Category Archives: Whisky News

Malt Messenger No. 43‏


Dear Malt Messenger Subscribers,

Happy St. Andrew’s Day Nation! St. Andrew is not just my namesake but also the patron Saint of Scotland, as well as Greece, Romania and Russia… but most importantly Scotland! It is a national holiday—or bank day as they call it—and its an occasion of national pride second only to Robbie Burns Day!

Speaking of Burns, can you believe it, Burns Day is less than 2 months away and Christmas is nearly upon us? Where has the year gone? I am well behind in my whisky proselytizing this fall, I had hoped to put out a full Malt Messenger in November and December but time has been a cruel mistress…  I have much to tell you about on this the last day of November 2010 and even more to tell you in December itself. This Malt Messenger will update you on some whiskies which have come in and tasting notes I’ve promissed. Thursday I will publish our Winter Tasting Schedule including our 2011 Robbie Burns Supper in a Malt Messenger Bulletin, and next Tuesday I will send out my annual Christmas Gift Guide which will also be available in store on paper. On top of all this I hope to have out a season ending full Malt Messenger newsletter out in the weeks before Christmas to catch up on all the great new whiskies we’ve received. There’s a lot to accomplish, so let’s get to it shall we!

First and foremost there are a couple of tastings to tell you about. On Thursday December 9th Michael Urquhart of Gordon & MacPhail/Benromach will be in store for a tasting with proceeds going to the Children’s Hospital Aid Society.  We will be sampling 4 whiskies from Benromach and 4 exclusive whiskies from Gordon & MacPhail. There will be some amazing deals, and Michael will be available to sign bottles! On the 18th of December Andy Dunn of Gold Medal Marketing will be holding an open house tasting with me from 2-5 PM in the whisky section for the Kilchoman KWM Fresh Bourbon Cask and the Duthies Range. We were so busy with tastings this fall that we never formally launched our exceptional single cask bottling of Kilchoman. More details on this free drop in tasting and the Gordon & MacPhail/Benromach Tasting can be found below.

On the whisky front there is much to tell you as well. We have lots of new whiskies in, including some exclusives from Gordon & MacPhail and Edradour.  I’ve written up tasting notes on the new Arrans, Bruichladdichs, Supernova 2010 and Octomore 3 I mentioned in the last Malt Messenger Bulletin. Unfortunately there was no time for a list of new and returned products. I’ll include them in the next Malt Messenger.

Keep your eye out for the Winter Tasting Schedule this Thursday and the 2010 Christmas Gift Guide on Tuesday!  I’ll do my best to keep you informed on the Malt Messenger, and don’t forget you can also follow the Scotch Guy on twitter at

I hope you enjoy this edition!


Andrew Ferguson


1.       Gordon & MacPhail/Benromach Tasting w/ Michael Urquhart

2.       Kilchoman/Duthies Drop In Tasting

3. – Check out My New Website!!!

4.       Four New Expressions from Gordon & MacPhail

5.       Strathisla 25Year Back In Stock

6.       Distillery in Focus Edradour

7.       Finlaggan Is Back!

8.       Ardbeg Supernova

9.       Bruichladdich Octomore 3

10.   Colllector’s Pick for November – Auchentoshan 1977

11.   Collector’s Pick for December – Tullibardine 1968

12.   Arran Tasting Notes: 14 Year and the New Finishes

13.   Bruichladdich Tasting Notes: The 18’s and Cabernet Franc Single Cask




Michael Urquhart is in town for the week, and with some new G&M exclusives and Christmas on the way it seemed like a great opportunity for a tasting. Further, it’s a great opportunity for us give back to the community, in this case the proceeds from the night’s event will be going to the Children’s Hospital Aid Society. For just $50 (at least $30 of which will go to CHAS) you will enjoy a tasting of 8 single malt whiskies led by Gordon & MacPhail’s co-Director. We will be tasting the following whiskies:

1.       G&M KMW Glen Grant 1966 – Exclusive – $449.99

2.       G&M Cask Strength Imperial 1997 – Exclusive – $114.99

3.       G&M Connoisseurs Choice Glen Keith 1993 – Exclusive – $87.99

4.       G&M Connoisseurs Choice Convalmore 1984 – Exclusive – $182.99

5.       Benromach 10 Year – $68.99

6.       Benromach Origins #2 Port Pipes – $83.49

7.       Benromach Origins #3 Optic Barley/Oloroso – 83.49

8.       Benromach 21 Year – $129.99

Gordon & MacPhail is Scotland’s second oldest independent bottle—est. 1895—and unlike most independent bottlers they purchase their whiskies as new make spirit, filling it into their own barrels.  In 1993 Gordon & MacPhail bought Benromach Distillery. It took them 5 years to get it in ship shape, but it has been back in action since 1998 and is the smallest distillery in the Speyside. Michael will be available to sign any bottles purchased that evening, and there will be some excellent deals on both G&M and Benromach whiskies.

The Children’s Hospital Aid Society or CHAS is volunteer group of 70 Calgary women who raise money for the Children’s Hospital and other Calgary agencies which advocate on behalf of children. The organization has been in existence since 1908 and in the last 20 years has raised over 4 million.

This will be an excellent event, with proceeds going to a worthy cause.  Hope to see you there.

