The dinner looks good to me and a steal at $100 including gratuity. Too bad it's on a Thursday night at 6:30pm. If I really try I could work from 8am to 4pm but that almost never works. I usually work 9:30am to 5:30pm... and it takes at least a couple of hours to get to Toronto from Guelph at that time of day.
1) The dinner does look like a good deal. I'm still thinking about it. Unfortunatly there are too many good whiskies coming down the pike. Someone has agreed to bring a bottling of Ardbeg (x2 bottles) to TO so that's $110/per. And Auld Reekie in coming to vintages at $80/bottle. Adds up quickly.
2) Glad to see you're comming! About meeting you guys earlier, I might be bringing my boss to the event. If I do, I need to prep him for the written & unwritten rules or else he might just drink what's put in fromt of him like I did last year. Ended up being asked to leave (rightly so - I was more than tipsy). I'll let you guys know in this space closer to Nov 05.
About the master classes, I'll be going first to Glassers blending class, then to the Cooley one. Not sure about the third. I think we may be on different journeys here.
Will keep you updated. Meeting beforehand sounds the best to me!
On the other hand, less 20yr+ whiskies compared to last year. And no visability by Bruichladdich! If they couldn't run a booth (small distillery can't be everywhere) perhaps a mini at the door would have raised thier profile. I single out Bruchladdich because they do have a good reputation in the whisky community.
Again ( same as last year) they came with some nice whiskies. Unfortunatly, the amounts poured for the expensive ones were miniscule, whereas they were more generous with the regional NAS.
Much better than last year - many more choices but nothing over 18yrs of age. Missed a chance to try Glen Elgen 12yr old. Had most of the DE varients of the Classic Malts.
Big dissapointment. Last year they had all the Fine Oaks as well as a comprehensive range of the regular Mac. This year, a 10, 12, &15 (I think the 12 was regular Mac). CS as well. Not impressed.
One of the guys manning the booth called everyone around him to wittness something we shouldn't miss. Like a lamb, I went. He subtly snubbed his nose at those who drank whisky at 40% (saying "to those, have a nice life"). He watered our drams of 'fiddich 21 down to about 30% and got us to shake the glass vigerously while keeping it covered. We were then to sniff the glass while the bubles in the glass were still fresh. Parlor tricks, and an insult to boot. Glenfiddich is 0 fer 2 as far as its reps go in my experiance.
John Glaser (Compass Box Whiskies):
Easily the highlight of my evening. Talked a bit about blending, (topnotes support & leads), then led the class on a blending exersize letting us chose 3 of 5 whiskies to use. He then blended these and gave us a 100ml sample to take home. Adressed us like adults. Really makes me want to like his whiskies!
Micheal Urquhart (Gordon & McPhail):
Whisky 101. Overview of highland Lowland, Speyside, Island, and Islay flavours. Clearly has done this a number of times before - lots of 1-liners. Got to try a 25yr Longmorn, and found out that G&M mostly buys new make and then ages this in their own casks. Some nuggets in there about effects of Bourbon vs Sherry casking.
Euan Mitchell (Arran):
Most of the evening was spent with him amusing himself with 1-liners, or telling funny stories about the goings-on at the distillery. The master class was advertised to be about a selection of Arran whiskies which were admittedly good. Most of the presentation had nothing to do with whisky at all. I'm really impressed with Arran's whiskies...
What made the evening more enjoyable was sitting down with hpully and Wendy. Really nice to see you guys. Also bumped into an old childhood friend I hadn't seen in a while. Reinforces that whisky is about people - those who make it and those who drink and enjoy it. Both are social processes.
Great to meet you A, and hope to have a beer (or dram) with you soon...
I too was at the Spirit of Toronto event last night with Chris (Frodo) and Wendy. I hadn't seen them since last year but I swear it felt like less time had passed. I agree with Frodo when he says it is more about people than the drink itself but both the company and the whisky were just great.
