February 21, 2012

What women want... Scotch!

All Brick ever wanted was to watch the damn football game.
It's only been 2 months since we opened our little jackashack and we're overjoyed by the reception we've received so far. Everyone's been incredibly complimentary of our digs, our coffees and our whiskies. Thank you, thank you, thank you! It's still early on in the game for us and we're planning some big stuff come springtime so stay tuned for more. We're still learning to fly and figuring out what works and what doesn't.

Liars, the whole lot of 'em
The 'movement'
The biggest surprise by far for DVLB?… our whisky customers. It's made us very happy little deerbunnies to see so many women showing an interest in whisky. A sea change? If so, bring it. The girls are showing the boys how it's done. And it's not the groups of giddy girls out on a Friday all dolled up just looking for a one-night stand with the dram. No, our fine lady-patrons are regulars; and regulars with a discerning appetite otherwise known as malt madness. A power struggle? I doubt it. Women are smarter than that. Whisky is that beautiful elixir that takes a real dedication. Maybe women are just better at commitment. 

Some starter points for the lads and lassies

1. Try real hard (don't be a try-hard) not to make a funny face when you feel the 'burn'. Embrace it, make it your friend and sail away to that happy place with it. Also, it doesn't have to burn… just sip'er slow.
2. It's not jagermeister. Sip it. Slow. Relax. Put the iPhone down & contemplate the fact that it took 10+ yrs for this fine spirit to reach your lips and bestow upon you this new found joy.
3. Ask questions. The world of Whisky is vast, we'll hold your hand through this. Slow and steady
4. Water awakens whisky's flavours. Drinking it neat is not a prerequisite.

I'm sorry, we're all out of ice. You'll have to drink it neat like a man.
Women of Whisky
The whiskey dame
Marketing blog Extra

February 12, 2012

Please sir, can I have some more

Whisky n' Gruel. Yum.
We just picked up 2 new single malts this week and they've inspired us to write a bit about single malt / dessert pairings. Seeing as we've also brought in some amazing crème brûlées over the last few weeks and we're working feverishly on our first whisky tasting which may or may not include a chocolate/truffle pairing, I figured this sort of combination deserved some coverage. (BTW the pecan tarts we carry are made with bourbon... but that's our little secret ok!)

This bars' not big enough for the both of us
Auchentoshan Three Wood
This is the second review we've done for the Auchentoshan distillery... 'FOUR!' he yelled across the dew drenched fields of Dalmuir. One has to wonder if the name is an inside reference for golf enthusiasts... (The 'three wood' being that trusty ol' club in your bag – your 'go-to' as you roll up and down the lowland links.)

If you've had the Auchentoshan 12 yr old you know it's light and crisp with slight grassy notes. The Three Wood is nothing like the 12 yr old. It'll drive 300 yards easy without breaking a sweat. And that's just the nose. Although not labeled with an age, this single malt is a 12 year old, matured for 10 in bourbon casks then finished for one year in Oloroso Sherry casks and then another year in Pedro Ximenez Sherry casks. The colour is deep, the nose has a staying power, and the palate... well the palate is oh so sweet. Not what you would expect from a lowland right? There's a definite cherry note, maybe cooked cherries? This is a whisky I'd pair with a cream filled chocolate over a dark bittersweet. Overall, it's always nice to see a range from the same distillery. It really showcases what great maltmasters can do in the wonderful world of whisky!

Highland Park 18 yr old
When you're a poor dram-addict like me but decide to drop this kind of cash on a scotch, you have to almost forget about the price tag if you want to get any enjoyment from it at all. If you put the cost on the front burner, then that's all you'll think about when you sip n' slip away to the land of whisky-valhalla. The 12 year old Highland Park is extraordinary for the price and is always onsite at DVLB. It's the first single malt I experienced that gave me that "aha moment". The 12's older brother is like most older brothers; a little wiser, a little stronger, and not so desperate to prove himself to anyone anymore. Refined, yes. Not as peaty as the 12, much richer in tone and a longer finish. Cheers to older brothers.

Sexy beast!... I mean god.
As an aside, there are some interesting and creative things Highland Park is doing these days. They've recently launched a special Valhalla Collection with the first release being called "Thor". A 16 year old cask strength. One must wonder if it tastes as good as it looks, because damn, that packaging is sexy.

