lt’s going to be a cold weekend in Calgary and across the Prairies this weekend, but that’s no reason to freeze! If you follow me on Twitter (@scotch_guy), or if you checked in on our blog in the last two days you’ll have caught my Public Whisky Service Announcement: !!!Warning, Coldpocalypse Approaching, Time for Some Warming Whiskies!!!. I thought we were going to have it bad in Calgary with the forecast highs of -25C before factoring in wind chill (-42C). People in Saskatoon will be waking up to -39C tomorrow, -51 or more when you factor in the wind chill. If this is not a Coldpocalypse, I don’t know what is!
We have an incredible tasting coming up on Wednesday of next week, the Great Macallan Vertical Featuring ‘M’. The Macallan ‘M’ is the distillery’s latest super premium offering, bottled in a Lalique crystal decanter. A 6L version of the same whisky in a scaled up decanter set the world record for the most expensive bottle of whisky ever sold when at Auction in January the hammer dropped at north of $600,000.00. We’re opening this whisky on March 5, along with six other Macallans at KWM; the only such tasting of this whisky that we are aware of in Canada! Never mind that it has no age statement, or that the bottle only sells for around $4000.00 in a 750ml decanter, this is the most expensive whisky in the world, and may be your only chance to sample it! Further details below.
We currently have a trio of really exciting Arrans in stock right now, including the new Millennium Casks bottling which is literally flying off the shelves. It is a sublimely soft and complex expression of Arran, and only 180 bottles are coming to Alberta. We’ve bought about half of that, and more than 2/3 of them have sold in a little over 10 days! We also have two really interesting new single casks from Arran’s Premium Casks range. Sister casks from 1996, both are First Fill Ex-Bourbon Barrels, cask numbers 541 and 542. Only 30 bottles of each are coming into Alberta. You’ll find my thoughts on these below.
There is also a curious new Blackadder Raw Cask bottling. Raw Cask whiskies from Blackadder, an independent bottler, are bottled with only the faintest screening, without doubt the industries least filtered whiskies. In fact they usually have chunks of charred oak in the bottle. We just got in a release of Blairfindy from them, which is a clever way of not referring to the distillery–Glenfarclas—by name, while strongly hinting at it. You can read my tasting note below.
There are also some tasting notes by Hunter on a couple of rare American whiskies that turned up by surprise: EH Taylor Straight Rye and Rock Hill Farms Bourbon. Both of these are available in very limited quantities. And finally, I’m in the process of updating my whisky tour website, Ferguson Whisky Tours. The final touches are being put on a May Speyside Tour and I’m working on plans for tours to Islay and Kentucky in the fall. There’s some info below on my tours, and even more to be found on my website.
I hope you stay warm this weekend. Hold the whisky you cherish most tightly in your hands and settle in by the fire. The Coldpocalypse will pass and Spring can’t be far off… we hope!
Kensington Wine Market
PS- PS – Don’t forget you can follow me on Twitter: twitter.com/scotch_guy and Facebook: facebook.com/scotch.guy.1 .
The Great Macallan Tasting Featuring ‘M’
Wednesday March 5
I’d only just seen the news online when a reporter from CBC called me for my thoughts on a bottle of Macallan which had sold at auction for $630,000.00, a new record for the most expensive bottle of whisky ever sold had just been set. I was then and still am a little baffled, because the sale, the proceeds of which went to charity, was a stupendous sum to pay for a whisky with no age statement. The Scotch in question was a 6L version of the Macallan ‘M’ (CAD$3,800.00), the pinnacle whisky of the distillery’s new 1824 Series, all of whose whiskies are without age statements. 1750 of the regular 700-750ml Lalique Crystal Decanters were distributed around the world, including a couple of dozen for Canada. Four six liter Imperial Decanters were also produced, with one going to a private buyer in China, the distillery keeping two for themselves and the fourth put up for auction. The Macallan Brand is the darling of whisky collectors, especially on the super-premium end, but the sale price still caught everyone, including yours truly by surprise.
A little over 5 years ago Kensington Wine Market conducted out first Ancient Malts tasting at KWM with a bottle of the Macallan 50 Year Lalique, the first whisky in a collaborative series of six bottlings with the world famous crystal producer. I opened the whisky on air for the CBC, I was stunned. The following two nights I poured it for 40+ customers at two sold out KWM tastings, it was a hit! The whisky was stunning, and was the oldest and most expensive bottle we had ever opened. So when I heard about the new offering Macallan ‘M’ I knew we had to open one, there would have to be another tasting. I was intrigued by it, sure there was no age statement, but this was clearly rare old whisky. Could it be the successor to the 50 Year?
Kensington Wine Market will be opening the Macallan ‘M’ $3,800.00 (or $630K if you want a large format bottle…) at the Grand Macallan Tasting on Thursday February 13 at the Southern Alberta Pioneers Hall, 3625 4th Street SW. We also be sampling the 1824 Series: Gold, Amber, Sienna and Ruby as well as two other Macallans to round things out. Demand for this whisky has been so strong, we don’t know if we’ll have anymore for sale!
$175 may seem like a lot, but it is a small price to pay for a night of good company, and a chance to taste the world’s most expensive whisky.
Call 403-283-8000 to buy a ticket or do so online at: https://www.kensingtonwinemarket.com/tastings/register.php
Three Exciting New Limited Edition Arrans
The Millennium Casks and two Premium Bourbon Casks
Hard to believe the Isle of Arran distillery is nearly 20 years old. I fondly recall their interesting young whiskies when I first got started in the business. In the last few days they’ve announced the release of a 17 year old, their oldest expression yet, which will be here by the Spring. We are also expecting a new Kensington Wine Market exclusive cask at the same time. But those are still months away, there are three exciting new Arran bottlings here right now, and they won’t last long.
