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Singlemalting #248 – 6th Edition Scotch Whisky Advent Calendar Day 25 – Bunnahabhain 30 Year Old

Merry Christmas everyone and welcome to Christmas day. What a journey we have had over the past 24 days. As promised we delivered more sherry (seriously), a bit more peat and possibly the most eclectic range of whiskies in any edition so far if thats possible.

Day 25 – 6th edition style

In todays special little home in your calendar you will find the first ever Islay whisky that we have had in this covetted spot. Bottled by Wemyss Malts the Luxury Damson Jam Bunnahabhain 30 Year Old is something special. We have had Bunnahabhain before starting with the A.D. Rattray 27 year old in our 2nd Edition. We followed that delicious offering up with something from Single Cask Nation as the 28 Year Old Christmas Eve dram in our 3rd edition. Finally we get a 30 year old expression that we can offer up for a warming Christmas day tipple.

Bunnahabhain Distillery

Founded in 1881 Bunnahabhain’s whisky style is known to be the softer side of Islay. Being the most Northern distillery on the island and with Dunnage warehouses right near the coast there is no doubting the influence of the sea on this spirit. It is owned by Burn Stewart Distillers who also own Tobermory and Deanston. Seen regularly now as a proprietary brand this distillery is not shy in parting with delicious casks of it’s whisky to independent bottlers. Also releasing heavily peated malts nowadays this cask is still from a time when Bunnahabhain was using a very gentle peat influence.

Wemyss Malts Luxury Damson Jam Bunnahabhain 30 Year Old Single Malt Scotch Whisky – Islay – Puncheon – 46%

Colour:          Burnt Amber. Some deep notes here from 30 years in this puncheon without being really dark.

Nose:              Right off the bat this smells old. Unmistakable old wood and dried fruits. Havana old town cigar store. Heirloom pipe rack. No discernable peat now, so any that was used in the Bunnahabhain spirit when it went into the puncheon is swalled up by the influence of the cask.

Palate:            Wow, much more fruit here than I was expecting. A bowl of rich dark fruits set on an antique mohogany dining table, complete with dried flower arrangement and well worn table runner. These darker fruits are muted with age but still persist throughout the palate. Lots to linger on here.

Finish:          This is indeed a perfect example of something old and delicate. The fruits continue on here with burnt citrus, old belt leather, dried plums and nectarines. This is like reading an old book in a leather chair sitting in front of the fire. The more time you have to slowly warm this dram up and think about it the better it becomes. Do not be hasty with this one whisky adventurers.

I have to give a big thanks to my brother in law John Haines for splitting his day 25 dram with me. As happened last year someone had a misshap with their day 25 bottle and I needed to send them mine so John stepped up to save the day. Cheers John, thanks for the dram.

Chrismas village dram time with 2 eager glasses ready to go
Jonathan and John drams in hand ready for some 30 Year Old whisky magic

One last time for this 6th edition you need to check out our guest Youtubers at Single Malt Review in New Zealand. Whisky Whistle in Canada and Scotch Test Dummies in the US. Plus the bonus Food Quig reviews. Don’t stop there though subscribe to their content keep checking out their reviews and learn more about the wonderful world of whisky from so many different perspectives.

Well tomorrow we wake up and reach for some Boxing day turkey left overs and maybe a mimosa. Those cricket fans in Australia and New Zealand will be watching the Boxing day test. I managed to wrangle 3 generations of the Bray family to Boxing day at the MCG a few years ago and it was awesome.

On Christmas day in our 5th edition we had the A.D. Rattray 30 Year Old Glen Grant.

Cindy and I want to say a special thank you to everyone that has supported us through this extremely challenging year. It has been the saving grace for us to receive so much encouragement, patience and understanding even when faced with crazy delay’s, rediculous shipping costs and unending roadblocks from so many directions. We feel brave enough to do this all again now armed with the knowledge (at least at the moment) of what we need to do for some of the more difficult markets. Look for a new Indiegogo campaign starting early in February for our 7th edition and shortly after the long awaited Easy Whiskey launch also on Indiegogo.

Please subscribe on our website to keep yourselves in the loop on everything that is going on.

Until 2020 thank you all so much for coming along on this, our 6th adventure.

