Kensington Wine Market Malt Messenger No. 103 – Falling in to Winter Edition by Andrew Ferguson – Whisky News

Malt Messenger No. 103 – Falling in to Winter Edition

Well we are but a couple of days in to Fall, and in the foothills of the Rocky Mountains snow has already arrived. It has come a little like a slap in the face; summer on the Prairies left at lot to be desired this year. If you want someone to blame, it is probably my fault, as every time I fly somewhere in September or October, it is guaranteed to snow in Calgary… sorry!

I am just back from the Big Apple, my first visit to the city in almost exactly 15 years (my timing is off by 2 weeks). The reason I can be so precise about this, is that I was travelling in the NE States when I was offered a short term job as delivery driver at KWM in October of 2004. I never had any grand vision of becoming the Scotch Guy, or of owning a specialty liquor store, but the rest as they say is history.

I was in New York at the invitation of Beam Suntory to attend the first ever Keepers of the Quaich dinner in North America. I had the great privilege of being made a Keeper of the Quaich in 2011, the first Canadian retailer to receive the acknowledgement. The invitation was extended by Jamie MacKenzie, who all those years ago, in the Morrison Bowmore Days, was also made a Keeper at the same time as me. If memory serves George Grant and Simon Brooking were also in my graduating class. Fine company to be sure.

Lots of news in this, the first Malt Messenger of the Fall, or if the weather has its way, early Winter. We are currently taking taking pre-orders for the 2019 KWM Whisky Advent Calendar. And if you are thinking of picking one up for yourself or a friend, you might want to hurry, Early Bird Pricing ends in 3 days on Tuesday October 1. We managed to get the price of this year’s Calendar, a little over last year’s edition. We did this without skimping on the quality of whiskies, and with the help of our suppliers and the Boris effect… Our regular retail will be $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!

Our Fall Tasting Schedule, is in full swing, and open for registration in store and online. We are almost exactly a week away from our Whisky Week tastings. And a lot of them are very good value. On the whisky side of things, we are thrilled to welcome 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 103rd 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. Early Bird Offer on the KWM 2019 Whisky Advent Calendar™ Ends in 5 Days!
  2. SAVE $25 on the Lismore 21 Year – While Stocks Last
  3. That 70’s Tasting
  4. Other Up Coming Whisky Tastings
  5. Introducing the Berry’s Perspectives Series Blends
  6. Cool New Whiskies from North Star Spirits
  7. Introducing Scarabus Islay Single Malt Whisky
  8. A Very Old Cameronbridge at a Great Price
  9. A Handful of Nikka Whiskies
  10. Price Drop on Older Tomatins
  11. More Kavalans on the Way
  12. Speyburn 25 Year is Back
  13. Introducing Yamazakura 18 Year Blended Malt
  14. New Game of Thrones Johnnie Walker Blends
  15. Introducing: Littlebook Batch III

Andrew Ferguson

Kensington Wine Market

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

@scotch_guy, Instagram: @thescotch_guy/

or @kwmwhisky and Facebook:

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!

SAVE $25 on the Lismore 21 Year 

Already a Great Deal at $150, it is Now a Steal at $125! 

The Lismore 21 Year was already a good deal, at $150 for a sherry cask matured 21 year old single malt it was very well priced, at $125 it is a steal. The importer gave us a deal to clear out the inventory, and while stocks last, which won’t be long, we are going to honour that deal. At the time of writing we have less than 60 bottles left, which sounds like a lot, but we had more than 120 just a week ago. We offered the deal to a pair of whisky clubs and they took half of the inventory.

The Lismore 21 Year is bottled at 43%, a mystery “Highland” single malt, which we suspect is sourced from Glenfarclas Distillery. Why do we suspect this? Glenfarclas owns the brand… It could be they sourced the whisky from somewhere else, but even if that is the case, who cares? It is lovely stuff, and respective to its age, as the saying goes, it is cheap as chips.

Lismore 21 Year– 43% – Sherry Hogshead Matured – My Tasting Note: “Nose: stewed fruits, chocolate covered espresso beans, soft leather and plum pudding; cooked medjool dates with prune and grapefruit juices; some musty earthy tones and classic Christmas cake sherry tones. Palate: round, fruity and chocolaty with building earthy sherry notes and spices; more milk-chocolate covered espresso beans, soft leather and musty old dunnage warehouse tones; nutty and a touch grassy; raisins, dates, figs and prunes with crisp spices: licorice, fennel and clove. Finish: medium length with big coating sherry notes and drying fruity tannins. Comment: quite sherried, but not a sherry bomb; a lovely malt at a good price for its age; possibly from the Ballindalloch Estate!” – Was $150 – Now $125+gst (but only until it runs out!)

