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Singlemalting # 223 – The Secret Spirits Whisky Adventure Train

G’day everyone and welcome to another year of Secret Spirits whisky adventures. We are starting 2019 by doing something brand new and to be honest a touch crazy.

As many of you that have been following our journey know already, Cindy and I have really had some impressive hurdles that we have overcome to continue to craft each unique edition.

Taster and Keeper of Secrets sharing a dram

There is no doubt we really love putting all of this together for you every year because the amount of sleepless nights and cash flow crunches that we push through don’t deter us from doing it all over again. In fact it is the challenges that Cindy and I face together that make our lives even more rewarding.

2018 was a big learning experience for us and included finally fulfilling sales in the US and also working through a very difficult Amazon landscape to make our calendars available in the UK. We have realized that it is way more fun to really engage each and every one of you by using E-Commerce and building a fun community of whisky adventurers than to just have our calendars sitting on retail shelves.

This year we are doing everything through an Indiegogo crowdfunding campaign. For 43 days we will have new weekly video content, a new weekly perk, weekly whisky tastings and of course your only way to access the 6th edition calendar.

Here is the Campaign Link – Indiegogo Campaign

I will be videoing a weekly vlog on the Secret Spirits whiskies that were bottled for the 5th edition calendar. Just a heads up as well on that front that they are being bottled in the next 3 to 4 weeks and we will have pricing and availability info for you soon.

Mystery packs of back edition bottles, campaign coins, whisky glasses, pins and more will be on offer throughout the campaign. There will always be something new to look at each week.

Campaign Coin Perk

I have to admit that this is an exciting but scary proposition for us. There is no doubt in our minds though that continuing to do more and more engaging and fun whisky adventuring that includes interacting with all of you on a regular basis is going to make the journey even more enjoyable.

One of the big changes we are making this year is that each of you that jump on the 6th Edition Whisky Train will have a say in the regions and Scotch Whiskies that we source for this edition. It will still fit into the framework we know works for the majority of whisky lovers but it will be an opportunity to perhaps focus more on styles and regions that people feel have been a touch underdone.

Something that we have not announced yet but will kick in a couple of weeks into the campaign is a referral competition captured by Indiegogo that will have some very sweet and valuable prizes attached. We will also have some secret perks that only campaign contributors will have access to.

So loads to see and do over the next 6 weeks and we hope that you can share this campaign with as many of your whisky loving friends as possible.

Cheers

Singlemalting

 

5th Edition Scotch Whisky Advent Calendar Day 25– Singlemalting # 222 – A.D. Rattray Glen Grant 30 Year Old

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.

Glen Grant Distillery

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.

My mate Chris saves the day with his day 25 bottle.

On Christmas day in the 4th edition we had the astounding Samaroli Invergordon 30 Year Old Single Grain.

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:

Speyside – 9 – Bourbon Cask 5 – Sherry Cask 4 – Cask Strength 6 – Reduced Strength 3 – Single Malts 7 – Blended Malts 1 – Teaspooned Malts 1

Highland – 8 – Bourbon Cask 4 – Sherry Cask 2 – Sauterne Cask 1 – Madiera Cask 1 – Cask Strength 6 – Reduced Strength 2 – Single Malts 6 – Blended Malts 2

Islay – 3 – Bourbon Cask 2 – Sherry Cask 1 – Single Malts 2 – Teaspooned Malts 1

Island – 1 – Sherry Cask 1 – Cask Strength 1 – Single Malts 1

Lowland – 1 – Sherry Cask 1 – Cask Strength 1 – Single Grains 1

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.

Until next year

Slainte

Jonathan

 

5th Edition Scotch Whisky Advent Calendar Day 18 – Singlemalting # 215 – Secret Spirits Glenallachie 9 Year Old

Time to unleash “THE BEAST”. Many of you have been sleepily, comfortably nodding along to the clickety clack of our Scotch Whisky Advent Calendar Train as it meanders through the hills and towns of Scotland. There has been the occasional sighting of something lurking beneath the peated moors but nothing has really given you cause for alarm. Today that is all about to change. Over in the Secret Spirits corner we have weighing in at the sensationally high ABV of 65.6% the Glenallachie 9 Year Old Bourbon casked Single Malt. This is an extremely high ABV for a cask strength Scotch Whisky as more often than not casks are filled at 63.5%. In the other corner is you and your Aurora glass, a trembling hand holding a water dropper and an impending sense of taste bud destruction.

