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Scotch Whisky Advent Calendar 3rd Edition Day 24 Blog #156 – Single Cask Nation Bunnahabhain 28 Year Old

Happy Christmas Eve everyone. Just seems like yesterday that we started on this journey and now we only have one more night to go before it all comes to an end. Being a special day we always plant something fantastic behind the #24 door. This is the oldest whisky ever bottled by the dynamic duo of Joshua Hatton and Jason Johnstone-Yellin at Single Cask Nation. A privilege to be able to share it with you all.

Bunnahabhain

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 like Single Cask Nation.

Single Cask Nation was initially based on a club model in the USA but have branched out with a fantastic retail line that will be available to anyone in Canada from a select few stores in Alberta. The Nation has only been available in Alberta for a few years and already they are building a bit of a cult following among discerning whisky drinkers. Their passion and love for whisky is very apparent in their cask selections.

Bunnahabhain 28 Year Old

Single Cask Nation 28 Year Old Bunnahabhain aged in a refill Sherry Hogshead # 7403 and bottled at the cask strength of 51.3% without any mucking about. Islay rocks.

Color:   Getting a little deeper here in color after all those years in refill but still pretty light for a 28 year old whisky.

Nose:    Tony wisps of smoke from smoldering coals, Heather infused waxy honeycomb, candied ginger and soft caramel fudge along with a background grassy edge that add’s some depth. Very fresh and inviting for an older whisky.

Palate:   Pretty soft on the palate initially for 51.3% but the tingle does build at the edges of the tongue. The smokiness is gone now but it was only a wisp anyway. Sugared lemon drops, cinnamon topped custard tart (Aussie specialty). Flavors come through in a delicate cascade and it takes some time to develop. This is not a whisky that you want to rush.

Finish:   Fresh cut grass, lemon tart, star anise and sunflower and flax sourdough (this is a thing and its delicious).

Complicated whisky this and I was loath to throw water in it but perhaps those braver than I can comment on their watering experiences.

Let’s head on over to Whiskylassie to share in her thrilling adventures today with this lovely old Bunnahabhain.

For those of you keen on this whisky the good news is that 24 bottles will be available in Canada and you can email to get the lowdown on those special retailers that are ambassadors for Single Cask Nation. jonathan@secretspirits.com

Tomorrow is Christmas day and I will be blogging from Down under after safely stashing my day 25 whisky in my suitcase snuggled in a huge amount of bubble wrap. So while many of you are enjoying the white Canadian Christmas I will be outside in shorts cranking up the BBQ and listening to magpies warbling and kookaburra’s getting their cheek on.

Until then have a fabulous Christmas eve with close friends and family. Cindy and I wish everyone a very special time together and thank you all so much for being part of our Calendar community this year.

One more sleep till Christmas Day

Ho Ho Ho

Jonathan – taster of secrets

Scotch Whisky Advent Calendar 3rd Edition Day 16 Blog #151 – Samaroli Islay 8 Year Old

It’s been pretty cold here in Alberta of late to say the least so it is well overdue for another return visit to Islay the land or warming peat and smoke. Samaroli have done an amazing job with their blending of Single Malts over the years and I like to showcase how well this can be done by popping one or two of their new expressions each edition.

Today we are looking at a blended malt that is a combination of over 99% malt from one distillery. This cask comes under the definition of tea-spooning. This practice is a touch controversial in Scotland circles as some believe that there is no spoon….ing.

There is no spoon

When a distillery releases a cask but does not want it interfering with their own sales they can prohibit mention of the distillery and even prevent it from being released as a Single Malt. They do this by allegedly throwing in a teaspoon of another malt into the barrel thereby transforming it into a blended malt. There is a considerable number that theorize the fact that the teaspoon never happens and that only on paper is it considered a blended malt. Of course it is impossible to tell either way as the tiniest dash of single malt from another distillery thrown into an entire barrel will have absolutely no impact whatsoever.

So unlike the Samaroli blended malts where various amounts from a number of distilleries are involved really in this case we are looking at an undisclosed Islay Single Malt for all intents and purposes. Lets see if we can figure out which distillery.

