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Mortlach 70 yo 1938/2008 46.1% “Generations” Gordon and MacPhail.

I just had a sample of the oldest single malt ever bottled on planet earth.
Mortlach 70 yo 1938/2008 46.1% “Generations” Gordon and MacPhail.
And at ₤10,000 a bottle, it’s a good thing it was so divine. Old cabinets, wood. Oy vay.

Victoria Whisky Festival: Meet two fans of Victoria’s most intoxicating festival

For Love of Whisky

Meet two fans of Victoria’s most intoxicating festival

Every January several hundred people converge on the Hotel Grand Pacific for the annual Victoria Whisky Festival (VWF), which almost since its inception four years ago has been acclaimed as one of the premier whisky events in North America. With its mix of intimate, daytime master classes and the large public tasting on Saturday night, the festival provides a unique opportunity to learn from experts while sampling over a hundred different whiskies—including many that are never imported for sale in this province. Such is the reputation of the VWF—and the opportunity to dip one’s beak into unusual bottlings by esteemed Scottish distilleries such as Lagavulin, Balvenie and Bruichladdich—that there are always several dozen out-of-town attendees, with some arriving from as far away as Calgary, Toronto and even Chicago. Not surprisingly, local libationers who know their Glenfiddich from their Glenmorangie waste no time buying tickets to an event that always sells out in just a few days.

Carollyne Yardley “noses” a yummy single malt at a scotch tasting in her own backyard

Carollyne Yardley “noses” a yummy single malt at a scotch tasting in her own backyard

One such is Steve Werner, a senior vice president and investment advisor with a brokerage house in Victoria. A fan of scotch whisky for 10 years, Werner got his start after reading an article in Canadian Business that highlighted Laphroaig, a celebrated—some would say notorious—scotch from the Isle of Islay that proudly reeks of peat smoke, iodine and other jarring flavours. “I bought a bottle and the first sip was revolting . . . my wife wouldn’t let me keep an open glass in the same room,” laughs Werner. Finding himself stuck with the expensive tipple, the neophyte persevered—and by the end of a month came to enjoy the unruly but oddly compelling libation. “I still don’t like the heaviest of those Islay malts, but I now sip scotch to the exclusion of nearly everything else,” he says. His favourites include Scapa, Highland Park, and Speyside-area whiskies such as Aberlour and Macallan. “What I really like are the different flavours and complexities. It’s not that I enjoy this one over that one so much as I appreciate the contrast.”

Werner became such a fan of so-called single malts—unblended whiskies made exclusively from malted barley—that he stood in line for over a year in order to join the Victoria Single Malt Club, whose members meet monthly to sample and discuss the merits of two new whiskies specially imported for the occasion. And given that the people who run the Single Malt Club were the same ones who started the VWF, it was only natural for Werner to embrace the event. Ever since the inaugural festival, his game plan has involved signing up for a couple of the afternoon master classes (“Getting a lecture from someone who really knows his stuff—you learn a lot”), then fortifying himself with a substantial dinner before returning for the evening’s consumer tasting. “The festival is amazingly well organized, the food is very good, it’s a wonderful social atmosphere, plus they provide rides home,” he declares.

Possibly an even bigger fan is Carollyne Yardley, a long-time whisky lover who is well respected within the scotch community for her discerning palate (or maybe it’s just all the practice she gets—Yardley belongs to both of Victoria’s single malt clubs, and has made it to whisky festivals in Seattle, Calgary, Toronto and Paris). “What Victoria has is really a boutique festival,” she explains. “There aren’t 2,000 people piling into one huge room, it’s less of a rush at each table, and many of the locals are discriminating drinkers who take the opportunity to ask questions and learn more about what they are sipping.”

Yardley is co-founder of Star Global, an IT company that specializes in web application and design. After achieving international success in a male-dominated industry, it was child’s play for the vivacious Yardley to belly up to the bar next to all those bearded blokes in tweeds and confidently order a Talisker . . . or something truly exotic, like Amrut from India. “Whisky is no longer an old boys club,” she asserts. “There are a lot of women in both of Victoria’s scotch clubs, and our festival attracts more women than most such events.”

