Sunday, 31 December 2017

The First Annual Totally Subjective Whisky Awards

As the year draws to its end, we're encouraged to reflect on the year that was, the year to come, goals achieved, opportunities missed or seized, and so on. I'm not really into all that. Instead, I'm looking back on the different whiskies I've tried, though not necessarily owned, and choosing champions for 2017. This could prove a difficult task so let me be clear on my completely subjetive criteria. The winners are not specialty bottlings, independent bottlings or hand-filled from the cask in the warehouse (not that I've ever been to an actual distillery). The whiskies need not be new for 2017, these awards are based on my experiences with them. The categories are completely made up and I will define them how I see fit. Winners are awarded a mention on this blog and are thus encouraged to send its author many bottles of free whisky. Without further ado, here are the winners:

Canadian Whisky of the Year, limited release: J.P. Wiser's Dissertation


I'm not sure what else I can say about this whisky. Dissertation really opened up the world of Canadian whisky for me. It's the whisky that proved Canadian whisky deserves just as much respect as single malt scotch, Irish single pot still and quality bourbon. There are still, as of this writing, bottles available in Ontario. If you haven't tried it, you really are missing out. It's 87% rye, so expect some bold spices (cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves). It's aged entirely in virgin oak barrels (casks) so it's bottled at its natural colour. No E150a here. After the bottle has been opened and exposed to air for awhile (more than 6 weeks), a beautiful sweet coconut note develops on the finish. Dissertation is the John Tavares of whisky. Many folks overlook Tavares (and Dissertation) because of the media's obsession with perennial champions like Sidney Crosby (the Single Malt Scotch of the hockey world), or flashy upstarts from non-traditional hockey markets like Auston Matthews (the Japanese or Taiwanese whisky of the hockey world). Don't make the same mistakes, folks. Dissertation (and Tavares) is worth your time and undivided attention. 

Canadian Whisky of the Year, standard release: Lot No.40 Rye


Another no-brainer. A bottle of this 100% rye whisky is always in my liquor cabinet and it should always be in yours. Lot 40 is better than any other 100% rye I've ever tried (full disclosure: I haven't tried every single rye in the world). It's not even close. Comparing Lot No.40 to other ryes is the whisky equivalent of comparing Steven Stamkos to the best player on your local beer league hockey team. Stamkos and Lot 40 are in a different league. Corby's flagship rye is bold, complex, spicy, oaky and warming. Lot No.40 works beautifully neat, in a cocktail and, like Stamkos, it's incredible on ice. The fact that it's readily available for less than $40 is a real bonus, a hometown discount.

Bourbon of the Year, standard release: Old Grand Dad 114


This one may surprise a few people. OGD 114 is not readily available in Ontario, so my sample was provided by a friend. Americans reading this might be surprised by a "budget" bourbon winning any kind of award. I've often said that price and quality are not always related and this bourbon is a prime example of a great whisky at a friendly price. The average price for this bourbon in the U.S. is $26. In case you're wondering, "114" refers to the proof, so you might think this Grand Dad ornery at 57% ABV. You'd be wrong. Nosing this bourbon was a shock. There was little to no "alcohol burn" on the nose when I had it. In fact, this was one of the fruitiest bourbons I've ever had. Lots of cherry notes and some lovely corn sweetness. If this were available in Ontario, it would be a mainstay in my collection.

Bourbon of the Year, limited release: Stagg Jr.


This one pops up every now and then at the LCBO, and it disappears very fast. This should tell you something. Stagg Jr. is a big, bold, and powerful bourbon. Stagg Jr. is the kind of bold whiskey you imagine cowboys using to do shooters in every Western you've ever seen. It's not cheap (about $85 CAD at the LCBO) but at about 65% ABV, it's a LOT of bang for your buck (pun intended). There's a ton of brown sugar, cherries, cinnamon, vanilla and oak in here. This is not a bourbon to sip casually. It slaps you in the face and demands your full attention. If the price doesn't put you off, I imagine this bourbon would make for a magnificent Old Fashioned. The high ABV can stand up to anything, but I can't imagine putting something this pricy in a cocktail. My sample was provided by a friend, so I didn't really have the option to try it in Don Draper's prefered drink.