Always be dramming

Cheers

Jonathan

Singlemalting #247 – 6th Edition Scotch Whisky Advent Calendar Day 24 – Invergordon 29 Year Old

Welcome to Christmas Eve everyone. Hopefully you are either heading somewhere to spend time with family and friends or having them over to your place.

Here in Ontario there is still snow on the ground so it looks like a white Christmas for us. So lets get into some dramming. Funnily enough I tasted this Wemyss Malsts Strawberry Fondant Icing last year when Cindy and I were in Scotland. They had just bottled this sherry butt and got over 500 bottles from it but we didnt have enough budget left to squeeze it into our 5th edition. I took a sample bottle back with me and tested it on a couple of mates in Calgary (you know who you are) and they were blown away. It was a joy to find out this year when we met with Jacqueline from Wemyss that they still had enough bottles for us to put it into the 6th edition. This is one of the blessings of only making 500 calendars.

We have featured Invergordon Single Grains a few times in past editions. The first was a 24 Year Old found in our second edition from A.D. Rattray. The second showing was again from Wemyss Malts in our 3rd edition with their fantastic Applewood Bake 26 Year Old. Then the only time we have had a Single Grain for day 25 was the epic Samaroli 30 Year Old in our 4th edition.

Invergordon Distillery

Today’s Invergordon is actually my favorite of all of those fantastic expressions. The Invergordon distillery is located in the Highlands North of Inverness and was founded in 1959. Another distillery, Ben Wyvis was contained within the complex but was closed in 1981. Invergordon has been owned by Whyte and MacKay since 1993 and the bulk of production of course is used for their popular blends and a number of other blended Scotch labels.

Wemyss Malts Strawberry Fondant Icing Invergordon Single Grain Scotch Whisky 29 Year Old – Highland – Sherry Butt # WVM286 – 46% abv

Colour:          24k gold – very light for 29 years and showing the 2nd or refill qualities of this sherry butt.

Nose:             Mayday blossoms, strawberry quick (came in a tin) powder, snow man sugar cookies just like the ones Cindy and I had visiting Stirling Avenue Church in Kitchener. After church everyone gathered downstairs for a Christmas cookie potluck and coffee. It is the church we were married in 30 years ago and we will be there again tomorrow on Christmas day. Memories always come flooding back to me when I sit upstairs in the loft looking down on where we both said I do so long ago. Those little sugar cookes were delicious and covered with the exact type of icing that I think Wemyss are pointing to on their label.

Palate:          The soft sweetness is amazing here. Shows the value in gentle casks over a very long time. 29 long years it took to tame the fiery young grain spirit and transform it into this gorgeous layered sweet tray. White Christmas cake with a thick layer of fondant. Getting some cherries bursting through as well and a hint of almond.

Finish:          lingering soft and sweet still. No doubt about it this is a delicate and delightful dessert dram if there every was one.

What a spectacularly light, fragrant and delicious example of an old Single Grain. This is exactly why older grain whiskies are becoming much more sought after.

On day 24 in the 5th edition we had the Secret Spirits Inchmurrin 21 Year Old.

If you have been to busy but are finally relaxing a little then head over to check out our guest Youtubers at Single Malt Review in New Zealand. Whisky Whistle in Canada and Scotch Test Dummies in the US. Plus the bonus Food Quig reviews. There has been some amazing content and a touch of controversy which makes for great viewing.

Christmas day dawns tomorrow and as expected we will be sitting with a whisky that is at least 30 years old. For the first time we will be needing to take a ferry from the mainland to get our whisky. Thats all the clues I can give.

Until then have a fabulous Christmas eve and enjoy the laughter, memories and special moments with family and friends.

Cheers

Jonathan

Singlemalting #246 – 6th Edition Scotch Whisky Advent Calendar Day 23 – Glen Spey 21 Year Old

Welcome to day 23 and a trip to Speyside to discover an older expression of Glen Spey from A.D. Rattray. We have had one other Glen Spey as day 1 of our 3rd edition. It was in fact the first ever Secret Spirits bottling in full bottle format and at the legal age of 18 as well. Glen Spey was built in 1828 under the name “Mill of Rothes”. Located in the town of Rothes it is owned by Diageo who use the vast majority of its production for the J&B blends. Glen Spey Distillery has been released sporadically under the fauna and flora range but is most often seen through independent bottlings like this one. Nice that we can occassionally rescue a cask or two from being splashed into J&B rare.

