A Scotch like no other

As an independent bottler, Andrew Laing is “bringing something else to the party”—unique bottlings of rare whiskies and other spirits

Andrew Laing is the export director of Hunter Laing, one of Scotland’s finest independent bottlers. Supplied photo

Take an Islay journey with Andrew Laing.

The glass of Scotch he pours has a vegetal, almost mezcal-like scent, with whiffs of salty, mineral sea and fishy kelp and a distinctly ashy after taste. It’s a blended malt representing the vivid flavours of five of the finest distilleries what is perhaps the most coveted of Scotland’s whisky-producing regions. And it’s exactly the kind of exquisite, unique bottling in which his family’s company specializes.

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Vancouver bar claims government seizure of $40K in whisky breached charter rights

Fets Whisky Kitchen on Commercial Drive was raided in January 2018

In January 2018, Fets Whisky Kitchen was raided by B.C.’s Liquor and Cannabis Regulation Branch. Photo Fets Whisky Kitchen/Facebook

The Vancouver bar taking the B.C. government to court in an effort to recover $40,000 in whisky seized in 2018 has launched further court action alleging the Liquor and Cannabis Regulation Branch breached its charter rights.

In January 2018, Fets Whisky Kitchen, a mainstay on Commercial Drive since 1986, was raided by B.C.’s Liquor and Cannabis Regulation Branch — 242 bottles of Scotch Malt Whisky Society (SMWS) single malt whisky were seized, and owners Eric and Allura Fergie were eventually fined $3,000.

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A decade of great Canadian whisky

B.C. distillers scored big at the 10th annual Canadian Whisky Awards in Victoria last night.

The BC winners at the Canadian Whisky Awards included (from left to right): Grant Stevely of Dubh Glas Distillery, Kevin Titcomb and Ken Winchester of De Vine Spirits, Terence Fitzgerald and Jason MacIsaac of Sheringham Distillery, and Leon Webb and Jacob Wiebe from Shelter Point Distillery. Charlene Rooke photo

At a gala awards ceremony celebrating 10 years, the 2020 Canadian Whisky Awards recognized famous whiskies and big achievements of the past decade, while giving kudos to small-batch innovations from artisan distilleries, including four from B.C.

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When smoke gets in your glass

Bearface blender makes the most of Canada’s flexible rules in his whisky-mezcal mashup

Bearface master blender Andres Faustinelli. Supplied photo

Consider Andres Faustinelli an industry disrupter, in the best possible way.

“The beauty of this project was in our mind from day one,” says the master blender for Bearface Spirits. “The whole idea with Bearface is we’re going to showcase what we can do in Canada, and be way open about it. We’re going to be disrupting and having fun.”

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Last minute gift guide: Warming whiskies

Need something to tuck under the tree? We’ve got you covered with these holiday bottles

istockphoto.com

Here at The Alchemist, we pretty much always think a bottle of something delicious makes a good gift, especially if that bottle contains whisky. If you’re looking for a last-minute gift, these are the are the sippers we’d like to find under our own Christmas trees. (For more gift ideas, see Last Minute Gift Guide Part 2: Spirited presents.)

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The Phantom Distillery

One of the most coveted bottles in Saturday’s 2019 Premium Spirit Release comes from a non-existent distillery on Islay… or does it? Welcome to the world of Independent Bottlers, brokers of rare, exclusive and unique Scotch and other spirits.

Oliver Chilton, blender for Elixir Distillers. Supplied photo

Last year, one of the hottest items in the BC Liquor Stores Premium Spirit Release—selling out in 24 hours—was the Port Askaig 100 Proof Islay Single Malt Scotch Whisky. Offered again this year, it’s the spirit of Islay in a bottle: a nose full of spicy oak spice, with sea spray, smoke and dark earthy, kelpy flavours, bottled at a robust 50% ABV for rich texture. Yet anyone who’s been to the town of Port Askaig, on Islay’s east coast, will be puzzled: there’s no distillery there.

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Up to date

The Up to Date cocktail, created by Rob Scope, lead bartender at Homer Street Cafe.

In this updated classic, Homer Street Café lead bartender Rob Scope uses Lot 40 rye whisky for its bold flavours of spice and oak. The light, dry notes of Manzanilla sherry complement the rye, Grand Marnier adds a touch of orange and Angostura marries all the flavours together.

Adapted from Hugo Ensslin’s Recipes for Mixed Drinks, 1916 edition. Ensslin was the head bartender at the Hotel Wallick in New York City’s Times Square, and gained fame from publishing the first version of the Aviation cocktail.

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Roll out the barrel

Where B.C. was once a major barrel producer, today distillers are scrambling to find casks

Whisky and barrels at Legend Distilling in Naramata. Jason Lehoux photo

There’s a spot on the Seawall of Vancouver’s northeast False Creek that should be a pilgrimage—or maybe mourning grounds—for B.C. whisky fans. Under the Cambie Bridge in Coopers’ Park, a plaque marks where the Sweeney Cooperage set up shop in 1889, becoming an important international manufacturer of wooden barrels. It closed in 1981, three decades too early for the current demand from B.C. distillers.

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The Fire at the Mill

The Black Lodge's The Fire at the Mill cocktail.
The Black Lodge photo

This cocktail was created by Edmonton’s James Grant, and is featured on the list at The Black Lodge.

• Mist/rinse of peaty whisky
• 1 oz rosemary-infused gin (see note)
• 1 oz Scotch whisky
• 0.5 oz medium dry sherry
• 0.5 oz ginger syrup
• 0.5 oz lemon juice
• 2 dashes Angostura bitters

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