Kensington Wine Mart – Calgary Alberta Canada

Dear Malt Messenger Subscribers,

More often than not I use the Malt Messenger to be the harbinger of good news. Who doesn’t like hearing about the latest whisky release from Bruichladdich, the return of a rare Ardbeg expression or the latest release of Port Ellen. Unfortunately, a government tax increase on liquor doesn’t fall into this category.

You’ve probably heard about the Alberta Government’s decision, in the latest budget, to raise taxes on alcohol. The changes are expected to raise a further $180,000,000.00 for our government to misspend! Although a government’s decision to increase taxes on liquor is not entirely surprising, the swiftness with which this took effect surprised everyone. Some of our new prices took effect last week and they will continue to do so as new stock is ordered. Unlike some businesses, we will not be preemptively raising our prices; rather we will be adjusting them as new stock comes into the store. In this way we will continue to ensure that our pricing is fair, and that our customers continue to receive excellent value.

Please see below how this tax increase will affect some of our exclusive whiskies and private bottlings. Some of our most popular whiskies will be going up in price, however if you act quickly on our cask of Springbank, the Finlaggans, Benromach Organic or the Ileach Cask Strength you can grab a few bottles before the price goes up.
If you have any questions don’t hesitate to contact me.

Andrew Ferguson

Pre Tax Affected Products

Some of our products will not be affected by the tax increase. The retail price of four of our five in-stock casks will not go up in price because all of the stock is in store. We will continue to offer the following KWM private bottlings at their existing price until stock runs out.

  1. Gordon & MacPhail Glen Grant 1966 – $499.99 + GST
    • 134 individually numbered bottles half of which have sold.
    • Single Refill Sherry Hogshead, bottled at cask strength.
    • Beautifully packaged in an engraved, glass-fronted, rosewood box.
    • Spicy, sweet and surprisingly gentle for nearly 42 years of age with a slight cocoa/mocha bitterness on the finish.
    • 1/8th the price of most whiskies of this age.
  2. OMC KWM Port Ellen 25Yr – $249.99 + GST
    • 210 individually numbered bottles, less than half of which are left.
    • Single Refill Sherry Butt bottled at cask strength.
    • Closed Islay Distillery 1983
    • Classic Port Ellen: smoky, salty, and peaty balanced with soft sherry notes.
  3. Tullibardine 1987 KWM Cask w/ Glass – $189.99 + GST
    • Only 25 bottles left!
    • Single Refill Sherry Hogshead bottled at cask strength.
    • 191 individually signed bottles.
    • Classic Tullibardine creamy milk chocolate with the sherry notes of Macallan 18Yr.
  4. Evan Williams 1998 KWM Single Barrel Bourbon – $54.49 + GST
    • Only 11 bottles left!
    • 138 total bottles.
    • 1st Ever Private Bottling of Evan Williams in Canada.

Springbank 1996 KWM Manzanilla Cask

Our cask of Manzanilla Sherry Cask of Springbank 1996 is, unfortunately, going to be affected by the tax increase. To date, we have only brought half of the cask in from the Government warehouse. Unfortunately the bottles still in storage with the Government (300 bottles) will be affected by the tax increase. We have spent the last week talking about the fairest way of easing in this price increase and have decided to do the following:

  1. We will sell the remaining 45 in-stock bottles of Springbank 1996 KWM Manzanilla Cask at the pre-tax-increase price of $109.99 + GST.
  2. Once those 45 bottles are sold, we will be increasing the price of the Springbank 1996 KWM Manzanilla Cask to $115.99 + GST, an increase of $6.00.

Our cask of Springbank has been a huge success since we released it in mid February. To date we have sold more than 250 of the 600 bottles! Here is a review of the whisky and its specifics:

“Another first! Kensington Wine Market has become the first store in Canada to bottle its own cask of single malt whisky from Springbank distillery. Released approximately two months ago, the whisky has been flying off the shelved with more than 250 of the 600 bottles sold! If you haven’t tried it yet, you must drop by the store and rectify that. Our friendly staff will be more than happy to pour you a sample!

