The last few months have been somewhat challenging as Cindy and I continue to work hard to get our 6th edition out to as many whisky lovers as possible.
Without going into excruciating detail this has actually been our most difficult year ever. Some of the highlights include embargoes, tariffs, shipping nightmares, bottling and warehousing problems, labelling controversy, our first ever crowdfunding venture and last but not least Amazon UK (would require an entire book to tell that story).
As a really positive counterpoint to all of this has been the super fun trip to Scotland, friends, family and so many in our community that have supported us above and beyond this year. A big thanks to my sister Jayne for helping out with Google, To my bro Peter for being patient with us and helping with the whole Amazon piece. Patrick and Tiana for getting our Facebook on track and a massive thanks to Chris Burrows at The Dram Team. Without Chris there would have been no 6th edition.
So with only half a month to go till D Day I thought I would throw out a customary reminder blog and warm up for the 25 days of non-stop blogging that I do each year.
If you have not put your name on a calendar yet there are still some available in Canada the US and around the world but we are almost sold out as we only made 500 this year.
We have amped up content on a lot of platforms if you are interested in following along more closely with our adventures. The Whisky Advent Calendar facebook page has taken on a life of its own including the regular “whats in your glass” segments from yours truly with guest appearances by Cindy, Shadow and Sashes. Our Youtube channel has a ton of content from our Scotland trip and is worth a peek.
As always if you just want to reach out and talk whisky I’m always up for having a yarn pretty much anytime.
Hard to believe that it has been 6 years of creating whisky adventures already. Hopefully there will be many more to come.
Really looking forward to the journey this year as we had so much amazing input while we were in Scotland from everyone that was part of the initial Indiegogo campaign. Spoiler alert, there will be sherry cask influenced whisky in this edition and lots of it.
Come along with Cindy and I this year and join the Secret Spirits Scotch Whisky Adventure Train.
Welcome to Christmas Day everyone. What a journey we have had together in this our 5th edition. I hope that through the varying complexities of Speyside to the honey’s and heathers of the Highlands along with some big hitting Islay, salty Islands and old grain Lowlands that you have come to appreciate how diverse the Scotch whisky landscape truly is.
We finish our journey today with a 30 year old Single Malt from the Glen Grant Distillery bottled by A.D. Rattray. This is the first time we have had a different independent bottler for Christmas day since our calendars began. Editions 1 through 4 were all stolen by Italian Independent bottler Samaroli. It seems fitting then that Glen Grant is the dethroning whisky as it is the number 1 selling Single Malt in Italy.
Glen Grant was founded in 1840 by two illicit distillers, John and James Grant who decided that they should legitimize and seek a license. The distillery was then passed onto James “The Major” Grant who was a true innovator and really laid the foundation for the ultimate success of this iconic distillery. James owned the first car in the Highlands and installed the first electric lights at any distillery in Scotland. He also built taller slender stills and purifiers that gave Glen Grant a freshness and clear sparkle that still defines the whisky today. Major Grant passed away in 1931 and his grandson Douglas took up the reigns. in 2006 Campari acquired Glen Grant as part of the Pernod Ricard Group and still owns it to this day.
A.D. Rattray Glen Grant 30 Year Old Single Malt Scotch Whisky – Sherry Butt # 9173 – Speyside – 55.1% ABV
Colour: Gorgeous 14K Gold. Still lighter than you could have with a 30 year old sherry so definitely at least a second fill.
Nose: There is a lovely wafting of tropical fruit. A bowl of bananas, passionfruit and mango. Bahind all of this there is some old library action going on. Polished teak and old leather. A hint of tobacco like sitting in a deep backed leather chair in an old drawing room. This would be the place to retire and relax after dinner with your esteemed guests. I could smell this for half an hour easy. The 55 and change alcohol really doesnt come out at all. I would be very careful about watering this whisky as older drams tend to be quite delicate.
Palate: This has all of the above and more on the palate. There is no way I am putting water in this. Barely any alcohol burn and an absolutely sensational all over creamy coating on the palate. It tastes old. The tropics are hanging in there and partnering with the old world charm of something that took 3 full decades of time and patience to bring to your wee glass this Christmas day. Thank you A.D. Rattray for allowing us to use this precious whisky for our 5th edition. A bit of a swirl and some over ripe citrus comes into play as well.
