About This Dram
The third distillery to be featured in our ongoing series of exclusive single cask local whiskies – Odd Society, from East Vancouver! We ventured off of our island home and discovered that we’re not the only ones making high-quality whisky in BC.
Our first venture into the realms of this Odd Society here at The Dram Association was a rather risky one. On a video celebrating the release of a new version of Devine’s Glen Saanich, I opened and sampled the Odd Society Commodore in order to make a decision while on camera as to whether we should stock it at The Strath. You can see that segment here.
Spoiler alert – we brought it in. I actually marveled at the fact that whilst I couldn’t truly say that it was an excellent whisky – it was an excellent spirit and showed a lot of potential. So much so in fact, that I decided to pursue a single cask expression for the store, as well as bringing in batch 4 of the Commodore single malt. My timing was apparently perfect, as shortly after this happened the Commodore picked up the incredible honour of “Best Single Malt” at the 2021 Canadian Artisan Spirit Awards. Interestingly, our first two local distilleries in this series also picked up the “Best Single Grain” (Shelter Point) and the “Best Young Whisky” (Devine)! It’s a good year for BC whiskies.
So who are the Odd Society? Well, they are a small, experimental, and outright playful, craft distillery based in East Van. They are run by Gordon Glanz and Miriam Karp, who both possess a knockout combination of passion and competency. Gordon, the founder/distiller, studied at Heriot-Watt University in Edinburgh. He’s in good company there, as that’s the same university as Shelter Point’s Leon Webb, Eau Claire’s Caitlin Quinn, Westland’s Matt Hofmann, and many more incredible new-world distillers. I’m also a personal fan of the establishment, as it happens to be where I studied as well – although mathematics was somewhat less interesting and glamourous.
So enough about the background story – let’s talk about these two specific drams S38 & S39. It turns out that we were offered not one, but two casks from Odd Society – and I just couldn’t say no to either. Especially as it gives us an excellent opportunity to geek out and look at the effects of different char levels on American oak! That’s right, aside from a couple of months of difference in age, the main difference between these two expressions is actually just twenty seconds of charring. Dram S38 (Cask #254) was matured in a “Char #1” cask, which is about 15 seconds of char. Dram S39 (Cask #272) was matured in a “Char #3” cask, which is about 35 seconds of char.
For those unfamiliar with the concept of barrel charring, here is a link to a video showing the process being done at Japan’s Yoichi distillery – complete with cheesy royalty-free 80’s rock music. It’s essentially a preparation stage for the barrel, that both helps add flavour to the whisky and also sterilizes the cask. There are four main flavour effecting compounds at play here. Oak lactones (coconut and almond notes), and tannins (pepper and orange notes) are both more present in lower char barrels. On the flipside, lignin (vanilla and leather notes), and hemicellulose (caramel and maple notes) are both more prominent in higher char casks.
So, the same ingredients, maturation location, distillation techniques, and a similar age – the only real difference is the char. It’s a cool and rather geeky pairing to explore – and a challenge to test our palettes with. Can you pick out the differences? Do you have a favourite? Let us know what you think of this unique limited edition pair of expressions.
Twists of bittersweet grapefruit peel stuck me on the initial nose, like the garnish on a boutique cocktail. Speaking of cocktails, there is an almond nuttiness reminiscent of orgeat syrup there as well, but not as sweet. Dry, and peppery, with creamy vanilla lingering in the background.
The palate had an earl grey tea-like quality, with the citric bergamot intertwining with the soft tannins of the tea leaves. The almonds came through again, almost like an almond shortbread. There was a bit of a baking spice element, more toward the cloves and allspice end of the spectrum, with some banana notes on the finish.