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Singlemalting #228 – 6th Edition Scotch Whisky Advent Calendar Day 2 – Tomintoul 13

So here we are in Speyside (one of my favorite regions) with a delicious offering from the folks at A.D. Rattray independent bottlers.

We have had a few Tomintoul single casks in previous editions but none that were aged in a sherry butt. You may remember earlier this year while travelling through Scotland we asked for input on whisky selections. Questions on sherry and peat etc. Well there will be a few more peaty whiskies along the way and we had a huge thumbs up from the vast majority for more sherry casks. Due to the expense and rarity, Sherry casking in the Scotch Whisky world has decreased considerably in recent years. We have heard your cry for more and will be delivering it in spades this edition.

Aerial view of Tomintoul Distillery

Tomintoul located in the bustling distillery region of Speyside is a relatively newish distillery on the Scottish scene having been founded in 1964. Changing hands on numerous occassions including being owned by Whyte and Mackay it now belongs to the Angus Dundee group. There are now proprietary bottles available in many markets around the world in contrast to a decade ago where single casks were only found under independent labels.

A.D. Rattray Tomintoul 13 Year Old – Speyside Region – Sherry Butt – Cask No. 11 – 60% abv

Colour:       A very similar colour to yesterday’s Auchentoshan but with 4 years less time in the barrel. Sherry butts are one of the largest barrels used for aging Scotch and because of the volume of whisky they hold, generally speaking they impart less colour than hogsheads and other smaller types of casks.

Nose:         Strawberries and cream, almond cookies and freshly toasted pop tarts. Fantastic array of aromas fairly leaping out of my Glencairn. Be a wee bit careful though as the 60% can make it a touch focussed so forge ahead, but gently does it.

Palate:       Yep BINGO, more of the same notes as on the nose and the higher abv just intensly spreads it all over the palate. Like biting into that first yummy warm taste of Strawberry Pop Tart as soon as the toaster give up the goodies. I know that normally I reach for obscure references to unique Aussie fare but you have to remember that I am also now Canadian and have been here for 18 years. Pop Tarts are delicious. My wife Cindy once had an awkward moment with an Australian Customs official on our return from a trip to Canada. Having taken all the shiny little pop tart packets out of the box for more streamlined packing, they looked for all intents and purposes like carefully laid out stashes of goodness only knows what drugs to a rather stern official. Anyway disaster was averted and they didnt even open any of the packets. Pop tarts can be addictive but at least they are not illegal.

Finish:       The fruity tingle and creamy palate just roll on with the 60% keeping it all going for a long time. The marzipan/almond comes back again at the finish and the tiniest whisp of strawberry is the last thing I think of.

Love, love, love this style of whisky. Magical casks that provide such delicate and intriguing flavor all from fermented and distilled barley. Crazy, fantastical stuff this.

On day 2 of our 5th edition we had the fantastic Wemyss Malts Treacle Chest Blended Malt. Wow 2 years in a row starting off with 2 sherry cask influenced whiskies. Coincidence? I think not 🙂

Don’t forget to check out all our guests for this 6th edition at Single Malt Review in New Zealand. Whisky Whistle in Canada and Scotch Test Dummies in the US.

Tomorrow we have something from those boys at Lost Distillery Company and the first blended malt of this 6th edition.

See you all then

Cheers

Singlemalting aka Taster of Secrets aka El Presidente (old business card title and Star Wars Galaxy of Heroes identity) aka Jonno

 

Singlemalting #227 – 6th Edition Scotch Whisky Advent Calendar Day 1 – Auchentoshan 17

Welcome everyone to another December Scotch Whisky adventure.

It is so exciting for Cindy and I to be able to bring you our 6th edition this year. So many amazing people helped to make this happen and so many delicious whiskies are in store for those of you that managed to snaffle one of the only 500 available.

As always you need to grab your tasting glass that just happens to finally be the ubiquitous Glencairn. Every edition boasts a different glass and this year we pay homage to the most popular Scotch whisky glass in the world. You would be hard pressed to find any Scotch whisky drinker that did not have at least one of these kicking around in the cupboard. For those that love collecting Glencairns and have been waiting for us to get around to this little gem – you’re welcome 🙂

This edition the Collector’s lapel pin is also matching the Indiegogo pink as we used their crowdfunding platform for the first time to raise the funds needed for production.

