Tag Archives: Whisky

Catching Up With The Ranks

In order to get back in the groove of tasting new beers and writing up to date reviews, we will simply post our scores for all that we have tasted and rated in our absence. If you’re interested in a full review on any of the following, please comment below and we will make time to do a couple write-ups!

Beer

Bavaria:
Kam: 75.5

Brother Thelonias:
Kam: 70.5

Coney Island Sword Swallower:
Kam: 85.5

Deschutes The Abyss:
Kam: 96

Deschutes, The Stoic:
Kam: 90.5

Driftwood Naughty Hildegaard:
Kam: 85.5

Driftwood Old Cellar Dweller (2012):
Kam: 71.5

Driftwood Old Barrel Dweller (2012) :
Kam: 89

Driftwood Singularity:
Kam: 96.5

Driftwood Wooly Booger (2012):
Kam: 85.5

Fort Garry:
Kam: 74.5

Granville Island Imperial IPA:
Kam: 65.5

Lighthouse Chocolate:
Kam: 84.5

Lighthouse Russian Imperial Stout:
Kam: 82

Old Speckled Hen:
Kam: 76.5

Ola Dubh 12:
Kam: 80.5

Ola Dubh 16:
Kam: 87

Ola Dubh 18:
Kam: 90.5

Petrus Aged Ale:
Kam: 84.5

Phillips Double Barrel 2010:
Kam: 96

Phillips Double Barrel 2011:
Kam: 93.5

Phillips Evergreen Ale:
Kam: 83.5

Phillips Green Reaper:

Kam: 88.5

Phillips Krypton RyePA:
Kam: 85.5

Schmaltz Brewing:
Jewbelation Sweet 16:
Kam: 82.5

Rogue Dead Guy Ale:
Kam: 91

Rogue Mogul Madness Ale:
Kam: 82.5

Rogue Voodoo Doughnut Bacon Maple Ale:
Kam: 73

Russell 6.26: Kam: 90

Sierra Nevada Torpedo:
Kam: 91.5

St. Ambroise Vintage Ale:
Kam: 83

Thirsy Beaver Amber Ale:
Kam: 80.5

Three Philosophers: Quad Belgian Style Blend:
Kam: 83.5

Tree Brewing Vertical Winter Ale:
Kam: 82.5

Tullibardine Strong:
Kam 79

Wells Banana Bread Beer:
Kam: 77

Westvleteran XII:
Kam: 92.5

Whistler Chestnut Ale:
Kam: 81

Whistler Pineapple Express:
Kam: 79.5
Whisky

Amrut Fusion:
Kam: 86

Auchentoshin:
Kam: 86.5

Balvenie:
Kam: 85.5

Bunnahabhain 9:
Kam: 88

Glencadam:
Kam: 94.5

Glen Garioch 15:
Kam: 88.5

Glenmorangie Nectar d’Or:
Kam: 93.5

Kuch Nai:
Kam: 81.5

Maker’s Mark:
Kam: 78

Tullibardine Banyuls:
Kam: 85

Wild Turkey Rare Breed:
Kam: 89

Spirits

Botanist Gin, The: Kam: 88.5

Bombay Gin: Kam: 76

El Dorado 12 Year: Kam: 94.5

Tobala Classico Mescal: Kam: 88

Scorpion Repsosado: Kam: 84

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Innis & Gunn 18 Year Old Highland Cask (2011)

The Innis & Gunn Highland Cask is a once-a-year seasonal that comes out in the fall. As the name suggests, it’s a beer that has been aged in previously used single malt whisky barrels from the Highland area of Scotland. While they do not release the source of their barrels, and while it probably changes each year, it’s safe to assume they are purchasing from a major distributor, and, therefore, well-known distillery — likely owned by Grants. Highland single malts tend to be light, biscuity, and slightly sweet, particularly on the finish. These flavours and textures are transferred into the Innis & Gunn 18 Year Highland Cask which is aged for 69 days, and boasts a 7.1 alcohol percentage.

– Kamran

*****

On multiple occasions I have claimed the Innis & Gunn 18 Year Highland Cask as the best beer in the world. Since then, nothing has changed, and I have yet to meet a product that better epitomizes what a great beer should be. This is my favourite beer — this particular release. I have 4 bottles remaining; they have to last my lifetime! — I doubt they’ll last another year.

