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Scotch Whisky Advent Calendar 3rd Edition Day 15 Blog #150 – Malt Whisky Company MacDuff 16 Year Old

Back in the drivers seat today is Stuart Nickerson from Malt Whisky Company with a bit of a favorite distillery for me. I have had some really good MacDuff whisky over the years and one single cask in particular from A.D. Rattray always stands out for me. Knowing how good Stuart is at picking great casks I have been anticipating this for quite a while.

MacDuff is a Highland Distillery that was originally known as Glen Deveron. You can still find whisky bottled under this name but mostly older casks as even independent bottlers have embraced MacDuff. It was founded in 1962 and is now owned by Bacardi who used the bulk of its Single Malt Whisky for their blends like Dewar’s.

MacDuff Distillery

It seems to me that a lot of the independent bottler’s that I work with are finding the merits of using good quality refill casks to allow all of the delicious distillery character to shine through. Today’s whisky is no exception with Stuart choosing a refill cask for this 16 year old MacDuff.

Malt Whisky Company MacDuff 16 Year Old aged in a Refill American Oak Hogshead # 500720 and bottled at the cask strength of 54.9%. No shenanigans involved like caramel coloring or chill filtration here.

 

MacDuff 16

Color:   Another extremely light whisky which is the norm for refill casks especially American oak. After 16 years however it is a touch darker than the other refill casks we have seen so far. A nice light wedding ring gold.

Nose:    Hot buttered rum tropical notes. Pineapple and papaya over vanilla bean sorbet.

Palate:   Crunchy fresh breakfast waffle with hints of chunky pineapple and strong Seville orange marmalade sauce dusted with white chocolate flakes. This should be a thing…

Finish:  The orange marmalade comes through more strongly than the hint of tropical once we get to the finish. Very fresh and mouth watering. 54.7% is warming and long with just the right amount of bitter orange rind to bring the marmalade note to a delicious conclusion.

Yummo Stuart I know that you guys in the UK love your marmalade but sprinkling in some tropics as well is just crazy. Enough of this frilly Highland nonsense I hear some of you peat inclined saying. Well just because I love you too we will be heading to Islay tomorrow for a dram from those beloved Italians Samaroli.

We can see just how much Johanne loves this MacDuff at whiskylassie.

For those of you that enjoyed this MacDuff, I have good news. We will be getting a very small amount and it will be available for those that act quickly. Please email me at jonathan@secretspirits.com for details. (Late breaking news as I was just informed that inexplicably the cask in question was empty when they went to fill the remnant – authorities are looking into this heinous crime).

On this day in the second edition we had the A.D. Rattray Invergordon Single Grain that you can read about here.

I hope you have enjoyed the variety so far as we head into the last 10 days of the calendar which as some of you know is perhaps the best part of the whole experience counting down to Christmas day and hopefully getting more and more family time and fun in along the way.

I look forward to our Islay encounter tomorrow

Slainte

Jonathan – taster of secrets

Scotch Whisky Advent Calendar 3rd Edition Day 14 Blog #148 – Ainneamh Speyside 18 Year Old

Whisky Wednesday today, also known as hump day for a lot of people as you climb that hill and then speed toward the weekend. Well no need to be afraid of not having fun every day of the week as we get to dip into the 3rd edition for yet another enticing dram.

Ainneamh bottle

A second expression from the boys at Ainneamh (remember its pronounced an-yoov). We are certainly getting a great pendulum swing from delicate to peaty so far in this edition. Are you keeping up with this roller coaster ride?

So another mystery dram from Ainneamh. I do love these fun whiskies where you get to decipher clues and see if you can figure out the originating distillery.

Ainneamh Speyside 18 Year Old Single Malt, Cask number 14432 refill American Oak Hogshead. Banffshire bottled at the cask strength of 54.7% with no caramel or chill filtration.

Ainneamh Speyside 18

Color:  Yep another light whisky in a refill cask. Makes you really think about the massive amounts of artificial color added to whisky in the industry. Why does a whisky have to be dark to be perceived as quality? Only because that’s the line that has traditionally been pushed on you all these years. As we know even a gorgeous 30 year old single malt can be very light and massive on flavor.

Nose:   Flora in spades on this one with oats and honey like top quality steel cut oatmeal freshly drizzled with honey and topped with cream.

Palate:   Candy apple toffee, the red sort (not caramel apples). Crunchy apple acidity like Jonathan apples (yep my namesake fruit). A zesty creaminess like cream stirred with sherbet.

