Malt Messenger No. 111 by Andrew Ferguson – Yes Virginia, We Have Yet Another KWM Exclusive Cask – Whisky News

Malt Messenger No. 111

Maybe it was the pandemic, the glorious weather in early May, or the fact that it wasn’t a milestone year, but it seems we completely forgot to celebrate our Birthday. Kensington Wine Market opened its doors for the first time on May 15th 1992, and we are now 28 years & nearly two weeks young…

We typically mark our birthday with our annual Birthday Sale Weekend, but as the Covid-19 pandemic evolved though March & April, we were more than a little concerned about the ethics and optics of tempting people to come down to the store and browse all the deals. For the last couple of months we have been restricting entry to the store to just 5 customers at a time. Even if with our best efforts to encourage people to shop online, I have no doubt, that at least at peak times, we would have had a decent lineup outside the door.

The decision was made in early April to put off the May Birthday Sale until at least June, to give us time to see how the public heath situation evolved. And then we promptly forgot why we hold a Birthday Sale every year in the first place…

So, Happy Belated Birthday to Us, and Thank You to all of you who have supported and continue to support our business and team in these challenging times! We know many of you have gone out of your way to support small local businesses like ours. Thank you. We are very grateful for the amazing community which we find ourselves at the heart of.

With the province announcing last week that it will be moving on to Phase 2 of its easing of Covid-19 restrictions June 1, we finally have the confidence to schedule our Annual Birthday Sale. It will take place the week of June 8-14. We will announce the exact dates for the sale next week, as well as the continuing measures we will be taking to keep customers and staff safe as restrictions are eased. But it won’t be business, or the sale as usual. We just can’t have that right now. So it will look different, we won’t be able to pour samples, there may be a line at the door and we might be wearing masks… but there will be a Belated KWM Birthday Sale, and there will be great deals!

As much as possible though, please continue to take advantage of the options for ordering online or by phone. And also the options for Curb-Side Pickup and City-Wide Home Delivery. Please help me keep my staff safe, healthy and sane!

We have a ton of exciting news in this Malt Messenger, including the arrival of yest another Kensington Wine Market exclusive bottling. In the last Malt Messenger I told you about the Glenfarclas 15 Year KWM Cask Strength #2, aka “Ferg in Front of the Store.” It has been a roaring success. In just 2 weeks, more than 300 of the 600 bottles have sold, and it is not hard to see why… it is a crazy good deal! More details including my tasting note below.

Hot on the heels of the Glenfarclas is our next exclusive cask from Berry Bros. The Berry’s Orkney Islands 1998 21 Year KWM Cask may not sat it on the label, but the whisky hails from the Highland Park Distillery. We had another 18 year old “Orkney Islands” cask arrive late last winter, and it sold out in about 10 weeks. We think this one is even better… details and my tasting note below.

We have some really exciting new independent bottlings from Blackadder and Adelphi, which arrived in-store last week. Many of them are heavily sherried, and more than a few are closing in on selling out. I’ve had chance to write up tasting notes on 3 of the Blackadders: the Arran 23 Year, Glenfarclas 26 Year and Blair Athol 29 Year, and none of them disappoint. More details below.

There are also new whiskies from Wolfburn and Macallan. In the case of the latter, the Macallan Sherry Oak 12 Year has at long last returned, and as much as it pains me to admit it, it is bloody decent… more on both below!

Davin de Kergommeaux also has a new book out, with his writing partner Blair Phillips. The Definitive Guide to Canadian Distilleries: The Portable Expert profiles more than 200 Canadian distilleries, features 125 tasting notes and more than 50 cocktail recipes. More below!

I was also inspired to write a Distillery in Focus profile on the Girvan Grain Distillery, because we have a bunch of Girvans available and I’ve been wanting to bring this feature back for a while. We also have a great deal on 4 Duncan Taylor Single Grains (25 to 40% off), 3 of which happen to be Girvans… There are also deals on the Cotswolds Single Malt, Hven Tycho’s Star Single Malt and American Rockies Bourbon. Lots more below.

Evan thought you’d want to know that the High West Rendezvous Rye has returned, so there are a few words on that. Evan has also broken down three more new Scotch Malt Whisky Society releases, from the back end of May.

I also got around to polishing up my tasting note on the Compass Box Rogue’s Banquet, the first of the plucky Blender’s 20th Anniversary Releases. It is superb! I had a chance to try it a week after it was bottled, at Compass Box in early March, just before the World turned upside down. Like some wines when they are first opened, it may have been a little tight, three months in bottle have done it some good.

We are also kicking off our foray into the World of Virtual at Home Whisky Tastings next week. We have 3 tastings planned, and hope to follow them with a few more! Details on these tastings can be found below or on the KWM Website Tasting Page!

I expect we will be modifying our Covid-19 precautions as Alberta enters Stage 2 of easing, more on that in the weeks ahead. We remain open for business in-store, with restrictions, but, our preference is to continue serving you where possible online or by phone. Please strongly consider taking advantage of our Curb Side Pickup, and Free City-Wide Delivery for Orders over $50 offers. As with everyone else, we’d like things to get back to normal as soon as possible, but until then, please help us do our part to serve you while helping to flatten the curb.

As always, in the event of a discrepancy in price, the Point of Sale at KWM will be taken as correct.

Wishing good health and good spirits to you and yours in these strange days.

Slàinte!

Andrew Ferguson

In This Edition:

  1. Introducing: The Berry’s Orkney Island 1998 KWM Single Cask
  2. New Whiskies from Blackadder
  3. New Whiskies from Adelphi
  4. The Macallan Sherry Oak 12 Year is Back
  5. Wolfburn New & Returned
  6. New Whisky Literature: The Definitive Guide to Canadian Distilleries: The Portable Expert
  7. Distillery in Focus: Girvan
  8. Duncan Taylor Deals
  9. SAVE 20% on the Cotwolds Single Malt Whisky
  10. SAVE 25% on the Spirit of Hven Tycho’s Star Single Malt Whisky
  11. Evan’s SMWS Corner
  12. High West Rendezvous Rye is Back
  13. Update: The Glenfarclas 15 Year KWM Cask Strength #2
  14. My Tasting Note: Compass Box Rogue’s Banquet
  15. KWM Virtual at Home Whisky Tastings
  16. SAVE 25% on American Rockies Bourbon & Feed YYC
  17. Free City-Wide Delivery in Calgary Over $50 & Curb Side Pickup

Andrew Ferguson

Kensington Wine Market

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

@scotch_guy, Instagram: @thescotch_guy/

or @kwmwhisky and Facebook: facebook.com/scotch.guy.1


Introducng: The Berry’s Orkney Island 1998 KWM Single Cask

Does a Highland Park by Any Other Name Taste As Sweet? Yes!