Single Malt Scotch of the Year, age stated: Springbank 10 Year Old


Springbank is tough to find in Ontario; it's worth the chase. Springbank is the epitome of "craft distilling". Lest you think that naught but hipster-speak, I can assure you there are many differences between Springbank and big, corporate players like Macallan. Every step of the whisky-making process, from malting the barley to bottling the whisky is completed on-site at Springbank. Their 10 Year Old Single Malt is complex, with sweet fruit and spicy pepper notes, a little peat smoke and some brine as well. It is a whisky worth lingering over, and it gets better with time in the glass. If whisky drank whisky, it would probably drink Springbank. 

Blended Scotch or Blended Malt of the Year: Compass Box Great King Street Glasgow Blend


Blended scotch gets a bad rap. John Glaser is trying to change that, and he's slowly succeeding. From taking on the Scotch Whisky Association over its arcane interpretation of regulations to releasing a whisky with no tasting notes whatsoever (Phenomenology), Compass Box is shaking up the world of scotch. This blend, to me, redefines what a blended scotch can be. It's sweet and sherried but still has a good amount of smoke. The Glasgow Blend reminds me a bit of Johnnie Walker Black with the rough edges smoothed out and the complexity amped up. Johnnie Black on steroids, if you will. I recommend you try it for yourself. 

Irish Whiskey of the Year, Single Pot Still: Redbreast 12 Cask Strength


If you only have one Irish whiskey in your whisk(e)y cabinet, this should be it. This is the LeBron James of Irish whiskey. It's that much better than all the others. It's big and bold, sweet and spicy. Christmas spices, toffee sweetness, buttered toast; there's so much going on here that it's hard to sip casually. It isn't cheap, but a bottle of this whiskey can easily last you a year since you won't shoot it or sip it casually as a "background whiskey". Much like LeBron, you can't fully appreciate it unless you taste (or see) it (or him) for yourself.

Irish Whiskey of the Year, blended: Jameson Caskmates Stout Edition


Peanut butter and jam. Bacon and eggs. Michael Bay movies and big explosions. Some things just go together. This (seemingly gimmicky) experiment by Jameson sees their classic blended Irish whiskey finished in Stout beer casks. The result is fantastic. Irish whiskey and stout beer are a logical pairing and the flavours work together beautifully. The friendly vanilla and toffee sweetness of Jameson is amped up, with the stout finish adding chocolate and coffee notes as well as a slight hoppy tingle on the tongue. Don't let the low price fool you; this is a whiskey worthy of your attention.


Scotch Whisky of the Year, no age statement: Ardbeg Uigeadail


I've voiced my objections to no age statement scotch before and I won't rehash that here. That said, some NAS whisky is very good. Ardbeg Uigeadail (pronounced OO-gah-dahl) is excellent. It helps that I'm a fan of the "standard" Ardbeg Ten, but the "Oogie" (as it's popularly known) is a different beast altogether. My first bottle of Oogie was not what I expected. The first dram of any whisky is sometimes a bit “closed” but there wasn’t as much Sherry in Uigeadail as I thought there would be. This wasn’t a bad thing, just a surprise. 


Uigeadail has some flavours in common with Ardbeg 10 that feel “amplified” in this (chocolate, coffee and licorice notes) and there are some flavours here that aren’t in the 10 (blackberries, chocolate-covered raisins, walnuts, a bit of leather on the nose).It’s also surprisingly friendly for something bottled at over 50% ABV. A tiny little splash of water really brings a big, dark fruit note out of Uigeadail. I’m reminded of a blackberry tart with dark chocolate, paired with a cigar. The nice thing about this whisky is its tendancy to really develop on the palate. Simply put, it starts with the dark fruit, moving seamlessly to dark chocolate, then to rich cigar smoke before finishing on a dark coffee note with a touch of black pepper. I'm a fan of this whisky, age stated or not. That's why I'm also awarding it my World Whisky of the Year award.


Conclusion


There you have it, my choices for the best whiskies of the year. Do you have favourites? Have you made any new discoveries this year? What are your thoughts on my choices? I hope 2017 has been good to you and that 2018 will be even better.


Should auld acquaintance be forgot,
and never brought to mind?
Should auld acquaintance be forgot,
and auld lang syne?

For auld lang syne, my jo,
for auld lang syne,
we'll tak' a cup o' kindness yet,
for auld lang syne.

Slainte !!

