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Singlemalting #244 – 6th Edition Scotch Whisky Advent Calendar Day 20 – Caol Ila 7 Year Old

Welcome to day 20. Right into the heart of the Christmas season we bring together for the first time a combination of first fill Oloroso and Caol Ila Single Malt. For any of you that have done some of the past editions you would have tried several delicious Caol Ila casks from Secret Spirits and other independents. In 6 years of searching I had never been able to access this combination until now. The first time we had a Caol Ila was way back in our 2nd edition from A.D. Rattray. The 4th edition held the first single cask of Caol Ila from Secret Spirits. It went down so well we found another one for the 5th edition from Secret Spirits that became known as Smoldering Secrets. This is now the 4th time we have showcased a single barrel from this distillery and they have all been quite unique.

Caol Ila Distillery

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. 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 makes more whisky than all of the other distilleries on Islay combined.

Secret Spirits Caol Ila Single Malt 7 Year Old – Islay – 1st Fill Oloroso # 1710 – 55.5% abv

Colour:        Polished teak.

Nose:           Christmas glazed smoked bone in ham. There is salt, something dark and tropical like pineapple reduction. Drunken cranberries. Medicine chest, pork crackling, olive tapenade and fig jam.

Palate:         Yep this is awesome and spot on with the 55.5%. Still plenty of room to play for most of you but I’m loving it just as it is. Fruits of the forest like damp blackberries still clinging to the dank musty ground. The Christmas ham is there too with a healthy dose of caramelization after the whole thing is doused in whisky and set alight. Medicinal still and very palate coating. So many layers to explore here. I’m looking forward to seeing how our Youtubers go with the water they will add.

Finish:          Christmas spices peek through at the finish with nutmeg and cinnamon, chives and sour cherry.

For some the dark and dangerous side of Islay is best served after some years in a sherry cask. This is a great example of a mere 7 years in Oloroso having such an incredible impact and giving us a whisky ahead of it’s time.

For day 20 in our 5th edition we had the Stones of Stenness (Highland Park) 18 year old from Single Cask Nation.

Shame on you if you have not as yet watched, subscribed, liked and even joined patreon for 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.

Tomorrow we are off to Speyside for something special from our friends at Wemyss Malts and a distillery I particularly enjoy.

5 drams to go. How has the adventure been for you so far? I hope it has stretched your way of thinking about Scotch Whisky and that you enjoy an even wider range of flavors than you did before.

Looking forward to your company tomorrow.

Until then

Cheers

Jonathan

 

Singlemalting #242 – 6th Edition Scotch Whisky Advent Calendar Day 16 – Ardmore 9 Year Old

Hello whisky adventurers. Welcome to day 16 of this 6th edition calendar. Today we have done something very naughty. For those of you doing blind tasting, good luck. This is the first time we have ever had a Highland whisky disguised by aging it in a deep dark and dirty Islay barrel (Laphroaig). Ho ho ho…….. this edition has been so fun to put together I can barely stand it. I sure am looking forward to watching both Food Quig and the boys in New Zealand at Single Malt Review to see just how messed up their blind tastings are. BWAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA (insert maniacal laughter and evil pose here). Whoops Tim got it 100% right, darn my evil plan was thwarted by the good guys.

Ardmore Distillery

Ardmore Distillery was built in 1898 by William Teacher’s son Adam. The bulk of the spirit went to into the Teacher’s Highland Cream brand and still does today. Now owned by Beam Suntory, Ardmore has been uniquely using barrier filtration rather than chill filtration which I’m sure leaves a little more delicious goodness in every bottle. Located in Kennethmont Aberdeenshire it is seen as a classical Highland distillery that does use a touch of peat.

Not sure who had the plan to pop this lovely Highland Single Malt into a Laphroaig barrel but I sure was happy to have a chance to buy it after 9 years.

Secret Spirits Ardmore 9 Year Old – Highland – Ex Laphroaig Cask # 709328 – 61.3% abv

Colour:         Pale gold. I’m thinking that this ex Laphroaig cask is a refill Bourbon barrel.

Nose:            OK so this initially on the nose talks a lot about the spoon full of sugar that makes the medecine go down. Manuka honey, the good stuff you buy at Planet Organic and pay $ 30 for a small jar. Manuka honey is made from bees using the pollen from Tee Trees and has huge earthy notes (btw Manuka honey makes the best hot toddies ever).

Palate:         Wow yeah that 61.3% abv is awesome and imparts all that lovely peat, earth, honey and what now……. ok I am getting caramelized rose petals…. have I gone crazy….nope wow there is definitely a rose petal floral note in here with caramelized sugars and all the while the manuka honey and earthy notes continue to unfold.

Finish:       long, delicious and calling to me to just keep drinking more and more of this friggin delicious dram. Seriously this is a pretty amazing dram and marries together some very iconic Scottish whisky styles. Love, Love, Love it.

