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Singlemalting # 198 – 5th Edition Scotch Whisky Advent Calendar Day 1 – Single Cask Nation MacDuff

Unbelievable that the time is here to begin our 5th Scotch Whisky Adventure together. This year we welcome a whole new community of delicious dram drinkers from the USA, UK, Sweden, Netherlands, Australia, Germany, Italy, Spain, France and New Zealand. It is really exciting to share this journey with so many and experience how incredible Scotch Whisky truly is together.

Our 5th edition has stretched my wife and Secret Spirits partner Cindy and I to exciting new limits. This edition boasts not just another 25 days of life altering drams but for the first time we have two whiskies over 30 years old and more Secret Spirits bottlings than ever before. Hold onto you hats ladies and gents this is going to be a fun ride.

Firstly lets all punch out that big middle hole and grab our Aurora glasses. Those of you that have been drinking along with us from the begining will know that every year we source a different whisky glass to build up a library of options for you. In years past we have had the Spiegelau Whisky Tumbler (1st Edition), Samaroli Custom Spiegelau (2nd Edition), Neat Glass (3rd Edition) and Spey Glass (4th Edition). For our half decade milestone we wanted to do something a little more artistic with a splash of pizzaz. The Aurora glass is a twisted tumbler that feels great in the hand, can handle whisky stones or ice easily and has enough room for even the heartiest splash of your favorite dram. Boasting the largest opening on any of the glasses so far it will work well for those high alcohol cask strength whiskies but may require more nose engagement for delicate drams. As an added bonus the Aurora can even handle some epic whisky cocktails with ease.

Before we get going Cindy and I would like to thank a few people that are coming along for the ride this year as our guest blogger/tasters. Firstly we have The Whiskey Tribe weighing in at an astounding 133K subscribers on their Whisky Vault Youtube channel and backing that up with their Whisky Biscuits channel, Crowded Barrel Distillery and Fang & Feather whisky bar. Daniel  and Rex are awesome and I know you are going to enjoy their take on these whiskies. Secondly we have the intrepid duo at Scotch Test Dummies, Scott and Bart have built up a very loyal following on their popular Youtube channel. With a funny and relaxed tableside tasting style I know these guys are going to have a blast on this adventure with us.

Right then with glass in hand it’s time to grab that booklet and get ready to add some tasting notes for our first dram.

Single Cask Nation

Day 1 – Single Cask Nation MacDuff 14 Year Old – Distilled in 2003 – Refill Sherry Cask No. 900026 – Highlands – 57%

Single Cask Nation is a small independent bottler based in the US. Joshua Hatton and Jason Johnstone-Yellin have made it their ongoing passion to select extremely good casks of whisky from all over the world. They always bottle at cask strength with no caramel coloring added or chill filtration. This is their first time in the covetted day 1 slot. We always like to start the adventure with something especially delicious and a touch unusual.

MacDuff Distillery

MacDuff distillery is more commonly known by the proprietary label Glen Deveron. Founded in 1960 production began in 1963. William Lawson purchases the MacDuff in 1972 and eventually sells to Bacardi in 1993 when it is made part of the John Dewars & Sons operation. Outside of the Glen Deveron range of Single Malts that are not always easy to find it is independent bottlers like Single Cask Nation that select those outstanding single casks and rescue them from being washed into the every day shelf expressions.

Colour:         Refill sherry imparts a lot less colour and this is very evident with the lovely antiqued gold shining out of this bottle at me.

Nose:             Rich honey overtones with wafts of the tropics. Sometimes pineapple, sometimes lychee….sometimes that more pearlike nose that is often a hallmark of a lot of Highland Malts. This nose is doing a lot for me and I could quite happily sit and sniff this for ages. The sherry influence is nicely in the background with the use of a refill cask. No doubt it is why I am getting more tropic notes.

Palate:           That 57% big mouth feel is there but does not overpower the abundance of ripe fruit that fills every inch of my mouth. The honey is definitely a strong contender for biggest note with flaky pastry and some nutty qualities. I would say that for me it’s reminicent of when I was in Rhodes Greece. The honey there had a special floral and fruit quality that I am getting on this. That honey was wrapped in Phillo pastry complete with pistachios and served daily to my wife and I as part of our daily afternoon Baklava adventure. This dram takes me back there in spades.

Finish:         Lingering on and on with a zesty edge that tingles the sides as it all goes down to a warming glow. The fruit, honey and flaky pastry all roll together for a dram to remember.