For more information or to register call 403-283-8000 or visit our website




KWM was very fortunate to receive its own cask of Kilchoman this year. Kilchoman is the first new distillery on Islay in over 100 years, and its whisky, though young, is getting rave reviews and has swiftly developed a cult following. The distillery has only released 4 official bottlings, all of which have sold out. This makes our cask, which is the only one of its kind in Canada, and one of only two in North America a rarity indeed.  With our full bill of tastings at the store this fall it has been difficult to find a time to formally introduce it to our customers. So Andy Dunn (Kilchoman’s agent), and I have decided to hold a free drop in tasting of our Kilchoman and the Duthies range (which he also represents and are exclusive to Kensington Wine Market) between 2 and 5 PM on Saturday December 18th. Some of the whiskies you will be able to sample:

1.       Kilchoman KWM Fresh Bourbon Cask

2.       Kilchoman Summer 2010 Release

3.       Duthies Auchroisk 20 Year

4.       Duthies Bowmore 17 Year

5.       Duthies Caol Ila 13 Year

6.       Duthies Clynelish 14 Year

7.       Duthies Cragganmore 15 Year

8.       Duthies Glen Scotia 17 Year

9.       Duthies Hazelburn 8 Year

10.   Duthies Laphroaig 11 Year

11.   Duthies Ledaig 13 Year

12.   Duthies Longmorn 19 YEar

This free drop in tasting will give you the opportunity to sample our Kilchoman cask, the current release Summer 2010 and the Duthies range which consists of 10 different single malts representing most of Scotland’s whisky regions and styles. Between these hours we will also be offering special pricing on all these whiskies! No registration required. See you then and there!



As many of you know I guide small group whisky tours on the side. Since 2008 I’ve taken 5 groups on premium week long distillery tours in Scotland. I’ve wanted to build a website to showcase my business for some time now, and while on break in October I finally made some headway. I am pleased to say that over the last couple of weeks I’ve found the times to polish things a little further and can now say that I am proud to introduce you all to It is still a work in progress, and is my first effort at building a website, but you’ll find information on the tours I’m planning for May and photos and testimonials from some of my past trips. I am currently booking for Islay & the Southwest Coast (May 8th – 14th) and Speyside & the Southern Highlands (May 14th – 21st). For more information drop me a line, or better yet visit



We have just brought in four new exclusive whiskies from Gordon & MacPhail for the Christmas season.  One of them, the Rosebank, will not last long as we’ve but 6 bottles. We’re in much better shape on the other three. Gordon & MacPhails, established in 1895, is Scotland’s second oldest independent bottler. It is unique among independent bottlers in that it buys its whisky as new spirit filling it into its own casks for maturation, rather than buying up surplus casks from whisky brokers.

KWM’s four new exclusive Gordon & MacPhail whiskies:

1.       G&M Cask Strength Imperial 1997 – Single First Fill Sherry Butt / 61.6% / 12 Year – My Tasting Note:”Nose: notes of Demerara and brown sugar start things off along with dried maple syrup crust, jujubes and fruit candies as well as some spicy oak; Palate: really spicy, treacle, melted brown sugar and maple syrup, rich Christmas spices and lots of dark fruits that build into round chocolate notes; Finish: long, spicy, drying and sweet with more brown sugar and dried maple syrup.

2.       G&M Cask Strength Rosebank 1991 – Refill Bourbon Barrels / 55.3% / 18 Year – My Tasting Note: very floral, with spice, freshly mowed grass and citrus notes aplenty; the palate is light but very lively with the citrus notes (fresh, dried and burnt) and vanilla notes sluggishly struggling for domination, lots of sweet toasted oak and fine gentle oils make for a warming palate; Finish: drying and sweet with more faint citrus!

3.       G&M Connoisseurs Choice Convalmore 1984 – Refill Sherry Hogsheads / 46% / 25 Year – My Tasting Note: burnt toast, gritty, a metallic tinge, candied orange and cardamom, something like sweet and sour pork on the periphery; Palate: very soft and smooth with exceptionally soft creamy oak, fresh cream, loads of vanilla and soft gentle oak; the palate is very warming and pleasant, perfect on a cold night for those who aren’t fond of the peat…; Finish: drying with spice and malted milk!

4.       G&M Connoisseurs Choice Glen Keith 1993 – Refill Sherry & Bourbon / 46% / 16 Year – My Tasting Note: light and fruity, some creamy vanilla notes with flowers,  orchard fruits and a trace of spice, overall very gentle; Palate: soft texture, warming with lovely soft oils caressing the palate, white chocolate and Demerara sugar come first, followed by soft white fruits and some toasted oak; sweet and soft with white chocolate and more toasted oak.



We originally brought this whisky in as part of a series of 25, 30 and 40 year olds. Sadly neither the 30 or 40 year old are available at this time, but we’ve managed to get the 25 back. Of the three whiskies the  25 Year was by far the liveliest, though it lacked the smooth leather and tobacco notes of the 40 Year, it was much more lush and fruity. Just in time for Christmas we’ve managed to get about 30 bottles of it.

Strathisla, established in 1786, is one of Scotland’s oldest distilleries, and a solid candidate for its oldest, though this is hard to determine. The distillery is one of Chivas’s flagships, and the core component of the Chivas Regal blend. Its short dumpy stills produce a heavy spirit with hints of leather and tobacco.

Tasting Note: Nose: Sherry wood, hints of treacle and liquorice, some earthy charred oak notes. Palate: Rich sherry wood character. Mulled fruits and Christmas pudding. Hints of rum and raisin toffees. Finish: Charred oak with floral elements.



Edradour is Scotland’s smallest distillery, but it is also its second most visited. Its production may be but 90,000L a year, but when you factor in evaporation, if every one of its 100,000 annual visitors purchased a bottle, there would be almost nothing left to export! Edradour is located just up the hill from the town of Pitlochry, the gateway to Scotland’s mountains. The distillery is the last of many small farm distilleries which used to dot these hills. Its stills are the smallest legally allowed in Scotland and much of its equipment repurposed from other agricultural practices like the dairy industry like the Morton refrigerator which cools the worts. It’s equipment offers a glimpse back in time, like its open top cast iron mashtun which must be emptied by hand and its worm tub condenser which is among the last in Scotland.