It’s here, our 2nd Berry’s Orkney Islands (aka Highland Park) Cask!

Our last Orkney Island Cask from Berry Bros., an 18 Year, sold out in less than 2 months. We don’t expect this 21 year old to last much longer… Distilled in 1998 and matured in a Refill Hogshead, Cask Ref 17. 342 total bottles, bottled at 53.0% exclusively for Kensington Wine Market.

Berry’s Orkney Islands 1998 21 Year KWM – 53.0% – Refill Hogshead – My Tasting Note: “Nose: creamy, honeyed and floral with delicate fruits; dried apricot, juicy orange, baked apples and grilled pineapple; soft, ashy, earthy smoke and toasted oak; chewy malt and candied ginger. Palate: soft, creamy, floral and smoky with juicy fruits; buttery with more baked apples, grilled pineapple and dried apricot; soft muddy peat, salty maritime tones and clean ashy smoke; toasted oak and crisp spices: cinnamon stick and licorice root; white chocolate, almond paste and baked French pastries; creamed heather honey, Earl Grey creme brule and butterscotch pudding. Finish: creamy, juicy and floral with clean smoke; buttery, oily and very fruity with more pastries; long, lush and layered. Comment: as with our last Berry’s Highland Park, this one will not appeal to those who are looking for something like the distillery bottled 18, 21 or 25 Year; especially the most recent releases; but that misses the bigger point, which is that this honeyed, lightly peated and very fruity malt is quite simply sublime.” – $160


New Whiskies from Blackadder

A Few of Them Are Sold Out, & A Few More Are Close Behind!

We are really excited about some new offerings from Blackadder. They aren’t the best at producing and publishing tasting notes though, so we found ourselves tempted to crack three of the whiskies on arrival… We’d have opened more, but this is a business, and some of them were limited to just 6-12 bottles!

The Blairfindy 1992 (Glenfarclas), Lochranza 1996 (Arran) and Blair Athol 1989 all caught our attention, so we popped the corks and I jotted down some notes. All three are rather sherried, and very interesting bottlings, which are exclusive to KWM…For those who are not familiar, Blackadder’s Raw Cask Range, it is whisky bottled from the cask with only the most basic of screenings, meaning there is a decent amount of barrel char in the bottle. In the producer’s words: “These are whiskies from the old school, as they would have been drawn from a cask behind a bar in Scotland back in the 1800s. It’s the King of the Single Casks!” We also have Riverstown bottling and a couple of Blackadder Statement bottlings, which is reserved for the older and more precious releases. And no, the pricing on the 50ml and 200ml Ladyburns is not a typo. Ladyburn just happen to be an extremely rare and seldom seem whisky. That and the fact that they are 43 years of age!

1. Blackadder Raw Cask Amrut Nicaraguan Rum Finish – 68.1% – Nicaraguan Rum Cask Finish – $185 – Exclusive to KWM – 1 Bottle Left!
2. Blackadder Raw Cask Amrut Sherry Dennis Steckel Selection – 59.7% – Sherry Cask Finish – $180 Exclusive to KWM – SOLD OUT!
3. Blackadder Raw Cask Blair Athol 1989 – 53.2 – 29 Year – Sherry Cask Finish – My Tasting Note: “Nose: soft, fruity and elegant; a bit musty at first, but if you give it a few minutes to breathe that blows off; bread and butter pudding, chocolate brioche right out of the oven and coffee cake; honey dew melons, dried apricots and some under rype tropical fruits. Palate: soft, oaky, decadent and very fruity; this is an elegant, old school style whisky; more baked goods and desserts; soft fruits: melons, dried apricots and a tropical fruits: mangoes dusted with pepper, grilled pineapple and papaya; crisp decadent spices: cinnamon hearts & sliced fresh ginger; soft leather and maple syrup.

Finish: long, coating, decadent and fruity; more trop fruits, baked goods and spices.

Comment: this is a lovely, old school style whisky; big and spicy, but soft and elegant; smooth leather, tropical fruits and baked goods; a touch musty, but let it breathe… you won’t be disappointed!” – $360 – Only 12 Bottles – Exclusive to KWM – Just 5 Left!

4. Blackadder Raw Cask Blairfindy 1992 – 51.6% – 26 Year – Glenfarclas Distillery – Sherry Butt – My Tasting Note: “Nose: deep, dark, earthy and nutty; musty oak casks in a dunnage warehouse, espresso bean and woody spices; fennel, clove and pink peppercorns; dark chocolate, Christmas cake, candied fruits and nuts. Palate: earthy, spicy and big on candied fruit and Christmas cake notes; the clove and fennel are still there along with candied ginger and orange peel; oily and nutty, Nocillo walnut liqueur; leathery with fruity tobacco and dark chocolate espresso beans; softer and more exotic fruits emerge with time. Finish: long, coating, spicy and very oily; more Christmas cake, chocolate and espresso beans; a classic nutty Oloroso sherry style Glenfarclas. Comment: 26 year old heavily sherried Glenfarclas? Yes please! This is a dry-sherry style, with loads of spices and earthy tones; but there is still fruit, Christmas cake and a touch of elegance and delicacy beneath!” – $425 – Exclusive to KWM – Limit 2 Per Customer

5. Blackadder Raw Cask Bowmore 2002 – 53.4% – Hogshead #20199 – Filled October 15 2002 – Bottled October 2019 – $180 – SOLD OUT!

