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Singlemalting # 164 – Whisky Bucket List – Jack Rose Saloon, check

I had been looking forward to heading to Washington DC for sometime and so it was with great excitement that I landed in Pennsylvania to be greeted by my fellow whisky enthusiast Jared from Impex beverages.

3 full on days of whisky accounts covering Delaware, Maryland and of course DC. Really the highlight of the trip was meeting the legendary Harvey of Jack Rose Saloon fame. Jared and I spent some time at Harvey’s home going over the new out turn of Scotch Malt Whisky Society bottling’s before heading to the Jack Rose Saloon. Harvey has had a life long passion for whisky and is one of the most avid collector’s of independent bottling that I have ever seen. More amazing whiskies than Harvey could drink in 10 lifetimes that takes up most of the available space in his home has given the Jack Rose Saloon an almost endless supply of exceptional single cask whiskies to draw from. After some really engaging discussion and quite a few drams of delicious warm up whisky it was time to head to where the action was. I have heard so much about Jack Rose Saloon and it did not disappoint in the slightest.

Singlemalting and Historic Harvey
Someone has too
Dram and Grain Speakeasy

Bar top to ceiling whisky bottles cover the walls and back bar. Harvey holds court at the bar at least twice a week where he passionately engages any whisky enthusiast that happens in. Getting downstairs into the Speakeasy (Dram and Grain) for a tour was fantastic, especially the selection of really old bottles that lines the shelf. Next time I am there this will be a must.

To get things rolling one really must have a cocktail or two, whisky based of course. The exceptional head bartender plied me with a couple of doozies that my darling wife would have absolutely adored. The appies were also amazing as was one of the last fresh oysters that I had to steal from Harvey (his favorite).

When it came time for whisky I just had to go with something American and tried the Willett Straight Rye Rare release. Oh yeah Rye goodness in a glass. We topped off the evening with a Tiki drink upstairs and a fantastic Hoya de Monterrey. The Jack Rose really has it all. If you love whisky and you ever travel to DC make it a priority. Say G’day to Harvey for me.

On the water in Baltimore the next day Jared and I tore it up with Halibut and Crab cakes, live prohibition era music, late night Pizza and a bunch of memorable beverages. I have to say that Jared was a spectacular host and I am really looking forward to my return trip to the mid Atlantic seaboard once I have had time to recover.

Trouble brewing in Baltimore
Dram and Grains old and delicious shelf

Next week we are heading back to the Yukon and a review on a particularly interesting spirit distilled by Two Brewers in Whitehorse.

The whisky fun never ends here at Singlemalting. I look forward to your company next time around.




Singlemalting Blog # 163 – San Fran Tiki

With all sorts of fun done and dusted in Texas and LA it was San Fran time which is a great city to visit. No rest for the wicked after getting to the hotel at around 11pm I was up and ready to rock at the JVS offices at 9:00am. Little did I know as I was handed off to Robert that I was about to spend the two most fun days of my trip.
I could talk about visiting accounts and eating delicious food but what really made this portion of the trip so amazing was getting into some serious Tiki culture. My first Tiki drink was at OLK and was dangerously delicious. Not long after we had some amazing Cuishe Mezcal. Cuishe is a rare wild agave and this one was distilled in a traditional clay pot still.
Cuishe Mezcal
It was also an opportunity to get to know Robert and also Mark who is an especially geeky Tiki and rum personality in San Francisco. After kicking the night off right at OLK we headed up the winding trail to Mark’s insanely cool home that has been decked out more impressively in Tiki decor than any bar I have visited ever. Everything from the lighted rows of collected Tiki mugs (714 apparently and counting) to the Bamboo bar and seafaring accessories like the cool shark head and Pirate Ship. Tiki goodness was everywhere and it would take several days of careful study to truly see everything.
I almost had to be torn away from checking out the Tiki stuff to head out on Mark’s patio where we worked our way through some epic rums followed by a schooling in the nuance of small batch family owned Mezcal from Robert. Wow what a night. The cigar from Mark was just perfect with the rums and the Mezcal was more than impressive. I will definitely be blogging more about this amazing spirit in future. As the fire sent sparks up into the clear dark California sky and I nosed and sipped at my glass of Mezcal I thought again about how amazingly lucky I am to be doing something that I love so much.
Day 2 dawned way too early and with nowhere near enough sleep and a possible slight dehydration problem I headed out again into the San Francisco market. i was excited about what was to come after being told that we would be ending our day at Smuggler’s Cove and some other amazing cocktail bars. Smuggler’s Cove is one of the world’s best Tiki bars and after your eyes adjust to the dark you begin to see all the cool nautical themed decor unfold. Mark held sway at the bar where he owns the legendary status of being one of the first to complete the Rum selection challenge. Seeing his face on a Rum bottle behind the bar speaks volumes about just how many rums Mark might have consumed over the years at Smuggler’s Cove.

