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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



Scotch Whisky Advent Calendar 3rd Edition Christmas Day Blog #157 – Samaroli 34 Year Old Blended Scotch

Merry Christmas everyone and welcome to the last day of this years whisky discovery journey.

I awoke at 6:00am this Christmas morning to the cacophony of bird calls outside my window. Warbling Magpies, Galah’s, Sulfur Crested Cockatoos, Rosella’s and more all letting the world know that they were up and ready for the new day. I quickly rolled out of bed and headed outside for a stroll. One of the aspects of life in Australia that I miss the most are the amazing birds. I found myself wandering around the small Victorian town of Wedderburn for over an hour and after circling the local reservoir and chatting to a friendly magpie I was heckled by some feisty Galah’s and sent on my way. Morning time is the best for a long walk in December as we hit a high of 39 degrees Celsius yesterday with more of the same for today. Definitely not your typical Calgary Christmas Day.

I am sitting outside in my parents back garden which is a mini bird sanctuary. So many birds it’s almost impossible to hear mum call from the house to let me know that my Nana is on the phone. So nice to be able to catch up with all my Australian relatives and another bottle of delicious wine made it’s way in front of the fireplace (dormant of course) courtesy of my uncle Billy who popped in just to wish us all a Merry Christmas.

Christmas Dram 3rd Edition

Well I am so glad that I managed to bring the Christmas Day whisky down under with me. Virgin Australia did lose my bags for a short while but worked extra hard to find them and had my precious cargo safely by my side within 24 hours. That would have been awkward needing to write this with no whisky.

As those that have been through one of our Scotch Whisky Advent Calendars can attest to, we always strive to showcase the entirety of what the Scotch Whisky world has to offer. This includes of course Blended Scotch which is the vast majority of Scotch Whisky sales worldwide. Not all blends are created equal and much like Single Malt blended Scotch can be absolutely stunning or mediocre at best. In the third edition we have saved our lone expression of this category for the final dram.

Samaroli are adept at creating amazing blended malts however this was the first time that I had been exposed to a Blended Scotch from them. This is to date the oldest whisky we have showcased in any edition coming in at the ripe old age of 34 Years. Interestingly this particular blend from Samaroli spent it’s entire life already blended and in a single cask. I do not know the exact percentages of malt to grain but I do know that it is mid 90% ish malt with just a small amount of grain.

Samaroli 1980 Blend in front of Oak Tree Cottage, Note the stunning blue sky

The Unique Samaroli Blended Scotch 1980 aged for 34 years in a sherry Butt cask number 18. Bottled with no chill filtration or coloring at 40% ABV.

Color:   The darkest whisky of the calendar looking like well worn mahogany.

Nose:   Just a hint of doused matchstick with a library of old leather bound books, plum and dark berry compote. The weathered brow of an ancient leather Akubra.

Palate:  Double espresso with a black strap licorice stir stick. A memory of a tamarind ball dessert that I had in Barbados. It was my first taste of that exotic fruit and took me right back there.

Finish:  Sticky date pudding with a blood orange glaze. Lovely citrus bitterness that lingers for a long time.

I could spend quite a while on this whisky and in fact I think I will seeing as it’s Christmas an all. I plan on lighting up a Rocky Patel Cigar later to accompany the rest of this dram and am really looking forward to kicking back and basking in the glow of being in Australia.

Thankfully there are a few bottles to be had. Just email me at jonathan@secretspirits.com and I’ll point you in the right direction.

Lets see how Whiskylassie has fared coming to the end of her 3rd edition journey.

Samaroli always so far have managed to get the last word in and with stunning older whiskies like the examples they keep putting in front of me who knows when they might be topped. In the 2nd edition we had the 30 Year Old Samaroli Linkwood.

It has indeed been an honor and a privilege to bring you this third edition. Cindy and I again wish everyone fun, friendship and family. We hope to see you all again through the coming year as we seek out new delicious drams together.


