Summertime, and the living is easy at Md Bespoke private lifestyle Sip & Smoke events in Toronto. Md’s exclusive warm weather events bring the good life to life by bringing good people together to sample a unique array of specialty alcohols and hand-picked Cuban cigars.
The July event featured two very different bottles: Nikka Whisky from Japan and Le Mensil, a growers champagne. Al-Karim Moloo, brand representative of Collectio Wine Imports, took some time to talk to us about his offerings that evening.
What distinguishes Nikka whisky from scotch?
Similar to regional differences in wine, it’s primarily the climate in Japan. The method used to produce Japanese whisky is the same, but it’s the climate and the seasons that have a significant impact on the maturation. This lends to the flavour profile because Japanese whisky matures faster. The result is a refined flavour that tastes aged compared to other products.
Al-Karim Moloo (left) and Marlon Durrant, owner, Md Bespoke
Where to buy
LCBO in Ontario and Highlander Wine & Spirits in Alberta have allocations of the various Nikka Products. Prices can range from $70 for the entry level From The Barrel, an excellent whisky, to $100 for the bottles we sampled this evening (Miyagikyo, Yoichi and Taketsuru).
Tell us about the champagne
We tasted a growers champagne called Le Mesnil, which I purchased this from Highlander Wine & Spirits in Calgary. This champagne ranges from $55 to $90 a bottle. Ontario’s LCBO has other growers champagne with comparable prices.
What distinguishes this champagne from bigger brands?
Many co-operatives that produce champagne grapes sell their grapes to the big houses like Moet and Krug. The land transfer tax makes it very hard for these growers to sell their land to their children, so ultimately, they sell their land to the big houses. Grower champagne is produced in smaller quantities from individual plots of land, and you can taste the impact of the terroir [factors like soil, climate, and sunlight that influence the character of the grape].
People forget that the bigger houses blend the grapes from hundreds of different sites throughout the Champagne region. These big houses, known as Grand Marques, are consistent, down to the pop of the cork, and there isn’t a lot of bottle variation for the non-vintage products. The key is that each of the hundreds of sites that are used to produce the Grand Marques, which represents these growers.
Do people focus too much on the price point?
Yes, that’s primarily due to marketing! If you think about it, how many big brands are there? There are over 19,000 independent growers in the Champagne region which account for over 85 percent of the vineyard land in the region. This is the reason I wanted to showcase growers champagne!
These big labels are wonderful and well-made. I just wanted to put a spotlight on some of the wonderful smaller family run operations that produce amazing products from the same grapes. These are made with the intention to take you on a journey, to express the terroir, and acknowledge the hard work that goes into making the champagne.
Thanks to Al-Karim Moloo, Mark Keast at Regarding Luxury, Md Bespoke studio, Growers Flower Market; Chef Stokley for the nibbles, George at Reign Motors, and Sean at Watch Finder for displaying watches and talking watch life. Special thanks to DJ Carl Allen and the evening’s musical performance by Aion Clarke.