Category Archives: Whisky Chat

Kick off your shoes…

Stay a while. You’ll settle in, I’m sure. After a bit of a struggle, we’ve gotten to where we needed to be. The site has been moved, and now we (I) begin the process of sweeping out the corners and fancying up the place a bit. Close your eyes. Imagine a bit of a back alley speakeasy. Deep chairs and cozy corners. Good drams and better chat.

Make yourself at home. Things’ll be a bit different around here. Thanks for sticking around during the downtime.


We’re gonna rock the foundations of All Things Whisky very soon. Big, big news in the coming days. Stay tuned. And…

…start the speculation machine!


Apologies, all.  Something crashed here.  Not sure if it was WordPress, Suffusion (the theme you’re used to seeing here) or a server issue.  Pretty sure it was the second.  If you’ve visited in the last day or so you’ll know the site looked as archaic as Pong or Asteroids for a bit.  No idea what happened, but I think we’re on the up and up now.

Thanks for standing by.

Now…back to our regularly scheduled programming.


– C

One Million Thanks

Wow.  ATW just hit one million views.  That means one million visits by people here solely for whisky chat (and endless drivel, offensive blatherings and inane diatribes).  Thanks for reading and thanks for sharing your thoughts along the way.  It’s much appreciated, and a huge part of what keeps me sane.  Slainte!

One Million

– Curt

Experiencing Technical Difficulties?

No, I haven’t given up.

Bear with me a little bit longer as I struggle to get this engine turning over.  A busy few weeks and a lack of poetic inspiration have kept me from the keyboard for far too much of the last month and a half.  Worse still, finding time to sit down in a controlled environment and properly taste some whiskies has been next to impossible.  Things should be coming together in the next day or two.

Coming soon…

Glenlivet Nadurra
Bruichladdich X4+3
Port Charlotte Scottish Barley
Ardbeg Kildalton
Aberlour a’bunadh (Batch 47)
Bowmore Springtide
Bruichladdich Legacy 35 y.o. (Series Three)
Dalmore 18 y.o.
Four different Laphroaig Cairdeas releases
A few 25 y.o.’s
A couple SMWS releases

Do let me know if there’s something you want to see.  I’ll do my best.





Moving On…

So… now that we’ve arguably offended nearly everyone in the wider whisky world with our NAS discussion (and will offend the rest with a few planned upcoming features), let’s get back to sharing the word on a few choice whiskies.  What say?

Coming days we’ll tackle the following (in theory):

  • Connemara
  • Connemara 12 y.o.
  • Kilbeggan
  • Ardbeg Kildalton (2014)
  • Johnnie Walker King George  IV
  • Benromach Peat Smoke
  • Bowmore White 1964
  • Bowmore Gold 1964
  • Bowmore Springtide
  • Oban 14
  • Bushmills Black Bush
  • Talisker Storm
  • Talisker 57 North
  • Talisker 25 (2005)
  • …and several randoms, indies and whatever strikes my fancy.

We’ll also share the word on the last couple Dram Initiative club events (Alberta Distillers with Norm Little; Bowmore with Iain McCallum and our year end wrap-up event at Moxie’s Downtown) and last week’s killer Ardbeg TracTOUR dinner event with Charton Hobbs/LVMH.

Oh, yeah…and some early bits of planning for Islay Trip 2015 (14 months away!).  Wife just gave me the final green light to lead a ragtag crew of fine folks across the pond again.  Bring on the peat reek!

Few other bits and pieces planned, but we’ll get there when we get there.

In the meantime…sincere thanks to all for all of your feedback, contributions to discussions, insight, shared thoughts on whiskies and ongoing encouragement.  It’s appreciated more than you know.





Shutting The F*ck Up!

I talk too much.  And write too much.  I’m not as verbose as some I know (Hey, I’m looking at you, ‘Caner!), but I certainly have the gift of gab.  This comes in handy at times, but does drag along its own baggage as well.  Case in point when I sit down to share a few tasting notes here on the site and feel obligated to spin a l’il web of words in order to flesh it out a bit and pad the background info.  Perhaps we can all agree that the Malt Madness site and the Malt Whisky Yearbook have covered this stuff way better than I ever will.  I’d suggest both as indispensible resources.

