Thursday, 9 June 2011

The Spirit of Toronto - recap and review

The Spirit of Toronto

So this year was my first time attending the Spirit of Toronto event.  I was really rather excited about the prospect of being in a room with dozens of distillery representatives wanting to force their wares on me.  After all, who am I to deny anyone their wishes?
For those that haven’t been to the event, the price of admission looks like this:
Event ticket - $129
Early admission fee - $29 (gets you in to the 5:30 master class and into the tasting hall before general admission)
Master classes - $10
Dinner is included as part of the cost and ALL tastings at the booths are FREE.

I went with a friend and we both chose to get the early admission so we could attend John Glaser’s Compass Box master class.  At the class we tasted a number of things of their’s including the original Spice Tree (now illegal) and the LCBO only botting of Magic Cask.  WOW, such tasty malts.  John’s a bit of a magician I think (pardon the pun).

We then attended Davin de Kergommeaux’s “Golden Age of Canadian Whisky” master class.  Very well presented and quite a learning experience.  We tasted some old beauties like Bush Pilot's Reserve and Lot 40 that have long been out of production.  Quite an interesting experience and very novel to meet Davin (a real Malt Maniac).

The rest of the night was spent roaming around the show floor at Roy Thomson Hall (a circular opera house by rights) sampling various spirits.  There was a broad selection of Scotches, Bourbons/Rye’s, Canadian whiskies and other world offerings including Australia and Japan.

The show is quite well done and gets a lot of international attention.  The only thing I was somewhat disappointed in was the bottle selection on the various brand booths.  It seemed to be limited to the offerings available as SKUs at the LCBO.  For instance Laphroaig only had their Quarter Cask at the booth, that’s it - 1 malt.  I mean WTF is that about?  Where is the 10, 18, 25 Year or some of the Islay Festival bottlings?  The same held true with other booths too, just odd really.
Would I recommend going back?  Absolutely without question.  
Would I recommend it to a friend?  Yup, already bugging my buddies about next year.
Anyone want to join me?!

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