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Month: December 2016

Scotch Whisky Advent Calendar 3rd Edition Christmas Day Blog #157 – Samaroli 34 Year Old Blended Scotch

Merry Christmas everyone and welcome to the last day of this years whisky discovery journey.

I awoke at 6:00am this Christmas morning to the cacophony of bird calls outside my window. Warbling Magpies, Galah’s, Sulfur Crested Cockatoos, Rosella’s and more all letting the world know that they were up and ready for the new day. I quickly rolled out of bed and headed outside for a stroll. One of the aspects of life in Australia that I miss the most are the amazing birds. I found myself wandering around the small Victorian town of Wedderburn for over an hour and after circling the local reservoir and chatting to a friendly magpie I was heckled by some feisty Galah’s and sent on my way. Morning time is the best for a long walk in December as we hit a high of 39 degrees Celsius yesterday with more of the same for today. Definitely not your typical Calgary Christmas Day.

I am sitting outside in my parents back garden which is a mini bird sanctuary. So many birds it’s almost impossible to hear mum call from the house to let me know that my Nana is on the phone. So nice to be able to catch up with all my Australian relatives and another bottle of delicious wine made it’s way in front of the fireplace (dormant of course) courtesy of my uncle Billy who popped in just to wish us all a Merry Christmas.

Christmas Dram 3rd Edition

Well I am so glad that I managed to bring the Christmas Day whisky down under with me. Virgin Australia did lose my bags for a short while but worked extra hard to find them and had my precious cargo safely by my side within 24 hours. That would have been awkward needing to write this with no whisky.

As those that have been through one of our Scotch Whisky Advent Calendars can attest to, we always strive to showcase the entirety of what the Scotch Whisky world has to offer. This includes of course Blended Scotch which is the vast majority of Scotch Whisky sales worldwide. Not all blends are created equal and much like Single Malt blended Scotch can be absolutely stunning or mediocre at best. In the third edition we have saved our lone expression of this category for the final dram.

Samaroli are adept at creating amazing blended malts however this was the first time that I had been exposed to a Blended Scotch from them. This is to date the oldest whisky we have showcased in any edition coming in at the ripe old age of 34 Years. Interestingly this particular blend from Samaroli spent it’s entire life already blended and in a single cask. I do not know the exact percentages of malt to grain but I do know that it is mid 90% ish malt with just a small amount of grain.

Samaroli 1980 Blend in front of Oak Tree Cottage, Note the stunning blue sky

The Unique Samaroli Blended Scotch 1980 aged for 34 years in a sherry Butt cask number 18. Bottled with no chill filtration or coloring at 40% ABV.

Color:   The darkest whisky of the calendar looking like well worn mahogany.

Nose:   Just a hint of doused matchstick with a library of old leather bound books, plum and dark berry compote. The weathered brow of an ancient leather Akubra.

Palate:  Double espresso with a black strap licorice stir stick. A memory of a tamarind ball dessert that I had in Barbados. It was my first taste of that exotic fruit and took me right back there.

Finish:  Sticky date pudding with a blood orange glaze. Lovely citrus bitterness that lingers for a long time.

I could spend quite a while on this whisky and in fact I think I will seeing as it’s Christmas an all. I plan on lighting up a Rocky Patel Cigar later to accompany the rest of this dram and am really looking forward to kicking back and basking in the glow of being in Australia.

Thankfully there are a few bottles to be had. Just email me at jonathan@secretspirits.com and I’ll point you in the right direction.

Lets see how Whiskylassie has fared coming to the end of her 3rd edition journey.

Samaroli always so far have managed to get the last word in and with stunning older whiskies like the examples they keep putting in front of me who knows when they might be topped. In the 2nd edition we had the 30 Year Old Samaroli Linkwood.

It has indeed been an honor and a privilege to bring you this third edition. Cindy and I again wish everyone fun, friendship and family. We hope to see you all again through the coming year as we seek out new delicious drams together.

