Two Brewers started in 1997 when Bob Baxter and Al Hansen founded the brewery in 1997, after a canoe trip in Yukon, Canada. A dozen years later, then decided to take the next step and start making whisky. Using their experience as brewers and knowing the importance of the malt and the fermentation, they pay special attention to those steps as from the start they have a great influence on the final product. Those final products are numbered and unique, without a search for homogeneity, and classified in one of their ‘collections’: Classic, Innovation and their Special Finishes single casks. What we’re trying today is not one of their very latest batches but let’s try it anyway: the release N°26: a Two Brewers Classic
Chestnut. The crown is full of small beads that turn in quick thin legs.
Intense and quite fruity. Orange, plum, peach, pear, apricot and pineapple. A few sharp grain notes, honey, mint, and some baking spices. Fresh brioche from Vendée. Really good.
Fruity and spicy arrival, buttery. Good oily mouthfeel. Multiple fruits again, stone fruits mostly, but also with pear and bananas. Some oak spices, ginger, pear eau-de-vie, blackcurrant liqueur, a teaspoon of honey, and a light citrusy sourness in the back. There’s something sweet as well reminding me somehow of sweet potato.
The yellow stone fruits linger on with the oak spices, and (genuine French) croissant crumb (from the bakery, not the supermarket of course), with a medium length.
This whisky greets you with a beautiful nose, very fruity. Quite gourmand as well with the brioche notes. The palate is very nice as well, though maybe a tad under the nose, and a good finish, maybe a wee bit under as well. Anyway, good surprise as I must admit I didn’t know about this distillery before getting that sample, and I’ll keep an eye out for opportunities to try some more.
Lead photo: Two Brewers. Bottle photo: Whiskybase.Thanks Damien for the sample!
In 1998, Aberlour launched its first A’Bunadh, a sherry matured single malt, delivered at cask strength. Then, they regularly released new batches, clearly stating the batch number, each batch being slightly different from the others, with a different ABV, and always delivered without colouring. At the time, the price was quite low, and it was a success. And it still is, seeing that the last batch released seems to be the #74 already. Unfortunately, as with everything, especially when successful, the low price became a way higher price, and a recent A’Bunadh batch will cost you about £80 when it was less than £60 a few years ago. But Aberlour didn’t stop at that and in 2018, they launched a new expression, matured in ex-bourbon casks. We’re trying its fifth batch today: the Aberlour A’Bunadh Alba Batch #05.
The Lost Distillery Company is a… company with the ambition to revive whisky from several long gone distilleries. During the 20th century, many Scotch distilleries shut down, because of wars, prohibition, or because they went bankrupt. They released blends trying to reproduce the production of seven lost distilleries, five out of those being still available. Each of those seven blends was then available in three different editions. The Classic edition is bottled at 43% and is the ‘youngest’ of the editions. The Archivist ones seem to be made from older component as their profile is said as being ‘extra mature’ (the classic is just ‘mature’) and is bottled at 46%. Finally, the Vintage Selection ones are the oldest and are also bottled at 46% ABV. No Vintage on our menu today, but we’ll review today either a Classic or an Archivist batch of all the Lost Distillery Company blends.
We’re going to compare today two Glen Grant whiskies, that couldn’t be more different on paper. The first one is an official bottling, reduced to 40% ABV, and has been bottled in the 1970s. The second one is from an independent bottler, Cadenhead’s, at cask strength and bottled in 2022. What is the point of that comparison you will ask? Well, first, I like to do comparisons. Here, I hope to see if I can find similarities despite the huge time frame between the two, but also find what differences will be there. I also want to have comparison points. It’s harder than you’d think to rate a whisky without any reference point. By itself, is this whisky worth 80, 84, more? Now compared to another one, you can already ascertain which one you prefer. Now I must admit, in order to have a more reliable rating system, I should have a common reference point in all my reviews. And unfortunately… I do not. I know some famous whisky reviewers always start their tasting session with a dram of always the same whisky. First it allows them to see if their palate and nose are working correctly as they’ll have that usual reference point. And secondly, this reference point will help them rate correctly the whiskies they’re reviewing. It’s not something I do for now, but I guess I should really consider starting doing that. More whisky spendings incoming I guess… Anyway, for now, no reference point, and anyway, it’s my own objective but still a bit subjective rating system, so you’ll have to bear with it! So let’s do an Old vs New Glen Grant review!
