Food (+ Drink) Friday: An Afternoon with Whisky

Posted by Jenny Morris, September 25, 2015


When our oh-so-lovely PR Intern, Jenny Morris, isn't juggling her PR tasks and taking the city by storm, she's writing about cocktails for She Does the City! Luckily she was able to flex those spirit-loving muscles when Dave Mitton, Canadian ambassador for J.P. Wiser's came to town. Sit in on this afternoon of whisky-tasting with Jenny and the rest of the Drake fam:

Whisky Tasting

Whenever I sit in on tasting – be it wine, beer, or whisky – I always leave with information I didn’t expect to learn, the kind you can pull out of your pocket at a dinner party or use in a catchphrase when the moment strikes. Along with hearing about the spirit, you learn about geography, history, the distillers and tasting notes you maybe wouldn’t have picked up on (candied banana! Of course!).

Whisky Tasting

When Dave Mitton, Canadian ambassador for J.P. Wiser’s led me and a group of the Drake’s finest hospitality employees for a tasting of eight delicious whiskys, I learned an awful lot – and not just about my alcohol of choice. Dave worked with our very own head bartender Gord Hannah over a decade ago tending bar in the East Coast. Now he’s leading tastings across the world. The tastings are an ongoing initiative for Drake’s front-of-house to connect with the product and continuously learn more about their craft. Because when you’re given a selection of eight great spirits, with different characteristics, moods, flavour profiles, chemistry - how do you know exactly which one should be used in a particular cocktail? Well…you have to try it.

Whisky Tasting

We sampled eight whiskys including J.P. Wiser’s Deluxe, 18 year old, Red Letter, Double Still Rye, and Legacy. We also tried Pike Creek, Lot 40 and Gooderham and Worts. The whiskys ranged from an amber colour to luxurious gold, with notes ranging from oak, rich vanilla and caramel to dried fruit, spice and freshly baked banana bread.

My favourite, it turns out, was J.P. Wiser’s Red Letter. Dave told us that the name comes from the saying “it’s a Red Letter Day” or in other words, a special day, when you reach for your favourite top-shelf spirit to enjoy with others. This whisky was a sweet, clean and slightly spicy whiskey with lots of rich dimension: vanilla, toffee with subtle hints of honey and dried oak.

Whisky Tasting

What else did I learn? Gord Hannah cheekily asked, “How do you spell whisky?” and Dave said, “I say if your country has an ‘e’ in it, like American or Ireland, you spell whisky with an ‘e’. If it doesn’t, like Canada, you spell it without.”

Good to know. Thanks Dave!

Posted in: Food + Drink