Cheers

Jonathan – taster of secrets

Scotch Whisky Advent Calendar 3rd Edition Day 24 Blog #156 – Single Cask Nation Bunnahabhain 28 Year Old

Happy Christmas Eve everyone. Just seems like yesterday that we started on this journey and now we only have one more night to go before it all comes to an end. Being a special day we always plant something fantastic behind the #24 door. This is the oldest whisky ever bottled by the dynamic duo of Joshua Hatton and Jason Johnstone-Yellin at Single Cask Nation. A privilege to be able to share it with you all.

Bunnahabhain

Founded in 1881 Bunnahabhain’s whisky style is known to be the softer side of Islay. Being the most Northern distillery on the island and with Dunnage warehouses right near the coast there is no doubting the influence of the sea on this spirit. It is owned by Burn Stewart Distillers who also own Tobermory and Deanston. Seen regularly now as a proprietary brand this distillery is not shy in parting with delicious casks of it’s whisky to independent bottlers like Single Cask Nation.

Single Cask Nation was initially based on a club model in the USA but have branched out with a fantastic retail line that will be available to anyone in Canada from a select few stores in Alberta. The Nation has only been available in Alberta for a few years and already they are building a bit of a cult following among discerning whisky drinkers. Their passion and love for whisky is very apparent in their cask selections.

Bunnahabhain 28 Year Old

Single Cask Nation 28 Year Old Bunnahabhain aged in a refill Sherry Hogshead # 7403 and bottled at the cask strength of 51.3% without any mucking about. Islay rocks.

Color:   Getting a little deeper here in color after all those years in refill but still pretty light for a 28 year old whisky.

Nose:    Tony wisps of smoke from smoldering coals, Heather infused waxy honeycomb, candied ginger and soft caramel fudge along with a background grassy edge that add’s some depth. Very fresh and inviting for an older whisky.

Palate:   Pretty soft on the palate initially for 51.3% but the tingle does build at the edges of the tongue. The smokiness is gone now but it was only a wisp anyway. Sugared lemon drops, cinnamon topped custard tart (Aussie specialty). Flavors come through in a delicate cascade and it takes some time to develop. This is not a whisky that you want to rush.

Finish:   Fresh cut grass, lemon tart, star anise and sunflower and flax sourdough (this is a thing and its delicious).

Complicated whisky this and I was loath to throw water in it but perhaps those braver than I can comment on their watering experiences.

Let’s head on over to Whiskylassie to share in her thrilling adventures today with this lovely old Bunnahabhain.

For those of you keen on this whisky the good news is that 24 bottles will be available in Canada and you can email to get the lowdown on those special retailers that are ambassadors for Single Cask Nation. jonathan@secretspirits.com

Tomorrow is Christmas day and I will be blogging from Down under after safely stashing my day 25 whisky in my suitcase snuggled in a huge amount of bubble wrap. So while many of you are enjoying the white Canadian Christmas I will be outside in shorts cranking up the BBQ and listening to magpies warbling and kookaburra’s getting their cheek on.

Until then have a fabulous Christmas eve with close friends and family. Cindy and I wish everyone a very special time together and thank you all so much for being part of our Calendar community this year.

One more sleep till Christmas Day

Ho Ho Ho

Jonathan – taster of secrets

Scotch Whisky Advent Calendar 3rd Edition Day 23 Blog #158 – Samaroli Peaty 20 Year Old

Welcome to the night before Christmas Eve. Something warming this evening to help with the persistent chill that has settled over Alberta for the entire month of December. Coldest that I can remember for a while for this long without one of those lovely Chinook winds that keep us sane.

Today’s lovely blended malt from Samaroli consists of 17% 1995 Laphroaig, 28% 1995 Highland Park and 63% undisclosed Speyside Single Malt. We should be in for a treat here if past Samaroli blends are anything to go by.

