Book Review: Canadian Whisky: The New Portable Expert


Until fairly recently, I didn’t know much about Canadian whisky.  Anything beyond Crown Royal or Canadian Club was pretty much foreign to me. But thankfully Davin de Kergommeaux is here to help.

In the second edition of his popular book, Canadian Whisky: The New Portable Expert, de Kergommeaux caters to a wide audience, ranging from whisky novices to whisky nerds. Many whisky books feature a section explaining grains, fermentation, distillation, and aging. De Kergommeaux’s writing style provides a very detailed, but not intimidating, look at the whisky-making process. Those just getting into whisky will appreciate the ease with which de Kergommeaux writes.

History buffs will relish the book’s journey into Canadian whisky’s past. Starting with Canada’s first distilleries, de Kergommeaux follows how the spirit evolved to what it is now, highlighting key figures along the way. Readers also get treated to in-depth and intimate profiles of Canada’s eight major distilleries as well as new upstarts.

In addition, Canadian Whisky: The New Portable Expert features tasting notes for more than 100 Canadian whiskies. It’s welcome addition to those looking to expand their Canadian whisky experience, as the majority of the whiskies featured will likely be unknown to American drinkers.

Word’s out: the world is embracing Canadian whisky. That is thanks in part to people like de Kergommeaux, who travels the world to spread Canadian whisky love. De Kergommeaux’s immense passion for his country’s whisky is only matched by his vast knowledge on the subject. It is evident on every page of this must read book. Canadian Whisky: The New Portable Expert is THE authoritative guide to understanding and enjoying Canadian whisky. Highly recommended!

Canadian Whisky: The New Portable Expert is available now.

Thanks to Appetite by Random House for the review copy. As always, all thought and opinions are my own.


Review: Copper Dog Blended Malt Whisky


First thing’s first:  what’s a copper dog?  Back in the day, distillery workers needed a way to sneak some whisky.  One of the more popular methods was taking a piece of copper tubing and soldering a penny on one end.  When no one was around, they’d pop the bung on a cask and dip the “copper dog” into it.  Once filled with whisky, the copper dog was sealed with a cork, dropped down the worker’s pants.  Hey, people will always find a way to have their dram of whisky.  Ingenious!

Onto the whisky.  In 2014, Piers Adams purchased the Craigellachie Hotel in the Speyside region of Scotland.  As you’re aware, Speyside features the highest concentration of distillieries in that country.  Adams named the hotel pub “Copper Dog” and sought out the creation of a whisky.

Adams teamed up Stuart Morrison, master blender of Copper Dog, to come up with a new whisky blend.  The resultant blended malt features whiskies from at least eight Speyside distilleries of various ages and cask types.  It’s bottled at 40% ABV and priced at about $32.99.  And I’ve got to say, it’s quite good.


Copper Dog’s nose features hints of spiced pears and crisp apples, alongside toffee and vanilla and some baking spice.   The palate features similar notes – orchard fruits, spice, and vanilla.  There’s also an element of dried fruit, which indicates some sherry casks.  It’s low proof still yields a slightly creamy whisky.  The finish has hints of dried fruit, spice, and just a touch of oak.

It’s Speyside in a glass, and damn easy to drink.  I found it flavorful enough to drink on its own, though the marketing and price seem to skew towards using Copper Dog in cocktails.  The Old Fashioned I made with it was nice enough, but I’ve quite enjoyed it neat ever other time.  Having spent a bit of time with Copper Dog, it has kind of become one of my ‘house whiskies’.  Now, if Copper Dog would only make it to Louisiana…    8.5/10

Thanks to Copper Dog for the sample.  As always, all thoughts and opinions are my own.


Review: Glenmorangie Spios Single Malt Whisky

Glenmorangie Private Edition 9 Spios_Bottle and Pack on transparent background copy

Photo courtesy of Glenmorangie

Glenmorangie’s base whisky, aged in ex-bourbon barrels, is known for its light floral and honey notes.  From this base, the distillery’s core lineup utilizes different cask types for secondary maturation: port, sherry, and Sauternes.

For their Private Edition series, experimentation is the name of the game.  Glenmorangie’s played around with additional cask types for secondary maturation.  They’ve even changed the type of barley used in their whisky for one bottling.

Glenmorangie Spios (Gaeilic for spice), ninth in the Private Edition series, sees the first use of rye whiskey casks for full maturation of a single malt.  Recently there was a Johnnie Walker blend that was finished in rye casks, but to my recollection Glenmorangie Spios is the first Scotch single malt whisky to fully mature in American ex-rye casks.

The nose is wonderfully balanced. Hints of vanilla and rye spice are at the forefront, followed closely by cardamom, toffee and light floral notes. The palate, like the nose, carries the Glenmorangie Original flavor profile with a spice kick. Light toffee and creamy vanilla start things off. The rye cask influence soon develops, adding rye spice and a sprinkling of herbs, including dill – a note frequently found in rye whiskey. There is a slightly buttery quality here as well. The medium length finish keeps those sweet and spicy notes going, turning slightly dry after a few moments.

Glenmorangie whisky maker Dr. Bill Lumsden’s fascination with wood pays off yet again. Spios keeps the light character Glenmorangie is known for, while adding that bit of spice and herbs. The rye casks don’t overpower in any way. Rather, they complement the delicate distillate and in turn provide a whisky any Glenmorangie fan is sure to enjoy. 8.5/10

Thanks to Glenmorangie for the sample. As always, all thoughts and opinions are my own.