Pages Menu
Categories Menu





Posted by on Jun 16, 2016 in happy hour, Highlighted Features | Comments Off on LONG LIVE THE KING!


It is the epitome of sophistication and class; feelings of regality and privilege. This is how I feel when I'm engrossed in the majesty that is Bordeaux.  For me there is nothing better than "experiencing" a fine bottle of Bordeaux and that what it is, an experience. It'll change your life, trust me! Bordeaux is a wine making area steeped in history and tradition, synonymous with elegance, prestige and sophistication. 

For me, this is Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot at its absolute best!

The grapes permitted for use in Bordeaux reds are Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Petit Verdot, Malbec and Carmenere. Today Carmenere is rarely used and, in general, the first three make up the major part of the blend.

The vine was introduced to the Bordeaux region by the Romans, probably in the mid-1st century and wine production has been continuous in the region since.

I'd say the Bordelais know a thing or two about making wine!


In 1855 Emperor Napoleon III requested a classification system for France's best Bordeaux wines which were to be on display for visitors from around the world during the 1855 Exposition Universelle de Paris. Brokers from the wine industry ranked the wines according to a chateau's reputation and trading price, which at that time was directly related to quality. With a few exceptions, the classification remains unchanged today.

The wines were ranked in importance from first to fifth growths (crus). All of the red wines that made it on the list came from the Médoc region except for one: Château Haut-Brion from Graves.

The five first growths are arguably the most recognizable wines in the world and with good reason: Chateau Lafite Rothschild, Chateau Latour, Chateau Margaux, Chateau Haut-Brion and Chateau Mouton Rothschild. These usually fetch some of the highest prices when they are released.

I've had the privilege of tasting all the first growths and some from the best vintages on record. Recently I got to taste three 100 point wines along side one another. Margaux, Haut-Brion and Mouton Rothschild from the 1982 Vintage. 

1982 is considered one of the best vintages in modern history, and it resulted in a night I'll never forget. As a wine geek, it really doesn't get any better than that. All were majestic in their own way and it was difficult to pick a winner but I'd have to give it to Margaux. It's surreal sometimes evaluating the quality of wine especially when those three bottles are priced at $4000 each! At that level of quality you're not just drinking an amazing bottle of wine, you are actually drinking a part of history!

If you haven't already, I implore you to discover Bordeaux for yourself. You won't regret it. 

Now where to begin? If you prefer a bigger, bolder Cabernet-dominant style then explore the Médoc and Graves. Referred to as the left bank, wines from this region are big and powerful and have an amazing tannic structure. Look for flavors of cassis, blackberry, dark cherries, licorice, pencil lead and even oolong tea.

Within the Medoc there are sub-regions, each offering a unique and recognizable expression of this beguiling red nectar. 

Pauillac for its richness, power and masculinity.

The enchantress that is Margaux. Feminine, elegant, graceful and poised.

Saint-Julien for a more rustic, funky, earthy quality.

Saint-Estephe known for its' fine acidity, structure and ripe fruit flavor.

Pessac-Leognan, unlike most Bordeaux Appelations, equally famous for reds and whites. The reds are earthy, mineral, smokey and ripe.

There are more regions; however, the best of the best can be found in these five!

Now if you prefer something a little softer, rich and velvety then you might want to check out the right bank. Generally Merlot dominates the blend here.

The wines from the right bank are generally more rich, softer on the palate and are a touch more fruit-forward. Lots or cassis, blackberries, chocolate, mocha and cedar.

Within in the right bank my two favorite areas are Saint-Emilion and Pomerol.

Saint-Emilion, wonderfully balanced, loads of minerality, sweet fruit and a lovely richness to the palate.

Pomerol, velvety and unctuous. Beautiful sweet plums, chocolate and peppermint are amoung the myriad of flavors that leap out of the glass. You'll also find truffles, roasted nuts and raisins.


One thing to be aware of when buying Bordeaux is to know your vintages. I don't want your first or next experience to be tainted by a poor vintage.

I'll go back as far as 1990, so…

Buy: 1990, 1995, 1996, 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2003, 2005, 2009, 2010

Avoid: 1991,1992,1993, 1994, 2002, 2004, 2007, 2008.


