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

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

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

Speyside 26 Year Old

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

Color:   Rich Gold

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

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

Finish:  Stewed citrus medley with a brown sugar infusion.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

See you on the morrow

Cheers

Jonathan – taster of secrets

 

Scotch Whisky Advent Calendar 3rd Edition Day 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 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 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 5 Blog #138 – A.D. Rattray Ledaig 9 Year Old

Welcome back for a little fire breathing today as we finally give those that love a little smoke in their whisky their due. Sourced from the Tobermory distillery on the Isle of Mull today’s dram is labelled Ledaig by A.D. Rattray in deference to the brand used for their peated Single Malt.

Tobermory aka Ledaig
Tobermory aka Ledaig

We always try to have at least one or two island distilleries represented throughout the 25 days of dramming and it is fantastic to finally have a heavily peated Island expression in front of us.

Tobermory is the only distillery on the isle of Mull and was founded in 1798. One of the oldest commercial distilleries in Scotland, Tobermory has a rich history. It was closed for 41 years from the mid 30’s till the 1970’s and then still struggled with uncertain markets and difficult economic times and in the 1980’s some of the distillery warehousing was converted into flats (townhouses) and it looked like another closure was inevitable. Burns Stewart purchased it in 1993 and breathed a new lease of life into the distillery. With a unique spirit that captures the heart of the Scottish Isles Tobermory is amongst only a few distilleries that boast two house styles.

Enter the Dragon
Enter the Dragon

Today we get to try Ledaig (pronounced Le chig) as seen from the eyes of the excellent team at A.D. Rattray. Ledaig Single Malt 9 Year Old aged in a refill Bourbon cask and bottled at the cask strength of 57.9%.

Colour:    Light as you would expect from only 9 years in a refill cask boasting a lovely polished Pinot Gris effect.

Nose:        Buttered Popcorn on the cusp of being over popped. Topped with bacon bits and sea salt.

Palate:      Lamp oil and colored pencil shavings, smoked cod and smoldering latex not necessarily in that order 🙂

Finish:     Long salty, earthy, rubbery and all with a backbone of a smoky sweetness.

This is a delicious Ledaig and I love the contrast here from what Islay brings to the table in terms of peated whisky. This is every bit as large and consuming but definitely has a much different feel. Younger peated whisky is something I find myself reaching for when I want some big smoke and peat flavors that are underpinned by youthful fruit. This Island variant fits the bill perfectly and absolutely warms all the way down. Even now I can still feel it’s magic all over my tongue and throat. Certainly the cask strength here just absolutely gives it wings.

Water:   Just a couple of drops here adds even more sweetness and just takes that living large edge away. Some marzipan kicks in at the death stealing the limelight. I think for most occassions I would go big or go home on this one personally but I did really like the slightly softer and sweeter version that mutated with a little water.

Tomorrow we head to the Highlands to welcome a brand new independent bottler to the calendar.

On this day in the 2nd edition we had the delicious A.D. Rattray Caol Ila I didn’t actually mean for this to be so spot on with the order from the 2nd edition but I do know that keeping the peat lovers away from their favorite flavors for too long is a dangerous thing so there will always be something to sooth the aching need at least once a week.

For those looking for this delicious Ledaig alas there was none to be had after we took our stash for the 3rd edition. Whatever you have in your glass or still in your bottle is all there is.

Johanne has her take on this A.D. Rattray Ledaig here.

Until tomorrow have a fabulous night

Slainte

Jonathan – taster of secrets