6. Blackadder Raw Cask Cambus 1988 – 46.3% – 29 Year – Sherry Hogshead – $220

7. Blackadder Raw Cask Invergordon 1988 – 51.5% – Refill Sherry Hogshead – $175

8. Blackadder Raw Cask Lochranza 1996 – 53.2% – 26 Year – Arran Distillery – Sherry Butt – My Tasting Note: “Nose: rich, fruity and earthy; candied nuts, fruit leather and Caramilk; sticky toffee pudding with treacle sauce and cream; dried apricots, mango and papaya; maple syrup on Chocolate Chip Brioche French Toast. Palate: thick, round and fruity; really oily; more Chocolate Chip Brioche French Toast with maple syrup; big, oily and rich; Christmas cake, melons, tropical fruits, licorice Jujubes and sticky toffee pudding with treacle sauce drowning in cream; stewed fruits and mixed berry jam. Finish: big, long and rich; chocolate-y, fruity and smooth with more licorice Jujubes. Comment: this is to date, the oldest Arran I’ve ever sampled, and it doesn’t disappoint; thick, oily and sherried with lots of layers; a fine bottling and a flawless sherry cask.- $275 – Exclusive to KWM – 36 Bottles – Only 10 Left!

9. Blackadder Raw Cask Moine 2005 – 59% – 13 Year – Peated Bunnahabhain – Cask 800017 – $160

10. Blackadder The Legendary 29 Year – 53.2% – 1988 – Balvenie – Sherry Hogshead? – $300+gst – SOLD OUT!

11. Blackadder Raw Cask Westport 1997 – 53.2% – 22 Year – Teaspooned Glenmorangie – Hogshead – $180

12. Blackadder Riverstown Invergordon 30 Year – 64.3% – 1984 – Sherry Butt – $210 – Only 12 Bottles – Exclusive to KWM!

13. Blackadder Statement Bunnahabhain 1989 Sherry – 48.1% – 28 Year – Sherry Hogshead Finish – $630 – Only 3 Bottles – Exclusive to KWM!

14. Blackadder Statement Glen Scotia 1991 – 57.8% – 28 Year Sherry Cask – $660

15. Blackadder Statement Ladyburn 43 Year 50ml – 41.9% – Oak Cask – $350

16. Blackadder Statement Ladyburn 43 Year 200ml – 41.9% – Oak Cask – $1300

New Whiskies From Adelphi

And Some of Them Already Sold Out!

Sometimes one of the biggest pressures behind getting a newsletter out, is announcing the arrival of cool stuff before it sells out. Adelphi is once again dropping some seriously sherried single malts… We are receiving just 6 bottles of most of these, and they are limited to 1 per customer.

1. Adelphi Benrinnes 10 Year – 55.9% – 2009 – 1st Fill Oloroso Sherry Butt 301814 – Description & Tasting Note: “Drawn from a 1st fill Oloroso sherry butt, this has the colour of mahogany and has an excellent bead. On the nose we found chocolate brownies that have been left in the oven for too long, ginger snaps and a steak peppercorn sauce. The palate delivers a massive mouthfeel, great texture with beach bonfire, streaky bacon, old leather and a surprisingly savoury finish. Very unusual for the make and region.” – $155+gst – SOLD OUT!

2. Adelphi Caol Ila 13 Year – 52.5% – 2007 – ex-Bourbon Hogsheads 301260 – Producer Description & Tasting Note: “A colour of lemon gold with a very good bead, this Caol ila was drawn from a refill ex-Bourbon hogshead. On the nose we found old dairy farms, lemon curd, salty rockpools, freshy shucked oysters and Old Amsterdam cheese rind. The taste delivered vanilla, kiln fire, coconut biscuits and smoked kippers with lemon peel.” – $195+gst

3. Adelphi GlenAllachie 12 Year – 59.7% – 2007 – PX Sherry Butt 900827 – Producer Description & Tasting Note: “Drawn from a refill ex PX Sherry butt, this has the colour of Lion’s golden syrup with a medium bead. On the nose there is freshly popped popcorn, peaches, nectarines, gingerbread, orange peel, grapefruit juice and breakfast fruit salad. On the taste we found a lovely oily texture, Butterkist toffee popcorn, mint Matchmakers and overripe banana. A well-balanced dram with a pleasantly drying finish.” – $185+gst

4. Adelphi Glenrothes 10 Year – 65.5% – 2009 – Refill Sherry Butt – Producer Description & Tasting Note: “Drawn from a refill Oloroso sherry butt, this whisky has the vibrant colour of sandlewood with little bead – the latter normally associated with high-strength filling such as this. On the nose is Walls chocolate ice-cream with vanilla sponge cake, milk chocolate digestives and fresh feijoas. The palate gave us salted caramel truffles, Black Forest Gateaux and a slightly meaty finish. The finish is long and leaves the tongue tingling.” – $160+gst

5. Adelphi Isle of Jura 21 Year – 54.2% – 1998 – Oloroso Sherry Hogshead Cask 2146 – Producer Description & Tasting Note: “A rare older bottling from this famous Island, the Jura has a lovely colour of old oak and having spent its life in a refill Oloroso sherry Hogshead. On the nose we found space hoppers, window putty and oodles of marzipan, fruitcake, Nutella, and rice pudding, with syrup and a fair amount of funk. The palate delivers Underberg bitters, juicy sultanas, sugared almonds, Stolen cake with clove syrup, and finishing herbaceous.” – $430+gst – Only 4 bottles – 2 Left!

6. Adelphi Laudale Batch 3 Speyside 12 Year – 46% – First Fill Sherry Casks – Producer Description & Tasting Note: “The third batch of Adelphi’s super sherried Laudale series. This time the distillery featured is Dailuaine, a robust Speysider primarily reserved for blends, and has been aged for 12 years in first fill sherry casks. Dailuaine derives from the Scottish Gaelic ‘An dail uaine’ meaning ‘green valley’. This distilleries whiskies are rarely seen and sought after when they are available with only the best casks makeing it out to be independently bottled. These whiskies are both rare and sought-after special casks are so rare that, on average, Adelphi accepts a mere 4% that it is offered.” – $138+gst

7. Adelphi Teaninich 12 Year – 52.9% – 2007 – 1st Fill Oloroso Sherry Butt 301264 – Producer Description & Tasting Note: “A fantastic colour of cola from a very active 1st fill ex-Oloroso butt. We also noted an excellent bead, this is a very decadent dram. On the nose we found molasses, chocolate fudge cake, old dunnage warehouse and meat jus; also slightly earthy. The palate gave us a rich mouthfeel with chocolate ganache, steak pie, Medjool dates and chocolate almonds. An extremely long and satisfying finish.” – $185+gst – SOLD OUT!

