Friday, May 27, 2016

Giving dad an iconic Canadian whisky - JP Wiser's Last Barrels

My father was born on Thursday May 28th 1936 into a very large family. His life was never easy and that's now very apparent on his small and somewhat frail 80 year old frame. My earliest memories were of him waking us up early Saturday mornings to watch Bugs Bunny. I didn't know until much later he was coming in off a 12 hour night shift (He always made sure we ate breakfast together every weekend). He also enjoyed watching hockey and having a few tipples. It's because of him that I really enjoy whisky the way I do. I also have his nose, which when I was younger I truly hated, but of course now... I love and cherish. 

My dad and I are entering the next phase of our lives together with a bit of trepidation as he turns 80 tomorrow and I celebrate 50 later this year. His motor skills are fading as are his eyesight and memory. This bothers him immensely and of course worries me a lot. We spend a lot more time talking these days and it's as though he knows he doesn't have much time left. He's trying to make sure I know all of his stories before he goes (albeit, the same stories he's told me since I was a teenager hehe). 

He had to give up drinking about 10 years ago because of the varied medications he needs. As late as last week when we were driving him to an eye appointment he said from the backseat: "Do you know what would taste really good right now, a rum & coke". I laughed because at no point do I ever remember him drinking that. 

Before I left for my annual trip to Scotland this year I spent a few days with my youngest daughter who now lives in Windsor, which so happens is where Hiram Walker Distillery is (totally coincidence I swear). I sent Don Livermore a quick email to let him know I'd be there for a few days and I got the invite to come and see him if I had a few minutes. DO I HAVE A FEW MINUTES!?  

What followed was a sunny Friday morning, coffee, nosing/tasting extravaganza as only Don Livermore could provide. I've said it before, the man is not only brilliant but makes learning about the whisky process so fascinating and interesting that you can't help leaving/feeling like you've just received a very special and insightful gift. Part of my experience (in their almost ready gorgeous visitor center) was creating my own blend which I loved doing. I also visited the warehouses. 

When we came back to the center, I noticed a few whisky bottles at the very back of the tasting room. "What is that" I exclaimed as I approached a new bottle I didn't recognize. Don smiled and started to tell me about Last Barrels. My eyes grew larger and I had to ask: "Is it possible to try it?" Of course he said, but under the condition that you not say a word or post this anywhere. DONE! I took a photo and buried my nose into the glass Don handed me. 

My notes that day:

Nose: Butterscotch, pencil shavings, oaky with hints of tree sap (barn after haying)
Palate: Crisp (surprised), like a tart green apple. Sweet, rich, a bit of clay, slightly peppery with more oak
Finish: LINGERS forever, nice dried chilies/sweetness

If you want to learn more about how the whisky actually came to exist, please read Davin's article on it here:

LCBO (Liquor Control Board of Ontario) requested this whisky as an exclusive release for Father's Day. It's not often you'll hear about these sorts of whiskies in Canada. They are few and far between which, of course, only makes them even more rare. Unlike some of the other releases from around the world, this is a very affordable whisky! It's $65/bottle BUT only available in the province of Ontario, which is where I don't live!?? CRAP I immediately thought!

After I came back from the trip to UK, I started looking into getting a few bottles of this. Thankfully because of some really great friends in Ontario and Quebec, I did! I bought 3 for very selfish reasons. One I will open now and share with friends (and maybe one or two little tipples with dad). The second I will open at my father's wake, and the third when I retire (let's hope I make it to 65!)

Whiskies, like some people in my life, can be gloriously special. I'm thankful to be living in a time where Canadian whisky is reclaiming its place in the world. I'm thankful for still having both parents alive and I'm thankful for friends who look out for me in one way or another. 

If you are fortunate enough to be living in Ontario, I highly recommend you pick up at least one bottle of this very unique Canadian whisky (if not two) and if you don't live there, find someone to get it for you. I guarantee you won't be disappointed in your purchase. 

Oh and if you know a deserving dad somewhere who is an unsung hero, get him a bottle too!

Happy Birthday to my dad ->Edmond. I wouldn't be as kooky or "special" without your genes or support. May you live another 20 great years and enjoy a small dram as well as dance with me when I turn 70.

Your loving daughter,

Lassie (Johanne)

1 comment:

  1. OMG, Johanne, this post is unbelievable to me! First of all, happy birthday to your Dad!

    Here's the freaky part: your Dad's birthday (May 28th) is my mother's birthday, too, but my Dad just turned 80 in March as he was born in 1936 AND I'm turning 50 later this year also!! How many coincidences? I also have to add that we celebrated my dad's birthday this year in CANADA! We flew to Toronto to surprise him! ;)

    Anyway, I was coming here to send you a message and saw this post. Very cool! Will message you now.