Glenallachie is a Speyside distillery in the town of Arbelour founded in 1967. Just a touch older than me making it pretty young in Scottish distillery terms. It is now owned by the Glenallachie Distillers Co. being the 4th owner since its opening. At the foot of Ben Nevis the highest peak in Scotland Glenallachie is fed pristine water by the nearby Lour Burn.

Glenallachie Distillery

Secret Spirits Glenallachie 9 Year Old Single Malt – Bourbon Cask # 900537 – The Whopping ABV of 65.6% YeeeHaaa

Colour:            Pretty pale gold again. Even though when I picked this cask all they could tell me was that it was an ex-Bourbon. I think that there is a good chance that it is a refill cask.

Nose:                Baboom Baby Yeah. Holy Smokes that is a huge nose. Ok now that I have taken a few moments to get my bearings I’m going back in…. OK this is very cool and not coming across sweet at all to me as yet. Dirty martini with extra briny olives. Creamy Gorgonzola. Yep this really smells like a charcuterie plate. Maybe some sun dried tomatoes and a couple of figs to round it all out.

Palate:              This is perfect today after taking little Sashes for a walk and then hooking up all the Christmas lights outside in the snow and cold. Definitely a savoury dram overall but I am also getting some wee dried apricots (always a feature on a good charcuterie plate). A tiny jar of red pepper jelly. If we took after Wemyss Malts I would call this dram the Charcuterie Plate Glenallachie. So fun, seriously this is why each distillery, regardless of region, is a unique entity and can offer up amazing whisky. This is especially so when it’s through a single cask bottling. Thank goodness we saved this cask from heading to the blending house.

Finish:          The weight of the ABV carries this dram a long way and the savoury notes just keep on coming. I do get just a touch of fresh apples as the alcohol tails away right at the end. OK water time ladies and gents. The nose does soften but the savoury notes are still there. The palate however shows a much greater fruit influence and the apricot comes through big time. Not sure if I liked it better without…… would depend on my mood. The good news is that at this ABV if you do splash a good amount of water into it that you are likely to get 3 ounces out of this. Absolutely cracking dram this even if I do say so myself. We will have bottles of this available in the New Year….it comes in bottles?…….. I’m getting one.

On this day in the 4th edition we had the Secret Spirits 19 Year Old Glenrothes Bourbon Cask.

Another day another trip to Youtube to watch the ever increasing Speyside controversy craziness of the Whiskey Tribe and the Scotch Test Dummies.

Tomorrow we are off to Islay (and there was much rejoicing) for something from our friends at A.D. Rattray.

Until the morrow

Slainte

Jonathan

5th Edition Scotch Whisky Advent Calendar Day 17 – Singlemalting # 214– Secret Spirits Glentauchers 10 Year Old

G’day everyone and welcome back. Today we jump into a dram from a distillery that I first tasted when sourcing whiskies to include in the 1st edition. Glentauchers proved to be absolutely delicious and I have sought out casks every since. Glentauchers is a Speyside distillery founded in 1898 by a distant relative of mine, James Buchanan.  Located in the town of Mulben in Moray it is seldom seen as a Single Malt except through the lens of independent bottling. In our 1st edition we had a comparison of 3 different Glentauchers from Samaroli, Wemyss and A.D. Rattray. They were all unique and one of the favorite aspects for many of that very first edition. Glentauchers is now owned by Pernod Ricard and a very limited amount of their proprietary 15 Year Old Single Malt is available in some markets.

Glentauchers Distillery

There has not been a Single Malt expression of Glentauchers since that 1st edition 5 years ago. I was very excited to find this cask amongst the many offerings I had in front of me this past March in Scotland. This Glentauchers is amongst 4th other whiskies in this 5th edition that are over 60%. It’s so fun to be able to water the whisky as you see fit and cask strength literally means the whisky is taken straight from the barrel put through a rough filter and popped straight into bottle with no water added. Lets see what this Glentauchers has to offer straight up and then we will play a little.

