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Singlemalting #191 – Day 25 – 4th Edition Scotch Whisky Advent Calendar – Samaroli 30 Year Old Invergordon

Welcome to day 25 and Merry Christmas.

So at last the quartet is complete. We have had in this order on Christmas day – 1st edition “Blended Malt 33yo”, 2nd edition “Single Malt 30yo”, 3rd edition “Blended Scotch 34yo” and now 4th edition “Single Grain 30yo”. All previous day 25 whiskies have been amazing expressions from Samaroli. Lets check out this old Invergordon from Samaroli as we relax by the fire. Snowing heavily in both Alberta and here in Ontario where I am spending Christmas with Cindy’s Family. A far cry from the gorgeous blue skies and warm weather I had last Christmas in Australia.

Invergordon is a Single Grain Distillery that was founded in 1960. It is located in the Northern Highlands much farther away from the other Single Grain distilleries that are found in and around the Lowlands of Scotland. Using Coffey stills Invergordon produces a staggering amount of Single Grain Scotch Whisky every year, somewhere in the vicinity of 40 million liters. Invergordon is owned by Whyte and Mackay as the backbone of their blends. Rarely seen under its own label it is independent bottlers that get this out to whisky geeks worldwide.

Barrels at Invergordon Distillery

Samaroli 30 year old Invergordon Single Grain Scotch Whisky – bottled at the abv of 45% aged in a Sherry Hogshead cask number 901551.

Colour:     As with most Samaroli bottlings this is very pale indeed for a sherry hogshead after 30 years and tells me this must have been a refill cask.

Nose:    Rich and heady on the nose like wandering through a Moroccan Spice Bazaar. Still a large alcohol presence at only 45% promising some lively flavors I’m hoping.

Palate:    Initially tropical with some coconut milk creaminess that immediately launches into sweet passionfruit pulp spooned over caramel flan.

Finish:    Just deliciously consistent with everything that has gone before. Love the rolling soft sweetness with a finishing dusting of spice.

Samaroli Invergordon 30 Year Old

One of the most interesting Single Grains I have tried and certainly to date by far the best Invergordon. Thanks Samaroli for doing it again. Can you guys back up next year to hold the 25 spot for 5 years in a row? We will have to see.

It has been amazing yet again to have all of you join us here at Secret Spirits for this 4th rendition of our journey through Scotland. We hope you have enjoyed the experience of exploration and found it rewarding and entertaining.

If you love our calendar it would be amazing if you could post some comments or join us at our various Social Medial pages. All the links can be found at www.secretspirits.com.

Please give a ton of comments and a big round of applause for the amazing work done by Scotch Trooper for this 4th (force) edition. His photos and tasting notes were fantastic. Thanks Scotch Trooper for being part of our journey.

On this day in the 3rd edition we had Samaroli give us the oldest whisky bottled in any edition with the 34 Year Old First Fill Sherry Blended Scotch.

May you have amazing love, friendship and family around you at this time of year and throughout your life.

I will be writing again shortly about a rare aquisition from a major brand (very unlike me to make such a purchase). Looking forward to doing it all again next year and bringing about our half decade milestone.

Thanks again

Jonathan and Cindy

Secret Spirits

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Singlemalting #190 – Day 24 – 4th Edition Scotch Whisky Advent Calendar – A.D. Rattray Tamnavulin 29 Year Old

Welcome to Christmas Eve and a chance to welcome a new distillery to the Scotch Whisky Advent Calendar list. This cask from A.D. Rattray was just shy of 30 years old so could have qualified for the Christmas Day dram with a few more months. Settling for Christmas Eve however is no small feat.

Tamnavulin is a distillery in Speyside that opened in 1966. A relative newcomer to the Scotch Whisky Landscape. It operated until 1995 was closed for over a decade reopening in 2007. Owned by Whyte and Mackay there is limited availability of Single Malt under the Tamnavulin label and so it is up to us independent bottlers to source these rare casks and give you a taste of what could be.

Tamnavulin Distillery

A.D. Rattray Tamnavulin 29 Year Old Single Malt aged in a Bourbon Hogshead # 10026 and bottled at the cask strength of 49.4%.

Colour:    Even after 29 years all it can muster is medium gold.

Nose:   Herbal tea infused with Chamomile, Apple, Pear and just a touch of grapefruit.

Palate:    Wow really palate coating and the ABV seems perfect as is. The pear really shows strongly and the pink grapefruit is there sitting right next store.

Finish:   Custard apple, fragrant, sweet and creamy.