Springbank is Scotland’s oldest family owned distillery, and has been in the possession of the Wright/Mitchell family since its inception in 1828. It is also Scotland’s most traditional distillery, and accordingly, probably its finest. It is the only distillery in Scotland to malt 100% of its barley and is one of a very few that bottles its whisky on site. This gives the distiller more control over quality than any other in the country, and also means that it employs more people. Even though Springbank’s production is relatively small, it employs 10 times as many people as most distilleries 4 to 5 times its size.

Springbank is located in the Victorian town of Campbeltown near the mull of the Kintyre peninsula. At one point, in the late 19th and early 20th C, the town of Campbeltown was the heart of the Scottish whisky industry, supplying whisky to the burgeoning American market. Its 32 distilleries were only outnumbered by its churches. Distilleries wary of the temperance movement kept empty churches open to keep the movement at bay. Today there are only 3 distilleries in Campbeltown, and many of the old church and distillery buildings have been converted to other uses.

Kensington Wine Market was given the opportunity to purchase a cask of Springbank single malt whisky in the fall of 2008. On September 16th, our “Scotch Guy”, Andrew Ferguson was at the distillery in Campbeltown with a group of 6 whisky enthusiasts from Calgary. With the guidance of Peter Currie and the legendary Frank McHardy, they sampled 5 expressions of 1996 vintage Springbank single malt, each matured in a different type of Sherry cask: Oloroso, Fino, Cream, Manzanilla, and Amontillado. The group unanimously chose the Manzanilla cask.

Cask No. 258 has been bottled exclusively for the Kensington Wine Market at a cask strength of 56.4%. Matured exclusively in a single manzanilla sherry cask, the whisky is surprisingly soft and sweet at its strength, and has a very long finish. The cask yielded 600 bottles, of which more than 250 have sold in the last 2 months. I have also sent a sample of it to Malt Advocate magazine where I expect it will be very well received. The whisky is available only at the Kensington Wine Market for $109.99, and if you’re nice we might even offer you a taste!

Nose: rich and spicy, brown sugar and cedar wood notes give way to fig bars and young Christmas cake. Palate: sweet and spicy with firm tannins, and great depth, this is an after dinner whisky, or at least in need of a juicy steak; toffee cake and dark chocolate notes dominate the late palate with fig-like fruits. Finish: mouth-coating and rich, the finish is long, smooth and full with a rich nuttiness.”

Other KWM Exclusives

Unfortunately, all of our other exclusives whiskies will also have to increase price. While this change is weeks or months away for some products, it is much closer for others. Finlaggan, Finlaggan Cask Strength, Ileach Cask Strength and Benromach Organic will all be going up in price. In theory their price should be going up immediately, however we have decided to offer them at their existing prices until the end of the month, Thursday April 30th. Beginning May 1st the prices of each of these whiskies will be going up by $4-$6 / bottle. We will honour the former prices on all bottles of these four whiskies purchased or ordered prior to midnight Thursday April 30th:

  1. Finlaggan Old Islay Reserve – $49.99
    • Historically our best selling single malt whisky.
    • Distilled at Caol Ila: Layers of Dark Chocolate and Peat
    • 94pts Jim Murray: “If you don’t buy a bottle of this you’ll regret it the rest of your life!”
  2. Finlaggan OId Islay Reserve Cask Strength – $85.99
    • Distilled at Caol Ila: Sweeter, chewyer and richer than the non-cask strength version.
  3. The Ileach Cask Strength – $85.99
    • Jim Murrays 2008 Whisky of the Year Runner Up / 97pts
    • Distilled at Lagavulin: Salty and smoky, with a layer of sweet honey; very smooth.
  4. Benromach Organic – $85.99
    • The world’s first and only certified organic single malt whisky.
    • 91pts Jim Murray
    • Matured in New/Virgin American Oak: Massively buttery, loads of vanilla, sweet, creamy and smooth…
    • Our best selling whisky with women, and the perfect dram to sit on a patio this summer.

You can purchase or order all of these products in-store, over the web at and by phone at 403-283-8000/888-283-9004.

Andrew Ferguson

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