Smuggler’s Cove San Francisco
Quickly upon arrival a fantastic Tiki cocktail was thrust into my hand and it was really delicious. These drinks are so yummy that it’s easy to forget that there is a serious amount of rum splashed in the mix. Mark has spread his love of Tiki to a lot of people and of course it was mandatory for me to purchase the Tiki cup that my drink came in to start my own Tiki journey. I plan on surprising my gorgeous wife with what I hope will be a worthy offering. I will need some supplies and a fresh orchid flower though if my drink is to even remotely rival the Smuggler’s Cove presentation.
I just had to try another and so completed the set with a Smuggler’s Cove Barrel that will be seeing a lot of use on the deck for the rest of this Summer. I finished off the night with their version of a Zombie which was just as delicious as the other two.
We put stops in at another couple of great Tiki and cocktail bars the names of which escape me as I write this (I’m sure you are not surprised). Doing a bit of research I see that we went to Pagan Idol among others.
This trip for me was one of the most fun I have had in a while. What a privilege to be introduced to real Tiki culture and to experience some of the best Mezcal on the planet. I certainly hope that all of my future trips to the US are this much fun. Thanks so much to Sam, Val, Robert and Mark for such great hospitality. Secret Spirits is in great hands so keep a look out for the Scotch Whisky Advent Calendar and Rums Revenge coming to a store near you.

Singlemalting Blog # 162 – That’s how we roll in LA ……

“All i want to do is have a little fun before I die”…….. After a great leg in Texas it was time for some California sunshine and amazing Los Angeles hospitality.
Having spent some time in this market in my previous life I felt another bout of  deja vu coming on as I got to visit some very familiar stores that I had not seen in over 7 years. Meeting up with Chris Uhde again was great and it was fantastic to see that he has carved a really great whisky legend story of his own in LA.
Day one and Im actually enjoying a rare day off on the road. Topping out at 35 degrees it was definitely a warm one but I was able to soak a little in the pool, get some laundry done (yep have to be fresh and clean to sell whisky), work out and of course get some serious walking in. I managed to find a closish cigar store and nabbed myself a 1992 Rocky Patel Vintage 10 Year aged Toro which was really really good. Days like this are rare on the road and was one to cherish. Had a very tasty pint or two (definitely two) at Gordon Biersch in Burbank just a short stroll from my hotel.
Gordon Biersch
Into work on Monday and I was lucky to spend a couple of amazing days on the road with Josh and Tim from JVS Imports and was really able to showcase Secret Spirits to a whole new market.
What we are really here to talk about however is whisky and/or whiskey and that is what topped off an amazing trip to this part of the US courtesy of Chris and his generosity. Chris graciously invited me back to his place to meet his wife and brand new edition (Chris was definitely a bit sleep deprived). It was my last stop before heading to the airport and if it were not for the flight I would have loved to stay a lot longer.
1917 now that’s an old bottle
First was a warm up dram of Ohishi Tokubetsu reserve that is 33% 27 year old sherry cask Rice whisky from Ohishi and has been brought up to strength with some book ended 7 and 11 year old. More about this amazing whisky and its origins in a future blog. Suffice to say that it was delicious and the balance of the more delicate flavors intermingling with the sherry was outstanding. The good news is that Ohishi will soon be available in Canada launching in Alberta in August.
Chieftains 40 Year Old Springbank was my Single Malt choice as the 2nd whisky coming in at a very healthy 54%. This was a really great older dram and I couldnt go past it even when the other two Single Malts on the table were a Murray McDavid Gold Series Macallan 25 and an Exclusive Malts 2001 Bowmore. Still feisty after 40 years I was excited that Chris put this on the table as I knew that it would be a special old bottling and it did not dissapoint.
Next up was a choice of some really old American whiskey and the bottle offered was filled in 1917 and was a Rye from Old Lewis Hunter. It’s a very rare treat indeed (as in first time ever) to try a whisky that was bottled 100 years ago. Rye was the dominant force yet it was really even on the palate and the half ounce that I poured myself took longer to finish than I had time for with my flight to San Francisco looming.
Something for the road that has become a favorite category for Chris was a 1912 Verdelho Madeira that I tasted blind and thought might be PX but not as sweet, Absolutely delicious and being a real fan of anything old and sticky I absolutely loved it. All of this was tasted beside a very famous LA delicacy called a Guava and Cheese Strudel from Porto’s bakery (yummy).
Porto’s a local legend
What a great send off before taking off for my San Francisco leg. Thanks so much to Josh, Tim and Chris for making me feel so at home and helping us spread the passion of Secret Spirits to LA ‘ers.
Next up half a week in SF finishes my trip to the West Coast.
Until then

