I was invited to a private Whisky tasting at The Shore Club, the famous seafood restaurant located inside The Westin Ottawa. On a side note, have you ever noticed how all Westin’s smell amazing? Like a fresh lime scent? I need to know what is their secret!!
I got there early. At first, I was the only woman among a group of older men, and happily admitted that I knew nothing about Scotch/Whisky. But, I owed it because this year is full of “firsts” and “yeses” for me. And so far it hasn’t disappointed! Also, two more women joined us, which definitely helped.
We started the lunch with a Glenmorangie whisky sour…yum! This cocktail had the tartness of the lemon and creamy egg whites that I love so much. The whisky is so smooth, and did not have a sharp aftertaste. Looking at the menu, I was excited to get the meal started.
This fresh seafood chowder was excellent. The vegetables were crunchy and fresh, almost as if they were quickly steamed and added to the cream broth. This chowder definitely had more texture that I am used to. The seafood was abundant and delicious!
This open-faced steak sandwich was a bit much for a lunch, but I had no problems polishing it off! I love that it was light on the bread too!
Here is Hamish Torrie, Director of Corporate Social Responsibility of The Glenmorangie Company, who gave us a lovely guided tasting of Glenmorangie Original, Glenmorangie Milsean (new limited edition), Ardbeg 10 and Dark Cove (new limited edition).
As a person who knows nothing about Scotch, the conversation at this table left me taking more notes than my first biochemistry class! I’ll admit, I asked some pretty amateur questions, but in the end, I have brought back so many nuggets of information that I am so excited to share with you!
10 things you probably didn’t know about whisky…
- Whisky is around 1300 years old, and the taste has only really changed over the last 100 years. A whisky must be aged for at least 3 years before it is called whisky.
- A single malt is the purest (and best!) source of whisky, made from barley. It is responsible for providing the taste/flavour component in a blended whisky, when whisky is diluted with other alcohols. That’s why drinks like Jack Daniels makes you want to vomit. It’s the lowest form of “whisky product”.
- Single malts are a new way of preparing whiskey, it only started in 1960s/70s.
- Every whisky has a unique optimal aging range. This means that not all 35 year old whiskies are better than 10 year old ones, or that all whiskies need to be aged to 35 years.
- More and more women are choosing whisky as their beverage of choice. Apparently, women have a more complex pallet and can denote different flavours!
- Factors that affect the production of whiskey: the water source, the quality of the spirit, the height of the sill and the wood/barrel it’s matured in.
- In scotland, the names of the whisky describe the topography of the region and what you can expect from the drink. For example “Glen-morangie” means “Valley-Value of peacefulness” and “Ard-beg” means “Inside/top of hill- high/small”.
- Whisky is playing a huge role in mixology, and transforming the taste for whisky. It’s an excellent way to introduce the spirit to newbies (like me!)
- In 2005, Louis Vuitton-Moet-Hennessy aquired The Glenmorangie Company, as the first Whiskey brand to enter their Wines and Spirits suite of Houses. LVMH ensures the legacy of high quality products and helps small, successful family-run businesses thrive in their markets.
- There are different regions in Scotland that produce a different style of Whisky (much like wine). For example, Glenmorangie is from the Highlands region and Ardbeg is from an island. Because the preparation method and climate is different from the two regions, the whisky will taste very unique to its region.
And now for the tasting… (from left to right)
- Glenmorangie Original (40%): 10 year old single malt whisky with a smooth, light, elegant and fragrant touch. It has notes of vanilla, orange and bourbon (from the wood). Although this is a great choice for beginners, it also has complex flavours that any connoisseur could enjoy. It’s smooth taste comes from the double distillation process and a very high sill, which helps to extract only the purest form of alcohol. This would be perfect as an aperitif.
- Glenmorangie Milsean (new limited edition) (46%): Milsean meaning sweet things, embodies the candy shop look and taste. Although a bit darker, richer and higher in alcohol content, this limited edition would please any whisky aficionado. It’s a blend of Glenmorangie matured in different barrels. The dark colour comes from the toasting of the barrels, which are imported from Portugal. This would be the perfect whisky to pair with dessert.
- Ardbeg 10 (46%): 10 year old single malt, with a dark, smokey and sweet taste, leaving behind oily notes of smoked fish. This would be amazing in a spicy caesar or paired with seafood, like sushi or oysters. On the island, peat is used to fuel the heating process, and it generates a lot of smoke, which is captured in the whisky. The fishy notes are also from the peat, which provide a seaweed-like flavour.
- Dark Cove (new limited edition) (46%): This very dark version of the Ardbeg is aged in Sherry barrels, which is why the colour is so dark. It also has a smokey flavour, but a little more meaty than fishy (think bacon vs smoked salmon). It would be paired perfectly with a charcuterie board!
My favourite was the Glenmorangie Original, as it was smooth and did not feel too high in alcohol content. It did not make me gag, which highly surprised me! I can definitely see myself sipping on this with my husband and feeling like I finally belong at the big boys (ahem, and girls!) table.
Are you a whisky lover? What’s your poison?