Highland Park

Highland Park is a distillery that has some mystery surrounding it’s founding. As the gate says though they have hung their hat on 1798. Highland Park does it’s own malting and mixed heather into the peat before malting begins. They use 20 parts per million phenol which is a fairly heavy peat infusion. The distillery is on the island of Orkney and is at the moment the most Northern Whisky Distillery in operation (this will all change once Stuart Nickerson gets the Shetland Whisky still up and running). Owned by the Edrington Group Highland Park is seldom seen as an independent bottled whisky. No doubt this is one of the reasons why Samaroli are using this rare resource to add some interesting Island complexity to their Peaty expression.

Samaroli Peaty

Samaroli Peaty Blended Malt aged together in a refill Sherry Butt # 54 for 20 Years. Islay (Laphroaig), Island (Highland Park) and Speyside (undisclosed). Bottled with no caramel or chill filtration at the Samaroli strength of 45%.

Color:  Even being a refill Butt there is a nice antiqued golden age to this after 20 years.

Nose:   Sweet and savory BBQ sauce on a side of Ribs. The fabulous part of this nose is that there is instant peat recognition but no smoky overtone. Heavily char grilled Cinnamon crusted Pineapple slabs. Earthy sweetness here reminding me of Manuka Honey.

Palate:  The earthy peaty notes carry the weight of this whisky that now throws in bitter citrus and roasted turnip. The sweetness was certainly more about the nose as there is oily coating brined beef jerky making a play and the sweetness is all but gone.

Finish:  The bitter citrus lingers, floating on a layer of slowly dwindling meaty flavor. Really full and palate filling for 45%. Even a touch of spark that numbs the sides of the mouth would make me think that this is more like cask strength.

This is a delicate slowly warming dram that gets larger as you get more into it. I would like to spend more time with a full bottle of this just to get to know it a lot better. I’m still tasting more on the finish…

The good news for the whisky hunters among us is that this will be available in very limited quantity and you can find out where from jonathan@secretspirits.com.

Lets see how Whiskylassie unraveled this Samaroli puzzle.

In the 2nd edition on this day we had the A.D. Rattray Bunnahabhain 27 Year Old.

Tomorrow we have the second installment in the 3rd edition from those awesome boys at Single Cask Nation. Make sure you get your Christmas Eve spirit going as we enjoy the excitement and family time and also say Happy Hannukah to Joshua and Jason at the Jewish Whisky Company.

Really looking forward to joining you tomorrow night

Cheers

Jonathan – taster of secrets

 

Scotch Whisky Advent Calendar 3rd Edition Day 22 Blog #157 – Adelphi Cambus Single Grain 27 Year OId