Sunday, 24 December 2017

The Whisky Lover's Holiday Gift Guide: T to Z

Figure it out


This Letter(Kenny) thing is getting tougher. I'm trying to keep prices reasonable, but I can't ignore some nice, albeit higher-priced offerings. Finding a spirit for every letter of the alphabet is as tough as beating Wayne in a fight. Maybe I should stray away from whisky. Maybe I will. Well, here goes. Pitter patter.

T: Teeling Single Grain Irish Whiskey


Grain whiskies have a bad reputation among certain whisky snobs as being "inferior" to malt whiskies. Ignore those people. There are great grain whiskies, and this is a fine one. This whiskey has light aromas of toasted grain, spicy oak, and toffee. Like many Irish whiskeys, it has an almost oily texture. Teeling is fudgy-sweet and herbal-spicy and has a long and balanced finish. There's also a good deal of fruitiness here, as this whiskey has been aged in California Cabernet Sauvignon casks.
LCBO Price: $77.60


U: Ungava Premium Gin

Canadian Arctic sourced botanicals that include cloudberry, labrador tea, and rose hip give this gin its unique colour and flavour. Ungava features aromas of juniper, herbal tea, spice and tart fruit. It's dry and medium-bodied with a warm and spicy finish. Ideal for a nice Gin and Tonic, a Negroni or a Gimlet. This new-style Gin is great in an old-time drink.
LCBO Price: 34.95

V: Virginia Black


Virginia Black is the result of the collaboration between the creator of DeLeón Tequila and award-winning Canadian rapper Drake. It may appear a bit gimmicky in tha bottle, but reviews seem pretty decent. If you're looking for a whiskey that isn't overly bold or oaky, this may be the right one. Lots of buttery sweetness, a faint touch of rye spice and some maple syrup notes round this one out. Drake's whiskey is mild and friendly, like you might imagine the rapper would be. The bottle seems to divide people, as it looks sort of cologne-ish, but if this gift is for someone with fashion-forward tastes, it might do the trick.
LCBO Price: 49.95


W: Wayne Gretzky No.99 Red Cask



No list published in Canada can be complete without the Great One, regardless of its relevance to hockey. There's a lot to like about this whisky. Red Cask uses Ontario-sourced grains and red wine casks from the Gretzky Estates winery in Niagara-on-the-Lake as well as ex-bourbon casks. The resulting whisky is very approchable, and can be sipped neat or mixed in a cocktail. Red Cask includes aged rye, malted rye and corn resulting in a light, yet complex whisky with grape and citrus flavours, almond notes, a bit of brown sugar sweetness. It won't break the bank, and I fully admit that the Great One's name is a selling feature, for better or worse.
LCBO Price: $39.95

X: Xavier Châteauneuf-du-Pape 2012


Yes, a red wine. Hey, you try to find something that starts with X. This wine features Christmas spices (nutmeg, cinnamon), raspberry, and hints of mint. Made from 65% Grenache, 20% Syrah and 15% Mourvedre that was aged in equal parts foudre and barrel, drink it anytime over the coming decade. For those who don't speak French, a literal translation of the name of this village (that's what Châteauneuf-du-Pape is) would be "New Castle of the Pope". In case you didn't know, Châteauneuf-du-Pape is a town in southeastern France. The village is about 12 kilometres north of the town of Avignon. A medieval castle sits above the village and dominates the landscape to the south. It was built in the 14th century for Pope John XXII.
LCBO Price: $37.25

Y: Yellow Spot 12 Year Old Irish Whiskey



I've written about this one before. It's a terrific whiskey and a great example of a wine-finished single pot still. It features a 12 year age guarantee, which is always nice to see. It isn't a dealbreaker if there isn't an age statement, but it's nice to see one. There's Something to be said for maturity. Yellow Spot has been matured in three types of cask: American Bourbon cask, Spanish Sherry butts and Spanish Malaga casks for a sweeter flavour. It is more wine-influenced than its little sister, Green Spot. This dram explodes with lemon, butterscotch, cinnamon, peaches, vanilla, almonds, grapes and apricots. And at 46% ABV, this whiskey packs a bit more punch than Green Spot. The finish is longer and the bite is firmer. It's a bit tough to find at times, but it's well worth the effort.
LCBO Price: $100.10

Z: Zaya Gran Reserva Rum


More rum? Yes, more rum. This one features aromas of caramel, citrus peel, vanilla, spice, nuts and toasty oak. It has a rich and mouthfeel with lots of spice, clove, caramel, vanilla, orange and a slight scent of banana. Its long finish will keep you warm on a cold Christmas night. Or morning. No judgment. We're all friends here.
LCBO Price: $74.95

Conclusion

I hope your Holiday season is fantastic. I hope my suggestions have given you ideas on what to pour into your "cup of cheer". (PSA ALERT) Make sure you enjoy responsibly and please, be safe; never operate a motor vehicle after imbibing alcohol. Have a great one !!!

