The first new distillery in Toronto since 1933 has just launched the city’s first 100% organic whisky, and in addition to bringing about “the rebirth of whisky distilling in one of the historically great whisky cities of the world,” its makers are hoping the bottle and its contents might start a conversation about whisky standards in Canada.
Launched in 2013 by Charles Benoit and Jess Razaqpur, the Toronto Distillery Co. was borne of two high school buddies’ shared passion for whisky. Given the requirement for whisky to age, the start-up company located in the Junction (directly next door to Junction Craft Brewing) has, like most new distillers, largely been selling organic gin and “new make” grain spirits, an unaged whisky that you might know by the less refined moniker “moonshine.”
Until now. Continue reading “The “straight” goods: Toronto Distillery Co.’s First Barrels Whisky”
This article ran on Post City’s website as “JP Wiser’s new Hopped brings the characteristics of beer to a bottle of whisky” on October 8, 2015.
It was probably inevitable that, as interest in hop-forward craft beers rose at the same time there has been a renewed interest in whisky and dark spirits, that there would be an increase in attempts to market some combination of the two.
For the most part, outside of my own proclivity for pouring a few fingers of whisky alongside a pint of beer, this marriage has come by way of beers that attempt to bring you the flavour of whisky. Sometimes it works, as when Chicago’s Goose Island ages a stout in bourbon barrels to make the spectacular Bourbon County Stout—arguably the beer that started craft beer’s barrel-aging trend. And other times, as in the dreadful English import Old Crow, which is essentially a lager with a shot of bourbon flavour, it most certainly does not work.
There have, however, been few attempts to bring the characteristics of beer to a bottle of whisky.
Enter JP Wiser’s Hopped.
Made with a blend of five- to nine-year-old Canadian whiskies, JP Wiser’s Hopped Whisky is “dry hopped” at the end of its aging process—a technique borrowed from brewing wherein dried hops are essentially steeped in the beer, imparting the juicy aromatics of hops without as much of the bitterness that’s obtained from hops in the boil.
Read the rest of this post over on Post City…
Unlike my discovery of craft beer, which can pretty handily be traced to the time I started writing about beer and has therefore been well documented, I’m not exactly sure how or when I started to like scotch.
Perhaps it’s true that a taste for scotch is something that you simply develop as you get older because without even noticing it over the years, I seem to have gone from someone who didn’t drink scotch, to someone who has a relatively decent assortment of the stuff.
Continue reading “Scotchy scotch scotch: Tasting the Balvenie line-up”
A couple weeks ago I was on something of a whisky kick; penning a post for blogTO about fledgling distillery Toronto Distillery Company, announcing the release of Still Waters Distillery’s first single malt whisky, and even finding new reasons to rant about the province’s liquor laws as a result of said writing.
Somehow, in the shuffle, I forgot to include my thoughts on what should always be foremost when it comes to booze and beer: the taste.
I was lucky enough to be shipped a small sample of Still Waters’ very limited first release (the 46% version) and, while it’s a touch late to inform you about whether or not you should line up to get yourself a bottle when they were released (back on April 27th), here are my notes on the province’s only commercially available micro-distilled whisky. Continue reading “Still Waters Distillery: So how’s the booze?”
Today a post I wrote went up on blogTO announcing the release of a single malt whisky distilled by Ontario’s first micro-distillery, Still Waters. My previous conversations with Barry Stein and Barry Bernstein about their booze have been enlightening–prompting me to write about the fact that most “Canadian” whiskies aren’t really Canadian at all and then later, based on my new understanding of Canada’s booze laws, I wrote about a whisky on Ontario’s shelves that seemed to be in defiance of those laws.
As with these previous conversations with the Barrys, my recent correspondence with them about their impending release likewise proved enlightening, unveiling yet another way that our province’s liquor laws are hurting Ontario businesses. Specifically, it was revealing that Barry informed me that a majority of their whisky–made just north of the Big Smoke in Concord Ontario–is destined for out of province sales elsewhere in the country, north of the border and even overseas. Continue reading “Another screaming example of why Ontario’s liquor laws need revising”
*I received financial compensation for this post.
I‘ve never been all that interested in Canadian Whisky.
It’s sort of a shameful secret of mine given that I’m clearly an enthusiast of alcohol and also fiercely (some might say stupidly) local when it comes to my beer consumption. But the Canadian stuff has never really done much for me. Perhaps it goes back to my days of drinking excessive quantities of Canadian Club before high school dances, but I’ve always found rye, and by association, Canadian whiskies just too sweet and more often than not, I’ve opted for Canadian whisky’s decidedly more established cousin from Scotland.