The original flavours typical of Innis & Gunn are even more pronounced here. Notes of vanilla, caramel, butterscotch, and honey come out in spades both on the nose and the palate. To top this off, there is a mild whisky taste, that comes through on the finish in particular, giving it a crisp, refreshing, long lasting aftertaste. The level of sweetness is quite high, and the beer is incredibly vibrant, unlike the 21 year, which we tasted — for the second time — vertically. The 21 year boasts notes of citrus, and the typical Innis & Gunn flavours are relatively subdued, while the 18 year is a powerhouse of aromas and tastes.

There is something highly fresh about the Innis & Gunn 18 Year. It must be the Highland water or something. The beer just tastes exceptionally fresh. There is a touch of whisky on one’s initial taste, that subverts itself into a creamy-velvetty-ness on the palate; the beer is certainly a touch heavier than the original. Besides making it more robust, I believe the whisky, in itself, opens up the flavours of the beer more. As a result, we have the strongest predilection of Innis & Gunn flavours, making it my favourite!

Nose: 24.5
Body: 24
Taste: 25
Finish: 24.5

Kamran: 98 pts.

*****

While I scored this beer well, my favourite Innis & Gunn was the predecessor to this beer, the Highland 21 year cask. And while Kamran and I may disagree on which vintage was better, this one surely does not disappoint even if it was my “second best” of the two years.

This vintage was sweeter on the nose with more malt, oak, vanilla, and toffee. The body was smooth and even crisp, if not a touch sharp for the first few sips. Compared to the 21 year, the 18 year cask was noticeably darker in colour. The taste was malty with some bitterness. There were notes of caramel and toffee with vanilla. The whisky was clearly more present in the taste of this vintage. While the finish lasted longer by a tad, it was pleasant with the combination of malt, whisky, and vanilla.

I think part of the reason Kamran and I have the two competing for top beers is because by the time he tried the 21 year it had already been aged compared to the fresh 2011 cask. Either way, the beer was excellent and I certainly hope that Innis & Gunn continue to make these seasonal releases involving the highland casks.

Nose: 25
Body: 23.5
Taste: 23
Finish: 23.5

Tristan: 95 pts.

*****

Final Average: 96.5 pts.

Head to head of the 18 and 21

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Innis & Gunn Original

You are all in for a little treat. Tristan and I have tasted and reviewed each and every Innis & Gunn product released in the last 1-2 years. Since we’ve already posted on the Highland Cask 21 year (2010), that will be omitted, but you are soon to find reviews on the Original, Rum Cask, Canada Day 2011, Highland Cask 18 Year (2011), Rum Finish, Spiced Rum, Winter Ale, Irish Stout and, finally, the Canada Day 2012 — tasted vertically with a 1 year aged 2011. With the exception of the last two, we tasted the beers one after the other, within a night, referring and relating them to one another. This is how we will review them: with reference to one another. So, if you’re like us, and think Innis & Gunn makes some of the best beer in the world, take a trip through their collection with us!

Brewed in Scotland, Innis & Gunn follow a unique avenue in beer craftsmanship: oak-aging! You heard correctly; this is beer that, like most whiskies, rums, and red wines, has sat in an oak barrel, slowly picking up the flavours — vanilla, toffee, caramel, oak, etc. — the wood has to offer. There are few breweries that perform this feat, and Innis & Gunn, the originators, are — put simply — the best.

Oak cask maturation not only gives the beer it’s colour, it transforms the flavour compounds in ways unlike anything else. The original Innis & Gunn is stored for 79 days, longer than any of the other Innis & Gunn beers, but they utilize a virginal oak cask. In fact, Innis & Gunn original was first utilized by whisky distillers to imbue whisky casks with some beer flavour. Thank God one of them realized the beer they were throwing out was delicious! You may find the original regularly in both government and private liquor stores. It comes in single 330 or single 750 ml bottles, at a relatively inexpensive price, making it a real ‘go-to’ beer.

– Kamran

*****

The Innis & Gunn Original, while not my favourite beer in the world — though pretty damn close — is probably the beer I drink the most. Though I love to expand my horizons and try different beers, I find myself constantly returning to the Innis & Gunn; If I am picking out beer for a night, I almost always grab at least one. It’s a near perfect beer that everyone must try at least once in their life!