Finish:   Tingly and long, coating and fresh. This is a fantastic aperitif whisky as a palate freshener before dinner. Perhaps between courses instead of the high end ball of shaved lemon ice. I could see a serving of this kind of whisky really taking off in some white table restaurants. I know I would be making my reservation.

If you were in doubt that there is a whisky for every occasion then doubt no more. Fantastic little Speyside here Ainneamh team and amazing freshness for an 18 year old. I do love quality refill casks for this reason. Almost emulates what Samaroli do with their lightly toasted new oak casks.

On this day in the second edition we had the Samaroli Blended Malt comprising of Glenallachie, Glentauchers and MacDuff. You can re-read all about it here.

Whiskylassie is having quite the journey and you can continue to follow her in-depth experiences by visiting here.

If you love this whisky then I unfortunately have bad news for you. Nothing left for us after filling our calendar bottles. We had an unusually high amount of whiskies that ended up being done and dusted once the mini’s were filled this edition. We will try hard to make sure that there is more of each delicious whisky next time around.

Tomorrow we are heading back to my mate Stuart at the Malt Whisky Company for another one of his amazing casks. Highlands here we come.

Slainte

Jonathan – taster of secrets

 

Scotch Whisky Advent Calendar 3rd Edition Day 13 Blog #147 – A.D. Rattray Auchroisk 25 Year Old

Welcome to lucky day 13 of the 3rd edition. As a treat for being so lucky we have the oldest whisky so far in the lineup waiting to be poured into your NEAT glass.

Auchroisk Distillery

Auchroisk (pronounced Ah-thrusk) is a Speyside distillery that started production in 1974. Owned by the Diageo group, the brand that is most recognizable to consumers is Singleton as it was called starting in 1986 to make it easier for those outside of Scotland to pronounce. It was released as a Flora and Fauna series by Diageo in 2001 as Auchroisk but then changed back to Singleton of Auchroisk in 2008. Now that we are even more confused than ever but thankful that A.D. Rattray managed to get this rare older expression of a unique distillery, lets get on with some tasting. Auchroisk is a big distillery in the Diageo stable and produces 3.1 million liters of pure alcohol per year and is mostly used for the juggernaut Blended Scotch brand J&B.

Auchroisk 25yr
Auchroisk 25yr

A.D. Rattray Auchroisk 1991 – Aged for 25 years in an American Oak ex Bourbon barrel # 7531 without chill filtration or caramel color and at the cask strength of 53%.

Color:   14 Carat Gold

Nose:   Fresh sweet spiced apples ready to bake into a pie. If I were to pick the apple I would say Granny Smith.

Palate:   Freshness and sweet zesty tangy apples and pears with a hint of star anise, clove and vanilla.

Finish:   53% is there but not overpowering and the apple pie that started on the nose is still there for me but this time the baking is done and some biscuit crumble base underlines the fruit.

This is a great example of a fresh older whisky. I absolutely love this style of single malt. Zesty freshness meets barrel aging complexity. A rare find for A.D. Rattray and one that I was really happy to scoop up for the 3rd edition. Alas there are absolutely no bottles available to purchase which is such a shame and unfortunately the reality of single cask whiskies.

Lets see what the fun and famed whiskylassie thinks of this rarer older treat here.

On this day in the 2nd edition we had the pleasure of introducing Single Cask Nation for their debut in our calendars. Their Undisclosed Islay 2008 was also the first whisky ever to have zero full bottles available after we took whisky for the Scotch Whisky Advent Calendar mini’s. It is fitting I guess that today’s dram suffers the same fate (booo).

It was indeed fantastic to have a 20 something whisky today to showcase what good older whisky can bring to the table but also underline how good some of the younger whisky has been so far. Remember that age is only an indicator of expense not quality.

Tomorrow we are tasting another single cask from the guys at Ainneamh. This time from a different region.

Until tomorrow you had better savor your Auchroisk 25 year old because there is no more unless you seek out a second calendar.

