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Singlemalting #191 – Day 25 – 4th Edition Scotch Whisky Advent Calendar – Samaroli 30 Year Old Invergordon

Welcome to day 25 and Merry Christmas.

So at last the quartet is complete. We have had in this order on Christmas day – 1st edition “Blended Malt 33yo”, 2nd edition “Single Malt 30yo”, 3rd edition “Blended Scotch 34yo” and now 4th edition “Single Grain 30yo”. All previous day 25 whiskies have been amazing expressions from Samaroli. Lets check out this old Invergordon from Samaroli as we relax by the fire. Snowing heavily in both Alberta and here in Ontario where I am spending Christmas with Cindy’s Family. A far cry from the gorgeous blue skies and warm weather I had last Christmas in Australia.

Invergordon is a Single Grain Distillery that was founded in 1960. It is located in the Northern Highlands much farther away from the other Single Grain distilleries that are found in and around the Lowlands of Scotland. Using Coffey stills Invergordon produces a staggering amount of Single Grain Scotch Whisky every year, somewhere in the vicinity of 40 million liters. Invergordon is owned by Whyte and Mackay as the backbone of their blends. Rarely seen under its own label it is independent bottlers that get this out to whisky geeks worldwide.

Barrels at Invergordon Distillery

Samaroli 30 year old Invergordon Single Grain Scotch Whisky – bottled at the abv of 45% aged in a Sherry Hogshead cask number 901551.

Colour:     As with most Samaroli bottlings this is very pale indeed for a sherry hogshead after 30 years and tells me this must have been a refill cask.

Nose:    Rich and heady on the nose like wandering through a Moroccan Spice Bazaar. Still a large alcohol presence at only 45% promising some lively flavors I’m hoping.

Palate:    Initially tropical with some coconut milk creaminess that immediately launches into sweet passionfruit pulp spooned over caramel flan.

Finish:    Just deliciously consistent with everything that has gone before. Love the rolling soft sweetness with a finishing dusting of spice.

Samaroli Invergordon 30 Year Old

One of the most interesting Single Grains I have tried and certainly to date by far the best Invergordon. Thanks Samaroli for doing it again. Can you guys back up next year to hold the 25 spot for 5 years in a row? We will have to see.

It has been amazing yet again to have all of you join us here at Secret Spirits for this 4th rendition of our journey through Scotland. We hope you have enjoyed the experience of exploration and found it rewarding and entertaining.

If you love our calendar it would be amazing if you could post some comments or join us at our various Social Medial pages. All the links can be found at www.secretspirits.com.

Please give a ton of comments and a big round of applause for the amazing work done by Scotch Trooper for this 4th (force) edition. His photos and tasting notes were fantastic. Thanks Scotch Trooper for being part of our journey.

On this day in the 3rd edition we had Samaroli give us the oldest whisky bottled in any edition with the 34 Year Old First Fill Sherry Blended Scotch.

May you have amazing love, friendship and family around you at this time of year and throughout your life.

I will be writing again shortly about a rare aquisition from a major brand (very unlike me to make such a purchase). Looking forward to doing it all again next year and bringing about our half decade milestone.

Thanks again

Jonathan and Cindy

Secret Spirits

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Singlemalting #186 – Day 20 – 4th Edition SWAC – Exclusive Malts Cameronbridge Single Grain 25yo

Welcome to a brand new independent bottler in this 4th edition. Exclusive Malts is one of the brands released by the Creative Whisky Company. Owned by David Stirk this indie has been putting out delicious casks for quite some time. It is a pleasure to have him on board and I’m sure we will be seeing a lot more casks from him in future editions. Today we head to the Lowlands of Scotland and the Single Grain Cameronbridge Distillery.

A great way to start with an older Single Grain that is the first such expression in this edition. Cameronbridge is also a brand new distillery so we are getting a double bonus round with this Scotch. For those unaware a Single Grain can be distilled from a number of different grains but at the one distillery and still has to be aged for a minimum of 3 years in oak to be whisky. Single Grain makes up the bulk of the Blended Scotch category. When aged however Single Grain takes on some very special complexities and have proven to be some of my favorite drams from past editions.

Cameronbridge was opened in 1824 and produced both Single Malt and Single Grain right up until 1929 when they changed to Single Grain only. Owned by Diageo, Cameronbridge is a workhorse for all of Diageo’s big name blended Scotch Whiskies including Johnnie Walker.

