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.

Check out what else our Bombay “Canadian” evening covered:

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Peat Unusual – Ailsa Bay 48.9%

1st up in our Peat Unusual session was Ailsa Bay…

This Lowlands distillery is part of the Girvain complex, owned by William Grant & Sons. Most of the output makes its way to blends however there was a recognition that a single malt expression should also make it to market.

What did our cigar chomping gents think?

Ailsa Bay 48.9%

  • Nose – Sweet and peat, raw bacon, honey cured ham, black pepper then cinnamon spice, smoked paprika, very sweet
  • Palate – Nice light spice, dry oaky candy, acrid smoke
  • Finish – Long bitter then turns sweet…. long
  • Water? Sweet toffee, butterscotch, no bacon and almost syrupy, even more sweet on the palate, still a bitter long finish

We set it aside to revisit… much more enjoyable however still more on the sweet side, not much variety, could even be described as ‘linear’ with a wintry quality.

Overall we thought not a bad start but not one we would run out to grab another bottle immediately.

So  what do we know?

Alisa Bay is purported to find balance between sweet and peat… which they strictly adhere  to 21 PPM for the peat then also measure the ‘sweet’ side too with their SPPM – at a level of 11 SPPM. They also use a ‘micro maturation’ process with the new make spirit filled into Hudson Baby Bourbon casks (25-100 Litres vs standard barrels with unto 200 Litres) for 6-9 months for an ‘intense rapid maturation’ then transferred to a mix of virgin and 1st fill American oak casks.

And Alisa Bay’s  tasting notes?

  • Nose: FRESH WOOD SMOKE WITH NOTES OF SMOULDERING DAMP HEATHER AND AN EXTINGUISHED BONFIRE. FOLLOWING THE SMOKE IS A WAVE OF OAKY SWEETNESS AND HOT BUTTERED TOAST WITH AN INTRIGUING HINT OF CARAMELISED APPLE.
  • Taste: AN IMMEDIATE PUNCH OF PEAT IS QUICKLY BALANCED BY A BURST OF VANILLA OAKINESS. THE FLAVOUR MEANDERS BETWEEN SMOKE, FRUIT, CREAMY TOFFEE AND BACK AGAIN. WITH EVERY SIP THE COMPLEXITY OF THE WHISKY DEEPENS AS LAYER UPON LAYER OF FLAVOUR IS REVEALED.
  • Finish: AN INTRIGUING BALANCE OF OAKY SWEETNESS AND PEATY DRYNESS.

Would we agree? Mostly… however complex? Not what we found.

While I can’t definitively confirm, I suspect this particular bottle made its way to us via The Whisky Exchange where it can be purchased for approx £55.55.

Our “peat unusual” whiskies….

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Girvan Patent Still 28 year 42%

One doesn’t often come across an aged grain. So it was such a surprise and treat to have this 28 year old Girvan close our tasting trio. We sampled blind from a freshly opened bottle, having no clue what we were sipping. Here is what we found…

Girvan Patent Still 28 year 42% No 1 Apps KA269PT

  • Nose – Nail polish remover, paint, some fruit, furniture polish, reminded one of a Chemistry lab with a bio-chemistry sweet note, staying steady, not evolving beyond an oil and spice, then after tasting the nose transforms – revealing fruits, pudding, opening up in a beautiful way
  • Palate – Sweet honey water, Parsis toffee green mathai (sweet), then began to open up to reveal a quality almost like an eclair, then a bitter caramel rum ball
  • Finish – Initially a spicy finish then a sweet, walnut bitter, with a chocolate noughat, held and genuinely very nice
  • Water – Nope. Don’t. Just enjoy it neat.

There was something quite unique about this whisky. We began to speculate that perhaps it was finished in a white wine cask – perhaps muscatel or sauternes? Perhaps not a single malt at all? Some corn? With such a honey light colour it was hard to pin point. All we knew was it was quite unique with a very distinctive and interesting character.

And the reveal? An aged Lowland grain! Wow!

Girvan goes by the name The Girvan Patent Still referring to their continuous distillation method using Coffey Stills which they credit for creating “a delicious spirit full of a rich intensity.”

Here is what the folks over at Girvan have to say:

Filled to American White Oak our whisky’s soul is forged from wood & mellowed by time. Naturally golden amber in colour – this is Single Grain Whisky at its finest.

Notes of honey, toffee, vanilla & caramelised fruits. It is, quite simply, Deliciously Different single grain whisky. 

  • Rich & Complex
  • Vanilla
  • Toffee Apple
  • Cinnamon
  • Citrus/Chocolate Orange

I suspect, but cannot confirm, this whisky was bought at Dubai’s Le Clos for $361.

Bottom line, did we enjoy? Absolutely! It was a unique experience – both distinctive and memorable.

