Tag Archives: Islay whisky

Drink of the Week: Pineapple Penicillin

Ever since I travelled to the Scottish island of Islay — home to the Bowmore, Laphroaig and Ardbeg distilleries, to name a few — I’ve been a sucker for peated whiskies. So I was super excited to receive a bottle of the new Ardbeg Kelpie, which was recently crowned Whisky of the Year at the 2017 International Whisky Competition in Las Vegas.

As its name implies, Kelpie pays homage to the sea that surrounds Islay. With its seaweed nose and smoky, spicy taste, it’s just the type of whisky you can imagine Euron Greyjoy drinking as he sails his squid-sigiled ships around the waters of Westeros.

I think Euron would like Ardbeg Kelpie.

It’s lovely on its own, but also acts as a commanding accompaniment to a cocktail. I used it to float some smoke on a Pineapple Penicillin, with fantastic results. Do be sure and grill your pineapple before juicing — the tropical campfire flavour compliments the Kelpie and adds a bright mellowness that’s perfect for summer sipping.

This delicious summer sipper floats Ardbeg Kelpie atop spicy rye and grilled pineapple juice.

Pineapple Penicillin

  • 2 oz Alberta Premium Rye
  • 1/4 oz Ardbeg Kelpie
  • 1 oz grilled pineapple juice
  • 1/2 oz fresh lemon juice
  • 1/4 oz honey simple syrup (1:1 honey-to-water ratio)

Method: Grill several pineapple rounds, then juice. Combine all ingredients except Ardbeg Kelpie in a cocktail shaker with ice and shake to chill. Strain into a rocks glass over one large ice cube. Float Ardbeg Kelpie on top and garnish with a skewer of grilled pineapple cubes.

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Drink of the Week: Islay Barrel

Scotch cocktails aren’t exactly a thing — most Scots sip their whisky neat or with a couple drops of water — but when in Scotland I endeavoured to sample the spirit dressed up with some other ingredients.

This posh yet casual hotel on the shore of Loch Lomond oozes Scottishness.

This posh yet casual hotel on the shore of Loch Lomond oozes Scottishness.

To begin my scotchtails exploration I met a fellow Canadian cocktail and spirits writer at the Great Scots Bar — inside gorgeous Cameron House, located on the shore of Loch Lomond — and we proceeded to get our Scottish on before dinner. She ordered a whisky and I got the Islay Barrel cocktail. It was apropos of the trip as it featured Ardbeg 10 Years Old, a peaty whisky from Islay (where we were flying the next day!), as well as Glayva, which is a Scottish liqueur made from whisky, tangerines, almonds, honey and cinnamon (yum!).

The view from the Great Scots Bar looked out over Loch Lomond and the seaplane that would fly us to Islay the following day.

The view from the Great Scots Bar looked out over Loch Lomond and the seaplane that would fly us to Islay the following day.

This drink did not disappoint. Smoky, sour, strong and sweet, with an exotic flavour that must have been the Glayva. I was prepared to be put off by the peaty Ardbeg, but it just enhanced the cocktail, and it was tempered somewhat by the Lillet, lemon juice and vanilla. And, I am kicking myself that I didn’t get the recipe right then (apologies, readers), because tracking it down from Canada has proved challenging. So, you’ll just have to play around with the five ingredients and see what you get.

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“The peaty power of Ardbeg mysteriously mixed with Lillet Blanc, Glayva, lemon juice and vanilla syrup.” — Great Scots Bar menu description.

I never did make it to the Ardbeg distillery when I was on Islay, but as luck would have it, Ardbeg’s Canadian brand ambassador, Ruaraidh MacIntyre, was in Calgary the very next week. I joined the Victoria Day Tweed Ride with him, and then sampled three of Ardbeg’s range, including the 10 Years Old, Uigeadale and Corryvreckan, after the ride. It was fun to try them unadulterated after enjoying the 10 Years Old in an Islay Barrel. Slainte!

Canadian brand ambassador

Canadian brand ambassador Ruaraidh MacIntyre pours out samples of scotch in Calgary after the Victoria Day Tweed Ride.

 

When in Scotland (or home), raise a dram

Transportive. That’s the word to describe what happens when you spend a week on Islay sipping Scotland’s smokiest, peatiest single malt scotch whisky, then return to Canada and open a bottle of Laphroaig 10 Year Old on a rainy spring evening.

Transported to Islay via seaplane from Loch Lomond. Great view of Laphroaig Distillery flying in.

Just one sniff takes you back to Islay and the moors and the salt and the sea. One sip and you’re there, defying wind to cut peat from a bank, shaping snow angels atop a pillow of smoky malted barley inside the distillery, or washing down a local stinky blue cheese with just as stinky of a dram.

Laphroad Distllery

Laphroaig Distllery sits next to the sea on Islay. Distilleries were traditionally built on the water for shipping reasons.

I was one in a group of 20 international journalists invited to Islay by Laphroaig to celebrate the whisky’s 200th anniversary (celebrating throughout 2015, and with new whisky expressions). I spent three days touring the island and getting a crash course on all-things-scotch. Full disclosure: heavily peated whiskies like those from Islay intimidated me prior to the trip. I wondered: would I hold back, or would the charms of the island and its whisky history win me over dram by dram?

We sipped whisky by the distillery's water source...

I sipped whisky by the distillery’s water source…

And I sipped whisky on the boat ride to neighbouring island Jura...

And I sipped whisky on the boat ride to neighbouring island Jura…

I’m pleased to say the latter happened, as a bottle of 10 Year Old, or 15 Year Old, or 18 Year Old seemed to follow us from distillery to bus to boat to karaoke night at the Islay Hotel. I’ll be writing more about what can only be described as “Islay time” — the island, the whisky, the people — for various publications in the coming months. So stay tuned.

In the meantime, “Slainte!” (“health”), toasted with a dram (or cocktail). Note: I mostly sipped whisky on its own — or with a bit of water — while in Scotland, but I couldn’t resist digging up a classic recipe that calls for Laphroaig. This one’s just what the doctor ordered when you’re missing Islay on a rainy spring evening.

Penicillin cocktail. Laphroaig is good medicine!

Penicillin cocktail. Laphroaig is good medicine!

Penicillin

  • 2 oz blended scotch (or blended whiskey — I used Crown Royal )
  • 3/4 oz fresh lemon juice
  • 3/4 oz honey syrup (equal parts honey and water)
  • 3 slices fresh ginger
  • 1/4 oz Islay single malt scotch (I used Laphroaig 10 Year Old)

Method: Muddle the ginger in the base of a cocktail shaker until it is well mashed. Add the whisky, lemon juice and honey syrup, and fill shaker with ice. Shake until well chilled. Double strain into an ice-filled rocks glass to remove little bits of ginger. Finally, pour the Laphroaig over the back of a bar spoon so that it floats atop the drink.

— Adpated from a Serious Eats Penicillin recipe