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!

Dram Good Netherlands – The Final Chapter

Those of you following along since the beginning of my Netherlands adventure will know that my overall goal here in the Low Countries was to settle with my Dutch-born wife for a time, while furthering my career in the wide world of whisky. After four months of continuous hoop jumping and back-flipping to pull things together, the great grinding gears of European bureaucracy have finally worn us down. Between a looming and severe rental housing shortage, a host of unforeseen and time consuming living permit requirements, and yes, even a bout of homesickness, we have made the tough decision to pack things up and make our return to beautiful Victoria, British Columbia. Continue reading “Dram Good Netherlands – The Final Chapter”

Scotch Malt Whisky Society Netherlands

The Scotch Malt Whisky Society will always hold a special place in my heart. Those of you who know me well will already be aware that my most recent place of employment, The Strath Ale Wine & Spirit Merchants in Victoria, British Columbia, was a retail partner shop for the SMWS in Canada, and for all intents and purposes I was the face of that partnership (along with the lovely faces of SMWS Canada founders Kelly and Rob Carpenter). With the help of my trusty sidekick, Mr. Adam Bradshaw (who has since taken up my old mantle of Whisky Specialist at The Strath), I organized and hosted monthly, and eventually twice-monthly tastings for around 50 eager SMWS members and guests. Naturally, when my wife and I spotted a chance to attend an SMWS Outturn here in the Netherlands (as the invited guests of SMWS Benelux Ambassador Hans Offringa no less) we jumped at the opportunity. Continue reading “Scotch Malt Whisky Society Netherlands”

Dram Good Netherlands – Scotch Whisky Samples!

As I concluded in my post documenting the happy experience I had while attending the Ypenburg Whisky Festival, one of the true joys of convening with other whisky people is the immediate sense of community the environment creates. One of the many connections I was able to make through this event was to a gentleman who has a small sideline in purveying 30ml sample bottles of the whiskies in his collection for a nominal fee (mostly to cover costs so he can then procure more whiskies). This is not at all uncommon practice in the whisky world, and national shipping laws permitting, many enthusiasts have taken to trading samples in order to spread the love and knowledge of whisky with friends and strangers alike (there’s even a /r/scotchswap subreddit for such transactions). Continue reading “Dram Good Netherlands – Scotch Whisky Samples!”

Dram Good Netherlands – Ypenburg Whisky Festival

I doubt many of you, either inside or outside of the Netherlands, are familiar with the Ypenburg Whisky Festival. The name doesn’t ring bells or generate press the way popular outings like Fèis Ìle, Limburg Whisky Fair, or the Victoria Whisky Festival do. While it may not be as large, glitzy or well funded as the aforementioned events, it’s almost certainly every bit as fun. Continue reading “Dram Good Netherlands – Ypenburg Whisky Festival”

Whisky Tasting Notes – Sansibar Islay 8yr

A few months back I wrote a post entitled “How Do You Drink Whisky?” in which I dove in to some of the fundamental nuts and bolts of whisky appreciation. In an effort to put some of that theory into practice, I’ve decided to put together some tasting notes on one of the purchases I’ve made recently here in the Netherlands. Keen eyed observers may well recall this release was one of the sample bottles I picked up at Van der Boog in Rijswijk. Continue reading “Whisky Tasting Notes – Sansibar Islay 8yr”

Dram Good Whisky – Netherlands Pt. 2

Rijswijk – Van Der Boog

The next stop on our whisky tour of the Netherlands took my wife and I to the town of Rijswijk. Essentially a suburb of our home base of The Hague, we made the journey via foot power in a little under an hour to mark to occasion of World Whisky Day. Much like De Druiventuin in Leiden, Wine and Whisky Specialist van der Boog is tucked away discreetly in a strip mall, far off the beaten path for your average tourist. Continue reading “Dram Good Whisky – Netherlands Pt. 2”