Also newly launched is the Augmented Reality app. You can download it on either your Android or Apple device and then activate it and point it at the calendar and boom a wee 3D adventure ensues. All the details of the app are found on the inside of the right door on the envelope.

We always start off each edition with something a little special for December 1st and this year we are so pleased to showcase our feature distillery (the one on your postcard). Auchentoshan is as some of you know a favorite of mine as it was the epic dram of the night on my first evening in Scotland with the 1976 Sherry Cask. Finished that bottle last year sadly but what a whisky it was.

Auchentoshan is a lowland distillery that triple distills all of its spirit making it unique in the Scotch Whisky landscape. With a lighter and grassier style of whisky, Auchentoshan has been a great entry for many trying their hand at Scotch for the first time. In fact the very first Scotch that my wife Cindy had in Scotland was the Auchentoshan three wood at the Bow Bar in Edinburgh.

Auchentoshan was built in 1800 and was part of the Morrison Bowmore stable along with Bowmore and Glengarioch. Sold to Suntory in 1986 it is now part of the much larger Beam Suntory group that merged in 2014.

Auchentoshan means corner of the field and with it’s close proximity to Glasgow has been an accessible tourist attraction for whisky fans.

Secret Spirits Auchentoshan 17 Year Old – 1st Fill Oloroso Sherry Cask – Cask 12184 – 54.4% abv – Lowlands

Colour:           After 17 years I would have thought that there might be a bit more colour, however as we have discovered every cask is completely unique. Just a hint of reddish amber that might lead you to think perhaps this could be a sherry cask.

Nose:            Wow cherry cola. A hint of medicine cabinet and fresh bandages that can definitely be a cherry colaesque type of smell. Been a while since I nosed this directly from the barrel and oh boy it’s taking me back to Scotland in May. I do recall thinking it was really a unique nose for an Auchentoshan and here I am reliving the moment.

Palate:           The Oloroso note comes through nicely with a little of that toffee sweetness. A little fernet note is the earthy quality that could be stemming from the medicine cabinet I got on the nose and also carries the cola theme along for the ride. Auchentoshan is quite often described as “grassy”. This cask is certainly providing an earthy element after 17 years working away on this whisky.

Finish:            Just a touch of dry sherry finish and a lingering soft layer of dark cherry. This is a pretty complex example of triple distilled Single Malt. Great balance on this. Not even contemplating adding water here but go ahead and experiment, just be gentle.

What a great dram to start of our 6th edition journey. I have been wanting to include an Auchentoshan since we started creating these adventures 6 years ago, so finally here we are fulfilling a dream.

For our 5th edition on day one we had the Single Cask Nation MacDuff 14 year old sherry cask. Something about kicking off with a sherry casked whisky that makes it feel like Christmas is coming.

As always we have some guest bloggers and Youtubers along for the ride.

For the 6th edition we have the boys down in New Zealand on Youtube at Single Malt Review. Whisky Whistle in Canada and Scotch Test Dummies in the US.

A fabulous bucket list item for me to kick things off for our 6th edition. Thanks to everyone for joining in on the Secret Spirits action and finding your way to this blog that is very busy every December and pretty much crickets chirping the rest of the year.

Tomorrow we have something delicious from our friends at A.D. Rattray as we head up North from the Lowlands and arrive in Speyside.

Fun times ahead everyone hold onto your Glencairns and buckle up.

Cheers

Singlemalting

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

Singlemalting # 224 – Deep in the heart of Scotland Pt 1

G’day everyone,

 

A lot of you have already been following along with some of our adventures via Youtube as we upload a couple of video’s a week that really take you along with us this year. If you have missed out on any of the updates you can head to our Youtube channel here and start the journey.

After an amazing six weeks of our initial Indiegogo campaign we managed to secure enough capital to squeeze out 500 calendars this year. There are now just under half of them still available through Indiegogo On Demand here.