That 70’s Tasting 

$10K Worth of Whisky, Distilled More Than 40 Years Ago… 

I am bound and determined to see this tasting go ahead. I’m a little surprised we didn’t fill both nights, but we are still going to make the one night a go. We have an awesome range of whiskies, all of them distilled in the 1970s, for a tasting we won’t likely be able to do again at this price. Whiskies from the 70s are becoming increasingly rare and expensive, most of them are now north of 40 years of age. We’ll sample six single malts, a single grain and a blend, all distilled in the 1970s. Tie dies and bell bottoms not required!

Wednesday October 2nd, 7PM – $175

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

The Fall 2019 Tasting Schedule 

It Is Time to Get 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. That 70’s Tasting – One Night Only! – 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, one night only. – $175
  2. 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 – Only 1 Ticket Left!
  3. Oxacan We Say, About Mezcal & Tequila – Thursday, October 24 – Pronounced Wah-Ha-kan, Oaxaca State is the home of the smoky spirit Mezcal. Come explore this unique and ancestral spirit alongside a range of good ol’Tequila. It’s a small room, so leave your novelty sombrero at home! – $40
  4.  Balvenie with Jamie Johnson – Sunday, October 27 – 5PM – We’re going vertical with Balvenie’s Canadian Brand Ambassador Jamie Johnson. We’ll tackle a range of 7 Balvenies including the 17, 21, 25 and two different batches of Tun 1059. – $40 – Only 5 Tickets Left!
  5. Tamdhu & Glengoyne with Gordon Dundas – Monday, October 28th – Glengoyne and Tamdhu Distilleries once lived under the umbrella of Highland Distillers with Macallan and Highland Park. Is it any wonder then, that they have some of the best sherry cask matured whiskies? Why buy a Macallan 25 Year, when you can have six bottles of Glengoyne 25… Gordon Dundas will set you straight! – $25 – Only 2 Tickets Left!
  6. Springbank with Melanie Stanger – Tuesday, October 29 – Springbank is the most stubbornly traditional distillery in Scotland. We love its spirit of independence, and of course its whisky! Special guest Melanie Stanger will take us through a range of whiskies representing its three spirit styles and Kilkerran whisky from its sister distillery Glengyle. – $35 – Only 2 Tickets Left!
  7. Kilchoman with Anthony Wills – Thursday, October 31 – Anthony Wills will be our special guest as we launch yet another KWM single cask of Kilchoman. At 8 casks and counting, we’ve bottled more Kilchomans than any other Ileach… We absolutely love Kilchoman whisky, and this is your chance to see why! This tasting will feature not one, not two, but three Kilchoman single casks. – $25
  8. Elixir Distillers with Oliver Chilton – Friday, November 1 – There is more to Elixir Distillers than peaty whisky… in addition to Port Askaig and the Elements of Islay, they also have their Single Malts of Scotland range. We’ll be featuring two new, and very exciting KWM exclusive single casks at this tasting. We have a sherried 22 year old Ben Nevis on the way, as well as a delicate, tropical and floral 23 year old from the closed Imperial Distillery. This, and much, much more… which begs the question, why aren’t you signed up yet?! – $25
  9. Fall Single Malt Festival Part I – Thursday, November 7 – Our world-famous, ever-popular, Fall Single Malt Festival is back. Limited to 100 participants, we will feature at least as many whiskies. Oh, and it includes a KWM logo Glencairn glass! – $60 – Only 16 Tickets Left!
  10. Why Are So Many Rums Named Ron – Tuesday, November 19 – This and other stupid questions will be answered. We’ll explore the shady beginnings of the rum trade, the meaning of the word “Hogo”, and sip on things so good it’d make pirates surrender their booty. – $40
  11. Fall Single Malt Festival Part II – Thursday, November 21 – This event is so popular, we had to offer a second night… The evening is limited to just 100 participants and will feature at least as many whiskies. Oh, and it includes a KWM logo Glencairn glass! – $60
  12. Masters of Malt – Tuesday, December 3 – This event is so popular, we had to offer a second night… The evening is limited to just 100 participants and will feature at least as many whiskies. Oh, and it includes a KWM logo Glencairn glass! – $125

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!

