Quercus Vino Ottawa – August 2016.

Recently on a beautiful Ottawa summer day I had the pleasure of spending a few hours at one of my favourite restaurants, The Shore Club, with representatives of Glenmorangie and Ardbeg, two of Scotland’s prized Whisky distilleries each having a rich heritage and loyal worldwide following.


Hamish Torrie is the company’s Director of Corporate Social Responsibility and he’s been with them now for over 18 years and played an instrumental role incorporating these two famous Scotch distilleries under the Louis Vuitton Moet Hennessy company when they were acquired by LVMH in 2005.

Hamish lead us through a tasting of two Glenmorangie Whiskies, followed by two Ardbeg Whiskies.

Glenmorangie is famous for having the highest stills in the industry.  This is one of the reasons why they produce such smooth, complex, and approachable Whisky.

Ardbeg is perhaps best know as the peatiest Whisky on the market.  If you like super smoky, peaty Scotch then you probably already have a soft spot in your heart for Ardbegh, as I do!

Here Hamish describes some unique elements of each distillery.

Here are a few of my notes:


Glenmorangie – The Original


The original expression of our elegant, floral spirit and the real backbone of the Glenmorangie range. A ten-year-old single malt, Glenmorangie Original is produced by marrying the delicate spirit that emerges from Scotland’s tallest stills, with first and second fill American white oak casks.

It is here, maturing for ten long years in a range of ex-bourbon casks such as our famous slow-grown and air-dried ‘designer casks’ from Missouri, that our raw spirit develops a perfect balance between sweetness and complexity. Resulting in a mature spirit that is soft, mellow and creamy. Perfect for enjoying at any time.

Aroma: Creamy vanilla, gentle lovely spices, citrus fruit.

Taste: Creamy, citrus, spice, with a hint of banana chips.

Finish: Very soft with a spicy finish and more sweet banana chips.



Buy at Vintages – $69.95

Here Hamish describes a few considerations that make Glenmorangie Original so unique and wonderful.



Glenmorangie – Milsean


Glenmorangie Milsean (Scots Gaelic for ‘sweet things’ and pronounced ‘meel-shawn’) is a single malt whisky full of intense candied fruit flavours and mouth-watering sweetness. It has been created from Glenmorangie matured in ex-bourbon casks and then extra-matured in former wine casks, re-toasted for the purpose. This distinctive cask preparation replicates something of the moreish sweetshop flavours in a single malt whisky.

It is the seventh annual release in our multi-award-winning and always intriguing Private Edition range. And Glenmorangie Milsean, with its remarkable sweetshop allusions, may be the most intriguing of them all.

Rich copper colour, with sweet perfumed notes of sweet corn, creme brulee, touch of molasses, spice, and candied orange.  Non-chill filtered giving it more texture and taste.  A very impressive Whisky. Highly recommended.


Buy at Vintages – $177.95  

Here Hamish describes a few considerations that make Glenmorangie Milsean so special, making them a highly sought after product for Whisky lovers and collectors.


Ardbeg Ten Years Old Whisky


Ardbeg Ten Years Old is revered around the world as the peatiest, smokiest, most complex single malt of them all. Yet it does not flaunt the peat; rather it gives way to the natural sweetness of the malt to produce a whisky of perfect balance. Named World Whisky of the Year in 2008.  It’s non chill-filtered with a strength of 46% ABV.

Light gold in colour, this smoky peat-rich Whisky bursts with complex layers of sweet and savoury flavours.  Smoky citrus fruit, espresso, smoked meat and fish, briney, it would be idea with salty Charcuterie platters, or freshly sucked oysters with a splash of Ardbeg on top. Highly recommended!

Buy at Vintages – $99.95



Matured in dark Sherry casks, imparting waves of treacle toffee, coal tar, squid ink, noodles and toasted coffee grounds.Inspired by our turbulent past, this whisky is a clandestine meeting of Ardbeg matured in ex-bourbon casks and a heart matured in dark sherry casks. The darkest Ardbeg ever.

Super richly coloured.  Indicative of the aromas and flavour that are to follow.

At first meaty, earthy and spicy. Bold notes of dark chocolate emerge against orange, rich treacle toffee, coffee and oak. Wafts of a distant, smoky bonfire in the background, along with a mysterious floral note, like flowering blackcurrant bushes. And lashings of linseed oil.
The mouthfeel is almost tart, or zesty lime. Raisins, dates, ginger and pepper spice surge forward, then retreat. Waves of smouldering charcoal, wood polish and huge, tarry creosote notes follow. Finally a more savoury note escapes; cured smoked ham and squid ink noodles.

Long, spicy and rich with lingering notes of toffee, coffee and tar.

Buy at Vintages – $201.95

Here Hamish lets us in on one of their secrets for producing the coveted Dark Cove.


If you have a chance to try any of these fine Whiskies I’d strongly recommend it.  And since Scotch doesn’t have any shelf life limitations, it’s great to buy them when they’re available and start building your own Scotch library one bottle at a time which can grow to an impressive selection after a number of years.

Also, if you’re in downtown Ottawa make sure you check out the Shore Club as it’s one of the nicest restaurants around and has delicious food, beverages, and top notch service!  If you do go, you’ve got to start your meal with their Whisky Sour…incredible!





The fine line-up of Glenmorangie and Ardbeg Scotch –  available across Canada and at Vintages in Ontario.


Matt Steeves – Sommelier, Wine Writer, & Director with the National Capital Sommelier Guild – follow Matt on Twitter @Quercusvino or www.quercusvino.ca