February 12, 2014

An Olympic fever dram, The Macallan 1824 series, and talking to a haggis

I'm not in Sochi, but I may as well be, given the amount of time I'm spending watching the Olympics. I love winter Olympics, although it's a bit ironic that I convert from a pretty active person into a couch potato, while watching all these amazing athletes push themselves to the limit.   Eight years ago, we were living in France, and I took myself off to Bardonnechia to watch the inaugural Snowboard Cross event. My husband had meetings he needed to go to, so when I say "took myself off" I mean that I hopped on a  train from Geneva and went to the Olympics alone. Who does that!
That's how much I like winter Olympics.

So, needless to say, with even more inaugural events going on, coupled with Canada's great performance in Sochi, it's just easier to stop work, call out for pizza and ignore emails. I jest, but I'm definitely procrastinating more than usual. And I have noticed that Canadian twitter activity has diminished in the last week, except for athletic references. This is not necessarily a bad thing!

A few weeks ago, at the Victoria Whisky Festival, this whisky won the prestigious title of Canadian Whisky of the Year. Reasonably available at the LCBO, and under $40, Lot 40 is a fantastic 100% rye whisky, with a luscious mouth-feel and a spicy character. This is a grand Canadian dram to sip and savour while toasting your favourite athletes.

The Macallan 1824 Series

Two weeks ago, approximately 600 people turned out for the official Ottawa launch of The Macallan 1824 series. Although some of the product has been in the LCBO for quite a few months, this was an opportunity for a large number of people to taste the new collection of colour coded Single Malt Scotches from the great Speyside distillery. In recent weeks, about 3000 people have had the opportunity to taste the four Scotches, as the event made its way across Canada.
The tastings were led by Marc Laverdiere, Canadian Ambassador for The Macallan, and a congenial man with a friendly style and an obvious passion for his work. In Ottawa, attendees were treated to a cocktail made with The Macallan Gold and some tasty nibbles by Tulips and Maple, followed by a sequential tasting of The Macallan Gold, Sienna, Amber and Ruby.
The whiskies increase in colour and flavour intensity, mainly a result of different cask types, but also a factor of age. With no age expression on the bottles, the distillery has more leeway to marry whisky of any age to create the range. The emphasis is on cask previous contents, whether sherry or bourbon, first fill or subsequent fill, married together to create four different whiskies, at four different prices. As the whiskies flow from the lighter, crisp Gold to the rich, chocolatey Ruby, it's reasonable to assume that there are more casks of older whisky in the higher priced, richer flavored  products.

Many consumers like the comfort of buying a whisky with an age expression. If you buy a 15 year old Scotch, you are assured that the youngest whisky in the bottle is 15 years old. With the 1824 series, the distillery can add younger whiskies into the final pre-bottling marriage, if it suits the target flavour (and price) profile. The aim is for consumers to judge and enjoy these Scotches, without getting wound up about age.
My observation is that most tasters try to guess the age anyway, and then relate that to the price, as well as to other comparably aged whiskies. Time will tell whether the new strategy is a winner or not. Certainly, the 1824 series offers up four completely different whiskies at different price points. Current LCBO pricing is $64.95 for Gold, $99.95 for Amber, $174.95 for Sienna and $299.95 for Ruby.

Here are my notes on the range.


Youthful, fresh, citrus notes, peardrops, nutty, white pepper; a warming finish.


Fruity, apricots, vanilla, ginger, smoother on the palate, a medium finish.


Elegant, raisins, figs, fruitcake, a whiff of carbolic soap, cedar, warming and spicy.


Rich, a melee of dried fruits, chocolate, cocoa, spicy cloves, a long warming finish, a cognac quality.

Talking to a haggis

Robert Burns birthday has come and gone. We celebrated well at our house, with eloquent speeches, well articulated poetry, beautiful singing and piano playing, fine piping, Scottish dancing and a veritable feast.
Front and centre of the feast was, of course, the previously mentioned haggis and a grand beast he was.
I chatted to him in the way that one does at Burns Suppers.............

Enjoy the rest of the Olympics!