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My Handcrafted Opinions on Whiskies, Distilleries and Other Related Stuff

Stillwaters Distillery, Ontario, Canada

When I planned my recent business trip to Canada I had my heart set on visiting my first Canadian whiskey distillery. I had expected / thought / hoped it would be Forty Creek as that is the whiskey that completely and forever changed my opinion about the possibilities of Canadian whisky. Sadly, with my schedule and limited visiting times at the distillery during the fall and winter I had to rethink. Thanks to Johanne McGinnes (aka the Whiskylassie) I was introduced to Barry (and Barry) of Stillwaters and found my way to their industrial unit in the suburbs of Toronto.

While not a formal distillery visit / tour, Barry (but not Barry, he was busy) was kind enough to spend some time with me and show me around the place. Like most craft distilleries this part did not take long. We discussed (distilled perhaps?) their journey via vodka, independent Scotch bottlings, gin, single malt, brandy and finally (and perhaps saving the best until last) the bottling of their 100% rye expression which was ongoing when I arrived.

I had tried the Stalk and Barrel Cask Strength single malt on a Twitter Tasting (also organized by Johanne) and while I liked it there was nothing about it that stood out for me, other than its youth. However I had heard “good things” about their rye and as a “rye guy” I was happy try it. Glad I did. I did not take notes but recall vividly that the nose was rich and fruity and the taste had all the spice, fruit and chocolate notes I have come to love in ryes.   Well balanced with a herbal, minty finish I was impressed. Will definitely pick up a bottle if it ever makes to Texas. I also re-tried their single malt and at 46% ABV and found it better balanced than the cask strength (for my palate) and would happily have drunk more but for the plane home I had to catch.

So with a Canadian notch freshly carved into my distillery bedpost I now have to find a way to get to Japan so I can say I have been to the “Big 5” of whisky producing countries; Scotland, USA, Ireland, Canada and Japan.

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Glenmorangie, Tain, Scotland

Glenmorangie, Tain, Scotland I was a little underwhelmed by the visitor's center here when I visited in May 2011, as it is Scotland's most popular single malt and one of my favorite whiskies of all time is a madeira cask finished Glenmorangie I had high expectations .  There was also a charge to take the tour, but you could get that credited if you bought a bottle.   The key feature of this distillery (and presumably it's whisky) are the tallest stills in Scotland (and they are tall) and the still house is very impressive and has to be seen.  It has been likened by others to a cathedral of distilling and I certainly get that analogy.  They also spent a good deal of time explaining Glenmorangie's current wood and maturation policy (and they no longer produce the madeira cask finish).    Compared to some of the other major brands such as Glenfiddich and The Glenlivet (and even Glenmorangie's sister distillery Ardbeg) I was left a little underwhelmed by the visitor experience but I understand that since my trip it has been revamped so perhaps it is better now.  Good.  I left with a bottle of the Quinta Ruban expression so I did get the cost of tour credited (and a nice key ring as well).
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