Finish: The effect of 30 years in this cask does have its way with the finish. There is an abundance of dried fruits and lingering oak There is a lot going on here and I wish I had more. Thank goodness we do 50ml bottles. Sharing with Chris to do this blog would have been a real challenge with anything less. This Glen Grant has remained surprisingly spry on the fruit side after so long in cask. There is still a touch of Christmas tingly magic that slowly fades and I mean really slowly. I can still taste it a good full 5 minutes after my final sip and it’s still going. final note is a dried piece of papaya. What a priviledge to drink something that took so long to complete. Wow I love whisky.
Today I actually shared this dram with my good friend Chris Williams. After an unfortunate incident in transit someone received their 5th edition with the day 25 broken and empty. When Cindy and I were recently in Texas I packaged up and sent my own personal day 25 bottle. Chris stepped in and offered his own bottle for us to share so that I could get these tasting notes. What a legend, thanks mate.
I know Bart and Scott of Scotch Test Dummies are together on Christmas Day and Daniel of the Whiskey Vault is no doubt aching to get to Christmas festivities with his family so check out their take on the Glen Grant.
So the final count on each Region, Style, Cask Type and ABV are below including one heavily peated Highland:
Undisclosed Region Blended Malts – 3 – Undisclosed Cask Type – Reduced Strength 3
The numbers very much mirror the actual balance of distilleries that are active in Scotland today. To be a touch more accurate there would actually be a few less Highlands and a few more Speysides. For our 6th edition we will be asking all of you to have your input on where you would like to travel on our annual Scotch Whisky Adventure.
At the end of January we will be launching a crowdfunding campaign for the 6th edition where you all get to help pick regions and even casks as I comb the length and breadth of Scotland. Secret Spirits is taking the interactive nature of our calendar to a whole new level and making it even more fun and entertaining.
Don’t forget today to head to www.secretspirits.com and vote for your 3 favourite whiskies for a chance to win our 6th edition.
Thank you everyone for coming along with Cindy and I and entering into the most controversy, discussion, tasting notes, chats and drams that we have ever had in 5 years. So exciting to be able to share this with everyone and help expand our experience of this amazing category of whisky.
Today’s dram was probably the most drama we have ever had in bottling a whisky. Needing at least 105 bulk liters to fill 2000 mini’s we of course only chose casks that have all of that and some to spare. When this cask arrived at our warehouse it was substantially lower than what we needed. How do you at find more Inchmurrin 21 year old at the last minute? Well it’s almost impossible but luckily for us the ABV on our barrel was above 60%. Extremely rare for a 21 year old cask that had actually leaked as well to still have such a high ABV. Saved by this anomoly we were forced to reduce the strength to 45.2% to eek out enough whisky for all the calendars. This little hiccup believe it or not almost caused everyone to miss out on getting their calendars altogether.
Fun times when everything comes down to devil’s cut and angel’s share.
So disaster averted we have for our Christmas Eve whisky at the very last minute and great expense a single cask of Inchmurrin 21 Year Old for your dramming pleasure.
Imchmurrin is actually one of the brands that comes out of the Loch Lomond Distillery. Loch Lomond is a unique distillery in that it produces both Single Malt and Single Grain whiskies and by utilizing varying distilling methods actually creates 10 different styles of Single Malt under the one roof. We have had the heavily peated Croftengea from A.D. Rattray and also a heavily peated Loch Lomond from Single Cask Nation who prefers to use the name of the distillery as part of our third edition. Inchmurrin is on the lightly peated end of the Loch Lomond scale with only the distilleries namesake Single Malt having the lightest peat profile.
Loch Lomond was first established in 1814 but was closed after only 3 years of production. The new Loch Lomond was founded in 1964 by the Littlemill distillery owners. Closed for a brief period in the 80’s the Single Grain operation was started in 1993 and at the time it was the only distillery in Scotland to do so. In 2014 the distillery was acquired by a private equity group and is now owned by the Loch Lomond Distilling Corporation.
The Inchmurrin spirit is said to have an intensely fruit driven character that fades to grass and meadow flowers with age. Lets see what has happened to this tortured cask of Inchmurrin after 21 years in a sherry hogshead.
