Doing the background research for this bottle got me a little frustrated. I think I’m getting some traffic from the States these days, so for the benefit of you and others from outside Ontario, Canada, let me break it down for you. Our booze is controlled through the provincial government. We buy our beer at The Beer Store, our wine at Wine Rack and our liquor at the LCBO and nowhere else. I think you can buy direct from licensed brewers and distillers too, if you can find them. And because of where I live, Quebec is just over the river. They sell beer and wine in convenience stores but liquor through the SAQ. We have importation for personal use allowances if we feel like crossing the border into the US but that has its own hassles – America is a little scary these days.
All in all, it’s not a terrible selection on offer, but it is set up much more for people who know what they want to drink and drink the same thing all the time. It’s not conducive to a long term tasting hobby, unfortunately. Part of the pressure with this site is being able to taste new bottles to generate articles, and that costs money, of course. But that’s not today’s issue.
Because of the red tape associated with where I live, many foreign distillers, websites, etc won’t bother shipping to us. So when I see something cool and beautiful like the Compass Box Gift Pack that would allow me to taste several different blends for a fraction of the cost, and I can’t order it because of where I live, I get annoyed. I believe in government and the services it provides its citizens but it’s hard not to be cynical when you’re unable to exchange money for a legal good. Goddamnit, masterofmalts.com even has a Samples section! Access to that would mean I could do a review every other day for the next 8 years or so, and at a significantly reduced rate versus by the bottle or by the glass.
The LCBO has a private order option, but if you look at the requirements, it gets stupid expensive very quickly. That $100.00 bottle of scotch you want to order from the UK? Well, it’s a case minimum, so even with a 10% bulk discount, that’s $1100.00 right there. Another $150.00 for product testing to make sure it meets federal guidelines. Add in shipping costs, exchange rates, taxes, duty and the LCBO mark-up (just because it’s government doesn’t mean they won’t charge retail “for” you) and their conservative estimate is a per-bottle cost four times the local cost. My $100.00 bottle example (because you wouldn’t buy a case if you didn’t have to) means that you’re actually into the twelve to twenty times what you would have to pay if you could just GODDAMNED WELL order it from a website. Oh, and you get to wait up to 14 weeks for it as well. Yeesh.
Having ranted, I would like to say that the people that work at the LCBO have never been anything but fantastic for me. They provide excellent service and are friendly and knowledgeable. But the red tape associated with enforcing and protecting a government monopoly are cumbersome at times.
ANYWAY. You’re here to read about what this tastes like, not my anti-bureaucratic ramblings. Here’s what we thought:
dan – sulphur, salty, hickory
simon – tanned leather, tequila, wood
dan – leather, beef jerky, perfect burn, good mouthfeel with a little tingle
simon – oak, salt, fake bacon
dan – sweetness, cuts alcohol burn, salty aftertaste
simon – orange, good not great. still smokey
Try it? Sure. Buy it? Nah.