Bombay Canadian Club – Lohin McKinnon Single Malt Lot 0001 43%

From blends to a single grain to a single malt, our Bombay Canadian evening had a rather civilized progression ending on this new single malt from Central City Brewing. The whisky’s name is a combination of Gary Lohin, Brewmaster and Stuart McKinnon, Head Distiller. Started as a brewpub in Surrey, British Columbia, Central City Brewing then grew to build a full fledged craft brewery and distillery – continuing to make beer, adding cigar, gins, rum and now whisky.

Lohin McKinnon Single Malt Lot 0001 43%

  • Nose – Going bananas big time! Initially sour overripe bananas it then shifted to more ripe fruits like apricots and pineapples, lots of barley, then a delicious banana cake, very fruit forward
  • Palate – You that banana cake on the nose? It was banana bread on the palate with cinnamon, still oodles of fruit with peach, apricot like that 5 fruit Tropicana juice
  • Finish – Simple yet long, light and satisfying

For most this was the favourite of our Canadian quartet – the banana cake quality was simply lip smacking! It also paired rather well with the cigars of choice for the evening too.

And here’s what the folks over at the LCBO have to say:

The brewing talent of Gary Lohin of Central City Brewing Co. and the distilling artistry of Stuart McKinnon culminate in this smooth craft whisky. Bourbon barrel ageing gives complexity to this malt that is layered with hints of cherry, vanilla, and wood smoke on a medium weight/creamy palate, finishing with gentle spice.

While still only available through your provincial LCBO, this new single malt from BC is a bit harder to track down and may require going to a “specialty” store, finding the folks with the key to the locked cabinet. However the price remains most reasonable – currently C$60.40. This 1st edition was released in July 2017.

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Bombay Canadian Club – Gibson’s Finest Venerable 18 year 40%

When you think of a Canadian whisky, one typically assumes a 3 year old, normally a blend or a rye… not an 18 year old whiskey.

This time from Gibson’s Finest – a distillery that started in Pennsylvania then with prohibition relocated to Quebec, where they have been producing whiskey every since.

Gibson’s Finest Venerable 18 year 40%

  • Nose – Sweet lemon, clean and simple, a touch of butterscotch
  • Palate – Very soft on the front, boiled sweets at the back then bread, sweet lemon cake, settling into a cream and biscuits with a hint of maple
  • Finish – Very light, warm

Overall we found it to be the epitome of spring, fresh and light, just skipping around ones palate. It is a day whisky, easy going, with a gentle single note. Not one harsh element and while one would ideally want a bit more complexity in an 18 year old, it was enjoyable in a innocuous and pleasant way.

As we tried this in one of Bombay Malt & Cigar evenings, the next step was to consider that combination. With this Gibson’s a cigar simply overpowers… best to enjoy each separately!

In Canada, you can find this through your provincial LCBO – currently for C$89.95.

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Bombay Canadian Club – G+W, Gibson’s, JP Wiser’s, Lohin McKinnon

The funny thing about Canadians is we pop up all over the globe. It just so happens that one of our Bombay Malt and Cigar members is married to a fellow Canadian… and happened to have a trip back there recently… and just so happened to pick up a few bottles of Canadian whisky.

Which meant this month, our Bombay Malt and Cigar group was temporarily dubbed the “Bombay Canadian Club” with a chance to check out some offerings from my home and native land Canada!

Here is what we sampled, standing politely in a row:

Read on in the coming days for more details and impressions about our tasting experiences.

I had barely recovered from a rousing Canadian Thanksgiving feast the previous week with friends in Mumbai when our host followed up our whiskies and cigars with Canadian cuisine of tourtiere meat pie, poutine and nanaimo bars! After such an evening, we practically stood up to sing “O Canada!” (But were too polite to do such a thing.)

What was clear across the board is that these were all quite approachable and easy to enjoy whiskies. Not a single one was priced above CND 100, with most around (or even below) the C$50 mark. Making them equally approachable on the financial front as well.

However in terms of availability, some may need an extra check to see which local Canadian LCB (Liquor Control Board) has stock… as not all are “standard” fare. Case in point, our host really did try to track down other single malts such as Shelter Point… alas not a drop to be found where he went in the East or West!

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Bombay Canadian Club – Gooderham and Worts Four Grains (Take Two!)

This wasn’t my 1st brush with Corby’s reconstruction of an old time Canadian blend which had a checkered past of being sold from Ontario to Quebec and smuggled back to meet the demand during temperance times…

Nope! This Gooderham and Worts Four Grain featured in an earlier “O Canada” evening – with initially not so enthusiastic impression followed by social occasions where it was a complete hit!

Gooderham & Worts Four Grains A.A1129 44.4%

  • Nose – It started off quite musty, grainy like wallowing in a granary, definitely had rye, then shifted into a lovely citrus, settling on a clear orange, even chocolate orange, some caramel, warm… back to wheat husk and barley, a drizzle of honey
  • Palate – Sourdough bread, very malty, sweet sugar on the 2nd sip, light spice, and lots of sourgum, more substance than expected
  • Finish – Surprisingly long, paprika and cinnamon

Overall we found it was very sweet. A clear reflection of all its components of corn, rye, wheat and barley. Most had started with rather – ahem! – modest expectations and were quite pleasantly surprised.

