Gord Tanner was our tasting host, and his enthusiasm for the subject matter was evident. He opened with a kind of “shout it out” poll on our favs – quite a few 40 Creek fans, one or two Chivas guys, but no one with the guts to mention CC (though we did refer jauntily to our collective experience with replacing pilfered CC with tea during the teen years). Gord talked about mashes and coopers and oaks and such. He was entertaining and passionate about his subject.
Of the four whiskeys, my favourite was the 40 Creek Confederation Oak (one of a very few whiskeys done with Canadian Oak), but the Alberta Premium 30 year-old was probably the darling of the night — my second choice, but first for many of the people there. The Alberta Premium is a 100% rye mash, which is actually very unusual, for a drink that is regularly called “rye”.
Wiser’s Legacy was the first one we had, and it really set the tone for “old school Canadian whiskey”. Gord says it’s made from an original recipe. It definitely was voted “most likely to go well with mix”, not because it was bad, but because it had that mixy kinda taste.
The last whiskey we tasted was the Crown Royal Cask 16, which is a special release from the new master blender over there. The Cask 16 has a cognac finish on it, and though it was the most expensive one of the bunch, it definitely wasn’t the most popular one. …Until people got hold of the apricot puff pastries with whiskey glaze that Steph from Little Mushroom Catering served as an accompaniment. Then all of a sudden the world made sense.
In fact, the food was delicious. Splendid cheese selection, cheese-wrapped meatballs in a 40 Creek glaze, really yummy-spicy chicken skewers with avocado puree, this smoked salmon & wasabi cream thing that people attacked AND grilled asparagus with proscuitto & mango. Bonus points awarded for Steph’s inspired choice to put some Hickory Sticks out, cuz, really, could it be more Canadian rec room?
The gallery exhibit was a look at Mother Nature, and her complete disinterest in the arc of human existence. Seems a weighty subject to approach with glass art, but there were some interesting pieces. Several of us got a bit mesmerized by the changing rings of colour and fire in the “round room” (and it wasn’t the drink).
Plans are afoot for another event in the Fall. Bourbon, anyone?