I began the night with a quandry, do I go to Richard Joynson's talk, the Talisker vertical tasting or John Glaser's blending talk? I'm not really that much into blends so even though John is a great speaker I crossed that one off. I ran to the Talisker booth to see if I could taste all three of them from the tasting at the booth and they said yes, with the 25yo only being opened at 10pm (sorry you missed it, Frodo). So I took a glass of 18yo to wait for Richard's talk. The person who gave it to me had no clue about it, having tried his first one, Glenkinchie 10yo, that very night! Diageo should send more knowledgeable staff next year (their Toronto office is very close by).
Richard, of Loch Fyne Whiskies, was a blast! He is a very knowledgable and funny character. The show went by very quickly, and not just because Richard borrowed my watch! He was to discuss collecting whisky for fun and profit but the main message seemed to be: just enjoy it as there will always be more good whisky coming up and you never know when those valuable ceramic bottles will go out of style and the value will plummet and that cask investing is even more dubious. We first had the Loch Fyne blend, quite enjoyable, then a wonderful 30yo Linlithgow, a 21yo Springbank, a '73 Craigduff and finally a Bowmore Claret finish that I recognized as soon as I walked into the room from it's awful smell; it was the only whisky of the night that I nosed but did not drink. Richard offered it as an example of the wine finishing which yields a Pokémon like "gotta get 'em all" but could be just a fad. I'll do more analysis of the whiskies in the "what did you drink last night" thread. The British consul was there as well, trying to increase the import of UK produce to Canada.
During the break between the next ones I mostly ate food, some wonderful prime rib in yorkies, chow mein, cheese and crackers which went very well with Compass Box Peat Monster.
For the next class I met up with Frodo and Wendy and her friends for Michael Urquhart's talk. He is from Gordon and Macphail. While he does mention a few questionable facts in his talk like the old salt spray into Islay casks yarn, he is a great guy and they brought some nice whiskies including the Benromach Traditional, 25yo Longmorn, Aberfeldy and a lovely '93 10yo Caol Ila which will arrive on our shore in the spring.
I decided to just do the booths after the 2nd show while Frodo was off to Arran and Wendy was off to Highland Park vs. Macallan. I immediately looked at my watch, saw it was just after ten o'clock and went right to the Talisker stall for a wonderful dram of 25yo. The 18yo is nice, seeming mostly like a gentler version of the 10yo but the 25yo is nicer, more full bodied, lots of spicy character, very lively for a 25yo. If only it weren't so expensive!
I hit Bowmore to see if anything was decent there and tried the 17yo. No perfumey notes! I was excited but the taste was not great so I dumped the remainder. The Bowmore of old is gone it seems. 15yo Glen Garioch was nice though and I should get a bottle.
At this point Wendy returned as the HP vs. Mac show was completely sold out. I told her to grab a 25yo Tali while it was still available.
The side-by-side HP and Macallan booths decided to do the same tastings there as well so we enjoyed the 25yo HP which didn't seem as good as last year and some Fine Oaks which impressed me more than the last time I tasted them.
Then on to Duncan Taylor with Euan! The 23yo Northport was interesting but I thought it was a single grain! It was so sherried that it was as round as a grain whisky. Conversely, the 30yo '73 Strathclyde single grain was very hot. The 16yo Glen Garioch was very good with an interesting note from the back of the palate into the finish. I picked up a goody box for later.
We went to Cooley next where I thought I'd just try the Connemara Peated but also ended up having two Locke's, Inishowen and Kilbeggan! The Bowmore 17yo was the first one to be dumped but I dumped remainders here as the drams were starting to take effect. The 8yo Locke's was my favorite of the bunch with a nice pot still character but not too much sweetness.
I hit Yoichi next to try their 10yo and 12yo. Very good stuff! Peaty too and I was told it is Japanese barley, Japanese peat, all Japanese ingredients. This is very impressive compared to Canadian single malt Glenora with it's imported Scottish malted barley.
Then back to Compass Box for a quick hello with John Glaser and more tastings of Asyla and Eleuthera which turned out to be the night cap.
At that point I said goodbye to Wendy and grabbed taxi to the bus terminal for an hour and a half's sleep home where I awoke just in time at the terminal.