The distillery was originally called Glenforres when established licensed around 1825. It’s likely that its origins go back much further but there is no evidence of this. Many of the distilleries licensed in the 1820’s were distilling illicitly for many years or decades before being caught and forced to take out a license. The first single malt bottled by the distillery was only released in 1986, but the distillery was long home of the House of Lords blended whisky, but this came to an end with the decision of Pernod Ricard to sell the distillery in 2002. It was bought by Andrew Symington who had been independently bottling single malts through his company Signatory Vintage Scotch Whisky. Since Signatory’s takeover the distillery has branched out into many different expressions, ages and finishes. In 2007 the distillery launched its first peated expression called The Ballechin after another closed farm distillery.

Edradour was available in Alberta in the late ‘90s, but after the Signatory takeover it disappeared from the market. It took a trip to Scotland and a sales job by yours truly to convince the powers that be that this whisky should be in Alberta. For the first six months the 10 year old was exclusive to our store, and since then we have become Edradour’s unofficial home in Canada having stocked no fewer than 21 different expressions over the last three years! Here’s what we have now:

  1. Edradour 10 Year – 40% – Nose: Dried apricots, oloroso sherry, faintly spicy and smoky. Palate: creamy, minty & nutty w/ drying almond. Finish: spices, vanilla, caramel and oak. Michael Jackson and Jim Murray scored it 8 and 8 ½ out of 10 in Whisky Magazine. – $76.99
  2. Edradour 12 Year Caledonia – I need to re-taste this one, but it is a sweet and spicy bottling of Edradour which retains the soft feel of the 10, but with more complexity.  It is a balance of both Sherry and Bourbon notes. – $93.99
  3. Edradour SFTC Chateauneuf du Pape Finish – My Tasting Note: Nose: plumy with rose petals, potpourri, and some leathery-earthy tannins, vanilla and crystallized sugar are hiding behind the wine cask notes; Palate: sweet and earthy, jammy fruits, vanilla pods, mushrooms and jujubes, big tannins, leather and tobacco notes develop later; Finish: drying, earthy and leathery with some sweet soft fruit. – $99.49
  4. Edradour 24 Year Pedro Ximenez Finish – My Tasting Note: Nose: rich cocoa notes, cinnamon, ginger, clove and maple with doughy vanilla; Palate: sweet, sour and musty to start, the whisky shows lots of fruity milk chocolate notes as it develops as well as a nutty backbone, it is viscous and coating with late honey and marmalade notes; Finish: dry and leathery with a touch of spice and hints of the chocolate and sweet fruity notes that ruled the palate. Only 1 bottle left! – $166.49
  5. Edradour Cask Strength Decanter 1997  – Tasting Note To Follow Soon – This is a big monster of a single cask Sherried Edradour. – $129.99
  6. The Ballechin 3rd Edition  Port Cask Matured – 46% – My Tasting Note: Gristy, peaty barley opens things up with something vaguely fruity and chocolaty struggling to emerge, there is a medicinal tinge to the clean smoke but nothing unpleasant even if I detect a touch of burning rubber; Palate: lovely full body with rich gentle oils, the peat is thick cut but soft with only a faint bitter edge of smoke, earthy chocolate and big grassy malt form the backbone; Finish: sweet and smoky with gentle peat oils that dry out with the palate. This is a lovely big peated whisky, fans of Port Charlotte may have found another Champion! – $85.99

Coming Soon:

  1. Edradour SFTC Madeira Finish – $TBA
  2. Edradour SFTC Port Finish – $TBA
  3. Edradour SFTC Burgundy Finish – $TBA




We have been out of Finlaggan Old Islay Reserve and Finlaggan Cask Strength for some months now. Finlaggan was for a long time our best selling whisky, and why not, its an amazing little peated whisky at an incredible price, $50.99. In 2006 it scored 94pts in the Malt Whisky Yearbook, with Jim Murray stating: “If you don’t buy a bottle of this you’ll regret it the rest of your life!”

The name Finlaggan comes from an obscure little loch on Scotland’s west coast Isle of Islay; for many the holy grail of whisky! Finlaggan has had a far greater role in the history of Scotland and the British Isles than its tiny size would hint at. The loch has three small islands in it, of which the two most north-easterly are central to this tale. There is the large island, Eilean Mor (Large Isle) and Eilean na Comhairle (Council Isle).

The site had already been occupied for thousands of years prior to the arrival of Macdonalds Lords of the Isles. The Lords of the Isles were descended from Somerled, a 12th C. prince, and were the leaders of the Clan Donald. They chose Islay, and more importantly Finlaggan, as the home of their lordship and the cradle of Clan Donald. From their base on Islay, the Lords of the Isles on their Viking long ships ruled the west coast of Scotland and parts of Northern Ireland from the isle of Lewis in the north to as far south as the isle of Man. Their territory was a chiefdom independent of the Kingdoms of Scotland, England and Denmark.

After more than two centuries of independence the Macdonald Lords of the Isles began to lose their grip on their realm when they ran afoul of the Scottish Crown by paying homage to the English King. In 1411 they were defeated by the Crown at the Battle of Harlow, the beginning of their decline. In 1542 the title “Lord of the Isles” was annexed by the Scottish crown, and following the merger of the Scottish and English crowns the title passed to the English Royal family. The title survives to this day, as one of those given to the first in line to the English throne. In addition to being the Prince of Wales, Charles is also the Lord of the Isles. Finlaggan can still be visited today, with the ruins of many buildings and grave markers still visible.