Slainte !

Wednesday, 20 December 2017

The Whisky Lover's Holiday Gift Guide: O to S

How are you now? I'm not so bad. Welcome back. Christmas and Festivus are fast approaching and we're at the end of Chanukkah. If you're still scrambling, keep in mind I'm trying to vary the price range of my recommendations and so while there are many options for each letter, not all of them will be affordable for everyone, and not all of them will be the sole purview of monocle-wearing fatcats who quaff their dram of choice while watching "Masterpiece Theatre".


O: Old Pulteney 12 Year Old Sinlge Malt


Old Pulteney is a unique single malt scotch. It is unabashedly maritime and as such, there are many aromas and flavours in this Highland whisky reminiscent of the sea. Briny with a touch of smoke, there are fresh citrus flavours here as well; lemon, limes and a touch of sherry sweetness. Old Pulteney is one of the great "all-around" whiskies that can please just about anyone. Even the inimitable and curmudgeonly Ralfy rated it 90 out of 100 points. If that's not praise enough, I don't know what is.
LCBO Price: $79.95


P: Port Charlotte Scottish Barley Heavily Peated Single Malt

This is a big, bold offering from Bruichladdich. It weighs in at a hefty 50% ABV and delivers a weighty peated punch. Port Charlotte offers more than just smoke though. You'll find caramel notes, malt biscuits, green fruit and a touch of citrus and brine rounding out the finish. Like all other No Age Statement Bruichladdich whiskies, this one has a 5 digit code on the back that you can enter on Bruichladdich's website. This will give you the whisky's "recipe", i.e. the age of all the component whiskies. Good job, laddie. If Port Charlotte offerings aren't available near you, I would heartily recommend anything Bruichladdich makes.
LCBO Price: $109.25


Q: The Quiet Man Traditional Irish Whiskey


The label of this bears no age statement, The Quiet Man is billed as being “aged four years” and having a “high malt percentage, compared to most blends.” It also claims to be the first Irish whiskey bottled in Derry, Northern Ireland in over a century. It's a light-flavoured but pleasant whiskey with cereal notes and plenty of fruit.
LCBO Price: $39.65

R: Redbreast 12 Year Old Irish Whiskey






This may be THE Irish Whiskey that defines the genre. It's mid-priced (relatively speaking), it's sweet (but not cloyingly sweet), it's spicy (but it won't burn your tongue); there's everything great about Single Pot Still style in this bottle. It often comes on sale, and I have never met anyone who didn't like it. Redbreast is bold, rich, fruity and full, despite the fact that this version "only" weighs in at 40% ABV. I guarantee any person receiving this as a gift will be pleased.
LCBO Price: $79.95

S: Sazerac Straight Rye Whiskey



This bold rye has lots of caramel and vanilla, yet it is relatively dry. There's oak that evolves to nutmeg, almond, and some orange on the finish. This is a versatile rye; it's nice neat, on the rocks and in cocktails, including its namesake Sazerac. What's in a Sazerac? Glad you asked.
  • 5 cl cognac or rye (like this Sazerac rye)
  • 1 cl Absinthe
  • One sugar cube
  • Two dashes Peychaud's Bitters
  • Rinse a chilled old-fashioned glass with the absinthe, add crushed ice, and set it aside. In another glass or shaker, stir the remaining ingredients over ice and set aside.
  • Discard the ice and any excess absinthe from the first prepared glass, and strain the drink into the glass. Add  lemon peel for garnish

  • LCBO Price: $55.95



    Conclusion

    We're nearing the end of the list. Did I leave your favourites out? Have my recommendations been helpful? Let me know in the comments.

    Slainte !