The whole Bordeaux area is just mesmerizing. To forget the world and lose yourself in a fine bottle of Bordeaux is journey you'll never forget, like a dream you never want to wake from. 

Happy holidays.







Posted by on Apr 21, 2015 in happy hour, Highlighted Features, Liquids & Solids | Comments Off on COME QUICKLY! I’M TASTING STARS!


“I drink Champagne when I win, to celebrate, and I drink Champagne when I lose, to console myself.” – Napoleon Bonaparte

“Remember, gentlemen, it’s not just France we’re fighting for, it’s Champagne!” – Winston Churchill


            Hello again! Spring is in the air, and it feels like fall just began considering its been so dry here all “winter” in Vancouver. It’s Saturday afternoon as I write this from my sun-drenched patio…it feels like summer! A little refreshment might be in order…

            To me, nothing combines thirst-quenching and celebration like some nice sparkling beverages. Effervescence brings something elegant and convivial to any occasion, and it need not be saved for that “perfect night” out. PrevailPrevail is a guide to the good times….and good times should be had all the time. Thats worth celebrating, be it Friday night’s dinner out, Tuesday lunch, or, ya  know…for breakfast.
            And while picking up a nice bottle of bubbly is always encouraged, sparkling cocktails are a simple, graceful and fun way to change it up, even with the most bare-bones bars. They can be very crowd-pleasing, which is great if you’re entertaining and want something easy to prepare that will also impress. Start with a French 75, a classic combination of gin, lemon, sugar syrup, and champagne. Citrusy and balanced, with a stronger-than-expected kick, this drink will please just about any guest.

         SteelbachstBut do you have your bourbon-loving friend over who – despite it being 28 degrees and humid out – insists on an Old Fashioned? Offer a Seelbach, a bittersweet symphony of bourbon, cointreau, sparkling wine, and seven dashes each of angostura and peychaud’s bitters. This simple, built cocktail is a new favourite of mine; alluringly translucent red in colour, bitterly spiced with a smooth finish, it is a wonderful balance of beauty and brawn. Not for the faint of heart, and you don't even need to watch Mad Men to try it.
            Not quite a fan of the bittersweet but want to work your way there? Try a Negroni Sbagliatio. A lesser-known spin on the classic Negroni (gin, campari, sweet vermouth), the Sbagliato swaps in sparkling wine for the gin. It is a beautiful combination that, while being full of character and body, still sips nicely on a patio during the spring. This drink was originally made by mistake….with a busy bartender accidentally serving a Negroni with sparkling wine instead of gin and not realizing until the customer had approved the taste. Sbagliato, Italian for “mistake”, was the natural choice for the name.
            The best part of sparkling cocktails is just how flexible they are. Whatever you have on hand can, alongside some bubbly, be made into a fantastic libation. Stocked at home for mojitos? Time to try an Old Cuban, with dark rum, mint, lime, sugar, shaken and topped with sparkling wine. You wont go back after trying this. Have flavoured vodka at home? Shake some up with some citrus and sweetener, top it up, and voila. The possibilities truly are endless.
            Play around; it’s all fun and games, and rules are meant to be broken. You might even find yourself exclaiming with the same enthusiasm as Dom Pierre Perignon who, when tasting his newly created Champagne, announced to his fellow Benedictine monks to “come quickly! I’m tasting stars!”


Posted by on Jan 26, 2015 in happy hour, Highlighted Features | Comments Off on THE WONDERS OF NEBBIOLO

One of my all time favorite grape varieties would have to be Nebbiolo. This small, fickle red grape is predominantly grown in the Piemonte region in Northwest Italy and is thought to have derived its name from the Italian word nebbia meaning "fog." During harvest, which generally takes place late in October, a deep, intense fog sets into the Langhe region where many Nebbiolo vineyards are located.

The grape really doesn't like to be taken out of its homeland. Even in its region of origin, Nebbiolo is exceptionally finicky about where it will happily grow and ripen.

Compared to the annual growth cycle of other Piedmontese grape varieties, Nebbiolo is one of the first varieties to bud and last variety to ripen, leaving a very big window of opportunity for mother nature to ruin everything – high winds, wet weather, hail and frosts plus this precious little grape needs a lot sunshine to fully ripen.