The Macallan Sherry Oak 12 Year is Back!

Say Hello (Again) To An Old Friend!

The Macallan Sherry Oak 12 Year has returned to Canada for the first time in what seems like a decade. It will be limited, and we aren’t expecting to get a lot, so we are limiting it to 2 per customer. Matured exclusively in hand-picked, sherry seasoned oak casks from Jerez, Spain, it is bottled at 43%. We cracked a bottle the other day and lets just say it surprised us and more than exceeded our expectations!

The Macallan Sherry Oak 12 Year – 43% – Producer Description: “The Macallan Sherry Oak 12 Years Old forms part of our Sherry Oak range which features a series of single malt whiskies matured exclusively in hand-picked sherry seasoned oak casks from Jerez for richness and complexity. A matured character, the 12 Years Old delivers rich wood spice and dried fruits and a natural rich gold colour.” –

My Tasting Note:

Nose: nutty with Werther’s Originals, charred oak and fresh cut cedar; dark chocolate and espresso beans; fig jam and maple syrup; soft new leather gloves and fruity cigar tobacco; candied nuts: peanuts, cashews and walnuts.

Palate: big, rich and nutty with dark fruits, leather and tobacco; moving towards Christmas cake with more Werther’s Original; licorice Jujubes, fig jam and quince paste; more candied nuts, leather and tobacco; toasted oak and burnt cedar; delicate, but decadent spice.

Finish: long, soft and elegant; fruity, nutty and spicy with loads of toasted oak. Comment: I’m surprised and impressed by how decent this is; it is a tad pricey, but it is just a 12 year old, and it has good complexity at that; I have to admit it has more than surpassed my expectations; well done Macallan, you’ve got my attention!” – $130+gst

Wolfburn – New & Returned Whisky

Morven is Back & Arrived with Aurora

We welcome the return of Wolfburn’s lightly peated Morven single malt, as well as the new arrival Aurora, which is composed of both Bourbon and Sherry cask matured whisky. Wolfburn Distillery is located in Thurso on Scotland’s northern coast, which looks out towards the Orkneys. The distillery supplanted Old Pulteney as the northern most mainland distillery in the country.

1. Wolfburn Aurora – 46% – ex-Bourbon & as ex-Oloroso Sherry – Producer Description: “This beautiful sherried whisky is made from spirit laid down in a combination of ex-bourbon and Oloroso sherry casks. Benefiting from long fermentation and slow, gentle distillation, the spirit is laid down on site in our purpose-built warehouses. At the end of the maturation process the casks are brought together to create an exceptionally smooth and perfectly balanced dram.” – Producer Tasting Note: “Nose: Sherry sweetness is followed by aromas of freshly cut grass and autumn fruits, with just a hint of coffee and dark chocolate. Palate: Floral tones come to the fore, with overtones of spice and vanilla. Fruity sweetness coats the palate, with fruit and nut flavours leading to a warm, soft finish.” – $92+gst

2. Wolfburn Morven – 46% – ex-Bourbon Matured – Producer Description: “This lightly peated whisky is made from malted barley infused with smoke during the drying process. The flavour imparted by the smoke is a reflection of Wolfburn’s history – the original 19th Century distillery was largely fired by peat. Gentle distillation is followed by maturation in our purpose-built warehouses. The result is a beautifully smooth and rounded whisky.” – Evan’s Tasting Note: “Nose: light, earthy peat, sea spray, fruit cocktail syrup, creamy oatmeal, toasted pecans, honeydew melon, eucalyptus, mulled apple cider, a touch of grassiness and a hint of leather shoe polish. Palate: slightly oily but more creamy in style. earthy and nutty, apples, pears, some dried fruits, a touch of saline, ginger, buttercream frosting and lemon zest and mint. Finish: warming with soft peat, dried fruits and salty, nutty notes sticking around. Comment: This is a solid young whisky done right, with an approachable nose and enticingly creamy mouthfeel. The peat is a nice touch and adds nuance, as young peated whisky is typically more interesting than unpeated whisky of the same age.” – $83+gst

New Whisky Literature: The Definitive Guide to Canadian Distilleries: The Portable Expert

Davin de Kergommeaux, has a new book out with his writing partner Blair Phillips!

The foremost expert on Canadian whisky, Davin de Kergommeaux, has a new book out with his writing partner Blair Phillips.

The Definitive Guide to Canadian Distilleries: The Portable Expert, delves into the growing world of Distillation in Canada. It features proviles of more than 200 distilleries, tasting notes from more than 125 whiskies and more than 50 classic and modern cocktail recipes.

The Definitive Guide to Canadian Distilleries: The Portable Expert – by Davin de Kergommeaux & Blair Phillips. – Author’s Note: “Two years ago we embarked on a journey to tell the incredible story of the most exciting and cutting-edge distilleries that are shaping Canada’s industry. The book is finally out today in what has become a weird, unnatural world no one could have predicted. While the days are getting longer and we are beginning to feel spring in the air, almost all non-essential businesses in Canada have closed. We are cheered though that despite adversity, almost all of Canada’s distilleries have actively joined the effort to fight the pandemic. In writing this book, we have gotten to know many of these very distilleries, and we hope their stories and spirits found in this book might be a welcome distraction. And while we cannot visit these distilleries at the moment, our wish is that this book can give you a virtual distillery tour from coast-to-coast. We hope our tasting notes will guide you to new spirits that cannot be missed, many of which you can buy online, so you can then mix your bounty in distillery-specific cocktail recipes.” – $32

Distillery in Focus: Girvan

Because We’ve Got a Bunch of Girvan Right Now, and Access to More!

It has been a long time since we did a “Distillery in Focus” feature in the Malt Messenger. With a bunch of Girvan whiskies on hand, many of them on sale (see next section) and another distilled on the site, the time seems ripe to bring the feature back. Also, I had 20 minutes on my hand…

The Girvan Distillery was established by William Grant & Sons in the town of the same name in South Ayshire, Scotland in 1963. William Grant & Sons was founded by William Grant who with his family established the Glenfiddich (1886) and Balvenie Distilleries (1892). 133 years on it is still family owned, and the 3rd largest whisky company in Scotland. The firm launched Grants in 1898, a Blended Scotch whisky, famous for its tri-corner bottle. In order to bottle a Blend, you need access to not just malt whisky, but also Grain whisky. In the early days of the 60s/70s Scotch whisky boom, William Grant & Sons established the Girvan Distillery after it got into a supply disagreement with DCL, one of the fore bearers of Diageo.