This is a delicious older dram and I can hardly get over the mountain of fruity goodness after 29 years in cask. This is what I look for in an older dram and this is also my first time with a Tamnavulin in my glass. I will definitely be looking for more in the future.

On the 24th day of the 3rd edition Scotch Whisky Advent Calendar we had the Single Cask Nation 28 Year Old Bunnahabhain.

Please head on over and support our Star Wars loving blogger Scotch Trooper.

Tomorrow being Christmas day we head into the realm of 30 Year Old Scotch Whisky. We have covered pretty much every category of Scotch Whisky over the past 4 editions for our final dram except one. Read closely and you will be able to guess the style of tomorrow’s dram. As in all past years the boys at Samaroli continue to hold the coveted spot.

Hope that everyone has some family and friends surrounding them and can share in the love and fun that this time of year brings.

Looking forward to seeing you all tomorrow on Christmas Day.

Have a wonderful Christmas Eve and happy dramming.



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Singlemalting #189 – Day 23 – 4th Edition Scotch Whisky Advent Calendar – Single Cask Nation – Tormore 21yo

Right down to the very end of our journey now with only 3 drams to go. Today we have the lone expression from our mates at Single Cask Nation. Love the casks that these two guys choose and was excited nonetheless to at least get one special dram from them for out 4th edition.

Today we visit a distillery that is seldom seen outside of independent bottling circles. Tormore is in Speyside as are much of Scotland’s distilleries. We have had some amazing expressions in the past including the magical Tormore from Samaroli way back in the 1st edition.

Tormore Distillery


Tormore sees much of it’s production included in Teacher’s Blended Scotch. There is a 12 year old expression under the Tormore distillery label but only in a few select markets. A relatively young distillery in Scottish terms Tormore has only been operating since 1960.

Single Cask Nation Tormore 21 Year Old Single Malt – Aged in a 2nd fill Bourbon cask number 14211G and bottled at the Cask Strength of 49% exactly.

Colour: Light gold as you would expect from a 2nd fill American Oak Cask.

Nose:    Could it be that the usually heavy hitting Single Cask Nation expressions are leaning towards the Samaroli model? This is a lovely delicate nose of peach blossom, oatmeal and honey.

Palate:   Ahhh here it is the Single Cask Nation signature oily palate coating dram. Wow much bigger and bursting with intense flavor than I thought after that delicate nose. Citrus infusion there for sure with a lightly peppered flourish. The porridge and honey is there with a curl or two of shaved lemon zest garnished on top.

Finish:   Lingers long for 49% and to me feels even weightier than that. All of the above seem to swirl around the tingly ongoing cask strength effect. Started out thinking this could be a small diversion from Single Cask Nations regular MO but it is right in their wheelhouse.

Fantastic dram and any time I have the opportunity to include a Tormore in an edition I will jump at it. Such a rarity to find and such a shame that so much of it just goes into big brand blends.

On day 23 in the 3rd edition we had the Samaroli Peaty 20 Year Old that was our first time having a mostly Highland Park included in the calendar.

Please head over and check out Scotch Troop if you have not already. It has been amazing having him follow along with us for this edition. Can’t wait to see what he has lined up for Christmas Day.

Tomorrow being Christmas Eve we always have something a little special and the folks at A.D. Rattray provided the cask. Let’s just say that with a touch more age it could have been Christmas Day instead.

Looking forward to seeing you all on Christmas Eve

Until then Merry Christmas




Scotch Whisky Advent Calendar Day 22

Singlemalting #188 – Day 22 – 4th Edition Scotch Whisky Advent Calendar – Samaroli Spey 1995 – Tormore and Alt a Bhainne

Saaaamarolllllliii.. (sung with stage worthy hand gestures and deep bass vocals). Got to love these Italians and their take on Scotch Whisky. Silvano was widely praised as having one of the best palates on earth and with some of their offerings being the best examples of Scotch Whisky I have ever had I would tend to agree.

Today we are getting into a combination of two distilleries.Tormore and Alt A Bhainne We have had Single Malt Expressions of both of these distilleries in previous editions that were both big time favorites with a lot of you. Lets see what happens when Samaroli puts them together. Keeping in mind of course that the Alt A Bhainne in the 3rd edition was only 8 years old and this expression is 21 years.

Samaroli Spey 1995 – 21 year old Blended Malt Scotch Whisky bottled at 45% and non-chill filtered with no added colour.

Colour:   Grassy Gold

Nose:    As per usual with Samaroli it takes time to get into everything that’s going on. Warm up that Spey glass and get your shnoz in there. Floral honeysuckle and lavender blossom with notes of sweet barley and vanilla cream wafers.