To make it all happen this year Cindy and I found ourselves in Scotland once again. This time around we started in London and then made our way to Bristol to meet up with a specialist project manager from the Dram Team who we know will make our lives a lot easier with their excellent attention to detail.

After a wonderful night in Bristol we headed to Ripon in Yorkshire. Claxton’s is a small independent bottler that has been around for about as long as Secret Spirits. It was great to get a referral to meet them and have some of their whiskies included this year. Stay tuned for some delicious drams in the 6th Edition from Tom and Hugo and the Claxton’s team.

Onto Sunny Scotland (and it was really sunny a lot while we were there), we spent a day driving North so that we could have a bit of a weekend off at the Cally Palace Hotel. A relaxing round of golf, wander through the beautiful gardens and a cold pint in the observatory was just what the doctor ordered to help us shake off the jet lag and fully embrace Scottish time. I was even lucky enough to stop by a local cricket ground during my round of golf and watch a couple of overs. Nothing like hearing bat on ball in such an idyllic setting. The flowers were blooming and Spring was in the air with everything a lush carpet of mottled greens, yellows and purples. The heavy scent in the air was invigorating, leaving us wanting to go back to Scotland in May again every year from now on.

What ended up being the best visit during our entire trip was the next stop in Creetown at Whiskybroker. We selected a bunch of whiskies for this edition all under the Secret Spirits label, gave tummy rubs to Rusty the German Shepherd and drank whisky out of barrels with Martin and his wife Jane.

Martin turned an old metal working factory in the deep South of Scotland into a thriving whisky business that houses 19,000 barrels. It has been fantastic for employment within the local community and over the years that I have been visiting has gone from strength to strength. Congratulations Martin on an amazing business.

Part 2 is going to see us head to Brig O doon, Glasgow, Bridge of Allan, Edinburgh and Kingsbarns.

Stay tuned for the next instalment.

Hope your Summer is warm and the drinks are cold.

Cheers

Jonathan

5th Edition Scotch Whisky Advent Calendar Day 25– Singlemalting # 222 – A.D. Rattray Glen Grant 30 Year Old

Welcome to Christmas Day everyone. What a journey we have had together in this our 5th edition. I hope that through the varying complexities of Speyside to the honey’s and heathers of the Highlands along with some big hitting Islay, salty Islands and old grain Lowlands that you have come to appreciate how diverse the Scotch whisky landscape truly is.

We finish our journey today with a 30 year old Single Malt from the Glen Grant Distillery bottled by A.D. Rattray. This is the first time we have had a different independent bottler for Christmas day since our calendars began. Editions 1 through 4 were all stolen by Italian Independent bottler Samaroli. It seems fitting then that Glen Grant is the dethroning whisky as it is the number 1 selling Single Malt in Italy.

Glen Grant was founded in 1840 by two illicit distillers, John and James Grant who decided that they should legitimize and seek a license. The distillery was then passed onto James “The Major” Grant who was a true innovator and really laid the foundation for the ultimate success of this iconic distillery. James owned the first car in the Highlands and installed the first electric lights at any distillery in Scotland. He also built taller slender stills and purifiers that gave Glen Grant a freshness and clear sparkle that still defines the whisky today. Major Grant passed away in 1931 and his grandson Douglas took up the reigns. in 2006 Campari acquired Glen Grant as part of the Pernod Ricard Group and still owns it to this day.

Glen Grant Distillery

A.D. Rattray Glen Grant 30 Year Old Single Malt Scotch Whisky – Sherry Butt # 9173 – Speyside – 55.1% ABV

Colour:              Gorgeous 14K Gold. Still lighter than you could have with a 30 year old sherry so definitely at least a second fill.

Nose:                  There is a lovely wafting of tropical fruit. A bowl of bananas, passionfruit and mango. Bahind all of this there is some old library action going on. Polished teak and old leather. A hint of tobacco like sitting in a deep backed leather chair in an old drawing room. This would be the place to retire and relax after dinner with your esteemed guests. I could smell this for half an hour easy. The 55 and change alcohol really doesnt come out at all. I would be very careful about watering this whisky as older drams tend to be quite delicate.