Photo Courtesy MissWhisky.com

Girvan Distillery was built under the watchful eye of Charles Grant Gordon, William Grant’s great grandson, in just 9 months in 1963. The first spirit ran off the stills on Christmas Day, just as it had at Glenfiddich in 1887. One rumour for DCL cutting off the supply of grain whisky is that they took issue with a William Grant’s ad for their Standfast brand on television. They were allegedly not impressed by what they felt was a display of “crass commercialism.” In any case the supply was cut, and curiously that same year, Glenfiddich became the first distillery to market a single malt globally, with the launch of Glenfiddich Pure Malt.

The Girvan site was huge, as was the family’s ambition. The initial distillery was setup with a Coffey Still, affectionately known as “No.1 Apps” (apparatus). At the time of its found the family very proud of what they considered one of the most modern distilleries in the World. 4 additional stills were added over the succeeding 50 years including “multiple-column vacuum stills, which operating at a lower temperature, can create a cleaner, sweeter and fruitier spirit.

Photo Courtesy potstill.org

A single malt distillery, Ladyburn, was added to the site in 1966, operating with a pair a of pot stills and a curious “continuous mashing” process. The impetus was to supplement the malt production at Glenfiddich and Balvenie for their Blends. The distillery was very short lived, just 9 years, shutting down in 1975 and being dismantled in the 1980s. William Grants did something similar in 1990, when they opened the Kininvie distillery on their sprawling Dufftown Estate, in a shed behind the Balvenie Distillery. They opened another malt distillery on the Girvan site in 2008, called Ailsa Bay. None of these single malts have been promoted heavily as single malts by their owner, though that may be different with Ailsa Bay, which has yet to come to Canada. In the case of Ladyburn, only 3 official bottlings have ever been released, and even independent bottlings are few and far between.

Photo Courtesy scotchwhisky.com

The Girvan Distillery is one of the largest grain distilleries in Scotland, primarily using wheat for production. In addition to supplying grain whisky for blends it also distills spirit for Hendricks gin and a number of other brands. There have been official bottlings, in 1985 William Grants launched the Black Barrel Single Grain, but it was short lived. They tried again with Girvan Patent Still in 2014, but there have been no new releases since 2015. Girvan Distillery has its fans, but is primarily the purview of independent bottlers.

We currently have 5 bottlings of Girvan whisky in stock, a few of which are currently on sale (see next section). One of them, a stunning partial cask, bottled exclusively for KWM, is probably from Girvan, but cannot be referred to by the bottler as such.

1. Cooper’s Choice Girvan 1992 – 57% – 26 Year – Bourbon Cask – Producer Tasting Note: “Nose: vanilla and coffee flavoured fudge; coconut and praline. Palate: mouthwatering creamy coconut and vanilla; sweet nutmeg and spice; touch of bubblegum and marshmallow; delightful. Finish: oak and vanilla; more coconut; a delicious old grain.” – $190
2. Duncan Taylor Rare Auld Girvan 6 Year – 53.1% – See full tasting note next section! – Was $63 – Save 25% – Now $47.24+gst
3. Duncan Taylor Octaves Girvan 11 Year – 51.2% – 2007 – See full tasting next section! – Was $95 – Save 40% – Now $57+gst
4. Duncan Taylor Octaves Girvan 2007 – 52.4% – 11 Year- See full tasting next section! – Was $95 – Save 40% – Now $57+gst
5. First Edition Girvan 1979 – 50.3% – 38 Year – Refill Hogshead – Producer Tasting Note: “Rich sweet notes of Vanilla. Toffee and a custard and aromatic wood notes leads into a long, sweet, slightly oaky finish.” – $400
6. North Star Girvan 26 Year – 53.5% – Bourbon Barrel – Producer Tasting Note: “Nose: airfix glue & coconut. Palate: citrus & dark chocolate Bounty Bars. Finish: a smooth rum & burnt pineapple bon bons.” – $220
7. Sovereign Girvan 25 Year – 58.9% – Bourbon Barrel – Producer Tasting Note: “This beautiful golden whisky has a soft honeyed nose with custard powder and butterscotch sauce poured over fruit salad. Smooth and creamy on the palate with vanilla to the fore then cherriesand green apple skins. The finish is long and pleasantly dry with a hint of oak.” – $175
8. The Whisky Agency The Secret Grain 1976 KWM Cask – 46.2% – 42 Year – Hogshead – My Tasting Note: “Nose: silky, decadent, toasty and antique-y with floral and fruity tones; quintessentially grain, with loads of complexity; marzipan, orange pith and soft toasted oak. Palate: soft, toasty and very silky; wow, lush, elegant and antique-y; sweet, honeyed and fruity with loads of citrus and melons; toasted oak and decadent hot spices build up; loads vanilla, more marzipan and even a touch of chocolate; late salty tones, and Marcona almonds. Finish: long, decadent, toasty and coating; still silky and creamy with citrus and melons. Comment: spectacular stuff, whether you are a fan of grain whiskies or not; antique-y but fresh and very fruity; no sign of the bitterness which can come with advanced age; shame we have a total of just 48 bottles coming, because this is a cask we would have most definitely gone bigger on!” – $340

We also have access to some single malt from Ladyburn Distillery, refer to the Blackadder Section Above for more details!

Blackadder Ladyburn 1973 – 41.9% – 43 Year – More details above (see Blackadder section)! – 200ml $1300 or 50ml $350

Duncan Taylor Deals

Save 25-40% On the Following Duncan Taylor Whiskies

We have some amazing deals on Duncan Taylor Octave and Rare Auld Grains right now, and some of them won’t last long! My favourites are the 6 year Girvan, which is rather audaciously referred to as “Rare Auld”, but it is stunning and was a bargain at $63. At 25% off, no $47 and change, it is a don’t miss… The North British 25 Year, which is 30% off, is a rich and elegant sherried grain! The Octave Girvans are also interesting, the one I tried, the 51.2% bottling, is very decent, especially at $57!

