This was my first time at the MS Edmonton Whisky Festival. Below I have summarized the whiskies I sampled with notes on anything that stood out. These were small drams, for the most part, but inebriation definitely started to affect my appreciation of the different whiskies.
Overall, I thought it was a great festival with a nice selection and variety of whiskies. The Springbank Masterclass was pretty good but I would have liked to have had the opportunity to try a special dram that wasn’t available to the rest of the festival. I did learn a lot about Springbank, though.
My two negatives about the festival are that there isn’t enough time and that it should be held on a weekend…but I am sure there are reasons for this and that these complaints have been heard man times before, so I digress.
- Kilkerran Work in Progress 7 Sherry (Glengyle Distillery)
*This distillery was opened by the owner of Springbank as a way to keep Cambeltown as an official scotch region. According to Ranald Watson, the Scotch Whisky Association was going to remove Cambeltown as an official region. Hedley Wright, the owner of Springbank, saw that the Lowlands only had 3 operating distilleries and Cambeltown had 2 (Springbank and Glen Scotia). So Mr. Wright bought an old closed distillery (Glengyle) and this helped appease the SWA….thus, Cambeltown is still an official scotch region.
2. Kilkerran Work in Progress 7 Borbon (Glengyle)
*Glengyle is the first new distillery on Cambeltown in over 100 years. There used to be over 34 distilleries on the island. 5 years after Glengyle opened in 2004, they began releasing the Kilkerran Work in Progress bottles annually. Work in progress 7 will be the last release in that series as they will now be bottling them as a 12 year age statement.
3. Hazelburn 12 Year
*As Ranald Watson described it; “this is a breakfast whisky”. Although unpeated I still picked up hints of peat that could have snuck in somewhere during the whisky making process. Hazelburn is the unpeated, triple distilled arm of Springbank.
4. Springbank 15 Year
*As Ranald Watson told us, “Springbank is a whisky for whisky enthusiasts.” They are a family owned distillery that only makes 750,000 litres a year (when they could make much more). This Springbank 15 is a whisky that any enthusiast would love! This was one of my top whiskies of the whole festival (well the 20 I tried, anyways). Of the 3 brands of scotch made at Springbank (Hazelburn, Springbank & Longrow), this is the medium peated brand. It’s just enough peat to give you a taste but not enough to overpower the spirit or the bourbon and sherry notes. As a Springbank fan I am not sure how I have never tried this before.
5. Springbank 18 Year
*”As delicate as Springbank can be.” Considering Springbank isn’t known as a delicate whisky, the 18 is actually quite delicate (at least compared to the 15). Interesting fact…Springbank only uses each cask a maximum of 3 times. Another interesting fact…I much prefer the 15 year to the 18. Maybe it’s the extra alcohol or maybe the 18 is a tad too delicate for me…I just liked the 15 more.
6. Longrow (No age given)
*Longrow is the heavily peated arm of Springbank. At 40-45ppm it doesn’t match up with the Octomore releases (up to 258ppm) but closer to Ardbeg (55ppm) and Laphroaig (40-43ppm). Mind you, this is a different kind of peat flavor. If you were to put this Longrow side by side with Laphroaig 10, I guarantee you would guess the Phroaig had more peat than the Longrow. I have had a few Longrows before and I have to admit this wasn’t one of my favourites. Stidd a decent dram…but the Longrow Red (Port Casks) is better in my humble opinion.
7. Edradour Straight From The Cask: Marsala Finish
*Edradour is one of Scotland’s smallest distilleries and I have been meaning to try more of their whisky. This is the 2nd marsala finish I have tried. Glendronach has one, as well, that is quite nice. I also enjoyed this one so I guess that means I like Marsala finished scotch.
8. First Editions Linkwood 18 year
9. Bookers Bourbon
*I’m really starting to enjoy high strength bourbon. This si a really good high strength bourbon. Forgot to get all the details, though.
10. Canadian Rockies 21 Year
*I think people need to try this whisky. First of all…it’s a 21 year old whisky priced at under $70. Secondly…it’s not a Canadian rye whisky. It’s a Canadian corn based whisky. Third, it made the Whisky Advocate’s ‘2015 Fall’s Highest Rated Whiskies’ list at #7 with 92 points! Trust me…buy some!
11. Hepburn’s Choice-Blair Atthol
12. Amrut Spectrum
*This was an ‘under the table’ special that is yet to be released anywhere in the world. You can google the specific details of this bottle but it is basically Indian whisky aged in casks that were made out of 5 different types of wood. It has never been before and the resulting whisky is fantastic! Keep your eyes open for this release. I also got the chance to finally meet Ashok Chokalingam, who is basically the man for all things Amrut. He was an absolute pleasure to talk to and I look forward to more drams with him in the future.
13. Kilchoman Loch Gorm
14. Bruichladdich Black Arts 23 Year
*I have had the Black Arts 21 year before and I must say this is quite a bit better. Mind you, I am several drams deep, at this point, but I really liked this stuff. For people not familiar with the Black Arts bottles, they are basically Jim Mcewan’s whisky love children. No one but McEwan and maybe his closest allies no what is in this stuff and EVERYONE wants to know what is in this stuff. My guess is some crazy wine cask experimentation but who knows. The color of it is something I don’t think I have seen before and the flavours are extremely interesting. I highly recommend getting your hands on a dram…just to say you tried it. Thanks to Sashsa for this pour!
15. Port Charlotte Islay Barley (Heavily Peated)
*This is Octomore’s little brother! It had a very similar nose and palate to Octomore 6.3 with a lower abv, and less peatiness, in terms of ppm. Even though the ppm is much lower, I would like to do a side by side of these two to see just how different they taste. The best part…Port Charlotte Islay Barley is almost half the cost!
16. Arran “The Bothy” Quarter Cask
*As per usual, Arran made another great whisky. I’m not sure of the price point on this one but I want a bottle. It is made similarly to Laphroaig Quarter Cask in that it is matured in regular sized casks then transferred to quarter casks (50 litres) for final maturation (this edition of Arran spends 18 months in quarter casks). On top of it all, the Arran Bothy is bottled at 55.7%. *I like this trend of higher bottling strengths with NAS whiskies, by the way.
17. Glencadam 10 Year
18. Tomatin 1988/25 Year
*Another ‘under the table’ special that was quite a treat. I have really come to like the Tomatin style of a lighter, fruitier whisky. It is a nice contrast to many other whiskies out there. Thanks to Rumi and Nathalie for the pour! I am hoping to pour this bottle at our upcoming charity tasting, in May. Delicious stuff!
19. Single Cask Nation Tobermory 10 Year
20. Jura Brooklyn
See you next year, Edmonton Whisky Fest!
-Edmonton Scotch Club