Smooth, Creamy, Rich, Vanilla, Toffee, Butterscotch: These are the main terms to describe Innis and Gunn beer, particularly the original. It is a true sipping beer that gets better with age and aeration. So, pour it into a glass, let it sit, then slowly enjoy it over time. On the nose, the original is replete with notes of vanilla, toffee, caramel, and oak. On the palate, these flavour are not subdued. They are rather MORE pronounced. It’s truly amazing what this low carbonated beer is capable of. The finish is long and smooth, making you, at once, desire another bottle.

Nose: 24
Body: 23.5
Taste: 24.5
Finish: 23.5

Kamran: 95.5 pts.

*****

Well this is the start of something fun! Yes, indeedy folks, we have done some palate practice and tackled the recent collection of fine beer from Innis & Gunn. While some may not have heard of them before, or seen the bottles in stores but passed over it… you need to try this beer a couple of times to really appreciate it. Luckily it’s not too expensive, and if you’re looking to expand you beer palate this is a good way to start. I moved away from the typical beers when I got my first batch of Innis & Gunn due to sheer curiosity. Now it is still one of my favourite breweries.

The original is the first I tried, naturally… …while I wasn’t so used to the taste at age 19, it did grow on me the few times I revisited it a few months later! Aged for 77 days and at 6.6% alcohol/volume, it is not a light beer, but a happy medium.  On the nose it has a rich and light sweetness to it, as well as a toffee, vanilla, and oaken aroma. Very appealing in my books. The body was, again, rich and light with a sweetness from the malt, toffee and vanilla. It was also quite smooth leading to a high level of drinkability. The flavour was malty, with light vanilla and toffee under the oak tones. In terms of an aftertaste or finish, the malt lingers on the palate with the taste slowly fading away. Very unobtrusive finish, which leads to the ability to enjoy several in a night should you choose.

While not my favourite of the collection, it is a very consistent beer in delivery across the spectrum for which we score. The recent arrival of Innis & Gunn on tap in Vancouver has however reaffirmed my appreciation of this beer as the difference in taste due to freshness is noticeable. As previously stated, try this beer!

Nose: 22.5
Body: 22.5
Taste: 22.5
Finish: 22.5

Tristan: 90 pts.

*****

Final Average: 92.75 pts.

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Storm Brewing/Russell Brewing Big Smoke Ale

This limited release collaboration beer between Storm Brewing and Russell Brewing has been around for just a few months. Producing one of the first of a slew of collaboration beers that have been released over the past several months, brewmasters Jack Bensley (Russell Brewing) and James Walton (Storm Brewing) are pioneering a kinsman-like spirit for the Vancouver craft beer community.

The name Big Smoke is derived from its unique approach to beer fermentation: using peated malt! Well, some peated malt — 10% to be exact. If you’re unaware, peat is vegetation that is primarily used in Scotland to dry barley malt. This technique, using peat fires, is especially used in Islay single malts, and gives it that characteristic vegetal flavour — grass, moss, dust, dampness, etc.. It’s a little difficult to describe, but quite obvious once you’ve tried a peated whisky. Because of its association with drying of the malt in peat fires, peat flavours often come in tandem with a smoky quality. Peat is, in fact, often mistaken for smoke; truth is, while these two aspects typically come hand in hand, they are not inextricable — there are some very smoky, lightly peated whiskies, as well as some highly peated, lightly smoked whiskies, but this is all relative.

When it comes to beer, peated malt is unusual, but can be quite the pleasantry for a whisky drinker. Some other peated beers include Unibroue’s Raftman, Williams Brothers Fraoch Heather Ale — where the peat and heather come in part from the water sources of Scotland, and, though not actually using peat, (whisky) barrel aged beers — Phillip’s Double Barrel Scotch Ale, Driftwood’s Singularity etc. — tend to give off some peat flavour. Besides the peat, the Big Smoke is a heavy, malty, thick, dark, high percentage beer; a true sipping beer that’s not for the faint of heart.

– Kamran

*****

Amidst the light, effervescent peat smoke aroma is a solid malt backbone. As a single-malt enthusiast who loves his peaty scotches — Ardbeg, Laphroaig, Ileach, etc. — I was rather disappointed that the peat does not shine through as much as I’d hoped. In fact, the malt all but overwhelms the notes of peat. That said, with careful concentration, one may extract moments where peat instilled flavonoids connect with one’s receptors. The feeling is quite pleasant, however, this is much too much work, and I don’t want to have to pay such careful attention to access the best parts of a beer; these parts should be the forefront of the beer.

