Spirits for Dad

WineAlign Spirits Review
by Margaret Swaine

Margaret Swaine

Margaret Swaine

It may be a bit old hat to gift dad a bottle of booze on Father’s Day, but some traditions are worth preserving. Especially I say, those in liquid form. Some of the new products hitting the liquor shelves are sure to delight the spirit connoisseur and intrigue the enthusiast.

Available in Ontario as of May is J.P. Wiser’s Dissertation – which was recently awarded World’s Best Blended Limited Release at the World Whiskies Awards. It has the coolest story behind it. Don Livermore, J.P. Wiser’s Master Blender, studied the quality of whisky casks for his Dissertation thesis in 2005. (Livermore is one of the few master blenders in the world with a doctorate in distilling.)

He was studying how oak wood contributed to the Canadian whisky ageing process and trying to determine the quality of a whisky cask. He looked at the effects of charring the barrels, the use of different grains, the tannins and colours extracted with aging and so forth. By using infrared sensor technology (a technique pioneered by Livermore), he was able to determine exactly how much wood flavours would be extracted into the whisky after just 30 seconds, thus streamlining the traditional process of whisky blending.

One of the unintended side effects of his work was 114 barrels of whisky with various char levels and grain distillations. “We decided to put them all together as the J.P. Wiser’s Dissertation. Low and behold it won World’s Best Blended Limited Release by the World Whiskies Awards in April 2017,” he told me.

J.P. Wiser's DissertationHigh River Canadian WhiskyMacallan 12 Year Old Double Cask

Livermore sent me a copy of his Dissertation which I must say is dry reading counter to the rich notes of vanilla, toffee and spice in the liquid that came out of it.

Also new this spring, the Sazerac Company rolled out a premium product in Ontario that’s soon to appear in other select provinces: High River Canadian Whisky. Made under the watchful eye of Master Blender and Canadian native Drew Mayville, High River takes its name from the rivers near where the rye crops are grown in the Prairies.

Over on the other side of the pond, Scotch distilleries such as The Macallan have shipped to Canada some of their latest, greatest malts. The Macallan Double Cask 12 Year Old, launched in Canadian markets in early 2017 as a permanent addition to the range, marries the spirits from American oak casks with European for an exceptional union.

While not a newcomer to our markets Jura Superstition Single Malt Scotch Whisky is a great introduction into the peated scotches as its lightly peated character has a sweet, honey/toffee overlay. Also not new but always good, The Dalmore 12 Year Old Highland Single Malt is matured nine years in American ex-bourbon casks before fifty per cent is then aged in 30 year old Matusalem oloroso sherry casks.

Jura Superstition Single Malt Scotch WhiskyThe Dalmore 12 Ans Highland Scotch Single MaltDun Bheagan Islay Single Malt Scotch Whisky

Dun Bheagan has rejigged what’s in the bottle to younger spirits (once were 8 year old but now four to five years old) to reflect the current reality of what’s available for a good price/quality ratio. The 2012 vintage, bottled in 2016, remains a good deal.

From France, a new twist on Armagnac is Blanche de Montal Armagnac, distilled from folle blanche and ugni blanc grapes but not aged in oak so that it’s transparent, colourless, with fruity aromas. Putting a twist on cherry liqueur and rum is Wisniak na Rumie Cherry Liqueur out of Poland.

Blanche De Montal White ArmagnacWisniak Cherry Liqueur

The cider industry is booming wherever apples are grown in Canada. Made in Waterloo, near St. Jacob’s market is KW Craft Cider. The “original” (there’s a Thai spiced version as well with chili and ginger) uses champagne yeast to ferment a combo of McIntosh, Empire, Golden Russet, Idared and Northern Spy apples into a refreshing summer drink.

While I don’t normally cover beer, I must give a shout out to The Brew Box Company. If your dad is a beer fan, this is the perfect gift that keeps giving. Sign him up to a Brew Box subscription and each month he’ll get a selection of products from at least three craft breweries for a total of four litres of beer, or six to eight bottles/cans. So far only available in Ontario, the Brew Box has partnered with over 40 different Ontario craft breweries. www.thebrewbox.ca

Tempo Renovo Small Batch Dry Gin made by G&W Distilling in British Columbia is a smooth tipple with light juniper flavours for those who like their gin to be subtle in nature.

KW Craft CiderTempo Renovo Small Batch Dry GinSocial Lite Pineapple Mango

Finally, if dad likes cocktails but not calories, SoCIAL Lite has come out with a new ready to drink pineapple mango vodka and soda mix (only 80 calories) Social Lite Pineapple Mango.

Happy Father’s Day to all the dads out there.

Margaret Swaine

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George Brown College