Cameronbridge Distillery

Exclusive Malts Cameronbridge 25 Year Old Single Grain Scotch Whisky – Aged in a refill Sherry Cask number 93574 and bottled at 52.9%.

Colour:   Easy to see only a refill influence on the colour here. Just the tiniest tinge of red after 25 long years.

Nose:  Plenty to get excited about. Loads of up front sweetness that could be part sherry cask and part corn content in the mashbill. Single Grain distilleries do not generally reveal their mashbill recipes but there is no doubt that corn plays a big part in most. Some cereal notes as well kind of like a bowl of “Honey Smacks” complete with a creamy pouring of fresh milk.

Palate:   Some tropical notes here that remind me of the St Nicholas Abbey Barbados Rum. Toasted coconut and papaya. Palate filling goodness all round.

Finish:   That creamy milk comes back into play with the honey notes and tropical connection still rolling. Really soft finish for almost 53%.

This is why older Single Grain Scotch Whisky is so cool. If this is your first time trying Single Grain “you’re welcome”.

Thanks Dave for offering us this fine dram.

On this day in the 3rd edition we had only the second ever bottling from Secret Spirits. The 26 Year Old Speyside Single Malt.

Head on over to Scotch Trooper. I am told by a reliable source that there may be a ramp up of new photos for this last week.

Tomorrow we head North to Speyside for another delicious dram from Hunter Laing and their Old Malt Cask brand.

Until then



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Singlemalting #185 – Day 19 – 4th Edition SWAC – A.D. Rattray Williamson (Laphroaig) 5yo

So before we slip into some comfy slippers & contemplate the days before Christmas I felt it was time for something young, sultry and smokin from our friends at A.D. Rattray.

Williamson is the industry term for casks of Laphroaig that are not supposed to be disclosed. It is such common knowledge however that posting this here is by no means in violation of any secrecy. Like many Islay whiskies young Laphroaig can be amazing. Actually Islay distilleries in general tend to show the best of all Scotch whisky regions at a younger age.

Laphroaig is a distillery that was established in 1815 and was owned by the Johnstone family. After Ian Hunter the last surviving family member of that line passed away in 1954 he willed Laphroaig to one of his managers Bessie Williamson (at last the connection). After being acquired by Beam it then became part of the Suntory holdings when Beam was purchased in 2014.

Laphroaig Distillery

So for all of us Islay fans lets have at er.

A.D. Rattray Williamson (Laphroaig) 5 Year Old Single Malt aged in a sherry cask number 130 at the cask strength of 61% without colour or chill filtration.

Colour:   Very light for a sherry cask so probably a 2nd fill even after only 5 years.

Nose:    Go carefully at this one people the Spey glass gives this nose a real focus so ease into it softly. Salty cured Prosciutto, soft blue cheese and chutney.

Palate:    Ok any thought I had that this was going to be a relaxing before dinner charcuterie plate went up in smoke. Heavy medicinal peat but with some sherry notes kicking it up a notch.

Finish:    There is a lot to like about how this unfolds. Finish is softer than I thought it would be and warming to boot. I still get that sweet chutney character and the medicine is sure nice going down.

This is a humdinger of a young Islay. Just enough influence on that sherry Butt after 5 years to add some delicious complexity to this Laphroaig.

On day 19 in the 3rd edition we had the Samaroli Miltonduff/Tormore 20 year old combo malt.

So tomorrow is the start of nothing but at least 20 year old’s from here till Christmas. I’m sure that we’ll be seeing you tomorrow. In the meantime check out Scotch Trooper again. I might have to make a scrap book out of these shots.

Until the morrow




Scotch Whisky Advent Calendar

Singlemalting #184 – Day 18 – 4th Edition SWAC – Secret Spirits Glenrothes 19yo Single Malt

Disclosed for the second time in this edition. Today is time for a visit to Glenrothes in Speyside. We have had some exceptional expressions from this Distillery in past editions and I was excited to be able to source one of our own.

Glenrothes is owned by the Edrington group and has been in production since 1878. Beside the burn of Rothes it is most noted for use in famous blends like Cutty Sark and Famous Grouse. With 4 major fires causing extensive damage over the years the success of Glenrothes has not been without some challenges.

