Nikka – From the Barrel “From the Barrel Came Forth The Sweet”

One of the few Japanese Whiskys one can still obtain easily and that seems to be hitting US shores as of recently. Nikka must have caved in and had it bottled in 750ml rather than the customary 500ml bottles.

This is said to be a blend of malt & grain whisky, I won’t even entertain the speculation that it’s only from Japanese made spirits as the similarly packaged pure malt range contains Scottish whisky.

The whisky gets it’s name from the method of putting the finished blend into refill casks to mellow out and marry before being bottled rather than a large stainless steel vat or tun. A practice I’ve heard other distillers mention, Bruichladdich comes to mind. It is bottled in a distinct square blocky vessel, almost like medicine or a lab bottle, there are large 3L versions that come with a wooden stand and a glass pipette to dole out a measure of the whisky as well.

This is from a bottle circa 2017 from a sample graciously provided by Robert

Nose: Caramel, Sweet oak, coconut. There’s a sharp, slightly acetone like note but it’s not unpleasant and doesn’t mar the proceedings. Dried apricots, a prominent corn note like in bourbon. With time it develops on apple blossoms,creamed honey and apple skins.

Palate: Very full, old oak, a kind of rubber note, dark fruits and a touch of sulphur. Musky dried fruit like persimmons or longans, a light char/clean smoke and a mineral note.

Finish: Herbal, a touch of oregano/sage, bitter, dry and fairly boozy, honey and dry wood shavings.

The Blab: This is pretty decent and punchy I can see why some folks would love this, especially those for whom it’s cask strength or bust. It loses steam because of that dry/bitter oak finish coupled with the sharpness at the tail end. I was often reminded of a Canadian whisky when drinking this. The char/smoke note is very faint when drinking the whisky but the empty glass after a few hours had a scent that reminded me of mesquite.

I’m glad I tasted this and if I could get the 500ml bottles at a good price I might consider keeping a bottle of this around.

Nikka – From the Barrel



Stalk & Barrel #Canada 150 “The Shape of Canadian Whisky to Come

Stalk & Barrel whisky is made at the Still Waters Distillery in Concord Ontario. Started back in 2008 what might seem like the dark ages now that there so called “craft” distilleries are opening in every nook and cranny. The founders set out on opening a distillery at a time when the Canadian Federal government treated anyone with the idea of opening a distillery as depraved drunks & sinners who are out to incite underage drinking.

Thankfully times have changed and now the government has eased its view of would be distillers seeing them as entrepreneurs and happily taking their money through hefty excise taxes. It only continues to view them as crooks and sinners when trying to sell their spirit to the masses and so makes it a difficult as possible for them to actually turn a profit while doing so.

This particular blend was created to commemorate the 150th anniversary of Canada. Based on a parcel of 5 yr old corn whisky distilled in house (they usually outsource their corn component) it also includes a portion of their rye and malt. It caught my attention because it’s bottled at 50% abv and that it wasn’t based on any sourced components.

I nosed this in both a standard & Canadian Glencairn

Nose: Vanilla frosting, apple, peach and powdered sugar donuts. Lemon curd, pine oil it’s rich and sweet but not cloying. As it develops you get grain, toasted bread a malty core, then the spices start to bloom…clove, cinnamon, apple & raisin bread.

In the Canadian Glencairn – less focused, more sweet corn, caramel, glycerin and oak. Cardboardy malt, tea and toast. You get more alcohol in this version. With time, A carpenter’s workshop, sanded oak and glue, then the sweet rye spice, candied apple, fresh whole grain bread with honey

Palate: The malt hits you first, then a bit of caraway, slightly bitter & astringent. Then it’s sweet baked apple, with a vanilla bean and coconut oil, a bit of pine resin, toasted oak, porridge. The mouth feel is long & silky, sweet and full, lemon pith and buttered bread, clove/allspice, a dash of bay rum cologne.

Finish: Grippy over brewed tea, honey lozenge and toffee apple, rye bread. then a touch of that tobacco and talcum. There is a tingle on the tongue at first from the alcohol but then that tannic feeling sets in.

The Blab: This has been open a while and the palate is all the better for it. If you’ve ever made a sourdough with whole rye flour you get those notes in here. There’s a freshness on the palate as you first sip it that is addictive.

This isn’t completely revolutionary, it’s still Canadian whisky but it’s taken off it’s usual path and because of this stands out. It’s something the category could use more of.

