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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.


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.


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


Jonathan – taster of secrets

Scotch Whisky Advent Calendar 3rd Edition Day 4 Blog #137 – Lost Distillery Company Jericho

It’s a perfect snowy Sunday afternoon here in Calgary to take some time out for today’s dram. I must add a big welcome to The Lost Distillery company on their debut with their take on Jericho. A unique and enthralling story unravels as we delve into the ghostly past of a long dead distillery.

Jericho began production as a distillery in 1822 and was renamed Benachie in 1884. Unfortunately even with a certain degree of success the distillery was closed in 1913. Brian Woods and Scott Watson founded The Lost Distillery company as a means to turn their passion for the history of closed distilleries into a rebirth of forgotten drams.

Jericho Distillery
Jericho Distillery

To quote Scott Watson, co-founder of Crucial Drinks and The Lost Distillery Company “We’re obsessive about craft and uncompromising when it comes to whisky quality. Each resurrected brand is the subject of an in-depth research project to establish the original character of the long lost distilleries”.

They have an absolutely amazing in depth history of the distillery that you can read here.

As a secret bonus that we did not include on the label today’s dram is actually the Christmas Pudding edition of Jericho that was a limited release in 2015. Thanks guys for allowing us to take the last of it.

Lost Distilleries Company Jericho Christmas Pudding Blended Malt – Sherry Finish 46% ABV no chill filtration and natural color.


Color:   Not overly dark for a sherry finished whisky but certainly some tinges of red among the amber hues.

Nose:  Does certainly take me in a Christmas direction with cinnamon and rich glazed sultanas and orange peel.

Palate:  Much richer on the palate than the nose implies with a lovely Christmas Cake (the dark fruit laden kind) edge including the ever present marzipan icing. Rolls into some dark blackberry notes like an accompanying berry coulis. Softly sweet throughout over a base of heavier almost savory notes that only come through in sporadic bursts.

Finish:  Mouth watering with some drying citrus that immediately asks for more. I could happily drink this pre or post Christmas dinner or anytime for that matter.

The wonderful world of whisky is so much fun and to delve so deeply into the past and recreate as closely as possible the style of long departed distilleries is awesome. Thanks for all your attention to detail guys The Lost Distillery Company is a really cool edition to our Scotch Whisky Calendar landscape.

For those of you looking for your own bottle of Jericho please email me at jonathan@secretspirits.com and I’ll point you in the right direction.

On this day in the 2nd edition we had the excellent Velvet Fig from Wemyss Malts.

Please head on over to Whisky Lassie for her take on today’s dram here.

Blended malts as anyone that has read my past blogs knows are the decidedly delicious and mostly ignored category of Scotch that offers up so much for more often much less than you would pay for an equivalent Single Malt. Remember that Blended malts are made up of a combination of Single Malts the very same ingredient that is seen as the pinnacle of Scotch Whisky.

Tomorrow we head to the Highlands for an a-typical Highland dram that will make a lot of you very happy.


Jonathan – Taster of Secrets

Day 14 – Samaroli by Samaroli 2008 Blended Malt | Blog #103

Another opportunity to see Samaroli in action with a carefully crafted blended malt. This time the distilleries in question are Glenallachie, Glentauchers and MacDuff.

Glenallachie Distillery  Glenallachie Distillery

Glenallachie was founded in 1967 so is a relatively young distillery and is owned by Chivas Brothers with most of it’s production heading to that famous blend. It uses lightly peated malt so it will be interesting to see if that comes through in the combination.

Glentauchers Distillery Glentauchers Distillery

Glentauchers much older, founded in 1897. Mothballed in 1985 it was sold to its current owners Allied in 1989. Rarely seen anywhere as a single malt we have been lucky enough to secure some for both calendar editions.

MacDuff Distillery MacDuff Distillery

MacDuff (Glen Deveron) – Founded in 1962 and owned now by Dewar’s & Sons finding its way into their blends. There are a few Glen Deveron proprietary labels around but none in Canada as yet.

Let’s get into some whisky then on this Monday of the last full week before Christmas.

