Glenora Distillery, Glenville, Nova Scotia.

GLENORA DISTILLERYNova Scotia bound motorists look forward to driving the scenic Cape Breton trail with its beautiful vistas of the Atlantic Ocean and pristine coves. Some tourists are so enchanted that they drive the trail from west to east, and reverse to enjoy every bit of scenery from both sides.

Driving along the trail, the Scottish kiln house stands out in the landscape. Glenville is located between Mabou (population 400) and Inverness. Tourists delight in seeing a typical Scottish distillery in Nova Scotia although it does not fit into the landscape. The Glenora Distillery project started with the acquisition of 300 acres of land through which Mac Lellan’s Brook flows, fed by snowmelt from over 20 brooks until it reaches the Gulf of St Lawrence. The owners were aware of the importance of water quality, purity and suitability of the whisky they were envisaging. They hired experts to scout just the right property with its proper water supply. The rocks on the brook bed are hard, so hard in fact that the water remains soft.

Soft water extracts more flavour from the malt, which the distillery imports from Scotland.

After the acquisition, a defunct distillery in Glasgow was purchased, dismantled, and transported to Nova Scotia and rebuilt on location.

The complex houses the distillery, a fine restaurant six bungalow-style tastefully furnished guest rooms, a bar and a boutique.

After visiting the distillery (frequent tours are offered daily which culminate in the bar). Many tourists decide to stay for at least a night to spend totally relaxed time.

The restaurant menu offers Scottish specialties (especially smoked Atlantic salmon, or variations of this prized fish), North American favourites, and local delicacies.

Only whisky and soft drinks are offered. You will be pleasantly surprise how well the Glen Breton Rare Canadian Single malt whisky complements the smoked salmon.

Glenora Distillery is the only single malt whisky outside of Scotland, but its product cannot be marketed as Scottish single malt. The malt, produced to distillery’s specifications, hails from Scotland, but kilned on location.

After mashing, the wort is fermented with a yeast strain cultivated in the distillery. The “distiller’s beer” is then distilled in two Scottish built copper alembic stills which were purchased from another distillery in Scotland. Presently, the annual production is 250,000 litres although the potential is 450,000 litres.

The Glen Breton Rare Canadian Malt whisky is distilled out at 60 percent ABV to extract sufficient congeners for distinct flavour.

The head (foreshots) and tails (faints) are collected separately and redistilled. Only the “heart” of the batch goes into bourbon barrels, in which Jack Daniel’s has been aged.  The minimum aging is five years, although the final blend contains many older whiskies.

During aging, an average of two percent ABV evaporates, the reason of high cost for aged whisky and tied up capital.

During evaporation, the whisky absorbs aromas from the surroundings, including heather, apples, maple, spruce, wild flowers and salt form the Atlantic Ocean. During aging flavours become more pronounced due to evaporation and whisky smoother.

Glenora’s master blender tastes each barrels’ content and decided on the blending ratio. The operation stared in 1990 and the first whisky was offered in 2000. So far the best quality,  balance and dept of flavour  has been achieved with the 2003 blend.

After assembly, the final blend is thoroughly mixed, and aged for another year in an attempt to achieve the perfect marriage of all components.

Not surprisingly, Glenora’s whisky bears a strong resemblance to Scotch whisky, but with a particularly fruity flavour profile due to the aging environment and the barrels used.

The attractively packaged whisky is marketed as a niche product due to its high price and limited quantity, but it is available in every province through special order.

Glen Breton Rare Canadian Single malt should be enjoyed neat in a tumbler with a little brook water to “unlock” the flavour, much like the Scottish master blenders advocate.

Distillery tours are short, informative well conducted, and offer a rare opportunity to learn first hand about whisky production.

Hrayr Writer – Hrayr Berberoglu – E-mail – Read his books?
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