Kensington Wine Market Malt Messenger No. 102 – Back to School Edition by Andrew Ferguson – Whisky News

I hope you all had a wonderful summer, and that the first week of September has likewise treated you well. It is hard to believe we are just a couple of weeks away from the first days of Fall. I know many of you won’t like to hear that, but I have good news. Fall is Whisky Prime Time… jam packed with tastings and new releases. So much so that I have a Massive Malt Messenger’s worth of whisky news for you.

Accordingly I will keep the intro unusually short and to the point. There is lots to digest below, but I will take a few moments here to summarize some of the highlights.

Firstly, we are now taking pre-orders for the 2019 KWM Whisky Advent Calendar. We managed to get the price down a little over last year’s edition, without skimping on the quality of whiskies. Our regular retail is $360+gst this year, but if you order before October 1 you can take advantage of our early bird price of $325+gst. A savings of $35, on 25 Days of Dram Fine Whisky!

Secondly, we are going Back to School next week at KWM, with the start of our Fall Tasting Schedule, which is now online and open for registration. We have a ton of great Whisky, Wine, Beer and other Spirits tastings for the months ahead. And a lot of them are very good value. On the whisky side of things, we are thrilled to welcome Patrick van Zuidam of Millstone Whisky on September 12, Mariella Romano of Arran Distillery on September 16 and Lee Medof of Bull Run Distillery on September 17. There is also an amazing New Ardbeg Launch event with Hamish Torrie coming, also on September 17 at Hayden Block. Details on all of these below.

As for new whisky there is a pile of it to tell you about below, too much to summarize. I’ve been fortunate enough to sample more than a few of them too.

I hope this 102nd full Malt Messenger finds you well. Please let me know if you have any comments, questions or requests. As always, in the event of a discrepancy in price, the Point of Sale at KWM will be taken as correct.


Andrew Ferguson

In This Edition

  1. Now Taking Pre-Orders – The KWM 2019 Whisky Advent Calendar
  2. Millstone Whisky with Patrick van Zuidam
  3. Arran Whisky with Mariella Romano
  4. Bull Run Whiskey with Lee & Jenn
  5. Ardbeg Traigh Bahn Launch at Hayden Block
  6. The Fall 2019 Tasting Schedule
  7. New Arran Whiskies
  8. New Cooper’s Choice Whiskies
  9. Glenfarclas Family Casks in Market
  10. Introducing: The Orphan Barrel Rhetoric
  11. My Tasting Notes on a New Pair of Gordon MacPhail Whiskies
  12. My Tasting Notes on a Pair of Signatory Glenturret 1989s
  13. Michter’s 10 Rye & Bourbon Are Back
  14. New Maltbarn & The Whisky Agency Whiskies
  15. Introducing: Big Peat Feis Isle 2019
  16. Kavalan Chapter Series 2 & 3 – My Tasting Notes
  17. Introducing: Yushan – Another Taiwanese Whisky
  18. Introducing: Two Brewers Yukon Single Malt Release 16
  19. Big Price Drop: Jameson Rarest Vintage Reserve
  20. Available by Request: G&M Private Collection Mortlach 1954
  21. Introducing: Laphroaig Cairdeas 2019

Andrew Ferguson

Kensington Wine Market

PS – Don’t forget you can follow me on Twitter:

@scotch_guy, Instagram: @thescotch_guy/

 or @kwmwhisky and Facebook:

Now Taking Pre-Orders – The KWM 2019 Whisky Advent Calendar 

25 Days of Dram Fine Whisky Are Back! 

We have managed to drop the price on this year’s Calendar $15 over 2018 edition. Further, if you pre-order the  Kensington Wine Market 2019 Whisky Advent Calendar before September 30th, 2019 you can take advantage of our $325+GST early bird price. This is a savings of $35+GST over our regular retail price. We will be raising the price of the Calendar for all orders placed on or after October 1, 2019, to $360+GST.

>Our Kensington Wine Market Whisky Advent Calendar makes a great gift and is a great way to get into the Holiday spirit. The 2019 edition consists of 25 premium whiskies, including 24 50ml bottles and a special 100ml Scotch Malt Whisky Society single cask. This year’s Society whisky is a true one off, it will only be available in the KWM Whisky Advent Calendar, never to be see again. The KWM Whisky Advent Calendar also includes a custom logo Glencairn Scotch Whisky Glass and a Discount Card.
You can follow along each day of Advent (or at your own pace), as we introduce you to each whisky on our blog and through our social media channels. We are really excited about this year’s edition, and we hope you are too.
As in past years, we are taking a $150 deposit for each Calendar ordered, at the time it is ordered. The balance of payment will be due a few days before the Calendars are ready for pickup, which we estimate to be around the beginning of November. If you would like to order one or more Calendars, please be prepared to provide a credit card for payment of the deposit. The same card will be used to bill the remainder of the balance closer to the date it is ready for pickup.
We will also be holding a KWM Whisky Advent Launch Party on Friday November 29 at 7PM. The cost to attend is $25, but it is free with the purchase of a KWM 2019 Whisky Advent Calendar (one free ticket per Advent Calendar purchased). We will forward more info on the event early in October to purchasers.
Pre-Order a Kensington Wine Market 2019 Whisky Advent Calendar!

Millstone with Patrick van Zuidam 

Find Out Why This Dutch Distiller is Making Such Amazing Whisky!

We are thrilled to welcome Patrick van Zuidam, one of the Netherlands’ most respected distillers, back to KWM. He’ll walk you through a range of some of the best single malt and rye whiskies in the world, including a new cask bottled for KWM! The range to be tasted is a sherry lover’s dream:

  1. Millstone Oloroso Sherry
  2. Millstone Peated PX Sherry
  3. Millstone 2005 Heavy Peated
  4. Millstone 10 Year American Oal
  5. Millstone 1996 Virgin American Single Cask
  6. Millstone 1998 Oloroso Sherry
  7. Millstone 1998 PX Sherry
  8. Zuidam 18yo Korenwijn PX

Thursday September 12, 7PM, $25

Rigister in-store, by phone 403-283-8000 or online! 

Arran Whisky with Mariella Romano 

Find Out Why Arran is One of Our Favourite Scotch Whisky Producers

We will have a killer range for our Arran Master Class with Brand Ambassador Mariella Romano, including the 18 Year, a trio of 21 year olds and even a 22 year old! In all, 7 Whiskies. Only 7 spots left at the time of writing.

Monday September 16, 7PM, $25

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

Bull Run Whiskey with Lee Medoff & Jennifer Kadell 

Oregon Bourbon, Rye & Other Whiskies

We are thrilled to welcome the founder and head distiller of Oregon’s Bull Run Distillery, Lee Medoff, as well as Sales Manager, Jennifer Kadell, for an American whiskey Master Class including Bourbon, Rye, Single Malt and Blended American whiskeys!

Tuesday September 17, 7PM, $25

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


Ardbeg Traigh Bahn Launch with Hamish Torrie 

Enjoy the New Ardbeg 19 Year Release with a 5 Course Dinner! 