Samaroli by Samaroli Blended Malt 2008 – 7 Year’s Old bottled at 43% ABV Glenallachie, Glentauchers and MacDuff. New American Oak cask numbers 901333, 900144, 900218. All Speyside Distilleries.

Colour:     As we are coming to expect from Samaroli given the lightly toasted new oak used for a lot of their aging it is extremely pale fresh white wine in colour.

Nose:     Youthful and fresh like a posy of Springs first wildflowers leading into granny’s peaches and cream pie. Iced Vovo (Australian Marshmallow Biscuit topped with coconut) without the raspberry jam.

Palate:     Soft and light Meyer lemon tart and fresh whipped cream.

Finish:     Warming and mouth filling more than I would have thought from 43%. The lightly toasted coconut still there with the marshmallow creaminess and sweet biscuit undertone. Super soft finish leaves my palate wanting more.

This is a decidedly dangerous dram as I could happily find myself really putting a dent in the bottle without even realizing it. Just delicious. I would use this as a pre-dinner aperitif for dinner party guests and I’m sure it would be welcomed by everyone. Interesting that I didn’t detect even the slightest hint of the Glenallachie soft peat but then I don’t know the percentages of the blend.

Whisky is so freaking cool……..

I am unashamedly in love with the amazing diversity and just flat out MEGA AWESOMENESS of this drink that we love.

There is absolutely something for every taste and occasion. Keep expanding your minds and palates and you will find that you fall more and more in love as I have done.


My mate Joshua Hatton has his interesting take on this Samaroli HERE

Last year on this day in the 1st Edition Calendar we tasted the A.D. Rattray 1988 Girvan 25 Year Old Check it out  here Blog #46

For those like me that love this pre-dinner dram from Samaroli head to these retailers to grab your one of only 30 bottles available:



Vine Styles

Zyn The Wine Market


Wine & Beyond

Everything Wine & More


Tomorrow we head to another unique style that always warrants a stop on our whisky tour and also takes us back to the Highlands.


See you all tomorrow.


Day 12 A.D. Rattray Bank Note 5yo | Blog #101

We are about half way through our journey together this year and it is time to insert our only trip to the Blended Scotch category this edition. Wanting to take you on a complete journey of the Scotch landscape means that we will always be stopping here once.

AD Rattray Whisky Experience Shop AD Rattray Whisky Experience Shop

Bank Note is a 5 Year Old blended Scotch made by Independent Bottlers A.D. Rattay. It boasts 40% Single Malt to 60% Single Grain ratio which is huge for a blend in this price category. While released for only the US market it has done so well that A.D. Rattray have played with it in a few other markets worldwide. The Single Malt component is blended from Speyside and Highland Distilleries with the Single Grain coming from Lowland Distilleries. Bank Note is a recreation of the brand as it was 100 years ago including the old style label.

This is one of the very few whiskies in this years edition that you will find on shelves for under $ 100 and an average price in Alberta would be around $ 40. When tasting this, think value.

A.D. Rattray Bank Note 5 Year Old Blended Scotch bottled at 43% ABV – 40% Single Malt 60% Single Grain.

AD Rattray Bank Note 5yo Whisky AD Rattray Bank Note 5yo Whisky

Colour:    Antique Gold

Nose:     Light honey, plums and nectarines. a bowl of cheerio’s brings out the cereal notes.

Palate:     Creamy nougat squares, white chocolate shavings and vanilla essence.

Finish:     Clean tangy citrus – lemon zest, caramel flan. Nothing unpleasant here or rough edges found in most blends at this price level.

A.D. Rattray have produced what many believe to be the best value blend in this price bracket period. It will be interesting to see if they can keep up this quality for the same price in the coming years. Available in the US as a 1 liter bottle for the staggering price of $ 19.99. Must be nice to have very little in the way of taxation on spirits down there.

For me this would be a perfect dram for whisky based cocktails and for guests looking for very soft approachable whisky to have on the rocks or with their favorite mixer.

Shows how yummy a good inexpensive blend can be. Please feel free to do a side by side tasting against others in this category like Johnnie Walker Red or Black, Chivas Regal, Dewars or any other sub $ 40 blend available.