Thanks Jason and Joshua for such a memorable day one whisky. What a great way to start our milstone 5th year of Scotch Whisky Adventures. I am really looking forward to sharing the next 24 days with you because I know whats coming bwahahahahaha.

Day 1 of our 4th edition was the truly delicious 18 Year Old Tamdhu from Hunter Laings Old Malt Cask Range. It’s always fun to go back and remember these limited edition drams.

Tomorrow we have a fantastic whisky from Wemyss Malts that will also bring up some fun discussion about US labelling laws.

It is so amazing to be here with you our Secret Spirits community. It is an honor and a privilege to be able to share our love of Scotch Whisky with you all.

Until tomorrow

Dram up baby yeah……

 

Scotch Whisky Advent Calendar

Singlemalting #183 – Day 17 – 4th Edition SWAC – Samaroli MacDuff 19yo Sherry Cask

We have only had the odd Sherry cask aged whisky from Samaroli. The Glen Scotia in the 1st edition was one such dram and a fine dram it was. Read all about it here. Today though we are talking MacDuff. This is our comparison piece that we like to do at least once each edition to showcase haw diverse each single cask can be. Even when casks are filled on the same day at the same distillery and sit side by side for the same number of years they will be different when bottled. Thus is the mystery and magic of whisky.

MacDuff Stills

So have a read again about the A.D. Rattray MacDuff on day 3 and try to remember. What are the differences for you with this older expression?

Samaroli MacDuff 19yo Single Malt Sherry cask. Bottled at 43% non chill filtered and no caramel colouring.

Colour:   While there is a tinge of red there I would think after 19 years that this would have been a second or refill cask.

Nose:     A touch of struck match quickly gives way to savory notes of a roast beef sandwich complete with wholegrain mustard.

Palate:    Wow the beef continues like a good Stroganoff thats laced with sherry.

Finish:   Sweet PX sherry notes burst through at the finish dragging some of that gorgeous gravy with them. Floral cherry blossom notes jump out at the end leaving a lasting sweetness that is a crazy delicious finish to this very complex dram. This is a really unique dram and completely took me by surprise as I have never tasted a savory then sweet MacDuff like this one before. Absolutely going to get myself a bottle of this.

On day 17 in the 3rd edition we had the Wemyss Malts Applewood Bake Invergordon 26yo Single Grain.

Head on over to Scotch Trooper or you will be detained for questioning.

Tomorrow we hand over yet another cask bottled by Secret Spirits. For the second time we are going to reveal the distillery on the label.

See you then

Cheers

 

Singlemalting

 

Scotch Whisky Advent Calendar

Singlemalting #169 – Day 3 4th Edition Scotch Whisky Advent Calendar A.D. Rattray MacDuff 7 Year Old

Welcome back everyone as we get stuck into a very familiar independent bottler if you have been following our calendars from the beginning. A.D. Rattray was the first independent bottler I ever worked with and my introduction to the vast world of Scotch Whisky.

MacDuff or Glen Deveron as it is known now with its proprietary label was founded in 1958. Opposite the town of Banff in Scotland it is snuggled into the Speyside region. It is now owned by Bacardi under their subsidiary John. Dewars and sons. We have had a few MacDuff expressions in past calendars including a wild Sushi like expression from Samaroli in the 1st edition that was amazing.

MacDuff Distillery

A.D. Rattray Macduff Single Malt Cask # 701263 – Bourbon Hogshead – 58% ABV Cask Strength 7 Years Distilled in 2009.

Colour:   As pale as you would expect for a fairly young Bourbon casked Single Malt.

Nose:   Canoli dusted with Lemon sherbet.

Palate:   Banana Sundae complete with lashings of vanilla bean ice cream and a spoon of hit fudge. The only thing missing is the Cherry on top.

Finish:   The tingly lemon sherbet makes another appearance but cant take anything away from the banana sundae that continues on long and tasty. The Cask strength of 58% doesn’t seem to even make a dent in the balance of this whisky. Absolutely love the freshness here.

I love MacDuff and all the single casks we have managed to get our hands on for various calendars have been delicious. The last time we had MacDuff in a calendar was the Malt Whisky Company in the 3rd edition and at 16 it was mature beyond its years.

Day 3 of the 3rd edition was the Shetland Reel Blended Malt Batch No. 1. Extremely well put together combination of single malts that has been a real winner at a lot of classes I have hosted this year.

Make sure you head over to Scotch Trooper to check out his amazing take on our 4th edition as the Star Wars universe and the world of Secret Spirits come together for the first time.