Singlemalting Blog # 161 – Doin it Big in Texas

It’s amazing how so much comes back around in this industry and so it was over 6 years ago that I last visited the Lone Star State of Texas and this time at the helm of my own company with a case full of Secret Spirits goodies and some Texans to talk to.
Gary Clark an Edinburgh born Texan has pretty much been there and done everything in the alcohol industry but his real love lies with whisky and so I knew I was in great hands. Airport to hotel and then straight to “The Man Cave” a South Houston Cigar lounge that was hosting Gary and Brian Devorik of Impex to pour the range of Tamdhu and Kilchoman Single Malts for the whisky club crowd that were coming in to get their taste on.
The Man Cave
Lets head inside
A quick stop on the way for Texas BBQ and a plate full of smoked Brisket did me the world of good. I was along for the ride to chat with club members, taste some whisky and of course support The Man Cave by having a cigar (if I have too). I ended up going for a My Fathers….. which was a great smoke and went really well funnily enough with both the Tamdhu Cask Strength Sherry and also the Single Batch Kilchoman sherry. Some really tasty whisky, cigar combo action going down for my first night in Texas.
Deja vu reigns supreme as I travel into the US now visiting stores and meeting people that I have seen and talked whisky with before. It was very encouraging to be met with such enthusiasm about what is for everyone in the US a brand new concept. Along the way Gary was always keen to drop into his go to spots to showcase a local Texan treat like Tex Mex Fajitas that were absolutely awesome and a triple smoked pastrami sandwich that was so big I had to eat half of it for lunch and the other half for dinner. I think you are getting the picture here that I love trying the local specialties and meeting like minded whisky and rum lovers.
The 35 degrees every day made it much like my former home (Australia) and so I was really soaking up the ambiance and recharging my Summer batteries. There were some great independent stores visited along with one of the largest Chains in the state so fingers crossed Texans everywhere will be able to get their hands on our fun brands this year.
Thanks Brian for the Ashton Churchill it was excellent and thanks Gary for being such a great host and showing me the dining ropes in Houston. I’m really looking forward to heading back to the market with some whisky to pour after our launch later this year.
Whisky brings people together from so many backgrounds and cultures and it is so fun as an Australian/Canadian to be tagging along with a Scot/Texan and a Jewish/Illinois combo to sell great whisky and rum.
Thanks again boys it was a great time. Look forward to cracking some whisky when I am down there next.