Glenrothes Distillery

Lets delve straight into the whisky shall we.

Secret Spirits Glenrothes Single Malt 19 Years Old aged in Bourbon Cask number 261 and bottled at the cask strength of 55.6% with no added colour or chill filtration.

Colour:    A tiny touch of rusty gold as this was a first fill Bourbon cask but still light for 19 years in barrel.

Nose:     White Balsamic drizzled over pear slices with walnuts and brie.

Palate:   Juicy pear brandy, vanilla & lemon pound cake topped with date slices.

Finish:     Lots to find here as this is a delicate expression of Glenrothes but not without a ton of character. Can’t get past the ripe pear and vanilla.

Really fruit driven Glenrothes expression and quite different from the heavily tropical expressions that Wemyss malts have provided the past few editions.

Am really happy with this cask as it is right up my alley. I could spend quite some time sitting and mulling over this dram.

On this day in the 3rd edition we had the A.D. Rattray Loch Lomond (Croftengea) 11 year old.

Every few days Scotch Trooper has something fun for us to check out so make sure you get over to his Instagram page.

Tomorrow we head to the Dark Side again for something from our friends at A.D. Rattray.

The last 6 days leading up to Christmas is nothing but 20+ year old goodness so stay right where you are and get ready to rumble.

If you are after today’s dram just drop me a line and we can help to make it happen.




Scotch Whisky Advent Calendar

Singlemalting #183 – Day 17 – 4th Edition SWAC – Samaroli MacDuff 19yo Sherry Cask

We have only had the odd Sherry cask aged whisky from Samaroli. The Glen Scotia in the 1st edition was one such dram and a fine dram it was. Read all about it here. Today though we are talking MacDuff. This is our comparison piece that we like to do at least once each edition to showcase haw diverse each single cask can be. Even when casks are filled on the same day at the same distillery and sit side by side for the same number of years they will be different when bottled. Thus is the mystery and magic of whisky.

MacDuff Stills

So have a read again about the A.D. Rattray MacDuff on day 3 and try to remember. What are the differences for you with this older expression?

Samaroli MacDuff 19yo Single Malt Sherry cask. Bottled at 43% non chill filtered and no caramel colouring.

Colour:   While there is a tinge of red there I would think after 19 years that this would have been a second or refill cask.

Nose:     A touch of struck match quickly gives way to savory notes of a roast beef sandwich complete with wholegrain mustard.

Palate:    Wow the beef continues like a good Stroganoff thats laced with sherry.

Finish:   Sweet PX sherry notes burst through at the finish dragging some of that gorgeous gravy with them. Floral cherry blossom notes jump out at the end leaving a lasting sweetness that is a crazy delicious finish to this very complex dram. This is a really unique dram and completely took me by surprise as I have never tasted a savory then sweet MacDuff like this one before. Absolutely going to get myself a bottle of this.

On day 17 in the 3rd edition we had the Wemyss Malts Applewood Bake Invergordon 26yo Single Grain.

Head on over to Scotch Trooper or you will be detained for questioning.

Tomorrow we hand over yet another cask bottled by Secret Spirits. For the second time we are going to reveal the distillery on the label.

See you then





Scotch Whisky Advent Calendar

Singlemalting #182 – Day 16 – 4th Edition SWAC – Lost Distillery Company Lossit Classic

Today we take another peek behind history’s curtain at another Distillery recreation by Lost Distillery Company. Lossit Distillery was on Islay between 1817 and 1867. You can get a thorough grounding in the history and story of Lossit at the Lost Distillery Website. This is a very cool recreation especially for Islay fans. Lets see what this take on a very old distillery is like in our glass.

Lossit Distillery on Islay

Lost Distillery Company Lossit Classic Blended Malt – bottled at 43% ABV

Colour:   Wedding ring gold

Nose:    Smoky hot chocolate topped with a cardamon pod.

Palate:    Light earth and chocolate continue. Islay distilleries at that time used peat as a function of malting the barley but were not as obsessed with infusing each whisky with as much peat as possible.

Finish:  Warming, earthy with some white chocolate making its mark on the finish intermingling with the still persistent milk chocolate. This is a really nice dram and would be a good transition for those wanting to dip their toe into the Islay waters.

