“The King is dead, long live the King!” A very famous saying, most likely Irish in its origin, and in this case it applies nicely to the coronation of Calgary’s newest Whisky Club. With that being said “The Dram Initiative is dead, long live the sinDicate!”.
The sinDicate Single Malt Society, Calgary’s* newest incarnation whisky club, was given life in an incubator known as The Green Bean Restaurant & Bar on the 19th Day of September in the Year of the Dog. In the early evening hours of this hallowed Wednesday, a Tragically Hip Cult of 36 sinners, with a collective drinking weight of over 7,000 pounds, met on this inaugural night of nights, to witness Original Sin with a Titanic Talisker Tasting (let that sink in). The lineup was designed to make even the most squirrelly-headed Westcoast whisky drinker rethink NAS whisky, and bring our newly-founded membership to full Sin.
*Calgary, rated number one city in the world for whisky & enjoyment of life … Edmonton & Victoria not so much.
The orator on this night was none other than the Club President & Crystal Glass Immaculation Specialist, Curt Robinson, AKA Manitoba Sauron. Curt regaled us with stories of the distillery’s past, which included a history of triple distilling and how it came to pass that yet another incredible distillery is owned by the Plastic Barrel Wrapping, Johnny Wanker Gang. Curt talked about the direction of the new sinDicate club; a club where members want to gather regularly, not just cherry pick events to attend from a series of tastings; quality of whisky is foremost with six to eight bottles per tasting. Capping membership at 50, ( 44 members to date ) with a waiting list thereafter, guests can attend once but by invitation only. 70% attendance is expected, but the club is flexible in all things whisky.
Under the watchful and all seeing eye of the Manitoba Sauron, the club tasted the following eight expressions of Talisker, intertwined with the history of the Distillery and club business:
1. 10 Year Old 45.8%
It’s been said that he who is without Sin drink the first glass, so as usual this task fell to Maltmonster or Gandalf the Green as I have been shackled with lately, all because at a tasting of Bunnahabhain I said, “Send these foul beasts into the abyss”. So with great PRIDE & a hearty toast, the evening, the club and a new sinful path began with a sea spray crash of new sinDicate branded Glencairn glasses.
Great intro to Talisker. Smoked oysters with peppercorns in a lemon & lime brine sauce. Diageo considers the ten year old to be a classic malt of Scotland, representing the Island style.
2. Distillers Edition 1992 – 2005 45.8%
Both Amoroso and its better-known cousin, Oloroso, are the ENVY of finished whisky. This Amoroso finished Distillers Edition doesn’t disappoint. It is like the sea monster Moby Dick, hooking up with a sexy pole dancer named Chocolate Delight, in a briny creamy raspberry tsunami of sensual debauchery … or not.
Not always a fan of the Distillers Edition, but this one hits the mark of enjoyment and still keeps it within the Talisker’ s uprights.
3. Storm 45.8%
It’s the great and wise blending wizards of Diageoz’ way of saying NAS and proud. Storm … no … more like the wind from a weekend chili cook off on a cloudy SLOTH-filled day.
More younger whisky than older in this mix. I believe there is a better use for older whisky than to drown it out in a storm of youth.
4. Port Ruighe 45.8%
Again, another GREED-driven NAS product, but at least this whisky takes on some interesting notes with its Ruby Port finish & cherry liqueur intensity, whilst retaining some farmy unpleasant low tide notes.
Port Ruighe is the Gaelic translation for Portree, the largest town on Skye.
5. 57 North 57%
ANGER in liquid form. Out for a hike in Grizzly Bear country, left your pepper spray at home, this might actually work better, but not for use against Cougars as they may be attracted to cheap whisky. This NAS whisky seems like a really hot version of the ten year old, without some of the fruity notes.
57° North northerly line of latitude at which the distillery is situated on the Isle of Skye.
6. 18 Year Old 45.8%
This is the stuff of Legend. The perfect bottling age for this whisky, just like the Lagavulin 16, Loch Dhu 10 or Bowmore 1964, the Talisker at 18 years is truly at its best. I have loved this expression from the time I was a young wizard traveling middle earth. The fruits, pepper, liquorice, smoke, orange and tidal flotsam are in balance and taste sublime.