Palate:   Spine tingling and a touch tongue tingling as well. “After 8” dark chocolate mints complete with the creamy texture and sweetness. Some baking spices like the tiniest dash of cinnamon and nutmeg.

Finish:   Keeps evolving with the bed time pillow mint and dark chocolate thread whirling around the continuing spice.

This is a very nice dram especially for those that love a little mystery in their glass and love to spend time unraveling. I found that this one needed even a touch longer than the normal “Samaroli contemplation” which was cool. This is why the vast majority of you do not work through our calendar in just 25 days but prefer to take your time.

This will be available for those lucky few that want it. Just email me as usual and we can sort you out.

On Day 22 in the 3rd edition we had the incredible Adelphi Cambus closed distillery 27 year old Single Grain. Wish I could have had a bottle of that but alas there just wasn’t enough.

Remember to get your Star wars geek on today at Scotch Trooper.

So for tomorrow we are showcasing the single lonely dram in this 4th edition from those naughty boys at Single Cask Nation. They promised me this would be a dram to remember so I cant wait to get stuck in.

Thanks for taking the journey with us so far as we get closer to a special time for many. It is such a pleasure and privilege to be able to share my passion with you.

See you tomorrow





Whisky Advent

Singlemalting # 187 – Day 21 – 4th Edition Scotch Whisky Advent Calendar Old Malt Cask Glen Keith 20yo

As promised we are back to Hunter Laing and their Old Malt Cask series with a cask from the Glen Keith distillery. Glen Keith was the first distillery to open in Speyside after the great crash in 1898, opening its doors in 1958. Always owned by Chivas Bros it was mothballed in 1999 and then reopened in 2012. Almost all of its production goes into blends for export markets but a few casks escape that fate and wind up in the hands of independent bottlers like Hunter Laing.

Glen Keith Distillery

This is the first time we have seen an expression from this distillery in any edition so it is exciting to add another name to the ever growing list.

Old Malt Cask –

20 Year Old Single Malt – Bottled at 50% and aged in a refill sherry butt HL13359.

Colour:   Rich gold

Nose:   Rose petals and English Toffee. Turkish delight.

Palate:    Chewier than I thought it would be with robust flavors of bitter dark chocolate, pomegranate and quince.

Finish:    The fruit rolls on with a burst of dry sherry jumping in at the death. Its the pomegranate that seems to be the heavy lifter here for me all the way through.

A very interesting dram from Old Malt Cask. Loving the sherry refill after 20 years as I had to mull it over for sometime to get to the bottom of everything that was going on. Even now as I sit here there are some other flavors still trying to push their way to the top.

If you really like this dram it is available for Canadians (sorry Southern cousins). Just email me and we will get it sorted for you.

On day 21 in the 3rd edition we had the Wemyss Malts Marmalade Appeal Glenrothes 27 year old.

Please head over to Scotch Trooper as we head towards Christmas I have it on good authority that there will be some awesome climactic shots to look at.

Tomorrow we have another amazing Single Malt Combo from Samaroli. These 20+ year old Samaroli blended malts are always incredible so I am thinking this will be something special.

Looking forward to your company tomorrow

Until then dram safe and dram often



Scotch Whisky Advent Calendar

Singlemalting #178 – Day 12 – 4th edition SWAC – Secret Spirits Speyside 19yo

So excited to be able to bring you the second round of Secret Spirits very own bottling’s. This time around we have a 19 year old Single Malt from an undisclosed Speyside Distillery. For those of you that do not know why we would bottle a whisky without sharing its identity let me clear it up. Sometimes distilleries will release casks to brokers on the premise that they have to remain undisclosed so as not to compete with their own brand on retail shelves. This can also mean a price break over selecting a “named” cask. Even though Secret Spirits will be putting names on labels at some point (spoiler even in this edition) for me it’s all about the whisky.

So as one of the now retired English Cricket teams captain’s once said “if you give them an inch they will take a mile”. So anyway now onto the whisky (this is your hint if you missed it).

Secret Spirits Undisclosed  Speyside 19 Year Old Single Malt – 63.4% and aged in a Bourbon cask number 184.

Colour:    Definitely leads us to think that this cask could be a refill with only a light colour showing after 19 long years aging in the barrel.

Nose:   Go gently now as this beastie is a monster for a 19 year old whisky at 63.4%. When most casks are filled at no more than 65% ABV either this cask got a healthier dose or the cooper was feeling extra frisky that day.  Vanilla bean Nougat and biscotti with lemon peel.

