A few weeks ago we received an exclusive invitation from Canadian Club to “Celebrate the Grain” at their first-ever portfolio tasting and dinner in Ottawa at the SOCIAL. Admittedly, we didn’t know much about whisky so we thought this would be a great opportunity for us to learn more, experience an exclusive event at a great restaurant, and rediscover a brand that has been a Canadian intuitionfor so long.
The evening had three components: the portfolio tasting, dinner, and one-on-one cocktail-making demo. We arrived at the SOCIAL to find a small, intimate crowd gathered at the back sipping specialty Canadian Club cocktails and nibbling on cheese and charcuterie.
First up was a portfolio tasting led by Canadian Club Brand Ambassador, Tish Harcus. Tish is a long-time employee of Canadian Club and she knows everything about them and their spirits! We loved her friendly presence and passion for the brand. She taught us how to really enjoy the tastes – to feel the “zest” not the “burn” for example -- and how different types of glasses can change the taste experience. It was much like a wine tasting but perhaps with more laughs. Our tasting flight comprised four Canadian Club Whiskies: Premium 1858, Classic 12 year old, Chairman Select 100% Rye, and Sherry Cask.
The Sherry cask was extra special, and the new 100% Rye had a surprisingly different flavour… who knew our whisky palate could be so well refined.
After our tasting we were treated to a three course meal in which the star of the night -- Canadian Club Chairman Select 100% Rye -- was infused into some of the main dishes.
Between the tasting and dinner we had the opportunity to meet Davin de Kergommeaux, author of “Canadian Whisky: The Portable Expert”. Davin is a certified Malt Maniac and trained sommelier who has been analyzing, writing, and talking about whisky, as an independent commentator, for more than a dozen years. If you want to know anything about whisky, Davin is your man! Guests got to take home a signed copy of his book.
Our favourite part of the evening was becoming the bartender! We loved this interactive component of the night. During dinner, each guest was invited up to special bar to meet and make a custom cocktail with Beam-Suntory Ambassador, Matt Jones. During our time with Matt he taught us the best techniques for making a Dry Rye Manhattan. Make sure to head over to our Facebook page to watch a time lapse of our cocktail making!
Matt taught us some best practices for making a perfect whisky drinks each time with the 2-2-2 rule. Use 2 ounces of whiskey, 2 ice-cubes (ice cubes should be no older than 24 hours old, otherwise they start to take on the properties of the things in our freezer – yuck!), and wait 2 minutes. After returning to our table, we took a closer look at the ice sphere that Matt used for our drinks. Apparently, a key element in making a great cocktail is using a slow-melting sphere. We found out later that he had actually made and brought this custom ice with him from Toronto for the event. What’s so special about this ice? It was “kold draft” ice – a favorite with mixologists, this “flawless” ice melts slower, is purer and won’t distort the taste of a cocktail.
No meal would be complete without dessert. We opted for the Apple Pie: Warm Apple Pie, Canadian Club Chairman’s Select Maple Whiskey Ice Cream, which came with an accompanying shot of Maple Whiskey. Yum!
In our opinion, this was a fabulous event! We left knowing a lot more about the history of Canadian Club, where whisky barrels come from and what they’re made of, the new products they’re inventing, and the state of Canadian whisky in the global marketplace. Go Canada! We really enjoyed the intimate and cozy atmosphere: Guests were able to get up and mingle with other guests and with Tish, Matt, and Davin. This doesn’t happen often when there is a big crowd and this comfortable, familial experience made it all the more memorable. We are still telling people about this unique event weeks later. Big thanks to Margaret Bourne for connecting with us, we hope you will come back to Ottawa again soon. #IHeartRye
Disclosure: Ottawa Foodie Girlz were invited to attend this complimentary dinner/tasting event but was not obligated to write about it. All opinions about the event are our own.