Dram Initiative #013 – Year End Wrap-Up Moxie’s Downtown
July 2nd, 2014
A little late on this one, but better late than never…
For the club’s year-end wrap-up we wanted to do something a little bit different. Of course this was not a calendar year end, but simply a logical break point. We opted to take the summer off in order to accommodate everyone’s vacation plans and such. If, however, an opportunity had arisen in the meantime to put on a killer event I’m sure we would have happily been flexible enough to make it happen, but it seemed like a solid idea to take a couple months off for beer and sun, before diving back into the action with September’s Bruichladdich tasting with Jim McEwan.
For this ‘wrap-up’, we got in touch with the good folks at the Moxie’s Downtown location. Manager Deryck Phimister is in the process of building the company’s whisky program. I’d heard his name mentioned a few times and had a couple of Moxie’s event notices forwarded my way, so decided to reach out to Deryck and see if we couldn’t make something work. With Deryck being as keen, knowledgable and…quite frankly…likeable as he is, this event came together quickly and easily.
The initial line of thinking that led to this less formal event was that we wanted to do something a little less labour-intensive for the committee, and have a gathering that would get the members interacting in a slightly looser environment. Y’know…pints, food, whisky, mockery. That kinda stuff.
We are still a whisky club however. So first things first, we had to pull together a few interesting malts for the occasion. And, of course, put someone in front of the room to share a some insight on each of the drams we’d be trying. The initial idea was to get someone other than me (or a formal speaker) up in front of the group for a change. These poor sods have to listen to me preach at each of our gatherings, so it seemed an ideal time to see if we couldn’t drag a few members up and out of their comfort zones in order to enlighten the unwashed.
And surprisingly enough, there was no real arm twisting required to make it happen.
First up we had the dirty Irish contingent (name withheld pending results of fingerprinting and legal investigation into his rather sordid character) get up and share a few words on a rather special 1973 Tullibardine; a distillery he has visited in his never-ending quest to ensure that it is indeed true that the Scots do in fact make better whisky than the Irish. Was there ever a question? The speech…great. The whisky…almost as good. 😉
Next up, our resident caber-tossing Scottish expat Stuart shared all sorts of flowery tasting notes and sentimental poetic tripe about a lovely old Royal Lochnagar from Duncan Taylor. In his earlier days, before moving to Canuckville, Stu used to work at the distillery. While he confessed to some jitter before hand, the guy knocked it out of the park. An absolutely natural speaker, and one we’re still trying to coerce into presenting a full range of Lochnagar for the club at some point.
Our third malt, a 17 year old single cask from GlenDronach, was presented by our mate, Joe. Joe’s been involved in the whisky world for ages, and comfortably straddles both sides of the fence, as both an industry guy and just a goodhearted guy with a love of the good juice. If you get a chance to visit him at Liquor Depot in Mount Royal, you’ll find not only a great selection of malts on offer, but a good conversation as well.
Moving into dram number four, a sexy 30 year old Carn Mor independent Caol Ila, the club’s ginger buddha, Scott, took the reins and led us through a bit about both the whisky and the distillery. He was one of the handful of chaps who joined me on my last trip over to Islay in late 2012, where a visit to Caol Ila was part of the itinerary. Much like me, I think he has a bit of a soft spot for the distillery.
Our final malt of the night (well…final official malt of the night) was one near and dear to my own shriveled l’il black heart. Seeing as how we’d just dedicated an entire previous event to this particular distillery (and wouldn’t have a chance to taste it as a group anytime soon), and also because it was right in the midst of World Cup fever: Ardbeg Auriverdes.
This malt arrived on our shores a couple months too late to be included in our Ardbeg tasting with Ruaraidh, but it’s certainly a top notch dram. We figured ‘why the hell not?’ and yours truly ended up in front of the room after all. I’ve spent enough time at the distillery to be able to lead one of their tours myself by this point, so it was simply a no-brainer that it would be me to talk about this one.
We closed out the formalities with a bit of an open forum for members to share some opinions, did a quick round of thanks and such, then dove headlong into pints and additional drams for the remainder of the eve.
Not gonna lie…a couple of those aforementioned bottles got revisited before the night was out. And then were a couple drams of a damn decent 25 y.o. Brora to follow. For whatever reason, we simply couldn’t convince Deryck to crack that Lagavulin 37 y.o. and pour a round, but there’s still time to twist that rubber arm.
Thanks to good people at Moxie’s, especially Deryck and Jeannine. Your time and efforts were greatly appreciated. I’m already looking back at this event with fondness and rose-colored glasses. Hopefully we can do just as we hinted at, and work towards arranging something similar around the holiday season this year. More discussion to come…
For those of you in Calgary looking for a great night out with good food and some very special drams, Deryck is hosting high end whisky tastings in the lounge once a month, on the first Thursday, I believe. The venue is great, the cost is wicked low and the whiskies will be top shelf. Feel free to get in touch with Deryck at firstname.lastname@example.org if you’re interested in seeing what it’s all about.
– Words: Curt
– Photos: Curt