Introducing: The Berry Bros. Perspective Series Blends 

21, 25 & 35 Year Old Blends, with Pretty Pictures… 

We have some cool new blends from Berry Bros., bottled under the Perspective Series. Only 6-30 bottles of each have come in to Canada, exclusively to KWM. I have had a chance to try the 21, but not the other two. Have employed Dave Broom’s tasting notes and scores, from “The Perspective Series brings together two art forms – whisky-making and photography. The essence of our master blender’s work is captured by photographer Lindsay Robertson’s evocative images.” The range also included a 40 Year, but we didn’t get any of that, and most of the reviews seemed to indicate the 35 Year was the best of the bunch anyway!

  1. Berry’s The Perspective 21 Year Blend – 43% – The label features a photo of Sandwood Bay in Sutherland. – My Tasting Note: “Nose: Jujubes, caramel apples and licorice; a fine balance of chocolate, dried fruits, spices, leather and tobacco; the grain seems a light touch, adding a touch of elegance to the bolder malts. Palate: soft, fruity and malty with coating oils and silky grain tendrils; rather herbaceous with honey, sage and decadent spices: more citrus and soft white orchard fruits and French roast coffee beans; late leather and tobacco emerge with licorice and chocolate; elegant and smooth with lots of layers. Finish: light and elegant with decent length; more leather, tobacco and spices; still oily. Comment: this is lovely stuff, both sessionable and worthy of some patience; very well blended, it is very easy drinking; but it also has lots of layers; old school blend, and a nice dram.” – $140+gst – Only 30 bottles! – 87pts Dave Broom
  2. Berry’s The Perspective 25 Year Blend – 43% – The label features a photo of The Cuillin mountain range on Skye. – 85pts Dave Broom: “Nose: Fresh, yet mature with subtle depths of linseed oil, chimichurri, birch sap and apple. A delicate, woody aroma. In time there’s a light dustiness reminiscent of dry autumn leaves, and with water a floral and slightly fruity element emerges alongside a gentle maltiness. Palate: Much more expressive. It starts sweet and the silkiness from the lovely old grain begins to come through more clearly alongside crème brûlée, a mix of black and red fruits, toffee and cinnamon. The grain works hard to add texture while balancing the malty elements. That said, overall it remains light and bright. Water adds a little weight with some vanilla, but does not diminish its punchiness. Finish: Gentle, then crisps up. Conclusion: Light but with lovely balance. Take with water or an ice ball.” – $225+gst – Only 12 Bottles!
  3. Berry’s The Perspective 35 Year Blend – 43% – The label features a photo of Rannoch Moor. – 89pts Dave Broom ( “Nose: The most restrained in the Perspective Series, and also the most distinctly waxy: snuffed candle, old Barbour jacket, dried banana peel, a hint of roast chestnut and just the tiniest whiff of solvent. Elegant and gently refined. Water brings out rich, ripe fruits, light coffee, what seems to be a small aroma of smoke rising from moist pipe tobacco, walnut cake and rancio. Complex and mature. Palate: A remarkably fresh start of plums and berries to this, before the rancio accents come through: wax polish, dried apricot and unctuous malt. It’s beautifully layered and soft with this slight fragility which makes you tiptoe into its mid-palate mixture of fruits, Brazil nut, hard toffee, treacle and dark chocolate. Somehow it manages to be rich, yet ethereal. Water adds in more mature qualities alongside tropical fruit and tutti frutti. Finish: Bittersweet and then long-lasting, ripe black fruits. Conclusion: The most complex of the quartet. The delicacy adds an almost wistful quality to the sense of time passed.” – $375

While we are on the subject of Berry Brothers Blends, if you haven’t picked up a bottle of our 40 Year, you might not want to hold off for too long… We are down to just over 30 bottles, and we are not sure we can get anymore. This is, in my humble opinion, the best value in the shop. And yes, I am aware that I am suggesting a $440 bottle is the best value we have in the shop.

  • Berry’s 40 Year KWM Blended Scotch Whisky – 46% – My Tasting Note: Nose: Christmas cake, new leather sofas, old Armagnac and paring dark chocolate with Cuban cigars; on top of the candied fruits there is some bright orange and more delicate tropical tones: mango and papaya; silky caramel and creamy vanillas emerge later with some light but crisp spices. Palate: big, rich, fruity and spicy; huge Christmas cake notes merge into espresso beans and more soft but crisp spices; the second sip settles down into tobacco, dark bakers chocolate and loads of fruit: some candied, dried dark fruits and the more delicate tropical ones from the nose; more hints of old Armagnac, there also notes of jujubes soaked in nutty Oloroso sherry.

