Friday, April 17, 2015

Velvet Fig: The review... sort of?!

This little girl was raised in a small town where gardening & growing your own fruits/veggies was the norm. Summers are short (Jun-Sept) so I ate fruits like strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, blackberries and lots of apples. The climate simply does not allow for growing citrus, bananas or any other 'exotic' delicacies. Also, we were not a rich family so 'store bought' items were rare or reserved for special occasions. 

Don't laugh but I always got a Sunkist Orange in my Christmas stocking and I would wait patiently for weeks before I ate it. 

It has always been in my nature to try everything so the first time I went to Toronto, when I was 13, my cousins made fun of the fact that I ate a kiwi with the peel on and why wouldn't I, I had no idea you weren't suppose to? (and I still do to this day). I moved to a much larger city when I was 18 and would go to the market every day to buy fruit and vegetables I had never tried before: Asparagus, eggplant, avocado, pomegranate and figs just to name a few of the first discoveries.

My favorite story was when I did buy avocado and figs for the first time. I asked the clerk what the avocado was: A fruit. I grabbed one and put it in my basket. What's that I stated pointing to a display of fresh figs. He looked at me quite strangely and asked where I was from. I happily explained (from that day forward when I came in he was always very helpful in pointing out different items that I might enjoy trying).  I got back to my little apartment, took out 2 figs and the avocado. I sliced them all open and chose to start with a piece of the fig. Oh... heavenly, juicy and absolutely mouthwatering. It was so good! I picked up the sliced avocado and put that in my mouth: bland, chalky and the peeling was like eating a piece of leather. I spit the whole thing out and stared down at the green muck. (yes, you read correctly, I ate the peel as well) DISGUSTING! It took almost 10 years and a friend's party before I would go near once again and thankfully that encounter was a much better one. I've loved avocado ever since.      

I continued to buy the fresh figs every time I could get my hands on them. They became a very memorable part of my food sensory discoveries in those very formative years of my life. Some people would reach for chocolate, I would always reach for fresh fruit because really for me they were much more special. 
Fast forward to late November 2014 when I notice some bloggers posting reviews of a whisky called 'Velvet Fig' from Wemyss Malts. I read a few of them, looked up the whisky on a few websites and it didn't appear, at that time, that it would be coming to Canada -> Bollocks! Like I usually do at the end of every year, I make a goals list for the following. So, Velvet Fig was added to my 'must try' list for 2015. Word started to spread in early January that supplies were limited and that it would soon be gone. Crap! I quickly decided I had to reach out and find a bottle, but laws don't allow whisky to be sent to Canada (archaic & stupid). I made arrangements with a 'Whisky Brother' from the fabric to have the bottle delivered to his home address in UK and I would pick it up on a trip to Scotland in May. (AMEN!!!)

But as always the lovely #whiskyfabric is a wondrous thing and I have true friends that are genuinely happy to share their whiskies as was the case with this one as well. Rick Culver (@rmculver) from Ontario and Franck Debernardi (@LaCaveDeCobalt) from France were kind enough to ensure a few samples of the Velvet Fig got to me. The first dram of the Velvet Fig I enjoyed with Rick and Rob in Kingston. No notes. Nothing but three friends sitting down together and enjoying the discovery of a new dram. Fabulous experience and I highly recommend doing that from time to time. JUST ENJOY THE MOMENT. It was a lovely dram that the three of us enjoyed together.

The second time was alone at home, on a cold blustery night in March while Graham walked the dog and I huddled on the couch with a soft blanket and wool socks. I needed a 'warming' dram and went into my whisky room to get a smoky Islay when Franck's distinctive hand writing caught my eye. I grabbed a Glencairn and poured the Velvet Fig. I went back to the living room, enveloped myself in my blanket and proceeded to watch TV. At first I was simply paying attention to the program and not to my glass. I held it up to my nose during a commercial and that's when the magic began. 

So fruity, silky and mouthwatering that I was immediately whisked backwards in time to a small backyard where a cat was lazing in a sunbeam. We were all outside sitting on patio chairs, shoes off, enjoying the summer afternoon. Franck, his lovely wife and their two beautiful and very smart little girls. I was in France... I snapped open my eyes and stared at the Glencairn. I smiled, turned off the television, leaned my head back and continued back to that very special afternoon. Watching the kids, laughing, speaking in French and getting to know Franck & Jennifer. Sharing stories, whiskies and having one of the best meals I had while in France cooked by both of them. Franck's Veal Osso Buco melted in my mouth and it was followed by Jennifer's French apple tart. It was so delicious it would have made my grandmother cry. Truly a fantastic day spent near Paris. I remember saying goodbye at the train station and wishing I had more time. Sometimes you meet people that you click with right away and there's a sense that you'd end up being good friends. The train ride back to Paris was spent trying to draw Llewella & Doriane, his two sweet & very bright little girls. (I suck at drawing though... hehe) Back at my Paris hotel that night, I spent a full hour skyping with Graham describing the day I had had. It was another fantastic day brought to me by #whiskyfabric

The wind howled and I opened my eyes again in the darkened living room. I noticed a few tears that had started to well up but laughed and wiped them away. I stared down once more at the now empty glass and quickly realized the whisky had transported me back in time to a very happy place with some extraordinary people I was fortunate to have met. But in the here and now my notepad was blank, the Velvet Fig was gone and I hadn't registered anything drinking the whisky?! 

I have always said that whisky is more than just a liquid that is consumed, taking notes or grinding out reviews!? It's about moments in time, sharing and living life to the fullest. Whisky has done that for me and so many of you as well. I giggled as I went back to the whisky room and pulled out what was left of the Velvet Fig sample. I sat at my desk and nosed/tasted it again, this time paying attention to the whisky. But once again I was distracted and transported back to that moment in the city market where that bright eyed 18 year old girl with her whole life ahead of her was chattering to the clerk and buying fresh figs. I relived the moment of bringing them home (as described above) and I sat back laughing at myself for being such a country bumpkin... and so naive but at least very eager to learn about everything! After all, we didn't have the interweb back then. It dawned on me that moment was 30 years ago. Memories are powerful aren't they?

I realize I'm still holding a pen in my hand and look down to find... an empty glass AGAIN. Look at the notebook to see where I wrote four words: This is really good. So, the initial review of Velvet Fig from the Lassie, sort of... 

Nose: Rich, sweet and really fruity. Ability to transport you to a time/place associated with blissful fond memories.

Palate: So silky and tasty that it may cause you to forget to write anything down because you are too busy enjoying it. Seems to cause a second dram to be poured.

Finish: Delightful and causes a bit of embarrassment when you realize the glass is empty. Leads to blaming someone else for the dram being gone?!

Probably my best review ever!  Now I have no choice but to wait patiently for May 17th when I will be reunited with my bottle of Velvet Fig and promise to do a full review of it, this time trying desperately to pay attention to the elixir in the glass instead of floating away on the aromas. Pinky swear....

Velvet Fig - Wemyss Malts, if you haven't already gotten your bottle... you might be out of luck. 

Plenty of much better reviews out there I'm sure, just get on the google machine and look up "Velvet Fig review".... 


PS -> This coming to NB in November 2015 ;)


  1. This is one of the best reviews I've read anywhere for quite some time—maybe since the infamous "vasectomy" review on Connosr.

    -Ol' Jas

  2. Best review without tasting notes ever!

    1. It's one of those whiskies that I simply lost myself in the dram, truly lovely.