This summer, Hydrolife Magazine asked us to contribute an article on 5 things we thought their readers need know about whiskey. And of course, we were more than delighted to do so! Check out the article here, and thanks to Hydrolife for helping us share our whiskey love!
Sure, we have our tried and true go-tos, but we are certainly not ones to discriminate—every un-tasted bottle is a potential new favourite!
The Distiller app is a fantastic resource, whether you’re new to the world of whiskey, an aficionado, or looking for a gift. Simply answer a few questions (including mood, price range, how adventurous you’re feeling) and Distiller provides a suggestion by matching your tastes to the unique characteristics of each bottle. You can also browse their database by region, price and type, and each result has a thorough description and easy-to-decipher flavour profile chart.
Distiller employs a panel of “whiskey Iron Chefs”, each with regional expertise (American whiskey, Scotch, Irish and other global varieties) to individually rate and review the bottles in its database. You can also create your own profile to track and review drams you have sampled, plus find, follow and share opinions with other whiskey lovers. Rating whiskeys through the app will provide you with recommendations specifically catered to your tastes.
We find this all pretty awesome. If you do too, go indulge in something new and share what you discover with us at @TheWhiskyChicks.
We may have been slacking on the posts the past few months (sorry for the temporary abandonment!) but we pinky-promise there has still been a good deal of what we like to refer to as ‘research’ going on.
Most recently, we have been working our way though a bottle of Glenmorangie Quinta Ruban. This delicious edition spends ten years in white oak barrels before being transferred and finished in port casks from the Quintas—wine estates of Portugal—for another two.
Unlike many other port-finished Scotches, the Quinta Ruban is at a price point that won’t hurt your wallet, making it a great find for the scotch lover on a budget—particularly because this beautiful, dark, sumptuous amber treasure truly makes you feel like you’re drinking something more expensive.
The nose is citrusy and fruity, mixing with bold notes of nutmeg and walnut, and once the smooth liquid hits your tongue, the velvety dark chocolate mint flavours emerge, and mellow out with more sweet orange.
Although the Quinta Ruban may not have the smokiness that we’re often most drawn to, it is certainly a delightful scotch that is sure to be a crowd pleaser—and definitely has us coming back for more! Another strong bar cart addition.
Last year, one of our favourite single-malts, Talisker, expanded its portfolio with three new releases: Storm, Dark Storm (matured in heavily charred casks) and Port Ruighe (with a port finish). We recently tried Storm and couldn’t agree more with one review describing it as “…everything that you love about other Taliskers, with the settings turned right up.”
Storm has a bold aroma and flavour, achieved by using a mix of refilled casks and rejuvenated casks. Rejuvenated casks are casks that have been de-charred and re-charred to give them a second life. Although Storm doesn’t carry an age statement, its smooth finish and mouthfeel would never betray a true age.
Golden in colour, with a buttery, smoky nose and teasing notes of vanilla and black pepper, there is no mistaking that this is Talisker. While we can’t decide which Talisker we like best, we certainly agree that with a similar price point to the 10yr, Storm will definitely be a welcome addition to our bar cart.
Upon rejecting the offer of a cocktail menu at a Yaletown watering hole recently and instead each requesting a glass of Talisker, neat, these two Whiskey Chicks received a look replete with disbelief and intrigue from the bartender.
“Sorry,” he said, “I was just surprised. It’s refreshing to have a couple of women come in and order something other than a vodka soda or a Cosmo.”
Far from the first time we have received this response, we’re commonly faced with raised eyebrows and a look of surprise from both men and women when ordering our tipple of choice. And while we certainly don’t aim to shock with our taste preference, we’re okay with not fitting a stereotype—particularly one that emerged in the late 90’s courtesy of the Cosmopolitan-swilling ladies of Sex in the City (which, nonetheless, will forever be a show close to our hearts and never far from our DVD players).
But when exactly did scotch become “a man’s drink”? This recent article in Esquire references several historical events and movements involving whisky, with women at the forefront. Yet sometime between women calling the shots during prohibition and the modern day, scotch became a measure of manliness.
Even if you are a woman (or a man, for that matter) who does enjoy the occasional fruity beverage with an equally fruity name—Flirtini anyone?—there’s no reason to shy away from a bold, peaty monster of a scotch. Or perhaps your palate is tempted by something lighter and more floral.
That’s one reason why we love the amber nectar so much—the wide range and depth of flavour profiles offers endless opportunities to discover something new and deliciously enticing, and also means there’s likely a scotch out there with just the right notes to delight those with even the most discerning of tastes. And it doesn’t hurt that even if you happen to indulge in more than an ounce or two, you aren’t faced with quite the same drunken affect as with other liquors and rarely will you have a hangover afterwards…
Besides, let’s be honest, there’s something just plain sexy about a glass of scotch. The smooth texture—heavy and viscous, but not syrupy—the rich amber colour, the immediate warmth that spreads through your body as you roll it over your tongue and it trickles down your throat. There’s an air of romance around it. It’s a drink that insists that you slow down, that you savour it. We like it for its attention-seeking boldness—the way it asks you to be aware of it with each sip, and consider it.