    Thursday, 14 December 2017

    The Whisky Lover's Holiday Gift Guide: H to N


    If the first installment of this series didn't provide you with the right gift idea, I've got seven more recommendations for you. I'll attempt to remain in the lower to middle portion of the price spectrum, since few of us are realistically going to spend over $100 on a bottle of liquor. With that in mind, some of the offerings I've chosen may surprise a few people. But I'm hoping that my ability to surprise you is, as Squirrely Dan (brilliantly portrayed by K.Trevor Wilson) might put it, "what you appreciates abouts me".


    H: Highland Park 12 Year Old Single Malt

    

    Will HP honour their word?

    

    This one comes with a bit of a warning. Highland Park has been emphasizing their "Viking Origins" in their marketing these days. They even gave their bottles a cool new design. While this change shouldn't be worrisome on its own, their flagship (or should that be "longship"?) 12 Year Old bottling now carries "Viking Honour" in its name. Many, including the learnèd Serge from WhiskyFun, mused about the possibility of this being a precursor to dropping the 12 Year Old Age Statement altogether. I emailed Highland Park about this and their representative promptly replied "I can categorically confirm we have no intention to discontinue our 12yo, it is our award winning, key expression in our range." This seems reassuring, but you know what they say about good intentions. Nevertheless, this is one of the most balanced, complete scotches you'll find for under $100 (in Ontario that is; other jurisdictions have far more reasonable prices when it comes to scotch whisky). Honeyed, floral, slightly smoky, slightly fruity, Highland Park 12 has a bit of everything, yet still retains clarity.
    LCBO Price: $79.95

    I: Islay Mist 8 Year Old Blended Scotch Whisky



    A budget blended scotch? You betcha ! If you're giving to a known peated whisky-lover but can't afford to drop $86 on a bottle of the magical Laphroaig 10, consider Islay Mist 8 as a more wallet-friendly alternative. Islay Mist 8 is a blended scotch, meaning it's made up (largely) of grain whisky but it also contains single malt. The single malt in question, at least in this case, is Laphroaig. This whisky also carries an age statement, meaning even the grain whisky has been aged at least 8 years. This helps to mellow out some of the "rough edges" sometimes associated (rightly or wrongly) with young grain whiskies. The smoke and peat are not the stars, but complement the lighter, sweeter flavours of honey, vanilla, and a touch of sherry.
    LCBO Price: $31.95

    J: J.P. Wiser's Legacy Canadian Whisky



    This is likely the best whisky you've never tried. It's probably the best whisky you've never even heard about. Unless you're already a Canadian whisky fan, you've probably walked by this one countless times without stopping to think about it, which is a shame, since this is a terrific whisky at a very good price. According Davin de Kergommeaux (he's THE guy when it comes to Canadian whisky, in case you forgot) "much of the whisky in Legacy is distilled in a traditional copper pot still from a mash rich in rye-grain. The white-oak barrels used to mature Legacy are toasted, not charred, creating a most amazing range of typical ‘rye’ spices." Adding to the typical rye spice flavours (cloves, cinnamon, nutmeg) are toffee, mint, oak and some great floral notes. This is not a typical mixing whisky, though it is great in my go-to cocktail, The Old Fashioned. This whisky should be a mainstay in every enthusiast's home bar. That said, there are rumours (ed. recently confirmed) of Legacy's imminent demise, so I suggest getting some while you can (that's what she said!)
    LCBO Price: $49.95

    K: Knob Creek Rye




    Knob Creek is an American Straight Rye whiskey, meaning at least 51% of the mash bill is rye. For anyone who loves the bold spiciness of rye, this is a great thing. Like most American whiskies, there are notes of butterscotch, vanilla and oak to complement the cinnamon, clove and ginger notes typically found in a rye. Knob Creek is bottled at 100 proof (50% ABV) so it packs a punch. Be forewarned!
    LCBO Price: $49.95


    L: Lot no. 40 Single Copper Pot Still Canadian Whisky


    I like it a Lot

    This might be THE best value for your whisky dollar, bar none. Lot No.40 is an amazing 100% rye whisky that's so good, you'll wonder how it can retail at only $40 (or less, if it's on sale). I reviewed it here and my assessment stands. This stuff is incredible. Tons of rye flavour, oak, baking spices such as cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg are all apparent. I get notes of apple, vanilla and black pepper, but you'll have to try this one for yourself. If there's a Canadian whisky I always want in my home bar, this is it.
    LCBO Price: $39.95