Palate:               This has all of the above and more on the palate. There is no way I am putting water in this. Barely any alcohol burn and an absolutely sensational all over creamy coating on the palate. It tastes old. The tropics are hanging in there and partnering with the old world charm of something that took 3 full decades of time and patience to bring to your wee glass this Christmas day. Thank you A.D. Rattray for allowing us to use this precious whisky for our 5th edition. A bit of a swirl and some over ripe citrus comes into play as well.

Finish:                The effect of 30 years in this cask does have its way with the finish. There is an abundance of dried fruits and lingering oak There is a lot going on here and I wish I had more. Thank goodness we do 50ml bottles. Sharing with Chris to do this blog would have been a real challenge with anything less. This Glen Grant has remained surprisingly spry on the fruit side after so long in cask. There is still a touch of Christmas tingly magic that slowly fades and I mean really slowly. I can still taste it a good full 5 minutes after my final sip and it’s still going. final note is a dried piece of papaya. What a priviledge to drink something that took so long to complete. Wow I love whisky.

Today I actually shared this dram with my good friend Chris Williams. After an unfortunate incident in transit someone received their 5th edition with the day 25 broken and empty. When Cindy and I were recently in Texas I packaged up and sent my own personal day 25 bottle. Chris stepped in and offered his own bottle for us to share so that I could get these tasting notes. What a legend, thanks mate.

My mate Chris saves the day with his day 25 bottle.

On Christmas day in the 4th edition we had the astounding Samaroli Invergordon 30 Year Old Single Grain.

I know Bart and Scott of Scotch Test Dummies are together on Christmas Day and Daniel of the Whiskey Vault is no doubt aching to get to Christmas festivities with his family so check out their take on the Glen Grant.

So the final count on each Region, Style, Cask Type and ABV are below including one heavily peated Highland:

Speyside – 9 – Bourbon Cask 5 – Sherry Cask 4 – Cask Strength 6 – Reduced Strength 3 – Single Malts 7 – Blended Malts 1 – Teaspooned Malts 1

Highland – 8 – Bourbon Cask 4 – Sherry Cask 2 – Sauterne Cask 1 – Madiera Cask 1 – Cask Strength 6 – Reduced Strength 2 – Single Malts 6 – Blended Malts 2

Islay – 3 – Bourbon Cask 2 – Sherry Cask 1 – Single Malts 2 – Teaspooned Malts 1

Island – 1 – Sherry Cask 1 – Cask Strength 1 – Single Malts 1

Lowland – 1 – Sherry Cask 1 – Cask Strength 1 – Single Grains 1

Undisclosed Region Blended Malts – 3 – Undisclosed Cask Type – Reduced Strength 3

The numbers very much mirror the actual balance of distilleries that are active in Scotland today. To be a touch more accurate there would actually be a few less Highlands and a few more Speysides. For our 6th edition we will be asking all of you to have your input on where you would like to travel on our annual Scotch Whisky Adventure.

At the end of January we will be launching a crowdfunding campaign for the 6th edition where you all get to help pick regions and even casks as I comb the length and breadth of Scotland. Secret Spirits is taking the interactive nature of our calendar to a whole new level and making it even more fun and entertaining.

Don’t forget today to head to www.secretspirits.com and vote for your 3 favourite whiskies for a chance to win our 6th edition.

Thank you everyone for coming along with Cindy and I and entering into the most controversy, discussion, tasting notes, chats and drams that we have ever had in 5 years. So exciting to be able to share this with everyone and help expand our experience of this amazing category of whisky.

Until next year

Slainte

Jonathan

 

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 23 – Singlemalting # 220 – A.D. Rattray North British 30 Year Old

Today we head to the Lowlands for a visit at the North British Distillery in Edinburgh. Single Grain Scotch Whisky is a fascinating category and one that we have always included in every adventure. All of the single casks that we have ever presented in this category have been over 20 years old. Normally I am a big proponent of the fact that older is not necessarily better however when it comes to Single Grain there is no doubting that additional aging really does bring big rewards.