We won’t be releasing any info about the pending Ardbeg 19 Year Traigh Bahn until after the event. Hopeful Ardbegians would be advised to attend the event for their best chance at acquiring a bottle.

Tuesday, September 17th 2019, at Hayden Block, 1136 Kensington Rd NW, $80

7:00 PM Start – Welcome Cocktail
7:30 – Dinner

“Enjoy a 5 course dinner, specially curated by the culinary team at Hayden Block to pair with Ardbeg’s smoky whisky. Dinner will include an exclusive preview of our newest annual release Ardbeg Traigh Bahn 19 Year Old!”


Either email

Or call Hayden Block at (403) 283-3021!

The Fall 2019 Tasting Schedule 

Time to Go Back to School at KWM! 

The full tasting schedule is online, including a treasure trove of Bran Ambassador tastings in October/November, and our ever popular Fall Single Malt Festival. Highlighted below are the tastings in September and the first few days of October. The highlight is sure to be two back to back nights of That 70’s Tasting, which is likely to have the above range, or something comparable!

  1. Millstone with Patrick van Zuidam – Thursday September 12 – Patrick van Zuidam is one of the Netherlands’ most respected distillers. He’ll walk you through a range of some of the best single malt and rye whiskies in the world, including a new cask bottled for KWM! – $25
  2. Arran with Mariella Romano – Monday September 16 – We will have a killer range for our Arran Master Class with Brand Ambassador Mariella Romano, including the 18 Year, a trio of 21 year olds and even a 22 year old! In all, 7 Whiskies. – $30
  3. Bull Run Whiskey with Lee Medoff & Jennifer Kadell – Tuesday September 17 – We are thrilled to welcome the founder and head distiller of Oregon’s Bull Run Distillery, Lee Medoff, as well as Sales Manager, Jennifer Kadell, for an American whiskey Master Class including Bourbon, Rye, Single Malt and Blended American whiskeys! – $20
  4. That 70’s Tasting – Night 1 – Tuesday October 1 – Whiskies from the 70s are becoming increasingly rare and expensive, we’ll sample six single malts, a single grain and a blend, all distilled in the 1970s. In all, nearly $10K worth of whisky, split over 2 nights. – $175
  5. That 70’s Tasting – Night 2 – Wednesday October 2 – Whiskies from the 70s are becoming increasingly rare and expensive, we’ll sample six single malts, a single grain and a blend, all distilled in the 1970s. In all, nearly $10K worth of whisky, split over 2 nights. – $175
  6. Duncan Taylor with J. Wheelock – Thursday October 10 – Established in 1938, Duncan Taylor is a family owned independent bottler renowned for its stocks of old whisky. Our friend and whisky expert J. Wheelock will guide you through a range of single malts, single grains and other curiosities! – $25

And this is just a taste, go on to our website to check our all of our Fall 2019 Whisky, Wine, Beer and Other Spirits Tastings!

New Arran Whiskies 

Four More New Whiskies from One of Our Favourite Distilleries 

Arran is one of our favourite producers. We sell more Arran, in volume, than Glenfiddich, Glenlivet and Macallan combined. There are three main reasons for this. First, they make great whisky. If they didn’t, none of the other reasons would matter. Arran is one of the most consistently good, and underrated, distilleries in Scotland. Their 18 year old is as good as any other distiller’s 18 year old, and likely a lot cheaper. Which leads me to the second reason we love selling Arran, and our customers love buying it. Arran is fantastic value. The Arran 18 Year old is still just $120 a bottle. You could nearly have 3 Arran 18s for the cost of one Macallan Triple Cask 18 year, and the latter isn’t half as good as the Arran. The new Arran 21 Year is also very good value. At $200 it is just one of a couple of distillery bottled 21 year olds available at that price point, and few can match it for quality. Finally, my third reason why Arran does so well in our store: like KWM, they are a small, independent firm in a sea of giants. Their focus is on relationships, quality and service. We are kindred spirits…

There are three exciting new Arrans and one returning limited release to tell you about at the moment. The first is a bottling meant to mark James MacTaggart’s 12th Anniversary at Arran. We love the irony of the package, which shows James, one of the most humble men in the Scotch whisky industry, posing with a glass of Arran, a la James Bond. He is a legend, and well deserving of this attention! Next, a Cote Rotie finish Arran, which is a textbook example of how to do a wine finish. Finally, the second release in the Arran Explorer’s Series: Lochranza Castle, another 21 Year. My Tasting Notes on the new Arrans:

1.  Arran 12 Year: The Man With the Golden Glass – 51.3%- Finish in Palo Cortado Casks, hand selected by James MacTaggart – Distilled 2006 – My Tasting Note: “Nose: classic early teens Arran; creamy, honeyed and fruity with juicy barley; toasty with brown sugar and Seville oranges; peppery with a touch of under-ripe tropical fruits. Palate: big, rich, nutty and very sherried with crisp spices, tart fruits and rough new leather; woah, where did this come from, the palate is far more exotic than the nose; gooseberries, sour melons and grapefruit juice; the spices pick up with more under-ripe tropical fruits; as the palate adjusts the creamy base of vanilla, honey and juicy barley is able to emerge. Finish: medium in weight, but long in length; lovely, elegant and warming with fading spices, leather and fruit. Comment: the nose and palate are slightly out of sync, but the palate is brilliant; it also has a maturity beyond its years; it is bright and unapologetic, but far from hot or rough; James MacTaggart is one of my Whisky Heroes; he is a gentleman, and has been a very steady hand over his dozen years at Arran; this is a fine tribute to his growing legend!” – $116

2.  Arran Cote Rotie Finish – 50% – Bourbon and Sherry Matured / Finished in hand selected Côte-Rôtie Wine Casks – My Tasting Note: “Nose: earthy, leathery and peppery with dried cranberries and cherries; a touch malty with honey and rose petals. Palate: soft, malty and floral; creamy vanilla, a touch of honey, soft new leather and loads of berry fruits: blackberries, fresh raspberries and more dried cranberry and cherry; subtly earthy with peppery spices. Finish: fresh, fruity and malty; a touch of drying leather and tobacco, but retaining loads of fruit; medium length and good balance. Comment: I was a tad worried by the nose, wine finishes and matured whiskies are not often in my wheel house, with the wine notes too over the top; the palate surprised me, and laid waste to my concerns; this is a well-integrated an well balanced whisky; very seldom am I disappointed by an Arran; well done!” – $82

3.  Arran Explorers Series Lochranza Castle – 47.2% – 21 Year – Matured in Sherry Hogsheads / Finished in Amontillado Sherry Casks – My Tasting Note: “Nose: soft, elegant and sherried; nutty with maple butter, polished leather and Fruit Source bars; chocolate-y with candied cherries and a raspberry puree; oak shavings, Eat-More and Junior Mints. Palate: round, fruity and elegant; maple syrup and treacle sauce; more polished leather and dehydrated fruit bars; ripe tropical fruits: mango, papaya and a touch of flambéed banana; candied orange and melons; more chocolate, leaning more towards Caramilk than Eat-more, but retaining the Junior Mints; it’s very refreshing… Finish: coating, fruity and spicy with more smooth leather and chocolate; good length and weight. Comment: Arran’s older expressions are always elegant, and this one is no exceptions; sherried with a very good balance and loads of complexity; a very good follow up to the Brodick Bay!” – $215

4. Arran 21 Year Old First Release46% – 21 Year – Only 6000 Bottles Worldwide – Matured Exclusively in Sherry – My Tasting Note: ‘Nose: candied orange, fruit cake, melons and honey, loads of soft sweet honey; rum raisin with vanilla ice cream and bread and butter pudding with whipped cream; Fruit Source, maple butter and botanical gardens.