Samaroli Islay teaspoon-ed blended malt. Aged for 8 years in a new American oak Hogshead and then bottled at the Samaroli chosen strength of 43% with no chill filtration or caramel added. A bit of an indicator here is the cask number 1883 which tells us that it is just one cask.

Samaroli Islay

Color:   Golden lager

Nose:     Team trainer bag, salt shaker and jerky.

Palate:   Distinctive bowl of burnt rubber and iodine leaking some organic citrus toothpaste (for the mouth feel).

Finish:  Bitter lemon rind among the consistent notes of tanned leather, rubber gloves and medicine cabinet.

The medicinal character even goes so far as to give my palate a bit of a numbing effect and at only 43%. This is a very big whisky and again belies the light color. So you be the judge… spoon or no spoon? Distillery options anyone?

This should satiate even the hardcore Islay fan for at least a few days.

In the second edition on this day we had the Samaroli Benriach 1996 Single Malt which you can revisit here.

Lets see what the Lassie has to say about this Samaroli Islay.

For those of you looking for a bottle of this delicious Islay you can email me here at jonathan@secretspirits.com and I will point you in the right direction.

Tomorrow we are grabbing a ferry away from Islay and heading to the mainland for another visit to the Highlands to discover yet another style of whisky that we love to add in each edition but is largely unknown for lovers of Single Cask Scotch. This will be presented to us by the fabulous team at Wemyss Malts.

Looking forward to seeing you all tomorrow

Slainte

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

Slainte

Jonathan – taster of secrets

Day 23 – A.D. Rattray Bunnahabhain 1988 | Blog #112

Back to Islay today for one of my favorite Islay Distilleries. 

Bunnahabhain founded in 1881 it is now owned by the South African Distell group. Bunnahabhain boasts the more approachable Islay experience. Indeed it is a lot softer on the peat than the other distilleries on the island although in recent times there have been limited edition peatier expressions released.

Bunnahabhain Distilley Bunnahabhain Distilley

Just 8 miles from the the town of Port Askaig the Bunnahabhain distillery is near the northern tip of Islay looking out on the Isle of Jura.

This is the last whisky we will have in this years edition from A.D. Rattray and as the largest percentage of casks came from this great Independent bottler it is fitting to finish with something extra special.

A.D. Rattray Bunnahabhain 1988 27 Year Old – Aged in a sherry butt # 626 and bottled at the cask strength of 55.4% ABV.

Colour:     Jatoba (Brazilian Cherry) hard wood complete with a reddish hue.

Nose:     This is just an incredible nose, Old leatherbound books in a mahogany chest, A big plate of Christmas pudding slices and gingerbread. Cavendish blend pipe tobacco. One of the most intriguing noses so far in this edition. I could just sit here and sniff this for ages.

Palate:     Warming Christmas spices and flaming brandy over Christmas pudding.

Finish:     Long and throat warming with ongoing waves of earthy sweet spices, the sherry makes a showing which it well should after 27 years.

Water:     Just had to see what a few drops would do given the unusually high ABV of 55.4% after 27 years. Opens to toffee and sticky dates on the nose with a burst of that old Cognac burnt orange character on the palate. Finishing with a healthy portion of brandy infused heavy cream to coat everything.

An old whisky just does not get any more Christmassy than this.

Joshua gives us his take on this big sherried Bunnahabhain HERE

Last year on this day in the 1st edition we had the Wemyss Ginger Spice Glenrothes 1988 in blog #55

If you like this Bunnahabhain as much as I do you can find one of only 48 bottles available from these retailers:

Calgary

Crowfoot Wines and Spirits

Coop Wine Spirits Beer

Willow Park Wines and Spirits

J. Webb Wine Merchants

Zyn The Wine Market

Edmonton

Wine & Beyond

Mmmm … well I have to say that things are shaping up well for Christmas. I hope that most of your shopping is done and that you can share some special time with family and friends.

Tomorrow we head to a brand new distillery not yet represented in either edition. Wemyss have the honor of providing our Christmas Eve dram this year and I know that is going to be perfect for ushering in Christmas day.

Look forward to see you tomorrow …

Cheers!