Single Grain Scotch Whisky can be made from any number of grains but has to be distilled by the same distillery. As the workhorse of the blended Scotch world Single Grain is also typically filled into casks at a higher ABV than Single Malt. North British was founded in 1885 and is now jointly owned by Diageo and Edrington under the Lothian Distillers umbrella. No doubt both these Scotch Whisky powers share the benefits of the high amount of Grain Whisky that NB pumps out every year to keep their blends rolling. For Diageo of course Johnnie Walker and they even distill spirit for their Smirnoff Vodka Brand at NB. For Edrington its Cutty Sark and Famous Grouse. Their job was made much easier with the closure of the Caledonia Grain distillery in Edinburgh in 1988 and has cemented NB as an Edinburgh Icon.

The vastly larger portion of the mashbill for North British is corn with smaller amounts of barley. This leads to some comparisons between older Scottish Single Grain and aged Bourbons. The biggest difference of course is speed of maturation. Taking 30 years to tame the sweet brightness of Corn in Scotland can be achieved much more quickly in most bourbon producing climates in the US.

North British Distillery

A.D. Rattray North British 30 Year Old Single Grain Scotch Whisky – Sherry Butt # 24767 – Lowlands – 56.7% ABV

Colour:       Amazingly light for 30 years and speaks to the possibility of the Sherry Butt being a refill cask.

Nose:          Give that nose just a wee bit of time with air contact and it all starts to unfurl. An old wood spice chest of cardamon, ceylon cinnamon sticks, orange taffy and mahogany.

Palate:        D Dutchman Dairy in Sicamous British Columbia make amazing hand crafted ice cream including a fabulous Rum and Raisin that I absolutely have to stop for everytime I’m passing through. This takes me back there last Summer when Cindy and I visited the Dubh Glas Distillery in the Okanagan. Sicamous is right on the way so Cindy, Sashes (our Maltese Yorkie) and I all enjoyed some delicious ice cream on the way. There is also a developing herb garden note that I can’t quite pinpoint. Parsley and sweet Spring onion.

Sashes in the Snow

Finish:       The chewy orange taffy keeps kicking with a dusting of burnt demerara and some spikes of very subtle Chicago Steak Spice. A really interesting Single Grain that has taken 3 decades to build this delicate complexity into something that is well worth spending time with.

In the 4th edition on day 23 we had the Single Cask Nation Tormore 21 Year Old.

Make sure you head over to the Scotch Test Dummies and Whisky Vault as we get close to wrapping up this 5th Edition.

Tomorrow we have a whisky from Secret Spirits that caused probably the most headaches for this edition. The story will unfold tomorrow.

Cheers

Jonathan

 

5th Edition Scotch Whisky Advent Calendar Day 22 – Singlemalting # 219 – Lost Distillery Company Towiemore Archivist

Day 22 dawns. It just seems like yesterday that we started this adventure together. It’s been a great ride so far this edition and there has been plenty to learn, plenty to talk about and most importantly plenty to contemplate. Apart from Christmas Day when we had the stellar Samaroli 33 Year Old Blended Malt and the 34 Year Old Blended Scotch we have not normally apart from the odd Samaroli seen anything blended in the last 5 days of any edition. Back in March when I was at Dummfries House tasting through a bunch of whiskies with Brian Woods from Lost Distillery Company this Towiemore really struck a chord. For me it wasn’t just the great story but also the balance of this dram and that it stood out even amongst the many single casks that I was trying (16 different drams I think from memory or lack thereof). It was a great opportunity to showcase a very well put together combination of Single Malts at a time in the calendar when we are really scritinizing everything a little more carefully.

Towiemore was a distillery that really only had a comparitively short shelf life in Scottish terms. Starting it’s production in 1898 it unfortunately only survived for 33 years. As always you can get the complete whisky education story at the Lost Distillery Company Website on the Towiemore page.

Towiemore Distillery

Lost Distillery Company Towiemore Archivist Blended Malt Scotch Whisky – 46% ABV – no caramel or chill filtration

Colour:       Rich dark amber on this one. There are definitely some sherry casks involved as Towiemore was known for their sherry aged malt.

