The Spirit World reigned Supreme with Mad Mixologist and Halloween!

The Wine Ladies explore great Halloween-inspired cocktails with Mad Mixologist Dean Serneels and Armando Russo of Tappo Restaurant and Wine Bar

Having enjoyed a fantastic Halloween the night before, the theme continued the next day on the radio show as the topic of the morning was all about Spirits! However we weren’t really talking about the spirit world but in fact a spirited discussion was held that day all about the spirit, Whiskey!

Dean Serneels otherwise known as the “Mad Mixologist” was in studio and brought along a ghost and a goblin of his own, his son Ryan and daughter Megan. Much too their delight they put on the official headsets and microphones and enjoyed the experience of being live on the air. Also in studio was Armando Russo proprietor of the fabulous Tappo Restaurant & Wine Bar located in the historic Distillery District in Toronto. On the phone all the way from Vancouver was John Malloy, the Jameson Brand Ambassador who got up extra early to call in to the radio show to talk about his passion whiskey!

Several weeks earlier Tappo Restaurant & Wine Bar hosted the Jameson Whiskey tasting and served delightful appetizers that matched perfectly with the whiskey. Armando explained that smoky style food like Salmon is an excellent match for whiskey. Armando Russo and Shane Corson (formerly a power forward with the Leafs) are partners and make sure there is always a constant with the food, wine and design and all are thoughtfully presented.

We are proud to say that this restaurant is one our personally selected The Wine Ladies Romantic Dinner for Two Experiences. You can buy the gift card directly at any Shoppers Drug Mart in Ontario or check out our offers online

Now what about the spirit whiskey? Well The Mad Mixologist had a lot to to say about Whisk(e)y.

We asked, “How do we tell the different whiskeys apart”?

“This is a very tough question to answer quickly as there are quite a number of factors that make each of the world’s whiskeys unique”, replied the Mad Mixologist.


Each of the regions prepare whiskey differently and then there are differences within that region and from brand to brand.

Irish whisky – Very smooth. This is made with a larger amount of Barley grain and will have stronger orchard fruit flavours and not as much spice or sweet flavours.

Scotch – Scotland’s brew. Very similar to Irish whiskey. Add in the peat flavours from the smoking of peat moss as the heat source for the distillation. Each brand will have various amounts of smoked peat flavour.

Single Malt VS Blended. Simply put, single malt comes from one malting process or one batch of distillation. A Blend means the whiskey maker has taken several Single malts and blended them together.

American Whiskey – Bourbons and Tennessee whiskey. Made mostly with corn and aged in heavy char barrels. The result is a very sweet whiskey. Orchard and citrus notes will accompany Caramel, Vanilla and butterscotch flavours.

Canadian Whiskey – Known only as the brand names in the US these whiskeys are made with more Rye grains than the others. The result is a smoother more subtle taste. Rye’s tend to be spicier with pepper, cinnamon and nutmeg all present in the taste.

Maturation/ Aging

Bourbon makers create oak barrels and char the inside of them. Literally burn the inside to open up surface area caramelizing the sugars and create pours that the whiskey can swim around. The whiskey is then added to the barrel and rests for 3 years plus depending on the region and the whiskey maker. Char levels can be a lightly toasted like grilled cheese and move up to a heavy char much like taking a log out of a camp fire. The charring opens up levels of flavour in the oak.

These same barrels are now re used around the world by many other whiskey makers to create their individual whiskeys.


All whiskey makers use a mash bill (recipe of mixed grains) consisting of (but not limited to) Rye grains, Barley grains and Corn. The actual percentage of each grain used varies from brand to brand and region to region. Irish and Scottish whiskey makers use more Barley, American whiskey makers use more Corn and Canadian Whiskey makers use more Rye. This results in a unique style of whisk(e)y from all the corners of the whiskey making world.

We asked, “What’s the best way to taste Whiskey”?

1.To best uncover the flavours of any whiskey start with a 2 oz pour with no ice. Smell and taste. Do not shoot. Make notes on strength and flavours. The smell of alcohol may be very strong.

2. Add in 3-4 good size ice cubes. Swirl them around and repeat the smelling, tasting and note making.

3. Add in

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