Secret Spirits Inchmurrin 21 Year Old Single Malt Scotch Whisky – Sherry Hogshead # 407 – Highland – 45.2% ABV – No Chill Filtration.
Colour: Despite the sherry cask the colour is still lightly tarnished gold.
Nose: Comes out of the glass feistier than I would have expected. There is a soft earth and hay quality to the nose that gives way to Cedar fence pailings and old farm equipment. Like stepping into an old barn closing your eyes and taking in all the different smells. There is a sweet note here as well though like someone is baking apple pie in the nearby homestead and it is wafting into the barn.
Palate: The delivery is initially light and grassy but quickly builds up a coating tingle that transitions all the way to the back of the palate and down to your very core. The sweet pie crust comes through as does the Jonathan apple (slightly sweet). The earthy notes are almost non existant but still detectable.
Finish: The alcohol seems to linger more on the finish than up front. Persisting soft floral notes and wafting meadow breezes.
This is a very layered whisky and it would have been really cool to allow everyone to play with it at 60+ %. Everything I have had from Loch Lomond has been stellar and I will continue to seek out all of these different expressions in future editions.
Today we head to the Lowlands for a visit at the North British Distillery in Edinburgh. Single Grain Scotch Whisky is a fascinating category and one that we have always included in every adventure. All of the single casks that we have ever presented in this category have been over 20 years old. Normally I am a big proponent of the fact that older is not necessarily better however when it comes to Single Grain there is no doubting that additional aging really does bring big rewards.
Single Grain Scotch Whisky can be made from any number of grains but has to be distilled by the same distillery. As the workhorse of the blended Scotch world Single Grain is also typically filled into casks at a higher ABV than Single Malt. North British was founded in 1885 and is now jointly owned by Diageo and Edrington under the Lothian Distillers umbrella. No doubt both these Scotch Whisky powers share the benefits of the high amount of Grain Whisky that NB pumps out every year to keep their blends rolling. For Diageo of course Johnnie Walker and they even distill spirit for their Smirnoff Vodka Brand at NB. For Edrington its Cutty Sark and Famous Grouse. Their job was made much easier with the closure of the Caledonia Grain distillery in Edinburgh in 1988 and has cemented NB as an Edinburgh Icon.
The vastly larger portion of the mashbill for North British is corn with smaller amounts of barley. This leads to some comparisons between older Scottish Single Grain and aged Bourbons. The biggest difference of course is speed of maturation. Taking 30 years to tame the sweet brightness of Corn in Scotland can be achieved much more quickly in most bourbon producing climates in the US.
A.D. Rattray North British 30 Year Old Single Grain Scotch Whisky – Sherry Butt # 24767 – Lowlands – 56.7% ABV
Colour: Amazingly light for 30 years and speaks to the possibility of the Sherry Butt being a refill cask.
Nose: Give that nose just a wee bit of time with air contact and it all starts to unfurl. An old wood spice chest of cardamon, ceylon cinnamon sticks, orange taffy and mahogany.
Palate: D Dutchman Dairy in Sicamous British Columbia make amazing hand crafted ice cream including a fabulous Rum and Raisin that I absolutely have to stop for everytime I’m passing through. This takes me back there last Summer when Cindy and I visited the Dubh Glas Distillery in the Okanagan. Sicamous is right on the way so Cindy, Sashes (our Maltese Yorkie) and I all enjoyed some delicious ice cream on the way. There is also a developing herb garden note that I can’t quite pinpoint. Parsley and sweet Spring onion.
Finish: The chewy orange taffy keeps kicking with a dusting of burnt demerara and some spikes of very subtle Chicago Steak Spice. A really interesting Single Grain that has taken 3 decades to build this delicate complexity into something that is well worth spending time with.
Day 22 dawns. It just seems like yesterday that we started this adventure together. It’s been a great ride so far this edition and there has been plenty to learn, plenty to talk about and most importantly plenty to contemplate. Apart from Christmas Day when we had the stellar Samaroli 33 Year Old Blended Malt and the 34 Year Old Blended Scotch we have not normally apart from the odd Samaroli seen anything blended in the last 5 days of any edition. Back in March when I was at Dummfries House tasting through a bunch of whiskies with Brian Woods from Lost Distillery Company this Towiemore really struck a chord. For me it wasn’t just the great story but also the balance of this dram and that it stood out even amongst the many single casks that I was trying (16 different drams I think from memory or lack thereof). It was a great opportunity to showcase a very well put together combination of Single Malts at a time in the calendar when we are really scritinizing everything a little more carefully.