Nose:            Hitting me like a Manuka honey infused hot toddy complete with lemon and a favorite Scotch Whisky plucked randomly off the shelf. It is delicate though and needs some time to delve into. There is a lightly roasted coffee note or is it a fresh crusty bread note? I think maybe both. There is a tinned manderin note as well that pokes its way into the mix.

Palate:         The honey comes across as more creamed honey than Manuka now. Less earthy. The fruit note has gone from a citrusy touch to richer stone fruit like apricot and nectarine.

Finish:        I’m getting cloves and orange and it’s taking me back to kindergarten when we made scented hanging decorations for mother’s day. We all had to bring an orange and the teacher handed out a ribbon and big bucket of cloves. We spent the next 30 minutes shoving cloves into the orange until it was completely covered. Wow did they ever smell nice and my mum proudly hung it up near the kitchen window till it dried out and finally lost its smell. Some Cocoa also coming in at the end.

So on day 22 of the 4th edition we had the 1995 Samaroli Alt a Bhainne, Tormore combination.

Head on over to the Whiskey Vault and Scotch Test Dummies to see if there are enough eager tastebuds left to delve into this delicious but delicate day 22 blended malt.

Tomorrow we try a new category of Scotch Whisky for this edition that we always showcase at least once. Anyone care to guess?

Until then fellow whisky lovers have a great night.

Cheers

Jonathan

5th Edition Scotch Whisky Advent Calendar Day 21 – Singlemalting # 218 – Old Malt Cask Inchgower 21 Year Old

Ahh yes Inchgower. I first fell in love with a cask from this distillery that was the first release of A.D. Rattray ever released in Canada. On that occassion it was an inky dark first fill sherried 25 year old. The price that we sold that for 15 years ago would make you cry. Today however is all about Hunter Laing and their Old Malt Cask Range. Inchgower was built in 1871 in Buckie, Moray to replace Tochineal Distillery. Unfortunately it only survived for just over 30 years before being closed. Purchased by the Buckie council in 1936 after another 30 years of dormancy it was sold to Arthur Bell’s & Sons in 1938. Diageo now owns it but still uses the Bell’s logo in connection to Inchgower to preserve its heritage. Rarely seen as a Single Malt it is again more often than not independent bottlings that allow us to peek behind the distillery curtain and try this whisky in all it’s glory.

Inchgower Distillery

Hunter Laing Old Malt Cask Inchgower 25 Year Old Single Malt – Sherry Butt # HL14253 – Speyside – 50% ABV

Colour:           Solid amber hue. Sherry Butt’s are big casks (500 liters) and impart less colour than smaller barrels due to less cask to whisky contact however after 21 years you could expect more colour. Each cask is so unique it constantly amazes me.

Nose:              Orange sherbet, caramel squares and a creamy flat white. Very inviting and quite subtle considering the 50%.

Palate:            This is absolutely fantastic. Delicate sweetness that rolls around the tongue. I’m getting a mix of milk and white chocolate with tiny hits of candied bitter orange rind. The sherry influence here is soft but does not lack in adding complexity to this dram after 21 years. Right up my alley this. A dram that is taking some time to get to the bottom of. Just like lighting up a lovely cigar knowing you will spend the next hour enjoying it’s company and the friend you are sitting across from. Drams like this should command respect. How many other commodities can you enjoy only after they have been sitting in a warehouse for over two decades?

Finish:         The 50% is oh so soft. To my palate this feels more like 40. The gorgeous creamy chocolate feel lingers on and there comes perhaps the faintest of cinnamon notes right at the death. That candied orange keeps on going and going.

Thanks Hunter Laing for this cask. A great way to continue enjoying the last week before Christmas.

On day 21 in the 4th edition we had the Old Malt Cask Glen Keith 20 Year Old.

Dont forget your nightly fix of the Whisky Vault and the Scotch Test Dummies. These guys have been doing great work to keep things rolling all the way through December. Undertaking a blog or review of an Advent calendar is no small feat so my various hats are doffed to these gentlemen for doing such an amazing job.

Tomorrow we are off to discover an older dram from the boys at the Lost Distillery Company.

3 more sleeps and drams before Christmas day and the promise of something old and special.

Cheers

Jonathan

 

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