Welcome to a very exciting addition to our Scotch Whisky Advent Calendar story. Firstly we have the pleasure of having Jason Johnstone-Yellin from Single Cask Nation sitting here with me tasting this dram and secondly we were able to secure our first ever closed distillery cask from Alex Bruce and the fabulous team at Adelphi.
Cambus Distillery
Cambus is a Lowlands Grain distillery that opened in 1836 and was unfortunately closed in 1993. Anything bottled from Cambus now is always going to be over the 20 year old mark which is a bit of a benchmark for us so far in adding Single Grain offerings to our calendar editions. During its time in operation it was considered by many to be the finest grain whisky in all of Scotland. Located near Stirling in what some called “the midlands” it was just below the Highland/Lowland dividing line. Owned by the Diageo group it was deemed to be surplus to requirements as is so often the major factor in a distilleries closure.
So lets get into the whisky
Cambus
Adelphi Independent Bottlers – Cambus 1988 – 27 year old Single Grain Scotch Whisky at the cask strength of 48% cask number 59353 and aged in a Bourbon Refill cask.
Colour:     Pale gold which is a definite result of the refill Bourbon cask not really imparting that much colour at all.
Nose:     Sweet Marzipan icing like wandering past the head table at a wedding after the cake has been sliced. Fresh farm cream like the kind that my nana used to serve over her famous apricot pie which was a staple in my youth complete with the apricot pie note. The marzipan almond piece really kicks in and some other nutty characters emerge including what I would call white chocolate covered macadamia’s. Wow lovely start to this whisky.
Palate:     Savory note here that takes a bit of a diversion from the nose by adding in some fresh rolling in the hay action (in the best way possible)
Finish:     Some earthy char coming into play here with a bit of a brand new tire note. Seriously like when you just pick up a brand new set of tires and that sweet clean rubber jumps out at you and lets you know that you have something bright and shiny in your possession.
Wow this kind of feels like I was just given a new car at my wedding and am driving away with that new rubber meets marzipan package all in one. This is an amazing experience and I have never had a Single Grain with this many layers before. Right at the death when everything is almost fading away the apricot comes back once more complete with that delicious pie crust.
Super cool stuff and thanks so much to Alex at Adelphi for agreeing to part with it just for us. There may be a few bottles that were filled once we had taken our share but not many and probably only to be found in Scotland so good luck hunting one down.
So here below are the extremely enlightened and expert tasting notes from Jason Johnstone-Yellin.
It’s Grrrreat!!
Nose:  Cereal notes lead the way with dehydrated pineapple and mango behind, there’s a heavy sweetness while the wood rests quietly behind (but still present) – after a bit of time a chili heat comes through.
Palate:  Woody with wet barley to the front of the palate with a pleasant oiliness, a flavor like sandalwood runs across the center of the palate before the dehydrated tropical fruit from the nose manifests itself towards the back of the palate.
Finish:  Good length with warming ginger and lingering hints of the tropical fruit.
Overall:  One of my favorite things about Cambus whisky is the weight of it. Combined with that it bypasses the vanilla notes of a grain distillery like Invergordon and instead embraces heavy fruit and mature oak notes. This is a really cracking cask.
So there you have it the first closed distillery done and dusted (literally). Head on over to Whiskylassie to see her take on this Cambus.
On this day in the 2nd edition we had a fantastic Island Tobermory (non peated) from Malt Whisky Company that you can catch up on again here.
Tomorrow as the big hitting week continues we head back to those crazy Italians for something old and peaty.
See you then whisky peeps
Slainte
Jonathan – taster of secrets

Scotch Whisky Advent Calendar 3rd Edition Day 21 Blog #156 – Wemyss Malts Marmalade Appeal Glenrothes 27 Year Old

G’day everyone and welcome to another comparison tasting. As you know we like to do one or more comparison casks from the same distillery so that you can appreciate both age and cask differences. Today we try a Glenrothes that is 19 years older than the Malt Whisky Company expression we tried earlier on day 8. Wemyss also tend to bottle all their casks at 46% which no doubt will make a big difference as well.

I’m sure that the whisky is not why they have so many permanent residents.

No need to rehash distillery details as you can just re-read the previous blog. I will say that Wemyss have provided some really sensational older casks of Glenrothes in the past few years. We even converted Joshua Hatton who is not normally a Glenrothes fan to concede that the Aromatic Orange Tobacco was “drop dead gorgeous”.

Wemyss Malts Marmalade Appeal Glenrothes 27 Year Old aged in a Sherry Butt cask # 5376 and bottled at 46% with no caramel or chill filtration.

Glenrothes 27

Color:   Light for such an old Sherry aged whisky but no doubt being a butt and potentially 2nd or refill (3 or more fills) we only get a shadow of what we might have if it was a first fill. I actually really like refill for older sherried expressions as a sherry cask can very quickly overwhelm especially delicate malt.

Nose:   Orange oil furniture polish, clove and Terry’s dark chocolate orange.

Palate:   Orange sponge cake and there is that slight bitterness that could be marmalade semi sweet icing that tops and forms a layer right in the middle.