Honourable mention for crème brûlée pairing: Dalmore 12 yr old, Balvenie Caribbean Cask, Aberlour 18 yr old.

February 6, 2012

BufCafé Red Bourbon

This week we've brought in a sweet and rounded little number: Bufcafé Red Bourbon from the Bufundu region, Nyamagabe in Rwanda.

Well-rounded, Candied Orange, Plum, Vanilla

Red Bourbon

Washed and Dried on raised African beds

1600-1900 M

2000 Small shareholders

A little more info from our roaster Detour Coffee:
This 100% red bourbon coffee is grown at altitudes of up to 1900 metres in the south of Rwanda. BufCafé is owned and managed by Epiphanie Mukashyaka, a dynamic businesswoman and a source of inspiration to countless other female entrepreneurs in Rwanda’s coffee sector and beyond.

Epiphanie was widowed during the 1994 genocide - which claimed over 800,000 lives in just 3 months - but chose not to leave her family’s small coffee farm. Instead she set about rebuilding and developing her business, and with it the local community. She started Buf Café in 2003, with a loan from the Rwandan Development Bank and the assistance of the USAID-financed PEARL project.

This transformational programme was aimed at switching the focus in the Rwandan coffee sector from an historic emphasis on quantity to one of quality - and so opening up Rwanda to the far higher-earning specialty coffee market. The programme and its successor, SPREAD, have been invaluable in helping Rwanda’s small-scale coffee farmers to rebuild their production in the wake of the devastating 1994 genocide and the 1990s world coffee crash.

Buf Café now owns two coffee washing stations, as well as its own coffee trees, and buys coffee cherries from as many as 7000 surrounding smallholder farmers. Some of these farmers are also employed to work at Buf‘s washing stations, where they are paid a premium above the average local wage. The idea is that well paid workers are more likely to care about their jobs and so take pride in the quality of Buf’s coffee. And this appears to work - quality control at Buf is impressively high and it has had several winning lots in the Cup of Excellence.

The coffee is hand-picked and hand-sorted, then fully-washed and dried in the sun on traditional raised African beds.

The majority of the small farmers in the area have an average of only 300 coffee trees and use some of their land to cultivate other crops for subsistence. Most of their income from the sale of coffee is used to take their children to school, pay for medical care and for investment in livestock such as a cow for milk for use in the home and for sale locally.

February 1, 2012

Grean Meanie

Not all LCBOs are created equal
Most times when I walk past the institutionalized, neutral-toned, and calming facade of the LCBO I feel a slight chill as our bureaucratically-laced overlords dictate what we can and can't drink. They've done a bang up job of keeping us in the dark ages with clean lighting, wood-warmed vintage sections and staff donning ties. If you've ever shopped for wine or whisky south of the border or in Europe in one of their super-boozemarts, you know this pain I speak of.

But it ain't all bad. If you do your homework and scour the city you can find some great selections. My favourite LCBO in K-W for whisky is at Ottawa & Home Watson (721 Ottawa Street South) in the Alpine Centre. I've spoken with the manager Greg there, and he has a good understanding of whisky and seems to be proactive in his stock selections. Greg also recommends a drive to another great LCBO in Guelph that has an impressive selection located on Stone Rd West across from the Stone Rd. Mall (615 Scottsdale Drive).

Well anyway, as I was restocking some of our more popular whiskies like Jura Superstition, I happened across a little green gem from the Isle of Mull: Tobermory 10 yr old. For some reason the island whiskies seem to have grabbed the hearts of K-dub so I said 'what the hell, let's give Toby a shot in the big leagues.'

Sitting off the west coast of Scotland, north of Jura, sits Scotland's fourth largest Island. Tobermory (formerly Ledaig) is a neat 'little' guy. Bottled in a 700ml format like our Bruichladdich Organic, this Island single malt hits on the central sweet spot on our flavour map. The Tobermory single malt is distilled from unpeated malted barley and matured in oak casks for ten years. A peated whisky is also made in Tobermory, named Ledaig for the original distillery name.

Don't be afraid to add a little water to this one. It'll cloud over due to it's un-chill filtered production but will soften the spicy notes. The nose is soft and will mislead as to it's true nature. I get a kick out of a scotch that plays tricks on you. There are only a few of these sneaky devils out there. You'll find this 'green meanie' just south of the smoky meridian and heavier on the rich notes than on the light notes.

Overall, another happy addition to the DVLB line-up kids!