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Whisky it is!

November 12, 2016
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When the air takes on a chillier feel, the aroma of whisky is a wonderful thing. If you made it to Whisky Live 2016 in late October, then you’ve had a chance to spread your whisky tasting wings and explore a multitude of styles. Of course, crowds, may not be your thing and a more contemplative setting for whisky exploration might be more what you’re after. With that in mind, I always have my recommendations for sipping. I’ve included my tasting notes for several whiskies I’ve reviewed of late. Hope your whisky curiosity kicks in!

Crown Royal XO

Crown Royal has emerged with a variety of whisky expressions to highlight their leading brand. Crown Royal XO starts out with muted sweet corn and spice aromas. With an idea to emulate the whiskey finishes of single malts, it sees a few months of ageing in cognac casks after the regular oak ageing, resulting in an elegant gingery, cinnamon spice finish.

Forty Creek Founders Reserve, Limited Edition

This small batch, craft distillery just outside of Toronto is a tribute to founder, John Hall. The blend is barley, rye and corn for added complexity. Aged for six to eight years in American oak, there’s a smooth, full flavored, yet elegant mouthfee,l with gentle spices of cinnamon to complement the fruit aromas of apple.

Bulleit Bourbon

There’s nothing like tasting with the source. Tom Bulleit was in town recently for a bourbon masterclass at STK in Yorkville. Cocktails were paired to the food to highlight the bourbon with delicious results. Bulleit starts out with corn husk, sweet vanilla and almond oil on the nose. Lots of sweet vanilla upfront, with spicy rye and oak spice on the mid-palate, to carry this into a whiskey with quite a flourishing finish.

Old Pulteney Single Malt Scotch

From the most northerly distillery on the Scottish mainland comes a single malt with years of tradition behind it. This beauty has brown sugar, apple, orange peel and vanilla toffee leading into velvety fruitcake flavors (dried sweet date, nutmeg, cinnamon and gingery note)  and elegant, lengthy yet salted caramel finish. A highland classic.


Islay is the southern-most island of the Inner Hebrides of Scotland. With a concentration of only twelve distilleries on the island, I’ve had the pleasure of tasting several different styles recently:

Bruichladdich Islay Barley 2009

This is a malt that reached in a brave new way by going back to the roots and the DNA of Islay - barley farmed and malted on the isle, with a fourth-generation distiller for the spirit run, and classic cask ageing in both ex sherry and bourbon casks for this vintage dated single malt. The "laddie" is un-peated in the kiln drying process, allowing for more fruit and floral aromatics on the nose = from apricots, tropical fruit and dark, dried plums leading to a very firm spiced fruitcake palate with gingery spice and malty vanilla toffee, into a finish that’s as charming as the team making it.

Bowmore Islay 12 Year Single Malt Scotch

This expression of Bowmore sports iodine, salty caramel, smoke and essential oil of lemon along with honeyed vanilla aromas. There are fruity spice cake flavors and bitter chocolate on the palate carrying into a lengthy finish.

Lagavulin 8 Year Old 200th Anniversary Edition

Aromas of peat and dried fruit lead into a full flavored vibrant malt with a velvety mouthfeel and a delivery of peppery spice to match the intensity of the peat smoke. This is one Islay malt that is an after-dinner sipper.

If scotch whisky blends are what you like, then Johnnie Walker has an offer not to be missed. You can book a private in-home tasting for up to 15 in your home. A Scotch Ambassador will conduct the tasting (for free) and provide the scotches and glasses. For this experience, email concierge@aneveningwithjohnnniewalker.ca.


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