Finish:  A slight burnt character leading me to flamed orange rind topping a rye based Manhattan or maybe just pouring Grand Marnier over the top and lighting it all while you stand back and bask in the stunning beauty of it all.

Yummo again Wemyss. Certainly the cache of delicious Glenrothes casks you managed to acquire have been good to you and also thankfully for me. We have increased with age each edition and now sit at 27 Years Old. Does this mean we may yet have a 30+ year old at some point?

For those that love this delicious old Glenrothes the good news is that there is some available and if you email me at jonathan@secretspirits.com I will be more than happy to point you in the right direction.

In the 2nd edition we had the truly epic A.D. Rattray Glentauchers 22 Year Old that you can re-visit here.

Let’s see is Whiskylassie loves old Glenrothes as much as Joshua and I do over at her blog here.

Now that we are rolling with the old stuff lets see what tomorrow brings from a fantastic independent bottler that is gracing our cubby holes for the first time. The fantastic Alex Bruce from Adelphi is to thank for tomorrow’s whisky and thank him you will.

So all I can tell you is that tomorrow we head South to the Lowland’s.

Until then have a fantastic evening. Only 3 more sleeps till Christmas.

Cheers

Jonathan – taster of secrets

 

 

Scotch Whisky Advent Calendar 3rd Edition Day 20 Blog #155 – Secret Spirits 26 Year Old Speyside Single Malt

Welcome to the second ever cask for Secret Spirits and of course with yours truly being in full control (I use that term extremely loosely) of what gets chosen and where everything ends up on our 25 day countdown I just had to have a whisky that could make it into the final week.

26 years old from an undisclosed distillery in Speyside. I can tell you that is an old distillery that was founded in the mid 1800’s and that it has been known for innovations through the years. There you go can’t say more than that you will have to do the rest of the detective work.

Speyside 26 Year Old

Secret Spirits Speyside 26 Year Old aged in a refill Bourbon cask # 5575 and bottled with no caramel or chill filtration at the cask strength of 55.9%

Color:   Rich Gold

Nose:   Bread and Butter pudding complete with warming spices and raisins topped with cream.

Palate:   Richer on the palate than the nose lets on. Reminds me of going into World of Spice in Seattle, seems like a multitude of different spices all vying for attention at once. Sweet and savory, naughty and nice. Just a great rich flavor.

Finish:  Stewed citrus medley with a brown sugar infusion.

This is one multi layered whisky and looking back at my tasting notes from January when I had this sample in front of me I can see why we eagerly grabbed this cask.

Even though we have started off with two “Secret” whiskies I do promise that in the future we will have something with a distillery name on the label. Both these whiskies were too good to pass up and we thought it fitting to have both of them Secret this time around.

On this day in the 2nd edition we had the absolutely stunning 25 Year Old Aromatic Orange Tobacco Glenrothes from Wemyss Malts (I still have a bottle). It was such a shame that we only got 6 bottles in Canada.

For those of you that loved our Speyside 26 Year Old Single Malt please email me at jonathan@secretspirits.com and I can direct you to a retailer that will fulfill your needs.

Lets see how Whiskylassie is doing over there in the East with today’s dram here.

I have to say that being in a position to add Secret Spirits name to the high quality independent bottlers that we are sourcing whisky from is an absolute privilege. I have to continually pinch myself make sure that I’m not dreaming as this wonderful spirit called whisky has taken Cindy and I to places and people that we would never have had the pleasure of making part of our lives.

Thank you so much for supporting us in this endeavor and for your kind comments and feedback over the years. I am looking forward to adding another couple of Secret Spirits whiskies to the mix in 2017 and promise to search high and low for some exceptional casks.

Tomorrow we are in for a treat as we hit hump day and start the downhill run to Christmas. A final offering from the folks at Wemyss lies in your little day 21 cubby hole. No peeking.