And what of the whisky that bears this significant, historic name? Don’t bother looking for a distillery called Finlaggan; there isn’t one. Finlaggan is a “mystery malt”, meaning that the distillery of origin is a closely guarded secret. It’s easy enough to figure out which one if you know your Islay whiskies, and the island’s geography. Finlaggan is fine dram, and easily the best buy we offer. Jim Murray gave it 94pts and said, “this is simply awesome. Someone has had access to one or two of the best casks the east coast of Islay has to offer. If you don’t get a bottle of this, you’ll regret it for the rest of your life.“ Jim Murray, 2006 Whisky Bible

  1. Finlaggan Old Reserve Islay Single Malt – 40% – Nose: fruity, nuts and chocolate; loads of peat. Palate: layer after layer of peat can be found on the palate, interwoven with dark chocolate and some fatty notes. Finish: more fruit, and chocolate mousse all held together by further lashings of peat. – $49.99
  2. Finlaggan Old Islay Reserve Cask Strength – 58% – Nose: bigger and sweeter than the regular bottling; plenty of peat and smoke but with honey and sweet chocolate notes. Palate: big is the opperative descriptor, with more grip than the standard bottling. The shift from nose to palate doesn’t disappoint, with deft peat, huge clean smoke, sweet chocolate, briny/medicinal notes, tobacco and touch of tar. An Islay drinker’s malt! Finish: cigar smoke, dark bakers chocolate and glorious buttery peat. – $85.99



ARDBEG SUPERNOVA 2010 – 60.1% – $114.99

Supernova is Ardbeg’s answer to Bruichladdichs Octomore, or is it vice versa! The last batch of Supernova disappeared quickly, without a word to the Malt Messenger Diaspora.  I have 18 bottles coming in tomorrow, of which most are already spoken, speak up now or forever hold your peace!

93.5 pts Jim Murray: Nose: youthful, punchy and spicy; vanillas and bananas add a sweetness to the molten peat; Taste: an explosion of sharp citrus and grassy malt…..the smoke and spices cause mayhem as they crash around the palate; eye-watering, safety-harness wearing stuff; Finish: the oak has a bitter-ish surprise but soft sugars compensate. Elsewhere the smoke and spice continues its rampage… “

My Tasting Note: Nose: fresh and green to start them morphing into a grass fire newly smothered with salt water, sweet creamy vanilla notes emerge with fresh mint only to be humbled by creosote, rough leather and sweet tobacco; Palate: far more gentler than I expected initially, green smoke slowly grows in the background as the soft peaty oils fade, the second sip is much bigger with massive vanilla and stronger more brackish smoke, sea salt tones it all down and it eventually settles down into clean smoke with fresh cream, barley sugar and crisp spices; Finish: long and at full throttle with the sweet smoke and salty peat never really fading away!


BRUICHLADDICH OCTOMORE 3 152ppm – 59% – $149.99

The most recent Octomore hasn’t been reviewed, but the previous 3 batches have all scored really well: Octomore 5 Year 96pts, Octomore 2 140ppm 94pts and Octomore 2.2 Orpheus 140ppm 96.5pts. Royal Mile Whiskies calls it “a fantastic, intense and remarkable whisky” and Loch Fyne “a peaty ace”.

My Tasting Note: Nose: grassy, grappa, aloe and lots of other green vegetal notes, a hint of soft vanilla lies beneath but it run over by the sweet barley and dry biscuity peat; Palate: immediately very sweet and grassy with soft clean smoke fading into the most delicate white chocolate oils, the smoke grows in strength but is restrained by the combination of sweet barley and vanillas, more elegant than assertive this whisky teases the palate with brute force but never touches it with more than a feather; Finish: long and sweet with barley sugar and clean smoke riding long out into the distance.


COLLECTORS PICK FOR NOVEMBER: AUCHENTOSHAN 1977 – 32 Year – 49% – Oloroso Sherry Matured – $506.99

There are only 240 bottles of this whisky available in the world, and but 18 of them have come to Alberta. We’ve sold two and opened one tonight for a tasting, so it is safe to say there are no more than 15 left for grabs.

My Tasting Note: Nose: very spicy with strong hints of pepper and clove, burnt citrus notes with orange peel, candied lemon and lime sugars, some firm but not bitter toasted oak rounds things out; Palate: the palate is rich, soft and smooth with fresh brown sugar, candied orange and sweet and dark spices, cinnamon and ginger are rounded out with a touch of clove; there is a touch of toffee cake and fresh cream and fair dollop of caramelized honey; finish: long drying and very pleasant some of the complexity is lost but there are no bitter notes to fault it with.

This is a very nice older expression of Auchentoshan which retains some of its citrus character but adds bold not bitter mature sherry notes.


COLLECTORS PICK FOR DECEMBER: TULLIBARDINE 1968 – 40 Year – 40.3% – Single Hogshead Cask – $471.99

Say what you will about Tullibardine, no other distillery in Scotland(save perhaps Glenfarclas) sells their older whisky at such reasonable prices. This single cask 1968 bottling is from a single hogshead cask, no. 130, bottled in July of 2008. Only 252 bottles are available worldwide, with less than a tenth of that destined for Alberta. The distillery doesn’t specify whether it is a bourbon or sherry, American or European oak hogshead. If I had to guess I would suspect it’s an ex-Bourbon American oak hoggy.

My Tasting Note: Nose: doughy and creamy, vanilla milkshake, dunnage warehouse, marzipan, orchard fruits and rose petals; Palate: silky, soft, treacle sauce, Highland toffee, peaches with fresh whipped cream, milk chocolate covered short bread, vanilla custard and toasted oak; Finish: soft and clean, more fresh whipped cream, berry fruits, white chocolate and toasted oak. This whisky is a stunner for its age and price! It’s amazing how close the angels to stealing this one from us completely… 40.3%!