Secret Spirits Glentauchers 10 Year Old Single Malt – Speyside – Refill Bourbon Cask # 900122 – 62.9% ABV

Colour:     Pale straw again as could be expected from a refill cask and of course no caramel colouring added…..ever.

Nose:         This is a big nose and the high ABV certainly gets out of the gate quick. This seems like a whole orchard of fruit. A veritable cornucopia including grapes, pears, apples, some tropical additions like pineapple and mango. This is fruit salad in a glass.

Palate:       Oh wow does that ever go in an interesting direction. The alcohol does not seem over 60 but instead spreads everything over the palate like a layer of creme custard. Warmed white Christmas cake with vanilla custard would do it justice.

Finish:      The alcohol funnily enough seems to kick in finally at the finish asserting itself and creating a lasting zesty connection to the fruit and cream.

This is a big dram for a 10 year old and there is a ton going on here. Water time. Oh and what a nice addition that tiny splash was. The fruit lifts even more and comes charging out of the glass. Does seem to bring the alcohol a little more into focus on the mid palate but not overpowering and I still get the creaminess but that lovely thick custard layer is gone. Finishes much softer with the zest giving way to just a big hand full of lovely fruit.

I have loved every single cask that I have tasted from this distillery and will continue to look for it for future editions.

In the 4th edition on day 17 we had the Samaroli MacDuff 19 Year Old Sherry Cask.

Dont forget to wade in on the Speyside Controversy over at the Whisky Vault or catch up with Bart or Scott or both at Scotch Test Dummies.

Tomorrow we head to……wait for it…….Speyside Bwahahahahaha. This time around we are going to the highest peak of ABV that we have scaled this edition. Keep your water droppers handy because we are going big or going home. Tomorrow’s Distillery is brought to you by the letter G and the number 9 and was picked by non other than Secret Spirits.

Until tomorrow then. I hope you have been able to spend enough time to figure out the nuances of flavor and character between all of these different distilleries and limited edition expressions.

Cheers

Jonathan

5th Edition Scotch Whisky Advent Calendar Day 16 – Singlemalting # 213– Wemyss Malts Nectar Grove Limited Edition Blended Malt

G’day there whisky fans. Today we have a delicious treat from those good people at Wemyss Malts.

As with the other Wemyss whiskies in this edition we had to get a little creative with the label to get around the TTB shenanigans. Nectar Grove is of course how Wemyss labelled this dram however we had to use Garden Grove on the basis of not actually adding any nectar to the whisky (don’t know where to get nectar from anyway). We do of course sell our calendar in the UK, EU, Canada and even remote places like my once home country of Australia but we make all our labelling TTB approved for sale in the US as they have the most “interesting” labelling requirements in the world.

Wemyss Malts Nectar Grove

Wemyss Malts Nectar Grove is a limited edition of 9000 bottles. Taken from only 2 Highland distilleries and then re-racked into Madeira casks for 9 months. This is Wemyss first “finished” whisky and gives us an opportunity to taste this ever growing and popular category of Scotch Whisky.

Madeira is a fortified wine made on the Portuguese islands of Madiera. Rich and delicious Madiera is generally a dessert accompanyment or perhaps dessert all on its own. Going through an interesting heating process during production it is a very unique style of wine not made anywhere else in the world.

Wemyss Malts Nectar Grove Limited Edition Blended Malt – Bourbon Refill Casks and Madeira Cask finished – alcohol 46%

Colour:             Seems to have picked up an orange hue from the Madiera cask. Almost looks like Grand Marnier.

Nose:                 Goo Gone – that fantastic orange oil product that you use to remove sticky labels from jars. A touch of my wife’s Einkorn Flour Sourdough freshly baked. Some fuzzy peach skin and some toasted macadamia.

Palate:               Much bigger explosion of that nectar on the palate. Grilled orange and red grapefruit halves complete with the burnt caramelized sugars. The peach fuzz has turned to full blown juicy ripe flesh and dripping juices.

Finish:              Turns towards red currants and blueberries sauteed in a dash of port. There is no doubt about the influence of the Madiera cask on this one. With the initial refill Bourbon being very gentle the Madiera has climbed in and had it’s way with these two Highland distilleries. For me the Nectar Grove is better on the palate than the nose but once I added a tiny drop of water the nose did get rocking a lot more.