Palate: soft, creamy, honeyed and herbaceous; building caramel, leather and spices: clove, fennel and Dutch licorice; dark chocolate, espresso beans, and tobacco; bitter orange, ripe mango, heather honey and charred oak. Finish: rich, fruity, spicy and herbaceous; chocolate, leather and tobacco. Comment: you would be hard pressed to find a better distillery bottled 21 year, and forget about the price…; the first ever bottling of Arran 21 Year (core bottling) is superb; if you haven’t bought a bottle of this, you should, this is what 20ish year old sherried whisky should be!” – $200

New Cooper’s Choice Whiskies  

Some Peat, some big Sherry, a Golden Grain, and more! 

It is getting harder and harder to find value, even among the independent bottlers, but Cooper’s Choice has yet to let us down. In this round, we have a pair of Caol Ilas, including one finished in a Port cask. We also have a heavily peated Bunnahabhain finished in a Sauternes cask, and a curious Campbeltown Blended Malt finished in a Pineau Des Charentes cask. There is also what looks like a sherry bomb of a Tomintoul, and another Golden Grain. The Golden Grain 36 Year, looks to be the sister cask of the Golden Grain 35 Year we had last year. It was a hit, and we expect this one to be so, too. It is a KWM exclusive in Calgary!

  1. Cooper’s Choice Bunnahabhain Sauternes Finish – 57% – NAS – Matured in American Oak / Finished in a Sauternes Cask – Andrew’s Tasting Note “Nose: it reminds me of standing in the fan space below the kiln at Bowmore (I know, not the same distillery); juicy malt, peat smoke, hickory sticks and a smoker full of sausages and brisket; there is a decadence underneath with honey and white fruits.
    Palate: thick, honeyed and very smoky; more juicy malt, bright citrus and muddy peat; it is maritime with licorice and bold cigar smoke; tarry, a touch of creosote and Russian caramel; orange rinds, white fruits and perhaps something a little more exotic beneath; saddle leather and firm spices. Finish: more of the same: juicy malt, firm earthy peat, cigar smoke and fruit; decadent and spicy. Comment: this delivers exactly what the label promises: ‘sweet & smoky’; the wine finishing is thankfully a light touch; classic young Islay, with a little finesse.” – $98
  2.  Cooper’s Choice Campbeltown Fruit Basket – 53.5% – NAS Blended Malt – Matured in a American Oak / Finished in a Pineau Des Charentes Cask – ONLY 6 BOTTLES Producer’s Tasting Note: “Nose: Sweet redcurrants, spice and summer fruits. Vanilla and caramel. Palate: Ginger and citrus. Honey and brown bread with sea salt in the background. Mouthcoating sweet malt. Finish: Long with more spice and fruit.” ­ – $88
  3. Cooper’s Choice Caol Ila 2009 – 46% – 8 Year – Bourbon Cask – EXCLUSIVE TO KWM – ONLY 18 BOTTLES – Producer’s Tasting Note: “Nose: Sea salt and sweet peat with touches of smoked bacon and lemon juice. Palate: Light oiliness with smoky apple notes and lemony vanilla. Touch of tar and pepper. Finish: Long and lingering. Peat ash.” – $105
  4. Cooper’s Choice Caol Ila Port Finish – 55% – “Many Years” Maturing in American Oak / Finished in a Port Wine Cask – ONLY 12 BOTTLES – Producer’s Tasting Note: “Nose: Antiseptic and smoky bacon. Delicious sweet smoke and red fruits. Palate: Mouthwatering sweet peat. Oily liquid smoke with more red fruits. Touch of tar and sea salt. Finish: Long and lingering. Peat ash and fruit.” – $98
  5. Cooper’s Choice Golden Grain 1982 – 50% – 36 Year – Blended Grain Scotch from a Fresh Bourbon Cask – EXCLUSIVE TO KWM – ONLY 30 BOTTLES – Andrew’s Tasting Note: “Nose: Eggo waffles with canned whip cream; Aunt Jemima’s butter flavoured syrup on flapjacks; a dusting of powdered sugar; perhaps a side of pork sausage; then the fruits come out: canteloupe and fresh sliced oranges. Palate: decadent: Demerara sugars and flapjacks soaked in Aunt Jemima; eggo waffles with whipped cream and French crepes with a dusting of powdered sugar; more orange, melon and even a little pineapple; Manuka honey and vanilla bean to boot. Finish: long, warm and decadent… very decadent; toasty oak, honey, syrup and fruits with all kinds of pancakes and waffles. Comment: damn, where was this at Stampede; if it was socially acceptable or legal to serve whisky to children, which rightly it is not, this would be it; that or at a pancake breakfast. – $250 – Exclusive to KWM in Calgary – Only 30 bottles!
  6. Cooper’s Choice Tomintoul 2005 – 55.5% – 13 Year – Sherry Cask – Andrew’s Tasting Note – “Nose: surprisingly little heat for a 12 year old cask strength single malt; floral. vanilla cream and red berry fruits; Caramilk, honey drizzled figs and oak sugars. Palate: rich, fruity and nutty; more Caramilk, dark milk chocolate and even some white chocolate (vanilla) with cocoa nibs; still very floral with a hint of chunky malt; more red berry fruits before moving toward prunes, dates, figs and cooked raisins; on the spices side of things: hot cinnamon and ginger before clove and fennel. Finish: warming, drying, fruity and decadent; medium length with more chocolate, fruits and spices. Comment: a tad on the musty side, as many sherried whiskies are, but none of the dreaded “S word”; a solid sherried single malt for a reasonable price; but don’t take my word for it, come in and try it! – $122 – Exclusive to KWM – Only 30 bottles!

New Glenfarclas Family Casks in Market 

And Most Have Very Good Reviews 

Although Glenfarclas Family casks have skyrocketed in price in recent years, it is curious that they still represent very good value, especially compared to other distilleries. Name for me a distillery 40 year old you can buy today for less the $1800-2000!? Sure there are the odd independent bottlings priced under that, but they too are increasingly few and far between. Look at the ridiculous price they are asking for Macallan 25 Year, bottled at 43%. The last time we had it, it was $2200+gst. The next time is likely to be more. We have a cask strength Glenfarclas 25 Year, sherry matured Family Cask below, at $598. You could have 4 of these for the price of that Macallan 25 Year. Some of you will say sure, but it is 4th Fill, how good and how sherried can it be. In truth I don’t know, but to the first question, the reviews so far are good. And to the latter question, how sherried is it? Again I can’t be sure until I try it for myself, but again, every photo I’ve seen of it online, looks pretty sherried!