Towiemore was a distillery that really only had a comparitively short shelf life in Scottish terms. Starting it’s production in 1898 it unfortunately only survived for 33 years. As always you can get the complete whisky education story at the Lost Distillery Company Website on the Towiemore page.
Lost Distillery Company Towiemore Archivist Blended Malt Scotch Whisky – 46% ABV – no caramel or chill filtration
Colour: Rich dark amber on this one. There are definitely some sherry casks involved as Towiemore was known for their sherry aged malt.
Nose: Hitting me like a Manuka honey infused hot toddy complete with lemon and a favorite Scotch Whisky plucked randomly off the shelf. It is delicate though and needs some time to delve into. There is a lightly roasted coffee note or is it a fresh crusty bread note? I think maybe both. There is a tinned manderin note as well that pokes its way into the mix.
Palate: The honey comes across as more creamed honey than Manuka now. Less earthy. The fruit note has gone from a citrusy touch to richer stone fruit like apricot and nectarine.
Finish: I’m getting cloves and orange and it’s taking me back to kindergarten when we made scented hanging decorations for mother’s day. We all had to bring an orange and the teacher handed out a ribbon and big bucket of cloves. We spent the next 30 minutes shoving cloves into the orange until it was completely covered. Wow did they ever smell nice and my mum proudly hung it up near the kitchen window till it dried out and finally lost its smell. Some Cocoa also coming in at the end.
Ahh yes Inchgower. I first fell in love with a cask from this distillery that was the first release of A.D. Rattray ever released in Canada. On that occassion it was an inky dark first fill sherried 25 year old. The price that we sold that for 15 years ago would make you cry. Today however is all about Hunter Laing and their Old Malt Cask Range. Inchgower was built in 1871 in Buckie, Moray to replace Tochineal Distillery. Unfortunately it only survived for just over 30 years before being closed. Purchased by the Buckie council in 1936 after another 30 years of dormancy it was sold to Arthur Bell’s & Sons in 1938. Diageo now owns it but still uses the Bell’s logo in connection to Inchgower to preserve its heritage. Rarely seen as a Single Malt it is again more often than not independent bottlings that allow us to peek behind the distillery curtain and try this whisky in all it’s glory.
Hunter Laing Old Malt Cask Inchgower 25 Year Old Single Malt – Sherry Butt # HL14253 – Speyside – 50% ABV
Colour: Solid amber hue. Sherry Butt’s are big casks (500 liters) and impart less colour than smaller barrels due to less cask to whisky contact however after 21 years you could expect more colour. Each cask is so unique it constantly amazes me.
Nose: Orange sherbet, caramel squares and a creamy flat white. Very inviting and quite subtle considering the 50%.
Palate: This is absolutely fantastic. Delicate sweetness that rolls around the tongue. I’m getting a mix of milk and white chocolate with tiny hits of candied bitter orange rind. The sherry influence here is soft but does not lack in adding complexity to this dram after 21 years. Right up my alley this. A dram that is taking some time to get to the bottom of. Just like lighting up a lovely cigar knowing you will spend the next hour enjoying it’s company and the friend you are sitting across from. Drams like this should command respect. How many other commodities can you enjoy only after they have been sitting in a warehouse for over two decades?
Finish: The 50% is oh so soft. To my palate this feels more like 40. The gorgeous creamy chocolate feel lingers on and there comes perhaps the faintest of cinnamon notes right at the death. That candied orange keeps on going and going.
Thanks Hunter Laing for this cask. A great way to continue enjoying the last week before Christmas.
Dont forget your nightly fix of the Whisky Vault and the Scotch Test Dummies. These guys have been doing great work to keep things rolling all the way through December. Undertaking a blog or review of an Advent calendar is no small feat so my various hats are doffed to these gentlemen for doing such an amazing job.
Tomorrow we are off to discover an older dram from the boys at the Lost Distillery Company.