Tomorrow we will be geeking out with those crazy guys from the Lost Distillery Company with a whisky that was an absolute standout during my 16 dram tasting session with them earlier this year.

So many whiskies… so much time made to enjoy them all.

I look forward to seeing you all on the morrow to jump into yet another leg of this 4th edition journey.

Slainte

Singlemalting

 

 

Scotch Whisky Advent Calendar 3rd Edition Day 15 Blog #150 – Malt Whisky Company MacDuff 16 Year Old

Back in the drivers seat today is Stuart Nickerson from Malt Whisky Company with a bit of a favorite distillery for me. I have had some really good MacDuff whisky over the years and one single cask in particular from A.D. Rattray always stands out for me. Knowing how good Stuart is at picking great casks I have been anticipating this for quite a while.

MacDuff is a Highland Distillery that was originally known as Glen Deveron. You can still find whisky bottled under this name but mostly older casks as even independent bottlers have embraced MacDuff. It was founded in 1962 and is now owned by Bacardi who used the bulk of its Single Malt Whisky for their blends like Dewar’s.

MacDuff Distillery

It seems to me that a lot of the independent bottler’s that I work with are finding the merits of using good quality refill casks to allow all of the delicious distillery character to shine through. Today’s whisky is no exception with Stuart choosing a refill cask for this 16 year old MacDuff.

Malt Whisky Company MacDuff 16 Year Old aged in a Refill American Oak Hogshead # 500720 and bottled at the cask strength of 54.9%. No shenanigans involved like caramel coloring or chill filtration here.

 

MacDuff 16

Color:   Another extremely light whisky which is the norm for refill casks especially American oak. After 16 years however it is a touch darker than the other refill casks we have seen so far. A nice light wedding ring gold.

Nose:    Hot buttered rum tropical notes. Pineapple and papaya over vanilla bean sorbet.

Palate:   Crunchy fresh breakfast waffle with hints of chunky pineapple and strong Seville orange marmalade sauce dusted with white chocolate flakes. This should be a thing…

Finish:  The orange marmalade comes through more strongly than the hint of tropical once we get to the finish. Very fresh and mouth watering. 54.7% is warming and long with just the right amount of bitter orange rind to bring the marmalade note to a delicious conclusion.

Yummo Stuart I know that you guys in the UK love your marmalade but sprinkling in some tropics as well is just crazy. Enough of this frilly Highland nonsense I hear some of you peat inclined saying. Well just because I love you too we will be heading to Islay tomorrow for a dram from those beloved Italians Samaroli.

We can see just how much Johanne loves this MacDuff at whiskylassie.

For those of you that enjoyed this MacDuff, I have good news. We will be getting a very small amount and it will be available for those that act quickly. Please email me at jonathan@secretspirits.com for details. (Late breaking news as I was just informed that inexplicably the cask in question was empty when they went to fill the remnant – authorities are looking into this heinous crime).

On this day in the second edition we had the A.D. Rattray Invergordon Single Grain that you can read about here.

I hope you have enjoyed the variety so far as we head into the last 10 days of the calendar which as some of you know is perhaps the best part of the whole experience counting down to Christmas day and hopefully getting more and more family time and fun in along the way.

I look forward to our Islay encounter tomorrow

Slainte

Jonathan – taster of secrets

Till you’re blind – the FUN way to Taste Whisky | Blog # 69

There is nothing I like more than getting blind with whisky… and by that I mean not knowing what you are tasting.

There is something inherit in all of us that despite promising ourselves we will keep an open mind and not be biased that reacts when we see

a.     Packaging

b.     Age Statement

c.     Type of Whisky or Whiskey

d.     Distillery

All of the above can already predetermine a jaded or eager approach to the contents of the glass before us.

Take all that away and you are left perhaps somewhat floundering without a foundation or point of reference. It is by far the best way to taste whisky and also by far the scariest. Throw into the mix an intimate gathering of 30 people and yours truly poking and prodding for you to give your input on the completely unknown dram and it can be downright frightening. At least that is until the first few drams are safely tucked away.

This is the stage that was set for a fun tasting at Keg N Cork in Edmonton last week. An opportunity to run through 7 whiskies that were all part of the 1st Edition Scotch Whisky Advent Calendar from Independent Bottler’s Wemyss Malts, Samaroli and A.D. Rattray.

All people had to go on was what was in their glass. Color, nose and flavor were the only indicators of what lay within. Running through the 7 whiskies twice, everyone had a chance for a re-visit that included the revealing of each whisky and also to see the effect of a little time in the glass.