If everything goes your way, however, you'll be rewarded with one of the most tantalizing wines in the world. Elegant, sophisticated, complex and at its best will rival the very best from Burgundy. 


I find that there are so many similarities between Nebbiolo and Pinot Noir. If Pinot Noir is the most alluring grape in the world, then Nebbiolo is a very close second. Personally, I'd take Barolo over Burgundy any day of the week!

Just like Pinot Noir, Nebbiolo is genetically unstable so there are many sub-varieties and clones. They both produce lightly coloured wines which are intensely aromatic. Both are high in acidity but the wine-making techniques make Nebbiolo a more full-bodied, tannic wine.

What makes Nebbiolo so enticing is its perfume. I don't think I've ever found more flavours, aromas and scents in any other wine. Violets, tar, roses, wild herbs, cherries, raspberries, truffles, tobacco, prunes, autumn undergrowth, woodsmoke, dried fruits, baking spice, damson, mushrooms, earth, oak. These are wines that you don't really even need to drink. You could happily nose it all night long.

The two most famous areas in Piedmont are Barolo and Barbaresco and they produce the best wines in the area. 

Barbaresco is considered the lighter and more feminine of the two and although they share a lot similarities, there are also some distinct differences.

Despite being made from the same grape and the villages being only 10 miles from each other, the difference in climate allows the grapes to ripen earlier in Babaresco and fermentation and maceration times are shorter, meaning the young tannins in Barbaresco are less harsh than Barolo. The laws governing aging are therefore shorter in Barbaresco too. Wines must be aged 2 years before they can be released form the cellars and 4 years for riserva wines. 

Barolo must be aged 3 years and 5 years for riserva wines.

The most pronounced difference between the two wines is that the tannins of Barbaresco tend to soften quicker, which can make the wines more approachable to drink at an earlier age but won't allow it to age for as long as a traditionally made Barolo could and the longevity of these wines are remarkable! At least 15-20 for Barbaresco and 30 plus years for Barolo. To drink one of these great wines at its peak of maturity is mind-blowing! 

For me, I prefer the more masculine, tannic style of Barolo over the more feminine Barbaresco, but I am more than happy with both.

Now these don't come cheap! For a good bottle of either you'll need to be paying at least $80 and if you like, upwards of $300, depending on vintage and producer.

My Favourite is Aldo Conterno. His wines are always top notch and his IL FAVOT NEBBIOLO is stunning and better than some people's Barolo!


Another one to look out for is Vietti. Very well priced and a fantastic introduction to Nebbiolo – look out for his Nebbiolo Perbacco

Angelo Gaja is the king of Barbaresco and his wines are some of the best I've ever tasted – big price tag too but worth it every penny.

As with any quality wine, vintage plays a big part. Thankfully there has been a run of great vintages in Piedmont so you can't go too far wrong. 1995 until now has been pretty spot on. The only two I would avoid are 2002 and 2003.

Now when pairing these wines, a big, powerful Barolo needs to be matched with foods of similar weight. In Piedmont, the wines are often paired with meat dishes, heavy pastas and rich risottos; the tannins bind to the food proteins and come across softer.



Posted by on Oct 26, 2014 in happy hour | Comments Off on POUR ME A COCKTAIL is proud to introduce another contributor to its family: Brendan Wooldridge.  Brendan is the head bartender at the Refinery, and has gained a well-earned repuation as one of Vancouver's finest and most creative young bartenders. With wit and flair, Brendan will be writing about all things booze. Welcome, Brendan.

Written by Brendan Wooldridge

Oh hello there, rain. Nice to see you again. Lovely time for a boulevardier, don’t you think?

            And hello fall! Welcome back to my favourite season. The rain is fresh, the air is crisp, and it's time to eat stew again. Comfort food reigns supreme, and it's the season of dinner parties, board games, wine, and……cocktails.

            I, and I think most bartenders, love this time of year for cocktails. We put away the citrus and mint, and out comes the Amari. We are inspired to craft spirit-forward libations that shine in their elegance while generally being very simple to make. Drinks with history and character are featured, while providing great landscapes in which to customize, experiment, and cater to individual tastes.

