In the land of whisky, Scottish distiller Isle of Harris makes a splash – with gin

Even by Scottish standards, the Isle of Harris qualifies as rugged and remote. Located off the mainland's northwest coast in the archipelago known as the Outer Hebrides, it is mountainous, windswept and not exactly teeming with hipster night life (population: 2,000). But it has long enjoyed one global claim to fame, Harris Tweed. The iconic woollen fabric, which according to parliamentary decree must be handwoven by islanders in their homes, has been gaining stature on high-fashion runways – Read more [...]

Globe holiday gift guide: To the spirits enthusiast

1. Single origin Most Cognacs are blended from casks of varying age to achieve a uniform fashion every year. The 19 casks of the limited edition represent one wine harvest in the Cognac area's finest district, Grande Champagne. Put simply: collector-worthy, top-end brandy. But do not let that prevent you from dispensing a couple of generous drams to (appreciated) guests this year. Dry and trim, with notes of orange blossom, honey, nougat and a heaping helping ofnbsp;spice.Hine Bonneuil Read more [...]

What Is the difference between American and French oak?

The questionWhat is the difference between American and French oak?The answer It is all in the fibers, which affect wine flavour, barrel costs and even the way the vessels are assembled.Virtually all wood used for wine maturation belongs to three species of white oak, all which have the benefit of being extremely water-tight relative to many other timber. Two species, Quercus petraea and Quercus robur, are sourced from French forests (in some instances, Read more [...]

Why wine in the Canary Islands is guaranteed to impress your Vacation  crowd

Tropical island wine" seems more like a punchline than a proposal from a respected sommelier. But the winemakers in the Canary Islands (a.k.a. "Spain's Hawaii") are succeeding in changing that, having discovered a winning formula, regardless of the area's many built-innbsp;hardships.Together with its distant location -- the Canaries are an archipelago off northern Africa, from where it is maddeningly tough to boat -- much of the area's hilly terrain is a patchwork of desert and jutting rock and Read more [...]

What is the secret to opening a jar with these waiter corkscrews?

The questionRecently I had two unique waiters who fought with, then bankrupt, wine corks. What is the secret to opening a jar with these waiter corkscrews?The answer The timeless sommelier's corkscrew, sometimes known as a "waiter's friend," works well when used correctly and has the benefit of easy portability. I keep one in my bike back bag, my check-in bag, the glove compartment of my car and in my Jack Spade man purse (hey, you never know if wine will Read more [...]

Ten Expensive wines for someone special you)

There's an unwritten rule in retail which you don't play Christmas music in stores before Remembrance Day. It is an admirable policy, regrettably violated by a few chains in recent years. Cheesy shopping-foreplay tunes are an insult as we prepare to mark a really solemn date (particularly, if you ask me, if this music appears to be Beneath the Mistletoe by Justin Bieber).By that sound logic, I will resist calling the pricier offerings under "present worthy" even though I am not here to push product Read more [...]

Ten pricy wines for someone special you)

There's an unwritten rule in retail which you don't play Christmas music in stores before Remembrance Day. It is an admirable policy, regrettably violated by a few chains in recent years. Cheesy shopping-foreplay tunes are an insult as we prepare to mark a really solemn date (particularly, if you ask me, if this music happens to be Beneath the Mistletoe by Justin Bieber).By that sound logic, I will resist calling the pricier offerings under "present worthy" even though I am not here to push product Read more [...]

Best of the west: Top red wines from British Columbia

Among the most notable Canadian reds I have had the joy of uncorking -- or, rather, unscrewing -- so much this season ranks nowhere near the most expensive. At $26.95 at B.C., it is downright easy on the Visa alongside a lot of pinot noirs from, say, Prince Edward County or Niagara in addition to a tractor-full of Bordeaux-style, merlot-cabernet Okanagan blends.It's also not likely to garner the type of focus that pinot noirs and Bordeaux blends get since, for Canada at least, the grape designation Read more [...]

Expect rising costs for European wines due to droughts and cold spells

Your favourite European wine may soon get a tad pricier, or at least harder to find. Blame it on the weather. A freakish combination of frost, hail and severe drought across the continent this year conspired to produce what some are calling one of the smallest harvests since the Second World War. The European Commission has forecast an across-the-board drop in wine-must production of 14.4 per cent among member countries, down to 14.5 billion litres from 16.9 billion in 2016. "That's an enormous Read more [...]

Can Beaujolais improve with age?

The questionCan Beaujolais improve with age?The answer Not too as Halle Berry or Sean Connery. However, it can -- or at least some of it could.As you may be aware, Beaujolais is a wine region of east-central France, sandwiched between Burgundy into the north and the Rhône Valley to the south. Administratively, it is a part of Burgundy, but that's merely bureaucracy; the wines and techniques are sufficiently different for the location to be considered its own bona-fide Read more [...]