Tuesday, 17 December 2013

Davin De Kergommeaux Tweet Tasting

Whisky Review
During the month of May I spent four very interesting Sunday evenings, re-reading Davin De Kergommeaux's Canadian Whisky and joining a section of the #whiskyfabric from around the globe discussing the book with the author. 

Organised by Johanne McInnis (@Whiskylassie to us on Twitter), each week we reviewed a section of the book, starting from section four 'a concise history of Canadian Whisky' and working our way through to the nine key distilleries that remain today. At the end of each session we tasted a Canadian whisky, blind, and this is the culmination of those four tweet tastings.
Week 1
Whisky Discovery #420

Lot 40 (43% abv)
Canadian Whisky
Not available in the UK yet
Canadian Whisky Review
For the first week of Canadian Whisky we were all to read the first part of Section Four, A concise history of Canadian whisky reading Chapters 10-13 which covers three of the early distilling dynasties; Thomas Molson and the Molson Distillery (1821-1867) Gooderham and Worts (1832-1990), and Henry Corby's Corbyville (1859-1987)

Our first whisky comes from the largest distillery operating in Canada today. Hiram Walker & Sons was established in 1858, Ontario, is also the longest continuously operating beverage alcohol distillery in North America.

Lot No. 40 is expertly distilled in small batches using only the finest locally sourced ingredients. By distilling in a single copper pot still, the resultant whisky starts off earthy and woody tasting before becoming full bodied and complex with a velvety vanilla oak finish.

So What Did I Think?
Whisky Reviews
Ready to go at Whisky Discovery HQ
These notes were all done blind, the expression only being revealed after we had all nosed, tasted and posted our notes:

Colour: Lovely rich golden colour

Nose: Sweet butterscotch popcorn with spicy rye like notes. Cloves came to mind at first, then after a little while in the glass there is a slight sour note, almost vinegar like. There's also a crushed green pine needles note, and even picked up some Thai Basil. Adding a drop of water mellows the sour note picked up.

Palate: It's oily and mouth-coating. Vanilla and butterscotch lead, some herbal notes, Quite creamy, the pine needles found on the nose appear on the palate and spice gently builds on the tongue. with liquorice remaining at the end.  With a drop of water it becomes really smooth and even creamier

Finish: Remains spicy with more sweet butterscotch and vanilla although slightly drying

And Davin's notes?
Dark, sour German rye bread, with dry grain, caraway seeds, oak and bitter dark molasses. A floral fruitiness matures into dark prunes, oranges and aromatic vanilla. but this is all about rye bread

What did everyone else think?
@sjoerd972: A very creamy variety of rye whisky. But thick rye is very recognisable. Rather sweet too
@The_Casks: Vanilla bean, caramel, bruised apples. Toasted, buttered rye bread
@WhatTastesGood: Nose; major caraway and some delightful ginger snappy notes
@jfpilon: white flowers. orchard. orange blossoms
@WhatTastesGood: First sip, sweet like a dark butterscotch, spicy with cloves and cinnamon. Fresh herbal notes too, esp mint.
@WhiskyNotes: The woody sourness stands out on the palate for me, lots of spices and herbs as well. Menthol. Caramel. Ginger.
Week 2
Whisky Discovery #421

Alberta Premium Dark Horse (45% abv)
Canadian Whisky
Not available in the UK yet
Canadian Whisky Review
Our second Sunday afternoon of Canadian Whisky had us continuing with Section Four, A concise history of Canadian whisky reading Chapters 14-18 covering three more of the early distilling dynasties; Joseph E Seagram, Hiram Walker and J.P. Wiser, and the first chapter of Section Five, intoducing the first of the current (at time of printing) nine distilleries of Canadian Whisky, Alberta Distillery and we ended our evening tasting one of their core expressions.

The nose of Dark Horse is full of oak and smoke imparted by the heavily charred American white oak barrels. When sipping Dark Horse, you can experience a horseshoe shaped pattern on your tongue, with some sour and spice on the sides and sweetness on the tip. Flavours of vanilla, smoke, sweet oak, and savoury dried fruit such as plum and blackcurrant. Smooth and long lasting sweetness on the finish.

So What Did I Think?
Whisky Review
As before these notes were all done blind, the expression only being revealed after we had all nosed, tasted and posted our notes:

Unfortunately I was struggling with a cold during our second session and my notes at the time were hopeless.

My initial thoughts were an alcohol burn on the nose, and so I was guessing 45% abv and later I found a chicory note on the nose.

On the palate I could only taste Chicory and wasn't sure if that was from the cough/cold sweets I had eaten that day. However, it reminded me of 'Camp coffee' (is it still around?) which has chicory in it, there was a light sweetness to it too and a little pepper at the end. I did manage to return to this dram later on after clearing the cold and really loved this dram and would love to see this one in the UK

And Davin's notes?
Unfortunately Alberta Premium Dark Horse did not feature in the first edition of Canadian Whisky, but you can read Davin's notes here

What did everyone else think?
@jfpilon: nice plum & prune nose, with a touch of rubber, pine and flint. Dark. nice
@mavisinc: spiced orange and ginger. Reminds me of Christmas pudding.
@Macdeffe: Ryesyrup, whatever that is, is my first impression. Very sweet and very dark for a Canadian
@WhatTastesGood: The palate has a lot of cherry cough syrup and, to me, some cigar smoke. V sweet, almost cloying
@mavisinc: Orange peel or grapefruit peel bitterness
@WhiskyNotes:  I now get a little mint on the palate, nice in combination with the sweetness.
@cocktailchem: The heavy dose of molasses make me think of Crown Royal Black
Week 3
Whisky Discovery #422

Danfields Limited Edition 21 Year Old (Black Velvert) 40% abv
Canadian Whisky
Not available in the UK yet
Canadian Whisky Review
Four our Third Sunday afternoon of exploring Candain Whisky we contued reviewing Section Five covering the nine (at time of print) distillers of Canadian Whisky. This time it was Black Velvet, Canadian Mist, Glenora and the Gimli Distillery.