Finish: long, coating, fruity and spicy; dark chocolate, sherry, tobacco and oranges mingle and fade into the distance with the faintest whiff of smoke! Comment: this is a beautiful old whisky in the vein of 25+ year old Glendronachs, the long lost Gordon Macphail Strathisla 40 Year and sherried old Glenfarclas… we can only begin to speculate on the component whiskies, who doesn’t love a little mystery?! – $440

Cool New Whiskies from North Star Spirits 

Mature and Very Competitively Priced 

North Star Spirits is bottling some interesting whiskies, and these three represent very good value. The sherried blend and blended malt are both incredibly well-priced for their age, and also well-reviewed. You might turn your nose up at an 85pts score from Whisky Fun, but it is a solid review. There is a strong possibility that the juice for these two has come from the Edrington Group, aka Macallan and Highland Park. To me that is rather immaterial. The whiskies are simply put, lovely, and cheap! The 31 year old Invergordon Single Grain, is a whisky for fans of grain whisky. Malt fans may not find as much to love. In my opinion it is improved with water; that’s not something you hear often.

The deets:

  1.  North Star Vega 1990 28 Year Blended Malt Scotch Whisky – 46.7% – Mysterious Blended Malt, Matured in a Mix of European and American Oak Casks – My Tasting Note: “Nose: polished new leather shoes, Christmas cake, tobacco and maple syrup; Jujubes, honey and vanilla; earthy with a touch of musty dunnage warehouses; nutty with Demerara sugars and orange rinds. Palate: juicy, fruity and malty; old school sherry; dry, nutty and leathery with a sweet backbone; more polished new leather, walnuts and candied orange coated in dark chocolate; more Demerara, Christmas cake, jujubes and more maple syrup; becomes spicier and seems to show a faint touch of peat. Finish: medium, drying and coating with the chocolate, tobacco and spices in control. Comment: for a 28 year old heavily sherried whisky this is superb value at $150; more Macallan than Highland Park; dangerously drinkable.” – $150+gst – 85pts Whisky Fun – Only 14 bottles left!
  2.  North Star Spica 29 Year Blended Scotch Whisky – 45.5% – Matured in American & Spanish Oak – My Tasting Note: “Nose: decadent, doughy and fruity; a touch musty with loads of caramel, soft leather, chocolate, tobacco and dunnage warehouses. Palate: soft, floral, fruity and elegant; the decadent silky grains hit first, followed by bags of fruit and caramel; dried cherries, cranberries and raisins; corn syrup and caramel apples; becomes more chocolate-y and earthy with tobacco and leather; the spices emerge last, warming and decadent. Finish: medium in length, but elegant, coating and fruity with more chocolate and caramel; the floral notes re-emerge later with the spices. Comment: this is a lovely blend, very easy drinking and elegant; for the price $115, it is a steal, a must buy!” – $115 – 85pts Whisky Fun – Only 16 Bottles Left!
  3. North Star Invergordon 31 Year – 63.2% – ex-Bourbon Hogshead – My Tasting Note: “Nose: decadent, floral and toasty; white orchard and citrus fruits; sesame seed paste, linseed oil, honey and cinnamon butter. Palate: bright, warm and fruity; loads of white and citrus fruit; French crepes with lemon juice and powdered sugar; more sesame and linseed oil, doughy and a touch diesel-y (dry Riesling); decadent with loads of sugars and toasty oak; surprisingly approachable for 63.2%. Finish: warm and drying; the finish builds and then fades out; light, floral, fruity and decadent. Comment: I don’t often add water, but I found it a little warm, so I added a drop; it becomes silkier and more fruity, retaining its decadent-floral character; grain whisky fans will love this one, and Serge did too (84pts), Angus did not (68pts); I’m siding with Serge on this one… but either way it is definitely is improved with water!” – $205+gst

Introducing: Scarabus Islay Single Malt Scotch Whisky 

A Peated Placeholder from the Folks at Ardnahoe Distillery 

Scarabus is a new single malt from Hunter Laing, the owners of the new Ardnahoe Distillery. The whisky is sourced from an undisclosed Islay distillery, as it will be years until Ardnahoe’s whisky comes of age. Launched in May on Islay at Feis Isle 2019. The name of the whisky can be traced back to the 13th century, and means “A rocky place” in Norse. Bottled at 46% without colouring or chill-filtering.