Slainte

Jonathan – taster of secrets

 

Scotch Whisky Advent Calendar 3rd Edition Day 12 Blog #146 – Lost Distillery Co. Gerston

Welcome to the start of another great whisky week as we welcome back the boys at the Lost Distillery Company. I was really intrigued when I looked into what these guys were doing.  They break everything down to these 10 elements that I have borrowed from their website for you:

  1. ERA – The date of the last distillation is critically important. As with most manufacturing businesses, fashions and processes change. Mechanization brought increased consistency to the process, while expansion of the railways sponsored the construction of much bigger distilleries.
  2. LOCALITY – Neighboring distilleries may have used similar sources of water, barley and yeast. They may have shared expertise that still survives today in working distilleries.
  3. WATER – A core ingredient used to make the spirit and also to dilute the product to bottling strength. Was the water soft or hard? What was the mineral content?
  4. BARLEY – The most important aspect of the barley is the phenolic content. Where was the barley grown? Was it local? Which strains of barley were used? How consistent was the yield?
  5. YEAST – Why is some sourdough bread better than others? Why do some bakers retain a starter dough for decades? Yeast matters in the process and ultimately has an impact on the final product.
  6. PEAT – Was the malted barley peated or unpeated? How much peat was used and was it sourced locally? How did this translate to the phenol content of the finished product?
  7. MASH TUN – What material was it constructed from? Was it open or closed, and how was the temperature controlled? Volatile temperatures would inhibit yeast activity.
  8. WASH BACK – These would have been made almost exclusively from Douglas Fir; chosen for its straight grain and lack of knots. While some distilleries still use these, most have converted to stainless steel versions that impart no character to the product.
  9. STILL – The shape and size of the still deeply influence the overall character of the spirit. For example, a smaller dumpy still will typically allow more contact between the copper and the spirit meaning that it produces a heavier, more viscous spirit.
  10. WOOD – After production, what type of wood was used to store or transport the whisky to its destination? Did this have an impact on the final flavor? What did the barrel have in it before it was used for whisky? This would have had a significant effect on the whisky’s taste.
Gerston 2 artists impression
Gerston 2 artists impression

Their archive team led by professor Michael Moss of the Glasgow University pours through every bit of information they can glean before they recreate each distilleries style.

Gerston one was a popular distillery that operated between 1796 and 1882. Small scale with pristine water and briny peat Gerston one was a much sought after whisky in it’s day. Two tales tell of the disaster that ended the distilleries life. One a farmer dredging too close to the well and causing it to dry up and the other a planned expansion to the distillery causing the flow of the nearby spring to divert away. Either of these events meant the end for Gerston 1. Gerston 2 was built in 1886 and lasted until 1914. Much more industrial in scale Gerston 2 did not source the same quality of ingredients as its smaller brother and the spirit never achieved the same level of popularity.

Gerston
Gerston

Lost Distillery Company Gerston Blended Malt – 46% non chill filtered with no caramel coloring. Aged in American ex bourbon casks.

Color:   Freshly cut golden hay bails.

Nose:    Malty ripe raisins and a touch of sea salted caramel with wisp of smoke.

Palate:   Salty, earthy and sweet all at the same time. Sprinkled mesquite ashes and a medicinal quality that only just sneaks in with softer honey comb making up the sweet base.

Finish:  Long and persistently smoky but soft and round with a chocolate note.

This is delicious whisky and hats off to Brian and Scott for really working long and hard on an exceptionally well put together project. This brings us back to another time of whisky making and the world of whisky is richer for the story. For those that loved this Gerston please email me and I can definitely let you know where you will find it. jonathan@secretspirits.com

Lets all head over and see what Whiskylassie thought of this excellent Gerston.

On this day in the second edition we had another recreation of sorts with the fantastically valued A.D. Rattray Bank Note. As the lone Blended Scotch expression in the second edition the Bank Note has proven to be really popular as a delicious every day drinker at an affordable price.

Tomorrow we head to Speyside for another fine cask from the good people at A.D. Rattray.

Happy Monday everyone.

Slainte

Jonathan – taster of secrets

Scotch Whisky Advent Calendar 3rd Edition Day 11 Blog #145 – Wemyss Malts Kiln Embers Limited Edition

Back to the land of smoke and peat today with a fabulous limited edition blended malt from Wemyss. Their Velvet Fig was one of the hits of the 2nd edition and I am always interested to see what they have coming up when I visit Scotland in January. This year it is something brooding and dark. Ladies and Gentlemen I give you Kiln Embers.

Kiln Embers
Kiln Embers

So a word of warning for those of you that have a hard time with peated whiskies. Kiln Embers has double the amount of peated single malt involved over it’s cousin Peat Chimney which you may remember from the 1st edition way back when and you can read my thoughts here. It will be interesting to compare these two blended malts.