Jonathan – taster of secrets

Day 25 Christmas Day – Samaroli Linkwood 1984 | Blog #114

Merry Christmas everyone and thanks for coming along this year for the 2nd edition of our Scotch Whisky Advent Calendar. It’s been a really fun time for Cindy and I, and we hope that you have found new experiences and diversified your palate for this wonderful drink.

As mentioned a few times we (insert I) overspent a little on the whiskies for this edition and one main contributor to that is todays dram from Samaroli. Having been aged for it’s entire life in lightly toasted new American Oak it will be a unique experience for almost all of you.

This is probably the oldest expression available in the market today that has been aged in this way. I am really looking forward to seeing how much vibrant but complex fruit we will find

Linkwood Distillery Linkwood Distillery

Linkwood is a well known distillery owned by whisky giant Diageo. It was founded in 1891 (Linkwood A) and a second distillery was built in 1971 (Linkwood B). Linkwood was closed briefly during the second World War and was again mothballed by Diageo between 1985 and 1990. Today’s whisky comes just before that period and was distilled at Linkwood A. Again like a lot of diageo owned distilleries most of the Linkwood production is used for Johnnie Walker and White Horse along with many other blends that buy it on contract. Apart from the 12 year old in the Fauna and Flora series there are also other releases available under the proprietary Diageo label.

Samaroli Linkwood 1984 – 30 Years Old aged in a new American oak barrel cask number 5297 and bottled at 45% ABV. There is a little confusion over if this is a 31 Year Old whisky. We erred on the side of caution and claimed it as 30.

Day 25 Day 25

Colour:     The lightest 30 year old whisky I have ever seen. Even knowing the background behind the aging process I was still shocked when I first laid eye’s on it. If I was in the bottling hall with knowledge I would be thinking that a mistake was made and a much younger whisky was bottled in it’s place. A mix of 14k and white gold with a bright sparkle.

Nose:     Some subtle smoke, honey glazed pear, a whiff of fresh earthy peat in the background. A zesty quality of organic lemon tart with a dusting of icing sugar. Quince jelly like nana used to make. So much going on here I could just sit here for ages.

Palate:     Underpinned by the softest of peat smoke there is heather which is a floral note of  a most famous Scottish flower over used a lot for Scotch whisky descriptions. One that I seldom write about unless I can truly pick it up which I can here in lovely waves. The wildflower honey and poached pear intertwine with the soft lazy smoke and oh so subtle peat.

Finish:     An underlining of fresh vanilla bean finally gives evidence of the new American oak. The oak treatment is so understated after 30/31 years it still seems so young and fresh. The stamp of aging proof is the depth of layering and complexity. 45% is just right for this whisky sending a blanket of warmth down to the heart. The pear and touch of lemon come back in bursts while the light honey note holds everything together.

Such a delightful whisky and my personal favorite this year. I could just sit and play with this for hours.

Not a dram to be thrown back or consumed after something bold and heavy. If you are lucky enough to get one of only 18 bottles available this is one to keep and savour. My suggestion would be to employ the marble technique (blog #60) to keep this precious bottle for years to come (if you can stand not to drink it faster).

A few bottles went to Denmark and are selling there for about $ 860 CAD. You will find this Samaroli Linkwood for around $ 730.00 here which is a bargain.

Here are the only retailers that have this amazing dram available:


Zyn The Wine Market


Wine and Beyond

Last year on Christmas Day Samaroli again had the throne with their 33 Year Old Blended Malt that was by far the favorite whisky as voted by owners of the 1st edition calendar. You can read all about it here… Blog #57

Joshua Hatton has done an amazing job keeping up with all the blogging for this years edition and Cindy and I want to extend our sincere appreciation for all his hard work (it’s a tough job and someone has to do it and Joshua did it extremely well). You can read his last blog on this years edition HERE

Along with your wax dipped custom bottle of Linkwood you will all have found a wee little Christmas card. Please jump in and vote for your favorite 3 whiskies for a chance to win a 3rd edition calendar.

