Glenfiddich Experimental Series – Project XX

Glenfiddich Project XX

47% abv.

88/100

I have been looking forward to this whisky since the press release last year, I almost asked a friend to bring some back from USA but then found out the KGBO would get some in September.

The concept behind this  second edition of the experimental series really piqued my curiosity. The twenty Glenfiddich brand ambassadors were locked in a Glenfiddich warehouse and were left to fight it out “Battle Royale” style with nothing but oatcakes and whisky as sustenance…

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All out of oatcakes…

 

Err, actually each ambassador chose their favorite cask from said warehouse and then head blender Brian Kinsman and team went about wrestling them (the casks not the ambassadors) into a cohesive whole.

 

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How it’s actually blended 17 bourbon barrels+2 sherry butts+1 port pipe, non-chill flitered@47%abv = Yes please!

I’m stoked that Canadian brand Ambassador Beth Havers is the one who chose the port pipe. She knew that the combination of ‘Fiddich and port pipe was rare and bound to be interesting. I wish I could taste that straight from the cask, even one of those rich bourbon cask other reviewers have been swooning over. C’mon William Grant and sons! A single barrel, cask strength…doesn’t have to be that old, let’s say 12-14yrs…I’m  daydreaming again.

I’ll save my NAS rants for later, proceed with your own set of rules. I wanted to taste what a junior TUN 1509 treatment would do for Glenfiddich.

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Nose: Grape candies, the smell of brioche dough left to rise, a bushel of apples and pears, vanilla & oak. After some time the rich malt scents are met with a light cinnamon, allspice, then milk chocolate covered raisins and sugar pie.

Palate: Rhum baba, fresh pressed apple cider, vanilla extract and marshmallows. It’s got a pleasant sharpness, oak tannin are present with tons of good dried fruits, abricotine (apricot croissant). The mouth feel is full and pleasant.

Finish: Long, precise and the spices are still there. Baked apples, cake batter, plump raisins, a little leafy side and almond cream.

I could drink this endlessly, perfect dram for autumn, rich and dense, the sherry and port cask make their presence known against the round sustained sweetness of the ex-bourbon barrel. I am looking forward to seeing what other experiments are brewing at Glenfiddich, I know the third edition was released a version of their Gran Reserva 21 yr old whisky but finished in Canadian icewine casks, seems interesting thus far, I hope the series won’t be cask finished focused only.

That said it seems this release was a success as in a recent episode of “the whisky topic” Beth Havers mentioned that project XX would become a permanent addition to the line-up. It’s good news as this is really beautiful whisky. I think this kind of vatting would absolutely shine at full strength, especially since we’re gonna lose the distillery edition, wink-wink, nudge-nudge.

Franck

Bottle Shop & Tasting Room at Brasserie Harricana 

So funny enough, I was working on my previous post on Brasserie Harricana beer when I noticed that Noah – the always eloquent and taker of the beautiful black background photos of Beerism had just published a post about these new barrel aged beers from Harricana.

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He reviews in his trademark style both the green label and pink label releases, it was serendipitous that I was in the midst of drinking some of this stuff myself.

At the end of his post he mentioned that there was the launch of Harricana’s bottle shop this past Saturday at 1 pm. He must-have prime connections that my hermit ass must not to have such advance info.  I hopped at the chance to scope it out and I am much grateful to the man that I did.

First of all, if you haven’t been the the Brasserie itself, what are you waiting for. The room is beautiful, the contrast of modern and colder elements (the marble, the bars, the gold accents) against the more rustic ones (the pink leather chairs,  the wood, the vintage accents). The beer selection is varied and is also offered in smaller pours, the food and service top tier. It’s great and unpretentious.

The tasting room/bottle shop is upstairs from the bar, accessed from the pink door on the side of the building at 7205 St-Urbain.

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Guided by the heady smells of fermentation…or the signs, one takes the stairs up to a bright and airy space. The first corner houses a bottle fridge, a growler filling station & this also doubles as a cash.

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Yes I said growler station! Last year Quebec finally adopted legislation concerning the sale of beer on tap. Alas its bogged down in the usual simplicity/innovation cramping red tape this province is famous for. Nonetheless it’s a first step and still  great news for consumers and producers alike.

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Currently they offer 950ml growlers, the deposit is 4$ and the beers on tap will be priced between 10-14$. They had 6 selections available when I passed by (A blonde, Scotch ale, a stout with fruits and a sour beer with wild herbs, you can check the Brasserie’s Facebook page for updates)

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The rest of the room is taken up fair variety  of different types of barrels of fermenting beer, storage for upcoming and current stock and a ping pong-table, that got some action from some staff members and friends.

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On the day of my visit the charming proprietor Marie-Pier Veilleux was pouring tastes of the 3 current iterations of the 7205 series (I reviewed .001 here) , they also had a few pink label beers for sale (69 and 343) and some merch (bottle openers and glasses, more to come according to staff)

They mentioned that for the moment they plan to keep the shop open until 7pm, unlike the pub downstairs it’s cash or credit only so be prepared. It’s a great addition to their business and a way to offer tastings sessions and events without crowding the bar downstairs.

I hate to gush on like a fanboy about anything but I must profess my love for Harricana, if you’re a whisky fan the parallel I can make is that their ethos remind me a lot of the early days of Bruichladdich. Solid production chops with the will the experiment and try unconventional techniques to achieve their results and a branding and marketing that eschews a lot of the trappings of their respective genres (the salmon pink color that ties everything together reminds of the Laddie’s aqua color scheme) I look forward to what they will bring out next.

