All posts by Mark Buchholtz

Beam Suntory 7 Bottle Guided Tasting – #1 – Auchentoshan 21

September saw us have a guided tasting with the representatives from Beam Suntory.

There was an extensive selection including Scotches, Japanese, Irish and American to try and sample.

Here is the featured list:

Auchentoshan 21 Year Old

Highland Park Valknut

Glen Garioch Founders Reserve

Laphroaig Cairdeas Fino Cask

Hibiki Harmony

Kilbeggan 18 Year Old

Bookers Small Batch Bourbon

Kavalan Solist Amontillado

Kavalan Solist Amontillado

Single Malt Whisky

Bottled at Cask Strength 56.3% ABV

Cask #: AM110216009B

Bottle #: 367/377

This exploration into Kavalan started with a chat with one of my co-workers who was about to travel to Taiwan to visit family and friends.  They are also pretty big fans of whisky and said they were planning on taking an excursion to the Kavalan distillery while on their vacation.  The Kavalan Solist Amontillado is what he brought back for me from his travels overseas, thanks so much Wayne for picking this up for the club to enjoy.

First impressions upon seeing the packaging is wow!  It’s a lovely, sturdy wood case, it’s lined with a golden silk liner under the bottle.  On the inside of the opening cover there is a panel with a story of the distillery and some basic tasting notes for this single cask expression.  The packaging really takes this to the next level and has an exclusive feel while protecting the nectar inside.  Kavalan also include a rolled-up scroll that shows additional tasting notes with a note that this expression won the World Whisky Awards Best Single Cask in 2016.

Amontillado is a dry sherry characterized by nutty aromas, tobacco, aromatic herbs and often ethereal, polished notes of oak, these casks are certainly unique to the whisky world but still carry the familiar sherry finishing notes on the whisky.

Some notes from the distillery:

Colour: Dark rich bronze similar to, the darker brown of the wood packaging box

Nose: Very rich and fruity, warm heat from the cask strength, sweetness with notes of almonds and a touch of oak

Palate: Exotic soft sherry with a hint of caramel, longer finish backed by nuts and pepperiness

This whisky packs a bit of punch and you will be well served to let spirit breathe for a few minutes after pouring it into your choice of whisky glass. You get the warming alcohol note on the first waft from the glass. The sweetness comes through backed by a touch of oak in the back end as you breath in the aromas. The spirit is quite dark taking colouring from the Amontillado Sherry casks, it imparts some serious legs on the glass as you swirl it in your glass. Once the spirit hits your lips you get the immediate warmth from the high ABV, however that quickly dissipates into the sweet notes of the sherry backed by caramelised nuts. It is so smooth for a cask strength whisky. The finish imparts a sweet oaky wood backed by a bit of pepper.  I still got the flavour of the whisky for up to 10 minutes after the first sips. The alcohol on the nose is quickly replaced by the nuttiness and overall dry sweetness of the Amontillado sherry cask finish.

There is no age statement on this range of Solist single cask expressions from Kavalan, however some research puts it anywhere from 8-12 years, notes on the Kavalan website show that the warm climate and the heat in Taiwan allows the spirit to take on notes of the casks at a much higher rate that the traditional scotch whisky processes.  For me and the club members this expression did not taste like a young whisky that was boring and was gone on the palate instantly.  This was a complex spirit that would normally have an aging of over 20 years.

I have not seen Kavalan for sale in Ontario through the local LCBO, it is available in other parts of Canada so this was a fantastic and rare treat for us to taste and sample. I cannot wait to get a hold of more Kavalan expressions if they are all special like this one.  Bottle was $300 Canadian after exchange. Highly recommend this expression and from what I’ve heard the other Solist expressions are just a great, well done Kavalan.

BenRiach Single Cask Head to Head Double Tasting – Sauternes Cask 2006

From the distiller BenRiach:

BenRiach Distillery has unveiled Batch 15 in its popular series of single cask bottling’s. The distillery is known for its experimental nature and this latest batch of single cask whiskies demonstrates this, once again offering whisky connoisseurs a multi-faceted range of casks in both unpeated and Highland peated styles. Each bottle is filled exclusively from one of these individual casks.