            Amaro is the Italian word for bitters, and they are wine or spirit-based herbal infusions, commonly enjoyed as a digestif. There is a wide range of them, from the bright cherry/grapefruit flavours of Campari to the deep herbaceous richness of Fernet Branca. Once you play around with the differences in these Amaro’s, the possibilities truly are endless. Create a Boulevardier, for example, using a combination of Campari, Aperol, and Fernet Branca as its bitter/amaro component, and you bring several more aromatic elements into play while honouring the preparation and feeling of the original.

           Two classics, the Negroni and Boulevardier, are favourites of bartenders. Both are as simple as using three ingredients – Campari, sweet vermouth, and Gin or bourbon respectively. But both also offer a world of experimentation. Both cocktails are comprised of 3 elements; Fortified wine, amaro, and spirit. Playing with the proportions and specific components opens up so many possibilities. 

           My favourite recent variation on the Negroni, for example, has been the “Negronino Bianco." This arose because I wanted a spirit-forward cocktail that could be paired with seafood. Using a London dry gin, Amaro Nonino – a very light amaro with beautiful citrus and spice notes -, and Lillet – a French aperitif wine that also has a beautiful citrus flavour and sweetness – created a bittersweet cocktail that is both light and full of character.
            Playing around with the bitter components of other classics is always fun. The Old Fashioned, Sazerac, Vieux Carre, Toronto, Manhattan, all spirit forward cocktails with big character that can be great frameworks in which to customize and move towards something unique.

download (4)
            The Sazerac was my initial inspiration for the Longhouse. I wanted to create a cocktail that had that spicy profile mellowed out by the absinthe and bright cherry and pie spice flavours of the Peychaud’s. Instead of Rye whiskey I chose a rye-forward bourbon, such as Bulleit or Four Roses Single Barrel. This offers the rich oak and caramel flavours of Bourbon while presenting that ‘spice’ intrinsic to the Sazerac. Peychauds bitters brings the aforementioned bright “red” flavours, while Fernet Branca brings deep herbal flavours to the mix. A touch of cane sugar syrup helps to add some sweetness.
           The fun part is what's next. I intended to “soften” the anise flavours of a Sazerac, so after rinsing the glass with Absinthe (or other anisette), I smoked the coupe glass with Cedar. This not only fills the room with the amazing comforting aroma of wood burning, but coats the glass, bringing a strong aromatic presence to the cocktail while mellowing out the anise flavours of the absinthe.

            Let’s be totally honest… I just wanted to burn stuff behind the bar

           Squeeze a nice thick lemon peel over the top and you have a wonderful balance of caramel richness, spice, herbal depth and smokey aromatics, the latter of which reveals more of its character as you sip.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    The Longhouse
                                                2oz High-rye bourbon (ie: Four Roses Single Barrel, Bulleit)

                                                2 Dashes of Peychaud’s bitters

                                                1 good dash of Fernet Branca

                                                Cane sugar syrup to taste

                                                Absinthe rinse

                                                Cedar smoked Coupe glass

                                                Lemon peel to garnish                       


  With the cold weather returning, everyone should be getting out and trying some Amaro. Not only is there so much variety, they are also intended to have medicinal properties, so you can feel good about drinking some! And while it may take time for people to become accustomed to the bitter nature of these liqueurs, there are some fantastic bars in Vancouver that I highly recommend for introducing you to them. One of my favourites is Pourhouse in Gastown. Rett and his team have an amazing backbar and – more importantly – the knowledge and passion to knock it out of the park. If you want to have an amazing experience (and burger!) and learn about anything spirit related…go there!

Happy Amaro-filled Autumn to everyone!


Posted by on Jun 1, 2014 in happy hour | Comments Off on SO AN IRISH GUY WALKS INTO THE CRUSH PAD………


Written by Brett Kawagachi

So……. it seems that I hear every week, that some new person has a new wine from a new winery that “I have to taste!!!” These people are usually from unrelated backgrounds than wine business, nor do they have any food or restaurant backgrounds. Getting into the wine business is not a cheap endeavor. The land, expensive. The vines, expensive. The equipment, the barrels, the bottles, the corks/capsules. All expensive, expensive expensive!!!! Ok made my point.

