Back in August when my wife and I celebrated our 1st wedding anniversary, she gave me a gift of a night out at Feather’s the pre-eminent scotch bar in Toronto. She gave an amount I could spend on whiskies in whatever fashion I wanted, quantity/quality/both, and would drive me home at the end of the night. pretty sweet deal! So fast forward about 4 months and we still haven’t gone due to life getting in the way and on a Friday night when we realize we have nothing to do, we head out to Scarborough at rush hour to grab some food and try a few drams. I had pre-printed the 4-page single malt menu, crossed off everything I’ve tried before and circled a bunch that were of interest. Then when it came time to order, I couldn’t really decide and ended up starting with something cheap and mysterious…
this is the house Highland 8yr bottling from Signatory. no info on what distillery it is or what part of the highlands it comes from. just a bottler, a region and an ABV. I’ve reviewed 30 highlands by now, so i thought maybe I’ll have a shot at guessing. let’s see how wrong I am.
Feather’s Pub Highland 8 Signatory – 40% ABV
- Appearance: crazy light… virtually no colour in the glass. Seems like just ex-bourbon casks and probably 4th fill or something.
- Nose: whipped honey, caramel, lemon. Quite light. Smells a bit like a glen garioch. Slight saltiness and brine that makes me think probably more of a coastal highland.
- Palate: similar to the nose at first. Honey, lemon, salty, light fruit, peaches, apricots. None of the bitterness I often get from highlands like Glenmorangie. The fruit and sea air remind me of an oban or Old Pulteney.
- Finish: light oak, sea air, and mint… that’s different. Medium length.
- Score: 83
surprising depth for 8 yrs and 40% abv. A great dram for $5.99 and I’d recommend anyone who frequents feathers try it out to start your night. I think Old Pulteney is a possibility, but it’s tough to say for sure, and no way to find out.
next I went with something recommended by the guys of the Toronto Whisky Society on our Whatsapp group chat. A few of them had tried the Bowmore Dusk, and while I was debating this vs a 1990 Glen Garioch, they made good points that I should get something a bit different, and no longer available. so I did. this is finished in Bordeaux casks.
Bowmore Dusk – 50% ABV
- Appearance: crazy red-amber. Wine cask had its way with this spirit.
- Nose: dark stewed fruit, cherries, light smoke, very light vegetal peat, smoked meat, pepper.
- Palate: more peat than the nose but less smoke, tons of cherries…almost like cough syrup, quite sweet. Incredibly winey. Molasses. Brown sugar, light pepper, slightly musty (bottle looks old and opened for a long time).
- Finish: very sweet, long. Citrusy almost. Still that cherry buckleys flavour.
- Score: 86
I don’t typically like sweet drams this much, but somehow this pulls it off for me. The bordeaux really overpowers but it’s quite different than other finished whiskies somehow. Would consider buying a bottle as a nice dessert whisky if it were still being made.
Finally, I brought out the big guns and went for a dream dram, Ardbeg Lord of the Isles. This 25yr monster includes a bunch of the history of the Scottish Lord of the Isles, who ruled Western Scotland and the Islands from Finlaggan, Islay a few hundred years ago. Having visited Finlaggan on our recent trip to Scotland, which I recommend to anyone going to Islay, this was a very cool dram to try and pay homage to our experience there this summer.
Ardbeg Lord of the Isles -46% ABV
- Appearance: dark orange, thick legs
- Nose: sweet meaty smoke, tarry peat, dark stewed fruit, briney, oak sawdust, leather, horse barn, blackstrap molasses
- Palate: big wave of peat, but not a kick in the face like some ardbegs, brine, sweet smoke, leather, molasses, dark red fruit, oak, almost an herbal tea-like character. Smoked meat, campfire smoke, peppery, snowpeas
- Finish: loooooong… sweet. The peat lingers forever. Some fruit, smoky ash. Sherry tipped Colt cigars. It lasts forever… even after drinking water I was tasting this the entire way home.
- Score: 95
fantastic. I initially thought it was about par with the Laphroaig 25 I tasted as it had very similar notes, but that hour long finish was amazing. I’d put this even higher if they bottled it higher than 46%. incredible dram and my highest rated this year.