    M: Monkey Shoulder Blended Malt Scotch



    I've heard this is Vladimir Putin's favourite scotch. Do you know why? The malts that make up this beauty are Kininvie, Glenfiddich and Balvenie. Get it? KGB ! Drum roll. But seriously folks, this is a nice, light, sweet dessert whisky. A digestif, if you will. Lots of vanilla, toffee, some nuttiness and a bit of spice on the finish. In case you're wondering, the name refers to a shoulder condition that afflicted some distillery workers after years of turning malted barley by hand. If this whisky seems kitchy, believe me, it isn't. It has an almost cult-like following online, and for good reason; this is a vatting of three quality whiskies at a very reasonable price.
    LCBO Price: $65.05


    N: Ninety 20 Year Old Canadian Whisky



    Highwood Distillers has aged this 100% corn whisky in charred oak bourbon barrels and finished it in sherry casks. The Ninety, a reference to the proof (45% ABV) gives intense aromas of orange peel, toffee, roasted nuts, baking spices and vanilla; the has some added fruitiness, vanilla, spices (cloves, white pepper) and a long finish. Don't be put off by the fact that this is 100% corn. This whisky is fantastic. And a 20 Year Old whisky at less than 60 bucks is something to celebrate. Let the cool kids eschew Canadian whisky; it leaves more for the rest of us. Actually, this might make those of us who enjoy Canadian whiskies the true cool kids. We're into Canadian Whisky before it's cool.
    LCBO Price: $58.15

    Conclusion


    Christmas (or whatever holiday you celebrate) is getting closer. If a lovely bottle is on your loved one's wishlist, I hope I've provided you with some useful ideas. Next time, I'll take you through my recommendations for the letters "O" through "S". Please feel free to comment with whisk(e)y, rum, tequila, mescal or wine suggestions of your own.






    There are several good reasons for drinking
    and one has just entered my head.
    If a man can't drink when he's living,
    then how the hell can he drink
    when he's dead

    Slainte !!

    Wednesday, 6 December 2017

    The Whisky Lover's Holiday Gift Guide: A to G

    The holidays aren't so bad. Get your shopping done early and then you can enjoy National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation, Bing Crosby's "Mele Kaliki Maka", cousin Eddie and his R.V. Everyone loves gift-giving, but what do you do if you're a whisky-lover's secret Santa?
    
    Get these guys a Pupper's
    Well, you could buy a bottle of Gus N Bru or  a random bottle of whatever. You could look to the whiskies that scored well in Jim Murray's Whisky Bible  (although I wouldn't if I were you). Or you could ask the gift recipient what they like, but that would ruin the secret and the fun. So you should read this guide and find the right bottle for your gift recipient. I'll break this gift-buyer's guide down somewhat like an Advent calendar. Rather than days, though, I'll take a page out of the Letterkenny handbook go through letters of the alphabet with a great choice (some might surprise you) for each letter. Get after it, then.

    A: Alberta Premium Dark Horse


    This is an incredibly good whisky at a very holiday-friendly price. I reviewed it here and my assessment of subsequent bottles stands. In fact, I might add an extra half moustache if I were rating the last bottle I had. This is a real workhorse (forgive the pun) whisky. It would make a solid Old Fashioned, it's good neat, and at under $35, you don't have to cringe if people mix it with Coke or Ginger ale.
    LCBO Price: $31.95  


    B: Bunnahabhain 18 Year Old Single Malt


    It's a bonnie dram !!
    Need to impress someone this Holiday season? This whisky will do the trick. Bunnahabhain keeps its natural colour (no fake E150 tan here), it is non-chill filtered and its taste is deep and rich. Bunnahabhain is a bit briny, it's far less smoky (barely any smoke at all) than most Islay malts, and it has notes of gingerbread, wood spices (cinnamon, nutmeg) and salted caramel. There's nuttiness, dark fruits, oranges, and oak. The finish features some lingering vanilla toffee notes. Bunnahabhain is a winner, any way you look at it. Sticker shock? Yes, but when nothing but the best will do, Bunnahabhain 18 outperforms many higher-priced whiskies. Alternately, Bunnahabhain 12 is about half the price, and is still an excellent choice.
    LCBO Price: $179.95