I was asked to meet with one such individual about a year ago. “Arghhhhh” I thought to myself, but the contact was through one of my bosses so I quickly put myself in touch with the gentleman, like last week fast. His name was Skip and he had bought a property called “Coolshanagh”. I knew in the back of my mind that I was familiar with that property and with some quick research found that one of the top Chardonnays that I had had from the Okanagan over the years was produced from that property. A quick call back to Skip and we were to meet in Naramata to see, feel and taste his wares.

Most of the time it turns out that some of the products are maybe OK at best and more than likely not good at all. But then you have one of those moments when that idea gets shattered in your own mind and somebody who has no background, no experience and no real business getting into the wine world knocks it out of the park! This is one of those stories.

“Coolshanagh” or “a meeting place for friends” is a property at the end of the Naramata bench. High on a bluff with loads of calcium carbonate laden rocks, western exposed, a small 2 and a bit acre property of Chardonnay. The fruit was sold to another winery by the previous owners, but my new friend Skip decided that he was going to give it a go himself. Wow what a great roll of the dice.

Skip had memories of his father drinking white Burgundies so in his mind’s eye, he knew what he wanted to produce. After discussions with Michael Bartier at the Okanagan Crush Pad they partnered up. The use of the Crush Pads cement eggs for aging, Skip has achieved what many others either strive for.

The 2012 and very first vintage was tasted both from tank and from bottle over the last 8 months. Out of the tank the fantastic mineralistic characters of the property were shining. And with a slightly tropical note to the fruit, balanced acidity and slight notes of new French oak I was excited to find out where this would go.

The 2012 Coolshanagh Chardonnay is a perfect mix of pure fruit flavours of citrus, green apple with slight oak notes that creep in that the end of your sip. The balanced acidity and good wet stone mineralality make this Chardonnay a real head turner. Search this out. This is a special bottle of Okanagan wine and can be found at select restaurants and some very lucky private stores. You can also search the web site to join the mailing list for this little BC gem! Everybody should be so lucky to have a property that produce such quality fruit.


Posted by on Apr 13, 2014 in happy hour | Comments Off on BLACK KETTLE BREWING



Written by Joe Leary

With British Columbia’s craft beer industry soaring into high gear, our province’s first new brewery of 2014 opened in mid-January in an industrial area of North Vancouver. And with the artisan beer market having doubled in the last four years, Black Kettle Brewing decided to join in on the gold rush.

“The idea for our brewery was inspired by an event called ‘Beer Wars’ put on by CAMRA five or six years ago,” says owner Bryan Lockhart, who opened the brewery and tasting room along with brewmaster Phil Vandenborre. “From that, I was interested in getting into beer but knew nothing about it. I spent six months doing research to see if it was a viable interest and then started pulling the trigger.”

The two work hand in hand and when it comes to the actual product offered, Lockhart admits to having input but defers to the beer maker on the actual components and flavor profile of the brew.

“I have input in the style but trust in the brewing with Phil,” he says. “Phil is a chef by trade to begin with and has a palate which I have never had.”

And with so many ‘players’ already on the scene and only more to come, how does a brand new brewery gain attention?

“Mostly with word of mouth,” says Lockhart. “With us being new we didn’t want to go through a big huge launch and have a ton of people run through your door in the beginning and fall flat on your face. Rather, have the people that do come in and look after them properly and spread the good word.”

Boasting a portfolio that contains a Pale Ale, Wheat Ale and an IPA, Black Kettle will maintain what they consider the three staples.

“For our growler fills, bottle fills and keg fills, those will be the three that we’ll stick to. We do plan on firing up our small batch system again to always have three different beers in house as well. But they’ll only be available by glass in our tasting room.”

They’re easy to drink, they’re good and they’re not too over the top.

“Our Pale Ale is very simple to drink and our IPA doesn’t blow the back of your head off. Just about anyone can drink any one of those beers. We’ve got a broad audience.”



Unit 106 – 720 Copping Street

North Vancouver, BC




Posted by on Mar 30, 2014 in happy hour | 1 comment

Absolut Ambassador and World Champion barkeep, Jacob Sweetapple, designed this original cocktail for!