So why am I telling you all of this?  Simple.  Because it affects all of us here on ATW.

Here’s the thing…daylight’s a wasting.  So many whiskies, so little time.  What it boils down to is that I can go on trying to find the syllables to cough up 500 word posts, and struggling to avoid repetition and verbal diarrhea, or…I can cut down a few of the less…errrrr…exciting reviews to a size we’ll call ‘micro-reviews’.  This should allow me to publish a little more frequently, if all goes well.

Some write-ups will still be in the style of my regular, witty, irreverent and occasionally cheeky self.  (Did I forget modest and humble?)  Y’know…long, meandering and likely to have you skipping to the tasting notes at the end (if that even).  It will depend on the muse, to be honest.

This is something I’ve debated for a while now.  Let’s try it out and see how it goes.  Feel free to let me know your thoughts as the first few go up.

As always, folks…thanks for reading and dropping the occasional line.  It is appreciated.  Sincerely.


– Curt

All Things Whisky’s Most Memorable Drams of 2013

Well…another Year Come And Gone.  Let’s hope all of us have both taken something away from it and made our mark upon it.

It was an interesting whisky year for yours truly.  While I neither traveled abroad in search of that elusive ‘grail’ dram, nor got to taste any really special new Port Ellens (both hallmarks of a great year), I did manage to mine a hefty lode of whisky moments (and bottles) that will linger for years and years.

2013 saw the milestone launch of The Dram Initiative, a new whisky club here in Calgary doing things just a little bit differently (and, I like to think, quite spectacularly).  This little enterprise is being helmed by me, Maltmonster and a couple other great whisky mates.  I’m rather proud of the efforts put forth and the results achieved already.  Some great personal memories were made with whisky world ‘celebs’ Dave Broom, Davin de Kergommeaux, Wille Tait, Anthony Wills, James Robertson, Jim McEwan and others.  But to be honest…most of the truly special memories were private little affairs with close friends and good bottles.

Memorable events attended include all of the afore-mentioned Dram Initiative club nights, the Willow Park Whisky Fest, Andrew Ferguson’s epic Ardbeg Double Barrel tasting, Bruichladdich with Jim McEwan at Willow Park (always a treat to see him) and a couple of great private tastings at my place and friends’ homes.  To all involved…thank you.

Now…let’s talk about some of the year’s most memorable drams.  Just so we’re on the same page, I’m not calling these ‘best of the year’, nor am I offering up any sort of ‘award’.  These whiskies are simply the malts that resonated with me; ones I’m not likely to forget anytime soon.

First up…

Amrut Greedy Angels – Man, what a shitstorm this one caused here on ATW when I posted my notes and thoughts on it.  The argument centering around not whether or not the whisky was great (which it was), but whether or not Amrut had done the ethical thing in releasing this (they did).  All drama aside, this was one of the bright spots in an already bright year for my personal tasting opportunities.  Knockout whisky.  Huge kudos to our friends in India.  Special shout out to Ashok Chokalingam, Amrut’s global ambassador for coming out in the face of some less than pleasant words being bandied, and responding like the gentleman he is.

Ardbeg Double Barrel – These two 1974 Arbegs (casks 1745 and 3151) were tasted at the Southern Alberta Pioneer Hall with a great group of folks, and all due to the guiding forces of Andrew Ferguson at KWM and the fine folks of Charton Hobbs.  The whole evening was simply magic.  One of those memories that will burn brighter and brighter as the years roll by.  As for the whiskies themselves…best Ardbeg I’ve ever tasted.  And that is saying something, considering the esteem I hold this distillery in.  Achingly perfect whiskies.


Compass Box The Last Vatted Malt – Tasted right near the back end of the year.  This was a surprise that came right out of left field.  My good mate, J Wheelock, was kind enough to share a couple ounces of this celestial spirit.  I literally sat back stunned when I first nosed and tasted it.  An absolutely brilliant concoction by Mr. John Glaser.  Good friends doeth good deeds for good friends, and Mr. Wheelock just earned himself oodles of brownie points on the karmic wheel for his generosity of ‘spirit’ here.  Thanks, brother.