    C: Compass Box Great King Street Glasgow Blend


    Great Scot !!
    This is a blended scotch for scotch nerds. Compass Box isn't a distillery, they blend other distilleries' malt and grain whiskies to create some amazing whiskies. The Glasgow Blend is 33% high quality grain whisky and 67% malt whisky from the Highlands, Speyside and Islay, aged in a combination of first-fill and refill ex-bourbon barrels and first-fill Sherry casks, with a small portion being finished in new French oak. Compass Box is a great company. Company founder John Glaser is really showing the world how great blended scotch can be.
    LCBO Price: $69.95

    D: Diplomatico Reserva Exclusiva Rum


    Why is the rum always gone?
    Pump the brakes. What's this? A rum??? Yes, a rum. It's Christmas time, and come on, who doesn't love rum? It's a key ingredient in egg nog. In fact, rum is the only ingredient in my egg nog, as I can't abide creamy booze. This Venezuelan beauty is bold, fruity and sweet. Diplomatico is a dark golden rum, distilled from molasses in a copper pot still before 12 years of ageing in whisky barrels. Diplomatico Reserva Exclusiva is one of the most awarded rums, with more than 20 Awards to its name. If you've never had a good sipping rum, this is a great place to start. Ideal if your gift recipient is a pirate, or a lover of all things nautical. Diplomatico will have you asking "Why is the rum always gone?" sooner rather than later, savvy?
    LCBO Price: $58.75

    E: Eagle Rare 10 Year Old Bourbon


    Eagle Rare uses the same low rye mash bill as Buffalo Trace, George T. Stagg, and others. This means Buffalo Trace and Eagle Rare 10 are essentially the same distillate, aged in different barrels, for different lengths of time. You can think of Eagle Rare as a more mature Buffalo Trace. It's a Buffalo Trace that's a bit more selective with its choice of barrels. A Buffalo Trace that drives a Cadillac instead of a pickup truck. Not bad for an extra $14. You get toffee, cherries, orange and some corn sweetness. If rye isn't your husband/wife/brother/sister/father/mother's thing, this may be the bourbon for them.
    LCBO Price: $57.15


    F: Forty Creek Double Barrel Reserve

    
    Double your pleasure
    The grains used in the whisky (rye, barley, and corn) are distilled individually in a copper pot still rather than making a mash-bill with the three grains. They are then  aged separately in white oak barrels. The whiskies are then married and aged again once they have reached the proper ageing. Double barrel, then, refers to the process of individually ageing the whiskies in oak and then aging again in bourbon barrels. Forty Creek Double Barrel Reserve gives you lots of butterscotch and sweet citrus with a bit of wood spices and a buttery finish. If you find this one a bit too pricy, there are plenty of other whiskies from Forty Creek that will please any whisky drinker. Barrel Select and Copper Pot Reseerve are less money, and are fantastic choices for the holidays. In 2007, Forty Creek founder John K. Hall was recognized by Malt Advocate Magazine as “Pioneer of the Year”, and was the first and only Canadian whisky maker to receive such a prestigious award. In 2017, Hall  was inducted into the Whisky Hall of Fame by Whisky Magazine, an honour he shares with other whisky luminaries such as Irish whiskey savant Barry Crockett and the "Buddha of Bourbon", Jimmy Russell. John K. Hall helped put Canadian whisky back on the map when he founded Forty Creek. Believe me when I say: ALL of their offerings are gift-worthy.
    LCBO Price: $59.95

    G: Green Spot Irish Whiskey



    From the Emerald Isle comes a whiskey sure to make those not receiving it green with envy. Green Spot is produced at the Midleton Distillery in Cork, Ireland. The distillery, owned by Irish Distillers Limited, produces most of Ireland's Single Pot Still Whiskey. Green Spot is a "bonded" whiskey, meaning it is produced exclusively for Mitchell and Son. Green Spot is rich, mouth-coating with lots of toffee sweetness, pear and green apple fruitiness and a pleasant malt note. A great pre-dinner whiskey.
    LCBO Price: $86.05


    Conclusion



    There you have it, the first installment in my Advent Alphabet is complete. Tune in next time for letters G through L. Dirty f***in' dangles, boys ! Forecheck, backcheck, paycheque ! Wheel, snipe, celly, boys !! These are some certified beauticians, boys ! Seriously, if you haven't seen Letterkenny, you need to binge-watch it now !








    Slainte !!