A bit of a deep dive from the small Hebridean Island just east of Skye. Raasay has only been operating since 2017, and prides itself on employing people who live on Raasay itself as well as distilling, maturing and bottling all of their whisky on the island. Considering less than 200 people live there, we consider this dram a very neat little find! For this flagship whisky, the folks at Raasay mix peated and unpeated whisky that was matured in rye, chinkapin and bordeaux casks, dubbing it their “Six Cask Recipe”. 46.4% ABV. A lovely, unique and clean presentation!
Another double header, another new distillery for us. Although priced very reasonably at under $150, this is Glasgow Distillery’s inaugural whisky, which won 4 awards across 2019-2020, including gold at the Scottish Whisky Awards. The distillery itself was named Distillery of the Year in 2020. “1770” refers to the history of whisky making in the city of Glasgow, however this specific distillery has only been operating since 2015. 46% ABV, bourbon cask matured and finished in virgin oak.
Bottle #5 of our 13-year Anniversary themed event – The Far Flung Regions of Scotland. The Northern Selection:
For this aged group of dedicated ET members (13 years!) I am of solid opinion that every anniversary needs a Unicorn. The Valhalla Collection from Highland Park celebrates the Norse Gods of Freya, Loki, Thor and Odin, one released per year from 2012 to 2015. HP later released 2 additional similarly packaged bottles in 2016, Fire (celebrating Ragnarok) and Ice (celebrating the Ice Realm). We all know HP has carried on with several more bottles celebrating the northern Scottish Island of Orkney, HP’s blustery home, and its roots in Norse mythology.
Alas, the entire Valhalla collection is as yet out of reach. But even a piece of this rare collection, the few bottles of which are left in existence sitting on private collector’s shelves, was a Viking Honour to sample…
Bottle #4 of our 13-year Anniversary themed event – The Far Flung Regions of Scotland. The Islay Detour:
Betcha thought we were headed north! But we shall take a brief jaunt to the very distinct and beloved Islay, the most populated and popular (distillery-wise) of the remote Scottish islands. Hunter Liang’s Old & Rare Platinum range brilliantly picked up enough for only 209 bottles of Laphroaig 18, before the vintage was discontinued by the distillery in 2016 as it started to phase out some age statements in exchange for other special release drams. Hence it now being both old and rare! Hard to come by even from independent bottlers, this wee beastie is beautifully packaged and, of course, boldly peated. Sure to be a bottle auction hot topic for this Club, it’s the perfect she-be-gone cask-strength sipper for a cold Canadian winter night. (The club loved it – wish we had more!).
Bottle #3 of our 13-year Anniversary themed event – The Far Flung Regions of Scotland. The Southern Selection:
Officially Scotland’s southernmost distillery and representing the lowlands, Bladnoch 17 was matured in ex-bourbon barrels and finished in California red wine casks for 10 months. Look for dried fruit, cherries, vanilla and oak. An interesting compare to our eastern selection, aged its entire life in red wine casks! Bladnoch is one of Scotland’s largest distilleries to maintain privately owned status. Our 13th anniversary dram was bottled in 2017 to celebrate the distillery’s 200th anniversary. Been around for a while, but a new distillery to the Club! Sourced out-of-province.
Bottle #2 of our 13-year Anniversary themed event – The Far Flung Regions of Scotland. The Eastern Selection:
Distilled in 1998 and bottled in 2014, this Small Batch Limited Edition represents the most eastern distillery available to us (Glenugie is further east, but alas, cannot be found). Packed full of red fruit flavour, it is a sweet and spicy dram with wine at the forefront, having been matured for all 16 years in an ex-wine cask. Leave it to Glen Garioch to refuse to shy away from experimenting with whisky!
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.
Notes by member Tamara Maurer.
Campbeltown Single Malt Scotch Whisky
Aged: 19 years
Distilled on: May 1997
Bottled on: May 2016
Matured in: Sherry Cask
Our purchase price: $390 CAN
Club rating: 4.01/5
When I saw this rare Springbank sitting on a dusty shelf in a private liquor dealer in Santa Monica California, there was no doubt that it would be one of the bottles I lugged back to Ontario.
Such a treat to have this as part of the collection. When I finally found an occasion to crack it open 3 years after nervously standing at the luggage carousel praying it made the journey unharmed, it did not disappoint. A beautiful colour (the last of a dying sunset over Lake Huron under a cloudless sky? Too much?) with no colour additives per Springbank’s usual practice, this whisky could have been a song of sweetness, but is muted due to its high alcohol content, at 55.6%. With an unmistakable sherry influence, this gem is genuinely unique, mixing vanilla sweetness with the saltiness of the Campbeltown sea influence. Peppery and spicy, with nothing floral or too funky.
Pure elegance, in a quirky way that is so, so Springbank.
(Note: we did sample this whisky with and without a drop of water, as recommended by past reviewers. It made a significant impact on the palate, becoming much creamier tasting with the water, with a stronger sherry punch. The club seemed to prefer it with water overall).
(Note 2: Although not a fair inclusion in a review of the whisky itself, I will add that my one criticism of this whisky is its packaging. Springbank continues to bottle its whisky in a decidedly “oldschool” fashion. Although I enjoy the love of tradition, this particular bottle should have packaging to match its specialness, rather than a nondescript bottle with a flimsy open cardboard box)
The name Glansa is taken from Old Norse and means ‘shining storm-laden skies’
Limited Availability at the LCBO
I’m reminded of an early damp spring morning, with a blustery wind at my back. I have selected my driver as I’m not sure I can reach the par 3 220 yard 10th hole at Orkney Golf Club. This old style classic Scottish links course is providing quite the test for my amateur at best golf skills. With the salted bite of the cool sea air in the breeze, I am reminded of my hip flask full of this warm mysterious dram, picked up on a visit yesterday to the nearby Scapa distillery about 2 kms down the Scottish countryside. I pause to look over the the lush green landscape and the nearby shoreline. I take a swig of the Scapa Glansa… I’m instantly warmed by the light peated flavour and taken back to days gone by. The sweet palate brings a euphoric sense of pleasure to my taste buds. As the finish finds me like the sunshine that has opened the clouds and has brightened up this old style links course. I am warmed by not only the rays of sunshine, but the warmth of this succulent dram, shame I am drinking it out of the hip flask as this whisky needs a proper Glencairn. I take a deep breath and a whisper of the salty warm delicate smoke fills my nostrils and tickles my senses. I smile and know that this will be a dram that provides the inspiration to approach this daunting par 3. I tee it up and unleash my swing, the swing and contact is pure. The brisk breeze knocks my drive down short of the green but in relative safety. I go for another nip and I am reminded why I made the trip from the mainland to the Orkney Islands during my travels to Scotland last year. As I sit crafting these notes in my basement bar, all it takes is the pop of the cork on my bottle of Scapa Glansa to transport me right back, to a place I would love to visit time and time again. Hey, maybe one of these times I’ll even par that 220 yard par 3.
Scapa Glansa is highly recommended, let this dram transport you on a taste adventure to the Orkney Islands.
For more information visit
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
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!