Rotary Club celebrates ‘golden age of whisky’

If you want to join the latest libation revolution, the Rotary Club of Sunshine Coast Sechelt’s Whisky Tasting Event is a good place to start. 

“This is the golden age of whisky; consumption has never been higher,” says Darryl Lamb, brand manager and director of libation purchasing at Legacy Liquor Store (legacyliquorstore.com) in Vancouver. 

Lamb, who will be presenting the bottles for the whisky tasting event at Blue Ocean Golf Club Oct. 5, cites a number of reasons for the increasing popularity of Scotch whisky, the foremost of which is a loosening of the rules. 

Single malt Scotch whisky has always had four unchangeable tenets: it must be made from 100 per cent barley; it must be distilled in Scotland in pot stills; it must be aged in Scotland; and it must be aged in oak barrels for at least three years. 

It took an act of the Scottish parliament, but now distillers are allowed to use “more radicalized barrels for aging,” says Lamb. “Even Glenlivet is evolving. It offers a single malt aged in a cognac barrel.” 

Another reason for whisky’s soaring popularity is the “whisky bomb” that went off in 2014-15 when collecting whisky became all the rage. 

“We have a single malt in the store that used to sell for $75. It now goes for $800,” Lamb says. The most expensive bottle of single malt at Legacy Liquor Store, a 1974 Glenmorangie, sells for over $10,000.

Of course, most people want to actually consume their whisky, and Lamb is coming to Sechelt to help with that. He sees his main role as “trying to demystify the art of tasting wine and spirits. “It’s a matter of practice. There is no right or wrong answer. The flavors you identify in a whisky are your own personal memories.” 

Lamb trained as a sommelier at UBC before discovering his love of whisky – especially those smoky Islay malts, where, because there were no trees on the islands, distillers had to toast the barley with peat fires instead of wood. 

“I like to say enjoying Scotch whisky is a lifelong journey – you have to earn it. And the Islay Scotches are the graduate studies.” 

This is the seventh year the Rotary Club has hosted the whisky tasting. 

“Why? Because I like whisky,” club president Kevin Davie says. “On a whim, a past club member and I went to Vancouver for a whisky tasting course. Afterwards, we asked ourselves, ‘why not do it here?’”

It was a good call. The very first event sold out, and Rotary used some of the proceeds to finish Friendship Park in Sechelt. This year’s proceeds will go toward placing defibrillators at hiking trailheads and supplying lifesaving equipment to beaches and piers among other projects. 

“When we started the event, we did a lot of research into the traditions of Scotch whisky,” Davie says. “For instance, a bagpiper pipes in each bottle. And he gets the first sip. If he likes the whisky, he smashes the cap on the floor so that the bottle can’t be stoppered up again. It has to be drunk.” 

James Covell, chef for the event, spent 20 years cooking in Vancouver before coming to the Sunshine Coast to chef at the Rockwater Secret Cove Resort while planning his own business, Plethora Fine Foods, which opened in July 2017. 

Under his direction, you can expect the food to be representative of Pacific Northwest cuisine: “Fresh, local, sustainable, simple and delicious.” 

Courses include seared local scallop, rabbit with wild mushroom ravioli and sturgeon and caviar from Northern Divine Aquafarms.

Email Tanya Hall at tanya@tanyahall.org or Sheila Gamble at sheilagamble97@gmail.com for tickets.

– Submitted by David Connors

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