The whiskies in question were:

1.     Samaroli 2009 MacDuff 5 Year Old Single Malt – American Oak 1st Fill

2.     Wemyss Lord Elcho 15 Year Old Blended Scotch

3.     Samaroli 1996 Glentauchers 17 Year Old Single Malt – American Oak

4.     Samaroli 1997 Isle of Jura 16 Year Old Single Malt – American Oak

5.     Samaroli 1993 Sherry Glen Scotia 21 Year Old Single Malt – European Oak

6.     Wemyss Peat Chimney 12 Year Old Blended Malt

7.     A.D. Rattray 1999 Bowmore 14 Year Old – Sherry European Oak

Covering Single Malt, Blended Malt and a premium Blended Scotch made for a really diverse tasting.

The opinions and feedback on the whiskies were every bit as diverse as the group attending. Once everyone warmed up to the realization that there was no wrong opinions and that everyone had their own unique palate all sorts of wonderful flavors began to come out.

The addition of a little water and the extra time in glass also revealed how whisky can change to all present. The extra time in glass which is seldom a feature of most peoples whisky routine had the biggest impact with a lot more bouquet and range of flavors the result.

For my individual tasting notes on the dram’s above you can find them on my blog’s here:

1. Blog #47

2. Blog #42

3. Blog #52

4. Blog #44

5. Blog #54

6. Blog #36

7. Blog #56

Lionel and Dave at Keg N Cork put on a fantastic event complete with a meat and cheese tray which paired really well with different whiskies as the night wore on. Making it a point of pride for the excellent retailer, Keg N Cork have built up one of the best whisky selections in Edmonton and is a must visit for any whisky lover.

What a great way to spend a night and to continue on a whisky journey of discovery. It was exciting to meet many people that were at their first ever whisky tasting telling me that it was most definitely not their last. This is one aspect of what I do that I love the most. Spending time with like minded people and discovering how fun and amazing this drink that we love is. See slide show below …

If you are new to whisky or if you are a seasoned veteran there is something special, fun and challenging in a blind tasting. Alas, they are few and far between if you would like to experience one and have not yet had the chance.

Part of a club or attend regular tastings at your favorite whisky retailer? Then perhaps you can suggest to those in charge that they should throw a wrench in the mix and work on a blind tasting sometime soon.

I look forward to hopefully seeing your smiling and perhaps somewhat bemused face at a blind tasting near you.

Cheers!

Advent Day 15 – Samaroli 2009 MacDuff (Glen Deveron) 5 Year Old Single Malt | Blog #47

Welcome to a new working week.

I hope that your Monday was full of adventure and proved to be an invigorated return to doing something that you are passionate about.

Today we discover MacDuff. Built in 1959 it was sold as Glen Deveron named after the Deveron river that it sits beside. After it’s sale to Bacardi in 1998 the Glen Deveron branding was dropped and the Single Malt given the name of the Distillery, Macduff.  Interesting to note that Glen Deveron was bottled as a 10 year old and a 5 year old for export.

It is used mostly for the Dewar’s blends although tends to pop up regularly as independent bottling’s.

Whisky: Samaroli Macduff 2009 5 Year Old Single Malt
*Cask # 900258 American Oak – 45% alcohol non-chill filtered*

MacDuff 5yo MacDuff 5yo

Colour: This is by far the lightest of all the whiskies in the calendar this year and looks like a nice glass of fresh water with just the fainest splash of lemon juice
Nose: Grassy meadow with a freshness like walking through a paddock after heavy rain. Sweet barley and biscuits.
Palate: Surprisingly full and round, some medicinal character and faint whiffs of peat show through. A touch of salty seaweed underlines it all. Reminds me of a nice slice of fresh sushi with its creamy rice and crispy seaweed wrap.
Finish: Lingering briny peat and just a touch of smoke.

Water: Brings out some soft fruit to intermingle with the flavors of the seaside.

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

This is a really unique whisky and shows how much character can be developed at such a young age even in Scotland. Those that love salty lightly peated drams will be all over this one.

Only 30 bottles available from the following great retailers:

Edmonton

Sherbrooke Liquor Store

Spruce Grove

Liquor on McLeod

Lethbridge

Uncorked

Saskatoon

Ingredients Artisan Market

It is great to see bottler’s like Samaroli that will completely be upfront with younger casks that are delicious.

See you tomorrow …

Slainte!

Samaroli Bottlers Website