Just a Thought… Celebrate Robbie Burns

… In Camrose, Alberta!  

I know that the few people who may stumble upon this post can’t or won’t actually be able to do this, especially with January 25 right around the corner and, since it falls on a Monday, festivities are happening tonight. Nevertheless, it’s possible that it might be worth the trip!   

“Whisky and freedom gang thegither” – Robbie Burns
Last night, I attended an event in support of the local chapter of a national charity that helps children from low-income families participate in sports and athletic programs. (www.kidsportcanada.ca/alberta/camrose/) Well, it just so happens that this event was held at the same location as tonics Robbie Burns celebration. And, it just so happens that I know the manager of this establishment quite well. So, I was less surprised than pleased when she presented me with a copy of the pamphlet/menu that will be in use tonight, along with an early invitation to enjoy a couple of the fine drams that will be available! (Unfortunately, I will be on the road coaching tonight – her son plays on my hockey team – so I won’t be able to attend.šŸ™)

Look at this whisky menu… And look at the prices! In a small city that doesn’t have any great whisky bars, this is a drammer’s dream and I appreciate the efforts taken to educate about scotch whisky to make some fantastic malts extremely affordable to sample! (Yeah, those prices are $CDN!)   
  I know there may be some errors in this, but I still think it’s a nice touch for landlocked Albertans wanting to learn more about scotch… No haggis… But some good eats will be available, too!  

Let me tell you, it was difficult to choose what to sample – my friend has done a great job of selecting a number of excellent whiskies. I was tempted to simply request that a bottle of the Glenfarclas 25 be left at my table… But I decided to just go for a couple of drams I had not yet tried, settling on the Balblair 1989 vintage and the Caol Ila 12 year old. (I know, I know, I should have had that one by now!) I asked for the Balblair first, to avoid having my palate dominated by the Islay malt. 

Obviously, I wasn’t able to do my usual review tasting regimen but a few quick notes on these whiskies:

Balblair ’89 (3rd Release)

I was quite taken by the intense floral character of this whisky, which was in abundance in both the nose and the palate. There is plenty of juicy fruit on the nose, along with some delicious toffee and vanilla – very bourbony!  On the palate, the 46% abv delivers those juicy fruits but turns them jammy and quite a bit darker, with oak and baking spices. It is a rich tasting dram with a long, smooth finish of honey, citrus pith and a nice fruity, floral rye-like character.  Absolutely delicious!

Caol Ila 12

I love Islay! And this dram delivers the typical Islay elements I look for – smoke, maltiness and salty, seeweedy brine – and balances them beautifully. On the nose, the smoke is assertive but not sharp, as it is nicely rounded out by malted cereals and a unique citrusy aroma that reminds me of a spicy Thai basil. The salty character of this whisky leaves impressions of smoked meat but I couldn’t decide if it was more like ham or lox… Interesting though! There is plenty of body to this 43% abv dram and the flavours are sweet and malty with some tar, juicy fruits, restrained peat and smoke. The finish was a lovely assault of salty sweetness, like a smack of Granny Smith apples and kettle corn. Terrific whisky to end the evening with!

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