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Singlemalting #226 – That time of year again – Scotch Whisky Advent Calendar 6th edition

G’day everyone,

The last few months have been somewhat challenging as Cindy and I continue to work hard to get our 6th edition out to as many whisky lovers as possible.

Without going into excruciating detail this has actually been our most difficult year ever. Some of the highlights include embargoes, tariffs, shipping nightmares, bottling and warehousing problems, labelling controversy, our first ever crowdfunding venture and last but not least Amazon UK (would require an entire book to tell that story).

As a really positive counterpoint to all of this has been the super fun trip to Scotland, friends, family and so many in our community that have supported us above and beyond this year. A big thanks to my sister Jayne for helping out with Google, To my bro Peter for being patient with us and helping with the whole Amazon piece. Patrick and Tiana for getting our Facebook on track and a massive thanks to Chris Burrows at The Dram Team. Without Chris there would have been no 6th edition.

So with only half a month to go till D Day I thought I would throw out a customary reminder blog and warm up for the 25 days of non-stop blogging that I do each year.

6th edition calendar all glowy and ready for Christmas

If you have not put your name on a calendar yet there are still some available in Canada the US and around the world but we are almost sold out as we only made 500 this year.

We have amped up content on a lot of platforms if you are interested in following along more closely with our adventures. The Whisky Advent Calendar facebook page has taken on a life of its own including the regular “whats in your glass” segments from yours truly with guest appearances by Cindy, Shadow and Sashes. Our Youtube channel has a ton of content from our Scotland trip and is worth a peek.

As always if you just want to reach out and talk whisky I’m always up for having a yarn pretty much anytime.

Hard to believe that it has been 6 years of creating whisky adventures already. Hopefully there will be many more to come.

Really looking forward to the journey this year as we had so much amazing input while we were in Scotland from everyone that was part of the initial Indiegogo campaign. Spoiler alert, there will be sherry cask influenced whisky in this edition and lots of it.

Come along with Cindy and I this year and join the Secret Spirits Scotch Whisky Adventure Train.

As Cindy says    “toot…..toot”

Cheers

Jonathan aka Singlemalting aka Taster of Secrets

5th Edition Scotch Whisky Advent Calendar Day 24 – Singlemalting # 221 – Secret Spirits Inchmurrin 21 Year Old

Today’s dram was probably the most drama we have ever had in bottling a whisky. Needing at least 105 bulk liters to fill 2000 mini’s we of course only chose casks that have all of that and some to spare. When this cask arrived at our warehouse it was substantially lower than what we needed. How do you at find more Inchmurrin 21 year old at the last minute? Well it’s almost impossible but luckily for us the ABV on our barrel was above 60%. Extremely rare for a 21 year old cask that had actually leaked as well to still have such a high ABV. Saved by this anomoly we were forced to reduce the strength to 45.2% to eek out enough whisky for all the calendars. This little hiccup believe it or not almost caused everyone to miss out on getting their calendars altogether.

Fun times when everything comes down to devil’s cut and angel’s share.

So disaster averted we have for our Christmas Eve whisky at the very last minute and great expense a single cask of Inchmurrin 21 Year Old for your dramming pleasure.

Imchmurrin is actually one of the brands that comes out of the Loch Lomond Distillery. Loch Lomond is a unique distillery in that it produces both Single Malt and Single Grain whiskies and by utilizing varying distilling methods actually creates 10 different styles of Single Malt under the one roof. We have had the heavily peated Croftengea from A.D. Rattray and also a heavily peated Loch Lomond from Single Cask Nation who prefers to use the name of the distillery as part of our third edition.  Inchmurrin is on the lightly peated end of the Loch Lomond scale with only the distilleries namesake Single Malt having the lightest peat profile.

Loch Lomond was first established in 1814 but was closed after only 3 years of production. The new Loch Lomond was founded in 1964 by the Littlemill distillery owners. Closed for a brief period in the 80’s the Single Grain operation was started in 1993 and at the time it was the only distillery in Scotland to do so. In 2014 the distillery was acquired by a private equity group and is now owned by the Loch Lomond Distilling Corporation.

The Inchmurrin spirit is said to have an intensely fruit driven character that fades to grass and meadow flowers with age. Lets see what has happened to this tortured cask of Inchmurrin after 21 years in a sherry hogshead.

Secret Spirits Inchmurrin 21 Year Old Single Malt Scotch Whisky – Sherry Hogshead # 407 – Highland – 45.2% ABV – No Chill Filtration.

Colour:    Despite the sherry cask the colour is still lightly tarnished gold.

Nose:       Comes out of the glass feistier than I would have expected. There is a soft earth and hay quality to the nose that gives way to Cedar fence pailings and old farm equipment. Like stepping into an old barn closing your eyes and taking in all the different smells. There is a sweet note here as well though like someone is baking apple pie in the nearby homestead and it is wafting into the barn.

Palate:     The delivery is initially light and grassy but quickly builds up a coating tingle that transitions all the way to the back of the palate and down to your very core. The sweet pie crust comes through as does the Jonathan apple (slightly sweet). The earthy notes are almost non existant but still detectable.

Finish:     The alcohol seems to linger more on the finish than up front. Persisting soft floral notes and wafting meadow breezes.

This is a very layered whisky and it would have been really cool to allow everyone to play with it at 60+ %. Everything I have had from Loch Lomond has been stellar and I will continue to seek out all of these different expressions in future editions.

On this day in the 4th edition we had the A.D. Rattray Tamnavulin 29 Year old Single Malt.

Check in on this Christmas Eve with Daniel at the Whiskey Vault and the boys of Scotch Test Dummies.

Christmas day is here at last and tomorrow we finish this engaging adventure with a 30 Year Old offering from A.D. Rattray.

