Home » Secret Spirits

Tag: Secret Spirits

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 it’s 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.

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.

Cheers

Singlemalting

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 onIslay 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.

Cheers

Singlemalting

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

Cheers

Singlemalting

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

Slainte

Singlemalting

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 on the finish.

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

Cheers

Singlemalting

 

 

 

 

Scotch Whisky Advent Calendar

Singlemalting # 173 – 4th edition SWAC Day 7 – Ainneamh Sherry Blended Malt 12 Year Old

As most of you already know I love a good blended malt which is a combination of various Single Malts. One of the most misunderstood categories in the world of Scotch Whisky. Combine the right malts and you can find yourself with something much more interesting than just bottling them as Single Malts.

This is the first blended malt that I tasted from the guys at Ainneamh and knowing it was time in our journey for a decent sherry bomb this whisky really fit the bill.

Ainneamh 12 Year Old Blended Malt Sherry Cask – 40% ABV and aged entirely in Pedro-Ximenez and Oloroso sherry casks.

Ainneamh Sherry Malt 12 yo

Colour:   Tinges of red from a painters brush after cleaning between strokes.

Nose:   Rich fruitcake and sherry notes with an interesting medicinal note. Could there be Islay malt in here? lets find out.

Palate:   Definitely some underpinning of peat here, drying berry fruits and that medicinal iodine coming back again. I have to think that a good portion of the malt involved was Islay for sure along with some rich Speyside company.

Finish:   Great balancing act here between fruit and earth. Loving the lingering citrus that kicks in over the top. Seems to be much more on the palate than the 40% ABV. Non chill filtered despite the low number this whisky retains all of its palate coating oily character.

Good work Ainneamh I will definitely contemplate more malty goodness combos from you in the future.

On day 7 in the 3rd edition we had the truly incredible Samaroli Allt a Bhainne that was an absolute winner with many calendar owners.

Scotch trooper has been getting a lot of attention and is already proving to be a really fun addition to the calendar community. Head over to check out what is happening today.

Tomorrow we head back to A.D. Rattray for a distillery bottling never before seen in any addition. Really excited whenever we pop a brand new distillery into the mix and no doubt coming from the skilled bottlers at A.D. Rattray it will be worth the wait.

If you are after today’s dram please send me an email to jonathan@secretspirits.com and I will get you on the list.

Slainte

Singlemalting

Scotch Whisky Advent Calendar

Singlemalting # 172 – 4th edition SWAC – Day 6 Samaroli Glenallachie 8 YO

Day 6 dawns as we are almost a week into the 4th edition already. Time for us to taste something from one of my favorite independent bottlers on earth Samaroli. I have to at this stage share my sympathies for the Samaroli family at the passing of Silvano earlier this year. Silvano was a living legend in the Scotch Whisky industry and was widely regarded as having one of the best whisky palates in the world. I wish that I had the opportunity to meet Silvano and talk whisky with him as I know we would have been kindred spirits. The Samaroli legacy is in great hands with the Bleve family and Antonio who has been the passion behind keeping the Samaroli quality and name burning bright.

The distillery in question today is Glenallachie. Founded in 1967, closed in 1985 and reopened in 1989 it was sold in 2017 and is now owned by Glenallachie Distillers Company Limited. One of the new owners is Billy Walker formally owner of Benriach and Glenglassaugh distilleries. Glenallachie is in Speyside at the foot of Ben Nevis (Scotland’s highest peak).

Glenallachie Distillery

Samaroli Glenallachie 8 Year Old – 43% ABV non chill filtered, natural colour and distilled in 2009. Cask number 900331 American oak hogshead.

Colour:   Another light looking whisky that could easily be mistaken for Pinot Gris.

Nose:     Pear Blossoms, Cotton Candy and a touch of marzipan.

Palate:   Poached pear dusted with just a hint of chili and vanilla bean.

Finish:   Delicate as is Samaroli’s way but lingering persistent ripe pear and vanilla.

This is a sensationally delicate dram from Samaroli for only 8 years old. Samaroli upon buying this cask re-racked it into new American Oak and the result is delicious. It can take a while for your palate to come full circle and really appreciate the delicate side of Scotch Whisky but believe me its worth it and Samaroli can help you get there. May Silvano’s legacy live on for generations to come.

On Day 6 in the third edition we had the Ainneamh 18 Year Old Speyside Single Malt.

Please head over to Scotch Trooper to see what those little guys are up to.

Tomorrow we are tasting something unique from the Ainneamh independent bottler (pronounced Any oov). If you like sherry casks then you will be a happy camper as you pop open your day 7 door.

As always if you are interested in any of these full sized bottles please email me and we will get you on the list.

Until tomorrow stay warm and drink hearty.

