Me, Canada, and Whisky…

So my quest while I’m in Canada is to see, smell, taste, and experience as much as possible, and being into scotch, this includes the local spirits of course! Whilst I’ve been here I’ve been keeping an eye out for interesting whiskies from local producers to get a flavour for what the best Canadian whisky is like.

The quintessential Canadian whisky is Rye. Grown in the sprawling plains of Canada, rye is a cereal crop used mostly to make rye bread, but also whisky and vodka. Alberta is the world’s biggest producer of rye whisky and exports quite a bit to the US to be mixed with Bourbon or sold as 100% ryes. A 90% rye – Crown Royal’s Harvest Rye, was declared the best whisky in the world for 2016!

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I should probably try it….

Obviously then, I’m keen to try as many ryes as possible, and bring a bottle or two home. But how do I make my souvenirs special, make them mean something? A lot of the trinkets I’ve collected have meaning, tickets from ball games, my paddle from Algonquin, etc. Well why not age my own rye!? “Impossible!” you say, “whisky takes years to age and you’re only in Canada for another 12 months”. Well that’s with a big barrel, I’ve procured a tiny little 1L one. And that means I can fast age my spirit of choice over the summer!

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Ready for fill No 1.

To acquire my little summer project, I travelled up to the Toronto Distillery Company  and got to hand pick my barrel in their distillery, and try some of the things I could put in it. There was a wheat spirit and a corn one (the corn had a real “blow your face off” moonshine feel to it), but I wanted the pure rye experience and picked up 3 small bottles to age in my apartment over the summer.

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Me and my little bundle of joy!

I heard on a distillery tour a few years back that 98% of a whisky’s flavour comes from the ingredients and 2% comes from the marketing spiel from the distillery: The waves crashing on the distillery, the sheep itching their bums on the barrels stored outside, the earth of the riverbank where they collected the water, etc. This is the bit that most people clutch at in those tasting notes you read around. I’m hoping my 2% will be a flavour of time here in Toronto, perhaps there really is something in the air on Queen Street West.

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April – A new Edgewalk season

So winter didn’t quite end in March it seems, I returned to Toronto with snow on the horizon. As the first flakes fell I was having a somewhat nerdy evening building a new computer with Conner, one of my old Edgewalk buddies. I’ve built a couple of computers before but this was by far the largest thing I’d put together. The motherboard had a huge range of extra features! I was also slightly nervy as Conner had spent nearly $3500 on mostly my advice! To my relief the PC came to life on the first attempt to switch it on, once we’d remembered to plug the power cable in….

 

My first few shifts of the new Edgewalk season we conducted atop a snow covered (but safe of course) CN Tower. It was pretty cool walking around up there with the snow drifting underneath the platform.

April was also a bit of a quest to save money, winter had been expensive, as had my trip back, so I was feeling the need to bulk up my finances in preparation for another trip home and my trip back to BC at the end of summer. There are still plenty of cheap things to do in Toronto though, the main one of these being climbing of course! I was still getting shifts in at Joe’s which meant free climbing to entertain myself and stay fit.

Me and Nyssa also made a trip to The Conservatory, a small public green house in the east part of downtown where they have many exotic plant species.

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Very tropical..

I also made my first trip to Toronto’s legendary St Lawrence Market. To be honest this is somewhere I should have been to see during my first summer here, as the hostel I was staying in when I arrived was like 10 mins walk away! The market is a sprawling cavernous building was many many different types of produce on sale, mostly meat, fish, and cheese. I picked myself up local Ontario Brie, and a Sea Bream that had been caught the day before.

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As April ended temperatures were begging to warm up and we were now needing less and less layers outside at work. Hopefully this is a sign of a good summer to come!