SHE SAID: One of the most difficult things about being on twitter sometimes is sitting on the sidelines watching the UK twitter tastings. I liken it to that kid that would show up at the soccer game and he would just stand on the white line watching. "Come on!" the other kids yell to him. But he can't because he's wearing his school uniform and good shoes. So he just stands, watches and envies that all the other kids get to play. If you don't follow twitter as often as I do (hourly), Whisky Twitter Tastings happen weekly. I can spend two hours watching 12-20 people trying the latest whiskies and discussing them at length. Me and my "good shoes" can't take part because we are in North America. Sigh... So you can imagine my surprise and excitement when http://www.thewhiskywire.com/, one of the leaders using social media (since 2011) for whisky tastings, tweeted that they would be hosting a transatlantic twitter tasting for International Women's Day using Compass Box. Not only was it a first for a twitter tasting and for women it was COMPASS BOX! I quickly responded to be on the list. People may not realize the work that goes into hosting a whisky tasting, even less about a virtual one. The logistics are mind boggling and I was nervous from the get go as to how they would pull this off.
So here is where it sort of gets silly as my life often does. The samples were coming from New York and being sent to a personal American mailbox I own in Maine. As of Tuesday (two days before the tasting) I had yet to receive a message stating they were in. Thursday, I was really starting to get nervous but thankfully around 2:00pm I got the call. I literally dashed to my car and drove to my mailbox arriving at 3:15 to find a sign on the door stating they were out for 15 minutes. I waited. Their debit machine was down and I had no cash so now I find myself jumping into the car and driving to two different banks before I found one whose banking machines were not down. By the time that part of my fiasco was over with and I had parcel in hand it was 3:55. I crossed into Canada, declared my samples which of course lead to going in and paying for duty/taxes, etc.. After a poor confused officer finally understood what I was talking about (thankfully I had the twitter tasting invite on my IPhone) I paid minimal duty/taxes (he was now convinced I wasn't trying to sell my samples in Canada) and I was sent on my way. It's was now 4:20. The tasting was due to start at 5:00pm Atlantic Time and I had at least one hour to drive before I was in my own driveway. Well I thought, I'll drive until I can't drive anymore and then I'll park it to do the tasting if it comes to that.
|Strapped in for the drive!|
|yes that's a snowbank!|
So, with a few minutes to spare I took the lovely bottles and placed them on my dashboard. Pen in hand I took down the hashtags: #WhiskyandWomen and #IWD. And so we began, women from around the world on twitter together, ready to sample and discuss three lovely mystery whiskies from Compass Box, with me in my car on the side of the road in a hotel parking lot. (It never dawned on my at the time that to anyone else this may sound particularly disturbing or worse illegal but I'll get back to that at the end of my story...) Where was I? Oh yes, we were beginning. Our hosts Steven Rush and Compass Box Lilly welcomed everyone and we immediately began nosing whisky sample #1.
#1 - Nosing: Very light and floral in nature with a bit of a variety of soft warm spices. I was transported to a sweet tropical fruit salad: Coconut, bananas, mangoes, ripe pears and melons. The spices were there but almost honeyed in nature. Palate: (I took a very small sip and swished it around) I immediately tasted lovely green grapes, tangy sweetness. Another small sip and I was getting a lovely creamy lemon curd. Truly delicious on the palate. We were asked to guess the ABV, I stated it was about 42%. I also thought it was so refreshing that a wine finished whisky may have been used as part of the equation. Well, I was close on the ABV but this is a 100% grain whisky bottling. The big reveal: HEDONISM. I was floored!
Whisky #2: Such a lovely fragrant nose. Rum raisin soaked sultanas. So rich and creamy smelling my mouth watered. This one has more depth and character right up front. A bit more aggressive on the nose than #1. Aromas of dried fruit like figs or dates. It reminded me of light version of sticky toffee pudding. On the palate I immediately was hit with vanilla biscuits or sweet sponge cake followed by a bit of tinned pears. Others could smell/taste a bit of smoke but honestly I was lost in the flavors of fruit and cake. I found it to be very full bodied and estimated the ABV to be 43-46%. Reveal: Great King Street, Artist's Blend. I was a bit shocked? I own this bottle and thought I knew it fairly well. Bottled at 43% ABV, blend of Lowland (46%), Highland (45%) and Speyside (9%) whiskies. Non chill filtered and natural color. I love this whisky in a high ball with some soda water but I have on occasion been surprised by Graham and enjoyed it as a mystery dram, just like I did this time. This is available in Canada (Ontario LCBO's) for $46.95, and again at Whisky Exchange for £23.95, Park Avenue for $40.00, Binny's and K&L for $39.99. This is a steal and excellent value for money whisky that you should consider having in your collection.
