Thursday, October 10, 2013

Tweeddale, Richard's legacy reborn...

Up until November 2012 I had never even heard of Tweeddale Whisky. I saw a few tweets about it and looked up the website only to discover it was another highly recommended whisky that was not available in North America. Bah! So, I put it on my "list" of whiskies to try or trade for. Then in April of 2013, a fellow blogger that I follow posted a review of it following a fun little blind competition he had on twitter: and I remember thinking, hmmm... I really have to try and get this if it fooled Tom!? In the usual Whisky Lassie style when I ask the universe for something, it comes to me, and it did. After I attended the Spirit of Toronto Whisky Gala in May of this year I found myself at a great little after party where I was fortunate (as always) to meet so many wonderful people from the #whiskyfabric. I ended up sharing a plate of sweet potato fries with a lovely couple sitting at our table. Lots of great discussion, laughing and sharing a passion for the water of life. It was truly a great night. As my luck would have it, a few weeks later that same lovely couple called us and said they would be representing/bringing in Tweeddale in Canada and would we care to meet/discuss it with Alasdair Day.  
My eyes grew wide with excitement and I thanked the lovely whisky universe for plopping this fantastic opportunity right into my lap. Would we!!?? And so began yet another whisky adventure. A few phone calls, a couple of schedule adjustments and the next thing I knew we were doing an interview with Alasdair himself. Who is he, you ask? He's the great grandson of Richard Day who started his career as an office boy at the J&A Davidson Company in 1895. Richard moved along in his career and began to blend the whiskies. At the age of 43, he took over the business and continued blending whiskies up until prior to WWII where production stopped because grain was rationed for the war effort. Richard's son came back from the war and wanted nothing to do with the family business. He chose a a career as a Customs Officer and left to travel the world. With nobody to continue the family tradition, Richard retired and slowly sold off the whisky stock. The end... well sort of.  The same week Richard passed away his great grandson Alaisdair was christened.  As Alasdair put it:  "I'm sure we passed each other in the tunnel". It would be years before he even heard about his great grand father. When he was old enough to share a dram with his dad, the "book" came out.
Richard's recipe book
It's all that really survived from the family business: the cellar book originally used as an accounts ledger for J&A Davidson. If you thumb through the front of the book, there is even an entry where his great-great grandfather purchased a few crates of beer for the estate in 1881. Flip to the back of the book and you find Richard's hand written recipes for the blended whiskies he made between 1899-1916. The cellar book was handed down from father to son for the next three generations. It became a tradition for Alasdair's father to take the book out on special occasions. The conversation would always lead to trying to recreate one of those recipes.  This went on for years until Christmas 2008 when his dad seriously put the idea forward so Alasdair decided he would.  It took almost 18 months but in May of 2010 the first batch of Tweeddale blend went to market.  
As most of you know I'm always fascinated about "the journey" so it came as a wonderful surprise to find out that prior to starting Stonedean Limited the only real whisky connection he had was that of being the consumer and according to his wife, he was a single malt "snob"! Ironically his background is the food industry like his great grand father (J&A Davidson was a licensed grocer).  Alasdair has come a long way since 2010 and has released 3 more batches since then. It's almost impossible to get a bottle of Batch 1 or Batch 2.  
So when Ken asked if I'd like to try Batch 3, the wheels began to turn (as they so often do) and I came up with the idea of the Coast to Coast Canada whisky twitter tasting.  Alasdair loved the idea. Wheels in motion and Lassie off in total planning mode.  It was not difficult to find participants. Canada has a healthy population of twitterers that love whisky as much as I do.  I had to turn people away actually, well because there's only so many pours in a bottle.  26 people from BC to NFLD took part. We scheduled 2 hours on Wednesday Oct 2 and the madness began!  The feed blew up, it was fast & furious tweeting.  People sent great photos of them getting ready for the inaugural event.  

Trolls guarding mystery sample

Doing it "Canadian style"

What I really enjoyed the most about this twitter tasting was that we were doing it blind & I asked people to be as honest as possible.  If they didn't like something I wanted them to say so. Why would I ask them to do that?  The biggest reason:  Honesty is important to me and I feel that we have a responsibility as consumers to let the whisky makers know what they are doing right and what/if anything they can improve on.  

Our event was so successful we trended 1st in Canada and 30th overall in the world.  Not bad for a small bunch of "Canadians" eh?   hehe   

So what did I think of the Tweeddale Blend #3 

Color:  This is non-colored whisky.  It reminds me of a nice Chardonnay. Crisp "yellow". Legs are very oily and plentiful.  

Nose:  As soon as you open the whisky, it's impossible not to recognize the smell of apples.  I personally found it reminded me of fresh pressed apple cider which we get every fall after the harvest.  Beautifully sweet on the nose.  Very "green" smelling.  One participant to the #C2CC described it as sweet peas right on the vine.  I thought that was a very nice descriptor.  Once the apples are gone, ginger spice as well as the distinct smell of citrus.  I wrote down:  Lemon custard with a graham cracker crust.

Palate:  Not as "hot" as I expected it to be.  It's got a bit of vanilla on the front but it's the sweet oak that I find is predominant at first.  Once it sits in the glass the spice is back, again candied ginger peel and the taste of green grapes, especially the skins.

Finish:  Short, hot and peppery.  A bit of a let down after the lovely nose/palate experience.

We did this tasting blind, so gradually hints were revealed as the hours went by.  When I revealed this was a blend, many were dumbfounded.  Then the guesses turned to Compass Box...  (which is a huge compliment in my book).  Finally the reveal and most of the twitterers were super happy to have tried such a unique blend.  

As for me, I was proud to host the first Cross Canada Twitter Tasting.  Even more happy that we were privileged to have Tweeddale as the sponsors.  I like doing things differently.  I love sharing good whisky. Just so happens, so does Alasdair.

Thank you very much to Ken from

 & Alasdair Day, whisky maker

Also will be hosting a twitter tasting with Alasdair on October 16th.  All 4 of the batches will be tasted.

AND...  Alasdair Day will be hosting a Master Class at Whisky Live Toronto on November 1st.

Some people may say I "drink the Kool-aid" and jump on bandwagons.  I would like to say, those that know me well will tell you I genuinely love promoting good whisky.  Plain & simple.  It's about being open to opportunities and paying attention.  Who knew sharing a plate of sweet potato fries would lead to all this?

Thanks again to all 25 participants, it was a blast and we will be doing it again sometime soon.

To the rest of you, if you can get your hands on any of the Tweeddales, try them.  They are a good quality whisky that is quite enjoyable to drink.

Until next time, my partner in crime and I are off to try and get flights to Toronto!   hehe

The one and only.... Lassie


  1. Still haven't opened my bottle of Tweeddale yet, perhaps in November, once I clear the Cutty Sark and bourbon off the shelf. Are those your LEGO trolls?

    1. Those belong to Dave Parker: @malttroll. I had very little left in my bottle and we finished it off during the twitter tasting. Truly is a sit around, think of nothing and simply enjoy with friends dram! I for one will be getting more.