A Festival and a Prophecy

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Sun setting, whisky tasting about to commence, at the Cowichan Valley Whiskey Festival.

We recently had the pleasure of attending a whiskey festival on beautiful Vancouver Island. A number of brands present we were already familiar with, though we were introduced to a new cast of characters as well including an interesting Indian whiskey, a chocolate whiskey and very tasty bourbon.

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We’ll gladly sip in a setting like this, any time.

However, true to nature, we were most drawn to the single-malts. One in particular stood out, and we found ourselves making our way back to that table for a second (ok, maybe it was a third…or fourth) taste—fortunately, the lovely gentleman pouring at the table indulged us. Although we’ve enjoyed Jura Superstition in the past, this was the first time that Prophecy had graced our palates and it packed the peaty punch we’d been searching for all night!

juraprophecyThe nose is dominated by peat, with a good amount of smoke and a slight sweetness. The peat and sweet balance and complement each other beautifully on the palate, while a hint of spice and brine emerge, further highlighting the smoke. The balance of the dram carries through to the mouthfeel, with an oiliness that’s isn’t too thick or syrupy, but certainly not thin or watery.

As the story goes, “In the early 1700’s the Campbells of Jura evicted a wise old seeress. Bristling with resentment, she prophesied that the last Campbell to leave the island would be one-eyed with his belongings carried in a cart drawn by a lone white horse. In 1938 it came true when Charles Campbell, blind in one eye from the Great War, led his white horse to the old pier for the last time. Just like Jura, Prophecy is a dram that’s steeped in stories, and every drop has a different tale to tell.”

Prophecy is aged in Limousine oak casks, matured without chill filtration, and has easily become our favorite Jura.

Links We Love

IMG_5232Friday has finally arrived, and we’re ready to sit back with a scotch and relish the weekend! What will you be drinking? Have a fantastic weekend, and enjoy these links from around the web…

1) As whisky-loving women, to this we can relate.

2) Would you take a bullet?

3) We’re huge fans of a good infographic—especially one related to our favourite tipple.

5) This about sums it up.

4) While we still prefer our scotch neat, these rocks are pretty cool. (Pun intended)

 

Homemade Whiskey Ginger

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Confession time….

Sometimes we indulge in beverages other than scotch, neat. We know—crazy, right? But true! Now that’s off our chests, we also have to admit to being sticklers when it comes to quality ingredients. Sure, we could simply top off a couple ounces of rye with ginger ale and call it a day, but where is the true enjoyment in that?

So, we decided to take to the kitchen and cook down a quick batch of ginger simple syrup for today’s cocktail. We’re both ginger fans and find this to be a perfect cocktail all year ‘round—whether you’re looking for a thirst-quencher fit for a sunny patio in the summertime, or for something spicy to warm your tummy when the temperature drops.

This ginger syrup truly is simple, but makes for a distinctly delicious cocktail that feels somewhat more indulgent than cracking open a bottle of Canada Dry.

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5 More Gifts for the Whiskey Lover

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1) Each high-quality dram in the Whisky Advent Calendar is hand-selected, individually labeled and wax sealed—we just could not resist putting this on our list! It may be a little late for December, but you could always just count down until Greek Orthodox Christmas (or simply play “catch up” and double up on missed days). ($234.59)

2) We have the pleasure of knowing the lovely woman behind East Van Jam—and know that she too enjoys indulging in a glass of scotch after a long day. Sir Pear of Islay is a “bold jelly” featuring Okanagan pears and single malt Islay scotch—sure to put a smile on any scotch lover’s face! ($11)

3) Really, who wouldn’t want to pour a glass of scotch from a stag head decanter? The Pottery Barn carries these hand-blown-glass beauties, which are also available with monogramming. ($119) 

4) We love to entertain—especially during the holidays. These gorgeous serving boards from Union Wood & Supply Company are made from reclaimed wood rafters “of a local brick and mortar that was once used as a police horse stable/livery…and dressed up with distressed steel handles”. Rustic, yet refined, these boards unquestionably jazz up any cheese plate, and each board is unique! ($80)

5) What kind of whiskey blog would this be if we didn’t recommend a scotch? If you’re feeling a little fancy, we suggest picking up a bottle of the Johnnie Walker Blue Label. We recently enjoyed a dram of this elegantly smoky-smooth amber liquid and can’t get it out of our heads. ($299)

