Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Davin - a passion for all things Canadian Whisky

Happy 1st anniversary to me!  Well, actually I've officially been on twitter for a little over a year and a bit now but over that course of time I have racked up 17,600 tweets.  I've been teased quite a bit about it and was dubbed "twitter queen".  I don't mind because one of the things I have appreciated the most about being on twitter is how it has lifted me onto a much larger playing field.  I'm sure at first I must have been a bit of an enigma always talking about my passion and self proclaimed ambassadorship when it came to Canadian Whiskies and yes I was teased about that as well.  My favorite remarks from whisky imbibers thus far:  Canadian Whisky is "brown vodka" or "good Canadian whisky is an oxymoron".  And honestly no wonder when you see what we end up exporting to the States and overseas.  What gets sent away is the "mixing whisky".  The stuff people ask for when they want a rye & coke.  Hell, even Canadians have no idea how good some of our whiskies are?

I simply can't help who I am which is a very dedicated and serious ambassador when it comes to talking about Canadian Whisky so I started offering to send whisky samples from my own personal collection (I have over 30 bottles) to anyone who wanted some.  People from all over the world started receiving Canadian whisky some as far reaching as New Zealand (Hey Jay!)  I always asked for anyone who received them to be honest and let me know what they thought.  I'm a firm believer that most people were and what came back was 95% were amazed at the taste/flavor and profiles of some of the whiskies I sent.  No, it's not Scotch. So let's not try to compare two completely different whiskies. It's Canadian and that is what makes it unique.  Some people had never experienced the delicate but delicious flavors of 100% rye. Other whiskies I sent like Forty Creek (didn't matter which one I sent) often left people extremely perplexed with the nose/palate being so completely different than any other whisky they ever tasted.  Are all Canadian whiskies fantastic? Hell no but neither are all bourbons or scotches.  Let's be honest there are some real duds out there no matter what type of whisky we are talking about.

courtesy of www.canadianwhisky.org
Someone I was extremely fortunate to befriend very early into my whisky adventures was Davin de Kergommeaux.  It goes without saying (but I'll say it anyway) that he is THE Canadian Whisky Expert.  He has been a great friend, a wonderful mentor and has added so much to my life when it comes to advice about writing and a myriad of other things.  Davin is a scholar, a true gentleman, a Malt Maniac and a passionate Canadian Whisky Geek (that is a huge compliment!!).  It was an honor to be a judge for the 2012 Canadian Whisky Awards and I made the trip out to Victoria where I met several other Malt Maniacs, drank some of the best whiskies and of course hung out with Davin and many others.  2013 has already become a year of leaps and bounds on my crazy but always fantastic whisky journey.  

In late winter a fellow whisky writer created a Facebook Page for Spirits Bloggers and I was invited to join. Yet another wonderful example of what the whisky fabric is about.  Great ideas and creative discussions take place in that group. So when "we" decided to have a huge and very successful Twitter Flash Mob Blog on March 17th it sparked a few more great ideas; one of which was Davin wanting to try something a bit different.  He contacted me and we began to brainstorm. The thought was to create a social media event that would not only promote his book but allow people to try Canadian whiskies for themselves.  We came up with a plan, put it out there to the writers/bloggers and what came back was overwhelming.  We anticipated getting 10-15 interested people but in the end we had 32 ask to take part.  I was gobsmacked!?   

However, with only so many pours in one bottle we had to apologize to 17 and went forward with fifteen.  We had folks from Israel all the way to Oregon USA.  So I set off sending samples, Davin set off sending a few books to those who didn't already have it and between us all we got organized and did something that had never been done on twitter before:  A weekly chat with an author about his book combined with a blind whisky tasting.  

This took place over the course of the month of May on every Sunday at 3:00pm EST.  
We had an assignment every week to read 4 chapters and then on said date/time we all had the opportunity to ask Davin questions about the book, the experience of writing it, Canadian whisky and/or the individual chapters.  At the 30 minute mark we would break open one of the mystery samples, nose/taste and try to guess what it was with of course the big reveal at the end of the hour.  I was happy to volunteer myself as the keeper of questions and moderator and Davin did a fantastic job fielding and answering the rapid fire questions in 140 characters!  STUPENDOUS feat in itself...  :)  

So what came of it?  Every week, our numbers grew. More people started to join us for the chat.  Some followers poured a Canadian whisky and bounced along with us while others went out and bought the book and joined in with questions/discussions. It was a great way to get people talking about Canadian Whisky the portable expert and walk people through a nosing/tasting of some really good whiskies.

By Sunday May 26th our numbers had almost reached 50.  One as far as Australia (up at 4:30am!?) poured a sample I had sent him and watched the twitter feed (#DavinTT).  It truly was an exhilarating experience to take part and what I came away with was how much fun it was to read and watch Davin breathe life into his book for all of us on twitter.   So many great questions came out of the sessions and I personally feel like "we" were getting the word out about the real history of Canadian whisky.  Debunking so many misconceptions and myths (don't drink the kool-aid as Davin always says).   The "tah dah" moment for me was watching people react to the 4 whiskies Davin chose:  Lot 40, Alberta Premium Dark Horse, Danfield's 21 and Forty Creek Portwood Reserve 2012.  Did everyone LOVE every single one of them, of course not?! Some thought a few were less then stellar but that is truly a subjective thing.  For me they ranked: Forty Creek, Danfield's, Lot 40 then Dark Horse which surprised me because I initially loved the Dark Horse and hated the Lot 40 about 6 months ago. Regardless, the point was to have people from all corners of the world have the opportunity to try read and then try these beauties and I'm beyond happy they did. 

Canadian whisky can be GREAT.  The people like Davin who have a passion about them are making sure the word gets out and the people like me, well we share.  The old story goes:  Give a man a fish he eats for a day, teach a man to fish he eats for the rest of his life. Well, Davin is out to teach us all about Canadian Whisky and my belief is once you taste is you'll be willing to try/buy them for life. 

As a result of this great little event I have received many twitter, facebook and email messages from people thanking us for the experience.  My favorite so far is this one: "This has indeed quite broadened my horizons and has opened my eyes (and palate) to the wonderful world of Canadian whiskies, about which, I'm afraid I knew nothing about.
Because of your kind invitation to join in, I have made amazing discoveries ( I have yet to recover from the exquisite pleasure brought on by last week's Danfield's 21 year old Limited Edition) and learned that great whiskies are being made in our own backyard! Thank you again,  Maryse"

This is what fuels my passion.  Congrats Davin on a job well done, not only on the book which is a fantastic award winning read but on truly being the Canadian Whisky Expert!  If you haven't purchased a copy yet, I urge you to.  Available at book stores, online and in E-book format.  

Better yet, Father's Day is around the corner so tell your kids you want this:

A) It's a very well written book about whisky.


B) It's way better than a tie!

Continuing my work/passion for all things Canadian Whisky, I remain...

The Lassie

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