See you on the morrow

Cheers

Jonathan – taster of secrets

 

Scotch Whisky Advent Calendar 3rd Edition Day 19 Blog #154 – Samaroli Spey Blended Malt 20 Year Old – Miltonduff and Tormore

Christmas sure is getting close now so it’s time for an older Samaroli whisky. There is no doubt that Samaroli is a fairly high end choice when it comes to shelling out for Independent bottlers. They do consistently however release some of the more amazing whiskies that I have yet encountered. I hope you will consider them for your next extra special bottle.

Today’s dram is a combination of Tormore and Miltonduff. You can read about Samaroli Single cask bottling’s of each distillery that have been part of previous editions. Tormore was included in the 1st edition and Miltonduff in the 2nd. It is going to be really interesting tasting how these two amazing whiskies taste when combined by the skilled Italians. Tormore was close to being the favorite whisky from the 1st edition and it was the first time that I had ever had anything from the distillery.

Tormore
Miltonduff

So lets get stuck into today’s dram.

Samaroli Spey 20 Year Old Blended Malt combined from Tormore cask # 20267 New American Oak and Miltonduff cask # 2845 Bourbon refill. Bottled at the Samaroli chosen strength of 45% with no chill filtration or coloring.

Samaroli Spey

Color:   Another light color due to the new oak and refill Bourbon combination. I have rarely seen a dark Samaroli Whisky with the Glen Scotia from the 1st edition and the 45 Year Old Bunnahabhain that I had in January being the exceptions.

Nose:   Floral leading me to a time when I wandered through the Warratina Lavendar farm in Victoria Australia. It was a heady mix of lavendar and just a hint of eucalypt. Some clotted vanilla cream is there along with a touch of citrus rind.

Warratina Lavendar Farm Victoria Australia

Palate:  Delicate as you would expect from a good Samaroli. Light flavors bounce around on the palate and give me real pause to sit and think a while about this whisky. The creamy vanilla is still there with a light biscuit crust hmmm something like this.

Vanilla bean infused cream cannoli

Finish:   A little lemon zest hits right at the end that leaves my tongue crying out for more and the cannoli piece just keeps on kicking.

Took me a little longer as I was getting into this delicate Samaroli to find its secrets. Gorgeous stuff.

On this day in the second edition we had the Samaroli Miltonduff. This has been happening enough to make it eerie as I did not plan there to be a tie in to the past day’s whisky this often. (insert Twilight Zone music here).

Let’s see how much Whiskylassie likes this Samaroli Spey.

Tomorrow we showcase the second whisky bottled by Secret Spirits. Given that we are now getting close to the end I’m sure it will probably have a little more age on it than our first one (spoiler alert).

As you are probably aware I have to get a little ahead of the blogging or I absolutely run out of time so as you read this I will be patiently waiting to board a plane to Australia. Good news for those of you downunder as I will be meeting with an importer and we hope to have both our products available there next year.

Looking forward to tomorrow’s Secret Spirits Dram

Slainte

Jonathan – taster of secrets

 

 

Scotch Whisky Advent Calendar 3rd Edition Day 18 Blog #153 – A.D. Rattray Croftengea 11 Year Old

