Tag Archives: Canadian Club

The Aussie Whisky Scene – Curious brands for the local market!

One of the joys about travelling to a different country (Australia in this example) is not just tasting the award winning single malts that are produced there – of which there are plenty – but also sampling some of the everyday blends, brands and bourbons not normally found in my home market of Ireland.

My musical interlude comes from a giant of Australian music – and in the context of a wedding – the response is  ….I do.

The wedding itself – our reason for travelling in the first place – took place in The Willows on St Kilda Rd. Arriving early to the venue for a pre-event drink we were politely refused entry and sent around the corner to a nearby cafe/bar. Unlike in Ireland where the wedding venue would gladly have you in before and after the event – in Australia the custom is to strictly adhere to the booked times. Que sera sera.

At the nearby Hunters Kitchen we were warmly greeted and soon furnished with a tasty snack of warm olives and bread together with a lovely wine for herself and a whisky for myself.

Now my default position would be to go for an Aussie whisky – but as there wasn’t any on offer – the next best thing I could see was a familiar brand but an expression I hadn’t come across before and isn’t generally available in Ireland.

Canadian Club 12yo
Canadian Club Classic 12 Year Old c/othewhiskyexchange

I’d found the standard Canadian Club a tad sweet with a soft rye spice finish. I expected a bit more punch off the 12 year old but it didn’t seem to deliver. Smoother and more complex notwithstanding – the extra years didn’t provide a knockout dram.

Back at the wedding – a lovely union between a Tullamore lad and a Melbourne lassie – the drinks flowed, speeches were made and food & festivities abounded. Again the whisky menu was rather limited but I had to try a Cougar to celebrate the coming together of two wonderful people!

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Cougar 5 c/othewhiskeynut

A fairly standard bourbon experience was enjoyed – nothing out of the ordinary here – but on talking to a few of the other guests I did think this bourbon was very much a local brand.

My suspicions proved correct the next day when I called in at the local Liquorland store for a chat with the friendly and helpful staff. Just the same way as Lidl, Aldi, Tesco and others do here in Ireland – Coles, Woolworths and others do in Australia. They order up bourbon, gin, brandy or whisky and bottle it under there own brand names. I even found an article on it here

Curiously Cougar is bottled at 37% – which is allowed under Aussie rules. Jim Beam is also at 37% whilst Jack stays at 40% – so check the ABV of your favourite brand before you buy as it may not be the same strength as back home.

I came across a few other of these home brands on my travels.

Whilst doing the Great Ocean Road a few weeks later we stayed in the lovely town of Port Campbell and enjoyed a hearty and enjoyable meal in the local hotel of the same name.

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Port Campbell Hotel c/othewhiskeynut

A whisky accompanied the meal – and another ordered at the bar for good measure. It wasn’t too bad. Just a standard Scottish blend by the name of McAllister.  Inver House Distillers seem to be the origin of this Australian brand.

McAllister
McAllister Scotch in Australia c/odanmurphys

I did spot an Irish whiskey in this segment too by the name of Finnlaigh. There shouldn’t be any surprises in reading the back of the bottle that Cooley were responsible for the distilling!  John Teeling’s Great Northern Distillery in Dundalk may soon be the new source.  I didn’t get round to sampling this expression.

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Finnlaigh on a Woolworths shelf c/othewhiskeynut

Now I wouldn’t be expecting star quality out of these brands. Many of them are price sensitive. They can often be very good value however and some have gone on to be quite highly rated in competitions so I’m quite happy to give them a trial run when I can.

Even in our last few hours on Aussie soil I still managed to come across another. We stopped off at The Savoy Tavern for a farewell bite to eat before catching the SkyBus at Southern Cross Station.

A lack of an Aussie single malt had me searching for an alternative which I found in a Jim Beam Rye. Didn’t I mention I like a rye now and then?

jb rye
Jim Beam Rye c/odanmurphys

A sweet mellow initial taste morphs into a warm spicy finish. Nothing too complex here -especially as it’s only a 37% release –  but very enjoyable nonetheless. I’m looking forward to a potential release in Ireland!

Whilst enjoying or meal – I did notice a sales rep approach the bar to try and push some whisky brand. Curiosity got the better of me and I enquired after the rep had gone what the brand was.

‘Pure Scot’ came the reply, ‘a Scottish blend made at Bladnoch for an Aussie company’.

Pure Scot
Pure Scot c/odanmurphys

It got me thinking.

How long will it be before a sales rep comes into a bar in Ireland pushing a brand called ‘Pure Oz’ to ride the surf of the growth and quality of Australian whisky?

Judging on my experiences of tasting Aussie whisky – it may be sooner than you think.