Wemyss Malts Kiln Embers limited edition blended malt – No age statement and bottled at 46% with no chill filtration or coloring.

Kiln Embers Limited Edition

Color:   A nice rolled gold here that adds a richness to the look of the bottle

Nose:   Ahh yeah there it is all smoky up front like an old school Casino. The miasma of smoke does disperse however and allow us to peek through at a bushel of fresh oranges and a cluster of vanilla bean pods.

Palate:   Lovely balance here and really deep notes of burnt caramel over fresh licorice. A touch of Staedler Mars Eraser that always seemed to get rid of your smudgy lead pencil marks when other erasers failed. 46% seems bang on here and even with a tiny tingle I’m super happy with it as is.

Finish:   Flamed toffee and molasses cookies with a twist of burnt orange rind.

Lovely dram for those with a peaty addiction. I’m glad to say that we were able to secure a decent amount of the limited production for Canada so if you love this then please email me at jonathan@secretspirits.com and Ill point you in the right direction.

Whiskylassie is like me an equal opportunity drinker but I really don’t know how far her peat meter goes. Lets find out here.

In the second edition on this day we had the amazing Wemyss Malts Kumquat Cluster Glenrothes 21 Year Old and you can read all about it here.

A great dram for us to sit and relax on a cold Sunday afternoon by the fire. I’ll be enjoying this one for a while as the finish is still rolling on and has moved into the realms of good cigar tobacco now which is awesome.

Tomorrow we head back to the awesome team at the Lost Distillery Company for another take on a really remote distillery that has one of the most unusual stories I have ever heard that brought about it’s demise.

Looking forward to see you for a fresh start to the week and another exciting dramming adventure.

Have a wonderful evening

Slainte

Jonathan – taster of secrets

Scotch Whisky Advent Calendar 3rd Edition Day 10 Blog #144 – A.D. Rattray Glenallachie 8 Year Old

Day 10 and we are starting to really get into this editions heart. There have been some really delicious drams so far and I’m looking forward to the rest of the ride.

Back today with A.D. Rattray the first independent bottler I ever spent time in the market with. Owned by Industry legend Tim Morrison, A. D. Rattray was founded in 1868. Born of a love for the industry after lying dormant for decades A.D. Rattray has been rebuilt by Tim into a world class independent bottler. They are now going to be adding distilling back into the Morrison plan with the opening of the Clydeside distillery in Glasgow.

Glenallachie Distillery
Glenallachie Distillery

Glenallachie is owned by Pernod Ricard and was built in 1967 (just a touch older than me). In the town of Aberlour at the foot of Ben Rinnes. Most of its production goes into blends including the cask strength Clan Campbell and Legendary and White Heather.

The distillery uses mostly lightly peated barley for it’s production so it will be interesting to see if we pick any of that up in today’s dram.

A.D. Rattray Glenallachie
A.D. Rattray Glenallachie

A.D. Rattray Glenallachie 2007 – 8 Year Old Single Malt aged in a sherry cask # 900831 and bottled at the huge mark of 64.9% making this the absolute stand out winner of the highest ABV in any calendar edition to date. It’s so fun that we are finding these special casks that are lurking beasts hiding out in dunnage warehouses for unsuspecting whisky drinkers to pass by.

Color:   I’m suspecting a second or re-fill sherry cask on this one even at 8 years of age as a first fill cask would normally impart a little more. SLightly amber to reddish hue the only sign of sherry here.

Nose:   Go gently into the fray people there be monsters about. Quite closed initially and I think my tameness due to the ABV is stopping me from getting my considerable appendage deep into the glass. OK here goes….. could be my mind playing tricks here but I do detect a hint of earthy smoke here sitting atop a deep vein of Oak and Barley.

Palate:  Yep it’s big and lets you know all about just how big a stick it has. Really coating with a touch of zest sipping off the tongue betraying all of the 64.9% worth of octane rating. Simmers down quite quickly though and allows some tea biscuits and raisin scones to come through.

Finish:  Dry sherry here and a lasting tingle kind of like the aftermath of chewing on a particularly juicy and hot jalapeno.

Just had to water this and hey presto just like magic a whole bag of fruity goodness erupts. Satsuma plums and deep red ripe watermelon but all with that smoky edge still present. The mouthfeel is immediately creamier and softer and the raisin scone is still there but this time with a healthy dollop of fresh farm cream and a dash of aged balsamic on top.