3 more sleeps and drams before Christmas day and the promise of something old and special.
Welcome back everyone. Hopefully none of you died in yesterday’s hospital explosion. Today we are heading to Orkney for a visit to the Island region of Scotland. There are only 2 distilleries on Orkney, Scapa and Highland Park. We have had both distilleries represented in previous calendar editions but it is generally difficuly to find casks of either distillery for independent bottling. I’m going to give it up straight away because I know most of you would skip ahead to find out anyway. Highland Park is the distillery in question and as often happens the cask was sold to the boys at Single Cask Nation on the proviso that they keep the distillery name off the label. Interesting that they came up with Stones of Stenness as their name for this cask. The Stones of Stenness are said to be the oldest neolithic stone circle in the British isles and are located on Orkney.
Highland Park is the Northern most Scotland Distillery at present making whisky. Highland Park was founded in 1798 and is one of the few distilleries to this day that uses some locally sourced peat and heather that they use for fuel combining malted barley from mainland sources. It is owned by the Edrington Group and has been consistently releasing well received Single Malts for decades. They focus a lot on the Viking heritage of this Northern Island and their packaging is easily recognisable on whisky store shelves. Most of it’s production however still ends up at Glenturret to become the backbone of the Famous Grouse experience that drives the Edrington Scotch brands worldwide.
While not as peaty as whiskies from Islay there is no doubt that Highland Park has a lovely note of peat that runs through every whisky they produce. Lets see what this cask from Single Cask Nation is going to reveal.
Single Cask Nation Stones of Stenness Orkney 18 Year Old Single Malt – Refill Sherry Cask # 75 – Island – 54.9% ABV
Colour: There is a subtle touch of amber to light red hue just hinting at the sherry influence. As a refill cask it took a full 18 years for even that tinge to show up.
Nose: The peat influence here is light on the nose but no doubting the savoury overtones. Like the wafting smell of Cindy’s winter warming beef stew simmering away in the slow cooker. There is some denser salty note here as well. Dare I say even a touch of vegemite… Some sweet mesquite beef jerky.
Palate: Mouth coating and the alcohol hit me as higher than I was expecting for mid 50’s. I took a brief pause and waded back in for another sip. Delicate for a cask strength Highland Park. That rich wine infused beef stew that I got on the nose is certainly front of mind and palate here. A heaping side plate of creamy mashed potatoes which is really interesting. It’s so amazing once the brain takes over and an expirential memory is served up that everything can then fall fully into that moment. A heavy pour of rich red wine splashed into this stew.
Finish: Some lighter citrus notes hitting me here seemingly out of nowhere as this was all rich savoury but with a wine soaked undercurrent.
A surprisingly delicate dram for the Nation as my experience of their usual picks are more the bigger and more oily offerings. This is very cool to see from them and I’m digging it big time.
Welcome again peat pilgrims to another Islay jaunt along our Scotch Whisky Adventure. Today’s dram comes from a big hitting distillery when thinking about the level of peating the barley undergoes. Laphroaig was founded in 1815 and is now owned by Beam Suntory. Located at the Southern tip of Islay Laphroaig is as coastal as it gets and is constantly lashed by the wind and waves of the Atlantic where it meets the Irish Sea through the North Channel. Unlike the Day 6 dram from Exclusive Malts this A.D. Rattray bottling is somewhat disclosed with the Williamson name that is known throughout the industry as Laphroaigs nickname.
This is also a great opportunity to compare Laphroaig in a Sherry Cask with Exclusive Malts and in a Bourbon cask with A.D. Rattray. This cask also comes in at full cask strength as opposed to the Exclusive Malts 50% slightly watered down bottling strength.
Colour: Pale again for 13 years and lends itself to thinking of refill Bourbon. I’m really interested to see what a soft cask influence is going to do to the massively flavorful Laphroaig spirit after 13 years.
Nose: Ok ladies and gentlemen this here has every medicinal element that a whisky from Islay can impart into a wee bottle. Wow just an absolutely huge assault on the senses. Charred bandages from the hospital disposal unit that takes care of burning blood soaked operating room waste. Loads of earthy peat and dirty rubber lining the floor. Barely able to push through it all is a little bees wax candle burning brightly.