While the body is enjoyably creamy, the beer is quite heavy. You certainly don’t want to be drinking more than one of this tallboy bottle badboy. Though not considered a stout, it reaches certain stout-like parameters — heaviness, thickness (the definition of stout), and darkness. While the malty taste is excellent — especially the initial flavour — it does not last; the finish, while retaining the taste of alcohol, loses its sweet malt flavours.

All things considered, the Big Smoke is an exceptional beer, and while not fitting for all occasions, there are some instances — perhaps while sitting in front of a fire on a cold night — where it would be perfect. So, don’t miss out on it while it’s still around!

Nose: 20.5
Body: 21
Taste: 23
Finish: 21.5

Kamran: 86 pts.

*****

As you can tell, Kamran has left little room for expansion on this particular beer; I suppose he really enjoyed it!  Just along the basics of this beer then, I found it to be one of the best beers we had that night.

The nose was a rich malt that, while stronger than the peat notes, was still an enticing factor to salivate for this beer. The body was a thick and heavy combination that went down creamy and smooth, much like certain stouts. The taste was naturally malty and slightly peaty to my senses, but it also possessed a slightly cocoa-like flavour. The finish is a brief encounter to say the least. It fades rather fast for my liking, but it is a smooth malty presence that is enjoyable prior to dissipation.

This beer is one I’ve had on a couple of occasions since the tasting, and I have to say, it is a nice treat to have and even share late at night. Well done Russell/Storm, but you’ve now set a high standard for any future collaborations!!!

Nose: 21
Body: 24
Taste: 22
Finish: 20

Tristan: 90 pts.

*****

Final Average: 88 pts.

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Beer Reviewer’s Lament

Unfortunately, we have all-but-lost one of our contributors. Our friend, James, has gone to England for an indeterminable amount of time. As a result, he, of course, will not be able to join us for tastings, or even access the majority of (Vancouver Craft) beers that we will be imbibing. James has agreed to continue contributing as a solo reviewer, guest writing on some of the beers and spirits he may taste there.

In a way, this may benefit the site. We have not been entirely productive, especially in the last few weeks, and a major cause of this is in coordinating three people — both for tastings and reviews. From now on, since there will just be the two of us, Tristan and myself,  you may confidently expect a higher level of activity and enthusiasm. At least until July 4 when I leave for Europe.

Rather than saving drafts and publishing only once all reviews have been written — a feature which has certainly slowed us down — we will now post as soon as one of us has written our review. This should give you something to engage yourself with, as well as indicate that another review — written by the other person — will arrive soon. With two people rather than three, the game of catch-up should be quicker, and we will more easily be able to motivate each other.

Thanks for visiting the site, and expect plenty of reviews to come soon!

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Talisker 18 Year

Talisker 18 is regarded as a premium whisky, so we were excited to have a small taste of it! A great fragrance accompanies this single malt . Amber in colour, it is a full bodied whisky with a higher alcohol content of 45.8%. Compared to the Bowmore 12 it is certainly more reserved when it comes to the smoke and peat flavours, but still sweet at the start. The finish was rounded and smooth on the palate., with a medium length. A favorite of mine which I’ll have to purchase if ever passing through the duty free from the U.K.

Tristan

*****

Since the Talisker 10 is one of my favourite single malts, and since the 18 has become increasingly difficult to find — due to it mainly being produced for duty free, and rumours of it being discontinued — I was extremely excited to taste this whisky. Perhaps it is because of my ultra high expectations, and though it is fine whisky indeed, I was rather disappointed with my experience.

To be sure, though Talisker, coming from Skye Island, produces relatively peaty whisky, the 18s degree of peat is quite mild. The extra 8 years of maturation markedly softens the peat smoke that is apparent in the 10-year. In light of this, the Talisker 18, unlike the 10, shares more in common with a Speyside single malt. A mild earthiness, wood, and citrus notes are exuded both from the nose and palate, while the characteristic sea-salt flavour of Talisker lingers on the finish. An enjoyable whisky, though not what I expected. I hope to try it again someday without any preconceptions.

Nose: 22
Body: 21
Taste: 21.5
Finish: 22.5

Kamran: 87 pts.

