Today I received an early gift. A sample bottle of John Hall’s Private Cask No. 1. And it was fabulous! But first, a little back story.
My first whisky love was Islay scotch. I had tasted a few Canadian whiskies at my first whisky festival, but aside from Lot 40 none really stuck out in my mind. My only other knowledge of Canadian whisky was the “cheap stuff” and I never cared for it. Then came along Forty Creek. It was just one of those random “what the hell” purchases, but it became so much more, It was love. In my opinion, it’s the best Canadian whisky you can buy having excellent, complex flavours. Each year, John Hall has a special limited release in September at the distillery in Grimsby, Ontario and if you get a chance to go it’s a fun weekend. My favourite part is being able to visit the barrel room, it smells so good in there and it’s the only time visitors are allowed! I’ve bought the past three releases, Evolution (2014), Heart of Gold (2013) and Port Wood Reserve (2012) but one bottle has always eluded me, John Hall’s Private Cask No. 1 (2011). With only 9000 bottles released it’s no longer possible to purchase. It was my unicorn of whiskies, until now!
My partner went for a visit back home to the east coast and, as tends to happen when you go home, you run into everyone you ever knew. One such meeting was with Whisky Lassie, Johanne, and she gave him all these wonderful Sample Sips whiskies I’ve been writing about. Being the sneaky Lassie that she is though, there was one sample that was kept as a surprise until now! That’s the great thing about the being a part of a community, whether it’s whisky, comics, whatever! People are willing to share, help you out, and give you a high five when you finally finally get together that Twin Peaks Log Lady costume for the upcoming comic expo. That’s the spirit of the holidays right there!
My first whiff of this amber coloured precious dram is of caramel apple. Then the spices start sounding off, clove, ginger and anise with dried cranberries or black cherry. There’s an underlying vanilla aroma to it all. Later on I also picked up a smell of maple. To taste, there’s a strong cinnamon and peppery spiciness with dried oranges. The taste sort of reminds me of those ornaments you make with oranges at Christmas time, where you push cloves into the orange to make different patterns. It also reminds me of chewing spruce gum in the woods and of cedar. At one point I was also picking up an espresso or raw chocolate taste. This is certainly a complex dram and the flavours I pick up are ever evolving.
From the duo at Whisky & Comics to all you wonderful readers, have a merry whatever the heck you celebrate this time of year! May your glass never spill upon your favourite book!