KWM Whisky Advent Calendar 2017: Day 10

10 12 2017

By Tyler Derksen

Day 10 brings us a 15-year Glenfiddich.  Glenfiddich was founded near Dufftown, in the heart of Speyside, by William Grant in 1886 when he began building the distillery with the help of his nine children (no wonder he needed a drink).  The name “Glenfiddich” is Gaelic for “Valley of the Deer”, which explains the deer on all of the distillery’s labeling.  Glenfiddich remains in the family and the descendants of William Grant still run it 130 years later.  The distillery has a significant production and accounts for a significant percentage of the single malt whisky sold worldwide.  The whisky is stored and matured on site in one of 43 warehouses, which have a capacity of 800,000 casks!

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Ok, so here’s the thing.  I’m not a huge fan of Glenfiddich. I’ll get that out of the way now.  That’s fine, as not everyone likes peated whisky the way I do.  That does mean, however, that I don’t typically seek out whisky from Glenfiddich when trying something new.  As a result, I was interested to see how this 15 Year Old Solera would compare to the more commonly served 12 Year Old.  The process for producing the 15 Year Old Solera seems quite involved.  The spirit is initially matured in European, American and New American Oak before being put into Glenfiddich’s custom-made Solera vat (built in 1998 by the distillery’s fifth Malt Master, David Stewart).  After aging in the Solera vat, it is then finished in Portuguese oak tuns.

The website for Glenfiddich indicates that the Solera vat is never emptied more than half way before new casks are added, which they tout as a means of achieving consistency in flavour.  When I hear consistency or uniformity of flavour, I become hesitant, as I find that whisky produced with that as a goal tends to have far less character.  That doesn’t make them bad, just uninteresting (at least to me).  C’mon, half the fun is barrel variation.

The nose on this whisky was, unfortunately, difficult to discern, with the intensity muted (potentially as a result of being bottled at 40%).  Hints of apple and spice slowly find their way through a nose that is certainly richer than the Glenfiddich I have had previously.  The palate is similarly muted (again, perhaps because of the 40%) and does not have a burn of any kind.  It is smooth and inoffensive, with flavours of dried fruit, baking spices and honey.  The finish is almost non-existent with the lingering flavour remaining only describable as “generic Speyside”.  One of the great things about whisky is that there is a dram for every palate and a palate for every dram.  This one doesn’t do it for me, but hey, that’s why there are 25 different ones in the calendar.  See you all in a few days!

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KWM Whisky Advent Calendar 2017: Day 7

7 12 2017

By Tyler Derksen

One of the true joys of opening a new day on the KWM Whisky Advent Calendar is that you never know what you’re going to get (insert Forrest Gump joke here).  In all seriousness, Andrew Ferguson of KWM does a phenomenal job of sourcing interesting whisky from Scotland and abroad (something Peter rightfully lauded yesterday).  Even with all this in mind, I was thoroughly surprised to pull out today’s bottle and see that it is from the Netherlands!  That’s right folks: Dutch whisky.

Zuidam Distillers is a family-owned and -run distillery which makes gin, Genever (a traditional Dutch juniper liquor from which gin evolved), liqueurs and even rum in addition to its Millstone Whisky, with recipes created by father and son duo Fred and Patrick van Zuidam.  The distillery was started by Fred in 1975 and began as a very small operation, with a space of only 300 square meters and one copper still.  The business grew slowly, but now boasts of a 3600 square meter distillery and four new copper stills.  Zuidam, however, remains true to its Dutch roots and uses windmills to mill its malted barley.

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I love the little rubber stopper instead of a screw-top.

Today’s bottle was less than forthcoming in terms of detail, so I had to do some digging (which would have been far easier if I could read Dutch).  From what I can tell, this whisky appears to have been aged for three years in Oloroso sherry casks (OK, that last part I got from the bottle) which I believe were constructed of American oak.

The colour of the whisky is a stunning deep gold, looking almost like honey in the glass.  The influence of the sherry is evident on the nose, with scents of dried fruit, hazelnut, vanilla, old paper (think opening a 15-20 year old paperback book) and honey dominating.  The palate is bold and the flavours teased by the nose are certainly realized, along with oatmeal cookie and nutmeg.  Although the whisky is a pretty standard 46%, it can seem stronger and slightly viscous if tasted without water.  That said, I found that adding water dulled the palate, with the trade-off not being quite worth it.  If adding water, use very little.  The finish is dry with a hint of something almost rubbery.

Before today, if you had asked me to name whisky-producing countries, I’m not sure I would have come up with the Netherlands, but I will now.  This offering appears to be one of a number in Zuidam’s Millstone line of whisky, many of which are available at Kensington Wine Market (this one is $83) and I’d certainly be interested in trying more Dutch whisky to see how it compares.





KWM Whisky Advent Calendar 2017: Day 5

5 12 2017

By Tyler Derksen

As a reader of Pop & Pour from its inception, and a lucky participant in many tastings written up here, it is a thrill to be a guest-writer this Advent season.  While I am a big fan of wine, scotch is my first love when it comes to alcoholic beverages and it was a with enthusiasm that I accepted the opportunity to assist in writing up the whisky offerings in this year’s Kensington Wine Market’s Whisky Advent Calendar. I will certainly do my best to try to keep my personal biases out of these reviews; however, today is an unfortunate day for such an attempt, as the whisky du jour is the Gordon & Macphail Connoisseurs Choice bottling of 2004 Caol Ila.  Caol Ila (pronounced “cull-eela”) comes from the island of Islay, my favourite scotch region – so much so that I may have named my daughter after the island due to my love of the scotches produced there.

The Caol Ila distillery is located on the northeast coast of Islay overlooking the Sound of Islay, for which the distillery was named.  From the distillery one can look across the sound and see the island of Jura close by.  The distillery was founded in 1846 and is now part of the global spirit powerhouse Diageo.  Although Caol Ila makes remarkable single malt scotch, much of its significant production is used for blending, including in Johnny Walker.

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Today’s whisky is the younger (but more aged) sibling of the Connoisseurs Choice 2003 Caol Ila from the 2015 KWM Whisky Advent Calendar.  Judging by those tasting notes, however, this bottle is quite different.  The whisky was aged in first and refill bourbon barrels and is a light golden colour in the glass, characteristic of Caol Ila which is typically lighter in colour than many of its Islay cousins.  On the nose, the 2004 Caol Ila has the characteristic Islay peat, pronounced but not overpowering.  Mixing with the peat are aromas of fresh baked bread, caramel, banana and a subtle citrus note.  On the palate, the smoky peat remains well-balanced and does not obscure flavours of orchard fruit, vanilla, banana and baking spice with a hint of citrus zest lightening things up.  The finish is long and surprisingly it is the baking spices, not the peat, that stick with you.  I have yet to try a Caol Ila that I did not enjoy, and this offering is no different.  An auspicious start to my blogging career!








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