*****

The nose in my humble opinion is by far the nicest I’ve come across. It’s smooth, fruity, sweet, with a faint smokey note. In body it’s certainly full, with a peaty presence. Very strong. The flavour is sweet at the start, which fades to a earthy/smokey note. Finally, the medium length finish was a rounded – almost smooth – and peaty. While I’m more a fan of the sweeter single malts, this is an exception that won me over!

Nose: 25
Body: 22
Taste: 22
Finish: 24

Tristan: 93 pts.

*****

Final Average: 90 pts.

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Bowmore 12 Year

One of only several distilleries in Scotland that do their own floor maltings — a traditional practice that has mostly been abolished due to its labour intensity — Bowmore produces a classic Islay single malt. The Bowmore 12, in particular, has become a staple in the whisky community, as it’s one of those malts that one could not call themselves a whisky drinker had they not tried it. Though some novice drinkers may be offended by the level of peat in this whisky (approx 25 ppm), it is really quite moderate for an Islay whisky — the latest Octomore is peated at 167 parts per million! In light of this, the Bowmore 12, along with some of the Bruichladdich’s and Bunnahibhain’s, is an ideal introduction to peated whisky.

– Kamran

*****

While the Bowmore 12 is not overwhelmingly peaty, and certainly isn’t a highly smoky whisky, the nose is profoundly vegetative. Pronounced notes of damp peat, dry sawdust, and a touch of honey gives the whisky plenty of complexity. While the peat lingers in the nasal cavity, as if you’re in the vicinity of a peat fire, it doesn’t appear nearly as intensely on the palate; instead, it is softened by flavours of oak and dark chocolate. This isn’t highly surprising; it seems that much of the peat, what is noticeable on the nose, is instilled in the whisky indirectly.

Sitting at the shore of Loch Indaal, the water at Bowmore is dark — dirtied with peat. This peated water, used in the distillation, gives the whisky its characteristic peat aroma without having to bombard the barley with an intensely peat driven malting. Moreover, I posit that, due to Bowmore’s own peat fires and floor malting process, lingering volatile aromas of peat that are in the air at the distillery may come in contact with the whisky, causing the whisky to absorb the peat, sort of like how dry hopping a beer increases the hop aroma without increasing the bitterness.

As with many Islay whiskies, a touch of water to oxidize the whisky and open up the flavours may prove beneficial. Two to three drops is more than enough, so don’t overdo it — invest in an eye-dropper; it comes in handy. While the peat is not so pronounced on the initial taste, being complemented by other flavours, it is primarily what remains on the finish. The finish is exceptional; after a wee dram, one can still taste the peat 20 minutes later — that is if you haven’t already starting sipping another whisky! All in all, the Bowmore 12 is a classic malt that all single malt enthusiasts must try!

Nose: 24
Body: 22
Taste: 23
Finish: 22.5

Kamran: 91.5 pts.

*****

In typical Islay style, the Bowmore 12 is certainly one of the most peaty and smoky single malts I’ve tried to date! In my opinion, the nose was the best part of the whisky; it was rich in an earthy tone, full of peat, malt and smoke. Golden amber in colour, Its sharpness is not only from the alcohol but the peat. As expected, these notes are certainly evidenced in the flavour, meaning I couldn’t truly detect any other flavours in the whisky. I found that the finish was a harsh peaty one. More to Kamran’s liking than mine, but I prefer the more mellow peat and sweeter single malts.

Nose: 23.5
Body: 19
Taste: 19
Finish: 19.5

Tristan: 81 pts.

*****

Final Average: 86.25 pts.

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Glenlivet 18 Year

One of the worlds largest distilleries, Glenlivet have a rich history of producing fine single malt whiskys. For the review, we decided to do the 18 year scotch as it is an easy introductory single malt and has less peat and smoke flavour and a richer sweetness. The extra years in the barrel have added a richer colour to the whisky, yet it remains much lighter than the Glenlivet 21. The sweetness means that this is a whisky to be savoured, but the higher alcohol – at 43% – means that it does have a wee bit ‘o strength behind it. As well, the spice creates a warm glow that can be felt radiating from your palate down to your stomach. While not the best whisky we’ve tasted, it is certainly a must for those interested in dabbing their palate into the world of whisky.

