Return to Canada! SMWS & More!

Apologies for my extended absence, whisky friends, but I’ve been profoundly busy since my rather abrupt return to Canada last month. Between sorting out the business of housing, jobs, acquiring furniture and so forth it’s been a bit of an uphill battle to make room for whisky, let alone writing about whisky, but I did want to utilize this Thanksgiving long weekend (for myself and my fellow Canadian friends at least) for a brief reflection on some of my more recent exciting adventures.

Last weekend marked my triumphant return to The Strathcona Hotel in beautiful downtown Victoria, British Columbia, and as an attendee at a Scotch Malt Whisky Society Outturn no less. In many ways this place, and these tastings, were the starting platform for the current whisky roller coaster I find myself on today. As an organizer and presenter at these SMWS Outturns for several years, I honed my passion and knowledge for whisky to a fine point, and made some very fine friends along the way. I was genuinely touched by the warm reception I received from some old familiar faces, and amused at the shocked and confused looks I received from SMWS members who were evidently unaware of my return from self-imposed Dutch exile.

The tasting itself was masterfully led by my old running mate Mr. Adam Bradshaw, and his own trusty sidekick Dan Rampling, who created a light and fun atmosphere to lead the attendees through our eight dram whisky odyssey. Trivia and jokes were available in abundant supply as we careened from one distillery to the next over the course of ninety minutes. A very fine young Glen Scotia was perhaps my standout dram of the evening, which included some remarkable selections from Laphroaig, Craigellachie, Glen Grant and others. A post-tasting cleansing ale with some former coworkers in a favourite hole in the wall pub across the street served as an excellent finish to a much needed, invigorating and soul-nourishing evening.

Just this very morning I strolled back down to The Strath Ale Wine & Spirit Merchants, the shop in which I toiled for many years, and was warmly greeted once again, this time by the aforementioned Adam and Dan, along with another dear friend and former coworker. Adam presented me with a few breakfast drams pulled from the archives of The Strath’s Dram Association, a recently launched endeavor to promote whisky appreciation for consumers of all experience levels. I won’t reveal either of them here today for reasons of secrecy (all are meant to be tasted blind) but I will let you know that both were incredibly unique and interesting splashes of some rather good whisky. I was also presented with a small take-home sample of a special Glenfarclas 25 year bottling that was done for our friends at Kensington Wine Market in the proud city of Calgary, Alberta. I have yet to try it, but promise to provide some tasting notes as soon as I do.

So there you have it for now, I’m alive, well, back on Canadian soil, and taking as much time as I can muster to enjoy a dram or three with friends. My attendance has been requested at a host of other whisky-tastic events in the coming weeks, so rest assured that I will document them for you here as best I can. Cheers and stay tuned!

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