Why Diageo punished Canada by removing sales of the Talisker 18 one can only hazard to guess, but here are my top five reasons with a little SARCASM:
i) Because Canadians have no inclination for NAS stories or Trump facts. It’s not that we aren’t gullible, it’s that we prefer stories with Dragons, Hockey or Leprechauns. Please, no more Vikings riding Unicorns or spend it like Beckham, rich grain sucking sports stars.
ii) Because Canadians are constantly calling the Bosses at Diageoz, Wankers.
iii) Because Canadians didn’t buy into the whole Rare/Old Mortlach thing.
iv) Because Canadians didn’t support Diageo during the Cardhu Pure Malt controversy.
v) Because Canadians supported the Glenora Distillery in Nova Scotia keeping its name.
7. 25 Year Old 2012 Edition 45.8% 5,772 Bottles
I have been fortunate to have been part of a GLUTTONY of tasters who have tasted a few of these 25 year olds and can say with complete certainty that these maritime titans all have their own distinctive DNA. This 2012 version is at the crossroads of age. It still retains the pepper smoke, lemon and maritime favors, but in lessor amounts while letting the sweet fruit notes say more.
8. 30 Year Old 2009 Edition 53.1% 3,000 Bottles
This is a lovely old refined whisky, with LUSTy sweet fruit notes, banana, vanilla and citrus. The smoke, pepper & seafood surprise are still there, just way less.
To drink and appreciate a Talisker 30 is a rare privilege, but to drink it with a group of like-minded whisky nerds is beyond words.
Cheers to the Beaners of The Green Bean Restaurant & Bar. This is a welcoming establishment where you can take a break from your worries, get away, where everybody knows your name (whisky geek) and they’re always glad you came. You get a real sense that the Beaners are always there to help in any way they can and by help I mean pour a cold beer & provide counter space to rest it on (although they have to work on their shamrock Guinness top). I know it’s a lot of work to set up, and serve the food, so thank you Beaners of the Green Bean, for all that you do.
Big thanks to our President. You really do complete us! Sorry about pissing you off with the last club, but to be fair you said you were moving to some cold wind wept Island in the middle of the F#@king Atlantic during your tumultuous Chronicles of Hernia, Generation X, pre-forty, grass is greener near Ireland phase. Shout out to the Privy Council Committee Members listed for helping to enable the rank and file at these events, Privy Council Committee Member, Antonio (Tone) Dourado, AKA Radagast the Cool, Privy Council Committee Member, David (Dave) Stephen, AKA Coach Gimli, and Privy Council Committee Member, Maltmonster, AKA,Gandalf the Green.
Éirinn go Brách,
Just so I can be sure what’s going on here: Maltmonster is a person other than the usual guy who writes here on All Things Whisky?
Yes, he is. A gent who greatly covets his anonymity. Aside from his insane ramblings, the entirety of the output here on ATW is mine.
Gotcha—thanks. It’s sometimes hard to follow what’s going on when a blogger has a guest blogger. Like when the Diving for Pearls guy has posts from “Randy Brandy”—is he even a different guy, or just an alter ego? Who knows.
And I kinda hate to anonymize bloggers, but it’s hard to keep track when their sites are branded with anything other than their personal name. Thus you get the MAO guy, the Diving for Pearls guy, the Chemistry of the Cocktail guy, the All Things Whisky guy, etc. Pretty much the only blogger who transcends his blog’s identity in my mind is Serge, whom I never think of as “the Whisky Fun guy.” So it goes!
From what I read, it’s too bad about the Dram Initiative, but inviting a lot of public interest in a whisky club is also going to invite a lot of different attitudes toward whisky and the club’s events. Maybe it just becomes too unwieldy and even irreparable because the problem isn’t necessarily with the people, just too many different agendas. Maybe some people, in cherry picking events, treated tastings too much like mini whisky shows instead of organizational gatherings. I don’t know and can’t judge anyway, but nothing and no one can be all things to all people, and not recognizing that is even part of the problem with whisky itself today.
It looks like you’ve now laid out something much closer to LAWS and maybe it will serve its members better, but all the best regardless.
It’s great to hear from Maltmonster again(!!), and I know it’s all tongue in cheek, but I’m not sure that Talisker 18 was taken away as a punishment for rejecting NAS so much as it was taken away to reward Canadians for embracing the new and trendy idea that age does not matter to what they’re drinking… Laphroaig later provided that same reward program to its customers. Scotch and bourbon producers declared war on age statements for the same reason: why deal in actual information that you might legally have to substantiate, or that might call attention to product composition when you change it, when the new science is that individuals at home now “decide” how cask physics work?
I was a big fan of the 18 – it was the dram that convinced me that there “was something” to whisky tasting and appreciation. I once tried a 20 at 58.8% that seemed as much from a different planet as from a different era, and I doubt that both it or the 18 bear much resemblance to any Talisker that I can easily access today.