ARRAN TASTING NOTE: 14 Year and the New Finishes

Arran has just launched an excellent 14 year old and three finished which along with the 10 year old will round out the core expressions in its portfolio. I think two of the whiskies are brilliant but have to level with you all, I’m not pleased with the look of the finishes. Packaging is not normally a concern of mine, it certainly doesn’t hurt if a whisky comes in a nice bottle and box or tin, but the whisky is always of paramount importance. While the Arran 14 Year looks fine, the branding of the three finishes leaves much to be desired. But of the whiskies, two are ok, and two are brilliant. Which is which? Better scroll through my tasting notes below:

1.       Isle of Arran 14 Year – 46% – Apparently a much higher Bourbon cask ratio that in the 12 year old it replaces, and in my opinion all the better for it. My Tasting Note: Nose: loads of soft vanilla, crème brule, grassy with honey and orange peel; Palate: soft and honeyed with Demerara sugar, grassy notes and rich toasted oak; Finish: warming with gentle sweet spice. This is an excellent addition to the line-up, and a fine whisky! – $76.49

2.       Isle of Arran Port Cask Finish – 50% – My Tasting Note: Nose: chocolate with earthy notes and fruit leather, old musty oak, doughy with damp vegetal earth; Palate: sweet and chocolaty with crisp spice and chewy candied fruits; some new make spirits rears its head with grassy tones, molasses, hints of cognac and more must oak; Finish: bland with apples and drying oak. Not my favourite bottling of Arran. – $76.99

3.       Isle of Arran Sauternes Cask Finish – 50% – My Tasting Note: Nose: damp yet dusty, like walking into a dunnage warehouse, leather and dried fruits; Palate: deep, sweet and honeyed, fig notes, marzipan, graham wafers and drying bitter spices like clove; the more you get into it the sweeter and more complex the whisky gets; Finish: long and caramelized with sweet spices and drying oak! Overall my favourite of the new Arrans!

4.       Isle of Arran Amerone Finish – 50% – I failed to taste the previous versions, but given the glowing reviews of the previous one I don’t think the two are very similar. My Tasting Note: Nose: strawberry and plum, earthy, raspberry chocolate and red velvet cake but lacking in layers; very jammy and sweet with strawberry/raspberry notes that balance out any leathery/earthy tannins, there is a touch of new make spirit and some grassy tones with wet leaves and a hint of something smoky; Finish: clean and drying with gentle spice and traces of jammy fruit. Not as good as the Sauternes or 14 Year but a step well above the Port. The ladies here cared for it more than I did and called it a ladies Scotch… they may be right, but I think the ladies will like the Sauternes and 14 Year too! – $96.99

BRUICHLADDICH TASTING NOTES: The 18’s and Single Cask Cabernet Franc

  1. Bruichladdich 18 Year Rum Cask Matured – 1990 – 46 % – My Tasting Note:  Nose: creamy and doughy with soft fruits, sugar cane, fruit flan, crème brule and soft cream; Palate: sweet and heavily toasted, very grassy with slightly bitter vanilla and an oily layer with some buttery notes; Finish: clean and creamy with some green grass. – $96.99
  2. Bruichladdich 18 Year Cognac Cask Matured – My Tasting Note:  Sweet with gentle spice, gravelly, sugary French oak, black liquorice and lush layers; Palate: sweet and spicy with oat meal raising cookies, thick and viscous, some leather and tobacco notes with late spice; Finish: drying, very spicy and smooth with a lively flourish. Easily my favourite of the 18’s. – $96.99
  3. Bruichladdich 18 Year Bourbon Cask Matured – My Tasting Note:  Nose: clean smoke and charred oak, vanilla milkshake and raspberries right off the bush; Palate: buttery and oily, fresh cream, sweet vanilla which flirts with a bitter edge, soft and easy to drink; Finish: long and drying with more creamy vanilla. Good but not as complex as the Cognac. – $96.99
  4. Bruichladdich 1986 Single Cask Cabernet Franc – 21 Year – 2 Years in Cab Franc – 387 Bottles – 46.6% – My Tasting Note:  Nose: very fruity, deep red fruits, chocolate covered strawberries, fruit syrup and dark chocolate; Palate: gentle, no rough leathery notes (often associated with wine finishes) ripe strawberries, pan seared red fruits, moist candied fruits with late fine wine tannins and a thick and chewy body; Finish: warming and gently spiced, strawberry liquorice and red fruits with soft earthy tannins. Far, far better than I expected and the best of the four whiskies by far! – $132.99



If you have any whisky questions or comments concerning The Malt Messenger please contact me by e-mail, phone, or drop by the store. Feel free to forward me any whisky news you feel should be included in a future issue of The Malt Messenger; it might just get All prices quoted in the Malt Messenger are subject to change!

All of the products mentioned in THE MALT MESSENGER can be purchased in store, over the phone or from our website at

Thanks for reading the Malt Messenger!


Andrew Ferguson
KWM Scotchguy

1257 Kensington Rd. NW
Calgary, AB, Canada
T2N 3P8

WWW Forum Bottling Now Available for Pre-Order‏

A hearty congratulations to Mark Connelly for putting together something unique and special for the members of the whiskywhiskywhisky forum.  Mark has managed a forum bottling of something quite nifty.  I’ll let him share the specs:


“I mentioned in the last email that a forum bottling was on the horizon. It
has been revealed as a Tamdhu 26yo and is now available for pre-order. The
whisky is superb and if you’ve not tried anything from this now mothballed
distillery then here’s the perfect excuse at a forum member discounted
price of £55 per bottle (plus postage)! It’s cask strength and there’s
nothing been added or taken away.