Thanks to Wemyss Malts for providing 3 very interesting blended malts for this 5th edition. Until next year when I’m sure there will be something creative and delicious around the corner. Let’s hope that we can sort out the TTB so that we can actually label these whiskies as they were intended.

On this day in the 4th edition we had the Lost Distillery Company Lossit Classic.

Whisky Vault, Scotch Test Dummies…. Just Do It!!

Tomorrow we are off North to Speyside for another Single Cask of Secret Spirits Goodness.

Looking forward to your company on the morrow.

Cheers

Jonathan

5th Edition Scotch Whisky Advent Calendar Day 15 – Singlemalting # 212 – Secret Spirits Caol Ila 8 Year Old

Caol Ila, workhorse of the Islay underworld. Pumping out more Smoky, Peaty, Islay goodness than all the rest of the Islay distilleries combined by quite some margin. As you already noted on day 5 we actually did a cask of Caol Ila in the 4th edition but were unable to fill any full size bottles for the peaty faithful. This year is a different story and we have managed to get a bit more of the sister cask. These limited bottles will be released along with most of the other Secret Spirits whiskies from the 5th edition in the first quarter of 2019. Stay tuned for the pre-order information.

Caol Ila is owned by industry giant Diageo and makes up the backbone of their peaty needs for the Johnnie Walker range. Founded in 1846 it has changed hands many times and seen some closures including during the second World War when due to barley shortages most distilleries ceased operations. Must have been a tough time for whisky lovers in the mid 50’s when all of those whiskies would have been around 10 years old and hitting the market. Caol Ila is taken from the Gaelic Caol Ìle for “sound of Islay” refering to the location of the distillery overlooking the strait between Islay and Jura.

Caol Ila Distillery

Secret Spirits Caol Ila 8 Year Old Single Malt – Bourbon Cask # SS006 – Islay – alcohol 59.5%

Colour:             Pinot Gris sparkle gold.

Nose:                Certainly does not smell like Pinot Gris as that classic Islay heavily peated salt, earth and fire leap out of the glass. For me the smokiness is much more subdued than the peat note. Could it be that there is a wee Scottish flower poking up from the bog?

Palate:             Peated Vanilla cookies and Cavendish pipe tobacco. Im my minds eye I’m standing right in the middle of a large Islay farm paddock complete with heavy hoof prints, upturned earth and mud puddles. The rain is just about to hit and the sky is dark and brooding. Scurrying into the farmers house just as the heavens unleash I find myself sipping this dram by the fire and absolutely loving the Islay experience.

Finish:          Very long with a lemon essence that surprisingly jumps in at the end. Certainly on the slightly sweeter side of Caol Ila but there is no mistaking the huge use of peat to malt this barley. Delicious trip to Islay and I hope that has made you peat only peat please hurt me with peat guys happy enough to visit the mainland a few more times.

On this day in the 4th edition we had another smoky expression with the Wemyss Malts Peat Chimney Batch Strength.

I know that Daniel in particular loves younger Islay so it will be interesting to see how this one fares over at the Whiskey Vault. Scotch Test Dummies are not afraid of peat either so will no doubt relish this little trip to Islay.

Tomorrow we are back on the mainland with a delicious malt from the team at Wemyss.

Until then may the finish linger long into the night…..

Cheers

 

Jonathan

5th Edition Scotch Whisky Advent Calendar Day 14 – Singlemalting # 211– A.D. Rattray Knockdhu 9 Year Old

Welcome back to another day of whisky adventuring. What a great day to introduce a new distillery to our calendar mix. Knockdhu is a Highland Distillery located in the town of Knock Banffshire right on Speyside’s doorstep. Founded in 1893 by John Morrison after he purchased the land from the Duke of Fife. It had a short closure in 1931 during the depression and again during the second world war from 1940 to 1945. Closed again in 1983 like so many distilleries were in the 80’s it was sold to Inver House  in 1988 with production resuming the following year. In 1993 the bottled whisky was changed to anCnoc to avoid confusion with Knockando. anCnoc in Gaelic simply means “the hill”. Very varely ever seen bottled using the name of the distillery rather than their new branding.