7205 St-Urbain 2nd floor, 7/7, 3-7pm

*growler shot credit is from the Harricana Facebook page, same with logo

Franck

Amrut Fusion

Amrut Fusion

50% ABV.

72/100

amrut distillery

I believe at this point we are long past the era where the belief that good single malt whisky is the exclusive domain of the Scottish, the passion and craft of distilling this type of whisky has spread worldwide.

That said, there are still only a small number of distilleries who are producing malt of the caliber experienced consumers are expecting, thankfully those numbers are also growing.

One of the brands that was a catalyst for this movement is Amrut, while the company has a rich history of distilling spirits for their home market in India since 1948. Their jump to releasing their single malt whisky as a separate category was only done in 2004.

While the provenance of their whisky might once have been a barrier, imagine trying to convince hardcore Scotch drinkers to try Indian single malt, eventually it became their biggest asset. Since they have no SWA or equivalent governing body to deal with, they have been unrelenting in their experimentation.

The special releases came flooding in, Intermediate sherry, the Frankenstein cask experiment that is Spectrum, vatting malts from two different climates, adding oranges to sherry casks before refilling them with whisky, the list goes on.

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C’mon you can’t say these folks aren’t having fun. Here’s the brand ambassador Ashok announcing a new batch of Spectrum

This is without mentioning the effect of aging spirits in such a punishing climate. I dislike repeating the overused mantra of making the whisky age faster, as time is a factor unaffected by weather. It does indeed create an environnement with very active cask interaction and evaporation, which leads to young spirits with a profile and seeming maturity unlike that of their equivalent aged Scottish counterparts. You can compare the similar effect with island aged rum versus those matured on the mainland.

Most of whiskys I have tried from Amrut have left an imprint on me (I have vivid memories of a particular peated cask strength that balanced overripe tropical fruits and heavy smoke) it is why this particular bottle of Fusion has left me perplexed.

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Is that the only photo of our bottle? You betcha

Fusion is the one Amrut whisky that seems easily available in most markets, it is a mix of whisky from unpeated Himalayan malted barley and peated Scottish barley, no info is available on the actual proportion or age.

Nose: Dried ginger, spices (all spice, cardamom), dark fruits and the ethyl notes are very sharp. I’m not getting much on the nose, even with water and time it remains very closed.

Palate: Shellac, sandalwood, blood orange, a kind of dark bass note, tinned fruits and the oak is rather prominent. Water does it no favours, that dark peat thing becomes acrid and the sweet oak takes over.

I get the sensation that this weird dark note is perhaps the peat, like a feeling of burnt jam, also the alcohol is rather strong on the tail end.

Even after months being opened, the nose remains very shy, the palate hot and fussy, especially with water. If I had no experience with the excellent whiskys of Amrut I might have wondered what the fuss was all about. Batch variation is most likely to blame but without another reference sample I can’t say how much it accounts for. I recently shared a bottle of the standard issue Amrut Single malt at 46% abv with a friend and preferred it’s singular nose to this bottle of Fusion.

Franck

*Distillery  building photo and Ashok as 007 are credited to Amrut Distillery

 

 

 

 

 

 

Brasserie Harricana 7205.001

Last week was a rather weird one, I twice ended up losing whole swaths of tasting notes and drafts for a couple of blog posts I had been working on. Now I know, have a back-up! Write it down they say! I usually do both of those things it just turns out I had reworked these drafts from their written versions as I though the originals weren’t that good.

Moving on, last week on my lunch hour I randomly popped into Dépanneur Peluso’s new digs on Beaubien, this new space is very nice, with a pretty wide selection. Lo and behold I snapped to attention when I saw a new release by Brasserie Harricana. I will have to make a separate post/rant on the intensity of my love for this brewery/pub, let’s just say I’ve got a crush.

This one’s from their new green label (7205 named in honor of the address of their new tasting room…more to come) of ephemeral, experimental barrel aged beers, limited and never to be repeated.

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It turns out. 001 was one that I had sampled during Chambly beer fest, I had enjoyed it but was absolutely smitten by a crisp refreshing rye beer that day (#56 American Rye Session) and therefore didn’t spend as much time on it. 001 clocks in at 8% abv. it is a vatting of 3 different beers it’s composed of 50% strong wheat beer, 25% mixed fermentation Witbier and 25% Belgian double. All aged in red & white wine casks with Brettanomyces, they we’re then re-fermented with a large quantity of blackberries.

Ok you with me so far, it seems convoluted but it’s very much keeping in line with the style of barrel aged blending that is rising in popularity (in North America at least).

You’ll have to excuse me as I am pulling my tasting notes from memory but this was a distinct enough beer for me to remember the impression it left on me.

The nose has a good presence of wet grains, damp oak and some sharpness, the funk is not over present and the fruit/berry seems to have transformed into a feeling of crushed grapes.

The palate: is immediately sharp, the acidity and tannins are present but not overpowering, when that damp funk mixes with the blackberries, it taste almost like blackcurrants. The finish is super short but then it returns with a bit of spice, pepper and a feeling of drinking Malbec.

This beer walks such a tightrope, the sharpness and tannins are well balanced, the secondary fermentation with the berries provides a necessary respite from the dank cellar notes of the wild yeasts. The oak and the fruits combine to make something akin to wine, if it wasn’t the presence of the grains reminding you that this is beer. A blend that has immense crossover appeal, I would be curious to pair this beer with food. The brewers and blenders at Harricana have a very skilled touch with these fruit and grape adjuncts as is demonstrated in many of their other products.

Grade: A