Once again I'd missed saying thank you to Johanna but I'll do so via email once again.
All in all it was a great night and the only D'oh I'd forgotten to try was the 12yo CS Lagavulin's latest release (if they had it, perhaps Frodo or Wendy know).
Meeting up with Chris and Wendy was great but even if I'd known no one there, the crowd was as usual quite gregarious even before the malts were flowing. Whisky fans are a friendly, talkative bunch and every time I was sitting in a class or waiting in a line a conversation was struck up immediately.
The jazz band was sadly ignored for the most part as it was near the entrance rather than near the middle. This made conversation easier but I feld bad for the players.
The whisky selection was good, the food was good and the people were great. Can't wait for next year!
The past few days have been wonderful. My (official) celebration of whisky began a couple of days earlier than Harry’s and Frodo’s by attending the Compass Box Whisky dinner on November 3. To make it short, John Glaser and Stephen Beaumont were welcoming and informative host’s to an intimate dinner of approximately 20 guests. The menu is too lengthy to retype, but for those interested in the pairings, please check out Whisky Dinner at http://www.spiritoftoronto.ca . Asyla, Hedonism, Eleuthera and Peat Monster were used in the recipes and poured in our glasses. The meal was melt-in-the-mouth delicious with Compass Box as a complimentary ingredient within each course. The evening was a great success. The dinner put me in countdown mode to the upcoming Spirit of Toronto festival.
The Big Night...
Harry, Frodo and I met up outside of Roy Thomson Hall where we also were joined by a couple of my friends. Although Harry is right to say that whisky fans are a friendly lot, I was really happy to have Harry and Frodo’s company. It made a difference for me to discuss what we were drinking and to review what was said in the masterclasses. They have mentioned a number of details that I don’t need to repeat, except that in the John Glaser – The Compass Box Blending Seminar, the five whiskies were: Teaninch 10 yo, Clynelish 12 yo, Ardmore 14 yo; Coal Ila 10 yo, and Linkwood 12 yo. The three whiskies that were chosen by majority vote for our blend were: Ardmore (Lead whisky), Teaninich (middle) and Linkwood (Topnote). John advised us to wait 2 weeks before sampling our group effort. I will report the results of our masterpiece in due time. John's seminar was very informative, interactice and included a helpful seven page handout.
Other whiskies that I sampled from booth to booth were:
Highland Park 25
Macallan 15 FO
'73 Strathclyde 30 yo, Single grain
Plus, I was sipping the whiskies that were served in the two masterclasses that were discussed earlier. My two favourites presented at the Michael Urquhart's masterclass were the Aberfeldy (1988 Vintage date, bottled 2003) and the 25 yo Longmorn.
My only regret is that I couldn't divide the festival into two days! I missed visiting the Laguvulin's, Yoichi and the Balvenie table (Bernie, I know where I would have found you!)
It was a very full and wonderful evening. "Spiritoffeifel-event" -Bernie, I think you are the man for the job!
Wendy wrote:...The Compass Box Blending Seminar, the five whiskies were: Teaninch 10 yo, Clynelish 12 yo, Ardmore 14 yo; Coal Ila 10 yo, and Linkwood 12 yo. The three whiskies that were chosen by majority vote for our blend were: Ardmore (Lead whisky), Teaninich (middle) and Linkwood (Topnote).
One interesting thing I forgot to add - the Linkwood came from a quarter cask or something like that. Before Mr Glaser introduced it, I was convinced it was bourbon!!! I was wondering why he was giving us a bourbon amongst Scotches in a blending seminar. Just goes to show you what an active casks can do for you.
And yes, I'm quite familiar with Bourbons, thank you .
Wendy wrote:My only regret is that I couldn't divide the festival into two days! I missed visiting the Laguvulin's, Yoichi and the Balvenie table (Bernie, I know where I would have found you!)
Yeah, two days would be great or even an event that was eight hours to spread it out a bit. Four hours means you really have to blast through it which is a shame, though it does keep you on your toes.
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