After resting covered for some time, we came back for a revisit – initially greeted with a sharp grain, vanilla and then… remarkably a most distinctive chaat masala emerged with full on black salt. It may sound odd but it wasn’t bad, just unexpected.

As we settled into the cigar puffing part of the evening, this blend held its own… not such a bad start to our Canadian explorations.

Here’s what the folks at the LCBO have to say:

A blend of corn, rye, wheat and barley and bottled at 44.4% ABV this pours a golden/amber colour. On the nose look for notes of honey, toffee, dried flowers, and bubble-gum; the palate is rich and full with a smooth/viscous mouthfeel and flavours of sweet floral and stone fruit followed by a medium-length spicy finish.

Thanks to Canada’s regulated approach to the sale of liquor, one can easily find both where to buy (simple – your provincial LCBO) and how much (currently C$44.95), with this blend relatively easy to find in Ontario.

And if you are picking this up in Toronto and feeling a little nostalgic, I’d recommend a wander through the old distillery district where you can see what once upon a time was the building that produced an earlier avatar!

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Bombay Canadian Club – JP Wiser’s 18 year 40%

Ah…Canada and Canadian whiskies… Time to shift from blends to a single grain… In our case, aged for a most respectable 18 years… Welcome to our experience with J.P. Wiser’s 18 year old!

JP Wiser’s 18 year 40%

  • Nose – When we freshly opened the bottle were initially hit with acetone and varnish, however this quickly settled down into wood, spearmint, pine sol, apples, warm, liquorice, cotton candy, light toast then sawdust
  • Palate – Very soft, at first thought it almost watery on the 1st sip but don’t pre-judge…. the 2nd sip reveals light caramel, nicely rounded, a bit oily… the 3rd sip revealed even more depth and complexity with sucking candy
  • Finish – A lovely liquorice spice

Overall we found this one you should give a bit of time.

For our Malt & Cigar gents, what mattered most was it paired rather well with a good cigar, thank you very much!

The folks at the LCBO have this to say:

A single grain whisky that is dominated by aromas of green apple in part due to the unique aging conditions in Southern Ontario. It pours a medium golden amber with additional aromas of caramel, orange peel and spice; the palate is round and medium-bodied with a silky texture and a smooth vanilla driven, finish.

Thanks to Canada’s regulated approach to the sale of liquor, one can easily find both where to buy (simple – your provincial LCBO) and how much (currently C$79.95).

Check out what our Bombay “Canadian” evening covered:

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Northern Lights – Crown Royal Northern Harvest Rye 40%

This wasn’t the 1st, 2nd or even my 3rd time sampling this particular whisky.  However it was an exceedingly apt way to kick start our Whisky Ladies evening exploring whiskies with a Northern Lights connect.

As soon as the bottle came out, a fellow Canadian couldn’t help but recall her youthful follies with a quintessential Canadian drink – Rye and Ginger aka ginger ale.

Crown Royal Northern Harvest Rye 40%

  • Nose – Maple, very sweet, light rye yet accessible, sparkling cider, juicy fruit gum
  • Palate – Ginger, sweet, bit spicy then  back to sweet
  • Finish – Short, sweet, light wood

It made us think of making a terrific Old Fashioned or Manhattan.

Whisky Ladies Northern Lights:

You can read about other tasting adventures with the Northern Harvest Rye here:

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Northern Lights – Crown Royal, Flóki, Mack

It can be a lot of fun playing around with a whisky theme. With the right combination, you can discover something different even in a familiar dram, or appreciate nuances in a spirit you may otherwise dismiss.

It was one of those kinds of sessions, held together by a distinctly “northern” theme. So while it it was swelteringly hot outdoors, we retreated to the cool ac of indoors and enjoyed our Northern Lights evening of:

While none would be considered outstanding, yet each was unique and as a set, enabled us to appreciate their different dimensions.

Talk turned to affordability… these days in the quest for something special, prices can become daunting. This was a terrific reminder that in the right company, context and frame of mind, there is no need to spend a “bomb” to obtain something quite enjoyable.

Case in point, when we looked up prices discovered:

  • Northern Harvest Rye $32
  • Mack $42
  • Flóki $52

From our perspective, these are all eminently affordable for quite affable drams.

What was even better was the tales of how each made it from their respective locales to Mumbai… details coming over the next few days!

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Shelter Point 2017 Winter Release 57.2%

My love affair with Shelter Point from Vancouver Island continues… courtesy of a fellow Canadian from British Columbia who picked this bottle up on a recent jaunt from Vancouver to Mumbai.