Singlemalting Whisky Blog # 160 – Wigle Wigle

On my recent trip to the US I had the pleasure of travelling to some amazing whisky retailers in the Eastern States and happened upon a bottle of Wigle Organic Rye.
Having not reviewed an organic whiskey before and with some high praise from Jacob at The Old Wise Dog in Connecticut this was a no brainer.
Wigle Distillery is a small distillery in Pennsylvania (the first state to produce Bourbon) that uses heritage organic grains that they mill on site. They have an outstanding reputation for attention to detail and doing it right from start to finish.
Pronounced why-gl (not wiggle) I was initially told about this distillery by a good friend of mine who’s last name happens to be the same. So as it happens I also brought back a bottle for him so that he can drink a delicious Bourbon with his name on the label.
Wigle Deep Cut Organic Rye Whiskey
So lets get into the whiskey. Bottled at the cask strength of 57.5 and aged for 14 months only in a small charred new American oak casks. Made in small batches my bottle is from batch 17 that was bottled on the 30th October 2016. Tasted in my SWAC 1st edition Spiegelau whisky tumbler. Distilled in a copper pot still.
All the details you could want by hand.
Colour:   Really deep red giving a big clue as to the amount of charring those wee barrels received to allow for maximum whiskey/barrel penetration.
Nose:    Rye and lots of it with the cask strength not really asserting how much alcohol the label tells me is present. This nose is exciting with a real richness to the spice load that makes me think the Heirloom Rye grains used here could hold more flavor than I have experienced in rye before. Lets see if the palate holds up.
Palate:   This hits me as being all rye with some lovely bitter notes intertwined with just a mass of heavy spices. The alcohol while there only adds to the big punch this whiskey has. Despite the largess of the spice there is a lightness about the delivery on the tongue that has me picking out some more delicate chocolate and toffee notes. Big and oily.
Finish:  There is a juicy Rye bitterness that runs through the finish that I think makes this a dram for a mature Rye whiskey palate. The high ABV just dries it all out a touch leaving some citrus zest and an oh so lingering knowledge that you just got spanked a little but in a good way.
Not a rye for the faint of heart it “cuts deep” to the heart of why Rye is such a cool grain. There should be more big Rye expressions like this at high ABV so that we can experience the truly untamed beast that is Rye whiskey.
This is going to make some cocktails that my wife will be very happy about 🙂 and I can’t wait to put it alongside some Connecticut wrapped cigars this Summer.
Wigle Whiskey is not yet available in Canada that I am aware of but if you are in the Eastern US you owe it to yourself to seek out any of their bottles.
I just love hand crafted small batch whiskey and Wigle are right up there for what I have tasted from the US in the past few years.
We will be getting our rum on again next time as Father’s Day looms and the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise cranks out for the last time.

Singlemalting Whisky Blog # 159 – Cuba “aaah”