Palate: Does not dissapoint. This has everything the nose promises and more. This is why cask strength is the bomb. Laphroaig quarter cask has nothing on this. I’m getting all of the medicine combined with layer after layer of big palate bombs. Peat, Iodine, Smoke, Peat again. Tobacco. Rubber. Burning electric panel.
Finish: The explosion is over but the smoldering remains of the now destroyed hospital swirl and ascend into a darkened sky.
Tomorrow we will be into slightly more epic territory if you can believe that with all remaining drams being no younger than 18 years old. Day 20 is an offering by the boys of Single Cask Nation and will take us to the Islands region of Scotland. Ferry time ladies and gents.
Dont forget to head over to the Whisky Vault and Scotch Test Dummies to watch them get their peat on. Especially Bart from Scotch Test Dummies who has a self confessed abused palate from over peating and Daniel who has basically put up with all this Speyside and Highland nonsense waiting for the next Islay.
The United States of America, Land of the Free, Home of the Brave and Bastion of the craziest alcohol laws anywhere on earth. Tapping your Day 2 cubby hole and pulling out your dram you may be forgiven for a bit of confusion. The title of this whisky is indeed “Treacle Chest” however as you can see on that label in your hand it clearly states “Wooden Chest”.
The reason for this is the labelling requirements of the Alcohol & Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau, United States Department of Treasury. No wonder they are simply known as the TTB. Any flavor definition like Treacle for example could imply that such flavor was actually added to the whisky rather than just being a tasting note or brand name.
Wemyss Malts loves to give each and every limited edition or single cask a tasting note name that gives you a rough idea of the flavor profile. Treacle Chest sounds inviting and delicious. Wooden Chest sounds dry and mothball like but it was the best we could do.
Blended Malts are a difficult category because most of us when reading a whisky label see the word “blend” and stop reading right there. The category used to be Vatted Malt but the Scotch Whisky Association thought that it was to confusing so decided to have two categories starting with the word blend instead because that wouldnt be confusing at all…right?
Single Malt whisky has become for most Scotch drinkers the pinnacle of the Scotch Whisky experience. The mechanics of Scotch Whisky making for big brands discates that the vast majority of Single Malts are a vatting of 100’s if not 1000’s of barrels from the same distillery. A blended malt whisky is made up of 100% Single Malt casks but from more than one distillery. For a limited edition blended malt like Treacle Chest the number of casks is very small. In this instance only 6,300 700ml bottles or 14 casks. Treacle Chest is only mae up of 2 Highland Distilleries and all the casks were 1st Fill Ex Sherry Hogsheads.
Blended malts are some of the most delicious whiskies I have ever had so for me opening your mind and tastebuds and showcasing this delicious category for all it can be is a high priority.
Wemyss Malts Treacle Chest Blended Malt – 46% non chill filtered, no caramel – 6300 bottles – 14 x 1st Fill Sherry Hogsheads.
Colour: Tinged amber sherry hues abound tailing to fine gold at the edges. Lovely looking whisky.
Nose: Stewed plums and dates in butter sauce. Very Sticky Date Toffee Pudding…..mmmmm one of my favorite desserts.
Palate: Oh yeah this is delivering that nose. 46% is spreading everything nicely like butter on toast. This is sticky date pudding complete with a swirl of fresh cream and toffee sauce. Im loving this and it’s nice to know that out there somewhere are several thousand bottles in the market that you can snap up and add to your whisky cupboard.
Finish: Toffee is the fading note for me as the sweetness drops off and leaves a dry date and raisin note. Not a super long finish but works perfectly with the weight and balance of this dram.
Unbelievable that the time is here to begin our 5th Scotch Whisky Adventure together. This year we welcome a whole new community of delicious dram drinkers from the USA, UK, Sweden, Netherlands, Australia, Germany, Italy, Spain, France and New Zealand. It is really exciting to share this journey with so many and experience how incredible Scotch Whisky truly is together.
Our 5th edition has stretched my wife and Secret Spirits partner Cindy and I to exciting new limits. This edition boasts not just another 25 days of life altering drams but for the first time we have two whiskies over 30 years old and more Secret Spirits bottlings than ever before. Hold onto you hats ladies and gents this is going to be a fun ride.