Yardley has never been accused of being shy and it’s easy to imagine her sporting a tartan party hat at the festival. In fact she is (mostly) all business. Other than having a sip to help with her extensive taking of tasting notes, she dumps out all that gorgeous whisky into the silver spit buckets. It’s only towards the end of the night that she lets loose, revisiting her three favourites and having a full pour of each. “The companies make a point of bringing some new whiskies each year,” she adds. “Plus you often get to speak with the master distiller and other people who actually put their blood, sweat and toil into making these great libations.”

Although the occasional person (as in, silly young male) comes to grief at the event, Werner is part of the vast majority who drink for flavour, fun and research (after a quick taste he pours much of each glass into the spit bucket). “If you were to get drunk at something like the festival—and it wouldn’t be hard—you’d miss most of the pleasure,” he cautions with a smile. M

The Victoria Whisky Festival runs from January 22-24. Tickets go on sale November 7 at the Strath Ale, Wine and Spirit Merchants, 919 Douglas Street.

Wee Rock Whisky Club – Peat at Pete’s Whisky Tasting

It’s taken me a while to post these notes (Jan 2010), but I’m back dating.
This was a blind tasting of peaty whisky held at Pete’s house, so while I’ve noted the name of the whisky at the top of the notes,
I did my tasting  notes before I knew what they were. BIG NOTE: Almond Meal Chocolate Spinkle Cookies made by ROB were very, very, very, very good.

1) Ledaig
peaty, mild, base “like Glenmorangie”, earthy, could be a blend, real peat, industrial, pepper, plasticine on the nose, pepper ending, first make.
2) Highland Park Alchemist
apple nose, malty taste with mild taste, licorise, pepper, mild finish, a little oily coating on the tongue.
3) Douglas Laing Ardbeg 10 Old Malt Cask 338 bottles
fudge, caramel, salty
4) Ben Riach Aramaticus Fumosis 12 yo
pop taste, cream soda, medicinal, crofters fire
finished in dark rum
5) Bruicladdich 303
Butter, banana nose, smoke, not super hot at the end, wet wood, smoke cedar
6) Benromach peat smoke
fruity nose, apple/pear/grape/floral, dryer lint, purple, bubblegum
7) Cadenhead
meaty nose, spicey nose, Ardbegian
8) Laphroaig Premier Barrel
spicey, colonge, cheesy
9) Connemara (Irish)
10) PC7
BBQ, and cigarettes on the nose
Butter, cabinet, sweet, light, light Canadian Whisky

Ardmore Scotch Whisky Tasting notes, Victoria, BC

I’ve found a whole host of whisky tasting notes over the past few months, and will try to post. Here’s my Ardmore tasting notes from September 19, 2009 (VSMC)

1) Ardmore 46% NAS OB Quarter Cask
(traditional cask finished in quarter casks)
Appearance: Dark Gold
Nose: Malty, green, sweet, smoke, spice, cloves
Taste: smokey, pepper, spices, dry, lot of sweetness
Finish: hot pepper, oily, salty

2) Ardmore 46% 1992/2006 14yo C# 4879 265 btls
Bourbon Signatory (un-chillfiltered collection)
Appearance: light gold straw hair 10Kt
Nose: leather, purple, floral, sweet, grassy 9smoke and malt of Teachers Highland Cream)
Nose (diluted): smokey, freshness
flavour: peaty, salty, citrus
finish: salty, pepper, malty, oily

3)  Ardmore 60% 1990/2005 15yo C# 30016 12 btls
Bourbon Signatory Cask
Appearance: 15kt
Aroma: (u/dil): sweet, malt, candied apples
Aroma (diluted): acetate, pepper
Flavour: pepper, oily, salty, almost too strong with water
Finish: oily, hot, pepper

4) Ardmore 53.9% 1985/2007 21yo
66.23 SMWS Hogshead
Appearance: 18kt
Aroma: (u/dil): light, very light malty, fruity, floral, peaty
Aroma (u/dil): old leather
Taste: yummy, peaty
Finish: oily, sweet

Whisky Dinner – Companions of the Quaich

Website information:

1) Glengoyne 10yo
– butter, floral, sweet, toffee
smooth mouth feel
2) The Black Grouse
oxo cube, beef jerky, smoeky, sweet, fruity, mint
3) The Ileach Cask Strength
peaty, smokey, orange, chocolate, spice, cinnamon, medicinal, oily, perfume, lavender (fwp), old lady cabinet.