Still Waters Stalk & Barrel #Canada 150 Blend

50% ABV


Johnnie Walker Blenders’ Batch Red Rye Finish – “Wry Oak”

Johnnie Walker Blender’s Batch Red Rye Finnish

40% ABV

Another whisky sampled in store, this session was Johnnie Walker focused, I know it’s a brand that gets much love/hate. I personally like Black Label, It’s one of the whiskys responsible for getting me to give Scotch another chance some years ago.

This one is supposedly Cardhu focused (I believe Gold Label is also Cardhu-centric) with grain components from Port Dundas…but then it’s a mass market blend so probably has a bunch of other components.

Aged in first-fill bourbon and finished for 6 months in Rye casks…not sure where the red part comes in.


Nose: Rye spices, oak, caramel, it smells a lot like a bourbon, a little barrel char, not much else…

Palate : Oily at first and then vanilla, a little dusty spice, cardboard, some custard , it loses steam and never fulfill the initial burst of flavor.

The finish is fast due to abv and most likely chill filtration, doesn’t stick around long after robbing your dignity. It’s not terrible, just mediocre

I am not against experimentation, I think it’s quite healthy for any industry but I am left scratching my head with this release, why does this exists? Just buy an everyday good bourbon, for example, like Wild Turkey 101, which is killer and only costs 35$ and is served at a decent ABV, especially since this seemed aimed for cocktails…maybe i’m just surly



Johnnie Walker Blenders’ Batch Wine Cask Finish – “A Pour Decision at the Whine Bar”

Johnnie Walker Blender’s Batch Wine Cask Finish 

40% ABV

This set of reviews are from the last in-store tasting I attended in early April. I arrived a bit later which meant it was less crowded and I could take my sweet ass time taking notes and somewhat antisocial.

First whisky of the night was this Blenders’ Batch edition. I believe there are 3 or 4 of these featuring different finishes or highlighting the grains used.

The Diageo blab says it supposed to be 10± years old, despite being NAS, relying on malt from Clynelish and grain from Cameronbridge.

I hate looking like a paparazzo at these events, so I end up taking these awkward photos.

Nose: a fair amount of sulfur, loads of vanilla, sour fruit and oak. A touch of damp earthy peat, wet cardboard, cooked fruits.

Palate: red fruits, currants, cherry, creamy vanilla. Then malty, bread, it’s fairly hot on the arrival. Marzipan, cardboard, sour fruits, like summer pudding left out in sun and fermenting. Lots of oak present throughout.

Finish: it’s limp watery, keeps on with the burn and sour oak/jam

Many people raved about this at the tasting, surprised by how much they liked it and “for the price” they kept saying. There are some aspects that I liked but it felt messy overall, maybe in cocktails but I still don’t see what makes this specifically a JW product. Maybe I’m taking this too seriously or perhaps I’m just not the intended consumer for this product.



Cutty Sark Prohibition Edition Review


English review below:



Cutty Sark Prohibition Edition Blended Scotch Whisky

50% alc./ Vol

Évaluation: 86/100 (Blend)

Je n’ai jamais été un grand amateur de Cutty Sark . D’ailleurs avant que je développe une appréciation pour le Scotch il était déjà le sujet de blague. Le mari d’une amie, lui avait demandé d’acheter du “bon” Scotch pour une fête et elle connaissant bien le palais sous-développé de son amoureux lui acheta la fameuse bouteille vert et jaune de Cutty Sark. Il passa la soirée à fièrement venter les louanges de son “bon” scotch pendant qu’elle chuchotait à tout le monde qu’il buvait de la “biquette”.

Dans la dernière année j’ai commencé à remarquer la bouteille noire de Cutty Sark à une allure vieillot initialement j’ai cru à un genre de « re-looking » afin de profiter de la vague d’intérêt du mouvement speakeasy, cocktail rétro (est-ce encore hip?), un peu comme Canadian club l’a fait il y a quelques années (soupir).

J’ai réalisé qu’il s’agissait d’une tout autre bête, apparemment  nous avons affaire ici  à un assemblage différent du Cutty classique. Il contiendrait une plus grande proportion de malt vs grain, une information qu’on ne pourra jamais confirmer due à la réglementation opaque de l’industrie du Scotch. Autre différence intéressante il est embouteillé à un surprenant 50% et contient une légère proportion de whisky tourbé. Après avoir lu des critiques très positives de la gang de Québec whisky , j’ai entamé mes recherches pour une bouteille à 35$ le risque est moindre.

cutty since

Nez : Puissant, note de Madeira, vanilline, on ressent un peu l’intensité de l’alcool de grain. Gruau crémeux, Pâte à brioche au repos,  purée de pruneau/raisin. Si on laisse bien respirer on obtiens aussi un peu de massepain et abricots (abricotine?).  On ressent beaucoup l’influence du chêne sans être trop intense.  En ajoutant un peu d’eau on fait ressortir un minuscule côté hôpital ou vêtement légèrement imprégné de l’odeur de feu de camp, tout le côté sucrée ressort et devient confiture, vanille, levure, citron, un peu de réglisse.

