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5th Edition Scotch Whisky Advent Calendar Day 20 – Singlemalting # 217 – Single Cask Nation Stones of Stenness Orkney 18 Year Old

Welcome back everyone. Hopefully none of you died in yesterday’s hospital explosion. Today we are heading to Orkney for a visit to the Island region of Scotland. There are only 2 distilleries on Orkney, Scapa and Highland Park. We have had both distilleries represented in previous calendar editions but it is generally difficuly to find casks of either distillery for independent bottling. I’m going to give it up straight away because I know most of you would skip ahead to find out anyway. Highland Park is the distillery in question and as often happens the cask was sold to the boys at Single Cask Nation on the proviso that they keep the distillery name off the label. Interesting that they came up with Stones of Stenness as their name for this cask. The Stones of Stenness are said to be the oldest neolithic stone circle in the British isles and are located on Orkney.

Highland Park is the Northern most Scotland Distillery at present making whisky. Highland Park was founded in 1798 and is one of the few distilleries to this day that uses some locally sourced peat and heather that they use for fuel combining malted barley from mainland sources. It is owned by the Edrington Group and has been consistently releasing well received Single Malts for decades. They focus a lot on the Viking heritage of this Northern Island and their packaging is easily recognisable on whisky store shelves. Most of it’s production however still ends up at Glenturret to become the backbone of the Famous Grouse experience that drives the Edrington Scotch brands worldwide.

Highland Park Malting Floor
Highland Park

While not as peaty as whiskies from Islay there is no doubt that Highland Park has a lovely note of peat that runs through every whisky they produce. Lets see what this cask from Single Cask Nation is going to reveal.

Single Cask Nation Stones of Stenness Orkney 18 Year Old Single Malt – Refill Sherry Cask # 75 – Island – 54.9% ABV

Colour:     There is a subtle touch of amber to light red hue just hinting at the sherry influence. As a refill cask it took a full 18 years for even that tinge to show up.

Nose:         The peat influence here is light on the nose but no doubting the savoury overtones. Like the wafting smell of Cindy’s winter warming beef stew simmering away in the slow cooker. There is some denser salty note here as well. Dare I say even a touch of vegemite… Some sweet mesquite beef jerky.

Palate:       Mouth coating and the alcohol hit me as higher than I was expecting for mid 50’s. I took a brief pause and waded back in for another sip. Delicate for a cask strength Highland Park. That rich wine infused beef stew that I got on the nose is certainly front of mind and palate here. A heaping side plate of creamy mashed potatoes which is really interesting. It’s so amazing once the brain takes over and an expirential memory is served up that everything can then fall fully into that moment. A heavy pour of rich red wine splashed into this stew.

Finish:     Some lighter citrus notes hitting me here seemingly out of nowhere as this was all rich savoury but with a wine soaked undercurrent.

A surprisingly delicate dram for the Nation as my experience of their usual picks are more the bigger and more oily offerings. This is very cool to see from them and I’m digging it big time.

Thanks boys.

in the 4th edition on day 20 we had the delicious Exclusive Malts Cameronbridge 25 Year Old Single Grain.

Dont forget to head over to the Whiskey Vault and those crazy Dummies to see what they think.

Tomorrow as we head into the final run to Christmas we check out another dram from Hunter Laing with their Old Malt Cask range.

Fun times ahead ladies and gents so hold tight to your glasses.

Cheers

Jonathan

5th Edition Scotch Whisky Advent Calendar Day 19 – Singlemalting # 216 – A.D. Rattray Williamson (Laphroaig) 13 Year Old

Welcome again peat pilgrims to another Islay jaunt along our Scotch Whisky Adventure. Today’s dram comes from a big hitting distillery when thinking about the level of peating the barley undergoes. Laphroaig was founded in 1815 and is now owned by Beam Suntory. Located at the Southern tip of Islay Laphroaig is as coastal as it gets and is constantly lashed by the wind and waves of the Atlantic where it meets the Irish Sea through the North Channel. Unlike the Day 6 dram from Exclusive Malts this A.D. Rattray bottling is somewhat disclosed with the Williamson name that is known throughout the industry as Laphroaigs nickname.

 

Laphroaig Distillery

This is also a great opportunity to compare Laphroaig in a Sherry Cask with Exclusive Malts and in a Bourbon cask with A.D. Rattray. This cask also comes in at full cask strength as opposed to the Exclusive Malts 50% slightly watered down bottling strength.

Colour:           Pale again for 13 years and lends itself to thinking of refill Bourbon. I’m really interested to see what a soft cask influence is going to do to the massively flavorful Laphroaig spirit after 13 years.