Today we do a comparison piece which is really going to showcase how much impact casks have on the flavor profile of a whisky. Earlier on day 9 we tried the Single Cask Nation Loch Lomond, Croftengea and now we get to compare an A.D. Rattray Croftengea in a completely different barrel.
For those that missed the earlier piece and want some background on the distillery and for comparison you can check out the blog here.
So without further preamble lets delve into this wee bottle.
A.D. Rattray Loch Lomond – Croftengea at the full cask strength of 58.9% and aged for 11 years in a sherry hogshead. Loch Lomond is as we mentioned in that earlier blog a Highland distillery.
Croftengea
Color:     Just the palest whiff of a darker reddish hue giving perhaps a hint that this was aged in a refill sherry cask.
Nose:     Montreal Smoked meat on Pumpernickel with a dark molasses and black bean sauce. I will be honest here and say that no such sandwich exists but I want one in the worst way.
Palate:     The weight of the 58.9 seems just perfect with the oily palate coating experience of this dram. Earth Wind and Fire could write a song about this whisky with their sweet soul vibes adding a smooth backdrop. Dark heavy chocolate here and warming dark stone fruit compote with an earthy smoky essence running right through everything.
Finish:     Softening peat that fades to a lasting finish that throws in a sparkle of burnt Tangarine zest.
Loads going on here and the first sherried Croftengea I have ever tried. Amazing that both this and the Single Cask Nation cask have some similarities and yet so much that makes them completely different. Highland peat is certainly a different animal than Islay or Island and I like the flavorful and yet somewhat softer character.
I have the fun and honor of having Jason Johnstone-yellin from Single Cask Nation here with me as I taste this dram and it is fantastic for him to give us his perspective in the light of his excellent company bringing us the earlier Croftengea. I love being able to shed some light on how unique and different each single cask of whisky is. For those that have never done this sort of comparison you can see for yourselves that whisky is incredibly complex even from the same distillery and aged for similar amounts of time.
So over to you Jason what do you think?
mmmmm
delish
Nose:   Funky and Pungent with charcoal bricks dipped in cherry cordial, wet kelp drizzled with soy sauce, and driftwood dropped on a beach campfire.
Palate:   Smoky and salty with Camphor, warmed dark cherries, and abundant cinnamon. Hints of eucalyptus as it transitions into the finish.
Finish:   Lingering smoke with some cinnamon heat, hints of grey pepper towards the end of the finish.
Overall:   Oily and mouth coating with drying smoke, a certain waxiness, and pleasant heat. Another winner in the Secret Spirits Scotch Whisky Advent Calendar.
Thanks Jason for jumping in with another perspective on this dram. Head on over to our official taster this edition at Whisky Lassie and see how she fares with this sherried peated Highland.
I can hear the ocean…in stereo
On this day in the second edition we had the fantastic Samaroli Miltonduff.
Tomorrow we are in for a real treat from Samaroli as we head into the business end of the 3rd edition.
Slainte
Jonathan – taster of secrets

Scotch Whisky Advent Calendar 3rd Edition Day 17 Blog #152 – Wemyss Malts Applewood Bake Invergordon 26 Year Old

Has everyone recovered from their trip to the hospital yesterday? I can almost still taste that Samaroli Islay even now. Well today we are almost doing the polar opposite in pulling out our wee bottle of the Wemyss Malts Applewood Bake Invergordon Single Grain.

As most of you are aware blended Scotch is made up of Single Malt and Single Grain. The percentages are determined by the bottler and the “Single” descriptor in both means single distillery. “Malt” has to be 100% malted barley but “Grain” can be any number of different grains.

Invergordon Distillery Pipe Band

The Invergordon distillery is located in the Highlands North of Inverness and was founded in 1959. Another distillery Ben Wyvis was contained within the complex but was closed in 1981. Invergordon has been owned by Whyte and MacKay since 1993 and the bulk of production of course is used for their popular blends and a number of other blended Scotch labels. What makes this fairly industrial distillery so cool is that it boasts its own pipe band.

I love Single Grain especially with a little age on it. The fiery nature of young grain fades away allowing more of the fruit character to complement the complexity imparted by the barrel.

Applewood Bake Invergordon

Wemyss Malts Applewood Bake Invergordon 26 Year Old Single Grain aged in a refill butt number 86239 and bottled at the non chill filtration special ABV of 46%. No caramel here either folks.

Color:    Pale straw

Nose:    Completely delicate in comparison to yesterday. Apple cinnamon dusted fairy floss (cotton candy)

Palate:   Chocolate mint chips sprinkled on vanilla bean gelato over a base of stewed apples.