#3 was a no-brainer for me as soon as I removed the cap from the bottle. It screamed THE PEAT MONSTER and I stated so immediately. Then Lilly said, ahhh but is it? I hesitated, hmmm was it? On the nose: Beach fire and medicinal. Very maritime'ish. I stated it reminded me of two whiskies I thoroughly enjoy: Either Talisker or Ledaig to which Lilly stated I had hit one of the components to this whisky on the head. It's quite powerful dram on the nose. Going back to Hedonism, it almost smelled like water!? On the palate: Delish, full bodied peated whisky with wisps of dark fruit but the driest finish of the three samples, also the highest in alcohol I gathered (quite a burn...) So I stated that I thought it was peat monster (again) and that if it wasn't I was guessing the Entertainer and also thought the ABV was higher at 46%.
The reveal: PEAT MONSTER. What satisfaction in knowing this one as it's one of my favorite Compass Box bottling or at least it's the one I have drank the most and replenished in my collection (4 bottles, so far...) This whisky is not for the faint at heart. Living in the far eastern part of Canada we are subjected to temperatures below -40C during our long winters. This is warmth in a glass. Available in Canada, Kensington Wine Market (Alberta) for $57.49, also in BC but not able to find price range there, sorry. Whisky Exchange for £36.95. US market: Park Avenue Liquor $65.00, Binny's and K&L for $55.00.
My favorite for this particular tasting was the Hedonism as it surprised me the greatest and of course when I discovered what it was I more than elated to have tried it, knowing it might be awhile before I get to have it again. As we started to wind down the twitter tasting, I noticed my phone was now at 4% power and that it was going to shut down any minute. I had time to say my goodbyes, thank everyone who attended and text Graham what I wanted for supper and it shut down. Wow, I thought as I sat there in my car looking around (probably for the first time really), that was AWESOME! Even though I was faced with so many little things that could have totally ruined the tasting event for me, I refused to let that happen. I took every twisted turn and strange little bump with stride and found the humor and fun in the adventure. Which is why I love whisky to begin with. My life, since finding this passion has been nothing but one great adventure after another filled with stories and memories to last me a lifetime.
I will be very honest with the next part of what I have to say. There was one small downfall to this twitter tasting for me. Where were the men? Unlike any other twitter tasting I have ever followed there didn't seem to be men interacting from the sideline (with the exception of one, once). With all the twitter tastings that take place you constantly see people jumping in, making comments and adding some energy. In our case, there were the women invited to attend, Compass Box Lilly and Steve. As fabulous is it was to be partaking in this momentous twitter tasting the men of the whisky fabric were not there partaking or cheering us on (including my own husband) and in the end I felt like something was truly missing. I love being part of all this and it's great that women around the world said woohoo to a women's only twitter tasting. I guess for me having Compass Box & Whisky Wire acknowledge and celebrate the fact that we love whisky just as much as the next "guy" meant alot to me. It would have meant more knowing some of the guys in our lives thought so too and voiced it accordingly even if only to come on twitter and wish us luck, or say "way to go", anything really...
So back to me and my car which is parked in an obscure part of Canada in the parking lot of a hotel... Knowing full well I now have drank alcohol (three very small sips mind you) and that I have "said open alcohol" in my car I was faced with yet another little dilemma, how do I get home which is still a 45 minute drive... So I did what any good Canadian would do, I packed up the alcohol, put it my knapsack and threw it in the trunk. I drove out of the parking lot of the hotel and right next to the hotel in the very next drive way, pulled into here:
|Even small towns have at least one of these...|
As for twitter, well most of you know how I feel about it, it's a fabulous place to discuss, share and learn about the whisky fabric. As I drove home that Thursday night I was on my way home to a quick supper followed by an impromptu Canadian Whisky introduction to two local twitter personalities in my home town. I went to bed that night happier than I ever recall being and it all had to do with a Lassie and her love of whiskies.
Onward and forward to the next crazy adventure. I do hope you will join me, after all nobody does adventure quite the way I do I've come to realize and appreciate.
Whisky trail blazing!!!