Day 13 – Single Cask Nation Undisclosed Islay 2008 | Blog #102

Like a kid at Christmas, I promise you the excitement will build as we count down to day 25. 

Welcome to day 13 which is hump day for our 25 day journey. I hope you have all enjoyed the variety and unique flavors of the first half. Today we focus on Single Cask Nation. You will find an information page in the left hand door of your calendar giving you some background. This was a last minute entry into the selection this year and an opportunity to help these awesome guys launch their exclusive whisky club into Canada.

Head on over to the Single Cask Nation website and you can see what sort of awesome whiskies they have been bottling there.

Bottling not just Scotch whisky, Single Cask Nation has really shone bottling some really unusual American, Indian and Irish expressions as well. These guys just love great whisky aged in a Single Barrel. Check out their recent Jewbilee Festival bottling that I tasted here in blog #85

My apologies or cheers of jubilation (depending on your particular bent) for another Islay a mere 3 days after the last one as I left the cask choice up to the Nation for this slot – Day number 13 and their pick was from the famed Isle.

In an interesting side note with their whisky falling into day 13 (insert dramatic music here), we found that for some reason their cask only barely had enough whisky to fill the calendar bottles and so each wee 50ml is all the whisky you will ever be able to have from this cask.

There are two launch expressions available for budding club members but alas this Undisclosed Islay is not one of them. The only whisky in this edition to not have any full bottles available and sitting at number 13. Coincidence?

So onto the first official Canadian release for Single Cask Nation. 2008 Undisclosed Islay 7 Year Old bottled at a cask strength of 56.3% ABV and aged in a first fill Bourbon cask # 2112 – Region Islay – They got no more information than what is here and from what the whisky can tell. Write in with your guesses and thoughts on which Islay distillery this hails from.

2008 Undisclosed Islay Whisky from Single Cask Nation 2008 Undisclosed Islay Whisky from Single Cask Nation

Colour:     Pale Straw

Nose:     More smoke than either of the previous Islay offerings in this edition. Sizzling BBQ’d marinated pork with applewood smoking chips. I love to use smoking boxes on my Weber BBQ during the Summer months and this whisky makes me long for Summer once again. Normally Islay whisky is for me a Winter dram but I should get into drams like this one more often while tending the Weber. Topped off with some lovely floral characters that I normally associate with Spring time when our Mayday tree is blossoming.

Palate:     Sweetness in the form of caramel jonathan apples with a dusting of burnt sugar. Some background asphalt and rubber but not dominating. Smokiness throughout, wispy and tantalizing like a good medium bodied cigar with hints of pepper and sea salt.

Finish:     Very soft and pliable for full cask strength. I never felt at any time like reaching for water with this one. Mouth filling texture from top to bottom and lingering smoke and sweet pork and apple sauce. I am desperate for some BBQ now and scanning the internet for the closest BBQ restaurant. Don’t worry Nation guys, I’ll send you the bill  🙂

Really interesting to try 3 relatively young islays and having them all distinctively different. The Nation is not at all shy about bottling great younger whisky and in fact they deliberately seek it out for many of their bottling’s.

If you are interested in becoming part of this fledgling club in Canada then please head over to their website or drop into either of the two Single Cask Nation Ambassador stores in Canada. Unwined in Edmonton or Point McKay Wines and Spirits in Calgary and they can help you sign up.

The first two bottlings available before Christmas are a refill sherry Cooley Double Distilled 13 Year Old Irish Single Malt and a 10 Year Old Peated Tobermory (Ledaig). Be part of the Nation and get your self a membership for Christmas.

It will be interesting to see Joshua Hatton’s review today given that his partner Jason picked this cask.

Last year on this day we had the Wemyss Malts  Licorice Spiral Glentauchers 20 Year Old in blog #45

Tomorrow another offering from our Italian friends Samaroli.

So this whisky is not available anywhere but if there had been any left in the barrel would have been available from the following Single Cask Nation Ambassador stores:

Calgary

Point McKay Wines and Spirits

Edmonton

Unwined

Until then enjoy your rush out for mid winter BBQ night (maybe we will see you there)

Cheers!