After spending my first week in Cuba I thought a getting back into the swing of it blog might be in order. Safely tucked away in my luggage were some cigars and of course a couple of bottles of Cuban rum.
Today we are going to do a pairing with the Ron Santiago de Cuba 12 Year Old and the Hoya de Monterrey Elicure No. 1
The Rum – Ron Santiago de Cuba Extra Anejo 12 Year Old at 40% ABV
Ron Santiago de Cuba is seen as the best Cuba has to offer for rum and was said to be Castro’s favorite. Distilled in the old Bacardi plant that was abandoned during the revolution the Cuban distillers have deliberately designed this to pair with the best Cuban cigars.
Tasted in my San Francisco World of Whisky Hornblower glass that I thought might be more open for the light and yet rich style of the Santiago de Cuba.
Colour: Wow really deep rich colour with a real redddish hue. Apart from my week in Cuba I had not had the pleasure of trying Ron Santiago de Cuba rum before so I know very little about it apart from the fact that it was highly recommended to me by every local I spoke to about rum.
Nose:  Cherry Cobbler, Vanilla beans and pineapple syrup. A hint of Cuba Libre (rum and cola) here.
Palate:  Much lighter fruits than the colour would imply. Fragrant tropicana abounds with caramel squares, candied orange peel and a dusting of white chocolate flakes all without being overtly sweet.
Finish:  The soft caramel covered tropical notes continue with banana, papaya, coconut and pineapple all making appearances. Warming and long, this is a great finish.
Worthy of adding to any great spirit collection this is a super delicious rum. So with the initial notes out of the way it is time to light up my Epicure No. 1 and see how it all comes together.
Robusto size (my favorite) and coming in it’s own cedar lined tube which helped it survive the transit back home perfectly. Could probably use a touch of time in the humidor but I can’t wait. Touted to be a lovely mild cigar it should pair magnificently with the Ron Santiago de Cuba 12 year old.
Colour:  Lighter leaf on this cigar and lovely uniform colour from top to toe. Double banded with a night tight feel to it with just a touch of give on the pinch test.
Nose:  Has that Cuban earthy note to it like a stroll through the barn.
First draws:  Used a V cutter which is my preferance. I do also like a punch but has to be a perfect draw for that so I tend to use a V with new cigars that I have not tried before. No pepper notes here as right out of the gate I get soft fruit and creamy milk chocolate.
First sip:  Oh yeah yummy combo here the Ron Santiago tropics are accented by the mild and consistent flavor of the Epicure No. 1.
If the Ron Santiago 12 were a heavy molasses style rum this would not be the right cigar but as it is a balanced lighter rum this is perfect.
Ongoing this is a very consistent and lovely smoke. Draw is perfect and burn is even and holds tightly to the ash. I am torn between my next draw or my next sip as both are delicious.
Wish I had a box of each as this would be a fabulous Summer time staple out on the deck. At least Calgary Spring has been good enough for me to be outside writing this (was snowing last night). It has warmed up a treat and the sun is shining brightly as I sit on my back deck enjoying these amazing Cuban passions.
Thanks Cuba for introducing me to some of your finest. I will be back.

Secret Spirits Scotland Tour – Blog # 158

G’day everyone and welcome back to the Singlemalting Blog. After my whirlwind blogging marathon leading up to Christmas I spent some down time back in the home country. Anyone who read the last blog knows that I had my day 25 calendar whisky on Christmas day in Australia a full day before you all got to have yours.

My journeys since then have taken me all over the place including my annual February trip to Scotland to choose the new edition whiskies and on the January Whisky festival train that is a highlight of every new year touching down in Red Deer, Edmonton, Calgary and Victoria. You can read about some of my adventures in these blogs.

Oh yeah whisky barrels that’s what I’m talking about

Having been pestered by many over the past few years to think about potentially organizing a Secret Spirits tour to Scotland I have relented and started putting something together. For those of you that think traipsing around the Scottish Countryside with yours truly and experiencing what it’s like to live in my world for a week of tasting, brokering, bottling, drinking and dining then maybe this might be just what you have been waiting for.

A Secret Spirits tour of Scotland would be a peek behind the curtain of how we put together our list of whiskies and where we go to source them. A stint at the bottling plant and distillery visits would all be a must. A touch of sightseeing and the odd castle or two along the way would also be on the docket. This would be no ordinary tour and plenty of inside industry treats and privilege.

Dumfries House

Some highlights would include a special exclusive hand blown piece of whisky glassware made by master glass blower Tom Young from Angels Share Glass in Bridge of Allen. Being part of selecting a Secret Spirits Barrel and guaranteeing your case of 6 bottles. Seeing the Edinburgh Military Tattoo as part of a whisky dinner extravaganza. A high brow dinner and history lesson at Dumfries House. Staying in top class accommodation and having all meals included, there would even be a day for either a round of Golf or a day at the Spa to soak up some Scottish relaxation. A trip up to Speyside and down South to Ayr means you will get to see a lot of the fabulous Scottish Scenery along the way. All you have to do is get to Glasgow and we take it from there.


We are trying to make it work for late August this year. There are only a maximum of 10 spots available so if you are interested to get all the details please email me at jonathan@secretspirits.com as soon as you can.

Thanks to John (you know who you are) for poking me many times about putting something like this together.

For a detailed itinerary and pricing just get onto the email address above and I’ll get right back to you.

I promise in the coming weeks that I will be back to normal programming as I have a lot of delicious whiskies and other assorted goodies to go through.

Cheers and here’s to an amazing year of fabulous whisky.






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.


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.


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


Jonathan – taster of secrets