The oldest 4 whiskies on this list, the 1978 (which you should be aware now is the greatest vintage for everything… in history), 1979 and the pair of 1980s are all Refill Barrels, the 1978 and 1979 4th Fill Hogsheads. Heresy… Nothing but first fill or perhaps 2nd fill is good! Wrong… Not surprisingly, both the 1978 and 1979 have gotten rave reviews, and the one of the 1980s which has been reviewed also did respectfully well. Neither the 1978 or the 1979 are sherry bombs, but not all good whiskies are sherry bombs. When it comes to good old whisky, and there is no guarantee that old whisky will be good, a lighter touch with respect to the wood, is often a good thing. Slower and more delicate maturations are more likely to develop the delicate tropical fruit notes so prized by many whisky lovers, myself included. The 1979 was poured at our tasting with George Grant in the Spring, and it was a hit!

Looking at this glorious list of Glenfarclas I think there a lot of interesting whiskies to consider. Every six months Glenfarclas bottles another flight of casks to replace sold out vintages, and each time the prices tick steadily upward. Some vintages like 1984, 1976 and 1975 are all but sold out, and the prices reflect that. Many of these below vintages are soon to head that way too. If you haven’t been priced out of your birth year or favourite vintage yet, you will be eventually!

The following Glenfarclas vintages are all in-stock, arriving tomorrow or the following week. Some are limited to just 1 bottle and all others no more than 4. They are available on a first come first serve basis.

  1. Glenfarclas Family Cask 1978 Winter 2018 – 42.7% – 40 Year – 4th Fill Hogshead – Cask 661 – 90pts Angus Whisky Fun: “Colour: light gold. Nose: It’s a rather typically exotic and fruity 1970s style Glenfarclas. Lots of ripe fruits such as apples, banana, pineapple and guava with honey, pollen, green tea and sultanas. Although, it’s not quite ‘exuberant’ in its fruitiness like earlier vintages can be, there’s a real sense of elegance and restraint about the nose. Pretty typical excellent ‘refill’ profile. Hints of crystallised fruits, damsons and mirabelle eau de vie. Mouth: lovely balance between honeys, candied citrus peels, various herbal teas, wormwood, mint jelly and pressed wildflowers. Also some hints of cinnamon, nutmeg and clove. Finish: medium and on soft notes of tea, lemon balm, pineapple jelly and old Sauternes. Comments: in some ways it’s rather simple, but here that’s an asset as everything is beautiful and in its place and perfectly balanced. Easy and classical old farclas.” – $1650+gst 
  2. Glenfarclas Family Cask 1979 Winter 2018 – 48.4% – 39 Year – Cask 2088 – 4th Fill Hogshead – 91pts Angus Whisky Fun (on the sister cask 8796 also 4th Fill Hogshead) at 49.4%: “Colour: light gold. Nose: a rather concentrated and syrupy fruitiness, like molten boiled sweets, juicy fruit chewing gum, pineapple jelly and some excellent aged mead. Opens up further with cornflakes, milk bottle sweets, a dusting of icing sugar and lemon infused olive oil. Also some earthy mushroom notes, old wine cellar and things like chamomile and bergamot. A rather more complex example that’s ably supported by a perfect natural strength. You can add plums, sultanas, apple crumble and chocolate limes. Really excellent! Mouth: superb texture and concentration – very syrupy and gently oily. Hints of pear eau de vie, creme de menthe, rum n raisin ice cream, raspberry jam and soft waxes. There’s also herbs, mulled wine and chocolate covered marzipan. Lots of glazed and crystallised fruits everywhere, along with some nibbling peppery notes. Finish: long, rather orangey and abundantly fruity. Citrus pith, olive oil, mint, apricot jam and dried thyme. Comments: A notch higher still. There’s a level of complexity here that really sings alongside a perfect natural ABV. A great and humble wee cask.” – $1585+gst – 92/100 Whisky Base – 3 Bottles!
  3. Glenfarclas Family Cask 1980 Winter 2018 – 43.3%  38 Year – Cask 1916 – Refill Hogshead – $1523+gst – No Rating
  4. Glenfarclas Family Cask 1980 Summer 2018 – 47.8% – 37 Year – Cask 1413 – Refill Hogshead – 89pts Angus Whisky Fun: “A sister cask, this should be interesting. Colour: light yellow. Nose: lots of freshly baked breads, sourdough starter, veg stock and curious things like roast chicken, bay leaf, tarragon and wild mushrooms. A meal in a glass! Goes on with baking soda, cornbread, ginger biscuits and a rather dry and peppery waxiness. Things like wax paper, canvas and old jackets. Freshly rolled oats, savoury flapjack, trail mix and toasted mixed nuts. Fresh, clean and getting increasingly cereal in profile. Mouth: full and syrupy in texture. Lots of toasted almonds, coconut oil, buttered bread, lemon peel, citrus infused darjeeling tea, mint leaf and fir liqueur. Touches of fennel seed, caraway and miso broth. Again this rather delicate waxiness in the background with similar peppery notes. Finish: long, earthy, all on olive oil, mixed shades of pepper, lime zest, white truffle and dried herbs. Comments: cleaner than its sibling and very good. A more technical and textbook early 80s Glenfarclas. I like the dryness, it felt very crisp and appetising. SGP: 561 – 89 points.”- $1523 – 90/100 Whisky Base
  5. Glenfarclas Family Cask 1989 Winter 2018 – 51.4% – 28 Year – Cask 13010 – Sherry Butt – $1190+gst – 91.5/100 Whisky Base – 4 Bottles!
  6. Glenfarclas Family Cask 1991 Winter 2018 – 56.6% – 27 Year – Sherry Butt – Cask 5675 – $654+gst – 92.71/100 Whisky Base
  7. Glenfarclas Family Cask 1993 Summer 2018  – 53.3% – 25 Year – Cask 1598 – 4th Fill Butt – 86pts Angus @ Whisky Fun: “Colour: amber. Nose: Lovely! A big, easy, leafy and tobacco-scented sherry profile. Interesting that the sherry still has a clear and definable voice on a 4th fill – perhaps the first 3 fills were reasonably short? All very typical on raisins, sultanas, dates and the usual mix of dark fruits. Brown bread, mushrooms, damp earth and some old wine cellar notes. With a little breathing it begins to display notes of cherry blossom and strawberry laces. Very lovely. With water: more toasty notes, more seeds, freshly baked savoury pastries, some cinnamon powder. Mouth: gingerbread with lemon icing, strawberry pipe tobacco, lime leaf, mint julep, some cloves, black pepper and a more developed bready aspect as well. Fresh brown bread and croissants. Getting more and more tertiary and autolytic as time goes on; you can feel that the distillate is starting to have a much more assertive voice over and above the cask. Which, obviously, I rather like. With water: dryer, more towards soft chocolate notes, some walnuts, grist, chamois leather and pollen. Finish: long and on cereals, cocoa, black tea and a few citrus peels. Comments: There’s lots to enjoy here, not least the interplay and changing volumes between cask and distillate. However, I think it’s perhaps not quite a thrilling as some of the older FCs we’re already tried. Quality is still undeniably high though. SGP: 561 – 86 points.”  – $598+gst – 91.73/100 Whisky Base
  8. Glenfarclas Family Cask 1993 Winter 2018 – 56.8% – 24 Year – Cask 4662 – 4th Fill Butt – $600+gst – 91.7/100 Whisky Base
  9. Glenfarclas Family Cask 1994 Winter 2018 – 56.1% – 24 Year – Cask 571 – Refill Sherry Butt – $569+gst – 90.67/100 Whisky Base
  10. Glenfarclas Family Cask 1998 Winter 2018 – 54.8% – 20 Year- Cask 4455 – 4th Fill Hogshead – $465+gst – 90.83/100 Whisky Base
  11. Glenfarclas Family Cask 2001 Summer 2018 – 58.3% – 17 Year – Cask 3353 – Refill Sherry Butt – $420+gst – 91.73/100 Whisky Base
  12. Glenfarclas Family Cask 2001 Winter 2018– 56.9% – 17 Year – Cask 3297 – Refill Hogshead – $430+gst – 87.67/100 Whisky Base

