Whiskey enthusiast, Jamie Johnson of bourbonthing.com, will host an evening of tastings at Buster Rhino's in Oshawa, Ont., Mar 30, 2016. Born and raised in Toronto Johnson says her whisky road began on a trip to Kentucky in 2014 and she now runs a whisky club, writes about whisky and co-hosts The Whisky Topic podcast with Mark Bylok. In short, so to speak, whisky is her thing.
"I visited a few distilleries, and was able to get a look at how whisky was made and learn a bit of the history, and I was totally charmed," she says in an email interview with SlowCity.ca. "While I was there, I booked a tasting with the innkeeper of the hotel I was at, and I was completely riveted the whole time. I decided that I was going to do a monthly whisky club with my friends in my living room, and it very quickly outgrew my tiny apartment, so I started offering them around the city. After that, I was approached to do some corporate whisky tastings and met some of my very closest, whisky-drinking friends. I’ve been lucky enough to work with some brands at trade events, and even been able to travel doing this. It’s been an utterly wonderful experience so far, and I can’t wait to see where else it takes me."
It will take her as least as far as Buster Rhino's where she says she will be talking about the types of bourbon, the history and the distilleries. There will be a flight of five samples available. She says she is currently sampling "a bottle of Wild Turkey Rare Breed, a Balvenie Caribbean Cask, an Old Rip Van Winkle 10, Bookers and Gooderham and Worts." She says what she looks for from a whisky is for it to be in a glass in front of her, surrounded by friends.
"I want the whisky I’m drinking to highlight the night I’m having, and I want to pick this whisky by knowing a little bit about different styles and what they offer in terms of flavour. Some nights, you want something uncomplicated and easy, and some nights you want bold, big flavour that can stop you in your tracks," she says.
It was the complexity of whisky flavours that stopped her in her tracks initially she says, "the oakiness, the sweetness, the bite," as well as the art behind it, an art which doesn't receive much respect in North America. Tastes run more along British Isles lines but just like wine and craft beer, the locals are garnering quite the reputation.
"I think Crown Royal Northern Harvest Rye being named by Jim Murray (author of the Whisky Bible) as his favourite of the year, has put a wonderful spotlight on Canadian Whiskies that is long overdue. We really do make wonderful whisky here - and it’s definitely a great bottle at a great price point. Is it MY favourite whisky? No, but I definitely have a bottle at home that I’m thoroughly enjoying," she says.
Johnson did decline to name her favourite but perhaps its as simple an answer as - the next one!