Slainte

SInglemalting

 

whisky advent calendar

Singlemalting # 171 – 4th edition SWAC Day 5 – Secret Spirits Caol Ila 8 Year Old

Only our 3rd ever bottling under the Secret Spirits label and I was excited to include something brooding and smoky from Islay. I managed to find this whisky after a long drive South in Scotland to a windswept warehouse on a lonely road far from the warm whisky bars of Glasgow and Edinburgh.

Tasting through numerous barrel samples is no easy task. Especially when those samples are from Islay. It can all start to get very overpowering even for a palate that has been as abused as mine has. I actually ended up needing an additional sample sent to me in Canada to confirm that this was indeed exactly what I thought I had tasted many months before.

Caol Ila is the workhorse distillery on Islay and produces more whisky than the rest of Islay combined. With the recent announcement that Port Ellen will be reopened there could be a potential challenge down the road for that title.

Caol Ila Distillery

As a side note to the story I ended up encountering a rather challenging road closure that was going to send me an hour out of my way and cause me to be late for my appointment with my next round of drinking. Firm faith in the fact that my GPS said there was a road I took to a narrow and ultimately dodgy farmers track. Several gates and nervous sheep later not to mention steep water laden creek beds and rocky inclines I arrived at the farmers home. Bemused and nodding to his son as he heard my Aussie accent (bloody tourists) he motioned me to the connector that got me back on my way.

Secret Spirits Caol Ila 8 Year Old Single Malt – 59.8% ABV – Refill Bourbon cask. Cask Number SS007

Colour:   Pale horse of the Apocalypse pale. Barely a tinge of white gold.

Nose:   Smoldering Hickory

Palate:   Boom the 59.8% is awesome in its assault bringing plenty of those smoldering embers into play along with a spoonful of medicine that helps the whisky go down. Through it all there is a tingly ball of waxy honeycomb that ties it all together.

Finish:   Just dominates the palate with ABV coating goodness. The smoke just lingers on and on and makes me yearn for my next stint in the backyard poking at the fire pit. This is one big ballsy young Caol Ila and delivers in spades to all you Islay fans.

Every bit as awesome as I remember. There will be some full size bottles available of this dram so just email me at jonathan@secretspirits.com and I will let you know where you can get some.

In the 3rd edition on day 5 we had the A.D. Rattray Ledaig 9 Year Old. Seems that I always tend to insert our first dark side whisky around this time (to keep the peated faithful happy of course).

Check out Scotch Trooper who has no doubt incorporated some dark forces for his photo on this dram.

Tomorrow we are getting our Italian whisky geek on with a dram from those awesome guys at Samaroli.

Until then may your dark side dreams be everything you want and more.

Cheers

Singlemalting

Scotch Whisky Advent Calendar

Singlemalting # 170 – 4th edition SWAC Day 4 – Lost Distillery Company Dalaruan Classic

Welcome back everyone to a day that brings a return to the archives. Dusty old books, newsprint and endless hours of pouring over any and all evidence that Glasgow University and the boys from Lost Distillery Company could glean brings us the Dalaruan Classic.

Dalaruan Distillery ran from 1825 to 1925 in Campbeltown and this recreation is worth all the effort the Lost Distillery Company put in. You can read a very long and interesting history on their website here.

Artists rendition of Dalaruan Distillery

Lost Distillery Company Dalaruan Classic Blended Malt – 43% ABV Non chill filtered and natural colour.

Colour:   Rusty Gold that hints at perhaps some sherry influence with a majority of american oak. Lost Distillery Co do not reveal the percentage of cask use (at least not to me and I have spent some time with them trying to pry it out over many drams).

Nose:    True to its Campbeltown roots this hits me with some briny coastal smoke and earth. Undercurrents of a BC Orchard complete with Peaches, Nectarines and Plums.

Palate:    The orchard continues with swirling notes of smoke and salt. Yummo is all I can say about this…. cant talk… drinking…..

Finish:  Belies it’s 43% with strong palate coating consistency. The stone fruit really continues to shine. I can almost taste the peach fuzz and imagine nibbling that last piece of flesh of the coarse and riveted pit.

This is an exceptional blended malt and one of the best that I have had in the Classic range from the Lost Distillery Co. I love the history and can imagine the hussle and bussle of a very vibrant Campbeltown whisky scene.

These guys (Brian and Scott) continue to impress me and it was such a treat to be able to include them in my list of sources for calendar whiskies last year. Looking forward to seeing what they have in store for me early next year.

Please head on over and catch Scotch Troopers take on our 4th edition. As our special guest this year he has what is sure to be the most interesting take on our calendar so far.

Tomorrow we head to the Dark Side for something from Secret Spirits so strap on your lightsaber and remember to use the force. Dram or Dram not… there is no try.

Cheers

Singlemalting.

Scotch Whisky Advent Calendar

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

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

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

MacDuff Distillery

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

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

Nose:   Canoli dusted with Lemon sherbet.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Slainte

Singlemalting