Tristan

*****

Due to historical implication, popularity, and mass production, the Glenlivet, along with Glenfiddich, share a place in the whisky world that (the likes of) Bud Light holds in the beer world — consumption, consumption, consumption! To be fair, while this whisky snobbery is quite justified in regards to the simple, flavourless 12 year concoctions, the extra years of maturation in oak casks imbues some of the older editions with enough complexity to satisfy even the most sophisticated palate. While it certainly doesn’t ring true that more age = better product — in many cases the alternative is the truth, despite the gross increase in price — in the case of the Glenlivet, more age certainly does improve the product — I mean, how could it get any worse?!

As a typical Speyside malt should be, the Glenlivet 18 is smooth and subtle; the flavours are not intense or overbearing like an Islay malt could be. Unlike the Glenlivet 12, though, the 18 actually does have some flavour, given almost entirely by the wood. On the nose, there is just a delicate touch of sweetness; however you can certainly smell the alcohol through this. At 43%, the malt doesn’t really require anything to cut it down; however, a couple drops (literally a couple drops) into an ounce, followed by a swirl, really does open up the flavours — careful not to ruin the whisky! On the palate are notes of oak and dirt; there is an earthiness about it, despite the lack of peat. Rather than the taste of a bog is the taste of pine trees and fresh water. While the finish leaves one desiring more, it is, at least, enjoyable, and sometimes one just wants a plain old whisky!

Nose: 21
Body: 19.5
Taste: 20.5
Finish: 20

Kamran: 81 pts.

*****

The rich golden colour is from the extra years in the barrel, these years have also added to the rich nose that this whisky possesses.   It is sweet with the oakiness, with a mild peat fragrance, with floral notes, along with some light toffee. On first sip it feels bold, but by the second or third it has exchanged pleasantries with your palate and is smooth yet sweet, along with some spice before the oakiness follows through. The finish is sharp due to the higher alcohol content, but it lasts with a radiating glow from your bodies core. A somewhat dry sensation lingers.

Nose: 23
Body: 19
Taste: 21
Finish: 22

Tristan: 85 pts.

*****

Final Average: 83 pts.

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Fraoch Heather Ale

Second in our Historic Ales Of Scotland collection is the Williams Brothers most popular and well distributed ale: the Fraoch Heather Ale. The Fraoch is available in single 500ml bottles from the LDB, so select BC Liquor Stores and Private Liquor Shops carry it, unlike the other three ‘Historic Ales’ which are not available individually. Brewed since 2000 B.C., the Fraoch utilizes heather in lieu of hops.

– Kamran

*****

What makes this beer special is the unique flavour that the heather imparts. While it is floral and herbal, with a delicate touch of sweetness, there are also notes of peat and smoke, especially on the nose. For the whisky drinker, this peat flavour is highly appreciable, especially since it is so well integrated into the Fraoch.

While it has a robust body, the Fraoch is rather easy-drinking, making it perfect as a session ale. I could easily put this up against some of my other favourite session ales, such as Phillips Blue Buck or Anchor Steam. I could drink many of these in a night, and not get tired of it.

On the palate, the heather comes off with a pleasant sweetness, and just a touch of peat. It’s quite delicious, and the floral finish remains crisp and consistent.

Nose: 22.5
Body: 22
Taste: 23.5
Finish: 22.5

Kamran: 90.5 pts.

*****

With an inviting floral/herbal nose, it is hard to pass up a Fraoch Heather Ale. I’ve had this beer on several occasions and have always enjoyed it and recommended it to friends. In the light golden appearence is a crisp, fresh beer with a smoothly balanced combination of malt, peat and the heather’s floral sweetness.  While the aftertaste is slight, it has a flowery taste on the palate and is dry like a white wine. Really the best features of this beer are the flavour and finish. In British Columbia this beer is released seasonally, so if you see it at your local store in a 500ml bottle, grab yourself a couple for roughly $5 a piece; on a hot or busy day you wont regret cracking open this one.

Nose: 20
Body: 22
Taste: 23.5
Finish: 23.5

Tristan: 89 pts.

*****

Another in the unique Scots brew collection, the Froach offers yet another unique drinking experience. From the outset, it is hard to know what to make of this beer, since the heather used in the brewing process does not create a very discernible scent, only leaving a slight hint of heather behind and nothing else. The main attraction, however, is the body and flavour, where the floral presence really comes out. With a smooth, light texture, this beer goes down very easily, giving it the refreshing properties more associated with a lager, without the carbonation. The taste add a light floral essence, which really lightens the impact of the hops and creates a distinctive and enjoyable experience. The heather remains on your palate throughout the finish, though this beer would benefit from the experience lasting a little longer.