Slainte

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The Wonderful World Of Whiskey Advertising

An impulse buy at my local supermarket of a whisky I hadn’t yet tried before – nor knew anything about – led me to a rather pleasing drink as well as very entertaining advertising.

William Lawson’s Blended Scotch Whisky is one of those rather plain bottles of whisky that adorn drinks shelves all over the place and I had avoided it – up until now – but as it was on offer – and I’m always on the lookout for a new taste experience – I thought I’d give it a go.

Now I believe behind every bottle of whiskey is a story waiting to be told – and this bottle certainly didn’t disappoint!

To start the whole show off I poured myself a glass – left it to breathe – and consulted my rather old edition of the Mitchell Beazley Pocket Guides to Scotch Whisky compiled by none other than the esteemed Charles MacLean. It’s an encyclopedic source of information on all things related to Scotch whisky – the distilleries, their single malt releases, the blended scotch expressions, owners and bottlers as well as some associated data on sales and distribution pertaining to the year of publication – the most recent edition on amazon was 2006.

From this publication I gleaned that a bottler and blender by the name of William Lawson first created this blend in 1849. Over the years it’s base moved around a bit before settling in Coatbridge near Glasgow. To secure malt for blending the Macduff Distillery was purchased and the whole operation is under ownership of  Bacardi. So far this history resembles that of many of the other classic scotch blends which originated in the mid 19th century and are still around today – via many changes of home base and ownership.

Charles gave no tasting notes so I consulted the computer and garnished many positive remarks for William Lawson’s. At this point I gave in to temptation and had a sip. I was rather surprised by the fresh light fruity taste with no peat element at all. Very unexpected to the slightly harsh grainy/peaty flavour profile I’m accustomed to with entry level blended scotch. Mmmmmm, not bad – really rather good indeed!

Further investigation led me to a very enjoyable discovery.

Fun – frivolous – full of cliches, stereotypes and innuendo – but laugh out loud funny. Drinking this whisky was a good experience – but watching their adverts takes it to another level!

Ever wondered what was under a Scotsman’s kilt? Let William Lawson show you.

There are even different expressions of the standard blend available – sadly not at my local store – but the adverts sure are hilarious and so refreshing.

I was hooked and kept searching for more whilst tasting more of this lovely little blend.

William Lawson’s advertising department certainly don’t hold back – even to the extent of using flash mobs of finely buffed Brazilians in kilts riding horses parading down Recife dispensing whisky shots to stunned passers by. The music track used was also pretty cool – Louis XIV with their eponymous song Louis XIV.

This led me down another path – that of cool music used in whiskey promotion. Teeling used Kid Karate‘s track Louder about a minute in on their video of the pot stills arriving at Dublin for the new distillery – Teeling’s whiskey certainly tastes louder to me!

Johnnie Walker also entered the cool music charts with their Plastic Bertrand backing track hailing from Belgium whose Belgian Owl Single Malt is a very cool whisky. Johnnie Walker Black Label is a descent example of a lightly peated blend from Scotland.

In contrast – Tullamore DEW from only down the road to where I’m based have taken a more traditional theme to their ads.

Whilst Jameson from Cork have also gone down the comic route with a series funny sketches in their promotional videos.

We then get into the realm of slightly odd with this one from Canadian Club.

 

Whilst the videos from Japan dispense with the sexualisation for a more minimalist approach.

Very refreshing, and even a mythical approach?

It seems as if there is no end to the permutations the ad folks can come up with to promote your drink of choice.

To round up my peek at the wonderful and wacky world of whiskey advertising I’ll finish with a seemingly sombre and severe ad for Whyte And Mackay – another fine scottish blend if you haven’t already tried it.

So there you go.

You’ll notice all of the ads are for blends. It’s not surprising. 90% of all whiskey sold is in the form of a blend. Simply chasing the money.

You’ll also notice that most of the ads imply that drinking whiskey improves your “manliness”. Apart from the Japanese, the only other brand to show a female tasting whisky was my new friend William Lawson’s. Ironically – they also showed the male of the species as the sexualised object.

Read into them what you want – but I for one;

greatly enjoyed my glass of William Lawson’s’

found their videos absolutely hilarious and,

loved the cool music they chose as backing tracks.

Whisky dosen’t come better than that. A true smorgasbord of a sensory feast – taste – smell – mouth feel – visual delight – auditory pleasure.

Well done William Lawson’s.

Slainte

Whiskey Nut

PS

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Trans Europe Express – the first tastings.

They say that travels broadens the mind – but in my case it tantalizes the taste buds with the promise of experiencing new whiskey expressions not normally available at home.

My trans Europe jaunt certainly lived up to my expectations – with many a new dram sampled – and a few surprises and helpful tips along the way!