Scottish Milk and White chocolate together

We can’t know for certain of course without our own time machine if the boys at Lost Distillery have this close to the original. I think though with the amount of homework they do for each expression this would be a very close guess. One thing for sure these Lost Distillery drams bring another spectrum of flavors to the whisky world.

On Day 16 in the 3rd edition we had the excellent Samaroli Islay 2016 edition.

Tomorrow we start our run towards Christmas with something older and sherried from our Italian connection Samaroli.

As always head on over to check out a true master of his craft at Scotch Trooper. It has been a real privilege to have him work with us this year and I can hardly wait to see what he has in store for Christmas day. It’s going to be a hard act to follow for whoever takes up the guest blogging spot for our 5th edition.

Looking forward to seeing you all tomorrow as we share a Samaroli dram together.




Scotch Whisky Advent Calendar

Singlemalting # 181 – Day 15 – 4th edition SWAC – Wemyss Malts Peat Chimney Blended Malt Batch Strength

Time again for some peat driven goodness and this time we turn to Wemyss. This is their new take on an old classic. Peat Chimney first made its debut in the 1st edition calendar way back in 2014. Worth another read. After our taste of the Spice King Batch Strength and The Hive Batch Strength I’m excited about finishing the set with the Peat Chimney.

Peat Chimney Batch Strength

Wemyss Malts Peat Chimney Batch Strength Blended Malt – 57% ABV aged in a combination of Bourbon and Sherry casks.

Colour:   A blush of reddish hue tilting its hat at the sherry cask influence.

Nose:    Malt vinegar and sea salt kettle chips. If this was a real chip flavor I would be packing on the calories while watching my favorite Star Wars movie.

Palate:   Smoke in abundance with toffee apple.

Finish:   Does not feel 57% at all to my palate. Lingering on with the apple character continuing to ride along with the smoke and still just a hint of salty snacks hanging around.

This is the best expression of Peat Chimney by Wemyss Malts yet. The higher strength accentuates the flavors and gives everyone room to maneuver with water or ice or whatever takes your fancy.

Day 15 in the 3rd edition was the Malt Whisky Company MacDuff 16 Year Old. Refresh your memory or try to find a 3rd edition to experience Stuart’s take on an excellent distillery.

Head on over to Scotch Trooper today for some more Star Wars meets whisky fun. Inspired by Scotch Trooper and with the new Star Wars movie coming out today, I took a quick shot with my phone on our fireplace chimney. No doubt with awesome lighting and a steady hand this could have been a cool photo. I think I’ll leave it to the pro though.

Almost there…

Tomorrow we are heading back to the guys at the Lost Distillery Company for a very intriguing dram. Then we start moving into some heavy hitters for the last 9 days. Hold onto your glassware people some serious whisky is on its way.

Looking forward to your company tomorrow

Until then






Scotch Whisky Advent Calendar

Singlemalting # 180 – Day 14 – 4th Edition SWAC – A.D. Rattray Glen Elgin 21yo Single Malt

Oh the joy of a new distillery in the mix. I absolutely lean towards not only amazing casks but also adding a new distillery to the list. Glen Elgin is a distillery in Speyside that was founded in 1898 and was the last distillery built during the boom of the 1890’s. The bulk of its production goes into the White Horse Blend. Now owned by industry giant Diageo it has had a very interesting past.

Glen Elgin Distillery

Today’s look at the Glen Elgin distillery is courtesy of our friends at A.D. Rattray.

A.D. Rattray Glen Elgin 21 Year Old Single Malt – Aged in a Bourbon cask numbered 3203. Cask Strength ABV of 52.9%. Distilled in 1995.

Colour:    Rustic Gold

Nose:   Shortbread Cookie Dough with a cris crossed lace of vanilla icing.

Palate:   A rum-esque hit to the tongue shows that there is sweetness here. Rolls into a spicy candied ginger and nutmeg combination. Truly complex.

Finish:    Even some pepper notes here on the finish to go with the spicy ginger. Really zings off the buds. This is a really interesting dram and has a huge amount going on.

Loving this first even Glen Elgin expression in one of our calendars and will be looking for something from this distillery again for sure. There are so many distilleries in Scotland and it’s my goal to eventually get as many of them as I can into our calendar for all of you to enjoy.

In the 3rd edition on day 14 we had the Ainneamh 18 Year Old Speyside Single Malt.