Knockdhu Distillery

A.D. Rattray as you know by now are one of my favorite independent bottlers and Mr Tim Morrison was kind enough to be my Seconder for the Keepers of the Quaich nomination for which I am extremely grateful. Tim is a gentleman in every respect and has championed the Scotch Whisky industry for his entire working life. Their new distillery Clydeside is gorgeous and will I’m sure become a beacon of amazing whisky and tourism in the heart of Glasgow.

A.D. Rattray Knockdhu 9 Year Old Single Malt – Bourbon Hogshead # 700305 – Highland – Alcohol 59%

Colour:           Super light pale gold and makes me think that the cask is a refill although at only 9 years it could have just been lightly toasted.

Nose:               Alrighty then. I was really hoping to find this profile as it struck me when I first tasted this cask back in March. Candy Cane peppermint and licorice. Red glazed salted granny smith toffee apple.

Palate:            The minty character comes through nicely and takes me back to those extremely politically incorrect cigarette candies I purchased from the school tuck shop. They were a white softish slightly minty vanilla candy with a glazed red sugar tip. I can still see us all standing around pretending to smoke these little candies. Loads of countries have banned them but they are still available in many forms. There is also rich toffee and that little salty element from the nose but it takes a back seat.

Finish:           The toffee apple works but to me now seems more caramel. The high alcohol really kicks this whisky into a lingering tingle that tails off into a slightly peppery climax. Really enjoyed this dram especially as a holiday minty candy cane treat. This would be a great start of the evening drink to get the tastebuds ready for heavier more full flavoured fare.

On this day back in the 4th edition we had the A.D. Rattray Glen Elgin 21 Year Old.

Back to Youtube for some more shenanigans with the boys at the Whiskey Vault and Scotch Test Dummies.

Tomorrow we head to Islay for some more dark side action from non other than Secret Spirits. “I am altering the deal…pray I don’t alter it any further”.

Wheeze…..wheeze…..

Jonathan

5th Edition Scotch Whisky Advent Calendar Day 13 – Singlemalting # 210– Malt Whisky Company Auchinderom (Peated Glenglassaugh) Sauterne Cask

Very excited about todays whisky. Mythical unicorns don’t appear very often and this is indeed a very rare treat. Certainly knowing the gentleman behind this dram was the key to having this offered up to make your adventure extra special. Stuart Nickerson who I am very thankful to say was the amazingly generous chap that nominated me for induction into the Keepers of the Quaich. Whisky has flowed in his family for a long time and just this past week his daughter Jennifer received the Icons of Whisky Irish Whiskey Brand Ambassador of the year award. A big congratulations to Jennifer and to Stuart for such an amazing whisky legacy.

Glenglaussaugh Distillery

So onto the dram itself. Glenglassaugh has had a very long and challenging history founded in 1875 by James Moir and his two nephews. Located right near Glenglassaugh Springs the distillery had an exceptional water source that had previously allowed illicit distilling to be conducted to great acclaim. After James death in 1892 the distillery was sold to Highland Distillers a subsidiary of the Edrington group. It was rebuilt in 1960 but unfortunately closed in 1986 with a downturn in the Scotch industry.

In 2008 Glenglassaugh was sold to the Sceant group by Edrington and Stuart Nickerson who was their whisky consultant elect was instrumental in not only finding Glenglassaugh as an option but also brokering the deal. With a considerable amount of money needed to refurbish the distillery and one of the warehouses Stuart was able to utilize a small parcel of older Glenglassaugh that had been distilled before the closure. I was lucky enough to be the representative for Glenglassaugh in Canada and can vouch for the incredible 20, 30 and 40+ year old whiskies that were part of the rebuilding of the brand. Stuart did so well that the distillery was sold in 2013 well ahead of schedule to the Walker family, owners of Benriach and Glendronach. Within a few years Benriach, Glendronach and Glenglassaugh were subsequently sold to industry powerhouse Brown Foreman.

Once production started Stuart was canny enough to lay down some casks for himself and so we have today in front of us a whisky that was distilled, casked, aged and bottled by the same man.