Goût :  Un peu de tabac humide (shisha), toffee, agrumes, pastilles citron/miel mais sans le côté médicamenté. Astringence plaisante devient clou de girofle, épicé, miel amère avec un peu de fumée, beaucoup moins de raisin qu’à l’odeur.

Il s’agit d’un whisky « gros beef, costaud », le taux d’alcool est parfaitement équilibré, il commence avec un peak  intense, qui s’adoucit rapidement avec l’assèchement du palais et persiste sur les notes de chêne, épice et un peu sûre.  Pourrait avoir un peu plus de corps (comme le milieu sur la bande égalisateur du stéréo) mais le 50% d’alcool fait briller l’ensemble et transporte bien les saveurs.



Je crois que plus de blended scotch devrait oser aller dans cette même direction, je crois que cela pourrait en améliorer leur appréciation et redorer leur image aux yeux des amateurs de single malt. Il y a eu du bon travail de fait ici, pas de caramel ajouté si on se fit à la couleur mais qui sait? Pour ceux qui apprécient le JW black label, je crois qu’il s’agit d’une belle alternative…tant qu’à moi je préfère celui-çi.  Hélas notre  monopole préféré est à sec…pourquoi ça arrive toujours quand je trouve un whisky que j’aime tant… J’espère que cette édition fera partie de la gamme permanente du groupe Edrington, car j’en veux d’autre.

J’ai soif…

P.S. Un agent du service à la clientèle de la SAQ m’a annoncé qu’il y a eu un arrivage en décembre et qu’il devrait être sur les tablettes d’içi la fin Janvier (j’espère au même prix)







Cutty Sark Prohibition Edition Blended Scotch Whisky

50% ABV

Score: 86/100 (Blend note)

I have never been of a fan of Cutty Sark . Before I knew much about whisky it became embedded as an inside joke. A friend’s husband asked her to pick up scotch “the good stuff” he exclaimed which she knew he clearly knew nothing about. She bought the cheapest she could find and low and behold it was the iconic green & yellow. All night he waxed on about it while she basically went around telling everyone he had no taste.

This year I started noticing this black bottle of Cutty with a bit of a old feel to it. I initially thought it was just a re-branding of the original blend to cash in on the whole speakeasy retro cocktail vibe (is that still a thing?) much like Canadian club did a few years back (sigh).

I realized this was a different beast altogether. Apparently this blend has a higher proportion of malt vs grain, information we can never confirm with current opaque SWA rules and it is bottled at a surprising 50% ABV. After reading some clearly unanimous reviews from the folks at Québec whisky, I started the hunt for a bottle, figuring at 35$ I do not have much to lose.

vintage cuty

Nose:  Powerful, Madeira like  and vanillin notes, slight grain alcohol edge, creamy oats, prune/raisin paste. Proofing brioche or raisin bread, if you really stick with it marzipan and apricots (abricotine anyone) come through. Plenty of oak but not hamfisted. With water added you get a touch medicinal, campfire smoke lingering faintly on clothes, all the sweetness becomes jammy apricots and vanilla, yeasty and lemony, slightly licorice.

Palate: A bit of sticky tobacco & toffee with citrus, lemon honey lozenges without the medicinal side, a pleasant astringency into cloves, pepper. Tangy, slightly sour honey with some smokiness, not as much of the dark fruits on palate as in smell.

This is a beefy whisky, the alcohol is not at all out of place it starts off with a peak, the hard arrival softens quickly as the palate dries out fast but lingers on with wood, cloves and a little sour wet cardboard.  Could use a bit more mid/body  (stereo EQ) but the higher proof really makes it shine.


I believe more blended scotches should dare to go down this route, it could help their appreciation and really bring out the flavors, I don’t think this has caramel coloring either by the color but who knows.  For those who enjoy JW black, I think this a a good alternative… I almost like this one better. Alas our government monopoly is all out…this always happens to me. I hope Edrington Group keeps this one around, as I for one could have this as my every day dram.

I’m thirsty…


P.S.  A rep from the SAQ confirmed the imminent return of this on shelves by end of January as they received a shipment sometime in December.