’ve worked on together, we typically provide a core idea and direction, but for this special project, we let Stranger & Stranger design what they liked. All I told them was we were working on a recipe incorporating some amazing one year old grain spirit we had used to season some experimental American oak barrels. We had been calling this one year old ‘sacrificial spirit’ because we didn’t know what it would be like after a year in these crazy new barrels. Turned out, it was amazing, filled with intense wood spice and exotic shades of vanilla character.”

“Typical of the way we ordinarily work with Stranger & Stranger, the simple idea of a ‘sacrificial spirit’ captured their collective imagination and they used it as a springboard for the intricate and fascinating design of this limited edition. You’ll find aromas and flavours in this Stranger spirit that remind you of custard and dark sugars, fresh apple and an appealing herbal character. It has a sweetness on the palate that will call you back to the glass, owing to just one percent of the recipe using our delicious sacrificial spirit.”


Coming Soon: The Arran 21 Year 

The Oldest Ever Core Arran Expression – Coming Wednesday! 

The latest core release in the Arran core range is the 21 Year. Matured exclusively in ex-Sherry casks, and bottled at 46% without added colouring or chill-filtering. The first release is just 6,000 bottles globally and is not expected to last long.

Arran 21 Year – 46% – Matured in Ex-Sherry Casks – Producer Description: “Our long awaited 21 year-old has now joined our core range of Single Malt whiskies.  This limited edition release of 9,000 bottles worldwide introduces this rich and complex expression of some of the oldest whisky in our warehouses.” – Producer’s Tasting Note: “Nose: Dark chocolate, sweet spice. Taste: Sweetness, Spice, Bitter orange, Citrus, Dark chocolate, Satisfying.” – $200


Three New Glenglassaughs 

Made, Matured & Bottled After Its Revival in 2008/9  

In 2008, after 22 years of closure, Glenglassaugh Distillery was purchased and the process of bringing it back to life began. In 2013 the distillery was bought by the BenRiach Distillery Co., which gave it greater exposure globally. It is now along with BenRiach and GlenDronach, part of Brown Forman. The three whiskies below have been produced from spirit distilled after the distillery began producing again in 2009.

  1. Glenglassaugh Peated Wood Finish – 46% – Producer Description: “Glenglassaugh’s waves of fruit and smoke are amplified in Peated Port Wood Finish. Whilst finishing in ruby Port pipes, the open structure of the oak brings waves of velvet tannins and peppered dark fruit, reminiscent of Winter berries by an open fire, kissed by the sea.” – Producer Tasting Note: “Nose: Heather honey drizzled over a medley of fresh red fruits, all backed by intriguing waves of sweet peat smoke. Palate: Delicious wild red berry compote and clotted cream balanced by a hint of cracked black pepper, surrounded by a fantastic sweet campfire peat note.” – $110
  2. Glenglassaugh Pedro Ximenez Finish – 46% – Producer Description: “The luscious sweetness of our full-bodied spirit is intensified in Pedro Ximenez sherry wood finish. Known as the ‘King of sherries’, PX is a sweet, dessert sherry, made by the sun-dried PX grape, known for its unctuous raisiny character. During finishing, the PX cask imbues Glenglassaugh with sun-dried warmth, reminiscent of a richly baked fruit dessert, spiced by the sea. Bottled at 46% with natural colour and is non chill filtered. – Producer Tasting Note: “Nose:  Loaded with creamy vanilla and hints of white pepper over caramelised orchard fruits. Palate: A dusting of vanilla-infused Demerara sugar over pear tarte Tatin, finished with a cedar wood spice and rich, sweet barley. – $110
  3. Glenglassaugh Port Wood Finish – 46% – Producer Description: “The elemental freshness of our coastal spirit is invigorated in Glenglassaugh Port Wood finish. Whilst finishing in ruby Port pipes, the oak’s open structure combines with the influence of the sea, as waves of dark fruit ebb in harmony with fresh mint and fruit zest. For a moment, you may find yourself picking berries in a herb garden, enlivened by the sea.” – Producer Tasting Note: “Nose: Delightful aromas of brittle toffee, blueberries and a touch of garden mint. Gentle allspice adds a delicate warmth to the nose. Palate: Vibrant pink grapefruit and blood orange give a fantastic fresh, zest character. A slight herbal oak background leads to stewed barley in the long, crisp finish.” – $110


Introducing: Alexander Murray Bladnoch 1990 25 Year 

Don’t Get Stuck on the 40% Alcohol, It Is Still Brilliant!  