As with all of the BenRiach single cask releases they are individually hand-numbered, non chill filtered, natural colour and presented in a gift tube, each single cask is truly unique.

BenRiach 2006 Single Cask

Cask No. 2406 

Cask Type: Port Pipe

Bottle No. 327 of 809

Cask Strength 58.7 % ABV

Colour: darker gold, almost a bronze

Nose: Toffee, butterscotch, sweet heat, cherries, dried figs, you can really smell the strength of the alcohol, but it is rounded out nicely by the sweetness and warmth of fruit

Taste: figs, raisins, bit of liquorice, sweet warmth of some fresh baking, a little touch of spice, berries, the alcohol dissipates quickly and does not over-power the palate

Finish: smooth sweetness, Christmas pudding, caramel sauce, warmth

This dram invokes a sense of déjà vu and transports me back to the onset of a brisk Ontario winter right around the Christmas holidays.  My Grandmother makes a  Christmas pudding with caramel sauce, which invokes the smell an aroma that I get from this dram.  The sweetness, the fruit, the caramel sauce, all that’s missing is some vanilla ice cream, but hey why not drizzle a bit of this BenRiach Single Cask onto a fresh scoop?  The Port Pipe Cask is a fantastic finish on some top notch juice in this expression.  Highly recommend should you come across a bottle. Not available in Ontario via the LCBO but it can be found out of province.

BenRiach 2006 Single Cask

Cask No. 1855

Cask Type: Sauternes Barrique

Bottle No. 184 of 277

Cask Strength 56.5% ABV

Colour: Bright summer gold, bit more of a lighter red hue vs the Port Pipe expression

Nose: hint of lemon, subtle honey, toast, freshness, toffee, apple, smells almost dry like a cider

Taste: green apple slices, hazelnut, drizzle of Billie Bee honey on morning toast, dry sweet wine from the Sauternes Cask finish, overall brightness

Finish: smooth light dry finish, much more delicate that the Cask Strength would suggest, fresh cut green apples, touch of honey sweetness

This dram is completely different from the Part Pipe finish.  The Sauternes Cask is a much smaller finishing vessel and it imparts the dry sweetness that the Sauternes region wine is known for. This one is more fresh and uplifting and I would be right at home drinking this one on a warm summer evening. I keep coming back to the dry finish of a glass of cider, however one with a much warmer finish as dictated by the Cask Strength finish. It’s hard to believe that these 2 BenRiach’s are the same distillate as they impart completely different flavours and finishes based on the Cask treatment.  Once again this was not available at the LCBO and had to be sourced out of province. Should you come across one I’d say investigate an purchase should budgets allow.  Overall fantastic work with these expressions BenRiach.

Glass Turkey Raffle 2019

Brought you by Expensive Taste

This year we are running a raffle for the “Glass Turkey”.  Details can be had by contacting any member of the club.  Tickets are being sold for $2 each or the 3 for $5 deal.  The draw for the “Glass Turkey” will take place on Friday May 31, 2019 at approximately 9pm and the winner will be notified immediately to make arrangements for prize delivery.  In past years we have donated upwards of $200 to a local charity in KW, this year we have selected KidsAbility.  The more tickets we sell the greater the donation to this fantastic organization.  May luck be on your side in this years’ “Glass Turkey” raffle.  Further details can be had by contacting

Thank you,

Club Leadership

An Evening with Gibson’s Finest, February 22, 2019

Presented by Expensive Taste:

The Club had the good fortune of having Josh Groom the global brand ambassador/customer relations guru (not sure of the title) from Gibson’s Finest Canadian Whisky in to Kitchener for a guided tasting of four Gibson’s Finest expressions.