Looking forward to having you here one last time for this 5th edition tomorrow.

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

Scotch Whisky Advent Calendar 3rd Edition Day 18 Blog #153 – A.D. Rattray Croftengea 11 Year Old

Today we do a comparison piece which is really going to showcase how much impact casks have on the flavor profile of a whisky. Earlier on day 9 we tried the Single Cask Nation Loch Lomond, Croftengea and now we get to compare an A.D. Rattray Croftengea in a completely different barrel.
For those that missed the earlier piece and want some background on the distillery and for comparison you can check out the blog here.
So without further preamble lets delve into this wee bottle.
A.D. Rattray Loch Lomond – Croftengea at the full cask strength of 58.9% and aged for 11 years in a sherry hogshead. Loch Lomond is as we mentioned in that earlier blog a Highland distillery.
Croftengea
Color:     Just the palest whiff of a darker reddish hue giving perhaps a hint that this was aged in a refill sherry cask.
Nose:     Montreal Smoked meat on Pumpernickel with a dark molasses and black bean sauce. I will be honest here and say that no such sandwich exists but I want one in the worst way.
Palate:     The weight of the 58.9 seems just perfect with the oily palate coating experience of this dram. Earth Wind and Fire could write a song about this whisky with their sweet soul vibes adding a smooth backdrop. Dark heavy chocolate here and warming dark stone fruit compote with an earthy smoky essence running right through everything.
Finish:     Softening peat that fades to a lasting finish that throws in a sparkle of burnt Tangarine zest.
Loads going on here and the first sherried Croftengea I have ever tried. Amazing that both this and the Single Cask Nation cask have some similarities and yet so much that makes them completely different. Highland peat is certainly a different animal than Islay or Island and I like the flavorful and yet somewhat softer character.
I have the fun and honor of having Jason Johnstone-yellin from Single Cask Nation here with me as I taste this dram and it is fantastic for him to give us his perspective in the light of his excellent company bringing us the earlier Croftengea. I love being able to shed some light on how unique and different each single cask of whisky is. For those that have never done this sort of comparison you can see for yourselves that whisky is incredibly complex even from the same distillery and aged for similar amounts of time.
So over to you Jason what do you think?
mmmmm
delish
Nose:   Funky and Pungent with charcoal bricks dipped in cherry cordial, wet kelp drizzled with soy sauce, and driftwood dropped on a beach campfire.
Palate:   Smoky and salty with Camphor, warmed dark cherries, and abundant cinnamon. Hints of eucalyptus as it transitions into the finish.
Finish:   Lingering smoke with some cinnamon heat, hints of grey pepper towards the end of the finish.
Overall:   Oily and mouth coating with drying smoke, a certain waxiness, and pleasant heat. Another winner in the Secret Spirits Scotch Whisky Advent Calendar.
Thanks Jason for jumping in with another perspective on this dram. Head on over to our official taster this edition at Whisky Lassie and see how she fares with this sherried peated Highland.
I can hear the ocean…in stereo
On this day in the second edition we had the fantastic Samaroli Miltonduff.
Tomorrow we are in for a real treat from Samaroli as we head into the business end of the 3rd edition.
Slainte
Jonathan – taster of secrets

Scotch Whisky Advent Calendar 3rd Edition Day 6 Blog #139 – Ainneamh Highland 18 Year Old

Ainneamh (pronounced any-oov) means a rare thing in Gaelic and is an apt name for the independent bottling company owned by Brian Woods and Scott Watson. Releasing only a small number of bottling’s each year means that this whisky geek pair seek out only the most delicious drams. Today we visit the Highlands of Scotland and taste an undisclosed 18 Year Old Single Malt aged in a refill American Oak Hogshead.

I’ve been sworn to secrecy on the distillery but can give you a bit of a clue. The distillery has Two seperate words in the title.

I am a big fan of what most people think of as the “Highland” style of Single Malt. There is of course a lot of blurring of the lines these days but Honey and Heather have been two hallmarks of quintessential Highland Malt.

Ainneamh Highland 18 Year Old

Ainneamh Highland 18 Year Old Single Malt – Aged in a refill American Hogshead barrel bottled at a natural cask strength of 57%

Color:   Another light in color whisky after 18 years in a refill barrel.

Nose:    Lemon drop candies and ripe pear halves. A hint of salty sea air adds a layer to the otherwise fresh and crips nose.

Palate:   A teaspoon of malt powder stirred with some creamed honey. Oak influence is nicely subtle on this allowing even more fruit like ripe honeydew and Starfruit to appear.

Finish:   Long and zesty at 57% and the melon just keeps on coming. Like the ubiquitous side of honeydew and cantaloupe with your Eggs Benedict.

Lovely breakfast dram if ever there was one. I think I might have to put that to the test sometime soon.

Ainneamh does bottle whiskies with declared distilleries as well as undisclosed. Unfortunately this delicious dram was all snapped up to fill the calendar bottles and a few 700ml’s that were sold locally in Scotland. If you are looking for more of this then grabbing another 3rd edition will be your only chance.

Let’s check out what Whiskylassie has to say about today’s dram here.

In the 2nd edition on this day we visited the excellent Highland Distillery, Tullibardine (another coincidence that we had Highland today) from the eyes of The Malt Whisky Company. You can read or re-read it here.

It’s been really fun to be able to bring you some new small independent bottlers to add to the mix and offer up even more variety as we work to keep the 25 new whiskies in each edition interesting and unique.

Tomorrow we head back to Speyside for the first Samaroli in the 3rd edition. Any of you that have read some of my blogs know that I love the Samaroli style of bottling whisky so I can’t wait.

See you tomorrow

Slainte

Jonathan – Taster of Secrets