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THE ENTERTAINING ISSUE - November December Issue 2018

GREAT GIFTS FOR THE BOOZERS IN YOUR LIFE

by Tom Firth

THE COMIC BOOK STORY OF BEER

Let’s be perfectly honest, most of the beverage reference books are pretty dry (no pun intended). For all but the most devoted enthusiast, a book on terroir, a world atlas of wines and so on can be a little weighty. Bring on the Comic Book Story of Beer. Well-illustrated, it’s also well told, with an abundance of knowledge to share with readers who might just be interested in a casual but educated read about a favourite beverage.
$25, Willow Park Wines and Spirits, Amazon.ca, and other vendors

SCREWPULL STAR AND STOPPER

Talk about first world problems: what does a sparkling wine aficionado really need under the tree? Try the Screwpull champagne star and stopper set. While many don’t care to admit it, it can be a little tough on stiff hands to open a bottle of the bubbly. The star effectively grips the cork, allowing a little more leverage when popping it. Didn’t finish the bottle (it happens)? Seal it up with the stopper, letting you enjoy the rest over the next few days. I highly recommend champagne with breakfast…
$75, The Compleat Cook

BARBEITO BOAL RIBEIRO REAL 20-YEAR-OLD MADEIRA

Madeira only has a handful of producers remaining, but thankfully, they continue to push the envelope with rare or special offerings. Barbeito is an absolute leader on the island (and a favourite of mine from a visit there several years ago) that I’m thrilled to see on the market. Coming from the Ribeiro Real vineyard, the Boal is on the sweeter end of madeiras, but this is a stunning bottle – in fact, they all are. Very small quantities available.
About $200-220 in most markets, CSPC +800261

IMEA GINEPRINA D’OLANDA GIN

Gin is still experiencing a wave of enthusiasm from cocktail aficionados and spirit neophytes. Providing an alternative to English or North American gins, Imea is Italian, and sourced from Italian ingredients. It’s bright and floral with a spicy core over a sweeter vanilla creaminess. Plenty of juniper flavours (as it should have), anise, mace and cinnamon make for a pleasant gin that’s easy to visualize in a number of classic cocktails.
$70, CSPC +791648 (this is the order code, it’s the Canadian Standard Product Code)

BARR AN UISCE WICKLOW RARE SMALL BATCH IRISH WHISKEY

Irish whiskies continue to impress, and not just for offering a slightly different experience for enthusiasts of Scotch, American, or Canadian whisky (or all those other regions producing excellent whiskies). Matured in bourbon barrels and finished in Olorosso casks, it’s a very smooth tasting experience with hints of orange and great cereal characters – checking off all the boxes for an Irish whiskey. I like it with a press of water, but neat is perfectly all right, too.
Retailing for about $80-85, CSPC +802506

ARDBEG “AN OA” SINGLE MALT WHISKY

Islay whiskies aren’t for the faint of heart – or the neophyte whisky drinker. Typically easy to recognize for their peaty aromas and flavours, they can be a bit like opening up some stinky cheese in a small room – everyone knows what’s going on. The latest special release from “peat-forward” Ardbeg, An Oa is a bit like a lemon, wrapped in an old boot, set on fire; then someone tried to put out the flames by throwing old tires on top of that charred mess. And it’s awesome! A little chewy on the palate, too, with a bare hint of sweetness at the finish. For the peated whisky lover in your life.
$100, CSPC+795272

GLENMORANGIE SPIOS SINGLE MALT WHISKY

Part of the Glenmorangie Private Editions, and the ninth iteration of the line, this one is aged in rye whisky barrels. Sadly, it’s American rye whisky rather than what is, of course, the finest rye whisky - those from Canada, but it’s still interesting, nonetheless. Caramel and roasted nuts are overlaid by rye aromas with mint, salt water and cocoa. Nice and smooth in the mouth, it’s quite spicy, but finishes on leather, chocolate and the need to sit in front of a roaring fire.
$125, CSPC +1147477

BLANDY’S 10-YEAR-OLD VERDELHO MADEIRA

The fortified wines of Madeira are some of the great wines of the world. They’re aged in warehouses that undergo heating and cooling cycles with the seasons, ultimately yielding a wine full of citrus and caramelized flavours, like lime and toffee, and a mild spiciness, but also a wine capable of aging for centuries (yes, I did say that). Verdelho is medium dry and pairs best with creamy soups, drier or savoury desserts, and cheese. Will keep a year or two once opened. (500mL bottle)
$50, CSPC+759914

BURWOOD “MEDICA” HONEY LIQUEUR

I’ve become a devotee of a number of the bottlings from this recent addition to Calgary’s roster of craft distilleries. My favourites include Burwood’s unique “Medica” honey liqueur. Medica is a traditional Croatian liqueur that’s almost unheard-of by Canadians, let alone this brand, which is made with locally sourced Alberta honey. Look for a clean, aromatic nose that is definitely understated, while on the palate, the liqueur is perfectly balanced between honey and spice characters, without too much heat. Quite dry, its mixing possibilities are endless.
$50 at the distillery (4127 6 St NE) and at select liquor stores

TAYLOR FLADGATE 1968 VERY OLD SINGLE HARVEST PORT

This is the latest release of Taylor Fladgate’s 50-year-old tawny ports, and possibly the last one for a little while. (Imagine that, stocks of 50-year-old barrels of port are in short supply.) This sort of bottle is very rare, handsomely packaged, and delicious. Unopened, it will also be just fine resting in the cellar for an extra special occasion, if 50 years already isn’t quite special enough. On the nose, it evokes leather-bound old books with roasted nuts, dried lemons and a touch of honey; on the palate, it’s intense and polished, making for a perfect port experience.
Around $270-290, CSPC +797520

GLENGOYNE 18-YEAR-OLD HIGHLAND WHISKY

I’ve really been enjoying Glengoyne the last few years, having tried most of its offerings, and I’ve had occasion to try them multiple times. The 18 sees some time in the classically preferred ex-sherry barrels, lending a touch of sweetness to its character, which is led by cereal and toffee flavours, some apple and a salty, spicy finish. A heck of a whisky, for a very reasonable price, too. I enjoy it with a splash of water, but it’s also a tasty number neat.
$120, CSPC +761954

VIRTUAL VINO

Sometimes, you just might be stuck figuring out something for that special someone. Or even more likely, you just might run out of time or patience to fight traffic or crowds of people. Virtual Vino, from the well-organized folks at the Rocky Mountain Wine and Food Festivals, has a number of well-curated selections of special or mixed cases and even make-your-own options via its Virtual Vino program. It’s all too easy to get stuck in a wine rut, and having someone else pick the wine can open whole new avenues or turn up a new favourite. A whole host of pick-up locations (even outside of Calgary) or delivery options make this very convenient, too. virtualvino.com
Available in a variety of prices and selections

Read entire article in the digital issue of City Palate.