I really wanted to hate this, with every fibre of my being. Whisky bottled at 40%, unless it just happens to be cask strength, which would be very unusual (unless very old), just isn’t trying hard enough for me. But the fact is though, this is the only Bladnoch in the market at the moment, and it is pre-closure stock! The distillery has been up and running again at full steam for a couple of years now, but sadly only the owner’s Blend has founds its way to Canada. Matured in refill ex-Bourbon barrles and bottled at 40%. Would have loved to see this at a higher proof, but it is a fine whisky and good value for $200!

Alexander Murray Bladnoch 1990 25 Year – 40% – ex-Bourbon Barrel – Andrew’s Tasting Note: “Nose: waxy, syruppy and very fruity; loads of tropical fruits: ripe mango, papaya and guava; midori melons and kiwi fruit too; silky vanilla icing sugar and clotted cream; voluptuous and velvety. Palate: bright and fruity; more waxy oak and syrupy maple sugar; the base is silky vanilla and voluptuous clotted cream; the tropical fruits are still there: almost over-ripe mango and papaya, melons, Mandarin orange and white grapes; some delicate but decadent spice as it opens up. Finish: light and medium in length; it fades before I’d like it to, but it does so in a soft, elegant and decadent way; the exotic fruits, and sweet oaky vanillans linger longest. Comment: this is a lovely Bladnoch, which I have to say is a very hit or miss whisky for me; the distillery’s former owner Diageo didn’t ever show it much love; the second last owner, the lovely but eccentric Raymond Armstrong never really manage to get it working quite right; time will tell how the new Aussie owner does with it; but you can find comfort and refuge in this expression; for $200 it is a very good buy!” – $200


Four Vintages of Laphroaig 25 Year 

2014 – 2017  

We are in an enviable position right now, of being able to put our hands on not one, two or even three Laphroaig 25 year olds, but 4 different vintages. I smell a Laphroaig range tasting coming… we just have to hold off for the 2018…

  1. Laphroaig 25 Year 2014 – 45.1% – Matured in Sherry & Bourbon – 90pts Serge @WhiskyFun – “The last 25 CS I had tried was the 2009 edition (with a virginal white label), and my feelings had been mixed (WF 84). The  strength is lower today – maybe not natural cask strength – but let’s see… Colour: pale gold. Nose: I find it calmer, more mineral, shier than the new 15. More dry white wine (that vinho verde that our Portuguese friends make), chalk, butter, dairy cream, rather coal smoke than peat, hessian, raw wool, wet clothes, fresh asparagus… It’s rather dry, vegetal, pretty austere… Mouth: ah! Big and sharp, extremely mineral and medicinal, we’re almost eating aspirin tablets and leaves while drinking coldish green tea from Yunnan. Then come the lemon, the grapefruits, the brine, the oysters, the walnuts, the bitter apples, that famous ‘salty tang’ (that you’ll find in any brochure from any distillery on Islay), the fresh almonds… I have to say I find this much, much, and I mean much better than the earlier batch. Even if I wouldn’t say it’s any better than the 15. Same territories anyway. Finish: long, leafy, lime-y, and very smoky. Rather less medicinal than expected, though. Comments: I just couldn’t tell you which one I liked best. Well one is cheaper than the other, but who counts? Money’s so cheap a concept… SGP:357 – 90 points.” – $670 – Taking Pre-Orders
  2. Laphroaig 25 Year 2015 – 46.8% – Matured in Sherry & Bourbon – Curt’s Tasting Note: “Nose: Soft and beautiful.  Driven by soft fruits – almost tropical – and very clean white smoke (by that I mean not black, dirty, oily smoke).  Creamy and threaded through with oily vanilla bean.  Slightly minerally.  A little grilled pineapple (brilliant caramelized sugar notes) and charred orange peel.  Black Wine Gums.  Faint lime notes.  Rubber band and fabric bandages.  Give it time in the glass for the smoke to grow. Palate: Almost tropical again, and an incredibly bold and lively delivery.  Rich and gorgeous.  Some tannins do grow toward the back end though.  Surprisingly jammy and gooey.  Rubber and char notes.  Great soft confusion of flavors (hinting at good integration/complexity).  Slightly more vegetal here.  Some grapefruit too.  Gorgeous development. Finish: Just as soft as everything that came before. Leaves faint smoke and soft fruit notes before the oak reasserts itself in a gentle fade.” – $670
  3. Laphroaig 25 Year 2016 – 48.6% – Matured in Sherry & Bourbon – My Tasting Note: “Nose: doughy, waxy and fruity; a touch medicinal and smoky with a hint of mesquite BBQ sauce; baked apple pie with cinnamon; honeycomb, tallow candles and vanilla icing sugars. Palate: starting soft, it builds into something more decadent, peaty, malty and fruity; loads of vanilla, baked apples with cinnamon, green mangoes, honeydew melon and peaches in cream; a building spiciness, hints of sherry and dark chocolate. Finish: long, coating, elegant and oily with a backbone of medicinal peat; it becomes more leathery, tarry, spicy and peaty as it slowly fades out. Comment: an improvement on the previous two releases, the 2015 and 2014 Laphroaig 25s; this is much more interesting, layered and complex.” – $670
  4. Laphroaig 25 Year 2017 – 48.9% – Matured in Sherry & Bourbon – My Tasting Note: “Nose: doughy, soft vanillans, orange pith and tarry ocean piers; a touch of melon and clotted cream; floral and peppery with a touch of potpourri. Palate:  sweet, creamy and tarry with buttery ashy peat; the palate is loaded with vanilla, clotted cream and honey leading in to a bit of candied fruit and spices; a touch of earthy leather and tobacco; the peat is mellow, ashy smoke drifting in the maritime breeze, with a faint medicinal edge; some caramel and a dash of more tropical fruits as you get more in to it; very approachable and balanced. Finish: medium long, coating and warming, ending dry; salty-ashy smoke dominates the finish with a touch of TCP; the sweeter oak tones and fruit fade first. Comment: not my favourite release of Laphroaig 25 year, but a step up from 2015, and very drinkable, almost dangerously so.” – $670