1. Duncan Taylor Rare Auld Girvan 6 Year – 53.1% – Helpfully Acknowledged to Have Been “Aged in Oak Casks” – My Tasting Note: “Nose: silky, honeyed and fruity; Goodies and licorice salt water taffy; exotic fruits, caramel corn and candy apple; not even a slight edge to the alcohol. Palate: soft, very soft and silky; layered and honeyed and fruity; more licorice Goodies and salt water taffy; more exotic citrus fruits, molasses, caramel corn and candy apple; floral with loads of vanilla. Finish: coating, lush and creamy; still silky with decadent vanilla, honey and fruits. Comment: good Lord; for a 6 year old grain this is spectacular; this is not mind-blowingly complex, but there are some nice layers; considering its age, quality and price this is a definite buy (even before it wen on sale)! – Originally $63 – Save 25% – Now $47.24

2. Duncan Taylor Rare Auld North British 25 Year – 52.7% – 1991 – Sherry Cask – My Tasting Note: “Nose: rich, decadent and sherried; Christmas cake, candied nuts and milk chocolate; Caramilk and Milk Duds; candied orange peel, fresh spices and firm but elegant toasted oak. Palate: soft, fruity and very spicy; the grain spirit is light and silky, and quickly morphs in to corn syrup, maple candies and candy corn; firm new leather, decadent spices and more milk chocolate candies; later Russian caramels and hard toffee. Finish: medium long and slowly fading with it stays silky, but with lots of layers and complexity. Comment: this is a lovely grain, and very well priced at $220–at 30% off this is a steal, a must buy!” – Originally $220 – Save 30% – Now $153.99

3. Duncan Taylor Octave Girvan 2007 – 52.4% – 11 Year – Finished – Producer Tasting Note: “Before: Citrusy, lemon peel, fresh, malty, apple skins. After Octivation: Sugared almonds, grassy, juicy oak, cherries, marzipan.” – Originally $95 – Save 40% – Now $56.99

4. Duncan Taylor Octave Girvan 11 Year – 51.2% – Finished 9 Months in a Sherry Octave – My Tasting Note: “Nose: Canadian whisky… caramel and kettle corn; Demerara sugars, wet leather and damp musty oak; candied orange, Dutch licorice chews and smoked maple syrup. Palate: sweet, sherried and earthy; more musty oak, damp leather and loose leaf tobacco; more Dutch licorice and crisp spices: clove and fennel; chocolate, double caramel corn and refined sugar. Finish: light, oaky and earthy with fading sugars, warming spices and a kettle corn. Comment: my first instincts are to draw parallels with Canadian whisky; not such as stretch given most Canadian whisky is made in column stills, and from corn, much as Scottish single grains are; as this too might be made from corn; though most materials reference wheat… not mind-blowing, but on sale, for a shade under $60+gst, it is very decent!” – Originally $95 – Save 40% – Now $56.99

SAVE 20% on the Cotswold Single Malt

English Floor Malted Single Malt – Made Slowly with Local Barley!

We got a deal, so we are passing on the Savings! The Cotswolds Single Malt is made from 100% locally grown floor malted barley which is slowly distilled after a long fermentation. Owner Dan Szor while showing me around the distillery a couple of years ago gave me one of the most succinct explanations for why a long fermentation is so important. Using a banana as a point of reference he asked “when does a banana smell its most fragrant? When it is turning black and on the verge of rotting. Rotting fruit gives off the fruitiest esters!” The whisky is matured in first-fill ex-Bourbon barrels and reconditioned ex-Red Wine Casks.

Cotswolds Single Malt Whisky – 46% – Matured in American Oak and Reconditioned ex-Wine Barriques – My Tasting Note: “Nose: warm, buttery, almond paste filled croissants; big orange citrus and Scottish shortbread cookies; beer nuts and maple glazed almonds; malty and herbaceous. Palate: round, chewy and very malty; the barley really shines on the palate; the whisky is young but the spirit very elegant; more orange and nutty almond tones along with both shelled and sugared peanuts; there is a touch of leather on top of a base of creamy vanilla. Finish: light and short in length, but pleasant. Comment: this is a young single malt that shows oodles of promise; can’t wait to see how this evolves over the next couple of decades!” – Regular $82.99 – SAVE 20% – $66.39+gst (while stocks last).

SAVE 25% on the Spirit of Hven Tycho’s Star

A Very Interesting Peated Single Malt from Sweden!

We got a deal, so we are passing on the Savings! This is a lovely lightly peated Swedish single malt from the tiny island of Ven (Hven) in the Øresund strait between Sweden and Denmark. The island is most famous for its association with Tycho Brahe, the Danish Astronomer who as Lord of the island had its residents build two observatories for him. The Hven Distillery produces Tycho’s Star single malt from heavily peated Pale Ale malt. The spirit is matured in a mix of American and French oak. The whisky is natural colour, unchill filtered and bottled in wax sealed 500ml beaker bottles.The whisky is very good, I really should get a tasting note out on it… I paid a visit a couple of years ago and was very impressed by their operation! They also happen to produce and excellent Gin, limited edition releases of the whisky, and other spirits.

Spirit of Hven Tycho’s Star Single Malt – 41.8% – American & French Oak – Producer Tasting Note: “Without water: the whisky shows fruitiness, coated by a mild, balanced and very clear smokiness. The scent of barley is complemented by notes of coconut and almonds. The taste is fresh with distinct smokiness and straightforward maltiness, the sweetness from the American oak is well balanced with the stringency of the French oak. With water: the whisky uncovers the soft balanced notes of the barley mash-bill, the chocolate malt becomes more evident and the smoke and peat a bit rounder. The fruitiness matures a fraction and moves to ripe apples and hints of liquorice. There are notes of honey and fudge together with sweet wine aromas and wet wood jetty. The taste is well balanced with medium long aftertaste, an enticing smokiness combined with an oiliness shows that the whisky has not been chill filtered and the round maturity really comes from the cask maturation.” – Regular $120 – SAVE 25% – $89.99+gst (while stocks last)

Evan’s SMWS Corner

My Tasting Notes On The First Part Of The May 2020 Outturn

For May, The SMWS Canada has broken the Outturn into two parts. I have written up first four bottles that were released May 1st. That blog post can be found here. Read on below for the final three bottles in the May Outturn, which were released on May 15th.•

68.29 – This guy is fairly clean on the nose with some vanilla and baked pastries along with floral notes. The palate gives a spicy tingle but is also very juicy and mouthwatering before drying out a touch on the finish. A bit of herbs and saltiness in there accent the juicy notes of pears, plums, and those tapioca balls used in bubble tea. Maybe a touch subtle on the nose at the start, but I really enjoy the taste of this one.