Make sure you head over to Scotch Trooper again today and if you have not got your tickets booked for the launch of the new Star Wars movie tomorrow in Canada and everywhere else then get on it.

Tomorrow we are heading to back to Wemyss Malts for another full strength version of a classic Wemyss whisky.

Be sure to join in tomorrow and for those getting their Star Wars geek on “May the Force be with you.



Scotch Whisky Advent Calendar

Singlemalting # 179 – Day 13 – 4th edition SWAC – Shetland Reel Batch 3

Some of you will remember the Batch # 1 Shetland Reel from the 3rd edition calendar. It was a superbly put together blended malt by industry legend Stuart Nickerson. I just had to check out this years limited edition batch and see what he had in store for us.

Saxa Vord Distillery Unst

Carefully chosen from distilleries all over the mainland the casks are shipped up to Unst in the northernmost island in the Shetland chain. There Stuart creates a unique combination of Single Malts and ages them together for another year before release. Stuart tells me that this batch has single malt from Islay, Speyside and the Highlands.

Shetland Reel Blended Malt Scotch Whisky – ABV 46% no caramel colouring or chill filtration

Colour:   Pale Straw

Nose:    Salty and sweet like salted caramel squares.

Palate:    The salty caramel continues on with smoky undertones and hints of earthy rubber.

Finish:   The peat base slowly asserts itself and my guess would be that Stuart included a fair amount of Islay in this combo. The sweetness of the salted caramel is more of a memory now but the briny hints remain. Feels bigger than 46% and really packs a punch. This is the boldest Shetland Reel batch yet.

Absolutely love good blended malt and would highly recommend that everyone try as many as they can get their lips on.

On day 13 in the 3rd edition we had the A.D. Rattray Auchroisk 25 Year Old.

Lets check out what Scotch Trooper is up to today. I hope you checked out his Christmas Tree yesterday. I personally think he is having way too much fun.

Tomorrow we are getting our older whisky geek going with an offering from A.D. Rattray with another distillery making it’s debut in any edition.

I look forward to your company tomorrow until then enjoy family and friends and all the amazing opportunities and blessings that you have.



Scotch Whisky Advent Calendar

Singlemalting #178 – Day 12 – 4th edition SWAC – Secret Spirits Speyside 19yo

So excited to be able to bring you the second round of Secret Spirits very own bottling’s. This time around we have a 19 year old Single Malt from an undisclosed Speyside Distillery. For those of you that do not know why we would bottle a whisky without sharing its identity let me clear it up. Sometimes distilleries will release casks to brokers on the premise that they have to remain undisclosed so as not to compete with their own brand on retail shelves. This can also mean a price break over selecting a “named” cask. Even though Secret Spirits will be putting names on labels at some point (spoiler even in this edition) for me it’s all about the whisky.

So as one of the now retired English Cricket teams captain’s once said “if you give them an inch they will take a mile”. So anyway now onto the whisky (this is your hint if you missed it).

Secret Spirits Undisclosed  Speyside 19 Year Old Single Malt – 63.4% and aged in a Bourbon cask number 184.

Colour:    Definitely leads us to think that this cask could be a refill with only a light colour showing after 19 long years aging in the barrel.

Nose:   Go gently now as this beastie is a monster for a 19 year old whisky at 63.4%. When most casks are filled at no more than 65% ABV either this cask got a healthier dose or the cooper was feeling extra frisky that day.  Vanilla bean Nougat and biscotti with lemon peel.

Palate:   Lovely coating as you would expect from such a healthy ABV.  The nose resonates strongly with the palate here as that rich vanilla and marzipan character combines with a fruit basket of citrus flavors.

Finish:    More citrus fairly bursts out of the finish as the oily vanilla continues on and on. With a splash of water the finish becomes a velvet rug over which the vanilla and citrus ride along together.

This is every bit as amazing as I remember and I always take notice when an older cask is still living large with such a high ABV. Thanks to the awesome broker that tasted me on this cask.

On day 12 in the 3rd edition we had the Coastal briny character of the Lost Distillery Gerston.

Head on over to Scotch Trooper who now has his Christmas tree decorated in full Darkside spectacle.

Tomorrow we will be heading way North to check out another amazing whisky from Stuart Nickerson at Shetland Reel.