Sales will be done on a first come, first served basis and no limit to quantity per person either. Whisky details are:

Tamdhu Aged 26 Years
Distilled 12th October 1984
Cask no 2835 (American Hogshead – not finished or re-casked)
162 bottles only
50.1% (cask strength)


Price is £55 per bottle (not including any shipping). I hope you will agree that this is a good price and is exclusive to Forum members. Any remaining bottles will go on sale, towards the end of October, in the Chester Whisky Shop but at the full retail price of £69.99 (you will have to mention that you are a member of the Forum to get it at the original price).

Shipping in the UK will cost roughly £7/bottle and Europe will be more like £10. Rest of the world will be closer to £20.

A Trip in Search of the Finest Whiskies

A Trip in Search of the Finest Whiskies

By Noah May, Whisky Connoisseur, London 

Though we are officially a “Fine and Rare Wine” department we do, internationally, sell spirits from time to time. In London on October 21 and in New York on November 13, the Christie’s wine department will be offering selections of rare spirits for your bidding pleasure. Comparatively, spirits is a small percentage of what we do. That being said, when we stumble upon something truly rare or valuable (as I did last March) it is our great pleasure to offer it to spirits connoisseurs the world over. Usually, we specialize in rare bottlings of the finest Scotch, and vintage brandies, specifically Cognac and Armagnac. It was Scotch, however, that brought me to Italy…Italy can be surprisingly cold in March. We walked out of Milan Linate Airport to find the skies grey and as we drove towards our client’s home, the mists fell heavy by the roadsides. When we finally arrived, it was a relief to be ushered into the warmth within. The house was magnificent, a treasure trove filled with fine sculpture and modern art; it was clear that there was hard work ahead, but with this knowledge came a sense of anticipation. 

As soon as we were settled, our host was keen to focus our attention on a bookcase in the corner of the sitting room. Confused, we followed his lead, suddenly reminded that in this industry things are rarely quite as they seem. The bookcase slid back to expose a hidden metal door, six inches thick, and wrought from solid steel.  A few deft workings around a combination lock and slowly, carefully, the door began to open, giving way to a sight that could make any whisky lover sob with joy. 

This was my second proper packing trip with the Wine Department, and my first dealing with whisky, but at that moment, it was clear that this was nothing short of astonishing. In this elegant, wood-panelled room stood almost two thousand bottles of whisky and other spirits, some of which dated back to first decades of the twentieth century. As I stood there, silent, staring up at row after row of dark bottles, I knew that this was something that would stay with me for quite some time. 

It was immediately apparent that the collector’s taste was impeccable and varied, allowing him, over a lifetime, to assemble a collection that was as broad as it was deep. What was also apparent was that we had been invited into someone’s private world; a microcosm where passion and connoisseurship met. Scotland and the great single malts were his first love. Looking along the meticulously ordered shelves, particular rarities stood out – The Macallan 1945, 1938 or 1946 – ancient whiskies that have endured, yet which are almost impossible to find today. As we moved around the room, checking, packing and moving boxes, we were taken on a journey across the moors of Scotland.  From those Macallans of Speyside we move west towards the smoke-scented Islay malts: The Bowmore and wild, peaty Laphroaig. Morning gives way to afternoon, and we find ourselves reaching for highland malts and realise that we’ve covered most of the great distilleries of Scotland. 

As mentioned, this collector’s tastes were broad, and this helps to introduce his cache of Prohibition-Era American whiskies that we discovered, seemingly frozen in time. Amid all the Laphroaigs and the Tamnavulins we came upon this assortment of pint-sized bottles that could transpire to be the most significant collection of Prohibition Era whiskey to ever be sold at auction. The bottles were dusty and irregular in shape, unlike anything I’d seen before. Some date back to the years of the First World War – ‘Old Granddad Whiskey 1916 – Unexcelled – For Medical Use Only’ or ‘St George Reserve –Eighteen Summers Old’ – even their names seem redolent of a very different time.  

Eventually, we came to the end of our task and sat back, exhausted, looking around an empty room. With the excitement of packing such a superb ‘cellar’, came a faint feeling of melancholy as I looked around the bare rows – the next step would be finding these extraordinary whiskies an appropriate new home. 

This magnificent collection represents the largest single-owner collection of whisky that Christie’s have ever offered and an almost unheard of opportunity for the world’s greatest connoisseurs to access an exceptional testament to one man’s lifelong passion. 


World’s Most Expensive Whisky to be Auctioned in November

by Jared Paul Stern

Sep 28th 2010 at 6:01PM

The world’s most expensive bottle of whisky, a one-of-a-kind crystal Lalique decanter holding the oldest and rarest Macallan single malt ever (above), will be auctioned off by Sotheby’s in New York on November 15 for an estimated $150,000 or more. The Macallan in Lalique Cire Perdue, which we previewed back in April, is filled with 64 years and older Macallan single malt Scotch, vatted together from three sherry seasoned Spanish oak casks. The famed Speyside distillery commissioned the legendary crystal artisan to create the decanter using the ancient “cire perdue” or “lost wax” method. Painstakingly hand crafted by Lalique exclusively for The Macallan, and inspired by the beauty of The Macallan’s 150 hectare estate in north-eastern Scotland, it’s based upon a ship’s decanter of the 1820s. Proceeds from the historic sale will be donated to charity: water, a non-profit organization bringing clean and safe drinking water to people in developing nations. 