Scarabus Islay Single Malt Whisky – 46% – My Tasting Note: “Nose: malty with leather and dried dark fruits; earthy, a touch rubbery, reminiscent of some Jamaican rums; ashy peat, and salty maritime smoke; juicy orange and Winegums. Palate: ashy, tarry and earthy with more chewy malt; juicy orange and more Winegums; spicy with building muddy peat and fennel; still leathery with a touch of dried fruits; leather and tobacco. Finish: long, tarry and spicy with more malt, citrus and wine gums; late leather and tobacco. Comment: not mind blowingly complex, but it is young and feisty , and it does the trick; likely from the northeastern most corner of Islay, rather than near the port…” – $70

Producer’s Tasting Note: “Aromas of Islay peat smoke and sea salt, followed by warming leather notes, stewed rhubarb and a wonderful vanilla sweetness on the palate, leading to a rich lingering finish.”

85pts Unusually for an Islay whisky, this opens with light maltiness (mash tun) and a hint of muesli, with raisins and pineapple dotted about the bowl. Behind, there’s a balancing, sweet fruitiness. The smoke emerges steadily and kiln-like, with an element of sphagnum moss and a sprinkle of brine. With water, there’s more toffee, cooked fruits and (wet) Assam tea leaves. Palate: The nose suggests it will be dry, smoky and nutty. Instead there’s a good deal of richness mixed with light white pepper notes, before the all-enveloping smoke surges forward, mixing with berry fruits and then, finally, that nutty malt. When water is added you get (smoky) treacle toffee and crême caramel. Finish: Smoky and sweet malt. Conclusion: Named after an area of farmland close to Bridgend. It’s family tradition that when we drive past we sing, ‘Scarabus, Scarabus will you do the fandango?’ This is more of a quiet waltz.”

A Very Old Cameronbridge at a Great Price 

Only 12 Bottles Have Come to KWM!

We just found out about this very interesting looking Valinch & Mallet Cameronbridge so we pulled the trigger. It is especially enticing, given the price. $300 is a very reasonable price, even for a 37 years old single grain. We couldn’t find much in the way of information as it was just released. We are glad we did though, we grabbed the last 2 cases. The alcohol is low 50s, so it has likely softened nicely. Big hopes for decadent sugar and busloads of fruit. Sadly, given we are getting only 12 bottles, it isn’t likely we’ll be able to open one.

Valinch & Mallet Cameronbridge 1982 – 50.8% – 37 Year – ex-Bourbon Hogshead – A very well priced old whisky. Sadly no reviews or tasting notes at this time, but it should be said it is hard to screw up a Bourbon cask whisky. Distilled in 1982, this Lowland Single Grain whisky was filled in to a single ex-Bourbon Hogshead. It was bottled after 37 years at 50.8%. – $300+gst

A Handful of Nikka Whiskies 

Not The Average Japanese-ish Stuff We Are Increasingly Seeing! 

We have a tiny amount each of NAS Yoichi & Miyagikyo coming in to the market. Accordingly they are limited to just 1 per customer. We are also getting a tiny amount of the discontinued The Nikka 12 Year Blend. It too is set to be replaced by an NAS offering which was already out when I visited the distilleries earlier this year. I was surprised to get more of the 12 Year Blend. All three are limited to 1 per customer, and to try and spread the love around I would ask you to limit your request to no more than 2 of the 3 options below, so I can do my best to be fair to everyone. No exceptions. Details below:

  1. Nikka Miyagikyo Single Malt Whisky – 45% – Producer Description: ” This is a single malt from the Miyagikyo distillery, Nikka’s second distillery built in 1969. The founder Masataka Taketsuru chose this site in the mountains of Sendai to contrast with his first distillery, Yoichi, located in the coastal area. Using less peaty malt and distilled in a pot still heated by indirect steam, Miyagikyo single malt has an elegant fruitiness and a distinctive aroma with a strong Sherry cask influence.” – $130+gst – Limit 1 per customer!
  2. Nikka Yoichi Single Malt Whisky – 45% – Producer Description: “This is a single malt from the Yoichi distillery, Nikka’s first distillery built in 1934. The founder Masataka Taketsuru chose Yoichi in Hokkaido because of the similar environmental conditions to Scotland, where he learned whisky making. Yoichi single malt has pleasant peaty notes and smokiness originating from the traditional direct coal-fired distillation as well as a briny hint delivered by the sea breeze during the aging process.” – $130+gst – Limit 1 per customer!
  3. The Nikka 12 Year Blended Whisky – 43% – Producer Description: “There is nothing more suitable than a blended whisky to represent Nikka’s way of whisky making. The asymmetry design of the bottle is inspired by the neck of a “Kimono”, just as if the layers visualize all the passion and craftsmanship devoted in the history of Nikka. The honorable golden emblem engraved was designed by Masataka Taketsuru for his very first Nikka whisky bottle. Malty, soft and well-balanced, this expression portrays our gratitude to the heritage and our will to advance our tradition.” – $224+gst – Limit 1 per customer!

