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Issue 58 - Gorilla in the Mist

Whisky Magazine Issue 58
August 2006

 

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Gorilla in the Mist

Canada's blends are respected across the world,William M.Dowd found out why they're so good.

Collingwood, Ontario -- The 800- pound gorilla swirled the amber concoction around, sniffed it, tasted it, then delivered the verdict. "Well, Terry, this is ...uh ... crap," he said.

If that's the way he felt about my crestfallen colleague's efforts, there was no way I was going to let this guy sample any of the whisky blend I'd just created.

He was, after all, the master distiller and master blender for Canadian Mist, the second largest maker of Canadian whisky in the universe. I didn't need that kind of pressure.

But, let's back up a couple of days.

I was interested in more fully understanding the intricacies of the process that creates Canadian whisky (like Scotch, spelled without the ‘e' used in the United States and Ireland). Brown-Forman, the multinational alcoholic beverage behemoth, was just beginning a new campaign to push its Canadian Mist brand, so our mutual desires resulted in an invitation to visit the distillery here with several other adult beverage writers to learn about blending under the tutelage of Harold Ferguson, distiller and blender par excellence.

After a pleasant night in Toronto, it was off to this industrial city of 22,000 souls located about 90 miles northwest of the metro area.

Collingwood seems the right place for such an adventure. Its legacy ranges from the sublime (named after Lord Nelson's second in command at the Battle of Trafalgar) to the ridiculous (an annual Elvis impersonator festival).

Along the way, it became obvious not man...

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