13.65 – Lots of wood and tea notes up front for me on this one. I get spearmint, chamomile, granola and elderflower on the nose along with a dash of ripe citrus. There is a bit of musty dunnage and minerality in there too. The palate is juicy and fruity with some spice and then a nuttiness on the finish. Juicy as in Juicy Fruit Gum flavour-wise, along with sweet potato, candied carrots, pomelo and apricots. Adam Bradshaw from the Victoria SMWS shop mentioned that he enjoyed this one, and I can see why. Once again, it is lovely to see a naked Dalmore from the SMWS. The distillery makes good whisky when it isn’t Pattersoned to oblivion!

137.2 – Oh boy. I think a lot of people were waiting for this guy. We were lucky enough to see an excellent peated English Whisky Company bottling from Cadenhead recently at KWM. It sold out fairly quickly – I wonder how this guy will compare? The nose is like the ashes left from a doused fire, along with some nicely seasoned wood, menthol, sea kelp and lavender. Like being next to a chain smoker that is wearing a revitalizing face mask. But more attractive. On the palate it is ash and wood, lemon curd, a dash of brine, Fisherman’s Friends, and crispy Pancetta. Tasty stuff.

There you have it! Those are my thoughts, for whatever they are worth. Read the rest of my blog post for the Scotch Malt Whisky Society’s notes on each of the bottles.

All of this information, plus the information on previous releases that are still available can be found on our website here.If you fell in love with a past release and can’t get it anymore, please email me and I will see if I can recommend something similar.

Cheers,
Evan
evan@kensingtonwinemarket.com
Twitter and Instagram: @sagelikefool
Instagram: one part of @kwmwhisky

High West Rendezvous Rye is Back!

It’s Back… and the Price Dropped!”

High West bottles some tremendous American Whiskey. The Rendezvous Rye from High West is a blend of four to seven year old rye with a high rye content in the mash bill. The two components are a 95% Rye from MGP of Indiana and a 80% Rye plus 20% Malted Rye from High West Distillery itself. The result is an complex but very drinkable Rye. We’ve been missing it from the shelf for a couple of years now, but the good news is its back… and the even better news is the price has dropped by $15!

High West Rendezvous Rye – 46% – Producer Tasting Note: “Nose: A big nose of cinnamon stick, clove, vanilla, peppermint, caramelized sugar and dried fruit. Taste: Very spicy, with cinnamon, crisp mint and fennel, underlying sweet notes of caramel, molasses, vanilla, macaroon, cocoa, and candied fruit. Finish: Takes hold with huge rye spice, cinnamon, orange rind, and vanilla and it lingers for ages.” – $97

Update: the Glenfarclas 15 Year KWM Cask Strength #2

It is official, “Ferg in Front of the Store” is Officially Half Sold!

Though it has only been with us for exactly two weeks, today, the Glenfarclas 15 Year KWM Cask Strength #2 “Ferg in Front of the Store” is already half sold, with 300+ of the 600 bottles having already found homes… Our 4th KWM exclusive Glenfarclas Cask Strength bottling, not a single cask, but rather a batch of their 15 Year, bottled for KWM at Cask Strength. We don’t get to pick or approve the bottling, we just have to trust them that it will be good. So far they have a perfect batting average, 4 for 4! Our last Glenfarlcas KWM Cask Strength, the 21 Year “Ferg in the Spey”, sold out in 8 weeks. We are calling this new bottling, which features our fearless leader (not my words), the “Scotch Guy”, standing in front of the iconic entrance to our shop: “Ferg in Front of the Store”… it is the second release in the “Andrew’s Ego Collection”… we are already working on the 3rd release, due next year, a 25 Year!

Glenfarclas 15 Year KWM Cask Strength #2 – 56.6% – My Tasting Note: “Nose: big, rich and spicy; chocolate covered espresso beans; licorice Fisherman’s Friends, cinnamon sticks, candied ginger and firm new leather; candied nuts, mincemeat and earthy Oloroso sherry; dark chocolate with a touch of chili oil. Palate: big, round, rich and spicy; loads of soft, coating toasty oak; more candied nuts and loads of spices: cinnamon sticks, candied ginger, candied fennel seeds and salty licorice chews; orange peel and mincemeat, moving in the direction of Christmas cake; underneath the weight of the drying, spicy sherry more exotic fruits linger; melons, mango, papaya and grilled pineappe; more chocolate covered espresso beans, dark chocolate with chili oil and Cuban cigar tobacco. Finish: long, drying, coating and rich; this is full throttle sherry from start to finish; warming but balanced, elegant and dangerously drinkable. Comment: unlike our single casks, we don’t have the opportunity to pre-screen our Glenfarclas Cask Strength bottlings; but they are now 4 for 4, and have yet to disappoint; they keep offering us generous layups just begging to be slam dunked!” – $110

My Tasting Note: Compass Box Rogue’s Banquet

An Elegant & Decadent Fruit Bomb!

This 20th Anniversary Compass Box Blend is composed of single malt whiskies from Miltonduff, Clynelish and Glen Elgin as well as grain whisky from North British Distillery. Bottled at 46%, it is not Chill-Filtered, and composed of 75% malt whisky, with the remainder being grain… I was fortunate to get a preview of the bottle at Compass Box Chiswick Studio in London after the Old & Rare Show earlier this year. It was good, but at the time I was cautioned that it had just been in the bottle for a week, and might not show its full potential.This is classic elegant Compass Box whisky, decadent and fruity with lots of layers. It is a great start to their 20th Anniversary Year!