Finish:  A delightful creaminess and extension of all the mid palate flavors.

This is absolutely delicious and would make a fantastic dessert dram for any occasion.

I must secretly let everyone in on the sneak peek we had at Andrew Hilton a few weeks ago with a couple of 3rd edition drams. Suffice to say that this particular whisky was the hit of the night.

On this day in the second edition we had the heavily sherried Craigellachie from A.D. Rattray.

Lets see what the esteemed Whisky Lassie is doing with today’s dram here.

Write in and let me know your thoughts on Single Grain whiskies. There have certainly been more available from independent bottlers in recent years and I think the category is fast gaining in popularity. This is especially so when you consider the price point for the equivalent number of years in barrel.

Tomorrow we will be having our annual comparison tasting. It is always amazing to try different barrels from the same distillery, especially from different perspectives. We will also be joined by a special guest but I will save all that for tomorrow.

Until then enjoy your Applewood bake and if you really enjoyed it you can email me at jonathan@secretspirits.com and I will happily direct you to some options so that you can pop one into your liquor cabinet.

Slainte

Jonathan – taster of secrets

 

 

 

Scotch Whisky Advent Calendar 3rd Edition Day 16 Blog #151 – Samaroli Islay 8 Year Old

It’s been pretty cold here in Alberta of late to say the least so it is well overdue for another return visit to Islay the land or warming peat and smoke. Samaroli have done an amazing job with their blending of Single Malts over the years and I like to showcase how well this can be done by popping one or two of their new expressions each edition.

Today we are looking at a blended malt that is a combination of over 99% malt from one distillery. This cask comes under the definition of tea-spooning. This practice is a touch controversial in Scotland circles as some believe that there is no spoon….ing.

There is no spoon

When a distillery releases a cask but does not want it interfering with their own sales they can prohibit mention of the distillery and even prevent it from being released as a Single Malt. They do this by allegedly throwing in a teaspoon of another malt into the barrel thereby transforming it into a blended malt. There is a considerable number that theorize the fact that the teaspoon never happens and that only on paper is it considered a blended malt. Of course it is impossible to tell either way as the tiniest dash of single malt from another distillery thrown into an entire barrel will have absolutely no impact whatsoever.

So unlike the Samaroli blended malts where various amounts from a number of distilleries are involved really in this case we are looking at an undisclosed Islay Single Malt for all intents and purposes. Lets see if we can figure out which distillery.

Samaroli Islay teaspoon-ed blended malt. Aged for 8 years in a new American oak Hogshead and then bottled at the Samaroli chosen strength of 43% with no chill filtration or caramel added. A bit of an indicator here is the cask number 1883 which tells us that it is just one cask.

Samaroli Islay

Color:   Golden lager

Nose:     Team trainer bag, salt shaker and jerky.

Palate:   Distinctive bowl of burnt rubber and iodine leaking some organic citrus toothpaste (for the mouth feel).

Finish:  Bitter lemon rind among the consistent notes of tanned leather, rubber gloves and medicine cabinet.

The medicinal character even goes so far as to give my palate a bit of a numbing effect and at only 43%. This is a very big whisky and again belies the light color. So you be the judge… spoon or no spoon? Distillery options anyone?

This should satiate even the hardcore Islay fan for at least a few days.

In the second edition on this day we had the Samaroli Benriach 1996 Single Malt which you can revisit here.

Lets see what the Lassie has to say about this Samaroli Islay.

For those of you looking for a bottle of this delicious Islay you can email me here at jonathan@secretspirits.com and I will point you in the right direction.

Tomorrow we are grabbing a ferry away from Islay and heading to the mainland for another visit to the Highlands to discover yet another style of whisky that we love to add in each edition but is largely unknown for lovers of Single Cask Scotch. This will be presented to us by the fabulous team at Wemyss Malts.

Looking forward to seeing you all tomorrow

Slainte

Jonathan – taster of secrets