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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Wine Review: 2004 Pago del Vicario “Agios”

30 11 2011

It may be from a DO farm team, but it can still bring it. Cool bottle too.

It’s 9:30, I’m back from my first Christmas party of the year, I’ve walked the dog, I have the hockey game on TV and I’d like to go to bed within the hour…sounds like the perfect time for a condensed review!  Tonight’s wine is the classic buy-low no-expectations bottle:  although its regular retail price approaches $40CDN, I got it on sale in unusual circumstances for only $15, so I popped the cork not particularly caring whether or not it was a worldbeater.  The producer, Pago del Vicario, is based in the sprawling Castilla region of central Spain, just southeast of Madrid; the official appellation name, Vino de la Tierra de Castilla, signifies that Castilla is kind of a higher-grade appellation in waiting, a second or third division region awaiting promotion to the top tier of the Spanish wine area hierarchy, DO (Denominacion de Origen).  With apologies to those non-hockey fans out there, Vino de la Tierra wines are like the ECHL of the Spanish wine world.  However, that’s not to say that quality wines can’t be found in Castilla — this is one example of a lower-yield artisan wine that has clearly been made with care.

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Wine Review: 2004 Andrew Will Sorella

18 07 2011

I may have let PnP’s 50th wine review pass with a $13 bottle that didn’t quite scream “momentous occasion”, but I wasn’t about to let review #51 similarly slip by without bringing out the big guns.  As a belated “happy 50th”/”I can’t believe I’ve written 30,000+ words about wine for free” gift to self, I went to my current favourite red wine region last night for a special bottle:  the 2004 Andrew Will Sorella red blend from Washington State.  I got this wine for my birthday this year from a couple of very discerning and wine-savvy friends (thanks Tyler and Corey!) and am proud that I actually held out for 2 months before my resolve totally melted away…give me a premium Washington red and my willpower just evaporates.  The current release price for this wine is $75 to $80 a bottle, but I’m guessing a back-vintage bottle like this (the current vintage is 2008) probably pushed $100 or more.  Let’s get to it. Read the rest of this entry »





Wine Review: 2004 Rabl Kaferberg Gruner Veltliner

14 06 2011

Before we get to tonight’s wine, I should pass on that today was a red-letter day for PnP, as we got some unsolicited (but very welcome) press from one of Calgary’s top local websites, calgaryisawesome.com.  Check out the article here — it’s truly exciting to be mentioned alongside some pretty damn talented Calgarians.  Calgary Is Awesome is awesome!

Possibly the tallest bottle of wine I've ever seen. It didn't even fit in the frame!

Now, raise your hands if you’ve ever had an aged Gruner Veltliner.  If you haven’t, I’m now telling you that you owe it to yourself to try.  Gruner, as discussed in more detail in this prior post, is Austria’s signature grape, a white with a unique flavour profile that is now receiving much more mainstream attention, and for good reason.  Like many other older wines I’ve purchased recently, I got this 2004 Rabl from Aspen Wine & Spirits, which routinely puts back-vintage wine (obtained in a fire-sale purchase of the inventory of a now-defunct Calgary boutique shop awhile back) out for sale at fantastic prices.  This bottle, from a strong, well-known producer, hasn’t been on the market for 5+ years (the current vintage of this Gruner is the 2009), but was on the shelf for $22.  Crazy.  I don’t go to Aspen W&S a lot, but when I do, it’s to hunt out backdated bargains like this. Read the rest of this entry »





Wine Review: 2004 Leonetti Cellar Merlot

11 03 2011

A Washington Classic

A year ago, I had never tried a wine from Washington State.  Now I actively try to seek them out whenever I can, and with every new bottle I become increasingly impressed with their quality, consistency and complexity.  Washington wines aren’t bombastic or over the top like so many examples from California or Australia, but they aren’t as austere and unyielding as many European wines; they are a perfect middle ground between New and Old World sensibilities, and they deserve more attention than they get.  As a result, I was quite excited to get a chance to try this back vintage wine from one of the pioneers of the Washington wine scene:  Leonetti Cellar. Read the rest of this entry »








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