Burn Stewart Revamp Their Malts


Posted in Whisky News on September 15th, 2010 by Mark – 1 Comment

New Bunnahabhain 12yo New Bunnahabhain 12yo 

Burn Stewart, owners of Bunnahabhain, Deanston, Tobermory and Ledaig (as well as Black Bottle) have revamped three of their malts (Deanston was already revamped a year or two ago) to bring them up to 46.3%, unchillfiltered and with new packaging. 

New Ledaig 10yo New Ledaig 10yo 

New Tobermory 10yo New Tobermory 10yo 

Tobermory and Ledaig, being from the same distillery, have been given matching boxes and label designs tying them nicely together. Of the three new ones I have only tried the new Bunnahabhain at a recent festival and it was pretty tasty. I’ll need to try that against the old one which I still have from a recent review post, which is a classic malt in my opinion. 

Good to see another company raise their ABV and cut out the chill-filtering. I believe the colouring has also been left behind. Perhaps one day all malts will be like this. 

Ardbeg and Bruichladdich Islay Distilleries Up For Sale?

From Islay Weblog…

Ardbeg and Bruichladdich Islay Distilleries Up For Sale?

Thursday, September 09 2010

Yesterday evening around nine a message was posted on a Dutch forum titled “Astounishing Islay whisky news from Scotland”. The message was posted by Hans Offringa. Hans Offringa is author of the book “The Legend of Laphroaig” and a respected member of the whisky community. The contents of his message were quite astounishing indeed. The news Hans posted was that Ardbeg Distillery was up for sale and Bruichladdich Distillery had recently been sold, according to a reliable Scottish source.

Immediately Twitter and Facebook were buzzing and several forums wrote about this unusual rumour, because that’s what it was/is. Hans Offringa tried to verify the news with some of his friends in Scotland and I did my wee research and checked with the Ileach. Brian was kind enough to contact Ardbeg and he said “I’ve checked with Ardbeg and they know nothing of which you speak. the source of the rumours may be the fact that Diageo own 35% of Moet Hennessy, who own Glenmorangie, but how that woud impact on the sale of ardbeg, I know not.” Continue reading…

In the meanwhile a Twitter message from Bruich_Sales appeared: “Not true! Bruich is still 100% independent & we are all working hard to hit budet this year and next.” Now that sounds like nothing has happened or will happen in the (near) future which means that Bruichladdich will remain independent and Ardbeg won’t be sold. Now why was this message posted in a Dutch forum in the first place? Of course it’s speculation but where there’s smoke there’s a fire. Like I said above, Hans Offringa is a reliable and respected member of the whisky community so my guess is that something really is brewing. Perhaps it’s something completely different, that I don’t know. In the meanwhile Hans is waiting for news from his friends in Scotland and as soon as anything comes up I will post it on Twitter and update this post. So for now the news is no news and the rumours will remain rumours.

Balvenie Peated & Balvenie Carribean Cask

So…we have been nattering away over on Liquorature about the lastest from Balvenie.  I thought I would share some details with you from Malt Advocate’s John Hansell:

August 26th, 2010

Two new Balvenie releases

John Hansell

We are being blessed with two new Balvenie releases, a Peated Cask and a Caribbean Cask. Both press releases explaining the details of the whiskies, along with images, are below. I’ll be receiving review samples shortly and will let you know my thoughts after I taste them.


Most Handcrafted Single Malt Introduces Limited Edition, Collectible Whisky

The Balvenie, the world’s most handcrafted Single Malt Scotch Whisky, today announced the launch of a new and much-anticipated limited edition expression: The Balvenie Peated Cask aged 17 years.  Available starting in September 2010, this latest addition to the lauded Balvenie 17 Year Old range is an exciting marriage of Single Malt Scotch whiskies aged in special peated casks and finished in new American oak.

Like past 17 Year Old Balvenie expressions – which include the highly sought-after Islay Cask, Sherry Oak, New Oak, New Wood, Rum Cask and last year’s Madeira Cask – this latest offering is the brainchild of the Balvenie master distiller David Stewart.  More than 45 years of experience have given David an unparalleled expertise in single malt maturation. With a strong desire to experiment, David continues to look at the effects of age and wood upon The Balvenie spirit. The Balvenie Peated Cask is the result of David’s latest work and retains The Balvenie’s traditional honeyed complexity, but introduces layers of rich spice and smoke on the nose and palate.

In 2001, a heavily peated batch of barley was bought from a local supplier and distilled at The Balvenie Distillery. The distilled liquid was allowed to mature until David decided it was time to rejuvenate the maturation process and so the whisky was transferred to newly prepared traditional casks.

The casks that had originally held the peated liquid had taken on much of its character but were without purpose, until David decided to experiment by filling them with 17 year old Balvenie for a short period. The result was an intensely peaty whisky. Marrying this liquid with 17 year old Balvenie finished in new American oak casks produced a hugely complex single malt, rich and spicy with layers of smokiness.

David Stewart comments: “In the crafting of The Balvenie Peated Cask, we wanted to explore the impact of peat and new American oak upon The Balvenie single malt. What we have created is a wonderfully complex and unique whisky which is layered with spice and smoke whilst retaining the characteristic honeyed sweetness inherent to The Balvenie.”

The Balvenie Peated Cask will be available throughout the US from September 2010 for $129.99.


Most Awarded Single Malt Adds Touch of Spice to its Core Range with The Balvenie 14 Year Old Caribbean Cask

The Balvenie, the world’s most handcrafted Single Malt Scotch Whisky, today announced the newest addition to its collection of award- winning Single Malts – the Balvenie 14 Year Old Caribbean Cask.  Available nationwide starting in September, this rich and intense new expression will line up alongside the already established range of Balvenie single malts – 12 Year Old Doublewood, 15 Year Old Single Barrel and recent IWSC Trophy Winner 21 Year Old Portwood – as a permanent fixture in the Balvenie range.