You can find Joshua Hatton’s take on this A.D. Rattray blended Scotch HERE

Last year on this day we tasted the Samaroli Isle of Jura 17 Year Old in blog #44

For those of you looking for a bottle of this inexpensive Bank Note 5 yo you can find it at the following value conscious retailers:


Calgary Co-Op Wine Spirits Beer

Vine Arts

Point McKay Wine & Spirits

Zyn The Wine Market


Wine and Beyond


Co-op Saskatoon

Back to Single Malt land tomorrow with the only whisky from a new Independent Bottler to the calendar this year.


Blended Malts – wake Up and Smell the Awesome | Blog # 89

So a day before we delve into this years Scotch Whisky Advent Calendar, it’s time to stir the pot a little with what for me has been a growing irritant.

The Scotch Whisky Association has certainly helped this irritant to grow and in some circles it has permeated even level headed and seemingly open whisky drinkers to shun this category altogether.

I am of course talking about Blended Malts. This is for me going to be the closest I get to a rant as I have just had one too many well educated whisky drinkers tell me that blended malts are rubbish.

Once upon a time Vatted Malts was the moniker but in complete disregard for what this category should be called so as not to confuse consumers the SWA decided to let the lawyers have a go and behold a second “blended” category was born. Many Single Malt consumers upon reading that dreaded word do not even look to see if the word Malt is following.

“But single malt is the ultimate expression of Scotch and Blended Malts are an inferior option” What a load of BS.

As the majority of you are aware a high percentage of single malts are made up of dozens if not hundreds of different barrels. All this to make a consistent bottling that the distillery can put out on a regular basis and most distilleries are really good at hitting that consistent note. If you drink any of these multiple cask single malts and decree that the concept of a blended malt is crap then we may have a major disagreement on our hands.

If you think about taking different casks from multiple distilleries that are all Single Malt and then combining them to create something greater than the some of their parts you are only adding an extra layer of complexity not taking it away. I know the argument is that blended malts are just a way to use the sub par casks and cover up deficiencies. In some cases I’m sure this may have been true but you can also say that combining 100’s of casks to make a Single Malt is also a way to cover up those sub par barrels. It is my experience that  independent bottlers that are crafting blended malt like Compass Box are making delicious whiskies not rubbish.

Let’s take Samaroli for example. December 25th in last years calendar was a 33 year old Blended Malt that was by far and away everyones favorite whisky receiving almost half the votes. No one even thought to complain about the fact that it was a blended malt. It was just an amazing whisky using 100% malted barley which is the only ingredient allowed in the production of Single Malt. Samaroli carefully selected only 2 casks to marry into that expression because they believed the end result was more delicious than just bottling each as a stand alone Single Malt.

The sad truth of the matter is that the European market is much more advanced in terms of general whisky education than North America. Despite the acceptance of “blended malts” in Europe there is still some resistance. In North America it is a much stronger deterrent to have the word blend anywhere near the label for mid to high level whisky consumers.

What saddens me even more is that many retailers do not help enough with educating the up and coming whisky drinker as most of them seem to lump “blended malts” straight into the “blended scotch” category and disregard it as either a quaffing whisky or a lesser option to the many bright and shiny “Single Malts” lining the shelves.

Singlemalting is the name of my blog and I unabashedly love it. For me single cask expressions are particularly near and dear to my heart but there are many multiple cask single malts and blended malts that are knee buckling, awe inspiring, life changing events.

If you love single malt and your pallet just can’t get enough but you then turn around and dismiss blended malt the stark reality is that you are only BS’ing yourself.

You simply cannot enjoy the complexity that 100% malted barley brings from the one distillery and then say that the addition of another 100% malted barley expression from a second distillery destroy’s it.

Bottom line is that “Single Malt” has become a term that some use as the ultimate expression of Scotch snobbery. Time to wake up and smell the awesome that is “blended malt”

If I’ve offended anyone well……. to bad. I feel that now I am nearing the 100 blog mark that I might actually be able to put my opinion out there and accept as many friend and foe comments as you will fling at me with a small sense of whisky foundation behind it all.

Looking forward to the next time I pull the cork on an amazing blended malt. I hope you will too.