This anthropomorphization of whisky made us laugh:
Whisky doesn’t care. That’s what makes it cool. The only other liquor that’s anywhere near as cool is Tequila. But Tequila’s always been too crazy to really be cool. Tequila will cut you for looking at its woman, then laugh while the cops drag it off to jail, and spit at you during the trial. And trust me you don’t want to pick on Vodka either. Dude doesn’t have much of a personality, but I swear he goes to the gym twice a day. You want the nerd of the liquor crew? Try Gin. You can give Gin an atomic wedgie and the worst it’ll do is scream that his daddy will have you banned from the yacht club. (source)
I mean…it’s kind of true. And that’s not to say that you’ll never find us tossing back a tequila shot (or two, or three…), or a vodka-something-or-other. But we have a true love affair with good scotch that only continues to grow stronger every day. And this is one love affair that won’t end up with any broken hearts.
Daneson is a Canadian company manufacturing small batches of toothpicks. Made from premium northern white birch, they are available in flavours like salted birch, lemon, cinnamint and, our personal favourite, Single Malt.
What really makes these toothpicks stand out is the barrel-aged Islay Signal Malt Scotch— from a 200 year old distillery—that they’re soaked in, and the kiln drying process which leaves behind a delicious peaty flavour and deep, wood notes.
We recommend these tasty little treats for scotch lovers like us, who enjoy the finer things in life.
CHILL FILTERED WHISKY
Chill filtering is a process of removing residue, such as fatty acids, esters and proteins, from whisky prior to bottling. Purely cosmetic, chill filtering clarifies the whisky, preventing it from becoming hazy or cloudy when ice or water is added and also preventing the formation of sedimentation in the bottle.
In order to do this, the whisky is cooled (to around 0°C for single malts and colder for blends) and passed through a series of filters. This allows producers to dilute the whiskey to a lower proof and have it remain clear both on the shelf and in the glass.
NON-CHILL FILTERED WHISKY
The substances that are removed during the chill filtration process are also components that contribute to the flavour, aroma and texture of a whisky. Removing them may improve clarity, but many connoisseurs feel this alters the taste and other characteristics.
Some feel strongly about “preserving the integrity of the whisky” and the traditional craft, preferring a non-chill filtered whisky. The number of distilleries offering non-chill filtered products is growing to satisfy this demand, while some distilleries, such as Bruichladdich, do not filter any of their products.
So…To Chill or Not To Chill?
This has been a hot topic in the whisky industry lately. Those against chill filtration are convinced that the bouquet of the whisky is altered during the filtration process, resulting in a less than superior product. Those in favour of it maintain that the taste and texture of the whisky remain intact and that filtration simply provides a clear, well-balanced dram.
As always, we feel that the best way to determine your preference is to taste and compare both types of whisky on your own.
Here are some a few non-chill filtered selections, at different price points, to get you started:
Ardbeg 10yr unfilltered
Tasting notes: sweet vanilla counter balanced by lemon and lime
Finish: long and glorious with sea salt caramel and beach bonfire smoke
Tasting notes: orange, black cherries, dried fruit and ginger
Finish: robust and intense with bitter sweet notes of spices
Macallan Unfiltered Cask Strength (MC)
Tasting Notes: orange and light, spicy wood resins (clove & ginger) with smoky oak
Finish: intriguing and complex; layers of citrus fruits and a hint of vanilla sweetness
While some swear single malt scotch is the only whisky worth sipping, others are loyally devoted to blends—and the battle rages on.
There are some common misconceptions when it comes to the difference between the two, as the word single can be quite deceptive.
So what exactly does single mean?
A single malt scotch whisky is produced from malted barley. But here’s where the confusion comes in: “single” does not mean that the product came from one single batch or barrel. Instead, it refers to the fact that the whisky is the product of one distillery and contains whisky from multiple barrels (normally aged in oak casks for a minimum of three years) produced at that location. The year on the label refers to the youngest whisky in the bottle—ie. a 12yr scotch may contain whisky from barrels aged for longer but it must be labeled based on the barrel aged for the least amount of time.
Single grain scotch whisky is similar to single malt whisky in that the whisky is produced at the same distillery. Where they differ is single grain whisky contains barley and one or more other cereal grains such as rye or wheat. Again, in this case, single only refers the fact that the whisky is from one distillery and not that it comes from a single type of grain or a single barrel.
Single-barrel or single cask scotch is just as it sounds—from one single barrel of whisky. These are much more rare and exclusive than other single malts. Characteristics of the whisky (flavour, colour, bouquet) produced in each barrel vary from one to the next, so every single-barrel release is different.
Now that we have that sorted out, let’s move on…
What about blends?
Now that we’ve clarified “single”, hopefully the word “blended” makes a bit more sense in relation…
Blended malt scotch whisky contains single malt whisky from multiple distillery locations. Some blends include up to 40 different whiskies in a single bottle.
Blended grain scotch whisky contains single grain scotch whisky from several distilleries.
Blended scotch whisky is from two or more distilleries and contains several kinds of grains—a mix of both malt whisky and grain whisky. Most of the blended scotch purchased at liquor stores today falls into this category.
With so many variables, we recommend trying a variety of both single malt and blended scotches to determine whether you have an inclination for one over the other or simply enjoy both.
The week may still be young, but your work plate is already pilled high and Friday seems as though it couldn’t be further away. Take a second to unwind with some links that caught our eye this week…
1) This gorgeous ad, shot in the lush, rain-drenched Irish countryside.
2) This debunking of common whiskey myths.
3) They had us at whiskey…then threw in sriracha. Woah.
4) 15 fabulous fall whiskey cocktail recipes.
5) Not that we needed another reason to imbibe in the amber nectar, but this guy sure seems to support our preference.