Also from our evening:

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Ghosted Reserve 21 year (2nd edition) 48.2%

The Ghosted Reserve 21 year was the inspiration for the evening of blends and mystery malts. We tried the 2nd release which features spirits from three closed Lowland distilleries – Ladyburn, Inverleven and Dumbarton.

ghosted-reserve

Ghosted Reserve 21 year 42.8% Bottle No 89

  • Nose: Very pronounced coconut oil! Lots of bananas, pineapple, some beautiful floral notes, then fully back to the tropics then shifting to more citrus fruits. It reminded us of Malibu coconut rum and piña coladas!
  • Palate: Wow! We lost all the rum and instead found a light delightful desert drink, a wonderful oiliness, terrific mouthfeel, lots of dried desiccated sweet coconut, then hints of pepper peaking out, fruits still there – juicy and tropical
  • Finish: The most disappointing element as it was too subtle… after such a distinctive nose and quite delicious initial flavours it somehow drifted away

It actually reminded me a bit of the Nikka Coffey Grain or Compass Box Hedonism, with the grain elements quite pronounced – in a good way. Wonderfully tropical with coconut the consistent element. For one, this was his first encounter with such a whisky style.

Here’s what the chaps over at Master of Malt have to say:

  • Nose: Orange and lime peels, with a hint of orchard blossom developing later on. Hints of toffee and raisins.
  • Palate: Another helping of orange peels on the palate, joined by banana and sharp tropical fruit. A touch of peppery malt.
  • Finish: Floral on the finish, with a slight nod towards milk chocolate buttons.

For those curious about the distilleries, here is a synopsis about the trio of lost Lowland distilleries.

Ladyburn (Lowland), William Grant and Sons (1966-1975)

  • Ladyburn distillery was actually two sets of stills in the same complex as Girvan, a grain distillery.
  • While intended to supply malt whisky for the Grant blends, it was operational for less than a decade.
  • One can find a few rare bottles of Ladyburn whisky bottled under the name Ayrshire, named after the area where Girvan is located.

Inverleven (Lowland) (1938 – 1991) & Dumbarton (Lowland) (1938-2002) William Grant & Sons

  • Located on the border between the Highlands and Lowlands, Inverleven and Dumbarton shared a distillery with a column still for production of grain whisky (Dumbarton) and two pot stills for malt (Inverleven).
  • Once upon a time, Dumbarton was Scotland’s largest grain distillery, drawing water from Loch Lomand (not to be confused with the Loch Lomand distillery) of which a Lomand still was introduced from 1959.
  • Inverleven was intended to provide whisky for blending, however blenders never took to the Lomond spirit.
  • While the Dumbarton complex was mothballed in 2002, the equipment from Inverleven has gained new life at the Lochindaal distillery opened by Bruichladdich at Port Charlotte.

In addition to the Ghosted Reserve, our mystery malts and vatted blends evening featured:

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Airport adventures with Àraid 21 year 43% for DFS SIN + HKG

Typically when traveling, I can be found hiding out in a lounge tapping away on my laptop however this trip from Mumbai to Jakarta via Singapore had no lounge access. So after picking up the new Bruichladdich PC 2007 CC:01, discovering my onward flight was delayed, slipped upstairs to browse through the rarified whiskies.2016-12-04-rusty-nail

I found myself chatting with the fellow behind the Long Bar by Raffles. He spotted my Bruichladdich and we began to swap whisky tales (as one does in such situations!). He shared insights into the session Murray Campbell, Bruichladdich Brand Ambassador did for the DFS team while I shared chance conversations with Murray at Whisky Live Singapore.

With time to kill, I spotted a nice little table beside the bar and settled down to get some work done while waiting for my flight.

Completely absorbed with writing on my laptop, first an exceedingly refreshing and indulgent rusty nail found its way into my hand.

Followed by a small sample of… something…

  • Nose – Citrus pineapple, peaches, honey, cinnamon, lightly woodsy, vanilla, subtle light bright inviting nose
  • Palate – Spice with substance, a contrast to the sunshine nose there is enough swirling around on the palate to properly keep one company
  • Finish – The spice lingers and becomes slightly tart and bitter

Was it a single malt? A blend? The reveal…

Àraid 21 yea4 43% Batch 15/0508, Selected 19.04.2015, Bottle No 1,182/3, 400.

2016-12-04-araid-21-year

A DFS Group exclusive blend for Singapore Changi International Airport (SIN) and Hong Kong International Airport (HKG).

“Àraid” is Scots Gaelic for “unique” and the whisky is intended as “an idea which summons the spirit of the selection process in which we collaborated to arrive at this magnificent whiskey.”

Here is what they have to say about it:

“A deep and luxurious whisky replete with a fresh and fruity nose of delicate character, a rich and silky palate and a long-lasting oaky finish.

This exquisite spirit inherits its silky texture and floral delicacy from the splendid malts in the Grant family’s whisky ledgers which have given them life. Its long-lasting finish, with a sweet laziness, completes this blend’s unique perfection.”

It was like having a high end Monkey Shoulder, brighter, lighter and more complex. Apparently it has some KinInvie & Glenfiddich and…?

Regardless of contents, sipping it was a rather nice way to while away my time til my flight to Jakarta… A “sweet laziness” is actually a rather good way to describe how this whisky leaves you…

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