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20 Years of the KSMS by David Simourd

Posted by Bill Gorham on November 22, 2018 at 5:40 PM Comments comments (1129)

20 Years of the KSMS by David Simourd

We all have our own unique stories of how we become members of the Kingston Single Malt Society. I’ve been with the KSMS since its inception and I’ll provide you with what I recall as the beginnings.

The KSMS, to my memory, began in 1998 and is celebrating it’s 20 year anniversary and Phil Henderson and I have been here for the majority of the drams served over the years.

I want to give a historical recollection of the KSMS and then I’ll share a few comments.

Relax, this will only take a few minutes. And I’ll get this out of the way early: First, the KSMS is always teetering on financial ruin, but it perseveres. Second, no there have been no fires at the KSMS.


April 1998 – Food and Wine Event at Kingston Olympic Harbour

Maj. Kemp Stewart had a booth set up – and seemed very lonely when I cruzed by. It turns out he was sitting with his wife Amber, who I went to graduate school. With single malts close at hand and socializing to do, what possibly could go wrong?

Kemp mentioned he was starting a KSMS club at Vimy Officer’s Mess.

Sept. 1998 meeting at Vimy – the small room with about 12 people.

I was on the only Civilian at the time but felt quite welcome.

KSMS was part of the An Quack Society, which was some type of non-profit entity that was allowed to purchase single malt directly from the distillers in Scotland and sell them to members.

Kemp drove to Ottawa to pick up the malts we had at our meetings.

We had 9 meetings per year, no December or July or August meetings.

The KSMS link to An Quack lasted about two years but dissolved because of changes in the laws that basically made it impossible to operate at a reasonable cost to members.

Circa 2001 – KSMS began as a sole entity but had to purchase malts from LCBO

By this time, there were more members of the KSMS (about 2/3 military and 1/3 civilian) and we moved to the larger dinning area of the Vimy Mess.

Circa 2005

Kemp Stewart retires from the CF and relocates away from Kingston.

The KSMS loses its “Stewardship” with temporary Presidents alternating.

There was never a change in the quality of the malts or the kinship of the club.

Circa 2007 – Roberto assumes the role of President of KSMS

We have not looked back

Circa 2012 - alternating meetings between Vimy Mess, Fort Frontenac Mess, and River Mill.

Circa 2015 – continuous meetings at River Mill


The KSMS has a great kinship as reflected by the great laughter and easy interactions between members.

My view is that the military perspective is part of the DNA of the KSMS and reflected in our dress code, pseudo-formality (intro of guests and whiskey) and general enjoyment by all.

I also want to compliment all the people who make the club what it is: the people who introduce the malts, the people who sell raffle tickets, the people who collect money at the door – You are vital to the KSMS and I for one greatly appreciate all that you do.

I think a testament to the success of the KSMS are comments from quests. We have had occasional guests from the other Kingston single malt club who have commented about how nice our club is.

Also, we have had multiple compliments from guests who have done tastings for us such as Mike Brisbois and Mark about how sophisticated we are, but also how fun we can be.

To me, this is a reflection of Roberto as leader but also great combination of people from different backgrounds, both military and civilian, who enjoy single malt and like to have a good time.

Here’s to the past 20 years and whatever holds for the future.

KSMS New Look

Posted by Bill Gorham on January 24, 2017 at 7:45 AM Comments comments (10587)

You may have noticed that the site looks a little different now. This is as a result of converting the format from a version 2 of the site builder to a version 3. While I could have kept the old look and remained on Sitebuilder 2, it affords an easier method of editing using verion 3. Suffice it to say that all the content is still there, it just looks a little different.





Remnants of Lost Distilleries

Posted by Bill Gorham on February 18, 2016 at 9:40 AM Comments comments (1)

From the February Newsletter of

Glen Albyn, Glen Mhor, Millburn, Rosebank, and Dallas Dhu

Rosebank 25yrs



The history of Scotch whisky begins in 1494. An entry in the Exchequer Rolls notes the purchase of malt for the production of 'aqua vitae'. People today may complain about compulsory retention periods for financial documents, but this document is the first historical testimony about the production of whisky. Ireland only comes second, with the first mention in records dating back to 1608. However, this doesn't mean that the whisky is better in Scotland today or that there hadn’t been Irish whiskey before. Only the documented year counts.