Glenglassaugh barrels

I tried some of the early peated new make that Stuart had distilled many years ago. While chatting in his lounge earlier this year he mentioned this cask and jumped at the chance (actually may have jumped off my seat). Several editions ago we had the Portsoy Sauterne Cask. One of the most delicious Sauterne casked whiskies that I have tried to date and only around 7 years of age.

Auchinderom Peated (Glenglassaugh) Sauterne Cask 7 Year Old – Cask Number 007 – Highland – Alcohol 58.6%

Colour:                     Lovely deep gold. No doubt the Sauterne Cask is at work here. Smaller barrel size than a Bourbon Cask so more wood to whisky ratio imparting a lot more.

Nose:                        No mistaking that this whisky lives with peat. Large and in charge is a big hit of glorious seaside. Like stepping out onto the beach and taking a big deep breath of sweet fresh salty air. Glenglassaugh is right on the coast so this is not unexpected. I find myself taking a long time over this nose to try and get some of the Sauterne cask influence. That sweet freshness could be it and does hold the promise of luscious things to come on the palate.

Palate:                     Wow ok the dense vegetal peat character is right at the door asking me to shake the sand off my shoes and come in. That medicinal note that a lot of people relate to coastal Islay is lining the walls of this old school drawing room. As I sink down into my deep backed leather chair I can almost picture the old tobacco swirling in the air, an old leather bound book in my hand and a century old persian rug beneath my feet. Through it all though there is a lovely little sweetness that is completely unopposing but may be the most beautiful part of the whole experience.

Finish:                   I just had to try this with a dash of water. The sweetness on the nose headed towards dark marmalade balsamic reduction. The dainty little petit four that I loved at cask strength has blossomed into a full blown over cooked ginger cookie. In the best way possible. The finish just carries on and the lingering effect is the Briny Highland Peat holding steady as it sails to the horizon. With all of this going on it feels like a much, much older whisky than 7 years. Sauterne casks seem to equal much more rapid aging characteristics in Scotland.

On this day in the 4th edition we had another fine dram put together by Stuart Nickerson. The Shetland Reel Batch No. 3 Blended Malt was a cracker.

Please remember to head over to the Whiskey Vault and Scotch Test Dummies. I am literally chafing at the bit to see what they thought of todays dram. I would think today’s dram will be a big winner but as I say all the time everyone has their own palate and there are no right and wrong preferences.

We are now just over half way through the calendar and it is worth mentioning what we have had so far. 5 Speyside Distilleries, 4 Highland Distilleries one of which was heavily peated, 1 Islay and 3 blended malts. Barrels have included Refill Sherry, 1st fill Sherry and both Refill and 1st fill Bourbon and a Sauterne cask. We have had 9 different distillery single casks 2 of which were teaspooned. We have done a distillery comparison and both casks while having some similarities were very different animals. As we head into the back end of the calendar we will go to even more new places and see some much older drams. Stay tuned whisky fans and always try to keep a childlike eagerness and delight in learning more about this amazing drink.

Tomorrow we have another distillery making a first appearance in our calendars. Coming from that amazing independent bottler A.D. Rattray.

Looking forward to seeing you all then.

Cheers

Jonathan

5th Edition Scotch Whisky Advent Calendar Day 12 – Singlemalting # 209– Lost Distillery Company Stratheden Classic

I hope you all enjoyed a history lesson with the Auchnagie on day 3. Today we get to travel back to Fife and look into a distillery that stood for almost 100 years. Owned by 3 generations of the Bonthrone family Stratheden officially operated from 1829 to 1926 although there was evidence that illicit distilling was practiced well before that.

What is most fascinating for me as I read through the very indepth and detailed history of the distillery is the account of world affairs during world war 1 and the influence of prohibition in the US on distillery closures in Scotland. You all owe it to yourselves to head over to the Lost Distillery Company website and have a good read about Stratheden. Far more detailed research and material than I can post here.

Stratheden Distillery
Lost Distillery Company Stratheden

Lost Distillery Company Stratheden Classic Blended Malt – 43% alcohol – no caramel or chill filtration.

Colour:             Light Gold. My understanding is that this blended malt is a combination of Bourbon Casks.

Nose:                 Peat influence here but subtle with a layer of under the house crawl space. You know that slightly dark and earthy wet character. Back when Stratheden was around they were using peat to malt their barley much like all distilleries at that time. Coming over the top of this though as you look up into the light from your hiding place under the porch I get almost a Cognac influenced brulee torched orange rind.