PriceDrop on Older Tomatin

Substantial Drops on a Trio of Thirty-Somethings! 

When we get a deal, you get a deal. A new shipment of older Tomatins just landed in the market, 30 Year, 36 Year, and the 1984 vintage. When our wholesale price drops, so does our retail. The price on the 30 Year didn’t drop, but it is a lovely release, and sure to go up in price in the years ahead. My tasting note on it is below. The 36 Year dropped in price by nearly $300, and the 1984 even more, by $550. I’ve always been a fan of Tomatin, especially the older ones which are typically very bright with lovely tropical fruit tones. Details below:

  1.  Tomatin 30 Year – 46% – Matured in Primarily ex-Bourbon – My Tasting Note: “Nose: creamy, fresh, buttery and fruity; bread 7 butter pudding, butter tarts and French butter croissants; loads of vanilla and honey, tropical and white orchard fruits; a waxy-antique-y old feel. Palate: soft, creamy and very fruity; starts silky and carries on in that direction; more delicate tropical fruits: mango and papaya; crisp green apple and pear; the creamy vanilla and honey tones build with each sip; more pudding, tarts and warm croissants. Finish: light, elegant and long; it is both coating and drying; more vanilla, honey, cream, bakery treats and light fruits. Comment: this is classic mature Bourbon matured whisky; very elegant and dangerously easy drinking! – $62592pts  
  2. Tomatin 36 Year – 46% –  ex-Bourbon and 1st fill ex-Sherry – 91pts Whisky Fun: “Composed from a mix of sherry casks and plain oak hogsheads. Colour: gold. Nose: Luscious old school Tomatin. Bags of nectars, guava, mango and papaya. Some menthol tobacco, soft waxes, hessian, eucalyptus resin, aged herbal liqueurs and fragrant sandalwood. Underneath, in time, there’s also nectarine, ripe mandarin, star fruit and overripe banana. This typically Tomatin and thoroughly seductive abundance of exotic and green fruits basically. Mouth: various resinous and nervous fruit qualities with sweet fruit jellies, green apple peelings, spiced honey, pears baked in calvados, lime peel and wood spices such as nutmeg and cinnamon bark. Some lemony waxes, gently smoky paprika and further menthol qualities such as wormwood and mint tea. Finish: long with resurgent papaya and guava, pineapple juice and precious hardwood notes. Comments: Predictably delicious. If it were legal I’m sure Tomatin could declare that their 1970s stocks contain vitamin C.” – $1120+gst – Price Dropped from $1400… – 91pts Whisky Fun
  3. Tomatin 1984 – 44.5% – 30 Year – Bourbon Cask 6207 – Producer Tasting Note: “Nose: Fresh and fruity. Lemon, lime, grapefruit and pineapple. Hints of vanilla and custard. Palate: More citrus but the vanilla and coconut are more prominent. Creamy and buttery with some mint freshness. Finish: Sweet and smooth.” – $825+gst Price Dropped from $1375…

More Kavalans on the Way 

Popular Releases of Solists Bourbon & Sherry are Returning! 

Two popular Kavalans are set to return in the weeks ahead, Kavalan Solist Bourbon and Sherry!

  1. Kavalan Solist Sherry – 58.6% – Matured in a Single Oloroso Sherry Cask – Producer Description: “Matured in Spanish top quality oloroso sherry casks in special editions,Kavalan Solist Sherry is bottled at the distillery, without any colouring or chill-filtration. It is a naturally smooth and rich whisky with a complex character. It is clean and complex with multi-layers of dried fruit, nuttiness and spices with some marzipan and vanilla touches to it as well.”- Producer’s Tasting Note: “Nose: Clean and complex with multi-layers of dried fruit, nuttiness and spices with some marzipan and vanilla touches to it as well. Palate: Rich, oily and full with pleasant dried fruit and spices that linger on in the mouth plus a hint of fine coffee. Tasting: We suggest drinking Kavalan Solist Oloroso Sherry Cask neat.” – $210
  2.   Kavalan Solist Bourbon – 58.6% – Matured in a single first fill ex-Bourbon – Producer Description: “Kavalan Solist ex-Bourbon is a delightfully complex, multi-dimensional single malt whisky, with vanilla, fruit and coconut highlights. Matured in hand selected fresh American ex-Bourbon casks, the whisky is available at cask strength and non-chill-filtered hence it retains a fuller flavour of a natural single malt whisky.”- Producer’s Tasting Note: “Nose: Clean & fresh tropical fruitiness with pleasant vanilla, coconut and spices. Palate: Well-balanced natural sweetness, vanilla and oak spices, round and complex with silky smoothness. Tasting: We suggest drinking Kavalan Solist ex-Bourbon Cask neat.” – $185

Speyburn 25 Year is Back 

Last Chance for This Legacy Bottling! 