This is definitely a great beer to enjoy on a hot summer day, so, for those Coors Light fans out there who aren’t opposed to shelling out a few dollars for good beer, this is definitely for you.

Nose: 15
Body: 22
Taste: 22
Finish: 20

James: 79 pts.

*****

Final Average: 86.16 pts.

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Spicebox Canadian Spiced Whisky

Spicebox Canadian Spiced Whisky is quite the oddity. While not a true whisky, it is not a liqueur either; it straddles a fine line that makes it hard to place. For our sake we decided to label it a spirit for our Top Spirits section. Yet if there is one thing that this “whisky” has going for it, is the sweet aroma that is so inviting even long after your glass is empty. The blended whisky is a combination of malts aged 3-6 years in bourbon barrels and a particular rye as the base. The spice is a combination, supposedly consisting of three types of vanilla beans, pepper, nutmeg, and fruits. While it isn’t the first or only spiced whisky available on the Canadian market, it has been growing in popularity amongst a niche population of drinkers. Best enjoyed neat.

-Tristan

*****

The Spicebox is not at all as I expected; I did not expect it to be quite so delicately sweet and complex. I expected more sharp, piquant spices such as cinnamon. I was also expecting an overabundance of added flavours which drown out the natural whisky flavours — as many spiced spirits tend to do, trying to cover up the terrible underlying taste — however; I was pleasantly surprised to find the Spicebox subtle, well integrated, and still a whisky!

The most profound spice I found to be nutmeg. It appears quite clearly and distinctly both on the nose and palate. Along with this, notes of caramel and vanilla appear on the nose, while some chocolate, toffee, and butterscotch appear on the palate, making it quite a great little winter drink — I’d like to try it with egg-nog. Nevertheless, the Spicebox is enjoyable on it’s own, and does not require anything to mix it with; while it may work well as a mix, it’s more than acceptable as a sipping spirit.

What is quite remarkable about this unique spirit is how it changes. While the nutmeg notes are found most clearly, different spices accompany it on the nose than on the palate than on the finish. With this said, the finish is my favourite part of the Spicebox. It becomes quite herbal, with notes of wintergreen and anise — almost root-beer like.

Nose: 23
Body: 21
Taste: 22
Finish: 23.5

Kamran: 89.5 pts.

*****

First recommended to me by Kamran at his work, and it was so good I ended up buying a bottle. A very reasonably priced product, this whiskey is perfect for savouring and slowly sipping as to maximize the room-filling aroma. This golden auburn coloured spirit is sweet. It smells like cookie dough with the amount of nutmeg, vanilla, toffee and spices included. The best part is, even long after the glass is empty, the smell lingers. On first taste it is quite sweet, light on the tongue and mild in terms of that whisky sensation. The vanilla is certainly more promient than the spice. The aftertaste on the palate reflects more of the spices included yet is brief. Mild taste overall. This is certainly a novelty and not something to have too frequently. People who enjoy sweet things would find this up their alley, but those who prefer to have the peat and oak flavors of a traditional whiskey may not be too keen to try this, no matter how good it smells.

Nose: 25
Body: 22
Taste: 22
Finish: 24

Tristan: 93

*****

I must really like spiced liqour, because I found the Spicebox to be particularly memorable, for all the right reasons.

We are greeted by a noticeable nutmeg aroma combined with hints of vanilla and a complimentary segment of Bourbon. This unique scent really sends your senses flying. The body, upon tasting, reveals itself to be rather smooth and easily drinkable, with a light, pleasant burn on the lips that really helps you to capture and preserve the flavours in this unusual blended whisky. Speaking of flavours, they remind me of the Old Port rum, except of a lower grade of intensity. Where the Old Port was heavy on spice, the Spicebox actually offers a much smoother and more subtle experience, with the intensity of the spice nicely balanced out by the vanilla. I particularly enjoyed the finish of the Spicebox, which gave a long-lasting impression of drinking a root beer, with distinct sweet, caramel overtones.

This is another spiced liqueur that I would like to try with eggnog, though in all honesty I would thoroughly enjoy this on its own. As someone who is new to whisky, this is a great introduction.

Nose: 24
Body: 23
Taste: 24
Finish: 22

James: 93

*****

Final Average: 91.83

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