Introducing: The Orphan Barrel Rhetoric 

An Unusually Well Priced Older Bourbon 

This 24 year old Bourbon from Heaven Hill Distillery is the 9th Orphan Barrel release, and the 5th installment of Rhetoric. Bottled at 45.3%. Distilled in Kentucky at the new Bernheim Distillery, it was made from a mash bill of 86% corn, 8% barley, and 6% rye.

Heaven Hill Rhetoric 24 Year – 45.3% – My Tasting Note: “Nose: perfumed, nutty and oily; a touch of diesel, or German Riesling, take your pick; very nutty: beer nuts, pecan pie and walnut liqueur; linseed oil and plasticine; loads of caramel and corn notes; a faint hint of rye bread and bold spice. Palate: big, round, nutty and decadent; classic Heaven Hill, reminds me a little of Evan Williams 23 Year; lots of toasty oak, honey, caramel and more candied-nutty tones: beer nuts, pecan pie and Italian walnut liqueur; the linseed oil-plasticine note is still there, but far less dominant than on the nose; late wood spices, a hint of rye and just a touch of diesel… Finish: long, coating, decadent and toasty; oily with lingering rye, linseed and plasticine notes. Comment: for a guy who doesn’t love Bourbon, I have written an awful lot of words on this one… it still isn’t my style, but it is very good, and surprisingly for its age it is not over-oaked, which is often my biggest complaint about Bourbon; the fact of the matter is we don’t see a lot of mature Bourbons, let alone as reasonably priced as this; it is a no-brainer, a must by!” – $215

My Tasting Notes: On a Pair of Gordon Macpahail Whiskies 

Highland Park and a very rare Coleburn 

Gordon & MacPhail whiskies almost never disappoint. The prices have increased dramatically on many of them in recent years, but the quality is still there. This is almost certainly due to the fact they source their own wood, filling most of the spirit they eventually bottle, in to their own casks. I am in a fortunate position to have tried a lot of very rare and special old whiskies from Gordon Macphail, most recently Caol Ila 50 Year and a 1954 Glenlivet. Neither of these will see their way to Alberta, due to the ridiculous rules around recycling. A shame as both were excellent. But it is not all doom and gloom, we are still getting some of the Private Collection releases. The Coleburn, pictured below did find its way to our shores, though only 3 bottles of it… It is one of only 3 bottlings we have ever had of Coleburn. The chaps at Whisky Fun scored it at 89, which I feel is a tad on the low side. I would have scored it in the low 90s, 92 or 93pts. At the time of writing I just have one bottle left. The Highland Park 2001 is also lovely, and unlike a lot of the recent independent bottlings of Highland Park, it is more towards the classic sherried style which the distillery is know for.

  1. G&M Private Collection Coleburn 1981

– 55.9% – 38 Year – Refill Sherry Hogshead – My Tasting Note: “Nose: Christmas cake, chocolate fudge and plum pudding; old sherry, a touch of musty oak, soft leather and fruity tobacco; polished church pews make way for exotic tropical fruits, barrel aged maple syrup and fruity tobacco. Palate: rich, fruity and spicy with firm leather, musty oak and fruity tobacco; peppery and earthy to start it moves quickly toward dark chocolate, Christmas cake and Dutch licorice; candied walnuts, maple pecans and toasted almonds tossed in hot but decadent spices; old sherry and oak, but well on the right side of over the hill; a touch of the tropical fruits and more barrel aged maple syrup. Finish: long, rich and fruity with more spices, tobacco, chocolate and Christmas cake; old and dignified. Comment: easily the oldest Coleburn I’ve ever had, and I haven’t had more than I have fingers; it is a very seldom seen independent bottling; beautifully sherried, no trace of the dreaded “S” word; wish I had a bigger sample as I feel it is becoming more and more tropical… #want!” – $2500+gst – Only 1 bottle left!

  1. G&M Connoisseurs Choice Highland Park 2001 – 57.7% – 17 Year – Refill Sherry Butt – My Tasting Note: “Nose: velvety; creamy and buttery with savoury maritime tones and gentle smoke; loads of honey, ripe fruits and soft spices; somewhere between and Eatmore and a Snickers; the smoke becomes more prominent as does the sherry. Palate: big, round and fruity with loads of honey, nutty sherry and rounded oily peat; still more in the direction of Eatmore than Snickers; grilled figs, Glosset Raisins and a touch of prune juice; loads of spice as it settles down, salted caramel and clean peat smoke. Finish: long, rich and fruity; nutty sherry, rich spices, more soft oily peat and clean smoke. Comment: this is more Highland Park-y than many of the other contemporary IBs out there right now; not quite as sherried as some of the best sherried middle aged distillery bottlings, but those haven’t been themselves for some time now… regardless, though this be more on the Eatmore than Snickers side of the spectrum, it still really satisfies.” – $270

My Tasting Notes on a Pair of Signatory Glenturrets 

Well Priced 29 Year Olds from 1989 

What started out as a tasting note on one of the two 1989 Signatory Glenturret we have, turned in to a comparison of the two. For 29 year old whiskies, these beauties are very well priced. More so when you recognize the quality of the spirit. I just recently submitted an order for the fall, and requested cases of a new 198 Glenturret from Signatory, a sister cask to these two. It was sold out before they processed our request. This is a reflection that other retailers around the world are clearly also finding value in these under rated malts.

