July 07/2012 Release:
Only a single bottle in this round. Wemyss Malts brings the LCBO a 15 year old Caol Ila from their private collections. Wemyss (said like 'Weems'), is a long standing family with a heavy passion for good Whisky. Barley from the Wemyss estate is still prized today by many of the big distillers for both its quality and flavour. They offer both independent single-cask bottlings of major distilleries and a range of hand-crafted blends. Currently the LCBO has one of each of their midst, the 8 year old blend known as 'Spice King' and the new arrival of the single cask Caol Ila 1996. They specify right on their website: "All of our single cask offerings are non chill-filtered and free of artificial colouring, such as caramel."
Delving into the Caol Ila we find a rich and creamy nose. Filled with notes of big peat and smoke (both peat and wood smoke), hints of caramel and undertones of brine and minerals wash back and forth. Subtle notes of cinnamon and cloves peek through in the background. Mouth-feel on this is fantastic, deep and rich with similar notes from the nose carried on a gentle baking spices (cardamom, cloves and cinnamon) palate with hints of barley sugar. Finish is medium-long and drying. The peat in the finish carries you to rubbed oak nose with gentle notes of detritus vegetation and roasted nuts (seriously good stuff in this bottle). So things are looking really up, 46% ABV, no colour, no chill filtration, and one hell of a Islay dram. In fact possibly one of the best modern Caol Ila's I've had to date. The quality and time taken in this dram shows itself over and over again, and the whisky becomes more-ish very quickly. Not a bad deal for $150 for an indie bottling of an Islay king. Check your local LCBO <HERE> for your bottle, and you may also want to search out the Spice King <HERE> as it's an excellent example of a well-crafted blend.
July 27/2012 Release:
Making it's return this month is a fantastic Kentucky Bourbon. Eagle Rare 10 (not really so rare if it's been released for the last three years consecutively...), is a big meaty 10 year old Bourbon. Wonderfully rich dark, and complex; yet still wonderfully affordable. The nose is heavy, laden with Cherries (all types [dried, macerated, overripe, fresh etc...]), vanilla is present, but muted whereas the oak and southern style sweet tea (look that up and make that for yourself one day; trust me on that) permeate. Buried underneath there are hints of medicated rub (bay leaf , eucalyptus, and hints of camphor), also I found molasses and sweet corn. The palette is just as good, featuring many of the same notes from the nose but with a little more vanilla and oak in the package. Honey, herbs and worked leather make an appearance in the mouth too, making the palate on this pretty intense. The finish is slow and drying, starting with a baking spice hint and turning up to 11 with a full on trip into a oak sawmill! That's a hard one to explain, but think of worked leather (like horse bridals), old sawdust, linseed oil, the actual smell of the horses (animal but not bad animals), fresh cut lumber and old lumber drying in the sun, and so much more. This is a great buy to get into American Bourbon, I know I've turned a few colleagues on with this particular dram. Served at 45% ABV and of course no colour added by law, check your local LCBO <HERE> as these bottles don't seem to last long at $48.
Last up is another Speyside single malt. This time it comes from an independent group by the name of Lombards. Pebble Beach is one of the most iconic golf courses in the world (or so I'm told as I have a hard enough time completing a 9 hole mini golf course). As such, it commands one of the other great Scottish innovations be presented in its name. Pebble Beach 12 is a beautiful dram that emphasizes all things Speyside whisky; rich fruitiness, malty sweetness, and excellent finishes with drying notes making your mouth yearn for more. The nose on this is fantastic, rich pralines and caramels dominate with notes of coconut and hints of tropical fruits interspersed. From a second fill Bourbon cask, this presents more of that rich toffee and floral palate and subdues the oak to the finish. The palate is quite dry, contrary to the nose, and has the same caramel and red fruit flavours but with a hint of tobacco leaves and sweet candied orange peels. Dutch cocoa powder and candied ginger come across in the finish with the oak playing second fiddle and some wood smoke buried in the distance. This is a great dram for a great price from an exciting newcomer to the LCBO shelves. I strongly suggest you check your local LCBO for anything Lombards as they certainly seem to take care in their bottling; and at $67 and 43% ABV (NCF NCA), this is a very good bottle to delve into the Speyside mystique. Check you local LCBO <HERE> for your very own bottle.
In the non-publicized Vintages release there is so, so much more to be found. I have noted bottles from Lombard's, MacArthur's, Dun Bheagan, and Berry Brothers to name a few. Let's list a few that have come in and I'll get to posting some more notes here shortly of the few that I've tried.
- Teaninich 12 Year Old ($67) <-- Not my favourite, but an excellent expression of Teanninch.
- Pebble Beach 12 ($67)
- 1989 Macallan 14 CS ($135) <-- Incredible deal on a CS Macallan.
- 1979 Balmenach 21 CS ($255)
- 1979 Edradour 21 ($590) <-- I've lost my marbles over this one, hardly see Edradour this old.
- 1998 Glen Ord 12 ($95) <-- You'll never see another one like this, Glen Ord is a secretive distillery.
- 1996 Miltonduff 13 ($96)
- 1992 Glen Grant 19 CS ($125) <-- Light in colour; a non-sherried Grant?
- 1997 Glendullan 12 CS ($128) <-- Excellent representation of the distillery.
- 1998 Linkwood 12 CS ($137)
- 1998 Mortlach 13 ($90)
- Bunnahabhain 24 ($179) <-- Excellent deal on an old Islay, can't go wrong at this price.
- 1987 Miltonduff 24 CS ($195)
- 1990 Rosebank 20 ($230) <-- Skip this bad Rosie and put you money down on either one of the other 24 year olds
- 1998 Blair Athol 13 ($100)
- 1997 Clynelish 14 ($105) <-- Iconic Clynelish notes, rich, waxy and very fruity. Excellent!
- 1974 Glen Grant 37 ($357) <-- Incredible stuff always, colour of pipe tobacco. Will be trying!
Okay, so that about wraps up most of this round. I'll be posting some notes for some selected drams above soon and as always: Keep your stick on the ice, and the ice out of our glass.