Spirits of the Season

With wonderful offerings from Dalmore, Glenfiddich and Tamdhu, fall has something for everyone.

Despite the bite of chill in the air, autumn’s harvest is given some comforting warmth thanks to our annual celebration of whisky. Judging from what’s happening on the buyer’s front, I can assure you that we’re about to give whisky enthusiasts a range of new reasons to join in the celebration. 

Let’s start with the Dalmore, a Highland distillery whose whiskies tend to show a bit more brawn thanks to their methods. Dalmore’s stills don’t adhere to consistent shapes or heights, and rather than employ the traditional swan necked equipment they have flatter tops. This contributes to giving their whiskies a bit more oomph. I particularly like the 15YO with its luster of marmalade and richer chocolate, but explore the full range as there’s much more to discover. 

As an aside, I will mention for those truly invested in rare whiskies – or those anticipating a generous holiday bonus this year – that come November VINTAGES will be bringing in three bottles from Dalmore’s Constellation Series. Stellar, indeed. 

Next, we have Glenfiddich’s 1963 Original, a reproduction of the 1963 recipe that really established the single malt category. It used to be that single malts were considered too harsh to drink and blends ruled the shelves. Glenfiddich recognized the commercial potential and introduced an approachable single malt. 

Cut to today and Malt Master Brian Kinsman has delved into the liquid archives to recreate this original recipe. The result is that distinctive Glenfiddich fruitiness with tempting shades of pear and biscuit. I’d suggest taking it with a couple of drops of water and you’ll have a wonderful sense of the malt that started it all. I should mention that the bottle design hearkens back to the original and makes for a splendid gift – to others or to yourself, of course. The LCBO has secured a limited allotment, but please note that we’re anticipating a mid-November arrival for this release. 

Brian Kinsman also figures into what we think is an even more coveted release, as the LCBO has collaborated with him to create the exclusive Storas Rare Cask Reserve. We’re only the fourth market in the world to be afforded the honour, and Kinsman has gone into the extensive William Grant and Sons’ archives to create a blend dedicated to Canada. Of the alternatives presented, the LCBO’s Shari Mogk-Edwards made the final selection. 

While we can’t divulge the formula, the result is comprised of a minimum 21 year-old liquids. It’s a wonderfully balanced whisky – very vanilla forward with traces of almond and marmalade teasing out over a long finish. Again, with its higher alcohol by volume (ABV), I’d recommend adding a touch of water. Take note that there are only 4,200 bottles of this release, so once it’s gone, it is truly gone and the recipe will never be replicated. 

Tamdhu is a pioneering Speyside distillery that had shuttered it doors in 2010 but was re-commissioned in 2012. Thankfully so, because this distillery had originally been a state of the art operation when first constructed in 1897 and now that legacy will live on. With its aged stock still on hand, the distillery has produced a sherry cask aged whisky that has a deliciously creamy character. There’s vanilla, almond, toffee and a pinch of cinnamon on the finish – very much a classic profile. Adding to its appeal is the redesigned bottle, which draws its distinct lines from the Victorian era. Very stylish and undoubtedly unique. 

As a final note to those who want to lock down their holiday shopping now, I’ll just mention a few desirable labels that are on limited release. Keep your eye out for The Glenlivet Delanabo, Balvenie Single Barrel, both the Bruichladdich Octomore and Black Art releases, and the Highland Park Odin. 

Feeling more comforted now that the season has all these surprises in store? You’ll find even more as we get deeper into 2015. Enjoy your explorations.