If you read my Nova Scotia tour story in the August 2011 issue, then you know that it was looooong — and actually, the original edit was much longer! Below is an excerpt from the cutting-room floor, about Glen Breton Rare, my new favorite whisky.
Also included here are a multitude of pics that didn’t make the magazine. I hope you enjoy them, for they tell the story far better than I could ever hope to.
Faith And Glenora
Glenville is in the North Cape Highlands, about seven miles inland from Inverness — near Glengarry, Kenloch, Lake Ainslie, and Scotsville. If you’re sensing a theme here, you’re on the right track. They had their choice of locales, but it was in this fertile valley that the founders of Glen Breton Rare decided to produce Canada’s only single malt. Why? Simply put, the landscape most reminded them of the Scottish Highlands, where the majority of the world’s finer Scotches are made. Wild apple and pear orchards blanket the hills, and same six-foot-wide stream that flows through those natural orchards is the same one that runs through the Glenora property, providing the water source for the distillery — and the fruity nose of the light yet full-throated whisky it produces.
“Macallen is known as one of the world’s most exclusive Scotches — but they make as much whisky in a day as we do in a year,” manager and “Whisky Ambassador” Donnie Campbell said during a walk-through of the small but impressive Glenora grounds. The highlight was my super-secret entree into the distillery’s storage warehouse. Keg after keg of Glen Breton Rare lay stacked to the rafters. Gaping, I walked into the blackness while Donnie looked for the light switch. The fragrant, fruity nose I’d detected after a sip was nothing compared to the earthy, heady aroma which permeated that converted barn. Enveloped, I felt a little dizzy, and quite thirsty.
But Glen Breton Rare wasn’t produced without its share of Scotch drama. In 2000, after waiting 10 years for the first batch to age, the founders were eager to introduce their whisky to the world. Almost immediately, they were sued by the Scotch Whisky Association, which claimed that their use of the word “glen” in the whisky’s name was a blatant attempt to lure drinkers of Glenlivet, Glenfiddich, and other Scotches. Ignoring for a moment the inherent Scottish legacy of Cape Breton Island — not to mention the confounding fact that a bunch of Scotch whisky connoisseurs were ever sober enough to start their own “association” — the upstart distillery from the small Canadian town that begins with the word “glen” fought the established authority, and won. Glenora was allowed to keep its name, but agreed not to refer to or compare its whisky to “Scotch” in any way. Which is fine; it can stand firmly on its own merits. Glen Breton Rare is a top-notch single malt, and it is by far my favorite Canadian export (with apologies to The Tragically Hip). It is available in the US and Europe; check the Glenora web site to find where you can get a bottle.