Saturday, 13 July 2013

April/May LCBO Vintages Releases

    First off let me make the excuse of being very busy (even thought I can also say that's a lie), I've been fairly lazy.  I can't lie about that as this post has been in the barrel for about 2 months.  So it's not that I forgot to post something, although that has happened before... but rather I haven't gotten around to sitting down at my computer to write something.  I'll lay claim that I've been drinking too much wonderful whisky with friends instead of writing.

  Let's start with May.  The LCBO saw fit to not release anything interesting in April 2013, so we're skipping that month.  That being said, the LCBO in it's KGB like control of all the on-goings of the alcohol industry in Ontario seems to have forgotten about May too for the most part.  There is only a single bottle released this month (remember we're in May here), but the glimmer of hope dawns on the horizon, golden delicious hope no less.  Late in the month, a very special blend was released. A blend that has won some well garnered acclaim over the last couple of years, and an almost cult like following.

May 25/2013 Release:

    So what may you ask that has me all atwitter (HA, twitter pun... yeah that's kinda sad now that I look at it).  The blend in question is The Tweedale.  I've been hearing about this for a couple of years now and am really excited to get my hands on a glass of this.  It really is quite a special blend and I think the notes speak for themselves.

  • The Colour:  I'm going to call this early fall gold.  Like a golden delicious apple, bright and shiny with hints of amber running through.  There isn't a lick of spirit caramel here; the bottle even tells me so.
  • The Body:  A quick roll of the glass shows me a medium body.  The drops form slowly but run at a medium pace back to the glass.  Things are looking very up for this blend.
  • The Nose:  Well now this is where we separate the men from the blended boys (ones by the names of Johnny and Jamie's Son).  The nose shows both youth and age quite well (subtle hint that there is some older whisky in here).  Lots of fresh notes, like fresh cut sweet grass (think fresh cut hay but a wetter sweeter note to it).  There is a barley sweetness here, sort of like breakfast cereal sweetness, and a slight hint of sulphur-y sherry.  This isn't bad sulphur, this is more along the lines of gentle distracting sulphur, that tends to turn up the sweet notes in the nose.  In the background I get hints of wood smoke (very subtle), and a dry rubber note.  There are also notes of camphor or minty/menthol drifting in and out of the far reaches.  I even get a note of sweet wine (like Madeira), on the nose after it oxidizes a bit.  This is a wonderful nose.
  • The Palate: There is a sharp start to the palate, lots of pepper warmth with sweetness bubbling through.  There is a butter warmth and oat-y sweetness with a hint of mouldy barley (it's a sort of sourish sweet note that's not out of line, but in fact reflects nicely on the sweetness of the dram).  There is a slight peat smoke in the distance, but this is muddled by vanilla cream.  Towards the finish I'm getting a tartness like a fermented starch.
  • The Finish:  The finish is a chameleon!  It starts short and sweet, but soon reemerges with Szechuan pepper and vanilla cream (if you don't know what Szechuan pepper is; it has a very distinct flavour and slight numbing sensation to the tongue.  This is a core spice of Szechaun cooking and goes famously with grilled meats and pork in any form).  There is a slight numbing sensation and more of the fresh cut sweet grass in the finish.  This time it seems like week old lawn clippings where they have started to ferment with a sweet and slightly sourish note.  Quite nicely summed up with hints of vanilla nd gentle wisps of smoke.
  • The Empty Glass:  The empty glass reveals a whack of vanilla sweetness, custard-y and rich.  There is also a whack of sawdust, but it seems like soft woods, like basswood; reinforcing the sourish almost slightly bitter note that I found ran through the dram.
Okay, that's a lot to digest, and it might be worth reading over my notes again... but I'm going to say that The Tweedale Blend (Batch No. 3) is a cracker of a bottling.  This is definitely a bottling to look out for in your travels; I feel like this is one of the lost arts of the blend type bottles.  They just don't make them like they used to I guess is what I'm saying, but as it turns out someone is and is doing it with style and finesse.  I strongly suggest that you look out for this bottle at your local LCBO <HERE>.  Priced at $70/bottle for 46% NCF; it's a bit on the high side, but you paying for some excellent quality whisky in this dram.

Okay, what else have I missed..... well let's recount what happened.  Spirit of Toronto came and went and was a roaring success. The LCBO pretended to go on strike to sell out its shelves (or maybe that's just speculation on my part).  I finally got to meet some East Coast Whisky idols of mine.  I toured 40 Creek and Still Waters before the big Spirit of Toronot event (more on that to come shortly; with a very special set of notes).  I also sat back and learned to enjoy a dram with friends, summer arrived and blew us out with some heat.  Tamdhu reopened its doors as did Glen Keith, both of which I'm very happy to see operating again.  And then came Father's Day.... that bane of my existence with the LCBO.

  My mother told me if you don't have nothing nice to say, don't say nuthin' (That's a Forrest Gump quote for you there).  So I'm finding it really hard to do that about the LCBO's "selections" for Father's Day 2013.  Some good selections were made this year, such as the Bowmore Darkest 15, while others were questionable at best, like the typical Macallan 20-something-or-other for $1000+.  The only bottle that caught my eye was a little rye called John JacĂ´b from Fremont Mischief Distillery in Washington, but I still have yet to find and taste this.  Unfortunately it will go by the wayside as having 'peaked my interest' but not gotten any farther for the time being.  I'm going to still hunt it down and try it as I can't leave you wondering, so if anyone has samples that they'd like to trade out shoot me a DM on twitter @ScotchGuyTO.  For the time being I'm going to conclude this post and start the next one about Spirit of Toronto, 40 creek and finally meeting the Lassie.  Keep your stick on the ice and the ice out of your glass ladies and gents, and I'll see you shortly with a special presentation. In the mean time, enjoy  the kitty facepalm as my condolences for not blogging more often.