The Best Thing I Ate All Week: Beaucoup Bakery’s Pistachio Raspberry Cake
Live Spot Prawns Are Only Here for a Month—and You Can Try Them at This Festival
Cupcake Thief Breaks Into Vancouver Bakery, Cleans Up Glass, Takes Selfies and Leaves
Succession Is Over: Now It’s Time To Watch the Greatest Show About Wine Ever Made
Our 2023 Sommelier of the Year Franco Michienzi of Elisa Steakhouse Shares His Top Wine Picks
We’ve Scored a Major Discount for VanMag Readers at the Best Wine Festival in Town
Meet OneSpace, the East Vancouver Co-working Space That Offers On-site Childcare
What You Missed at the VMO 2022/23 Season Finale Concert
Protected: Visit the Joint Replacement Center of Scottsdale
Wellness in Whistler-Your Ultimate Early Summer Retreat
Local Summer Getaway: 3 Beautiful Okanagan Farm Tours
Local Summer Getaway: Golfing at Alberta’s Crowsnest Pass
The Latest in Cutting-Edge Kitchen Appliances
7 Spring-y Shopping Picks, From a Lightweight Jacket to a Fresh Face Cleanser
Is There a Distinctly “Vancouver” Watch?
The best deals and biggest misses of the BCL's annual whisky release.
Whisky-lovers, listen up. For the past few years, we’ve faithfully (rabidly?) covered the BCL’s annual whisky release, including here, here, here, and here. That firmly puts us in the position of informedly weighing in on the 2022 offering (which hit your local store on November 5th). So here goes.
Honestly, there are not a lot of “deals” in this release. Given the dismal price of the British pound, the deals for Scotch these days all involve arbitraging the currency discrepancy between the pound and USD—so you need to get on a plane to London if you want to take advantage. I suppose The Macallan Classic Cut is well-priced at $165 given that it’s sold out at $170 at the LCBO and sold out at $181 at the SAQ. Plus it’s a lovely, bold malt and no one ever got rich (or happy) betting against The Macallan.
In 2019 we suggested that spending the hefty sum of $340 on this beauty of a bottle from Ardbeg was probably as good deal. We stand by all our love from that post:
“There’s a few things at play here: for starters, save for their entry-level 10 year old, Ardbeg rarely does age statements. This started once upon a time when they had no old whisky, but has become a part of the culture. Secondly, 19 years is a sweet spot for smoky Islay whisky, as anyone who remembers the dearly departed Laphroaig 18 will recall: the smoke retreats ever-so-slightly and in rushes some chili-dusted dark chocolate with an intense, mouth-coating wallop. And Ardbeg has a devoted and deep-pocketed following like few other distilleries, making this a sound financial bet (but please forget that and just drink it).”
Well that same bottle is in this year’s release for $408, which, if not double-digit yearly return, is still nothing to sneeze at.
Old Forester is a legit up-and-coming phenomena down South, with our American friends putting their name in a lottery in order to pay $150 USD for a bottle. Up here, my guess is that you’ll have better odds to purchase either the 2021 or 2022 iterations (and at $190 CDN they’re coming in at a very reasonable price). If the Old Forester people have their way, this annual lottery will become the new Pappy craze, so best hop on the bandwagon now. Oh, and it’s really solid bourbon.
Glenmorangie, already one of the heavyweights of whisky, has of late become the most adventurous as well. Their deliberately sweeter A Taste of Cake from a few years back proved to be an unexpected rapid sell out, and this year they revisit their slightly whimsical side (and lean heavily on their truly great graphic designers) with A Tale of the Forest. Its hook is that it rocks a woody angle—pine, juniper and roasted chestnut to go with more traditional vanilla and bitter orange. It could be gimmicky in the hands of a lesser distiller, but Glenmorangie’s Dr. Bill Lumsden is the most respected person in whisky and he doesn’t do gimmicks (puns, sadly, he does do). BC had a small allotment that’s already dwindling in part thanks to a reasonable $120 tariff.
I love the base Diageo malts: Talisker, Lagavulin, Oban….these are trusted friends. But it seems like every year they come out with some “exclusive” bottlings that are both younger than the classic version and quite a bit more expensive. You like classic Oban 14 at $145, how about a 10 year old in a garish bottle for $190. Repeat through the entire line up. Strictly for amateurs, I’m afraid.
Oddly, there doesn’t appear to be a single bottle from Glenlivet (or fellow behemoth Glenfiddich) in the release. But fear not, because a few months back Glenvliet released a sneaky steal of a whisky that’s still on the shelves, hiding in plain sight. The Glenlivet 14 Year Old Cognac Cask is a smoking deal at $83 in a market where Oban 14 is $145, and the cognac finish is right on point (unlike some other more out-there finishes you see these days). It lifts the generally lighter Glenlivet profile nicely, providing some baking spice and Christmas-y notes.
I’ve been on a Glenfarclas kick for the past few years, and was even able to sneak a visit to the distillery on a family vacation this June. I was always in awe of their price-to-quality ratio (their 17 is such a wonderful bottle) and I like that they, in many ways, are the true last family-owned operation in Speyside (yes others claim the same, but I’m talking about a long-established player in the world of whisky who has a direct connection going back generations). The offerings in the release are pricey, ranging from $880 for a bottle of 1992 Family Casks to $510 for a bottle from 2003, so we may just have to see how this whole rate hike thing plays out, but I know they’ll be delicious and know that I’m not paying some ridiculous overhead for marketing and other massive corporate “things.” Probably not an appropriate thing to crowd source, right?