Spirit of Toronto 2017

Yesterday marked the annual Spirit of Toronto tasting event at the Roy Thomson Hall. An absolute must for the whisky enthusiast, Spirit of Toronto offers an all-inclusive experience with a wide range vendors and expressions. This was the second consecutive year I attended, and once again I had an amazing evening.

One of the best features about Spirit of Toronto are the Masterclasses offered each year in addition to the general admission. In 2016 I attended Benromach’s, and this year I was lucky enough to get a ticket for Balvenie’s. Brand ambassador Jamie Johnson did a great job walking us through 5 expressions from the distillery. I was extremely pleased with the lineup, as I had yet to try any of these offerings.

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The 10 year Founder’s Reserve, 17 year Maderia Cask, 21 year Portwood, 25 year Traditional Oak Single Barrel, and the TUN 1509 were all outstanding. Jamie was thoughtful enough to personally bring the Founder’s Reserve and Maderia Cask with her back from Scotland as they are now both discontinued products. I really appreciated her selections for this tasting. She explained how she wanted to differ from their typical core-range and present something a little different. (Well played Jamie). My love of Balvenie grew even more after this flight. The TUN 1509 was definitely my favorite followed by the 21 Portwood, 25 Single Barrel, Founder’s Reserve, then the Maderia Cask. (Now I just need a bottle of each).

After the one hour Masterclass, it was back to the main event.

I was very pleased with the distilleries represented this year. There was plenty of whisky I had yet to try, and was happy to see a range that included offerings above entry level. The Balvenie booth had their 21 Portwood available, Dalmore had the 18 year, the Cigar Malt, and the King Alexander. El Dorado had their 25 year, and Johnnie Walker had Blue Label (to name a few).

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One expression that stood out was an old bottle of Rye from Gooderham and Worts. This was discovered at their distillery and they were generous enough to share it at the event. It was bottled at the turn of the century; a true taste of history, and an honor to try.

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Once again Spirit of Toronto delivered an amazing evening. The price of admission is expensive ($165). However if you add up all the spirit you try, and all the gourmet food you consume, plus a free Glencairn glass, it’s actually a great deal! The Balvenie Masterclass was an additional $35, which is laughable when you saw the lineup. I highly recommend going! I will definitely be attending next year, and probably every year after that. If you do plan on going, and you want to try a Masterclass, make sure you are by your computer when tickets go on sale. Masterclasses sellout in the first 10 min.

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