Firstly lets all punch out that big middle hole and grab our Aurora glasses. Those of you that have been drinking along with us from the begining will know that every year we source a different whisky glass to build up a library of options for you. In years past we have had the Spiegelau Whisky Tumbler (1st Edition), Samaroli Custom Spiegelau (2nd Edition), Neat Glass (3rd Edition) and Spey Glass (4th Edition). For our half decade milestone we wanted to do something a little more artistic with a splash of pizzaz. The Aurora glass is a twisted tumbler that feels great in the hand, can handle whisky stones or ice easily and has enough room for even the heartiest splash of your favorite dram. Boasting the largest opening on any of the glasses so far it will work well for those high alcohol cask strength whiskies but may require more nose engagement for delicate drams. As an added bonus the Aurora can even handle some epic whisky cocktails with ease.
Before we get going Cindy and I would like to thank a few people that are coming along for the ride this year as our guest blogger/tasters. Firstly we have The Whiskey Tribe weighing in at an astounding 133K subscribers on their Whisky Vault Youtube channel and backing that up with their Whisky Biscuits channel, Crowded Barrel Distillery and Fang & Feather whisky bar. Daniel and Rex are awesome and I know you are going to enjoy their take on these whiskies. Secondly we have the intrepid duo at Scotch Test Dummies, Scott and Bart have built up a very loyal following on their popular Youtube channel. With a funny and relaxed tableside tasting style I know these guys are going to have a blast on this adventure with us.
Right then with glass in hand it’s time to grab that booklet and get ready to add some tasting notes for our first dram.
Day 1 – Single Cask Nation MacDuff 14 Year Old – Distilled in 2003 – Refill Sherry Cask No. 900026 – Highlands – 57%
Single Cask Nation is a small independent bottler based in the US. Joshua Hatton and Jason Johnstone-Yellin have made it their ongoing passion to select extremely good casks of whisky from all over the world. They always bottle at cask strength with no caramel coloring added or chill filtration. This is their first time in the covetted day 1 slot. We always like to start the adventure with something especially delicious and a touch unusual.
MacDuff distillery is more commonly known by the proprietary label Glen Deveron. Founded in 1960 production began in 1963. William Lawson purchases the MacDuff in 1972 and eventually sells to Bacardi in 1993 when it is made part of the John Dewars & Sons operation. Outside of the Glen Deveron range of Single Malts that are not always easy to find it is independent bottlers like Single Cask Nation that select those outstanding single casks and rescue them from being washed into the every day shelf expressions.
Colour: Refill sherry imparts a lot less colour and this is very evident with the lovely antiqued gold shining out of this bottle at me.
Nose: Rich honey overtones with wafts of the tropics. Sometimes pineapple, sometimes lychee….sometimes that more pearlike nose that is often a hallmark of a lot of Highland Malts. This nose is doing a lot for me and I could quite happily sit and sniff this for ages. The sherry influence is nicely in the background with the use of a refill cask. No doubt it is why I am getting more tropic notes.
Palate: That 57% big mouth feel is there but does not overpower the abundance of ripe fruit that fills every inch of my mouth. The honey is definitely a strong contender for biggest note with flaky pastry and some nutty qualities. I would say that for me it’s reminicent of when I was in Rhodes Greece. The honey there had a special floral and fruit quality that I am getting on this. That honey was wrapped in Phillo pastry complete with pistachios and served daily to my wife and I as part of our daily afternoon Baklava adventure. This dram takes me back there in spades.
Finish: Lingering on and on with a zesty edge that tingles the sides as it all goes down to a warming glow. The fruit, honey and flaky pastry all roll together for a dram to remember.
Thanks Jason and Joshua for such a memorable day one whisky. What a great way to start our milstone 5th year of Scotch Whisky Adventures. I am really looking forward to sharing the next 24 days with you because I know whats coming bwahahahahaha.
Day 1 of our 4th edition was the truly delicious 18 Year Old Tamdhu from Hunter Laings Old Malt Cask Range. It’s always fun to go back and remember these limited edition drams.
Tomorrow we have a fantastic whisky from Wemyss Malts that will also bring up some fun discussion about US labelling laws.
It is so amazing to be here with you our Secret Spirits community. It is an honor and a privilege to be able to share our love of Scotch Whisky with you all.