Whisky Dinner, Companions of the Quaich

Tasting notes from Companions of the Quaich dinner

Bulleit Bourbon

Nose: Like Canadian Rye, lemon, fruity, butter, pound cake,
Taste: minty, leather, sweet
Finish: mild pepper, dry, astringent

Knob Creek 9yo Bourbon

Nose: Light, brown sugar, floral, grape, plummy
Taste: soda, fizzy, wood, lacquer, grape, maple syrup
Finish: floral finish

Classic Cask 21 yo Kentuky Straight Rye Whisky

Nose: Vanilla, lemon, mint
Taste: floral, plum, raisin
Finish: hot pepper ending 

Overall I liked the Bulleit Bourbon the best out these three. For more information about a Whisky Dinner club in your area, visit

For Whisky News and Events visit: or at Twitter  @whiskyintel

VSMC – Whisky Tasting Notes

1) Linkwood 1990 Cask Strength, 55.5%
Colour: dark gold
Nose: shoe leather, spice, cedar, butter, woody orange, plums, cherry, fruity, xmas cake, toffee,
Undiluted Nose: bubblegum
Flavour: soad, malt, licorise, salty, bitterness, tobacco
Finish: dry sherry oak, salty, dry aspartane, pepper ending, oily development, spice, fruity, malty, oily dry, lavender

2) Laphroaig (Dewer Rattray), 18 Bourbon Cask
Colour: light gold, pee
Nose: Peat, Peat, Peat,  mint, cinnamon love hearts, iodine, kelp, banana, plasticine (diluted)
Flavour: sweet, alt, coal tar, brazil nutes, licorise, anise spice
Finish: salty, pepper hot
Development: The epitome of a fish mongers posing as a nurse about to give Nigel a tetnus shot after falling down in a peat blog on Islay (and I beared witness).

Whisky Dinner, Companions of the Quaich

For information about a dinner near you visit:

A Slice of Jim Murray Dinner
1) Ballantynes
sweet, floral, nice mouth feel
2) Alberta Premium
BBQ, Mint, Steak, Mesquite, Manhattan Rum Taste
3) Connemara

Companions of the Quaich – Whisky Tasting

1) Bakers Kentuky Straight Bourbon Whiskey
107 Proof Age 7yo
2) Benromach Organic Speyside Single Malt, 43%
organic barley, first rum american oak casks, no pesticies or preservatives
very dry, woody, floral nose

Wee Rock Whisky Club Tasting

Great night with good food (especially the chocolate cake made with chestnuts!!) and fantastic people from the Wee Rock Whisky Club from Saltspring Island. Lots of laughs and we managed to taste/score some whisky. Here’s the list below, and my tasting notes:

Duncan Taylor Imperial 17yo 53.9%
Nose: Melon, pear, sweet, fruit buttery. Taste: caramel, chocolate End: Pepper Rating: 4 stars

Duncan Taylor Clynelish NC2 13yo 46%
Nose: mild malt. Taste: Malty, mild smoke, little butric, Cinnamon Rating: 2 stars

Duncan Taylor Aberlour 12yo 46%
Green grass, hay, floral licorise, chocolate .Rating: 3 stars

Adelphi Breath of Speyside 16yo 57.9%
Taste: Sherry, plum, fruit, earth worms, dirt, match-sticks. Rating: 1 star

Adelphi Breath of the Highlands 22yo 55.2%
Malty, sweet, woody, nutty, dry, earthy. Rating: 4 stars

Adelphi Mortlach 17yo 57.5%
Plum, sugar, milt hot, licorise. Rating: forgot

Duncan Taylor Dalmore 17yo 56.9%
Dried fruit, apricots, old lady perfume. Rating 2 stars

Duncan Taylor Highland Park NC2 10yo 46%
Smke, cheesy, mild pepper ending. Rating 4 stars

Adelphi Breath of the Isles 16yo 56.2%
Peaty, licorise. Rating 4 stars.

Bruichladdich Octomore 5yo 63.5%
Smoke, chlorine pool, yummy. Rating: 5 stars