Prior to our evening tasting, Josh from Gibson’s had sent some parcels to our tasting location, which we soon learned, contained three different types of glassware for the event and some other Gibson’s swag, more on that shortly.

From the outset this appeared to be a different type of guided tasting than the club has had in the past, and to put it lightly, Josh did not disappoint.  To get the night going Josh whipped up an “Old Fashioned” mix drink for each member mixed with the Gibson’s Finest 12 Year Old Rare, simple syrup, bitters and a slice of orange peel.  What a fantastic drink, we would highly recommend using this spirit for your mixed cocktails.

The evenings taster’s consisted of the four Gibson’s Finest expressions shown below:

  • Gibson’s Finest Sterling
  • Gibson’s Finest Bold 8 Year
  • Gibson’s Finest Rare 12 Year
  • Gibson’s Finest Venerable 18 Year

After the mixed Old-Fashioned cocktail, we started out with the Sterling, here are some brief tasting notes:

Nose: Sweet and fruity. Mild and slightly floral caramel and rye spices also slight nuttiness

Palate: Creamy with many fruit notes, the fruit, apples, berries, just hints of cherry ice cream – Caramel notes fade quickly, leaving a pleasant warmth behind

Finish: Medium. Fading on tingly peppery spices and caramel. The berry tones return with citrus zest

Next up was the Gibson’s Finest Bold 8 Year:

The Bold is bottled at 46% ABV and Josh mentioned that it is finished in a darkened toasted barrel with a level three char.  Josh flipped over the bottle display he brought with him, revealing that  it was a charred piece of the finishing barrel. It was interesting to see the level of char and you could tell how the spirit picked up colour and flavour from the toasted wood finishing.  The maturation process in level three charred barrels made this expression the surprise of the night.

Here are some basic notes:

Nose:  Dark and rich molasses, dense rye bread, orange peel, oak, roasted grain, rich maple butter, coconut cream, hazelnut toffee. Terrific.

Palate: Rich grain, corn, rye – alongside some peppery spices, plums, orange, and a light coating of oaky vanilla. Seeing this at 46% makes me wish Gibson’s did this with all their whiskies – it is a phenomenal difference in ramping up flavour, spice, and finish.

Finish: Lots of sweet grains, cinnamon, and clove. Slightly tangy- and very nicely dry, so smooth.

Gibson’s third offering of the night is the one that’s most familiar, the Rare 12 Year, colloquially known as “Gibby Gold” amongst the members of Expensive Taste KW as this expression was once called Gibson’s gold.  With the Gibson’s brand this is the whisky I most identify with and is always a go to when I am in the market for Canadian whisky.

Here are some notes on this delicious expression:

Nose:  Sweet fruit with oaky notes, wood does not overpower, butterscotch, apple, cherry, dry tobacco leaves followed by milder suggestions of dry grain, impart greater depth

Palate: Sweet and silky, but with lots of bitter citric zest, fresh-cut wood, spicy white pepper and hints of ginger, pepper and cinnamon. Fresh fruit and inklings of rye spices including cloves and Christmas pudding round it out.

Finish: Medium long, hot and peppery, some sweetness, citrus, fading while the pepper lingers.

To finish off the tasting event we had the pleasure of tasting Gibson’s Finest Venerable 18 Year.  What a fantastic whisky, this is such a smooth, more complex dram thanks to the increased maturity.

Nose: Very creamy sensation from the start, with oaky caramel, butterscotch and vanilla aromas that seem more like creme caramel, plum, pear, something slightly nutty.

Palate: Much the same flavours as found on the nose, with even more vanilla up. Luxurious creamy mouthfeel. Rye “baking spices” (nutmeg, cinnamon, touch of cloves, a bit of bourbon sweetness throughout. Finally, a touch of bitterness

Finish: Sweet, creamy, smooth clean finish, with a touch of vanilla

Overall during the tasting event Josh from Gibson’s was a fantastic storyteller, delivering the background history of the brand in an engaging and exciting way. He was able to immerse us in the world of Gibson’s Finest.  In addition to the glassware that was provided to the club he also had additional brand swag with hats, books and Gibson’s Finest tin bar signs.  Overall, this strengthened my and the clubs love of great Canadian whisky, it worked pretty-damn well as just the other day I picked up a bottle of the 12 year.