Glen Spey Distillery

A.D. Rattray Glen Spey 21 Year Old Single Malt Scotch Whisky – Speyside – Sherry Butt # 5980 – 59.2%abv

Colour:          Pale gold – Looks like a 2nd or refill sherry butt given the colour after 21 years. Am expecting this to be quite a vibrant whisky for 21 years old.

Nose:             Soft and delicate nose even at just a pinch under 60%. Wildflower honey, creme caramel, Old cathedral pews complete with old hymnals. Book leather, marble and granite. Loads going on here but needs to be coaxed gently and with time. Turns a touch dusty but in an “im an older whisky” kind of way. Could spend a long time just smelling this.

Palate:          Much more of an explosion on the palate than I was expecting. The almost 60% after 21 years is amazing and bursts across the palate with notes of cavendish pipe tobacco, balsamic reduction and cave aged gruyere on fig crackers. Spicy notes take hold with a touch of chili infused dark chocolate.

Finish:           Some lingering citrus rind and boy is that ever warming me all the way down. The savory backbone of this dram is still the overiding flavor for me although some tangerine sweetness peeks up right at the end. The abv holds large all the way and calls out for a splash or two. I am looking forward to seeing what our youtubers do with water in this dram. Tempting to add a little myself but am sticking to what I have been doing so far for this edition and just focussing on it straight out of the bottle.

There is a lot to discover here and I hope you have the patience and time to spend with this lovely 21 year old Single Malt. A contemplative dram if ever there was one. Mystery, discover and delight all in your glass.

You there with your whisky in hand go, watch, like – Youtubers at Single Malt Review in New Zealand. Whisky Whistle in Canada and Scotch Test Dummies in the US. Plus the bonus Food Quig reviews. Cindy and I have been thoroughly entertained by all of these takes on our 6th edition.

On day 23 in the 5th edition we had the A.D. Rattray North British 30 Year Old Single Grain.

Tomorrow being Christmas eve we are going to have something quite special from Wemyss Malts that is one of my favorite whiskies in this edition.

See you on Christmas Eve.

Cheers

Jonathan

Singlemalting #245 – 6th Edition Scotch Whisky Advent Calendar Day 22 – Deanston 10 Year Old

Today is the last of the great Oloroso expedition by Secret Spirits. You, our awesome community asked for a LOT more sherry in this edition and so we delivered. As most of you are aware sherry casked whiskies have become much more expensive and so some sacrifices had to be made to bring you so many amazing expressions of this style of whisky aging. By the comments and feedback I can safely say that it was a huge success and probably delivered some of the more perplexing and palate stretching whiskies in any edition so far.

Of all the Oloroso casked whiskies that we found the rarest and actually most pleasing to my palate was the Dalmore 12. Beef Stroganoff was an absolutel favorite of mine and once my brain tuned into that flavor it was all over.

Anyway today is not about Dalmore it’s about another distillery starting with D. Deanston is a classical Highland distillery that has somehow eluded ever seeing the light of day in any of our editions before.

Deanston Distillery

Deanston lies just 8 miles from Stirling and sits alongside the river Teith. Converted in 1966 into a distillery it began life as a cotton mill in 1786. Belonging to the Distell group, it has for stable mates Bunnahabhain and Tobermory. Nice trio of quality distilleries.

Deanston uses only Scottish grown barley and produced the worlds first Scottish Organic whisky in 2000. Using no computers or additional technology Deanston relies on traditional distilling practices.

Secret Spirits Deanston 10 Year Old – 1st fill Oloroso # 900038 – Highland – 65% abv

Colour:            14K Gold needing just a quick polish to remove the slight tarnish.

Nose:               One last big kick at the Christmas tree with this one offering up big Christmas spices. Marzipan covered dense Christmas cake. Plum pudding and custard with a swirl of brandy sauce. Normally I don’t slot in a 10 year old this close to day 25 but this whisky had everything I love about Christmas in a glass. Can barely believe that this is 65% and the highest abv in this edition.