Posted by on Mar 16, 2014 in happy hour | Comments Off on THE HARRY ROSEN – AN ORIGINAL COCKTAIL













Photo by: Marc Andrew.  (INSET )




While not many vodka cocktails appear in the ‘classic’ era, we do see that even then, bartenders knew how to wield the spirit with great cocktails like The Clubland, featured in the Café Royal Cocktail Book circa 1937, and The Gypsy, popularized in the mid 1930’s and later re-emerging in the 1957 edition of Esquire Drink Book.  So when I set out searching for inspiration for this month’s PrevailPrevail Original Cocktail, I knew I wanted to use ABSOLUT ELYX.  This is a hand-crafted, single-estate grown, winter wheat vodka from Sweden, and it has definitely redefined the way people appreciate the spirit.  For those thinking “all vodka tastes the same,” think again! Production of any spirit plays a key part in the end product and adding a little old school, hands on approach to the game elevates quality to another level.

For inspiration, I researched the cultural history of Canadian fashion.  As we have been seeing more and more timeless styles reemerge, I kept stumbling across the same chap at every turn.

Harry Rosen has undoubtedly become a touchstone in the field of good taste, and that is exactly what ABSOLUT set out to do with the addition of ELYX.  So it made perfect sense to me: to highlight Mr. Rosen, an influential Canadian man of style, tantamount to the most iconic vodka brand in history.  As the expertly skilled team at Harry Rosen has assisted and guided its clientele to represent themselves with style, I’ve done much the same to celebrate the quality of ELYX, adding complementary elements to showcase why bartenders from New York to Sydney to London, and across the globe, are gravitating to this new benchmark for quality.



1 ½ oz ELYX

1 ½ oz Lillet Rose

½ oz Domaine De Canton Ginger Liquor

½ oz Lustau Sherry

Dash – Spanish Bitter

Dash – Peychauds Bitters


Combine ingredients into a mixing glass, add ice to chill, stir for 10-15 seconds to encourage slight dilution, strain into sherry style glasses. And enjoy.




Posted by on Dec 10, 2013 in Contributors, happy hour, Highlighted Features, Liquids & Solids | Comments Off on KEEP ON TRUCKIN’

bubble infinity
bitzi ☂ ion-bogdan dumitrescu / / CC BY-NC


Written by: Joe Leary.

We’ve seen unsurpassed growth in the Craft Beer industry in British Columbia and one of the surest signs can be witnessed with Red Truck.

Formed in 2005 and offering draft, the burgeoning brewer with the distinctive flavor is now on the verge of expansion few could have expected some less than a decade ago.

The company started with draught beer only and still is a draught beer only company until our new brewery is completed in the spring of 2014,” says Red Truck Beer Company General Manager Jim Dodds.
“The mandate all along was to find a good location for the brewery and to continue to grow the current brands – Red Truck Lager, Red Truck Ale and a selection of seasonal beers known as “Limited” brands throughout the year.
The mandate was to grow these brands and eventually we would build a new brewery, eventually add bottling and canning lines.”

And grow they will. Red Truck has a new location for their signature brewery at 295 E1st Avenue in Vancouver, in the heart of Mount Pleasant in an area known as “Brewery Creek”.
“We’re moving from our current location in North Vancouver into a new building built specifically for the brewery with the ability to expand and will be able to add more tanks for future volume,” he adds.
“With the Craft Beer industry taking off in the Vancouver market along with other parts of BC, now is the best time to expand.
Along with a significant investment come jobs to the local area as well.  Apart from all the construction, Red Truck Beer Company will employ up to 24 employees within our first year.

But there’s more. The new location will also feature the “Red Truck Stop Diner” which will be open for Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner and provide craft beer enthusiasts an opportunity to tour the brewery and sample our current, seasonal and new craft beers.

“The Red Truck Brewery will also feature a retail store where purchases can be made on Growlers, Keg and Package sales for private functions or parties,” says Dodds, “and of course all of the favourite Red Truck Beer merchandise. These two investments will also create fifteen jobs to the local economy.”

