I almost threw up the first time I stuck my sniffer in a whisky glass. I was in Ottawa’s D’Arcy McGee’s, blocks away from Parliament Hill, with a pack of political friends. It’s the sort of time you swing your sack around. So when the fellow in khakis ordered a whisky, I said, “same for me.” All I remember is bonfire. In my mouth. Choke.
I don’t know why I keep doing things I hate until I like them. But I’m still drinking whisky. In fact, tallying the money I spent on my July week in Scotland walking the river Spey, I’ve spent much more chasing good whisky than I care to share.
You don’t need to go nearly so far or spend nearly so much to broaden your palate with Edmonton’s whisky miracle, The Bothy. On that July trip, the head of Glenfarclas distillery knew the place by name. I don’t know what it’s current stock is, but we’re talking somewhere in the range of 90 different whiskys, or better. The Bothy draws its name from the simple huts in the hills that are used by shepherds and hikers should a Scottish storm hit.
The Bothy’s selection offers affordable drams, $6 to $10 per glass, in every whisky region of Scotland – Speyside, Highlands, Lowlands, Islands, Islay and Cambeltown. If you haven’t sampled from multiple regions, you’ll be surprised at the different flavours on offer. Rich tastes will be met with rarer and more expensive samples, all the way up to the Bowmore Black 1964 at $280 – per glass.
Not only are there somewhat affordable offerings, but the menu takes a whole page to describe the flavours of each region. The purveyors also include a map and a graph describing how whiskys place between smoky and delicate, rich and light. Staff will do their best to answer questions or offer suggestions as well.
Whisky snobbery aside, The Bothy also offers up some seriously gourmet food and a wine selection to rival their whisky collection.
But really, head down there with a few of your whisky curious friends for a few samples. Just remember: there’s hope after smoke.
The Bothy Southside 780 7611761, 5482 Calgary Trail
The Bothy Downtown 780 7608060, 10124 124 Street
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