By Lory Diaz
The LCBO Pop-Up is wrapping up their Whisky Month at the end of October 2017, and will quickly be transforming into a festive entertainment zone for November! They’ve taken over the main floor space of 600 King Street West until the end of this year, and are bringing easy ideas for gifts, holiday cheer, and responsible hosting. Torontonicity was invited to attend an educational tasting session on hosted by one of Glenfiddich’s Ambassadors, Beth Havers on October 23, 2017. The Women and Whisky at LCBO introduced guests to the nuanced flavours and possible pairings for four varieties of whisky, including their latest experimental blend that has a Canadian connection: Winter Storm, which is a beautifully complex icewine-cask-aged whisky. What a treat!
Before the official tasting started, guests were invited to enjoy some delicious cheese and cured meat selections courtesy of Etobicoke’s own Cheese Boutique. This spread included some of my favourite cheeses: raclette with pepper, le douanier (with its signature vegetable ash line), bleu l’etoile, and the delicious Guinness cheddar. If you enjoy cheeses with more challenging flavours, any of these four will delight your palette.
We paired our opening bites with a light and refreshing cocktail: One-part Glenfiddich’s 12-year-old single malt, to three-parts tonic water, with a small wedge of lemon. Everyone agreed that this mixture would be fantastic for summer and winter gatherings.
After a bit of perusing, we began our formal tasting with Beth. We started with the signature 12-year-old blend, and a quick lesson on how to properly smell whisky: breathe in through your nose, keeping the glass at least two inches away from your face, keeping your mouth open, which is done best by holding a smile. This allows for all the complex notes of the whisky to be fully experienced.
The single malt was paired with a soft cheese called Grey Owl, which is well worth checking out if you enjoy creamier cheeses that still have strong flavour notes. The pairing went deliciously well together, but the smile and smell technique is what changed the experience!
We then moved to a collaboration blend between Malt Master Brian Kinsman, and beer maker Seb Jones: The IPA Experiment. This is a single malt finished in IPA casks made for Glenfiddich. The result is the enhancement of citrus notes. We strengthened this even more by adding an orange rind twist, and spherical ice to create a richly warm-toned cocktail with vibrant notes.
Our third pairing was the Project XX, the product of 20 ambassadors bringing casks and flavour profiles forward, and expertly blended by Malt Master Kinsman. This was first paired with course sea salt, to round out the whisky flavours and bring out the sweeter notes. Guests were also invited to try pairing it with a salted caramel Glenfiddich truffle, which was exquisite on its own, but the transformation using the salt left me shocked and going back for another sip.
We ended our tasting experiencing with the lovely Winter Storm: a 21-year-old single malt aged in Niagara’s own Peller Estates icewine oak casks. A subtle lychee note can be detected using Beth’s smile technique, that despite being tropical, adds quite a bit of warmth. This beautiful experiment is limited to eight thousand bottles, so anyone interested in a uniquely Canadian whisky experience should definitely grab a bottle from the LCBO, as they have officially been released.
Our tasting session from left to right: 12-year-old single malt, IPA experiment (with a sample of IPA beer behind), Project XX (with a tasting of icewine behind), and Winter Storm.
Winter Storm is released in a beautiful white ceramic bottle, which would look fantastic on any home bar, but if you know a whisky drinker that prefers a different region or flavour profile, make sure to stop by the LCBO Pop Up as they’ll have plenty of fantastic gift ideas for even the pickiest drinkers. Make sure to check out their calendar of events, as they’ll have many more informative and educational nights throughout the month of November as well.
Another fantastic idea for the upcoming holiday season is to keep an eye out for Beth Havers’s Women and Whisky at LCBO nights, held throughout Toronto! Her passion, enthusiasm, and depth of knowledge are undeniable. Enjoy!