Thankfully though, I was recently invited to attend a whisky tasting led by Forty Creek’s own master distiller John Hall, and I got a bit of an eye opener: Canadian whisky can taste pretty good. Continue reading “You Should Already Be Drinking: Forty Creek Whisky”
Back in May, in a post titled, “How Canadian is Your Canadian Whisky?” I introduced you not only to Barry and Barry of Still Waters Distillery, but also to some of our province’s and our country’s liquor laws.
In particular, you may recall that Barry and Barry started distilling their award-winning vodka only as a means to raise a little capital while they waited for their whiskies to age, owing to the fact that Canadian laws dictate that whisky in this country needs to be aged at least three years.
Well shortly after writing that article, Continue reading “Whisky Police”
*sure, the title of this post should probably be “Drinking in and around Prince Edward County”, but that doesn’t sound as catchy.
Last week, to celebrate our first wedding anniversary, my wife and I took a trip to Prince Edward County. While we’re both somewhat amateur oenophiles, and the wine was a draw, I was anxious to see if I might be able to track down some decent local beer–perhaps owing to the fact that I was very much aware I was missing Session 99, the closing ceremonies of Ontario Craft Beer Week.
And while we were able to find some beer (more on that later), we actually unintentionally stumbled on something of a craft spirits hidden gem when we ended up at 66 Gilead Distillery.
Recommended to us by an employee of Huff Estates winery who overheard that we were embarking on an alcohol-related tour of the county, 66 Gilead is, amazingly, a former hops farm that now houses a craft distillery on an 80-acre piece of land that features a beautiful house built in 1874.
While we didn’t go into the barn (and I’m now kicking myself for not requesting a tour) their website notes that the hops barn next to the house remains intact with it’s drying floors and brick ovens. Continue reading “Drinking in Prince Edward County”
There’s been a lot of debate lately in the world of Toronto alcohol enthusiasts over the merit of cocktails.
Toronto lifestyle publications like the Grid and blogTO seem to have amped up their cocktail coverage, and stories abound in the dailies about the complex new places that mixology is taking Toronto’s drinkers.
The mixed-libation trend seems even to have spilled over (pun!) into the world of beer.
Beer cocktails seem to have reached a new level of prominence and you can even find beer cocktail recipes from certified cicerone, beerologist, and blogger, Mirella Amato in the current issue of the LCBO’s Food and Drink magazine.
[Semi-related sidenote: Back in March the beer cocktail debate really began to rage (as much as online writing about beer can rage…) when Andy Crouch, author of BeerScribe.com called for “Death to Beer Cocktails.”
Ezra Johnson-Greenough, founder of The New School craft beer commentary blog then responded with a somewhat-less-than-subtly-titled “Andy Crouch is a Big Fat Idiot” and various other beer bloggers joined the fray on both sides.
The fracas ultimately culminated in Toronto’s own Stephen Beaumont calling for cooler heads to prevail by noting the “Futility of Either/Or Thinking.”]
In short, things seem to be getting pretty crazy in the world of Toronto libations in general and, as Christine Sismondo summed up in an excellent HuffPo article this week about how exactly we got here, the “mixology” craziness has even reached a point where “today’s professional craft cocktail makers create syrups from scratch and hand-carve ice to achieve specific levels of coldness suited to the level of dilution required.”
Uh, alright then.
Toronto bartenders, it seems, are going to great and weird lengths to one-up each other with the most original concotions and some of them seem to bringing all the annoyingly pretentious aspects of foodie-ism to my favourite past-time; namely, getting drunk.
Continue reading “Beer? Cocktails? Liquor? Problem solved.”
It turns out that the bottle of “Canadian Whisky” you’ve got on the shelf of your bar isn’t really all that Canadian after all.
This weekend I visited Still Waters Distillery in Concord, Ontario, in order to do a little profile of their business for blogTO. In addition to learning a thing or two about how vodka and whisky are made (not to mention trying a few samples), I also learned a little bit about the whisky business here in Canada.
Perhaps not so surprisingly, it’s a bit of a tough go.
Still Waters, it turns out, is virtually the only micro-distillery operating in Ontario; and really, there are only a handful of micro or craft distillers in the whole country. Much like the handful of Ontario craft brewers I’ve come to know in my time writing about beer, Barry Bernstein and Barry Stein, the co-founders of Still Waters, face an uphill battle when it comes to trying to get their products out to the people who drink them. Indeed, given that the craft beer community is so collaborative and supportive, Still Waters arguably faces an even tougher battle given that they’re essentially the only little guys out there right now, so they’re trying to do it on their own. Continue reading “How Canadian is Your Canadian Whisky?”