Nose:              Ok ladies and gentlemen this here has every medicinal element that a whisky from Islay can impart into a wee bottle. Wow just an absolutely huge assault on the senses. Charred bandages from the hospital disposal unit that takes care of burning blood soaked operating room waste. Loads of earthy peat and dirty rubber lining the floor. Barely able to push through it all is a little bees wax candle burning brightly.

Palate:           Does not dissapoint. This has everything the nose promises and more. This is why cask strength is the bomb. Laphroaig quarter cask has nothing on this. I’m getting all of the medicine combined with layer after layer of big palate bombs. Peat, Iodine, Smoke, Peat again. Tobacco. Rubber. Burning electric panel.

Finish:          The explosion is over but the smoldering remains of the now destroyed hospital swirl and ascend into a darkened sky.

Drinking this whisky be like:      Boom

Fantastic stuff. This epic cask of Laphroaig should make even the biggest peat head very, very happy.

Thanks A.D. Rattray for offering up this beauty.

On this day in the 4th edition we also paid homage to the peat gods with a much younger and feistier Laphroaig 5 Year Old from A.D. Rattray.

Tomorrow we will be into slightly more epic territory if you can believe that with all remaining drams being no younger than 18 years old. Day 20 is an offering by the boys of Single Cask Nation and will take us to the Islands region of Scotland. Ferry time ladies and gents.

Dont forget to head over to the Whisky Vault and Scotch Test Dummies to watch them get their peat on. Especially Bart from Scotch Test Dummies who has a self confessed abused palate from over peating and Daniel who has basically put up with all this Speyside and Highland nonsense waiting for the next Islay.

Until then peaty drammers have a great night

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

Scotch Whisky Advent Calendar 3rd Edition Day 23 Blog #158 – Samaroli Peaty 20 Year Old

Welcome to the night before Christmas Eve. Something warming this evening to help with the persistent chill that has settled over Alberta for the entire month of December. Coldest that I can remember for a while for this long without one of those lovely Chinook winds that keep us sane.

Today’s lovely blended malt from Samaroli consists of 17% 1995 Laphroaig, 28% 1995 Highland Park and 63% undisclosed Speyside Single Malt. We should be in for a treat here if past Samaroli blends are anything to go by.

Highland Park

Highland Park is a distillery that has some mystery surrounding it’s founding. As the gate says though they have hung their hat on 1798. Highland Park does it’s own malting and mixed heather into the peat before malting begins. They use 20 parts per million phenol which is a fairly heavy peat infusion. The distillery is on the island of Orkney and is at the moment the most Northern Whisky Distillery in operation (this will all change once Stuart Nickerson gets the Shetland Whisky still up and running). Owned by the Edrington Group Highland Park is seldom seen as an independent bottled whisky. No doubt this is one of the reasons why Samaroli are using this rare resource to add some interesting Island complexity to their Peaty expression.

Samaroli Peaty

Samaroli Peaty Blended Malt aged together in a refill Sherry Butt # 54 for 20 Years. Islay (Laphroaig), Island (Highland Park) and Speyside (undisclosed). Bottled with no caramel or chill filtration at the Samaroli strength of 45%.

Color:  Even being a refill Butt there is a nice antiqued golden age to this after 20 years.

Nose:   Sweet and savory BBQ sauce on a side of Ribs. The fabulous part of this nose is that there is instant peat recognition but no smoky overtone. Heavily char grilled Cinnamon crusted Pineapple slabs. Earthy sweetness here reminding me of Manuka Honey.

Palate:  The earthy peaty notes carry the weight of this whisky that now throws in bitter citrus and roasted turnip. The sweetness was certainly more about the nose as there is oily coating brined beef jerky making a play and the sweetness is all but gone.

Finish:  The bitter citrus lingers, floating on a layer of slowly dwindling meaty flavor. Really full and palate filling for 45%. Even a touch of spark that numbs the sides of the mouth would make me think that this is more like cask strength.

This is a delicate slowly warming dram that gets larger as you get more into it. I would like to spend more time with a full bottle of this just to get to know it a lot better. I’m still tasting more on the finish…

The good news for the whisky hunters among us is that this will be available in very limited quantity and you can find out where from jonathan@secretspirits.com.

Lets see how Whiskylassie unraveled this Samaroli puzzle.

In the 2nd edition on this day we had the A.D. Rattray Bunnahabhain 27 Year Old.

Tomorrow we have the second installment in the 3rd edition from those awesome boys at Single Cask Nation. Make sure you get your Christmas Eve spirit going as we enjoy the excitement and family time and also say Happy Hannukah to Joshua and Jason at the Jewish Whisky Company.

Really looking forward to joining you tomorrow night

Cheers

Jonathan – taster of secrets