February 16, 2017
It’s the first of its kind on Canada and was nearly three years in the making. Co-op's new World of Whisky store in downtown Calgary sells an impressive 700 different styles of whisky – everything from the finest 60 year-old scotch to trendy Taiwanese and Japanese whisky.
Chris Sikorsky is the manager of the new store and says, “whisky is 90 per cent of their stock. The concept is based on a store out of San Francisco. It's taken about three years to pull it all together and find the right location. We decided on downtown because it's the right demographic and is the busiest Plus 15 corridor, which extends from 3rd avenue, all the way to 8th avenue.”
When most of us think of whisky, we’ll think of scotch from Scotland, Canadian rye whisky, bourbon whisky from the United States, or Irish whisky. But according to Chris, whisky is made all over the world. “We carry bottles from India, France, Hungary, Taiwan and Japan, just to name a few. Right now our customers are loving the Taiwanese and Japanese whiskies,” Chris adds.
Chris has worked in the liquor industry for about 10 years, has a level-two certification in spirits, and says whisky in particular - is his passion. Chris says “I really enjoy it and have sampled nearly all of the whiskies in this store. I have learned a lot about the different variations through the brand ambassadors who represent them.”
The store carries three of the rarest and most expensive bottles of scotch in the world. One is a 50 year-old single malt Glenfiddich that can be yours for $38,000. “This scotch is a marriage of two barrels, one produced in 1955 and the other in 1957. Only 50 bottles are produced per year and once those casks run out, that's it. In the next five to six years there will be none left,” Chris says. “This bottle would appeal to a serious whisky connoisseur; someone whose looking for something unusual and collectible and something that's going to increase in value, as it won't ever exist ever again.”
The second is a 1952 Tullibardine worth $31,000. Only 70 bottles were produced, with 25 of them being pre-sold at the distillery before the bottle was even released. “We are so lucky to get one of the remaining bottles here,” he says. “I've been fortunate to taste the 1952 Tullibardine and it's absolutely amazing. From the time you put it in your mouth, to the time it finishes, you experience so many different tastes exploding in your mouth. It's very smooth with not a lot of edges.”
The third is a 60 year-old GlenFarclas that you can take home for $28,000. It's another extremely rare scotch that is described as “surprisingly vibrant with lots of dried fruits, demerara sugar and spice coming through on the nose as well as the rich, oaky tannins that one would expect from a whisky of this venerable age.”
So what justifies a $30,000 bottle of whisky? Chris says it a combination of things:
“First it's the ingredients that are being used, which would be a very select choice of grains. The distillers would also be using higher-end barrels and only producing usually two barrels, so the exclusivity has a lot to do with it. And then there’s the fact that they have to sit on it for 50 plus years, so that will also elevate the price”, Chris says.
If these rare whiskies are not in your budget, there are many more to choose from at every price point. Chris recommends trying a blended scotch, which some might not think to buy.“There are some absolute amazing products out there. We have a 21-year-old Antiquary blend that I really like. A 21-year-old scotch might be in the $300 range and this one you can get for $120.”
Be sure to go check out the store for yourself, it's located at 240, 333 5th Avenue SW.
Calgary is now home to one of the most unique whisky retailers in North America.
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