Crown Royal Northern Harvest Rye – Whisky Advent Calendar Day #2

Crown Royal Northern Harvest Rye

Last night was the Whisky Exchange Whisky of the Year tasting. While my thoughts on the whiskies up for judging will appear on The Whisky Exchange Blog shortly, they were not the only drams we tried. While TWE’s resident voting system geek (me) was off counting the votes cast (using a Contingent Vote, although altered to take the top three candidates due to a tie) to see who won, the attendees were treated to a mystery dram.

The whisky split the room. Most people thought it was good, a few really hated it, and one guy liked it more than any of the others we’d tried. What was the whisky? My second advent calendar dram: Crown Royal Northern Harvest Rye – Jim Murray’s World Whisky of the Year 2016.

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#LastDrinkOfTheWeek – Moon Under Water Tranquility IPA

When I hear the name ‘Moon Under Water’ I immediately think of the offshoot of Wetherspoons that has taken on the name, including their Charing Cross Road branch that replaced the second incarnation of the Marquee Club before I had a chance to visit it. The name comes from George Orwell’s last piece for the Evening Standard (full text here), in which he described his perfect pub, and thus is an obvious name to be grabbed by an enterprising pub company. However, when over in Canada earlier in the year I heard the name yet again. Victoria, British Columbia, is home to a decent number of brewpubs producing interesting beer and one that popped up a number of times was their local incarnation of the Moon Under Water.

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Victoria Spirits

During my visit to Canadia I didn’t focus entirely on whisky. While I trawled the local bars (well, mainly the hotel and airport bars…I was busy) for new beers I also got caught up in an expedition to local distiller Victoria Spirits, makers of gin and more…

From my ‘in depth’ research before I left the UK I’d worked out that it was a shortish walk from my hotel to Victoria Spirits HQ, so considered the car-based coordination that had been organised slightly over the top. 20 minutes later, after driving down a variety of major roads in and around Victoria, we pulled down a wooded driveway a significant distance from the centre of town, and I started to doubt my map reading skills even more than I usually do.

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The Victoria Whisky Festival – Quick Tastings: Benromach

My second tasting of the main day of the Victoria Whisky Festival was with Michael Urquart of Gordon & Macphail. While it was titled as a general G&M tasting it instead focused on a key part of their range – whisky from their distillery, Benromach. I’ve written about the Benromach before, way back in the long long ago when I visited, but I didn’t get to try much whisky. So here’s some notes on the drams that we had on the mat.

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The Victoria Whisky Festival – The Springbank Grand Tasting

Of all the Scottish distilleries that people in the whisky industry are meant to like the one that I’ve paid least attention to in recent times is Springbank. I loved the ‘Rundlets & Kilderkins‘ bottling that appeared last year and used to ensure that I always had a bottle of Longrow 100 proof in the cupboard, but other than that I’ve not really tried anything from them in recent times. Being a reflective sort (self-examining rather than polished) I’m assuming this is because most of the contact I’ve had with the brand in the last couple of years is hearing about how expensive their older bottlings are, and seeing the Longrow 18 fly off the shelves for a scary amount of money, even though I thought it quite average.

So, when I was offered the choice of various ‘Grand Tastings’, the top end tasting sessions that happen the night before the big day of the Victoria Whisky Festival, I pounced on the Sprinbank one. We had no indication of what might be on the mat, but behind the times as I am any recent bottlings would be great. However, that wasn’t entirely what happened.

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The Victoria Whisky Festival – Quick Tastings: Bowmore

I drank a fair few things at the Victoria Whisky Festival and haven’t got enough hours in the day to write them up in my usual overly wordy fashion. But rather than let my notes disappear into the pile of notebooks on my desk I thought I’d better stick them up here. Firstly, a few Bowmores.

In recent times my Islay whisky drinking has become rather focused on Bowmore, pungent peat wuss that I’ve become, so I was rather please to get into Iain ‘Sometimes drinking Black Bowmore for weeks can be really awful’ McCallum’s final tasting of the day at the festival – Davin de Kergommeaux was knackered after a day of Canadian Whisky Awards press and ‘forced’ the ticket on me. What a horrible life I lead.

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Shelter Point Distillery

A little bit of reading up on the country before my recent trip to Canada showed that in addition to moose(s), woolly hats and decent do(ugh)nuts they also have have an alarmingly rich tradition of making fine boozes. The small range of whisky and bottles of Labatt’s that we see in the UK are merely the slightly dodgy tip of the iceberg, and a whole host of interesting beer and wine is being made along with the decent whisky that I discovered during my trip. The organisers of the Victoria Whisky Festival wanted to show off some of the tasty things being made in British Columbia, so organised a trip for some of us international guests to visit the only single malt distillery on Vancouver island – Shelter Point.

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