It's Robbie Burns Week (don't you tell me it's just one day!) and to celebrate we're going to be highlighting a few of our fave drams that are widely available to Western Canadians.
Today we start with a bottle that can make a claim as the best all-rounder in the stores today. Right off the bat, an admission: I was a late convert to the appeal of Glenmorangie. In my youth I chased after the smoke bombs of Islay and the rare time I went for finesse I found myself in the tranquil comfort of Speyside. Glenmorangie wasn't either.
My awakening came at the first of several meetings I've been lucky to have with Dr. Bill Lumsden, the head of distilling at Glenmorangie. He had not yet been named distiller of the year, but the scientist turned whisky maker had already been making a name for himself for his blend of forthright truth and off kilter humour that he approached his job with. For example, while many distilleries have spent the last decade releasing bottle after bottle of ultra-old, ultra-premium whiskies (Glenmorangie too, on occasions), Dr. Bill, as he's known to all, has long been a vocal voice in the older isn't it better camp. At one tasting that featured an impressive line-up of pricey Glenmorangies, he kept coming back to this bottle—the entry-level 10-year-old—and extolling new wonders it kept presenting him with throughout the tasting.
And as a result I started to pay more attention, too. The initial welcoming toffee notes, the secondary candied citrus, then pure citrus for balance. Some say "boiled sweets" but I supposed you'd need to know what boiled sweets are to comment. But the overwhelming theme is one of welcoming complexity. It's a dram that makes you work only as hard as you wish: you can just relax and enjoy or you can dive deep and discover the plethora of things going on. It's not the only whisky that does this, but it's the only one under $100 that I know of (and it's well under—$69 in BC and occasionally much lower in AB).
And while I want this series to be about whiskies that are readily available, I'd be remiss if I didn't have a shout out to what might have been by most enjoyable whisky of the year—the limited edition, long sold out A Tale of Cake. This was Dr. Bill's attempt to bottle something in the neighbourhood of the pineapple-upside down cake of his youth and damn if he didn't nail it. It's a sweeter whisky—honey, white chocolate and dried fruit—but it's never cloying. My wife, who's drank a grand total of 14 sips of whisky in her life, was an instant convert. Alas—it's sold out everywhere. If you see a bottle, drop me a line.