The future is bright indeed for the entire beer industry and consumers throughout British Columbia and beyond are the real benefactors.

“Today’s beer market is changing rapidly with more consumers drinking flavourful craft beers,” Dodds adds.
“The consumer is willing to try the seasonal beers produced by the ever-increasing local craft beer companies. This bodes well for all as the industry continues to shift to more flavourful beer styles.”

Definitely an exciting time for Local Craft Breweries!!


Posted by on Dec 5, 2013 in Contributors, happy hour, Highlighted Features, Liquids & Solids | Comments Off on LIQUID SUNSHINE

248/365 - Two Fingers of the Water of Life







“Whisky is liquid sunshine.”
George Bernard Shaw.



Written by: Dustin Sepkowski.


Whisk(e)y. – Short form of Whiskybae – Gaelic origins, translated to “Water of Life.”
Def. – an alcoholic liquor distilled from a fermented mash of grain.

Just as different areas of the world have developed their own unique tastes for food, their own languages and dialects, and even their own fashion, they have also found their own ways of making Whisk(e)y.  Let’s make this a history lesson, and break down this wonderful spirit to it’s various types from around the world.  But first, I’m sure you’re wondering, “What’s with the “e” in parentheses?”. Well, to put it simply, as some areas of the world have developed their own taste of whisk(e)y, they have also developed their own grammatical structure of the word.  The Irish like to use an “e”.  The Scottish think it’s blasphemy.  Mystery solved.


Scotland – Scotch Whisky

Here, we break Scotland into regions of typical characteristics found in the spirit.  They’re also geographical, and can be explained better in the future.  6 major regions are all you need to remember.  The Highlands, Lowlands, Campbelltown, Speyside, Islay and The Islands.  There are all sorts of fun rules as to why Islay isn’t included with the Islands, and Campbelltown isn’t included with the Lowlands… But that’s for another day.

Scotch Whisky is a purists drink.  100% malted barley is not required, but is traditional in this mash.  A minimum age of 3 years in oak barrels is a must, and used barrels tend to add interesting new flavours into the mix.  When you have a bottle of 15 year old Highland Park Scotch, that doesn’t mean that it’s necessarily 15 years old.  What it does mean is that the youngest spirit used in this blend is 15 years old.  To obtain amazing flavours and consistency with product, in house blending is used to create a brilliant Single Malt masterpiece.  If you were to use a spirit from multiple distilleries, you get what is called a “Vatted Malt” or “Blended Whisky”.


Ireland – Irish Whiskey

Irish Whiskey has similar rules to that of their close relatives in Scotland.  It is a distilled spirit that is aged for a minimum of 3 years in oak barrels.  Where it starts to become a different story, is that Irish Whiskey has much more relaxed rules on the labelling and composition of their whiskeys.  You don’t typically see a “Single Malt” Irish Whiskey.  Instead you will see a “Pure Pot Still” which can be made with a blend of single grain and single malt, or a “Pot Still” which is more likely to be a single malt.


United States of America – Bourbon Whiskey

Throw a monkeywrench in the gears.  A whiskey composed mostly of adjunct?  Yes, here it is. With a requirement of at least 51% corn, to be aged in 1st use charred oak barrels, and to be distilled to no more than 80%abv.  Unlike it’s brothers, Bourbon does not have a minimum date for aging, but for best flavours a few years does this spirit many favours.  To be called Bourbon, this spirit must be stilled, aged, and bottled within the Bourbon County of Kentucky.  No exceptions.  Look at the next Jack Daniels bottle you see, and look for the word Bourbon.  You won’t find it, as it’s distilled in Tennessee.


Canada – Canadian Whiskey
Just when you thought the Americans were skipping traditional rules, Canada has even less.  There is no real style guideline in Canada, but more of a trend.  We tend to make lighter and smoother spirits than others, and only require that the spirit is mashed, stilled, and aged in Canada.  There is a minimum of 3 years in oak to call this Whisky.  As for the myth that Rye belongs in this product… it’s not true.  Yes, it’s common as in history it was a way to add flavour to our lighter spirit.  Over time, and due to demand, it became a regular occurrence to add rye to the mash to produce the popular flavour profile and body.