The Wiser’s Alumni Series 

Canada’s Answer to Diageo’s Game of Thrones?!  

Ok, so that’s a stretch, but it can be easy to get cynical about such releases, as a pandering attempt to sell more whisky by leveraging something completely unrelated to achieve some crossover… We’ll be cracking some both of these later in the Spring to see how they stack up. We currently have access to the Lanny McDonald and Paul Coffey

editions, though a total of 6 have been produced. We might see the others later in the Spring, but that is hard to say. We don’t have the best of relationships with Corby Canada, and haven’t had an email reply, phone call, or conversation with anyone from them in years. We might have struck a nerve with  this wee video we produced, expressing we thought, a desire to work with them… essentially we wanted a meeting, and we still do. They did not see it quite the same way we did, as a playful attempt to get their attention. As before the video, they weren’t exactly good at working with us anyway… Hasn’t stopped us from selling their whisky, especially when it is good!

About the JP Wiser’s Alumni Series (From the
Horses Mouth): “The Alumni Association and award-winning whisky maker J.P. Wiser’s honour the past by co-creating this premium, collectible and one-of-a-kind Canadian whisky series. Each player whisky is uniquely crafted to commemorate the featured Alumni, matching their playing style and notable achievements. Unlike the first release, all future lineups will be made available nationally – so that you can collect the Series! Proceeds received by the Alumni are invested back into local hockey initiatives across the country while supporting the retired player community.” 

  1. Wiser’s Lanny McDonald Alumni Edition – 40% – Producer Description: “Whether you have a moustache or not, you can enjoy this 9-year-old, wheat-forward blend. Aged in Canadian and virgin oak barrels, you’ll find notes of apricots and fresh honey for a whisky as well-rounded as Lanny’s game.” – $47
  2. Wiser’s Paul Coffey Alumni Edition – 48% – Producer Description: “At 48% ABV, this 2-grain whisky is rich & smooth like Coffey’s stride on the ice. Aged in 4 distinct barrels for 7 years, this whisky perfectly pays tribute to #7’s historic 48 goal season.” – $47


SAVE $35 on Macallan Rare Cask 

Regular $415+gst – $380+gst Until May 20*  

Bottled at 43% this bottling was released to fit between the Ruby and Reflexion in the Macallan pantheon. Macallan uses the broadest spectrum of casks in its warehouse to craft this whisky, 16 recognizably different styles. And yet much less than 1% of what Macallan distills will ever be bottled as Rare Cask.