This is exactly why cask strength is so awesome. Please play with this as much as you want as there are plenty of layers to find with more watering here.

Unfortunately there are no full bottles available. You can console yourself with the knowledge that the big ABV means with more watering you get almost twice the amount of whisky.

In the 2nd edition on this day we had the Samaroli Islay Blended Malt which you can revisit here.

Whiskylassie has been having almost as much fun anticipating her daily dram as she has drinking it. Catch up with her take on today’s whisky here.

Tomorrow we head back to those fun folks at Wemyss Malts for another special limited release. If the popularity of the Velvet Fig last year is anything to go by this should be excellent.

Looking forward to your splendid company then

Slainte

Jonathan – taster of secrets

Scotch Whisky Advent Calendar 3rd Edition Day 9 Blog #142 – Single Cask Nation Loch Lomond (Croftengea) 10 Year Old

Here we are on day 9 of our little jaunt through the glens and moors of Scotland. Today we welcome back Single Cask Nation to the lineup. You may remember a particularly delicious Undisclosed Islay from the 2nd Editon that was their debut. Thanks to Joshua and Jason for spending time rooting through warehouses in Scotland to find us today’s dram.

“It’s a Highland Jim but not as we know it”. Loch Lomond is a distillery in the Highlands that was originally founded in 1814 and there are no actual records of exactly when it closed. The Loch Lomond distillery as it stands today was founded in 1964 by the then owners of the famed but closed Littlemill distillery.

Loch Lomond
Loch Lomond

Certainly industrial by Scottish standards Loch Lomond is a work horse of a distillery. Unique among distilleries Loch Lomond opened a Grain distillery in 1994 and was at the time the only distillery in Scotland able to produce both Grain and Malt whisky.

Croftengea is the proprietary name for their peated range of Single Malts that to my knowledge is not seen here outside of the odd independently bottled cask.

Loch Lomond Croftengea
Loch Lomond Croftengea

Single Cask Nation Loch Lomond Croftengea Peated Highland Single Malt bottled at a cask strength of 55.6% with no chill filtration or colour. Aged in a refill Bourbon Hogshead cask number 486. 10 Years Old.

We have had a few refill Hogsheads so far and for good reason. Using a refill cask can work well in leaving vibrant fruit characteristics that would otherwise be drowned out by a first fill barrel.

Color:   Light again as you would expect but as we have come to learn so far light in color does not mean light in taste. This might be our lightest whisky so far in the 3rd edition and is saved from being almost clear by the tiniest fleck of gold.

Nose:    Pan fried Lamb chops and roasted root vegetables that get all crusty and almost burnt. Pumpkin, Potato, Broccoli and Carrots. This is like Sunday dinner in a glass.

Palate:   Wow thick and unctuous with smoldering rubber and a lovely bitterness that only adds more depth. completely fills the palate with an oily mouth feel that reaches out to every crevice. Some creamier aspects flow along adding just a soft sweet ride to it all.

Finish:   Finally there is some fruit that peeks through all the vegetables and for me it is burnt citrus and specifically thick skinned blood orange cut in half and grilled. The finish rolls on and down warming right to the heart.

Fantastic peated Highland that will fulfill all those peat lovers dreams and maybe take some Highland loving folk along for the ride as well.

Lets see what whiskylassie has to say about this here.

In the third edition on day 9 we had the monster Glen Moray from A.D. Rattray that I mentioned yesterday in comparison to our behemoth Glenrothes from Malt Whisky Company. You can read all about it here.

There will be bottles available of this dram so please email me and I will point you in the right direction. jonathan@secretspirits.com

Well onward and upward as they say.

Tomorrow we head back to Speyside for another single cask from the folk at A.D. Rattray.

See you then

Slainte

Jonathan – Taster of Secrets

Scotch Whisky Advent Calendar 3rd Edition Day 8 Blog #141 – Malt Whisky Company Glenrothes 8 Year Old

G’day Sherry Cask lovers…. Today is for you. The peat geeks get their hit every week so shouldn’t you have a turn on a regular basis?

In the bustling (I use that term lightly as Scotland is generally anything but) region of Speyside where most of the Scottish distilleries exist there is one that keeps making appearances in our calendars. Glenrothes seen by many as a fairly innocuous house style has really shined for us with these single cask independently bottled expressions.

The Malt Whisky owned by Scottish legend extraordinaire Stuart Nickerson was one of the big hits in the 2nd edition showcasing especially how amazing younger Single Malt can be.