5 Gifts For the Whiskey Lover (or you…)

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1) Take a tour through the wonderful world of whiskey with this fabulous infographic from Pop Chart Labs. Celebrating over 200 kinds of whiskey from America and Canada to Scotland and Ireland, “from scotch to bourbon to single malt to moonshine”—this is a must-have for our walls! The Many Varieties of Whiskey is available as both a limited edition whiskey barrel-inspired wood engraving, or as an 18” x 24” poster chart. ($29; $185)

2) For the globetrotting whiskey lover in your life: turn their airplane experience up a few notches by letting them bartend at 30,000 feet with the Carry On Cocktail Kit! The carry-on friendly kit comes with everything you need to mix up two old fashioned cocktails, including detailed directions, bitters, cane sugar and a muddler. Even in coach, you’ll be riding ‘first class’. ($24)

3) What liquor-loving fashionista wouldn’t love this chic stainless steel flask bangle from Cynthia Rowley? The covert flask holds approx 3oz of booze—and since “arm parties” are all the rage, why not stack a few on each wrist? The bracelet that will not only have you looking great, but feeling great too! ($365)

4) Elegance exists in simplicity, and these Brass Lift Coasters embody both. Of course we prefer these sculptural gems with a tumbler of scotch atop, but they add a sophisticated touch to any tabletop all on their own. ($68)

5) While we always prefer our single malts neat, there are times that a chilled (but not diluted) whiskey is called for. Ice cubes knocking against your teeth and watering down your beverage are never enjoyable, but thankfully the Whiskey Wedge is bringing us joy this season. The set includes both a Double-Old Fashioned Whiskey Glass and a silicone mold—simply add water to the glass, insert the mold and freeze—resulting in glacier-shaped ice that clings to the side of the glass and melts much more slowly than traditional cubes. ($14.95)

Vancouver’s Craft Distilleries

 

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Though steeped in tradition, whiskey has certainly garnered a ton “buzz” recently—especially small batch whiskey. Trying new types of whiskey is, of course, one of our favourite pastimes, and when we came across this piece from All Things Considered on NPR it definitely got us thinking. Now, that’s not to say that our enjoyment of these varieties is lessened in any way! It’s simply a reminder to be aware of labeling practices and, if you’re interested in the origin of your whiskey, to do some research.

That being said, we have been loving the distilleries popping up around Vancouver lately, producing (truly) local small batches of whiskey…and more!

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The Liberty Distillery: Situated on Granville Island, the Liberty Distillery proudly handcrafts their spirits from quality BC ingredients using traditional artisan distillation methods—from the fermentation of the grains to the triple distillation process in handmade copper stills. In addition to their vodka and gin, two white whiskeys are currently available—including one infused with Chilliwack River Valley Wildflower Honey—and an aged whiskey, made from 100% BC organic barley is anticipated for a 2016 release. Experience Liberty’s spirits at their 110yr old antique bar (1494 Old Bridge Road) or enjoy a distillery tour to witness the process up close. thelibertydistillery.com

Odd Society Spirits: Located in East Van, this craft distillery ferments and distills small batches on site, using 100% BC agricultural products. They also offer the unique opportunity to privately own a cask of Canadian Single Malt, matured at the distillery for three years before being bottled for you. Visit them online—oddsocietyspirits.comand check out their tasting lounge at 1725 Powell Street.

Long Table Distillery: Having the distinction of being Vancouver’s first micro-distillery, Long Table’s selection of premium gins, vodkas and “seasonal spirits” are produced from organic, natural and often foraged ingredients, focusing on local and sustainability. Small-batch whiskeys are part of a long-term plan for the company. Their tasting room is open Wednesday-Saturday at 1451 Hornby Street—we recommend trying the Bourbon Barrelled Gin! Find more information at longtabledistillery.com.

Central City Brewers & Distillers: Their award-winning craft beers have been local favourites for years, but Central City entered the world of craft distilling this year with the launch of their small batch vodka and gin. They’re also focusing on putting Canadian whisky back on the map with their 100-percent rye whisky, currently in the works. Find out more at centralcitybrewing.com or in person at 11411 Bridgeview Drive, in Surrey.

Yaletown Distilling Company: This latest venture by the Mark James Group also brings artesian distilling to Vancouver, utilizing 100% BC ingredients—all milled, washed, fermented and distilled in Yaletown. Current offerings include herbal-infused gins and vodkas, with whiskey production next on the agenda. The distillery offers guided tastings and tours five days a week, at 1132 Hamilton Street. ytdistilling.com

The Whiskey Companion You Can Keep in Your Pants

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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.

flavorprofileDistiller 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.

Still Sipping…but we’ve missed you!

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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.

A Storm We Don’t Mind Being Hit By…

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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.