In short both casks share similarities, and are excellent for both their age and price. That being said, cask 232, bottled at 42.2% is insanely elegant, and of the two, my clear favourite. Specifically I think its sister cask overshadows it, but only on the macro level. Both share juicy-sour-fruity-wine-gum-y notes, and 238s are both brighter and bolder. As you dig deeper with cask 232 though you find more complexity and layers. It is also crushable… dangerously drinkable. Cask 238 is trending higher on Whisky Base, I think 232 is the better of the two. I’ve written up my own tasting notes on both. We had bottles of both open, but the sample of 232 is all but drained. Possibly a sign of its popularity. A quick note on pricing, cask 238 is cheaper because it was purchased after Theresa May resigned. Boris has his faults, but one of his assets, at least when it comes to Scotch whisky in Canada, is a weakening pound!

  1. Signatory Glenturret 1989 – 42.4% – 29 Year – Hogshead – My Tasting Note: “Nose: apricots, nectarines and raisins; very creamy, sour cream with herbs and juicy Wine Gums; apple strudel, cantaloupe and poached pear; soft, floral and elegant. Palate: stay creamy, very creamy with loads of vanilla and more sour cream (in a herbal crema); fresh peaches, apricots and nectarines; juicy Wine Gums and raisins, with a touch of sweet & sour sauce (without the pork); more apple strudel and poached pear, melons too. Finish: light, fresh, fruity and balanced with a surprisingly long length given its delicacy. Comment:  this doesn’t quite stray in to tropical fruit, but it is very, very fruity; a bit of sweet, sour and even savoury here; lots of layers, and definitely my kind of dram; these 1989 Signatory Glenturrets are not disappointing!” – $310
  2. Signatory Glenturret 1989 – 44.7% – 29 Year – Hogshead – Cask 238 – My Tasting Note: “Nose: bright, fruity and honeyed; waxy, antique-y, honeycomb and creamy; clotted cream, Moroccan marmalade, fresh goat cheese with lemon slices; Turkish delight. Palate: soft, creamy and floral; toasty and creamy with more honeycomb, clotted cream and fresh goat cheese with lemon wedges; candied ginger, citrus wedges, white orchard fruits and dried apricots; very waxy, a touch of white pepper and old school ex-Bourbon. Finish: long, creamy, toasty and floral; waxy and coating; fresh orchard fruits. Comment: this is an eminently drinkable whisky, reminds me a lot of Littlemill; fresh, floral, fruity and creamy; no hint of the advancing bitter oak you often see in a whisky of this age!” – $290

Michter’s 10 Year Rye & Bourbon Are Back 

Rye is Limited to 1 Per Person 

We saw a fair bit of the Michter’s 10 Year Bourbon last year, but that might have been an anomaly. The stock ran out in January or February, so when it popped up again last week we jumped on it. The Michter’s 10 Year Rye is a different story. We are lucky to get a six pack a year, and it too has just returned. Details below!

  1. Michter’s 10 Year Bourbon – 47.2% – From the Distillery: “Mature in age and truly exceptional in quality, Michter’s 10 Year Single Barrel Kentucky Straight Bourbon has earned its place as an enduring favorite of the most discerning whiskey connoisseurs. The “Best American Whiskey” according to Food & Wine magazine, our 10 Year Single Barrel Bourbon represents the culmination of over a decade of patient aging in our specially chosen, new charred American white oak barrels.” – Tasting Note: “Big and bold dark toffee and caramel, charred oak, maple syrup, vanilla.” – $230+gst
  2.  Michter’s 10 Year Rye – 46.4% – From the Distillery: “One of our most limited production items, Michter’s 10 Year Single Barrel Kentucky Straight Rye continues the legacy of America’s first whiskey variety (rye) from America’s first whiskey company (Michter’s, originally known as Shenk’s). After a nearly three year absence from the market, Michter’s then Master Distiller Willie Pratt finally gave the green light for the re-release of Michter’s 10 Year Straight Rye in April 2014.” – Tasting Note: “Deep notes of vanilla and toffee, toasted almonds and cinnamon with an ample dose of crushed pepper and a hint of orange citrus.” – $253+gst 1 Per Customer

New Maltbarn & The Whisky Agency Whiskies 

Some Curiosities…  

We took a gamble on these two. They are a tad pricey for whiskies of their respective ages, but the gamble has paid off. We opened the whiskies to give ’em a try, and they are both lovely. The feisty young Bruichladdich needs a day or so to open up, but it develops nicely. The Granville Highland Single Malt is supposedly Clynelish. The sherry cask it matured in has made its presence felt, but the Clynelish-y notes are still able to poke through. Just 12 bottles of each are coming to KWM, and as we’ve opened one of each, there are less for sale…

  1. Maltbarn Bruichladdich 2010 – 55% – Bourbon Cask – 8 Year – My Tasting Note: “Nose: honeyed and decadent, baklava; malty with a firm minerality; ozone; very malty, apple crumble with crisp cinnamon; fresh maritime air. Palate: creamy, doughy and fruity; very sweet and malty; loads of honey, baklava and apple crumble with loads of cinnamon; oily with a good minerality and quite salty; chili-lime tortilla chips. Finish: fresh, fruity and creamy with more decadent honey, baklava, spices and lime. Comment: this feisty young lady didn’t impress me on first tasting it, but having opened the bottle almost 24 hours ago, the whisky has opened up nicely!” – $182
  2. Maltbarn Granville Highland Malt 1996 – 51.9% – 22 Year – Sherry Cask – Supposedly Clynelish – My Tasting Note: “Nose: dark, rich, nutty and chocolate-y, with cooked raisins, demerara sugar and dark chocolate; soft, waxy floral tones peek out from underneath bold sherry; tea leaves and tobacco and to the mix along with some brighter fruit notes. Palate: big, rich and nutty with firm leather and tobacco; some mouth-watering tropical fruit notes emerge along with some salty Dutch licorice, espresso bean, dark bakers chocolate and more tea leaves; more cooked raisin, prunes and grilled figs; very spicy and decadent with more demerara sugar, underlying fruits and floral tones; the body is waxy and tingling with oak spices. Finish: long, coating, waxy, spicy and warming; layered and complex like the palate. Comment: it is supposedly from Clynelish Distillery, and while it does have some of that beeswax-honeyed character Clynelish is famous for, the sherry is masking it well; whether it is or isn’t Clynelish is really rather irrelevant in the grand scheme of things, this is quite simply a very elegant, drinkable and lovely single cask of sherried “Highland” Scotch whisky!” – $365

We also have two curious new whiskies from The Whisky Agency: the TWA Islay Style 11 Year Single Malt and TWA Sherry Style 17 Year Blended Malt. The whiskies were positioned to be drinking whiskies, and not collectible… but I’m not sure that is borne out by the pricing. Not too many details, and as we will only be seeing 6 bottles of each, it isn’t likely we’ll have a chance to crack either of them open. Both have got decent reviews online:

  1. TWA Islay Style 11 Year Single Malt – 48% – 2007 – Hogshead – $168 – 85/100 Whisky Base
  2. TWA Speyside Style 17 Year Blended Malt – 46.6% – 2001 – Sherry Cask – $172 – 4 Left – 87/100 Whisky Base

Introducing: Big Peat Feis Isle 2019 

The Big Peat’s Pals Edition! 