Do you recall where you were and what you were doing at the turn of the Millennium? It seems we now know what the good folk at the Isle of Arran Distillery were up as the second Millennium of the Common Era rolled over into the 3rd. They were filling casks of whisky at the distillery. 35 Ex-Bourbon Barrels and 10 Ex-Sherry Hogsheads filled on either side of the Millennium (December 31, 1999 & January 1, 2000) were selected for this limited release of just 7800 bottles. Only 180 have come to Alberta, of which we scooped up 90 bottles. The vast majority of these have already sold and the remainder won’t last long as this is a stunning dram.
At the same time we received the Millennium casks, two new Premium Bourbon Cask Arrans also showed up at our door. Sister casks from 1996, the first full year of distillation at the distillery, numbers 541 and 542. They are both big Bourbon influenced 16 year old Arrans, bottled at close to the same cask strength. I love cask 541, which is the more elegant of the two, but know others will prefer 542 for its more intense flavours. Only 30 bottles of each have come in to Alberta!
1. Arran Millennium Casks - 53.5% – 13 Year – Andrew’s Tasting Note: “Nose: creamy and floral with loads of creamed heather honey, white chocolate and soft fruits; melons, juicy oranges, soft barley and a touch of spice; Palate: round and chewy with some silky vanillans, big juicy malt, and more white chocolate, heather honey and spices found on the nose; the melon and citrus notes are still there along with some chocolate, soft leather and dark fruits; this is a whisky with layers and depth well beyond its 13 years; Finish: long, rich, creamy and coating the heather honey lingers long and the spices fade ever so slowly with the layers of fruit.” – $109.99
2. Arran 1996 Premium Bourbon Cask 541 - 51.6% – ExBourbon Barrel – 172 Bottles – My Tasting Note: “Nose: crisp melons, creamed heather honey, vanilla extract and coconut icing; some orange and malt underlying the big oak influence, with some delicate floral notes eventually rising to the top; Palate: intensely fruity to start followed by a tidal wave of honey, coconut icing sugar and Aunt Jemima; round and syrupy it becomes more floral with soft grassy malt as the palate adapts to the big oak influence; Finish: long, delicate and sweetit becomes progressively more floral and citric as the oak fades away.” – $139.99
3. Arran 1996 Premium Bourbon Cask 542 – 51.2% – Ex-Bourbon Barrel – 184 Bottles – My Tasting Note: “Nose: white chocolate Hershey’s Kisses, varnished wood and polished new leather shoes; melons, pineapple and waxed fruits; something doughy reminiscent of walking into a French bakery in the morning; Palate: round and juicy, wow this is a big Arran, with huge notes of honey, malt and toasted American oak; lots of peppery-dark spices and a growing leathery base highlighted by intense floral notes and more varnished wood; Finish: long, creamy and sweet with more toasty oak, fading spices and barley sugars.” – $139.99
I expect all three of these whiskies to be sold out in the next few weeks!
Blackadder Raw Cask Blairfindy
Blairfindy? Or is it Glenfarclas… it is!
Now this is an interesting new release, you don’t see a lot of independently bottled Glenfarclas single malts, and when you do see them they are often given an alias or pseudonym like: Probably Speyside’s Finest Distillery, The Secret Distillery
Black Adder Raw Cask Blairfindy 25 Year - 49.7% – Refill Sherry Butt – Distilled 1986 – My Tasting Note: “Nose: floral, honeyed and malty; cherries, raisins and browning apples; very soft, elegant and decadent with coconut macaroons and petifores; Palate: like the nose its very toasty and creamy with a big but soft body; loads of honey, malt, raisins, juicy orange and more white fruits; there’s some spice, and earthy-leathery oak, but it is the cream and fruits which dominate; Finish: long, rich and coating, the creamy oak lingers long with white fruits and hints of decadent deserts. – $214.99
Two Rare American Whiskies
Rock Hill Farms Bourbon & EH Taylor Straight Rye
We received a little of both of these before Christmas and they sold out almost instantly. We were thrilled to be offered a couple more cases of each a few weeks back. We don’t expect either of these to last long.
1. Rock Hill Farms Single Barrel Bourbon – 50% – Hunter’s Tasting Note: “A nose evoking notes of a well used baseball mitt, slightly over-ripened bananas cooking with melted down brown sugars. Upon tasting the feel is round, almost oily with sensuous rich toffee sauce mingling with hot cinnamon spice. A lovely delicately sweet finish rolls in for a perfectly executed finale. It’s hard to stop at just one glass.” – $110.99
2. EH Taylor Straight Rye – 50% – Hunter’s Tasting Note: “Starting off on sultry oak, its presence is almost dominant in comparison to it’s rye counterpoint. As the whiskey sits the nose unfurls into a fireworks display of rye spice: clove, nutmeg, allspice and cinnamon spicy sweetness. Drinking this opens up experiences of orange marmalade, tangerine and creamy spiced French vanilla ice cream. This is agreat expression showcasing how oak and rye can integrate to make a masterpiece. Simply, superb!” – $94.99
Ferguson Whisky Tours
Speyside Tour May 11-17 2014
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, 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.
Manager & Scotchguy
Kensington Wine Market
Calgary, Alberta, Canada
Owner & Opperator
Ferguson’s Whisky Tours
Kensington Wine Market