Palate:          Gingerbread man, Terry’s chocolate orange, brandy snaps,

Finish:          More of the same and still at 65% is giving me everything. Lingering caramelized orange, semi sweet chocolate, rich booze laden pudding just like mum used to make. Finally that 65% after multiple sips is warming me all the way down. Maybe I have become just a little too acustomed to such high ABV. Takes something immense like 65% to get any burn going.

What a beast of a dram to take us into Christmas week. With only 3 drams remaining we will not be returning to sub 20 Year Old whiskies. This 10 year old Deanston belies its age except for the abv that seems to be crazy in it’s balance. What an awesome cask.

On this day in the 5th edition we had the Lost Distillery Company Towiemore Archivist (using mostly whiskies aged close to 20 years).

No need to even read this paragraph just get your dramming selves over to our guest Youtubers at Single Malt Review in New Zealand. Whisky Whistle in Canada and Scotch Test Dummies in the US. Plus the bonus Food Quig reviews. They have worked tirelessly to bring us interesting and well edited content over the past 21 days. They deserve your views and likes.

Tomorrow we have another older expression from our friends at A.D. Rattray. Looking forward to this one.

See you all tomorrow

Cheers

Jonathan

Singlemalting #245 – 6th Edition Scotch Whisky Advent Calendar Day 21 – Linkwood 18 Year Old

Day 21 dawns frosty and cold here in Ontario (spending Christmas with the in-laws this year). Thankfully today I am in my jammies all toasty and warm and about to hop into today’s delicious dram from Wemyss Malts. Gardener’s Biscuit Break Linkwood 18 Year Old is the flavor of the day and Linkwood has seen several appearances in past editions including the truly incredible 30 year old Linkwood from Samaroli found on day 25 of the 2nd edition. That was absolutely breathtaking whisky at its best and I think about it often. Almost makes me want to crack open a rare 2nd edition just for that bottle. The very first whisky in our very first edition was also a Linkwood and from Wemyss Malts to boot. The Citrus Burst Linkwood 16 Year Old was a huge hit for many and had the honor of kicking off 6 years of whisky adventures.

Linkwood Distillery

Linkwood is a Speyside Distillery that was built in 1821 and is owned by industry giant Diageo. The original Stone still house and pagoda topped malt house are still in use today. The majority of the Linkwood production is used for blends like Johnnie Walker and White Horse.

Wemyss Malts Gardener’s Biscuit Break Linkwood 18 Year Old – Speyside – Butt # WVM326 – 46% abv

Colour:          Super pale for 18 years old. The only information we got from Wemyss was that this was a butt. Could possibly be a sherry butt refill as in 3rd time use. Butt’s are large 500 liter barrels and so impart less colour than smaller casks. Having said that on rare occasions bourbon casks are broken down and built into butts as well (had a 30 year old Teaninich in a Bourbon butt many years ago). My bet is on Sherry refill Butt.

Nose:            Antique book store, Vase of dried flowers on an old doily, Tea biscuits in granny’s kitchen.

Palate:          Wow wasn’t expecting a burst of sweet fruit based on the nose. Orchard fruit, pears and custard apples. Arnott’s yo yo biscuits with a touch of honey. A lovely creamy mouthfeel that is soft with layers of flavor.

Finish:          Finishing with Quince jelly just like my grandma used to make. I loved it and had it smothered all over my toast every time I visited. Quince on it’s own as a fruit is rock hard and almost inedible, but when nana turned it into jelly wow was it amazing.

An intriguing and subtle Linkwood that is right up my alley. Linkwood for me has always been about delicate but complex flavors and this version confirmed that.

On day 21 in the 5th edition we had the impressive Old Malt Cask Inchgower 21 Year Old.

Lets fully get behind all of our guest Youtubers at Single Malt Review in New Zealand. Whisky Whistle in Canada and Scotch Test Dummies in the US. Plus the bonus Food Quig reviews. They have worked tirelessly to bring us interesting and well edited content over the past 21 days. They deserve your views and likes.

Tomorrow we are heading to the Highlands for yet another cask from Secret Spirits. This distillery will also be showing up in one of our Scotch Whisky Advent Calendars for the first time.

Only 4 more sleeps till Christmas Day.

Cheers

Jonathan