Monday, March 26, 2007

North American Adventure #1

Ballantines 12yo
Pure Malt
40% abv
$35 (USD)

Was in Washington, DC for a conference until Sunday evening. Really enjoyed the city and was again charmed by the generous kindness of Americans. A city worth re-visiting and, having lived in Ottawa (capital of Canada), I couldnt help but feel envious of the sense of pride and importance the city seems to hold for itself, and ashamed that we no longer have free museums in our capital city.

Visited the Library of Congress, some Smithsonian buildings, and the Holocaust Museum and was deeply impressed by all. Was a guest at the Canadian Embassy where we met Hon. Michael Wilson and were thoroughly blown away by the beautiful design of the building, inside and out.

Popped into a few pubs and bars and although the beer selection and design of the establishments were very cool, my overall experience was negative. I suppose I have become accustomed to the British style of ordering at the bar, not tipping etc. I felt isolated in that I couldn't sit at the bar and was forced to sit alone at a table cuz that is just the way things are done, and found the pressure by pricing to tip over 20% quite intimidating and unfair.

But I was amazed at the selection of bottles in the average wine and spirits shop. It is amazing how many blended whiskies are not avaialble in the UK (Ballantines 12 Pure Malt, Campbeltown Loch 25, Buchanan's 12) and I was determined to take advantage. Obviously, I couldn't leave duty free empty handed.

This week I will try one of the whiskies from my US visit, a few from the tasting tower at Summerhill LCBO, and will share notes from a cask-strength tasting I am hosting with friends here in Toronto on Saturday.


Woodsy, earthy like a damp forest. Fresh, green aromas against dark, dirty, decomposing ones. Acidic but soft sweetness, like apple cider with some suntan lotion jojoba or something. With time in the glass, several minutes, smoke emerges.

Bitter like freshly torn bark or a bending and breaking a young sapling, with a sherried toastiness that follows. Some grapefruit citric bitterness and plenty of oak influence. Finish is quite long with a nuttiness added to the firm oakiness. All in all seems quite restrained, but suited for a few successive servings and good conversation.


This is real old man 'scotch'. I rarely use that term, but it wholly applies here. It is oaky, firm and even strong in its bitter assertiveness, but somehow mellowed overall in its balancing of elements. Seems to be pulling its punches but making you well aware of its potential power.

North American Adventure #2

North American Adventure #3
North American Adventure #4
North American Adventure #5

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