Palate:            The under the porch themes tail away more on the palate with the slightly bitter orange peel and a touch of dark high cocoa chocolate. This is a fairly delicate dram that I actually had to sip at for a while to get everything out of. Interesting that this is the Classic range which is the most affordable but will reward more experienced whisky drinkers that take their time with it.

Finish:           At 43% the finish is not long but still leaves that lovely little bitter edge lingering.

Do the guys at the Whiskey Vault and Scotch Test Dummies dig whisky history geeking? Make sure you check it out.

Day 12 of our 4th edition Scotch Whisky Advent Calendar was one of our own casks. The Secret Spirits Speyside 19 Year Old undisclosed Single Malt.

I do know that there has been some excellent controversy created by the faithfull Tribers of the Whiskey Vault. So far we have spent most of our time exploring the Highlands and Speyside. There have however been a lot of different distilleries, cask types, ages and alcohol volumes. Even within the same region distilleries use different shaped stills, different sources of barley, different cask programs and different water sources. What we have hopefully shown is that every single cask has its own story to tell. It just takes a pause from this in your face busy world we live in to sit for a while and just listen.

Tomorrow we are in for an absolute treat as we delve into something extremely rare from Stuart Nickerson of the Malt Whisky Company. I promise that tomorrow’s whisky is going to blow your minds.

Excited yet?

See you then

Cheers

Jonathan

Singlemalting # 208 – 5th Edition Scotch Whisky Advent Calendar Day 11 – Wemyss Malts Vanilla Burst Blended Malt

Well hello again calendar junkies. Today we have another one of those American TTB label challenges. This whisky from Wemyss Malts is actually called Vanilla Burst but we could not put vanilla on the label so instead we chose Delicious Burst. Hope that no one is as confused as I am. Vanilla is delicious right? Wemyss has been fighting this battle with the TTB for over a decade and still have not really gotten anywhere. It is surprising to me that the Scotch Malt Whisky Society seems to be able to get their bottles into the US as every label is even more apt to include all sorts of non-whisky flavors than Wemyss. Hopefully sanity will prevail and at some point the Wemyss line of delicious single casks will be available in the US market. Looking back at some of the past calendars you can read about whiskies like Aromatic Orange Tobacco and Applewood Bake. We will certainly continue to feature Wemyss Malts in the future and I am hoping that we dont have to water down their great labels.

Vanilla Burst

This limited edition of only 4800 bottles is made up of Single Malts from 2 Speyside distilleries. All the 14 casks used were 1st fill ex bourbon American oak barrels. Vanilla is certainly a flavor profile that a lot of people pick up on with American Oak. Lets see how true to the name this whisky is. We have generally included at least one of Wemyss Malts limited edition blended malts in each edition as they have all been stellar. Some of you may remember with mouth watering fondness an outstanding Wemyss Malts blended malt whisky from our 2nd edition, the very impressive Velvet Fig.

Wemyss Malts Vanilla Burst Blended Malt – 4800 bottles – 1st Fill Bourbon Barrels – 46% alcohol – Speyside

Colour:     Nice rich golden 1st fill Bourbon colour.

Nose:        There certainly is a big hit of fresh vanilla bean, creme brulee, fudge and an earthy grassy undercurrent. I thought there might actually be even more vanilla but am pleased to see some other characters vying for my attention.

Palate:      Nice mouth coating spread of flavor and the vanilla dies down a touch compared to the nose. More cask infuence coming through now with some touches of white pepper and that fresh hay and mown grass cuts through the middle. This is a very easy going dram and as the name implies is meant to showcase the use of American oak with lighter speyside spirit.

Finish:      Vanilla fades as the cask takes over a bit leaving a dry citrus note hanging on.

 

Remember to TRIBE and DUMMY today and see what those guys think about this little blended malt.

On this day in our 4th edition we had the Samaroli Islay 2017 edition. For those peat heads that are already starting to pine for more in this 5th edition hold tight help is on the way soon.

Tomorrow we are taking a second step back in time with the boys at Lost Distilleries.

Looking forward to getting my geek on again.

Cheers

Jonathan