BenRiach 1983 – Tried a couple of great BenRiach 1983s this year; one exclusive to Kensington Wine Market and another that was part of the distillery’s annual run of releases.  Almost a toss-up as to which one was a better dram, but let’s just say I’d be happy with a glassful of either.  The little beauty shown below is not the KWM exclusive.  I believe there may still be some of this one left on the shelf, if you care to go pay a visit to Andrew in downtown Calgary.


BenRomach Kensington Wine Market Single Casks #126 and #246 – Speaking of Andrew…here’s another pair of gems from his shop of wonders.  This may seem like an odd selection, being as they were only 8 and 9 year old whiskies respectively, but Man…they came out of left field for me and knocked me out with how great they both were.  I’ve since sent several people I know down to KWM to nab bottles of their own.  Very impressive drams from a distillery I’ve not really tried anything too memorable from in the past.  To all who were involved in cask selection…well done.

Brora 30 y.o. Old & Rare Platinum – Dear god, but this is a brilliant dram.  Bottled farmyard.  If it weren’t for the Ardbeg mentioned above, this may very well have been my personal favorite whisky of the year.  Price makes this rather prohibitive, but a single taste is enough to make anyone rethink their spending ceiling.  With Brora getting scarcer and scarcer on the ground, this was a great encounter.

barry's place pics 155

Tullibardine 1965 – Not one of my top whiskies, by any means, but the mix of setting and surprise factor were enough to elevate this one up a couple notches.  Deep and redolent of gorgeous fruits…some tropicals…and an advanced state of maturity all aligned to make this a real winner.  This was followed by a ’62 Tulli which simply couldn’t compete wit the depth of this old beaut.

Jura 1976 – I have a bit of a soft spot for Jura.  This is a distillery that I used to actually turtle away from.  Having said that, I’ve watched the malt get better and better over the past few years.  Now it’s sort of that underdog I can’t help but root for.  If they continue on their current trajectory the sky is the limit for Jura (and yes, cynics, this will take a while yet, but they will get there).  Either way…this 1976 was a truly special whisky.  Having the opportunity to pop it (and many, many other Juras) in the company of ‘Wee’ Willie Tait…priceless.


A.D. Rattray Tamdhu 42 y.o. – A bottle bought by a mate of mine, Lance (he of The Lone Caner fame), for an evening of discussion over ‘Adventures Of Huckleberry Finn’, this one knocked the socks off a few of us.  Wow, what a whisky!  I think the surprise factor helped it notch an extra point or two, but it truly is remarkable.  Especially at the price point it was retailing for.  Sadly…gone before I could scoop one, though I dearly wish I had managed to put one aside, if for no other reason than the sentimentality associated with a good night with good friends.  Sigh.


…and finally…

Lagavulin 21 – While now akin to buying gold bricks, this special release was just that.  Remarkable really.  The previous edition earned almost universal raves, which is contrary to what a couple local mates think of it (apparently a bit of sulphur aboard?).  Either way, this was a damn fine dram from Islay’s most refined of distilleries.  Man, what sweet harmony of sweet and smoke.  Divine.  Oh yeah…and disgustingly overpriced.  Oh well.


So many more great ones I could list, but we’ll leave it at that and let the reviews here on ATW speak to the others.  Hopefully 2014 brings much more of the same.

To all my mates who shared drams with me (both mine and theirs)…Slainte.  It’s not the same game without you.  Thanks for being who you are.  To those I’ve yet to clink glasses with…believe me when I say I look forward to the first opportunity to do so.  To those of you who just pop in for a bit of light reading…many thanks.  Your comments are a great reward for any time invested.  They more than make it worthwhile.

All the best to all for a beautiful, and dram-filled, 2014!


– Words and pics:  Curt

Recent Downtime

Hello, all.

Just a quick note of apology for all of the recent downtime on ATW.  If you’re reading this, obviously the site is up and running, but unfortunately it’s been a very hit and miss couple of weeks, as many of you are aware.

I’m not gonna get into the details (suffice it to say it is/was out of my hands), but let’s just cross our fingers the worst of it is behind us.  I have loads of reviews waiting for publication, but I’ll spread them over the coming days.

Thanks for your patience and for all of the kind words in support.  It IS appreciated.