Get yourself a bottle of one of these fine Canadian Whiskies and you will not be disappointed.


Thank you again to Josh for the great entertaining evening with four wonderful expressions of Gibson’s Finest Whisky!


Glengoyne 25 Year Old


On January 26, 2019 we had a the opportunity to have the Glengoyne 25 Year Old as one of our featured tasters as we celebrated our 11 Year Anniversary as a Whisky club.

Club member Tamara has added her notes:

Glengoyne 25 Years


Highland Single Malt Scotch Whisky

Aged: 25 years

Matured in: Sherry Cask

Alcohol: 48.0%

Our purchase price: $485 CAD

Glengoyne 25 was not a hard sell on me from the get-go, generally being a fan of sherry casks.

Rich & spicy, with no peat, this whisky is a beautiful and impressive amber colour, a baseline signature of the sherry cask. My first impression, it tastes like it looks! On the brown sugary sweet side, but not too sweet, it reminded me of Grandma’s Christmas fruitcake, which would perennially appear on the kitchen counter around December 25 throughout my childhood, and which would still be there come March, mysteriously intact. I never developed the taste for indestructible cake crammed with old dried fruit, but I’ll take these homey flavours in my whisky. Throw in a little orange flavour, a few nuts (walnuts, almonds?) and bam! A bottle that I certainly would include as a highlight of my personal collection. Apologies however, the LCBO does not carry this bottle, making it difficult to obtain in Ontario.

Other common comments from online reviews are notes of old leather, cinnamon and licorice, which were not the stand out elements for me in sampling this bottle. Kensington Wine Market reviews this whisky on their website as “one of the best releases by any distillery in the last few years”. This whisky also won Gold at both the Asian Spirits Masters 2018 and the San Francisco World Spirits Competition 2017.

The distillery’s slogan, “Unhurried since 1833”, reflects perfectly in this bottle. Very easy to drink and a definite go-back-for seconds experience. Overall, a great selection for those who want a complex, rich whisky without the smoke. Skip the dessert, just have a Glengoyne!

Wow what an endorsement, if the above notes strike you we would highly recommend this Glengoyne expression.  Cheers!

Craigellachie 23 Year Old Single Malt

The club recently celebrated our 11 Year Anniversary and this was bottle #2 in our tasting range for the evening, notes by member Adam Buchholtz.

Craigellachie 23 Year Old Single Malt

Specs: Speyside Scotch Whisky

Matured in: American Oak Cask

Alcohol: 46%

Our Purchase Price: $535.85 (LCBO in Ontario)

Nose: The first impression on the nose of this whisky is quite complex. I picked up some peppery notes, with an aromatic spice blend, along with something akin to sulphur. It seemed like quite a pungent smell, with a hint of sea salt mixed in. Absent for me were the fruity notes that are mentioned in many a review of this whisky, however I was so excited to taste it, that it may not have had the requisite time in the glass to fully envelope my senses.

Taste: Immediately I got an old leathery taste, almost rawhide-esk, to go along with a very oily mouthfeel. I was surprised at how different this expression is from their younger age statement bottles. With the taste also came a range of fruits, mostly tropical and citrusy in nature, like pineapple, orange, or even grapefruit. It meshed surprisingly well with the leathery flavours and made for a complex dram.

Finish: Again the oiliness was evident on the finish, with some heat from pepper notes, but also sweet citrus, with a touch of honey. It lasted quite a while, with a dryness to it that allowed it to linger.

Overall: The Craigellachie 23 is a complex scotch, as should be expected from anything that has been matured in American Oak for 23 years. However at the price point, it isn’t a bottle that I would strive to add to my personal collection. It is definitely worth a taste if you should be able, but I would not go out of my way for another dram