Palate:   Lovely coating as you would expect from such a healthy ABV.  The nose resonates strongly with the palate here as that rich vanilla and marzipan character combines with a fruit basket of citrus flavors.

Finish:    More citrus fairly bursts out of the finish as the oily vanilla continues on and on. With a splash of water the finish becomes a velvet rug over which the vanilla and citrus ride along together.

This is every bit as amazing as I remember and I always take notice when an older cask is still living large with such a high ABV. Thanks to the awesome broker that tasted me on this cask.

On day 12 in the 3rd edition we had the Coastal briny character of the Lost Distillery Gerston.

Head on over to Scotch Trooper who now has his Christmas tree decorated in full Darkside spectacle.

Tomorrow we will be heading way North to check out another amazing whisky from Stuart Nickerson at Shetland Reel.



Scotch Whisky Advent Calendar

Singlemalting #177 – Day 11 – 4th edition SWAC – Samaroli Islay 2017 edition

“Islay TIME”….. I can hear the pitter, patter of all of those big time Islay fans running to open today’s number 11 door and grab themselves a comfy spot in the living room. Islay whiskies are normally brash and full on but somehow Samaroli still manages to find the nuance and bring it to life in their expressions.

Islay is a small island off the West coast of the Scottish mainland that is really responsible for the Peat Geek club of eager drinkers around the world. Seen by many as the hardest flavor profile to get your head and taste buds around it is also incredibly complex and the world of whisky would not be the same without it.


Islay on a sunny day

Samaroli devote at least one of their releases to showcase this amazing piece of the Scottish Whisky landscape and this years effort is no doubt going to be as delicious as its predecessors.

Samaroli Islay – Over an Islay Rainbow 2017 edition Blended Malt Scotch Whisky – American Oak Hogshead bottled at 43% non chill filtered and no caramel.

Colour:  Samaroli do a lot of re casking into new American Oak that is very lightly toasted. These casks make for little to no colour transference and result in some of the lightest whiskies I have seen.

Nose:   Deck the halls with garlands of medicine bottles wrapped in salty torched orange rind peelings.

Palate:   Fresher that I thought it would be with the citrus coming through nicely, shadowed by the underworld figure of Wet Flinty Peat. Good name for a fictional whisky villain.

Finish:   The freshness actually pushes through more here and I find that burnt orange dominating with dabs of alcohol swabs cleaning the wounds at regular intervals.

Lots to delve into here and I will be coming back to my left over half bottle later for some more time alone together.

Love a good day on Islay and this was quite reminiscent of our whisky from day 11 in the 3rd edition calendar. Wemyss Malts Kiln Embers was also mostly Islay born. This must just be about that time each year when my taste buds yearn for some dark side goodness.

Speaking of the Dark Side time to go check out Scotch Trooper today.

Tomorrow we are taking the ferry back to the mainland to check out a very special dram bottled by Secret Spirits. Only our third ever cask so stay tuned for day 12.



Scotch Whisky Advent Calendar

Singlemalting # 176 – Day 10 – 4th edition SWAC – Lost Distillery Company Jericho Archivist

Well it’s Sunday here today in Canada so what better way to relax and think about what a privilege it is to be able to enjoy fine whiskies than to sink back into your favorite chair with a great dram.

Today we get back to The Lost Distillery Company and taste a much older expression of their Jericho recreation. We did have a special edition version of the Jericho called Christmas Pudding as part of our 3rd edition and you can revisit that here.

Jericho Archivist

Today’s version is much older and makes up part of their Archivist range. You can check out the Lost Distillery Company website and read through the fascinating history of the Jericho Distillery here.

So without further preamble lets sink back into our high backed leather chair (Santa I want one of these) and delve into this historical dram.

Lost Distillery Company Jericho Archivist Blended Malt – 46% ABV no Caramel or Chill Filtration.

Colour:   Rich Amber

Nose:      Blackberry compote, sugar and spice and all things nice.

Palate:     Rich PX notes with some fresh licorice and zingy ginger beer.

Finish:   Long and lasting berry notes return underlined with polished teak. The 46% works well here and I don’t feel any need for adding a drop or two of water but I might come back and experiment with the other half of the bottle at a later date.

For those that love a good sherry matured whisky this really fits the bill. Such a shame that if Jericho was producing amazing whisky like this that it doesn’t still exist. Quality of whisky even when outstanding has often still not saved a distilleries demise.

On day 10 in the 3rd edition we had the A.D. Rattray Glenallachie 8yo.

As always a reminder to head over to Scotch Trooper for his photographic wizardry.

Day 11 looms already as we start pushing towards the half way point. Tomorrow we head to the dark side again for something from our Italian friends. Get ready to put your peat on.