So much scope to play with this whisky at 61.3% and the marriage of Highland honey and medicinal Laphroaig peat is awesome. Wish that more fun experimentations like this happened in Scotland. Certainly companies like Kavalan and Amrut have released many different types of cross barrel aged whiskies. Of course their maturation is so fast they can figure out what works really quickly. Scotland on the other hand is the land of slow. Every year that passes softly nudges the whisky in the direction that the cask wants to take it.

On this day in our 5th edition we had the extremely popular Wemyss Malts Nectar Grove blended malt.

Especially today 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.

Tomorrow we have something very special from our friends at Wemyss Malts. Can’t tell you much more or I will give it all away. Suffice to say that tomorrow will be a surprise for everyone.

Closing in on our last full week of whiskies for the 6th edition. I hope you have enjoyed the eclectic selection so far. Even though this has been the most challenging edition Cindy and I have ever made and distributed it has also in many ways been the most fun.

Looking forward to having your company tomorrow.

Cheers

Jonathan

Scotch Whisky Advent Calendar 3rd Edition Day 5 Blog #138 – A.D. Rattray Ledaig 9 Year Old

Welcome back for a little fire breathing today as we finally give those that love a little smoke in their whisky their due. Sourced from the Tobermory distillery on the Isle of Mull today’s dram is labelled Ledaig by A.D. Rattray in deference to the brand used for their peated Single Malt.

Tobermory aka Ledaig
Tobermory aka Ledaig

We always try to have at least one or two island distilleries represented throughout the 25 days of dramming and it is fantastic to finally have a heavily peated Island expression in front of us.

Tobermory is the only distillery on the isle of Mull and was founded in 1798. One of the oldest commercial distilleries in Scotland, Tobermory has a rich history. It was closed for 41 years from the mid 30’s till the 1970’s and then still struggled with uncertain markets and difficult economic times and in the 1980’s some of the distillery warehousing was converted into flats (townhouses) and it looked like another closure was inevitable. Burns Stewart purchased it in 1993 and breathed a new lease of life into the distillery. With a unique spirit that captures the heart of the Scottish Isles Tobermory is amongst only a few distilleries that boast two house styles.

Enter the Dragon
Enter the Dragon

Today we get to try Ledaig (pronounced Le chig) as seen from the eyes of the excellent team at A.D. Rattray. Ledaig Single Malt 9 Year Old aged in a refill Bourbon cask and bottled at the cask strength of 57.9%.

Colour:    Light as you would expect from only 9 years in a refill cask boasting a lovely polished Pinot Gris effect.

Nose:        Buttered Popcorn on the cusp of being over popped. Topped with bacon bits and sea salt.

Palate:      Lamp oil and colored pencil shavings, smoked cod and smoldering latex not necessarily in that order 🙂

Finish:     Long salty, earthy, rubbery and all with a backbone of a smoky sweetness.

This is a delicious Ledaig and I love the contrast here from what Islay brings to the table in terms of peated whisky. This is every bit as large and consuming but definitely has a much different feel. Younger peated whisky is something I find myself reaching for when I want some big smoke and peat flavors that are underpinned by youthful fruit. This Island variant fits the bill perfectly and absolutely warms all the way down. Even now I can still feel it’s magic all over my tongue and throat. Certainly the cask strength here just absolutely gives it wings.

Water:   Just a couple of drops here adds even more sweetness and just takes that living large edge away. Some marzipan kicks in at the death stealing the limelight. I think for most occassions I would go big or go home on this one personally but I did really like the slightly softer and sweeter version that mutated with a little water.

Tomorrow we head to the Highlands to welcome a brand new independent bottler to the calendar.

On this day in the 2nd edition we had the delicious A.D. Rattray Caol Ila I didn’t actually mean for this to be so spot on with the order from the 2nd edition but I do know that keeping the peat lovers away from their favorite flavors for too long is a dangerous thing so there will always be something to sooth the aching need at least once a week.

For those looking for this delicious Ledaig alas there was none to be had after we took our stash for the 3rd edition. Whatever you have in your glass or still in your bottle is all there is.

Johanne has her take on this A.D. Rattray Ledaig here.

Until tomorrow have a fabulous night

Slainte

Jonathan – taster of secrets

Singlemalting Blog # 128 – Whisky for a good cause – I’m in …

Things have been busy here at Secret Spirits over the Summer as we ramp up a new look Singlemalting website and get deep into preparations for launching the third edition Scotch Whisky Advent Calendar and the first edition Rum’s Revenge.

Before departing for my second Scotland trip of the year I was invited along to a very special Ardbeg tasting by Curt from Allthingswhisky.com. Those pursuing whisky and everything that it brings to the table understand that not much is needed in the way of enticement to turn up to a mega tasting of no less than 11 Arbeg expressions.