Compass Box Rogue’s Banquet – 46% – Composed or whiskies predominantly 25 years of age!) – My Tasting Note:”Nose: silky, creamy, waxy and floral; very decadent with white chocolate, dulce de leche, creme brule and creme caramel; melons, quince paste, apricot jam and cinnamon apple pie; then it turns tropical: peppered mango, grilled pineapple and kiwi. Palate: thick, creamy, decadent and coating with more waxy-fruity-floral tones; raspberry jam and clotted cream on English scones; creamed honey, Earl Grey creme brule, creme caramel and dulce de leche; honeyed and waxy the tropical fruits were there all along but obscured at first by the lush decadence; more melons, spicy mangoes, grilled pineapple, kiwi, apricot jam and baked cinnamon apple pie. Finish: long, luxurious and waxy with layer after layer of decadence and fruit; I don’t want it to end! Comment: damn, this is beautiful, elegant and oh so decadent and fruity; I first tasted in London a week after it was bottled, and while there were signs of exotic fruits, they had yet to bloom; flash forward 3 months, the whisky has arrived in Alberta, and the fruits are ripe and layered; a great start to Compass Box’s 20th Anniversary, can’t wait to see what’s next!” – $295

KWM Virtual At Home Whisky Tastings

A First Stab at the Temporary New Normal!

For months we’ve been receiving requests about hosting virtual tastings while we live through social distancing. While we liked the idea, frankly the last 8 weeks were just too crazy for us to even wrap our heads around the idea. We are finally settling in to a new groove, and able to start looking at ways to connect with our customers and friends. We are still not sure of any regulations around pouring samples from full bottles for at home tasting, and until we have guidance from the AGLC we can’t look at that, but…

We have a great selection of 50ml bottled whiskies at KWM, and a gift pack ripe for conversion into Virtual At Home Whisky Tastings. To start we have put together 4 tasting lineups, 3 of which are now open for registration. If there is demand and interest in these, we will roll out the 4th tasting and maybe some others in the weeks ahead.These tastings will be sold, much like our traditional tastings, at a set price. You can register in-store, online or by phone. Each tasting includes 5 whiskies. Participants can pick up their whiskies in-store, or request delivery (please don’t wait until the last minute). A few days before the tasting participants will be contacted with details on how to attend the tasting virtually. All are limited to between 20 and 24 people, and available on a first serve basis.

Here are our first, KWM Virtual At Home Whisky Tastings:

1. Elements of Islay Sherry Virtual Tasting – Thursday June 4, 8PM – 5x 30ml – The Elements of Islay tasting kits are perfect for a Socially Distanced at Home Tasting… The Sherry Edition contains five 30ml bottles of Elements of Islay whisky, four of them at cask strength. The tasting will include Elements of Islay Peat, Bn7 (Bunnahabhain), Cl11 (Caol Ila), Lp9 (Laphroaig) and Pl5 (Port Charlotte). – $55
2. Mature, Rare & Interesting Malts Virtual Tasting – Thursday June 18, 8PM – 5x50ml – You don’t often see older whiskies in 50ml format, but we have put together a range of whiskies 18 to 22 years of age. There is also a curious wild card in the range, a mature NAS whisky at cask strength. Our range: Glenfarclas 21 Year, Glen Scotia Victoriana, Loch Lomond 18 Year, SMOS Ben Nevis 1996 KWM Cask and the Tomatin 18 Year. – $75
3. Peat Freaks Virtual Tasting – Thursday June 25, 8PM. – 5x50ml – A celebration of all things peated, just before we head into the hottest months of the year. We will sample 5 whiskies, all from 50ml bottles including: Ardbeg An Oa, Ballechin 10 Year, Black Mountain Fumees, Kilchoman 2011 KWM Cask 770 and the Shelter Point Smoke Point. – $50

SAVE 25% on American Rockies & Feed YYC!

$5 from Each Bottle to go to the Calgary Food Bank!

Looking for your next Bourbon, for sipping neat, on the rocks or for an Old Fashioned?American Rockies Bourbon has been discontinued by the producer, and they are blowing it out. As always, we are passing the Savings on. Not only is this Bourbon 25% off, but we will also donate $5 from every bottled sold to the Calgary Food Bank!From the people who brought you Canadian Rockies, American Rockies is a Small Batch Bourbon bottled at 44%. We believe the Bourbon is sourced from a Wyoming Whiskey distillery that we happen to be quite fond of.

American Rockies – 44% – My Tasting Note: “Nose: dough, dill-y and woody; smells like a High School woodshop; shelled peanuts, butter tarts and aromatic bitters; peppery with some doughy oatmeal-raisin notes. Palate: sweet, fruity and spicy, with loads of wood-shop tones; fresh, fruity and toasty; more oatmeal-raisin cookie dough, peppery spices and oaky tannins; Demerara sugar and aromatic bitters before warm butter tarts. Finish: fresh, doughy, fruity, sweet and spicy; can’t get over the oatmeal-raisin cookie dough and Demerara mixed with bitters combo… Comment: very fresh for an American whiskey, lots of layers, with the oak restrained nicely.” – Was $70 – SAVE 25% – Now: $52.49 & we’ll donate $5 of that to the Calgary Food Bank!

Free City-Wide Delivery in Calgary & Other Deals!

Free Delivery in Calgary for Orders Over $50, and Loads of Deals To Be Had!

As with many other small and independent businesses in the city, we are getting creative to continue serving our customers and keeping the business going. We have taken precautions in-store to ensure the health and safety of both our staff and customers. Details on that below! We are also offering options to continue serving those of you in quarantine or who are taking extra precautions with regards to social isolation.

FREE DELIVERY
– We are offering free delivery for orders over $50 placed online or over the phone, and will do our best to deliver within 72 hours.

CURBSIDE PICKUP
– Place an order, we’ll let you know when it is ready. Call us when you are out front or parked in the back lot and we’ll bring it out. Simple as that!

GIFTING
– Want to send someone a care package? All gifting options are still available. Quarantined parents and closed schools qualify as a “wine emergency”. Gift cards are also available and can be used over the phone.

If you are able, please submit your order online. We will answer any questions you might have before finalizing and processing your order. You are not automatically billed when you submit your order.

www.kensingtonwinemarket.com

We will do our best to answer and process as many phone orders as we can. Call us at 403-283-8000. We are offering some great deals too. More on that below, see the bottom of the Malt Messenger!Customers are still welcome to come in to the store to pick up orders as well as browse and purchase in-store. We are routinely disinfecting commonly touched surfaces and have hand sanitation stations around the store.Let us know how we can continue to help and serve you in these challenging times!

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 www.kensingtonwinemarket.com. 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.

Slainte!

Andrew Ferguson
Owner & Scotchguy
Kensington Wine Market
403-283-8000
Calgary, Alberta, Canada

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