Canadian Club is one of the most famous Canadian whisky brands. It was founded in 1858 by Hiram Walker in Walkerville, Ontario. You might raise an eyebrow here: “Wait, Walkerville and Hiram Walker? Coincidence?” And you’d be right to raise that eyebrow. Hiram Walker founded Walkerville in 1890 as a model town, which was probably without a name before. Walker made homes for his workers, a church, and a school, the town growing outwards from the distillery. Nowadays, Walkerville is a heritage precinct of the town of Windsor. The whisky made there was first known as Club Whisky as it was well appreciated in the US and Canada ‘Gentlemen’s Clubs’. In an attempt to hamper on Walker’s whisky fame, American distillers petitioned to have the word ‘Canada’ added to the label, but it backfired and helped Walker’s whisky to become more exclusive. In 1889, Walker added ‘Canadian’ to the label and after a few movements on the label, it became part of the brand name a year later. The ones we’ll try today are unfortunately not from this time nor some of the thousands of cases Al Capone secretly imported during Prohibition. Now, we’re far from the romantic view of Prohibition given out with movies as the brand is owned by the giant Beam Suntory. We’ll do an Old vs New Canadian club, as we’ll try to Canadian Club distilled in 1969 and 1976 and will compare them with the current Canadian Club 1858.
Nc’Nean is a young distillery from the West Highlands, on the Morvern Peninsula. Founded in 2017 by Annabel Thomas, they emphasise on being sustainable. In 2021 they became a certified net zero emissions whisky distillery, the first in the UK, and 20 years ahead of the Scotch whisky industry target. In order to be completely sustainable, they diversified their effort. First, Nc’Nean uses organic barley. Secondly, their fully renewable energy comes from a biomass boiler fuelled by woodships coming from a nearby forest where every tree is replanted. Thirdly, they use 100% recycled glass bottles. Regarding their whisky, they release it by batches, explicitly telling the number of the batch. And though it’s not the latest batch, we’ll try today the Nc’Nean Organic Single Malt Batch 7.
A few weeks months ago (I’m late again to publish an article, what a surprise!), the Scotch Malt Whisky Society released a few single malts not as single casks, for once, but as small batches, small vattings of a few casks, for the different whisky festivals of the first half of 2022. For each region of Scotland, in a whisky sense, they released one or several bottlings, all of course with a higher outturn than usual. I ordered a tasting pack containing five out of the six releases, and I also bought a bottle of the sixth one, a Bowmore, so now, let’s review them all. And whilst previously it was Ainulindale reviewing SMWS bottlings, this time it’s my turn!
Roger Tan, a Dutch man coming from a Chinese and Indonesian background, started as a casual drinker then started doing bottle photography for his Instagram account in 2019. But in 2020, he decided to start his own company in the world of whisky, and thus the independent bottler, Roger’s Whisky Company, was born. Roger’s Whisky Co is still a very small operation and since 2020, just 5 bottlings have been released: a small Caol Ila cask, two young Ben Nevis, a Secret Speyside, and this Roger’s Whisky Hidden Treasures Campbeltown 2015 that we’re trying today.
One thousand. With this Brora, I’ve reached one thousand different whiskies tasted in my life, but I had drunk maybe 25 that I could remember before 2018. And in 2018, everything changed. I discovered the whisky community on Twitter, I discover the sample swaps, I discover the whisky auctions. I had maybe half a dozen bottles before 2018. By the end of 2018 I had about sixty, and I quickly passed a hundred. And with the few bottles I’m waiting the delivery of, I’ll have two hundred bottles at home. Of course this is without counting all the ones I killed these last years. And in 2019, I went to Scotland for the first time, for Spirit of Speyside, to celebrate my 40th birthday that happened earlier that year. I discovered the whisky festivals and the whisky shows, as it was also my first Whisky Live Paris. I celebrated my 500th whisky with my first Brora ever back in March 2020. A bit more than two years later, it’s time to get back to this distillery for my 1,000th whisky, with a Brora 1981 Signatory Vintage.
Redbreast is one of the several brands that are distilled and matured in New Midleton Distillery, near Cork. New? Yes, as the original Midleton Distillery was founded in 1825, but was closed in the 1960s as their owners, the Cork Distilleries Company, merged with John Power & Son, John Jameson & Son in 1966 to form the Irish Distillers Group in 1966. They decided to group all their production in a single distillery, built at Midleton as it was the only site with room for expansion. Amongst the brands made at Midleton, the most famous are Jameson, Redbreast, and the Spot (Blue, Yellow, Red…) range. And on the menu today, three 12-year-old Redbreast whiskeys, as we’ll try the classic Redbreast 12-year-old and two different batches of Redbreast 12-year-old Cask Strength.