Until then may your glass be always full



Scotch Whisky Advent Calendar

Singlemalting # 175 – Day 9 – 4th Edition SWAC – Wemyss Malts “The Hive” Batch Strength

Hello again and welcome to another daily dram courtesy of Secret Spirits. Today we are in for a treat as we get to try the batch strength version of Wemyss Malts extremely popular Blended Malt Scotch Whisky called The Hive. You can read about the original here from way back in the 1st edition Day 7.

I will take this moment for those of you that are new to this experience to talk about the Blended Malt category. This is the most confused category in the Scotch Whisky world because of that word “blend”. A Blended Malt is a combination of Single Malts and can be far more interesting than a Single Malt in isolation. The word blend is the crucial misdirection piece that in the minds of most consumers takes them to inexpensive Blended Scotch Whiskies that are a combination of Single Malt and Single Grain and mostly at a very young age. So if you love Single Malts then I challenge you to open your mind to thinking about this category as just more of what you already love.

The Hive Batch Strength

Wemyss Malts – The Hive – Batch Strength 54.5% – combination Bourbon and Sherry casks Blended Malt.

Colour:    No caramel use here so only what the casks bring to the table. Lovely rolled gold.

Nose:     Thick raw unadulterated Drizzle Honey over rich milk chocolate and vanilla wafers. I think this is one of the most inviting nosing experiences in the 4th edition so far. Lets just dive right in.

Palate:   Crunchie chocolate bar – seriously that chocolate covered dark honeycomb is all my mind and palate can focus on (one of my favorites as a kid).

Finish:   Bitter dark chocolate and a wisp of smokiness perhaps lingering on with the ever present richness of the honey that won’t quit.

This definitely a step up from the previous version of the Hive and shows how a higher ABV can do wonders for the complex flavors of a whisky. Splash away if you like as this has plenty of room to maneuver.

In the 3rd edition on this day we had the Single Cask Nation Loch Lomond (Croftengea) that blew many of you away.

Don’t forget about Scotch Trooper. If you have not signed up for his blog or Instagram account you need to get on it.

Tomorrow we are off to Whisky geekdom with the boys at Lost Distillery Company for something from their older selection Archivist Range.

For those of you that really enjoyed the Hive Batch strength the good news is that we secured some full bottles so please send me off an email and we can help you make it happen.

Until the morrow



Scotch Whisky Advent Calendar

Singlemalting # 174 – Day 8 – 4th Edition SWAC – A.D. Rattray Fettercairn 11yo

Welcome to day 8 of the 4th edition Scotch Whisky Advent Calendar. Today thanks to A.D. Rattray independent bottlers we get to try a distillery that is making it’s first appearance in any of our editions.

Situated in the Highlands under the Grampian foothills in the Howe of Mearns, Fettercairn is a distillery that was founded in 1824. It changed hands a few times firstly after the founder Alexander Ramsay lost his fortune and was forced to sell to the Gladstone family in 1829 and then finally becoming one of Whyte and Mackay’s many distilleries in 1973. Most of the production is used for Whyte and Mackay’s various blended Scotches but is also available in limited quantity under it’s own label.

Fettercairn Distillery

A.D. Rattray Fettercairn 11 yo aged in a Bourbon Barrel cask number 107725 and bottled at the cask strength of 53.2% distilled in 2006 and bottled in 2017.

Colour:    Light Gold (another lighter coloured whisky due to the American oak)

Nose:     Caramel Apples at the fair covered in coconut sprinkles.

Palate:    Granny smith and papaya (crazy combo) baked into a crumbly pie crust. Clean acidity adds to the apple and is why I think my palate went to the big green granny smith variety.

Finish:    The 53.2% dances on the tongue but doesn’t get in the way of the fruit driven apple that goes all the way to the finish and beyond. The tropical note I picked up earlier gives way right at the death.

A great example of a fruity Highland malt. I love this style of whisky and am so happy that we could scratch a mark against this distillery as an inclusion in one of our calendars.

In the third edition on this day we had the delicious Malt Whisky Company Glenrothes 8 yo that you can revisit here.

Don’t forget to head over to Scotch Trooper to catch the crazy antics of those little white guys today.

Tomorrow we will be heading back to Wemyss Malts for another upgraded expression of one of their classic drams.

If you are new to our Scotch Whisky Advent Calendars we hope you are enjoying the journey so far. We always save a lot of goodies for closer to Christmas so enjoy these early drams and don’t be tempted to unwrap the rest before their big day.

Looking forward to having your company tomorrow.

Stay dramming always