This exciting new expression follows the acclaim of 2008’s limited edition Balvenie 17 Year Old Rum Cask, and the subsequent popularity of rum cask-finished whiskies, with a whisky that bears all the hallmarks of the Balvenie, but with an added level of complexity that comes from finishing the whisky in casks that once held Caribbean rum.  After a 14 year maturation period in traditional oak whisky casks, the Balvenie is then transferred to the rum casks, leading to an exceptional Single Malt that exemplifies the signature smooth, honeyed character of the Balvenie, while adding unique notes of toffee and fruit that come from its innovative cask finish.

The outstanding quality of The Balvenie is a result of the unique craftsmanship retained by The Balvenie Distillery. Nowhere else is there a distillery that still grows its own barley, malts in its own traditional floor malting, employs a team of coopers to tend its casks, a coppersmith to maintain its stills and has in its service David Stewart, the most experienced Malt Master in Scotland, whose innovative approach to cask finishing has set a new standard in Single Malts.

Said Stewart of this new release, “We’ve found that many years maturation in traditional oak whisky casks followed by a few months of rum cask maturation complements The Balvenie single malt very well, and this expression is a beautifully rounded 14-year-old whisky that combines traditional Balvenie vanilla notes with rich toffee, a hint of fruit and a warm, lingering finish.”

 The Balvenie 14 Year Old Caribbean Cask is available nationwide starting in September with a recommended retail price of $59.99. 

Shackleton’s Whisky Pulled From The Ice

I’m sure we’ve all seen headlines regarding the discovery and recovery of a crate of whisky from Ernest Shackleton’s 1908 Antarctic voyage.


Further details are starting to emerge…

by Richard Paterson on Friday, 13 August 2010

Finally! Shackleton’s whisky has been thawed enough that the straw and wrappings can come off to get a good idea of the bottle. This is a fantastic moment and well done to the team for their patience in getting to this stage.

I’m told that the shoulder label says
British Antarctic Expedition
Ship Endurance
while the bottle reads:
Rare Old
Malt Whisky
Blended and Bottled by
Chas. Mackinlay & Co
Blenders and Distillers
Leith and Inverness
I’m saying nothing about my previous prediction but for those interested in more here’s the press release that’s being issued today about the whisky… 

Shackleton’s whisky revealed

After much anticipation, the contents of a whisky crate from Ernest Shackleton’s 1908 British Antarctic (Nimrod) Expedition have been revealed today.
A team of Antarctic Heritage Trust and Canterbury Museum conservators have been examining and working on the crate for the last two weeks in a purpose built cool room. As the ice inside gradually thawed the team was able to examine the contents, and today they extracted several intact bottles labelled “Mackinlay’s Rare Old Highland Malt Whisky”.
“It’s been a delicate and slow process but we are delighted to be able to confirm that the crate contains intact bottles of whisky,” said Lizzie Meek, Antarctic Heritage Trust Artefacts Manager.
Eleven bottles of the 114-year old whisky have been recovered of which remarkably ten appear perfectly intact despite their labels having deteriorated. The wording “British Antarctic Expedition 1907 Ship Endurance” is still visible on some of the bottles. As it transpired Shackleton never changed the name of the ship Nimrod to Endurance for this expedition.
Intriguingly, one bottle is missing from the packing inside the crate. This is consistent with where the crate itself appears to have been jimmied open and the timber broken. “Perhaps one of Shackleton’s crew just couldn’t resist a tipple,” said Ms Meek.
Each of the bottles will be carefully assessed and conserved in the coming weeks.
The Antarctic Heritage Trust plans to work with the owners of the Mackinlay’s brand, Whyte and Mackay, to extract and analyse the whisky. “The ultimate aim is to replicate the original blend so that whisky drinkers the world over can enjoy this gift from the whisky gods. There is much to do before we know if this is possible” said Richard Paterson, Whyte & Mackay’s master blender.
Images of the whisky bottles and video of the conservators at work can be seen in the project blog set up at
It is expected the crate and its contents will remain on display at Canterbury Museum for the next month. Following conservation and analysis the intention is to eventually return them to Antarctica.

Calgary Whisky Club

Lads and Lassies,

After a final discussion with our friend, David Michiels, at Willow Park…

The Calgary Whisky Club is finally a reality!

To any who do not know me yet…my name is Curt.  I, along with David, will be spearheading this adventure.

The inaugural meeting of this exclusive little enclave will be:

7:00pm    Sunday, September 5th, 2010

This rather informal gathering will be at Willow Park Wines and Spirits in Calgary South.

If you are interested, please confirm with me, Curt, at in order to ensure a spot is held.

Membership will be limited to 40 people.  When our maximum is met, we will have a wait list.  Annual dues are yet to be determined.  Your input at the first meeting will help decide many details about this club, including (but not limited to):

  • Member costs
  • Dates and times
  • Format
  • Products
  • What you want to put in/get out of this club

While there will be a nominal fee associated, the benefits will far outweigh anything you put in.  Exposure to many new products, access to industry persons and their knowledge, discounts and exclusive opportunities at products…and most importantly…a social circle of like-minded individuals out to have fun.

To all involved thus far, thanks for your help.  To those I have yet to recruit into supporting roles…uh, sorry…and again…thanks for your help.

To any reps and industry persons…if you are interested in being involved in hosting tastings, providing samples for review or simply sitting in…please do not hesitate to contact me.  Once a month you will have a captive audience of 40 whisky drinkers just itching to sample and purchase your product from Willow Park.

Please hang tight for more information.

Until we meet in September…Slainte!