First port of call was my former home for 20 years – London – for the afore-blogged wedding. Having left over a decade ago it was a welcome return but at times I felt like a tourist – so much had changed and I was seeing it with fresh eyes.

A certain Pukka Boy has opened a few establishments around town and it was to one of those I ventured to meet up with my better half and a few of her cousins at a reunion gathering. The meal had ended by the time I arrived so drinks were ordered and as is my custom – I eyed the bar for a suitable tasting experience. Spotting a bottle of Sazerac Rye hidden behind a big branded blend – I sat down to chat and savour the warm rye flavour profile.

Sazerac Rye c/o thewhiskyexchange
Sazerac Rye c/o thewhiskyexchange

The rye didn’t disappoint with it’s full flavour opening up in the mouth with a very welcome spicy tinge. I got chatting away on whiskey matters – as you do – favourite drams – the rise of Irish Whiskey and so on – so when another round was required what else could I go for but a glass of the old reliable Green Spot.

Green Spot c/o celticwhiskeyshop
Green Spot c/o celticwhiskeyshop

Meaty beaty big and bouncy is an apt way to sum up this whiskey – like the Who’s album it’s an old classic – worthy of listening to whilst tasting this historic dram which is still independently bottled by Mitchell & Sons – the way all whiskey was sold at one time.  I didn’t taste his food – but the whiskey at the bar was certainly pukka!

Second port of call the day after the wedding was The Whisky Exchange shop at Vinopolis near London Bridge. As I’ve used their excellent online service on a number of occasions – mainly for UK based relatives at Xmas and birthdays – I thought it about time to pay their shop a visit.

My goal was a bottle of One – a blend using spirit from the recent batch of new distilleries opening in Scotland, England, Ireland (presumably Northern Ireland in this case) and Wales – which appealed to my theme of getting a bottle of home produced whiskey from each country I visit – but;

Whiskey Tip No. 1  Pre-order your purchases before visiting the shop as despite carrying a bewildering array of whiskies – this is only a fraction of the vast stock they hold at he online warehouse in West London.

Aha! I didn’t – so I then spent ages trying to figure out what to buy from the tantalising display on offer.

Eventually I decided on Wemyss Malt Spice King as these whisky blenders have just built a new distillery in Kingsbarns where many moons ago before the distillery was even thought about – before the golf course was even built – and before my brother acquired an american accent – he celebrated his engagement to his US girlfriend by holding a rather chilly party on the lovely beach there whilst they were both students in Edinburgh.

Spice King c/o thewhiskyexchange
Spice King c/o thewhiskyexchange

Luckily this dram warms you with it’s malty aroma, smooth yet spicy taste and long lasting glow. Lovely. I’ll have to pay a visit and try out the other expressions based on this experience.

Betjeman Arms c/o geronimo-inns
Betjeman Arms c/o geronimo-inns

My last day in London consisted of packing up before catching the train to mainland Europe. There was a brief stop in the Betjeman Arms at St Pancreas Station to sample a Canadian Club with some olives and bread before our departure.

This is a lovely spot to enjoy the fabulous architecture, sculptures and general hustle ‘n’ bustle of train travel in a relaxed atmosphere – as well as enjoying the unexpectedly good aroma and taste of this entry level blend from Canadian whiskey giants Hiram Walker but now part of Japanese giants Suntory – maybe it’s because it’s aged for 6 years together with a rye content – but I found it very tasty indeed! Must try it out again soon.

Canadian Club c/o thewhiskyexchange
Canadian Club c/o thewhiskyexchange

And so into Europe on the train. What a lovely way to travel. No complicated check in – no luggage restrictions – plenty of legroom and the ability to walk around. That walking around led me to the bar where my visions of varied whiskies from around Europe were quickly and decidedly  dashed by the single Jack Daniels miniature on offer. Now I know JD is a phenomenally popular drink – but it’s not mine;

Whiskey Tip No 2  As the Stones sang – “You can’t always get what you want” – so carry a suitable miniature – or better still a hip flask filled with your favourite tipple for those occasions when scarcity, unavailability or simply poor choice denies you the experience of enjoying a good relaxing dram whilst travelling.

Sadly the miniatures I’d bought at The Whisky Exchange were buried at the bottom of my luggage so i’d to wait until our arrival at the apartment in Aachen before having the opportunity of being able to sit down and relax.

Being at a late hour – I rushed out to grab a curry before the restaurants closed and enjoyed a small Black Bottle whisky to wash it down.

Black Bottle c/o thewhiskyexchange
Black Bottle c/o thewhiskyexchange

The slight peatiness and smooth tasting blend complemented the spicy curry which marked our move from familiar places to the excitement of new sights, sounds and smell of the Benelux area of mainland Europe.

To be continued…

Slainte

Whiskey Nut