Glenrothes was built in 1878 and started producing the year after. The distillery is owned by the Edrington Group who used the bulk of it’s production for brands like Cutty Sark and Famous Grouse however in a twist that only Scotland can manage the Single Malt brand is owned by Berry Bros. & Rudd. Glenrothes has survived 4 major fires over the course of its life and as such is probably the hardiest distillery in Scotland. In cat lives does that mean it has 5 left?

Glenrothes
Glenrothes

Malt Whisky Company Glenrothes 8 Year Old – Bottled at the cask strength of 64.2%, no chill filtration or caramel of course. Cask number 37602 a refill Oloroso Hogshead.

Color:   A lovely reddish glow winking at the sherry influence and pretty decent for only 8 years and refill. Every cask is unique and this is a great example of that.

Nose:   Bovril (thick salty meat extract) and dark chocolate, burnt caramel mixed with a bag of asian spices, turmeric, paprika, cardamon and red chili flakes. This nose is immense and broods quietly like a trap door spider waiting patiently for a passing cricket.

Palate:  Freaking delicious and initially no where near the 64.2% on the tongue that I was expecting. Going down however all the way from the back of the throat right past the core to that warm center of my being it leaves a lasting trail. Juicy and coating with an oily parafin feel that keeps pumping flavor into every taste bud. Sweet vermouth and bitters, spices continuing from the nose into rich sherried notes.

Finish:   This whisky will love you for a very long time……. a very long time. The sherry really makes itself felt on the finish finally climbing over those spicy notes and leaving a lasting rich sweetness.

Water:   Just had to try a little splash of water in this beast. Second only to the huge A.D. Rattray Glen Moray of the second edition which was 64.8% this is an anomaly to say the least and especially for a Glenrothes. More of that caramel note and sweetness rises above the meaty spice. More sherry influence here and creamy cocoa with the water taming it a great deal. I think that the raw unbridled power of this whisky at 64.2% is just amazing and today that is how my palate is screaming at me to drink it.

Wow Stuart what an amazing cask of Glenrothes. I never thought I would have something from this distillery that would be so huge. I love my job.

Well sherry faithful did that tide you over for a bit? If you like this whisky lucky for you there are a few and only a few bottles coming to Canada. Please email me at jonathan@secretspirits.com if you want to find out where you can get it.

Whiskylassie is delving deep into this one and has posted her thoughts here.

In the second edition we had on day 8 the Wemyss Malts Dark Treacle Fondant Craigellachie and you can revisit it here.

Tomorrow after we all recover our sense of taste we will be heading back to the Highlands and the first offering from an independent bottler that made their lone debut in the 2nd edition. Single Cask Nation bring something unique and intriguing to the table.

See you then

Slainte

Jonathan – Taster of Secrets

Scotch Whisky Advent Calendar 3rd Edition Day 7 Blog #140 – Samaroli Allt a Bhainne 2008

Welcome back to the end of the first full week of whisky tasting through the 3rd edition. What a fun ride so far with some new players in the mix and a lot of different drams and wee bottles that have hit the recycling bin.

Today as promised we are getting our geek on with one of my favorite Independent Bottlers, Samaroli. Founded in 1968 by Silvano Samaroli they were at the time the only independent bottler outside of the UK buying up a bunch of casks and also laying down casks of their own. Bottling from a uniquely Italian perspective, Samaroli always look for the delicate complexity that is a feature of some of the best Scotches in the world. Just to make it 100% clear Samaroli source and bottle all their Scotch whisky in Scotland it just so happens that they get samples sent to Rome where Cindy and I get to travel to pick their whiskies every year (how did we make this up).

allt a bhainne
allt a bhainne

Allt a Bhainne (pronounced Olta-VAYne) is now owned by Pernod Ricard after being purchased from the closing Canadian Seagrams Group in 2000. Built in 1975 the bulk of its production goes into the Chivas Regal blends. Difficult to find as a Single Malt, even the odd independent bottling seems to be few and far between. The distillery started in 2010 to produce 50% of it’s output as a lightly peated whisky as Chivas needed some additional weight for some of its blends but does not own a distillery on Islay. The peated version of Allt a Bhainne is about 10ppm on the phenolic scale so still fairly light as far as peat goes.

Today’s whisky comes before that change and so should be peat free (sorry for the peat heads, you just had a dram a few days ago so chill already).

