Some of you will remember the Batch # 1 Shetland Reel from the 3rd edition calendar. It was a superbly put together blended malt by industry legend Stuart Nickerson. I just had to check out this years limited edition batch and see what he had in store for us.
Carefully chosen from distilleries all over the mainland the casks are shipped up to Unst in the northernmost island in the Shetland chain. There Stuart creates a unique combination of Single Malts and ages them together for another year before release. Stuart tells me that this batch has single malt from Islay, Speyside and the Highlands.
Shetland Reel Blended Malt Scotch Whisky – ABV 46% no caramel colouring or chill filtration
Colour: Pale Straw
Nose: Salty and sweet like salted caramel squares.
Palate: The salty caramel continues on with smoky undertones and hints of earthy rubber.
Finish: The peat base slowly asserts itself and my guess would be that Stuart included a fair amount of Islay in this combo. The sweetness of the salted caramel is more of a memory now but the briny hints remain. Feels bigger than 46% and really packs a punch. This is the boldest Shetland Reel batch yet.
Absolutely love good blended malt and would highly recommend that everyone try as many as they can get their lips on.
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.
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.
Welcome to day two everyone as we get to try something new from the good folks at Wemyss Malts. Wemyss has played a prominent part in all of our editions and was integral in our launch of the 1st edition. For me to not have something from this great historical Scottish Family would make a calendar edition incomplete.
We start our Wemyss Malts lineup this edition with a bit of a new take on an older limited edition whisky that was showcased way back in our first edition calendar. The Wemyss Malts Spice King 12 Year Old blended malt was at an ABV of 40% and you can read all about it here. It was day 19 in the first edition way back in blog No. 51 (wow that seems a long time ago). It proved to be a very popular dram then and so when Wemyss mentioned that they were doing a batch strength version I jumped all over it. More ABV to play with and more toys in the toy box for you to enjoy.
Wemyss Malts Spice King Batch Strength – 56% ABV Blended malt of Highland and Island Distilleries
Nose: A combination of single malts from the Highlands and Island regions of Scotland this indeed seems a lot weightier than the 40% predecessor. Go carefully into the Spey glass here people as there is a lot coming back at you. A briny edge which makes me think of Ledaig the proprietary label for the Tobermory distillery on the Isle of Mull. brown boot polish and wax. Earthy spice here with a medicinal edge that just says “insert peated barley here”.
Pallet: On the pallet this is a lot weightier and feels like a lot more “island” influence than before. Bitter/sweet peppers and hints of hot spice like paprika and chili. The briny character from the nose gets in there with some salty undertones.
Finish: The Spiciness fades as some fruit kicks in to take over. Lychee is big on this finish and creates a really interesting complexity as the spices die away. At 56% this does linger on and the Lychee just stays with you…….
Wow I have to like this new expression of Spice King. Way more complex than the 40% counterpart we had in the 1st edition and shows just why having extra ABV to play with can be so awesome.
Coincidence that last year in the 3rd edition we had the Wemyss Malts Barrista’s Dram Craigellachie and here we are again getting into yet another delicious Wemyss whisky. As I have mentioned many times in my blogs I love the Blended Malt category of Scotch Whiskies. A. because I like to root for the underdog and B. when single malts are combined with skill they can be even more interesting than if they were bottled in isolation.
Tomorrow we head to one of our stalwarts of the Scotch Whisky Advent Calendar, A.D. Rattray. This is where my love of Scotch Whisky was born so I am always excited about the chance to showcase their amazing single cask collection.
Welcome back Whisky fans to another edition of your hand curated journey through the regions and styles that make Scotch Whisky so amazing. As you might have read from my blog last week we had a lot of fun putting our 4th edition of the Scotch Whisky Advent Calendar together again this year. Loads in store for all of you over the next 25 days or more depending on how long you want to take over these delicious drams.
We have an unprecedented 10 different independent bottlers in this 4th edition which will make for a really fun ride. It seems that each year we are presented with even more to choose from which bodes well for future editions.
Time to punch out your tasting glass door and grab your 4th edition Spey glass. We were inspired to add this glass after tasting whisky in the slightly smaller version that the boys over at Single Cask Nation have been using for their festivals. Knowing that we have many drammers looking to add ice and water we went the next size up.
Find your door number 1 and away we go.
Old Malt Cask Tamdhu 18 Year Old – Cask Number HL11956 50% ABV – Refill Hogshead
Tamdhu is a distillery in Speyside founded in 1897. No expense was spared and the equivalent of 20 million pounds in today’s money was raised for the construction. It was the most modern distillery built at that time and the quality of the spirit quickly brought about an eager consumer following. Closed in 2010 as surplus to the Edrington Groups needs at the time it was purchased by Ian MaCleod Distillers and reopened in 2013.
The first whisky in this edition’s lineup comes from an independent bottler making their debut. Old Malt Cask is a brand owned by Hunter Laing who have a very long tradition of bottling. I was excited to be able to include them this year and slot them in as our first up to the plate dram.
Colour: Chardonnay light – Refill Hogshead working its magic here on this lovely subtle shine.
Nose: Bright fresh bouquet of wildflower honey, graham crackers and vanilla cream wafers.
Palate: Zesty citrus, candied lemon rind with limoncello filling.
Finish: Vanilla lingers heavily and the zest continues. This reminds me of an amazing desert I had in Florida at the Bull and Bear. The 50% sits nicely with this dram and the Spey glass works the nose well. Delicious fresh Tamdhu expression from Old Malt Cask.
Funny that this is reminiscent of a certain whisky that was day one of our first edition from Wemyss Malts called Citrus Burst from the Linkwood Distillery. Our day 1 whisky in the 3rd edition however was the delicious 18 year old Speyside Single Malt bottled by Secret Spirits. So in 4 editions our kick of dram has been provided by 4 different independent bottlers. Wemyss Malts, A.D. Rattray, Secret Spirits and now Old Malt Cask from Hunter Laing. I wonder who will grab the coveted spot for the 5th edition.
Great start to this edition and I can promise you many more delicious drams to come. Tomorrow we head back on a bit of a revisit of sorts but this time at batch strength. Let’s see what the folks at Wemyss Malts have come up with for us.
I would also like to introduce to everyone our guest blogger/photographer this edition Scotch Trooper.
Everyday there will be something amazing from him to check out so be sure to head over to his site daily. Most of his posts will be on his Instagram page so please head over there and subscribe.
A very warm welcome to those in the US that are getting access to our calendars for the first time this year. It’s great to be able to share our love of great Scotch Whisky with you.