Last year in the 1st Edition every single whisky in the calendar was voted as somebody’s favourite. I cannot receive any more thanks than that knowing that there was a taste for everyone.

Thank you all so much for supporting our tiny little company, Secret Spirits. Cindy and I are already planning for the 3rd edition and will be in Scotland early February working through the arduous task of tasting the potential line up.

It has been an honor and pleasure bringing this experience to you again this year. Cindy and I both wish you and your family the very best this Christmas season and into what we hope will be an amazing 2016 for everyone.

As we did at the launch party, we raise our glasses and toast Christmas day and the journey’s end of the 2nd edition.


Jonathan and Cindy

Advent Day 25 – Christmas Day – Samaroli 1980 “The Samaroli Blend” 33 Year Old Blended Malt | Blog #57

Merry Christmas everyone and welcome to the closing chapter of this years calendar!

When you open up your little whisky alcove you will notice that there is a little Christmas card. If you can find the time to go back through your notes, head on over to Secret Spirits we would love for you to vote on your personal favorite top 3 whiskies. As a thank you for taking the time, we will enter you into our calender giveaway for a chance to WIN the 2nd edition in 2015.

So now with a delicious Christmas dinner done and all the presents opened it’s time to enjoy this Christmas Day dram.

Samaroli have been nothing short of amazing in this calendar and it is fitting that when choosing the special whisky for No. 25 that they got the nod with their 33 year old blended malt. They took the time to send me a cask strength version in a wee bottle so I kind of have an idea of what I might find. True to Samaroli convictions they have bottled the finished whisky at 43%. What were you doing in 1980? It was my first year of High School at Concordia College in Unley, Adelaide, South Australia. I can remember how nervous I was my first day. Some of my best childhood memories are of attending Concordia and the friends I made there. So without further ado I present:

Whisky: “The Samaroli” 1980 33 Year old blended malt

*Cask No. 34 – Bourbon Cask – 43% alcohol non-chill filtered*

The good guys at Samaroli told me that they had spent a long time thinking about the components of this whisky and worked to create something unique and special.

“The Samaroli” 33yo

Colour: Ancient Gold

Nose: A layered and cascading medley of ripe fruits. Passionfruit, pineapple, apricot, banana… the list goes on, opening into the depths of a chocolatier’s spice cupboard.

Palate: Fresh chocolate chip banana bread and a teaspoon of espresso crema. Fruits continue with the addition of citrus to the mix.

Finish: A penetrating slow warmth developing with some floral notes sneaking into the picture. Some perfume that lingers on the palate dancing around and then slowly fading away like the final lights and curtain fall on a Broadway show.

**Curt from All Things Whisky has also been “Tasting” along with the calendar. Check out his notes HERE.

I have no idea which Single Malts Samaroli chose for this amazing expression. Greater than the sum of their parts? Each of you can decide for yourselves. For me this was the perfect finish to what has been a defining 25 days for myself and my wife.

We can’t thank you all enough for supporting us and coming along on this journey. We feel that you are all part of our extended whisky family and hope that we will see you again next year for the 2nd Edition.

Please continue to jump in on the blog site and talk about this years selection. Good luck to all of you that take the time to enter your top 3 into the calendar competition.

For those of you that can’t live life without a bottle of this amazing Samaroli 33 Year Old get out and grab one of the only 30 bottles available from the following retailers:


Willow Park Wine and Spirits

Highlander Wine and Spirits


Andrew Hilton Wine and Spirits


Ingredients Artisan Market

As my wife and I begin work on next years calendar, we hope that you will get out and support our favorite retailers and take home a bottle of your best picks for this year. We worked hard to make sure that there are whiskies available to all budgets.

Cindy & Jonathan Cindy & Jonathan

I look forward to seeing you at the launch party December 2015!

Slainte and Merry Christmas Calendar community!

Your taster of secrets,

Samaroli Website