With the progress in agriculture and the early industrialisation, which manifested particularly in the world power of the British Empire, whisky gained ground, too. Copper had become affordable during the transition from the 18th to the 19th century. Thus small distilleries mushroomed up all over Scotland. The farmers were given the opportunity to convert perishable grain into durable and valuable merchandise. The crown soon discovered the possibilities that an alcohol or malt tax would offer. And since it was hard to control compliance with the law in the Highlands, which were difficult to access, they simply prohibited the production of whisky in the Highlands.

An imaginary line from Greenock in the West to Dundee in the East separated the 'forbidden' Highlands from the Lowlands. However, the Highlanders would not abandon the production of their beloved whisky, and thus there were about 14,000 illegal distilleries in the Highlands at the beginning of the 19th century. Yet the actual number might have been even higher. In 1823 a law was passed that allowed the production of whisky in the Highlands again. However, you had to get a licence and pay alcohol taxes.

By the mid-19th century the illegal distilleries had vanished. Alfred Barnard visited the distilleries of the United Kingdom in the 1880s and wrote his famous book about it. In 'The Scotch Whisky Industry Record' there's only given the number of 658 working pot stills for the year 1825. Over the course of the decades also the number of detected illegal distilleries declined drastically. The railway opened up Scotland. On the one hand, this caused concentration processes in the whisky industry. On the other hand, the taxmen could now reach formerly remote regions. There was no more place for illegal activities. After World War II the concentration process was complemented by a strong rise in demand during the following economic recovery. The number of distilleries became smaller and smaller, but the distilleries became bigger and bigger. There were even some extreme extensions at the end of the 60s/beginning of the 70s. Caol Ila, Clynelish, Glen Ord, Teaninich … the list of newly built or massively extended distilleries is long. As the saying goes: One man's joy is another man's sorrow.

While the new and modernised distilleries could produce large amounts at low costs, old distilleries had their problems with that. Glen Albyn and Glen Mhor, two distilleries both erected next to each other in Inverness at the Caledonian Canal in the 19th century, had to be closed during the great British recession from 1980 to approx. 1985 due to lack of demand. First it looked like the buildings of Glen Albyn and Glen Mhor could survive, but in 1986 both were torn down to make room for a shopping centre. There are only few bottles of Glen Albyn and Glen Mhor left in private collections.

The Millburn Distillery, which was also located in Inverness, and the Rosebank Distillery in the Lowlands shared a similar fate. They were also closed in 1983 and 1985, respectively. However, their legacy lives on. Today there are restaurants in the old buildings. You can have a nice dinner and at the same time experience the old charm of the Millburn and Rosebank distilleries. Unfortunately there's not much left of the production equipment of Millburn. However, there are always rumours about a reopening of Rosebank, which lies at the Forth and Clyde Canal, because in contrast to Millburn, at Rosebank the old production equipment can still be found in the slowly decaying buildings. The old Dallas Dhu Distillery fared better. It was also closed during the height of the British recession in 1983, but already in 1988 it was reopened as a non-working museum and was designated a listed monument. Since then the organisation 'Historic Scotland' has been caring for the old buildings and installations. In 2013 even a feasibility study was carried out to determine whether the distillery could be reopened and run profitably within the framework of operating the museum.


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The KSMS Tasting List

Posted by Bill Gorham on August 6, 2010 at 8:00 PM Comments comments (29)

KSMS Tasting List online.

We have added a list of the Single Malts that have been sampled over the last couple of years as well as a preview of the upcoming samplings.

Be sure to check out the list. You can link to it from here.

KSMS Tasting List.

Also note:

You will notice some changes to the site. Colours have been modified to make it easier to read.




March Newsletter

Posted by Bill Gorham on March 12, 2010 at 5:32 PM Comments comments (28)

The March Newsletter has been posted for viewing. It is in PDF format to aid in reducing the size of the file.

It can be seen on the Newsletter link.