More than just a tasting of epic proportions it was first and foremost a way to raise some much needed funds to help send a fellow whisky lover on a trip of a lifetime to Islay. The gentleman in question will remain nameless to protect the innocent (see picture attached).

Run for the hills the Vikings are coming
Run for the hills the Vikings are coming
All proceeds for the evening went into a “trip to Islay” kitty with Curt donating all the bottles from his own stock which was amazingly generous and speaks volumes about his qualities as a whisky fan and a great guy.
So let’s look at the lineup of the most amazing Ardbeg array ever to grace a tasting mat.
1. Arbeg 10
2. Ardbeg Airigh Nam Beist 2008 release
3. Ardbeg Perpetaum 2015 200th anniversary edition
4. Ardbeg Auriverdes 2014 edition
5. Arbeg Uigeadail
6. Ardbeg Dark Cove
7. Ardbeg Ardbog
8. Ardbeg Galileo
9. Ardbeg Corryvreckan
10. Ardbeg Rollercoaster
11. Ardbeg Supernova SN2014
Whoa it almost hurts my taste buds again just thinking about all those heavy weight drams. Absolutely amazing and gave me an even greater appreciation for the depth of complexity that heavily peated whisky can deliver.
It's going to take a while for my taste buds to recover from this
It’s going to take a while for my taste buds to recover from this
I was really bummed that I had not cleaned out my whisky connoisseur kit to take along as I had to leave many a delicious dram behind.
Suffice to say that a grand time was had by all with some amazing cigars on offer to make the night complete. Hoping to get a report from our Viking friend on his Islay travels at some point but I know that it will be incredible.
A lot of you might have been hoping for me to write detailed tasting notes on each but alas it was not that sort of evening and I just enjoyed each one for its own sake.
Let’s just say that I really like Ardbeg a lot more than I thought I did at the start of the night.
I want to add a note about how whisky geeky my mate Curt can get and sporting a freshly pressed Ardbeg tablecloth might just be the pinnacle that any budding geek can aspire to.
For those of you on this whisky journey remember to share and share often. The more you open up your dram cupboard the more opportunities will come your way.
A little tag line I coined as an email signature is “a dram shared gives twice the reward” I can say on this night that it did 10 times over.
Thanks Curt for a memorable evening.
Slainte
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Advent Day 4 – Wemyss “Peat Chimney” 12 Year Old Blended Malt | Blog #36

G’day everyone and welcome to day 4.

Feels like we have already been on this trip together for a while and I love that plenty are getting into the comments section to have their say.

Having been promoting whisky for a long time I completely understand the nature of the “Islay Geek”. If you are one of them then you have been patiently putting up with all this prissy Speyside nonsense waiting for the first “real” whisky.

I didn’t want you to wait to long, as time without an Islay infusion can begin to manifest in some serious withdrawal symptoms.

Not wanting to be responsible for the inevitable backlash here we have our first Islay offering.

Blended Malt has long been a very confusing term for consumers. As soon as the word blend is mentioned most straight away think of low priced Scotches packed with a high percentage of young grain and just a touch of young malt. With different terms bandied about the Scotch Whisky Association decided that Blended Malt would convey the true meaning easily and succinctly, unfortunately it has not been the clear message to the consumer that was intended.

A combination of Single Malt Whiskies from multiple distilleries, blended malts can definitely be greater than the sum of their parts.

Think about taking the best characteristics of two or more Single Malts and combining them in perfect harmony to produce a symphony of complexity.

Whisky: Wemyss “Peat Chimney” 12 yo blended malt

*Multiple Casks – Various Islay Malts – 40%*

Wemyss Wemyss “Peat Chimney” 12yo

Colour: Burnt Gold

Nose: Starry night beach party complete with open fire, salty sea air and hint of burnt marshmallow.

Taste: Surprisingly soft – Sweet earthy peat flavors interwoven with wisping tobacco and just the tiniest hint of dark fruitcake.

Finish: As expected the finish lingers with rolling smoky toffee notes evolving into a dark double espresso finish.

Water: No way!

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

At 40% Peat Chimney drinks super soft and smooth and would engage even the most Islay averse whisky drinker to rethink how soft an Islay malt can be.

For those that want to try this amazing dram on a larger scale the initial 60 bottles are available only from the following great retailers this year:

Alberta

Alberta Locations

If you’re having a hard time finding this great whisky, pop into you local liquor store and ask them to order some in. Quote SKU 768135

Saskatchewan

Ingredients Artisan Market

**Further distribution of this delicious whisky will happen in 2015.

So with the Islay faithful safely taken care of and tucked away for the night we forge on unto dawn for our next stop……

See you for day 5 …

Slainte!

Wemyss Malts Website