We finished this afternoon's entertainment with an older Canadain Whisky, Danfield's 21 year old limited edition from the Black Velvet Distillery

So What Did I Think?
Whisky Review
Once again these notes were all done blind, the expression only being revealed after we had all nosed, tasted and posted our notes:

Initially I was getting some dusty grain notes that seems to be the signature opener for Canadian whiskies. There was a lovely sweetness that I just couldn't put my finger on what it was reminding me of and a gentle perfumed note to this too. Although fragrant this came across as quite delicate.

Although there were hints that this was an old whisky, this certainly didn't smell like an old Scotch, no dominant notes of old wood, leather or mustiness to it. Although gentle it was very crisp and clean.

This tasted quite gentle on the abv so I guessed at 40% After pouring a second dram notes of Cedar, certainly a fresh resinous woody note appeared alongside some orange zest, and a mandarin juice note too. Spices with pepper cloves and cinnamon too and a very dry nutty finish, like you've eaten too many hazelnuts!

And Davin's notes?
Fragrant cedar and crispy oak, then peppery spice with masses of sweet and tart fruit. Lilacs, spices and hard wet slate tinged with pickles become blistering white pepper, cinnamon, ginger and cloves

What did everyone else think?
@Macdeffe: I get lacquer light and wood, then wet wood/cardboard. This just reminds me so of grain whisky aged 15-25 from Scotland in flavour and nose, not agewise though
@Whiskylassie: This smells so delicate! Ever sniff apple blossoms in the spring? Really sweet and floral beautiful!
@WhatTastesGood: Nose features big fruit, esp cherry at first, then brown sugar, fresh sawdust & something earthy like slate.
@WhatTastesGood: Water rings out more herbal notes and mutes the spice which makes the sweetness too much. Prefer this one naked.
Week 4

Forty Creek Port Wood Reserve (45% abv)
Canadian Whisky
Not available in the UK yet
Canadian Whisky Review
I had tasted this before and recognised it quite early on in our blind tasting, though kept quiet. You can find out what I thought of this here:

Port Wood Reserve is made in the same style as all Forty Creek whiskies. No mash bill is used, the varietal whiskies are aged separately, and once completed, they are brought together for marrying. The Forty Creek blend was thenaged in the vintage port wood barrels for another two years prior to bottling.

John makes his own vintage ports, made from Niagara grown grapes and aged in white oak heavy charred barrels. There were just 6,600 bottles filled.

So What Did I Think?
Whisky Review
This has a fabulous rich nose as well as a dark almost pinkish colour. On the nose toffee and butterscotch, along with black cherries, raisins, dates and  figgy too, even a little licorice. With a little air I was getting some wild fennel notes as the spicy rye notes emerged from the glass

I was tasting vintage Ports and Sherries the previous week and the taste of this whisky was reminding me of that afternoon, Oloroso Dulce came to mind at the time.

And Davin's notes?
Moscatel, wine vinegar, and red wine, with hints of wood, dark chocolate and a saltiness. Berry fruits and excitingly hot pepper. Magical, rich, lucious and full-bodied

What did everyone else think?
@galg: the nose is very rich almost toffee. lots of caramel (the good one ) also quite a lot of spice
@WhiskyScores: Warm almonds, caramel & spices with light solventy note on nose
@The_Casks: Lush caramel sweetness, caramel apples & warm caramel over vanilla ice cream, & a bit of nutty toffee. Toasted rye & candied orange
@WhatTastesGood: Tons of spice on the nose (cinnamon, black pepper) and herbs. Wet earth and a slight mustiness, like a mushroom. Really pleasant.
@sjoerd972: On the nose I get cleaning liquid, toffee and caramel, rye bread and balsamic vinegar.
@Macdeffe: Almost smells like a weak Pedro Ximenes

And Finally..
A huge thanks to Johanne McInnis and Graham MacKenney for sharing their Canadian whiskies with us all and for Davin De Kergommeaux for spending time with us all, four Sundays running, and answering all of the questions we were bombarding him with.

If you want to find out more about Canadian Whisky then I recommend you get a hold of Davin's book first and make sure you're following these people on Twitter! @DavindeK @Whiskylassie and @grahammackenney

I know I should have finished this post ages ago, especially as we've just finished tasting four new Canadian Whiskies with the second DavinTT event. Unfortunately life gets in the way sometimes and as much as I'd like sit and write about our journey everyday, sometimes it's just not possible! Hopefully we'll be able to catch up a little over the Christmas holidays.

Slàinte! Dave

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