Thursday, 22 November 2012

LCBO Vintages Release for October 2012

Ahh, so here we are beginning anew on a new blog space.  Lots of new bottles this round, in fact the most I've seen released since Father's Day.  The October 13th release has no whiskey, lots of Grappa and some other bottles of mild interest, but noting to write home about.  On the other hand, the October 27th release is chock full of goodies.  In this big release we have a few new bottles and a returning favourite.

First up let's start with the new stuff, Masterson's 10 year old Straight Rye. Hailing from the USA by way of Alberta, and featuring a 100% Rye Mashbill,  this is a deep and fulfilling rye.  Named after a Canadian lawman who became a legend in the American Wild West (William Barclay Masterson, Bat to most), he lead the life that became iconic to the Wild West ideal.  The rye produced in his name, follows the same sort of story line... y'all sit a spell while I spin this tale.  The opening nose is punchy rye grains and floral rye fruits.  There is a subtle pickle note, dry straw and grains and mineral-y soil note in the bottom.  Very much what I think of when I think of the West (deep rolling plains of wild grasses and flowers).  The palate brings floral notes forward and backs it with tobacco leaves, vanilla, and dry oak.  Interestingly, the mineral-y clay notes like fresh turned clay soil are still hanging about here, but buried under the oak and vanilla.  The palate here I feel is an era akin to Bat's middle life as he settled down in the west, and eventually left to become a newspaper man in New York (I do even get a bit of newsprint/paper in the end of the palate).  As we round out the finish, it's a medium-long finish with oak-y vanilla ever present and some subtle hints of prairie wildflowers, but an underpinning of citrus and earthiness (oily too).  Bat Masterson died at his typewriter in New York in October of 1921.  His final words were a poignant sentence on our modern society and how he viewed the world.  Interesting man, very interesting whiskey.  The main problem that I have though, is as usual, the LCBO markup on the bottle.  $110/bottle even at 45%ABV is just not enough for me to buy the bottle.  So check your local LCBO <HERE> for your bottle if you're so inclined, but more oft, check your local bars for a sample and at least try a shot of the old West.

Next up is a Kiwi!  Hailing from New Zealand, Dunedin Doublewood 10 year old is a great blend from Willowbank Distillery..  Aged 6 years in American Oak and finished for 4 more years in French Oak red wine barrels, the burgundy colour says it all.  Blended at a 70/30 mix of single malt to grain spirit and bottled at 40% ABV, this is an excellent bottle to get your nose into something  different.  Now before we delve deep into the spirit, those who know me know I like weird finishes and wild whiskies (so be sure to take this with a grain of salt as it might not be to all of our palates).  The nose opens with beautiful rich floral notes with deep red fruits and hints of toffee and sweet candies.  Hidden in the background are notes of quality chocolate and creamy notes [like quality dark hot chocolate (if someone says Starbucks... I'm gonna find you)].  In the mouth, this is a rocket!  Warm cocoas, barley cream cereal (think cream of wheat made with malted barley), roasted hazelnuts, dried peaches, red fruits and subtle vanilla shine through.  The mouth feel is great, beautiful whisky, and the finish is medium and warming.  Lots of vanilla oak and fruits on the finish.  Dried cocoa and apricot jam in the end.  This is a real cracker of a bottle, and an excellent introduction to the far reaches of the whisky world.  Check your local LCBO <HERE> for your bottle.  Even at $90 and only 40% ABV, this is interesting enough to peak my radar but may be more than most are willing to spend.  I strongly suggest you try this one out and make your own opinion. I'll guaranty though, it will be worth the search.
It has also been brought to my attention that the LCBO has yet to release this to their shelves.  So keep a close eye out on this one, my notes are from Spirit of Toronto in 2011, when I tasted the entire available Dunedin range.  There are some amazing bottles there, but my batch my have variations.  Just an FYI.

Next up is another sweetie of a wine finish, The Arran Sauternes Cask finish.  This comes from a favourite distillery of mine, and is presented without any screwing around.  No chill-filtration, no colouring, no monkey business and 50% ABV.  That's a positive 4 mark advantage (y'know... if I gave out marks), but let's see what the bottle holds for our enjoyment.  The colour is a rich golden straw, and the nose immediately carries you away.  Lots of grassy rich notes, ripe melons and pears intermixed with flowers and warm marzipan cookies.  This finish works very well with the light and grassy Arran spirit; the Sauternes notes simply lift the base spirit to a new level (IMO).  The palate is sweet, almost a little too sweet, but is immediately cut with warm spices and citrus notes.  There is a warm apple pie and hint of brine in the palate that shows itself with some water.  There is also a hint of violets which is a bit concerning (I find these in whiskies that I don't really like), but it seems to turn into an iodine note that balances the sweetness.  The finish is medium-short and beautifully floral/honey.  I'm of the opinion that this is another cask finish hit for me, although some of our group are not convinced.  This is a try before you buy bottle (aren't they all?), but I've got my eyes set on this one for sure.  Check your local LCBO <HERE> for your bottle.

And the last of the new releases, but by no means the least, is Tomintoul 21. We don't often see Tomintoul at the LCBO, but when we do it's not usually even a big release.  We did have the peaty tang, and still have 10 year old hanging about the shelves, both good releases, but nothing stellar.  This release gives us something new though, a 21 year old for a fairly reasonable $127.  Now before you go and blow a gasket, I'll justify that last response by saying, I bought my bottle of Glenfiddich 21 for $145, within 18 months the price has skyrocketed to $230+, there has been a packaging change, but before that, the base purple bottle went up to $175 for no reason in 8 months.  It's not often that you see things in this age bracket for a reasonable price; so getting an indie owned 21 year old bottle for $127 is a pretty good compromise.  Menial squabbles aside, the spirit itself is of no compromise.  The nose is rich with toffee sweetness, vanilla, butterscotch and baked apples.  In the mouth the palate is very subtle and gentle, waves of vanilla chews, ripe melon, sweet malty bread and butterscotch come across in an incredibly smooth mouth feel supported by hints of oak and spiced nuts.  The finish is creamy, soft, and long with the same butterscotch notes and gentle oak backing it up.  This is an absolutely more-ish whisky, so soft and creamy that is begs for another glass.  I'd suggest checking your local LCBO <HERE> if you're looking for that special bottle for the holidays.

Lastly the Ardmore Traditional cask is making another return, check out the earlier review on the blog <HERE>.  This is great buy into peaty whisky for only $45.  LCBO item <HERE>.

Holy cow!  I've finally finished the October releases.  There isn't a whole lot for November, so that should roll out a little easier.  That being said, there are many interesting things coming to the blog soon, and quite a few bottles arriving from the LCBO. Keep an eye on the blog and my twitter feed (@ScotchGuyTO), and I'll see what news I can drum up.  Don't forget...  keep your stick on the ice and the ice out of your glass!