This whisky is a relic, originally released in 2012, and it is worth noting that the distillery hasn’t bottled anything as old since. The oldest whisky listed on the distillery website is an 18 Year. The whisky was matured in ex-American oak Fino sherry casks and ex-Bourbon barrels. It has been bottled at 46%. Only 3 bottles coming to KWM.

  Speyburn 25 Year – 46% – ex-American oak Fino sherry casks and ex-Bourbon barrels  – 85pts “This new premiumised baby replaces the 25yo ‘solera’, which I used to like quite a bit (WF 84). It’s a vatting of American white oak Fino sherry and bourbon casks. Colour: gold. Nose: hey hey, this seems to be rounder and sweeter than the ‘usual’ Speyburn, less porridgy as well, all that thanks to some more active American oak. That translates into more vanilla and honey, fudge, apple compote and corn syrup, sweetcorn and butter and then touches of orange juice and cinnamon. After a few minutes, wee porridge/muesli notes come through, with maybe a little more distillery character. Mouth: a rather creamy start, between soft wood spices (ginger, liquorice wood) and a smooth vanillaness that combines well with touches of hard caramel (Werther’s) and a little clove. Notes of Guinness as well. Finish: rather long, with more toasted/malty notes and a rather drier aftertaste. Unsweetened espresso coffee. Comments: up one good point since the ‘solera’ version, I’d say. It’s a very fine and very loyal dram in my opinion.” $475+gst

Introducing: Yamazakura 18 Year 

A Very Old Japanese-ish Blended Malt!

This Japanese Blended Malt is composed of whiskies aged 18 and 22 years of age matured in a mix of Bourbon and Sherry.. The latter was finished in sherry for 3 years. Only 30 bottles have come to Canada. Bottled at 47%.

Yamazakura 18 Year Japanese Pure Malt Whisky – 47% – Matured in Bourbon & Sherry – My Tasting Note: “Nose: bright, fruity and honeyed; silky with vanilla, shortbread and floral tones; chocolate marzipan, almond pasted and citrus flavoured Jujubes. Palate: still soft, creamy, fruity and spicy; floral with loads of vanilla and gentle toasted oak; more chocolate marzipan and almond paste croissants; freshly sawed oak, doughy bakery notes; waxy and a touch tropical; a touch of leather and candied fruit. Finish: long, coating, creamy and elegant with floral citrus notes; still doughy and gently spiced. Comment: this is a lovely malt, on the pricey side, but so is just about everything coming out of Japan, especially with an age statement; interesting Japanese-ish whisky!” – $650+gst

The Scotch Malt Whisky Society 

The October Outturn tastings sold out in record time, but you can always take a look at past releases! 

Maybe there is something in the air that is making people want to drink cask strength whisky out of green bottles even more than usual, we are not sure. Whatever the reason is, our four SMWS tastings for the month of October sold out within 24 hours of releasing the information to members. This happened faster than it ever has before – typically we are able to open up a few spots for non-members to try things out as well, but not this time around!

If you missed out on getting into the tastings, either because they sold out so fast, or you don’t live close enough, or are not a member of the SMWS Canada chapter yet, you can still always browse past releases here.

Not sure what an ‘Outturn’ tasting is, or curious about how everything operates, take a look at Evan’s blog posts on our website. His writeup on the September 2019 Outturn can be found here.

If you want more information on the Outturns or specific bottlings, you can always get in touch with EvanSome of his taste in whisky can be questionable, but he typically won’t steer you wrong. Could this be Evan actually writing this and not Andrew? Maybe Evan enjoys writing about himself in the third person? Perhaps Evan can’t see his own name in print enough? Who knows? Anyhow, here are some of his favourites from the past few Outturns:


My love for Bunnahabhain is no secret, especially for their younger, peated style which tends to show floral, oily, and shellfish notes. This one has all three of those and more.



