Friday, 4 November 2011

Vintages Release for October 2011

Well here we go again!  Another belated but good round of releases for October!

First up: Longrow CV makes a return to the LCBO shelves (although I don't really recall it ever leaving at any of my stores).  With a lightly peated, peppery and iodine notes on the nose.  This Campbelton malt features a fantastic finish with a depth that is hard to match.  Check your local LCBO for SKU#180158 and grab yourself a bottle for $85.  My personal suggestion though is to hold out and shoot for the Longrow 10 year old single malt (LCBO Sku #735688 for $125/bottle).  I find it a bit less structured and a little more enduring as it's not quite as intense as the CV blend.  The CV blend features a mix of the 7, 10, and 14 year old singles with the finishes varying from Port casks to rum finishes.  Either choice is an excellent foray into a small, family run distillery that showcases the hallmark of an independent distiller - unchillfiltered and higher proof allowing the end user more flavour and better value.

Second to the purchases list is not actually a Scotch at all, but rather a Cognac.  LĂ©opold Gourmel is a well known Cognac house that is renowned for its embrace of the natural process.  No additives, no colour, no caramel... nothing.  this is pure unadulterated Cognac from non-toasted barrels.  This allows the user a chance to peek into the realm of the spirit itself and experience the spirit for what it is, not the aging process or the special French wood used, or the super rare colonized bee with gold feet that taste like angle tears which pollinates the grapes.  With no chill-filteration and no colour added, this became my next step into the world of spirits and I'll let you know what I think of it soon enough.  The 6 Carat (for 6 years), VSOP is a prize to behold in a quite pretty decanter with a gift box.  Tasting notes show a rich and varied spirit with vanilla bean, coffee and smoke wrapped in dried fruits and chocolate.  Check your LCBO for availability at your local shop ($66 SKU #258848).

The second release features a mix of old and new whiskies.  We have the return and price increase of the Glenfiddich 21 Rum Finish (albeit never leaving the shelves, just increasing again by $10).  Check this LCBO SKU#981381 for available locations.  At $174.95, I don't feel like this is such a good value anymore, you might be more inclined to try the limited edition Snow Phoenix release for $89.50 (Check this SKU #236752).  Don't get me wrong, it is excellent whisky, but at that price there are many other bottles I would choose over that first.

LCBO pricing aside, the other returning bottle is the legendary Eagle Rare 10 Year old Single Barrel.  It has returned to us at only $47.95/bottle this time ($2 dollars cheaper), and what a bargain for such a monster bourbon.  This was my second bottle of single barrel bourbon, and what an introduction it was!  Sweet cherry, butterscotch, oranges and vanilla permeate the nose with spice cake, apricot/orange marmalade, rich heavy American oak and dark corn syrup building the body.  The finish is long and incredible, soft and slow with pepper and ripe fruits permeating the finish.  This is a definite purchase for the bourbon lover in your life, and if you aren't one, this whisky may change your mind.  Check your local stock using LCBO SKU#604785.  At less than 50 dollars, this is a must have for any whisky enthusiast.  Just writing about it makes me want a glass, and I really want to get my hands on the 17 year old version!

What's new in this round (although I admit I've seen this before on the shelves), is Royal Canadian Small Batch.  This is from the masterminds at Sazerac Distillers.  They brought us the Buffalo Trace lineup, Old Rip Van Winkle's Bourbon, and many other incredible American bourbons.  The Royal Canadian is an offshoot of the greater project in which Sazerac purchased a lot of Canadian whisky barrels.  They have since been releasing small batch and single barrel releases.  The first one I saw was Caribou Crossing Single Barrel hit the LCBO shelves late last year.  On a whim at an LCBO tasting bar, I got my chance to taste the spirit.  It was really something!  When time and patience meet Drew Mayville's nose, magic happens.  It was a real eye-opener for Canadian whisky.  This second bottling is a blend of some more of the selected barrels to create an iconic Canadian whisky flavour.  With rich oak and fruits hitting your nose right away, it really is a heck of a whisky.  Sweetness carries through the spirit bringing hints of oak, hot pepper, spice cake, rich fruits and so much more.  This is a rich and robust example of what Canadian whisky really can be  (now if only the other manufacturers would allow the spirit to age longer into something like this instead of bottling it young and harsh).  Check your local listings using LCBO SKU #224071. A bottle at $37.95 with this kind of flavour is a rare find indeed.

Also in the mid October release is Springbank  CV Single Malt.  A single malt from the Campbelton region, the CV is a no age statement bottling.  This allows drinking without the prejudice of the number staring you in the face ('Was that 10 year old really as good as a 10 should be?'  'That 25 year old was excellent, but the 18 was better.').  These are the things I hear all the time, and this bottling allows the user to attest to the spirit without judging the book by it's cover.  That being said, Springbank is a vibrant spirit.  The CV shows a subdued sherry nose interspersed with peat, menthol and eucalyptus.  Leather and sherry on the tongue with notes of hard oak, spice and pear in the mouth.  The finish is medium, but reveals many layers of sherry, fruits  and leather.  This is a heck of a dram for $74.95/bottle.  Check your local LCBO using SKU#250142.

Also included in this release is the Johnnie Walker Blue mini bottle.  Now I'm not a huge advocate of mega-produced over priced malts, but for a 200 mL sample of the good life, I think it might be worth the $69.95 asking tag.  It really showcases the art of the blender with incredible depth, smoothness and balance - something to be tried and savored.  Check the LCBO using SKU #255778 for locations near you; it's worth a snap up, if for nothing more than a rewarding dram.

In the final release (yes, 3 releases for October!), there are a few more malt mentions.

First up is a Canadian single malt of a special pedigree.  Glen Breton Ice 17 Cask Strength.  This is a real malt monster, and something I've been looking forward to trying all year.  The 17 Year old Canadian malt is finished in Jost Wineries award-winning Icewine casks,and served at cask strength.  This gives incredible rich and bright fruits to the nose, but expect a heck of a bite when served at 57.5%.  This will be added to the collection for sure, and will definitely be sampled and reviewed at a later date!  Check SKU #250183 for the product information.

Also released in this issue is a newcomer to the Canadian scene, Deanston 'Virgin Oak' from Burn Stewart in Scotland.  Finished in virgin American oak barrels, I'd expect the oak to play a front-runner to the Scotch.  It sounds like it would be worth a try, and at only $39.95/bottle, it would be a pretty safe bet for a good fall dram.  Unchillfiltered and served at 46.3%, this looks to be a good independent style bottling.  All that heavy oak mingling with the honey sweetness of the barley is sure to please.  Check SKU #254235 at your local LCBO.

Last and most certainly not least, is another release from Edradour.  The 10 Year old distillery edition.  If their other lineups are anything to go upon, this is a real cracker.  This is the smallest distillery in Scotland (check out their website for the quick virtual tour HERE), is still family owned and run.  Producing some excellent scotch in the way it should be produced.  By hand, with no chillfiltration and no colour added.  The distillery edition at only 10 years is a fresh and rich dram, that should be hunted down for a taste.  Almonds and sweet barley sugars take centre stage, with hints of sherry in the background.  An excellent dram, and well worth the investment.  Check your local LCBO for stock #904995 for a bottle  ($79.95).

Well that sums up the massive release for October!  In fact, this post has taken me a week to create off-and-on, due to the size of the release.  I will be off too Whisky Live and hope to see some of you there, and will post about that again soon.  Until the next post, keep your stick on the ice, and ice out of your Whisky.