Allt a Bhainne
Allt a Bhainne

Samaroli Allt a Bhainne Single Malt 2008 – 8 Year Old aged in a lightly toasted new American Oak Hogshead and bottled at the Samaroli chosen percent of 43% without any color or chill filtration. Cask number 900853. Speyside.

Color:    Light as you would expect from Samaroli. Heck even the 30 year old Linkwood from the 2nd edition was incredibly light in color after 30 years. This one is no exception to that rule with only the tiniest touch of golden hue making it look like a lightly aged Sauv Blanc.

Nose:   Honeysuckle and tee tree bark. Alpine meadow complete with a fresh mountain stream.

Palate:  OK seriously Italian dudes, wow. From the nose I was not expecting the explosion of taste on the palate. Sweet loving flavors of epic proportions. Intense floral notes of rose petals and violets underpinned with a cache of rich vanilla infused potpurri.

Finish:  Fresh white chewy Nougat with almonds, rosemary and a hint of spearmint.

This is by far the very best Allt a Bhainne I have ever had (only had half a dozen or so) and only 8 years old. Got to love the Samaroli new oak aging. I wish more Scottish distilleries and independent bottlers would play with new oak and different toasting/charring levels. These are ingredients in whisky making that are largely ignored mostly due to tradition more than anything else.

50ml is not enough of this whisky and I am happy to let you know that there will be some full bottles available. Please email me at jonathan@secretspirits.com and I can tell you where to get it.

Whiskylassie has been having a blast and I am keen to see her tasting note on this beaut of a Samaroli here.

In the 2nd edition on this day we had the gorgeous Samaroli 18 year old Strathisla and you can read all about it here. Another coincidence like this and you are going to think I actually planned it all bwahahahaha.

Tomorrow we are staying in Speyside again but with an offering from the Malt Whisky Company aged in an Oloroso Sherry Cask. Until then dream about delicious drams and happy days.

Slainte

Jonathan – taster of Secrets

 

Scotch Whisky Advent Calendar 3rd Edition Day 6 Blog #139 – Ainneamh Highland 18 Year Old

Ainneamh (pronounced any-oov) means a rare thing in Gaelic and is an apt name for the independent bottling company owned by Brian Woods and Scott Watson. Releasing only a small number of bottling’s each year means that this whisky geek pair seek out only the most delicious drams. Today we visit the Highlands of Scotland and taste an undisclosed 18 Year Old Single Malt aged in a refill American Oak Hogshead.

I’ve been sworn to secrecy on the distillery but can give you a bit of a clue. The distillery has Two seperate words in the title.

I am a big fan of what most people think of as the “Highland” style of Single Malt. There is of course a lot of blurring of the lines these days but Honey and Heather have been two hallmarks of quintessential Highland Malt.

Ainneamh Highland 18 Year Old

Ainneamh Highland 18 Year Old Single Malt – Aged in a refill American Hogshead barrel bottled at a natural cask strength of 57%

Color:   Another light in color whisky after 18 years in a refill barrel.

Nose:    Lemon drop candies and ripe pear halves. A hint of salty sea air adds a layer to the otherwise fresh and crips nose.

Palate:   A teaspoon of malt powder stirred with some creamed honey. Oak influence is nicely subtle on this allowing even more fruit like ripe honeydew and Starfruit to appear.

Finish:   Long and zesty at 57% and the melon just keeps on coming. Like the ubiquitous side of honeydew and cantaloupe with your Eggs Benedict.

Lovely breakfast dram if ever there was one. I think I might have to put that to the test sometime soon.

Ainneamh does bottle whiskies with declared distilleries as well as undisclosed. Unfortunately this delicious dram was all snapped up to fill the calendar bottles and a few 700ml’s that were sold locally in Scotland. If you are looking for more of this then grabbing another 3rd edition will be your only chance.

Let’s check out what Whiskylassie has to say about today’s dram here.

In the 2nd edition on this day we visited the excellent Highland Distillery, Tullibardine (another coincidence that we had Highland today) from the eyes of The Malt Whisky Company. You can read or re-read it here.

It’s been really fun to be able to bring you some new small independent bottlers to add to the mix and offer up even more variety as we work to keep the 25 new whiskies in each edition interesting and unique.

Tomorrow we head back to Speyside for the first Samaroli in the 3rd edition. Any of you that have read some of my blogs know that I love the Samaroli style of bottling whisky so I can’t wait.

See you tomorrow

Slainte

Jonathan – Taster of Secrets