Here is what we thought…

Photo: Paula McGlynn

Shelter Point Cask Strength 2017 Winter Release 57.2% (Bottle 594/1088)

  • Nose – Lots of sweet cereals, heavy honey, toasted nuts, a bit of spicy chilli, honey comb, started to take on quite a fruity dimension – warm, ripe summer fruits, honey drizzled oats or barley, lightly floral shifting back into warm freshly baked pie
  • Palate – Sooooooo good! A happy whisky with a nice kick… one that we were simply too busy enjoying to dissect the different elements of the palate… all I can recall is the lovely baked goods, light cinnamon, apples continued…
  • Finish – Very long, a bit ‘tingly’ with a hint of sweet grass
  • Water – You can, makes it even more “happy” yet it also isn’t needed either

It reminded us of a Canadian summer night – after the heat of the day, a slight drop in temperature, a light breeze, the smell of sunshine fading into sunset with warm grasses, fruits and a hint of honeyed flowers.

What I loved most is it had that “Let me wrap you up in a warm welcoming blanket” quality – just more pronounced with more kick and character than the standard Single Malt at 46%.

As always, the biggest problem with Shelter Point is it is simply far too inviting and has a dangerously bad habit of “disappearing” quickly in happy consumption!

I was curious to know more so wrote to the folks over at Shelter Point. Here is what distiller Leon Webb had to say:

Cask Strength 2017:

  • Nose: An enticing aroma of candied sweets and creamy treats, lattice apple pie with vanilla custard and homemade ice cream, candy floss, praline chocolates, hazelnut and a hint of white pepper
  • Palate: Sweet and juicy fruits, honey, pecan pie, brown sugar and cinnamon
  • Finish: Rum raisins and sweet tobacco 

Shelter Point Cask Strength Whisky 2017 Facts:

  • Base: Two-row barley and rye
  • Distillation: Small-batch, 2x distilled and non-chilled filtered
  • Alcohol Content: Bottled at 57.2% Alc.Vol
  • Bottle Size: 750ml
  • Batch Size: 1088 bottles
  • Packaging: Classic Tennessee-style bottle features Vinolok glass closure and original engraving of Shelter Point Farm created by renowned illustrator Steve Noble

Here are a few other Shelter Point’s sampled til date:

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Minis – Shelter Point Double Barrelled 50%

Ever since a whisky sampling companion picked up this Shelter Point mini in BC, I’ve been ridiculously impatient to try it. My previous experience with Shelter Point has been very positive – there is something just so enjoyable about their single malt that is simply comforting – the exact dram you want to settle down and relax with.

And this one? Just like our other minis, it plays with a finish… in this case quite unique – after maturing in French oak casks, it was finished in a blackberry wine from Coastal Black Estate Winery near Mount Washington in the Comox valley on Vancouver Island. I was last in the area for a cousin’s wedding and can attest to it being a truly beautiful part of Canada.

And while I’ve never had their blackberry wine, I couldn’t wait to try what it did to this Shelter Point whisky.

Shelter Point Double Barrelled 50%

  • Nose – Wow! Blackberry compote, black wine gummy, light spice, a cassis kir, nice dark berry, almost like a rich port, with a bit of sourness too. Very interesting, juicy fruity without being overly sweet with a very natural quality, jammy, fermented barley sugars, a bit dusty like a granary, creamy, salted caramel banana, peanut brittle, vanilla
  • Palate – Spice cinnamon bark, while has character it was quite linear from palate to finish, some light sweet fruit
  • Finish – A simple yet nice black raspberry finish that just gentle rides off into the sunset
  • Water – While there is a more character without water, it is good to try with… the water dampens down the nose. As it settled the berries came out even more… just needed a bit of coaxing. Really quite nice, softer and  revealing that wonderful “enveloping you like a comfortable blanket” quality which makes Shelter Point so enjoyable

We set it aside and returned to chocolate chips, a wonderful mandarin or clementine perfumed orange.

And what do the folks at Shelter Point have to say?

Our first Double Barreled Whisky is a special collaboration with Vancouver Island’s Coastal Black Estate Winery. We hand-selected two of our best Single Malt Whisky casks and finished them in two French Oak wine barrels, previously home to Coastal Black’s Blackberry Wine. Aged in our American Oak for six years, and then finished for 1126 hours in the flavourful French Oak, Shelter Point Double Barreled Whisky is a sensational marriage of spirits.

  • A nose of brandied bananas, sweet toffee and caramel, with a marvelous hint of lemon sherbet and tobacco leaf.
  • Salted caramel continues to the palate alongside golden treacle and a dash of white pepper.
  • With water you can find youth in Jolly Rancher sweets, cola, and a creamy vanilla finish.

Our fabulous finishes minis eve included:

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Minis with fabulous finishes – Glen Scotia, Nomad, Shelter Point

Believe it or not, we had a problem of plenty… lots of different minis to potentially explore picked up our several trips.

A tasting companion neatly organized into different possible sets and the one we elected to try was whiskies with finishes… we initially planned to sample four but in the end we were content with just these three:

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