Macallan Rare Cask – 43% – Distiller’s Tasting Note: “Nose: Opulent, yet soft and slightly meandering, picture an orchestra setting up: quiet vanilla with deep notes, already in tune; raisin bold and booming, though only in spells; chocolate a star performer, but not a standout; a sweet ensemble of apple, lemon and orange, beautifully balanced with a spicy quartet of root ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg and clove. Then oak conducts, mature and elegant, with patience only time delivers. Palate: The spicy quartet leads, loud and full, unwavering in their performance. Raisin dares to temper – and succeeds!! – but oak takes control; timeless, polished, rich and resonating. Vanilla and chocolate compliment each other in the background. Finish: Light citrus zest, yet full and warming.” – $Regular $415 – For a Short Time $380+gst


Highland Park 25 & 30 Year Are Back! 

But Not For Long!  

We snagged 3 of the final 6 bottles of Highland Park 30 Year in Alberta, no word when we will see these again! The Highland Park 30 Year has been increasingly rare and hard to find the last few years. Matured in Refill Sherry the whisky is a delicately balanced older malt in contrast to the bolder 25 year. Bottled at 45.7%. The Highland Park 25 Year is a very rich and bold older malt, owing to the fact it was matured in a high proportion of first fill sherry barrels. Bottled at 45.7%.

  1. Highland Park 25 Year – 45.7% – Predominantly First Fill Sherry – Producer’s Description: “The remarkabl complexity of our 25 Year Old single malt whisky owes a great deal to its maturation in a high proportion of the finest quality first-fill, sherry seasoned European oak casks.”- Producer’s Tasting Note: “Dark chocolate | Fudge | Heather honey | Nutty toffee | Dried fruits.” – $765
  2. Highland Park 30 Year – 45.7% – Refill Sherry Cask – Producer’s Description: “Maturation in refill Sherry seasoned casks prevents oak from dominating the flavours of the whisky as it would if first-fill casks were used. This allows our robust and oily new make spirit to gently mature over an extended period of time, delivering a full-on aromatic peat flavour with a surprisingly sweet finish.” – Producer’s Tasting Note: “Nutmeg | Dark chocolate orange | Aromatic peat smoke | Sticky toffee pudding | Sea salt” – $970


The Scotch Malt Whisky Society Canada May 2019 Outturn 

“Possibly the best Outturn ever” – so said more than a dozen Members! 

Evan’s notes on the Outturn:

“May of 2019 brings us one hell of an Outturn (yes, I am biased). Here are some stats:

  • Three of the seven bottles in the Outturn are cask finishes. Two hail from Speyside and just barely in the Highlands. All three are – at the very least – worth a taste. Two of them are my personal favourites in the lineup.
  • This is a peat-heavy month. Four of the seven bottles show at least some peat, with three of those showing smoke and earth in a very pronounced manner.
  • One of these peated malts comes from Loch Lomond Distillery, though it would be labelled as an Inchmoan in style. This is the first Inchmoan I have personally had, and possibly the first to hit the SMWS in Canada. It is also easily the best Loch Lomond Malt that I can remember every tasting, SMWS or otherwise.
  • Even more oddness regarding this 112 bottling: the SMWS Canada originally believed that they would be receiving 112.17. It was a serendipidous mistake that they received 112.27, but I am personally very happy that they did. Sadly, it is sold out!
  • The ABV for the lineup is pretty tight, with all but one bottle coming in between 57.1% and 59.4% ABV.
  • That one outlier bottle is unique in other ways as well: It is bottled at 50% ABV, which is not cask strength. It has much larger than typical SMWS outturn at 2948 bottles. It is one of the SMWS new line of Blended Malts. This is Batch 003 of Peat Faerie. This is the first batch to come to the SMWS Canada, and like when we received Exotic Cargo last year, it likely won’t last long.

“As I said earlier and I will not repeat again for fear of overselling it (at least until next Outturn): this is a very impressive lineup. Enough from me though. Follow this link to the blog to read more about each of the 7 whiskies, including the Panel’s Tasting Note on the KWM Blog!”

Thank You for Reading the Malt Messenger! 

Contact & Disclaimers 

If you have any whisky questions or comments concerning The Malt Messenger please contact me by e-mail, phone, or drop by the store.

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 and don’t include GST. In the case of discrepancies in pricing, the price in our in store point of sale will be taken as correct.

Thanks for reading the Malt Messenger.


Andrew Ferguson

Owner & Scotchguy

Kensington Wine Market


Calgary, Alberta, Canada

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