Glenfarclas’ Independent Spirit

George S. Grant is part of the sixth generation of the family that bought the Glenfarclas distillery in Scotland’s Speyside region in 1836. Now the sales director of sales for the brand, he talked to The Alchemist about innovation, tradition and the distillery’s most famous drams.

George S. Grant is part of the sixth generation of the family that bought the Glenfarclas distillery in Scotland’s Speyside region in 1836.
There’s a lot of innovation in whisky and in Scotch today. Is the Family Cask series at Glenfarclas where your fans see that within your brand?

“We’ve seen the revamping of Scotch, or the experimentation side of things, I suppose. I’m not saying we do don’t it or haven’t done it, but it’s things we’ve done 60 or 70 years ago. Primarily, all of the Glenfarclas range is now 100 per cent aged in Oloroso sherry casks. Back in the 1960s we did an experiment where we filled 15 different types of sherry casks—fino, Manzanillo, Amontillado, Pedro Jimenez… About 20 years ago was the first time you started seeing finishing ranges on Scotch, and ever since then people have been jumping on the bandwagon.

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Whisky Wisemen to gather in Vancouver

Sip whisky and talk business with a Dragon at this speaker event

The Be Wise Speaker Series and Whisky Festival takes place Oct. 18 with special guest David Chilton. Contributed photo

Looking for wisdom at the bottom of a whisky glass? Vancouver’s upcoming Be Wise Speaker Series and Whisky Festival has merged world-class whisky tastings with business-oriented conversation in the round, for a most sophisticated pairing.

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A Chronicle of Canadian Whisky

A sneak advance sip of Canadian Club Chronicles 41, the second in a series of ultra-aged Canadian whiskies that redefine our country’s style

 Canadian-Club-Chronicles-41
Canadian Club Chronicles 41 will be released in B.C. in November. Charlene Rooke photo

The smell alone is intoxicating: that heady fusion of sawdust and toffee scents that signals a whisky-aging warehouse. It wafts out of a raised white garage door just outside Windsor, where a bottle of teal-labelled Canadian Club Chronicles 41 glows the colour of teak.

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A fine age

If you thought the debate over whisky and age was resolved, a B.C. newcomer and Scotch mainstay start the discussion over again

At BC Distilled, Andrew Campbell Wall poured Victoria Caledonian Distillery’s 17-month-old Mac na Braiche Single Malt Spirit, which has been earning comparisons to 10-year-old Scotch single malts. Victoria Caledonian Distillery photo.

You might forgive Andrew Campbell Wall if he seems just a wee bit bullish.

Wall is the Macaloney Ambassador for the neophyte Victoria Caledonian Distillery, which is based in B.C.’s capital city, but is Scottish through and through. Just to make the point, Wall is wearing his Campbell kilt and full regalia as he samples his wares at this year’s BC Distilled festival.

While he pours me a dram of Mac na Braiche Single Malt Spirit, he can barely contain his excitement.

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Home Team

Home Team cocktail. Photo courtesy of Chris Enns.

Chris Enns prepared this cocktail for the World Class Canada 2018 national finals. “This drink came from the Wanderlust challenge where we came up with a cocktail inspired by both home and an away location,” he recalls. A twist on the Sazerac cocktail, the Home Team is inspired by the feeling of “home” he found at Tales of the Cocktail in New Orleans, as well the home-team support among the World Class bartenders. Here it is served in a Scottish quaich cup; however, a chilled Old Fashioned or Sazerac-style glass would be fine.

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Spotlight on Glenmorangie Spios

Supplied photo.

For its ninth Private Edition series, the venerable Highland whisky house Glenmorangie has released its first single malt aged in American ex-rye whisky casks. In the late 1990s, Dr. Bill Lumsden, Glenmorangie’s Director of Distilling, Whisky Creation & Whisky, travelled to the United States, where he was inspired by the elegant cinnamon and clove notes of rye whisky. “I have always loved American rye whisky’s spicy character, and I believed our Distillery’s smooth house style would perfectly complement the nuances of ex-rye casks,” he says.

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Farm to Flask

Artisan distilling started a conversation about the terroir of spirits. But can you taste those uber-local ingredients in the bottle?

On the drive up to Saanichton from Victoria, hand-lettered signs for honey and free-range eggs compete with honour-system farm stands exchanging wildflowers, produce or jam for money stuffed in a can. When I arrive on an oceanside hilltop, Ken Winchester points out 25 acres of certified organic vineyards, maple and fruit trees and, farther in the distance, barley being farmed to his specs before it’s malted at Phillips Brewery in Victoria. “I’m also a beekeeper, among other things,” says the deVine winemaker and Bruichladdich-trained distiller, gesturing to the hives. He’s more than that: he’s a farm-to-flask disciple.

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Whisky raid

Why did BC LCLB agents seize an estimated $150,000 in whisky? And could it happen to your favourite tipple, too?

Provincial liquor inspectors remove bottles of whisky from Fets Whisky Kitchen in Vancouver. Fets Whisky Kitchen photo.

It was a scene that might have been straight out of Prohibition—were this not 2018.

On the morning of January 19, 2018, plainclothes teams of B.C. Liquor Control and Licensing Branch agents descended upon two licensed establishments in Vancouver and Nanaimo: Fets Whisky Kitchen and The Grand Hotel. Later that day, in Victoria, they visited The Union Club and Little Jumbo Cocktail Bar. What were they after? Illicit booze, grey market goods being sold as the real thing, or maybe something even more heinous?

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Liquid Gold

It can take years before brown spirits get to market. Here’s how B.C. distilleries keep their businesses liquid in the meantime

Illustration by Tara Rafiq

Imagine you make widgets: finely crafted, artisan widgets. Customers pay more for vintage widgets, so there are laws around how old they have to be as well as their quality. You spend a couple of years building your factory with expensive, traditional widget-making equipment. You hire workers, pay for raw materials, power and utilities, and finally fill a warehouse with a bunch of bulky, heavy containers, then wait a few years before you can sell any of your exquisite stock at a premium price. In the meantime, you absorb labour and storage costs to maintain your inventory, which you lose a mysterious chunk of every year as some widgets slip through the cracks and just disappear into thin air.

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