Only 36 bottles coming to KWM, of the 2019 Big Peat Feis Isle bottling, “Big Peat Pals”. Bottled at 48%, only 3,300 bottles were released globally. The tube features 450 lookalike “Big Peat Pals”. The blend is composed exclusively of Islay single malts, supposedly: Bowmore, Caol Ila, Ardbeg and a dash of Port Ellen. Limit 2 per customer!

 Big Peat Feis Isle 2019 – 48% – A Blended Malt composed of Bowmore, Caol Ila, Ardbeg and a dash of Port Ellen – My Tasting Note: “Nose: honeyed with vanilla and briny-maritime notes; dry potting soil, smoked mussels and pan seared scallops; loads of citrus: lemon and grapefruit; dusty old attics. Palate: round, oily and medicinal; tarry with creosote and a dirty mop bucket with detol; ashy peat and more dry potting soil make way for subtle honey and vanilla, as well as ashy peat and potting soil; both white fruits: apple and pear, as well as citrus, lemon, lime and grapefruit; drying and spicy; becomes creamier as the palate adjusts to its more medicinal Islay bonifides. Finish: long in length, though the body and warmth long outlast the flavours; classic young Islay with no soft edges. Comment: were they trying to make Laphroaig? I find this very Laphroaig-y, which makes it all the more surprisingly that there isn’t any in it… a young Ileach, if you like them fire-y and medicinal, you’ll love it!” – $100+gst – Limit 2 Per Customer!

Kavalan Chapter Series 2 & 3 – My Tasting Notes 

2 of the Oldest Kavalans I’ve Ever Tasted! 

I mentioned these previously, but having written up my own tasting notes, I felt they deserved a bit more exposure. Kavalan’s new Canadian importer, Truth Malters, is selecting some of their own exclusive single casks, which they are bottling under the Chapter Series. Chapter 1, which hasn’t been announced yet, curiously won’t be here until later. Chapter 2 & 3 are currently in-stock; they are a Solist Rum and Peaty Cask respectively. These interesting whiskies are the oldest Kavalans we’ve ever seen before. Chapter 2, Solist Rum, is 7.5 year old, and the first ex-rum cask of Kavalan we have seen in Canada. Chapter 3, Solist Peaty, is reputedly one of the final Peaty casks we will ever see. It is also, by a considerable margin, the oldest Kavalan we’ve ever had. The Solist Peaty is my favourite whisky in the Kavalan range. I love the fact that the whisky has to dig deeper in both of these tired old casks to find more subtle flavours. Slower maturations often lead to more delicate and exotic fruity notes. But, and there is a big but here, 9 years maturation in Taiwan is like 20-40 years in Scotland, and this Peaty Cask, unlike the previous ones we’ve seen, has picked up a lot of not just the woody notes, but also the smoke and peat of the previous whisky in the cask. It is curious, and it is fruity. My tasting notes on these two Kavalans:

  1. Kavalan Solist Rum Truth Malters Chapter 2 – 57.1% – 7 Years 6 Months – ex-Rum Barrel – My Tasting Note: “Nose: soft, decadent and honeyed; delicate spices and fruits; subtle, almost a little on the shy side of things; almost no heat, at 57.1%; with a little patience it opens up; powdered sugar and lemon juice on French crepes; maple butter and subtle tropical fruits. Palate: sweeter and richer than expected; very decadent: creme brule, Scottish tablet and treacle sauce; warming with decadent spice: candied ginger, cinnamon sticks and licorice; creamy with more powdered sugar and lemon on French crepes; ripe mango and papaya. Finish: light, fresh, decadent and fruity; medium in length, but very elegant. Comment: I used to think Rum casks were a gimmick (I think finishing in rum still is), until I understood the magic of lengthy maturation in tired old wood; it’s not so much the rum notes you are after, but rather the more delicate and subtle flavours that develop over time in a well-used barrel; even though this Kavalan is on the young side, given Taiwan’s climate, its 7 1/2 years is equivalent to a Scotch whisky matured 20-30 years; fruity and decadent, a lovely one off from Kavalan.” – $245
  2. Kavalan Solist Peaty Cask TM Chapter 3 – 57.8% – 9 Years 4 Months – ex-Peated Single Malt Barrel (presumably Laphroaig) – My Tasting Note: “Nose: the aroma is reminiscent of walking into a cigar lounge filled with plush leather sofas while everyone in the room is enjoying big tumblers of Armagnac; perhaps some dark chocolate on the side; caramel and fruits trying to push their way through the smoke; I get a little tarry-creosote thing too, but it is interesting. Palate: big, no, massive, but elegant and refined; the smoke is surprisingly bold, but not rough, its elegant; more leather, chocolate and tobacco with Russian caramel and yes… tropical fruits; a touch waxy and steely, but the fruits, my God, the fruits…; it’s juicy, lush and layered; and the smoke, and gentle peat… I can’t believe how prominent they are! Finish: lightens on the finish, but lingers long; creamy with fading tropical fruits and cigar smoke. Comment: wow, I’m pretty sure this is the oldest Kavalan I’ve ever had; the Solist Peaty was always my favourite release from the distillery; essentially it is unpeated malt, matured in an ex-peated-Scotch whisky cask; this one is on the verge of being over-oaked, 9.5 years in the Taiwanese climate can do that; but there is no bitterness; the tropical fruits are there, but the peat and smoke have held up remarkably well; brilliant!” – $245

Introducing: Yushan Whisky 

The Other Taiwanese Whisky 

When Kavalan Distillery released its first whisky in 2008, catching the World by storm, there was one group who was more than a little annoyed. Prior to Taiwan’s entry in to the WTO in 2002, all alcohol production in Taiwan including wine, beer and distilled spirits, had been done by TTL, the State owned Taiwan Tobacco & Liquor Corporation. Kavalan had been opened by the privately owned King Car Group, a large food and pharmaceuticals firm. This would not do. TTL was already producing grain whisky in Taichung, but they would now have to open a single malt distillery. And they did. The very same year Kavalan’s first single malt was released. Called Nantou, after the city where the distillery was founded, it produced Blends and Blended Malts, using its own single malt, as well as imported malt whisky from Scotland and grain whisky from Taichung.

The distillery is built between the Bagua mountain range and the tranquil Maoluo river. The Blended Malt and Single Malt Whiskies are sold under the brand Yu Shan, named for the beautiful nearby “Jade Mountain”.  The single malts are non-chill filtered, and bottled without added colouring. There is no age statement on the whiskies, but, like Kavalan, the Taiwanese climate rapidly matures spirit, with 7-10% angels share lost each year!