The first SMWS Canada release from Distillery 88 (Speyburn) – a bit of salt, a lot of malt, and a hint of nuttiness. Fans of Old Pulteney should check this one out.



We have gotten some awesome and varied Loch Lomonds from the SMWS Canada over the past 6 or 7 Outturns, and even holding all in high regard this one still stands out. One of the most different Sauturnes cask finishes I can recall tasting. $189


This Benriach really showcases how the quality of the spirit and the wood program changed under Alistair Walker’s guidance. It is rich, round, creamy and balanced, even at only 8 years of age. $149


This is a wonderful Dalmore. That is not a sentence I get to say often. Coming from a 2nd fill barrel, it is entirely lacking the over-the-top wine and sherry cask insanity that Richard “The Nose” Patterson loves to employ. Instead we are given a more straightforward look at the Dalmore spirit itself, left almost naked without the veneer of cask influence to cover it up. It is quite a peep show, but somehow I don’t feel as dirty taking this in as the more wanton and debauched official Dalmore bottlings. $155

Now I am just getting lewd, so I had better leave it at that!



New Game of Thrones Johnnie Walker Blends 

A Song of Ice & Another of Fire! 

The series might be over, but the collaborations are not. Diageo’s latest Game of Thrones whiskies have just landed. Johnnie Walker “A Son of Ice”, is a blended Scotch whisky built around Clynelish single malt, and “A Song of Fire” is built around Caol Ila.

  1. Johnnie Walker A Song of Ice – 40.2% – Producer Description: “Johnnie Walker A Song of Ice features single malts from Clynelish, one of Scotland’s most northern distilleries, and exudes a crisp, clean taste like the unforgiving force of ice that shapes mountains and stops rivers. The new blend has an ABV of 40.2% and the bottle design evokes an icy setting with frosted blue and gray colors inspired by the North, known for its cold winters and frozen landscapes..” – $58
  2. Johnnie Walker A Song of Fire – 40.8% – Producer Description: “Johnnie Walker A Song of Fire is rich and spicy, boasting flavors of subtle smoke from the peated malts of the Caol Ila distillery with an ABV of 40.8%. Inspired by the dragons of House Targaryen, feared for their fire breathing, the bottle design evokes a fiery setting with deep-red colors.” – $58

About the Series

“Introducing two new Scotch Whiskies to the realm, celebrating the enduring legacy of the critically acclaimed HBO® series Game of Thrones. A continued collaboration with HBO, these limited edition whisky blends are inspired by the iconic and powerful houses of Westeros – House Stark and House Targaryen – and are successors to the White Walker by Johnnie Walker limited edition blend launched in 2018. From House Stark comes A Song of Ice, from House Targaryen A Song of Fire. Together, the two whiskies celebrate the dynamic relationship between the houses, represented by their house sigils – the Direwolf and the Dragon – which fiercely adorn each bottle.”

Introducing Little Book III 

The Road Home 

Chapter 3 is the first Kentucky Straight Bourbon in the Little Book range. It is a blend of Knob Creek 9 Year, Baker’s 12 Year, 9 Year Basil Hayden and Booker’s 11 Year. The whisky is bottled at a punchy 61.3%.

Little Book III: The Road Home – 61.3% – Producer Tasting Note: “Aroma: Caramel, smoky barrel char, sweet baking spices and vanilla. Taste: Vanilla, char and dried apricot with a lingering oak. Finish: Lingering, warm and sweet, layered with tones of oak.” – $150

Producer Description

“The “The Road Home” batch pays tribute to my grandfather as the name Little Book is actually the childhood nickname that he gave me. And so I thought after having a couple of chapters under my belt that it would be a great time to pay honor to him and blend some of the liquids that he gave the bourbon industry. The four liquids that I chose to go into this batch of Little Book® are from the original small batch collection that my grandfather, Booker, created. The Road Home is a blend of nine year old Basil Hayden®, nine year old Knob Creek®, 11 year old Booker’s® and 12 year old Baker’s®, and as always with Little Book®, these liquids are at barrel strength and will be bottled at barrel strength as well. The name “The Road Home” references the road that I travel to and from on a regular basis, the same road my grandfather, Booker, traveled back when he used to work here at the distillery. I tinkered with a lot of different recipes, 57 to be exact, before finding what I was looking for – layers of vanilla, char and dried apricots with lingering oak. The final recipe I selected was 51 of the 57 I tried – a lot more trial and error than the others, but I thought if someone is going to play with the liquids that my grandfather developed, they had better produce a damned good blend. – Freddie Noe, 8th Generation Beam Family Distiller”

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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