We currently have limited access to one of the Blended Malts, and two different Single Malts:

  1. Yushan Taiwanese Blended Malt Whisky – 40% – Blend of Single Malts matured in ex-Sherry & ex-Bourbon – Producer Tasting Note: “Nose: light – cereals, dried fruit. Palate: Succulent – honey, tropical fruit. Finish: Delicate and refined – yellow fruit, malted barley.” – $62
  2. Yushan Signature Bourbon Cask Single Malt – 46% – Matured in Bourbon Casks  – Producer Tasting Note: “Nose: Fresh and well-balanced – Vanilla, cream, honey, flowers. Palate: Subtle and silky – Vanilla, caramel, spices. Finish: Well-balanced – Vanilla, malt, mandarin.” – $84
  3. Yushan Signature Sherry Cask Single Malt – 46% – Matured in Sherry Casks – Producer Tasting Note: “Nose: Clean and complex – stewed fruit, dried fruit, dark chocolate. Palate: Intense and succulent – Brioche, caramel, smoky. Finish: Long – bitter orange, dried fruit.” – $86

Introducing: Two Brewers Yukon Single Malt Release 16 

Another “Classic” Release from Canada’s Northernmost Distillery 

Release 16 from Yukon’s Two Brewers is a “Classic” expression, bottled in June of 2019 at 43%. Only 1280 total bottles. Matured in Ex-Bourbon, the whisky is composed primarily of 4, 5 and 7 year old single malt, with a splash of 9 year old for good measure.

Two Brewers Yukon Single Malt Batch 16 – 43% – 4 to 9 Year Old Whiskies – Matured in ex-Bourbon Casks – My Tasting Note: “Nose: apple crumble with vanilla ice cream, and peach cobbler on the side; fresh and toasty with soft honey, floral vanilla and a touch window putty; apple cider vinegar and oak spices. Palate: sweet, nutty and toasty with honey up front and English style ale; firm and malty, the oak has a good grip on the spirit with allspice and cedar planks; a touch of baked apple and pear, but more towards pecan rather than fruit pies; more window putty. Finish: light, floral and fresh with gristy malt and tingling spices. Comment: brings back memories of my College Pro franchise days, puttying old windows in the summer; maybe a crumble cooling on a nearby window sill!” – $100

Big Price Drop: Jameson Rarest Vintage Reserve 

It Is Selling Internationally for $800CDN & Up! 

A customer request had me look up this product in the catalogue. It’s been well over a year since we last had it, and the price had dropped substantially. Going from $430+gst, to $300+gst. We brought in a three pack last week, tried it, and it is lovely (tasting note below). But this is where it gets interesting, I started doing some research online, and the price in Ireland, where it appears to be out of stock,  was last at €850.00. You can find it for less in France, at €550.00, but that is still more than $800CDN. I saw one reference to it in the US for $800USD. But generally speaking it appears sold out. Which leads me to ask, is the Canadian importer blowing it out? Never the less I tried to grab as much as I could, and there were just 6 bottles left (2 have sold). So I am limiting them to one per person out of fairness.

“The Jameson Vintage Reserve is a very special blend that draws its components from some of the oldest whiskeys available in the warehouses at Midleton. At its core is a generous amount of old pot still with some very old grain, but what sets it apart is probably the portion matured in a sweet, raisiny port pipe. This is a highly complex, fruity, spicy and sweet tasting blend and must rank as one of the best Irish whiskeys currently available. A rare treat.”

Jameson Rarest Vintage Reserve – 46% – My Tasting Note: “Nose: right from go this smells mature; musty old oak, chocolate, coconut cream icing sugar, orange marzipan and crème caramel; cold tea dregs with Demerara sugar; a touch of tobacco and firm new leather. Palate: rich, fruity and mature with a silky delivery; the Irish Single Pot character dominates the palate with more crème caramel, dulce de leche, soft leather and tobacco; layers of fruit on the palate, apple, pear, melons, browning banana and more tropical fruits; soft peppery spice and more cold tea dregs. Finish: long, coating, creamy and very, very fruity; decadent caramels fade in to leather, tobacco, spices and bags of fruit. Comment: very, very elegant; there is a reason this is one of the pinnacles of Irish whiskey!” – $299.99 – 5 bottles coming Wednesday 1 per customer

Gordon Macphail Rare Old Private Collection Mortlach 1954 

65 Year Single Malt – Available by Request

Gordon & MacPhail’s crystal decanters aren’t currently permitted in Alberta, but they are filling a handful of bottles of some of their Private Collection releases into glass decanters. But only a dozen or so. This 65 year old single malt was bottled this summer after maturing in a First Fill Sherry Puncheon. 286 total bottles have been produced, with only a dozen or so filled in to glass decanters.

Gordon & MacPhail Private Collection Mortlach 1954 – 43% – 65 Year – Cask 491 – First fill Sherry puncheon. – Producer’s Tasting Note: “Nose Dessert in a glass. Stewed plums with thick orange marmalade topped with spun brown sugar. Dark chocolate gateaux joins morello cherries steeped in syrup. Hazelnut praline complements notes of vanilla. Taste: Luxurious black currant coulis layered over stewed rhubarb with flavours of delicately malted chocolate. In time, freshly roasted coffee beans and soft wood tannins offer richer undertones. Finish: Refined and lingering. Hints of aged leather with a gentle nutty edge slowly fade to mature oak nuances.” – $17585.00+gst 

Introducing: Laphroaig Cairdeas 2019 Triple Wood 

Strictly Limited – 1 Per Customer 

Laphroaig’s annual Feis Isle offering is here, and once again in vanishingly small quantities. Limit 1 per customer!

Producer Description: “We are pleased to announce the 2019 annual release of our Càirdeas series, Càirdeas Triple Wood Cask Strength. This exclusive bottling celebrates the Friends of Laphroaig and marks the annual Feis Ile festival on Islay. The unique expression is a special triple maturation, first matured in ex-bourbon barrels, then in quarter casks and finally in European oak cas ks which previously held oloroso sherry. It is then barrier filtered and bottled at cask strength to create a punchy dram with Laphroaig’s signature richness of flavour and smoky taste.”

“Càirdeas means ‘friendship’ in Gaelic and, each year, a limited-edition bottling is crafted by distillery manager and fifth generation Islay native, John Campbell, available exclusively to Friends of Laphroaig.”

Laphroaig Cairdeas 2019 Triple Wood – 59.5% – Matured in ex-Bourbon, the Quarter Casks and finally European oak ex-Oloroso Sherry – Producer’s Tasting Note: “Nose: Polished leather and tobacco leaves with spicy lemon and clementine zest. Subtle notes of golden syrup and rich heather honey, with autumn leaves, hazelnuts, vanilla fudge and a touch of white pepper and nutmeg. Dried camomile flowers and a touch of passion fruits. Palate: Sweet with rich toffee, with dates, maple syrup, praline and crème caramel. Grilled chestnuts with tarte Tatin, marzipan and strong black pepper. Cedar wood, a touch of furniture polish and beeswax. Body: Full bodied. Finish: Sweet, long with caramel and spicy buttery fudge.” – $132

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

Kensington Wine Market

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