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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 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 18 – Singlemalting # 215 – Secret Spirits Glenallachie 9 Year Old

Time to unleash “THE BEAST”. Many of you have been sleepily, comfortably nodding along to the clickety clack of our Scotch Whisky Advent Calendar Train as it meanders through the hills and towns of Scotland. There has been the occasional sighting of something lurking beneath the peated moors but nothing has really given you cause for alarm. Today that is all about to change. Over in the Secret Spirits corner we have weighing in at the sensationally high ABV of 65.6% the Glenallachie 9 Year Old Bourbon casked Single Malt. This is an extremely high ABV for a cask strength Scotch Whisky as more often than not casks are filled at 63.5%. In the other corner is you and your Aurora glass, a trembling hand holding a water dropper and an impending sense of taste bud destruction.

Glenallachie is a Speyside distillery in the town of Arbelour founded in 1967. Just a touch older than me making it pretty young in Scottish distillery terms. It is now owned by the Glenallachie Distillers Co. being the 4th owner since its opening. At the foot of Ben Nevis the highest peak in Scotland Glenallachie is fed pristine water by the nearby Lour Burn.

Glenallachie Distillery

Secret Spirits Glenallachie 9 Year Old Single Malt – Bourbon Cask # 900537 – The Whopping ABV of 65.6% YeeeHaaa

Colour:            Pretty pale gold again. Even though when I picked this cask all they could tell me was that it was an ex-Bourbon. I think that there is a good chance that it is a refill cask.

Nose:                Baboom Baby Yeah. Holy Smokes that is a huge nose. Ok now that I have taken a few moments to get my bearings I’m going back in…. OK this is very cool and not coming across sweet at all to me as yet. Dirty martini with extra briny olives. Creamy Gorgonzola. Yep this really smells like a charcuterie plate. Maybe some sun dried tomatoes and a couple of figs to round it all out.

Palate:              This is perfect today after taking little Sashes for a walk and then hooking up all the Christmas lights outside in the snow and cold. Definitely a savoury dram overall but I am also getting some wee dried apricots (always a feature on a good charcuterie plate). A tiny jar of red pepper jelly. If we took after Wemyss Malts I would call this dram the Charcuterie Plate Glenallachie. So fun, seriously this is why each distillery, regardless of region, is a unique entity and can offer up amazing whisky. This is especially so when it’s through a single cask bottling. Thank goodness we saved this cask from heading to the blending house.

Finish:          The weight of the ABV carries this dram a long way and the savoury notes just keep on coming. I do get just a touch of fresh apples as the alcohol tails away right at the end. OK water time ladies and gents. The nose does soften but the savoury notes are still there. The palate however shows a much greater fruit influence and the apricot comes through big time. Not sure if I liked it better without…… would depend on my mood. The good news is that at this ABV if you do splash a good amount of water into it that you are likely to get 3 ounces out of this. Absolutely cracking dram this even if I do say so myself. We will have bottles of this available in the New Year….it comes in bottles?…….. I’m getting one.

On this day in the 4th edition we had the Secret Spirits 19 Year Old Glenrothes Bourbon Cask.

Another day another trip to Youtube to watch the ever increasing Speyside controversy craziness of the Whiskey Tribe and the Scotch Test Dummies.

Tomorrow we are off to Islay (and there was much rejoicing) for something from our friends at A.D. Rattray.

Until the morrow

Slainte

Jonathan

5th Edition Scotch Whisky Advent Calendar Day 17 – Singlemalting # 214– Secret Spirits Glentauchers 10 Year Old

G’day everyone and welcome back. Today we jump into a dram from a distillery that I first tasted when sourcing whiskies to include in the 1st edition. Glentauchers proved to be absolutely delicious and I have sought out casks every since. Glentauchers is a Speyside distillery founded in 1898 by a distant relative of mine, James Buchanan.  Located in the town of Mulben in Moray it is seldom seen as a Single Malt except through the lens of independent bottling. In our 1st edition we had a comparison of 3 different Glentauchers from Samaroli, Wemyss and A.D. Rattray. They were all unique and one of the favorite aspects for many of that very first edition. Glentauchers is now owned by Pernod Ricard and a very limited amount of their proprietary 15 Year Old Single Malt is available in some markets.

Glentauchers Distillery

There has not been a Single Malt expression of Glentauchers since that 1st edition 5 years ago. I was very excited to find this cask amongst the many offerings I had in front of me this past March in Scotland. This Glentauchers is amongst 4th other whiskies in this 5th edition that are over 60%. It’s so fun to be able to water the whisky as you see fit and cask strength literally means the whisky is taken straight from the barrel put through a rough filter and popped straight into bottle with no water added. Lets see what this Glentauchers has to offer straight up and then we will play a little.

Secret Spirits Glentauchers 10 Year Old Single Malt – Speyside – Refill Bourbon Cask # 900122 – 62.9% ABV

Colour:     Pale straw again as could be expected from a refill cask and of course no caramel colouring added…..ever.

Nose:         This is a big nose and the high ABV certainly gets out of the gate quick. This seems like a whole orchard of fruit. A veritable cornucopia including grapes, pears, apples, some tropical additions like pineapple and mango. This is fruit salad in a glass.

Palate:       Oh wow does that ever go in an interesting direction. The alcohol does not seem over 60 but instead spreads everything over the palate like a layer of creme custard. Warmed white Christmas cake with vanilla custard would do it justice.

Finish:      The alcohol funnily enough seems to kick in finally at the finish asserting itself and creating a lasting zesty connection to the fruit and cream.

This is a big dram for a 10 year old and there is a ton going on here. Water time. Oh and what a nice addition that tiny splash was. The fruit lifts even more and comes charging out of the glass. Does seem to bring the alcohol a little more into focus on the mid palate but not overpowering and I still get the creaminess but that lovely thick custard layer is gone. Finishes much softer with the zest giving way to just a big hand full of lovely fruit.

I have loved every single cask that I have tasted from this distillery and will continue to look for it for future editions.

In the 4th edition on day 17 we had the Samaroli MacDuff 19 Year Old Sherry Cask.

Dont forget to wade in on the Speyside Controversy over at the Whisky Vault or catch up with Bart or Scott or both at Scotch Test Dummies.

Tomorrow we head to……wait for it…….Speyside Bwahahahahaha. This time around we are going to the highest peak of ABV that we have scaled this edition. Keep your water droppers handy because we are going big or going home. Tomorrow’s Distillery is brought to you by the letter G and the number 9 and was picked by non other than Secret Spirits.

Until tomorrow then. I hope you have been able to spend enough time to figure out the nuances of flavor and character between all of these different distilleries and limited edition expressions.

Cheers

Jonathan

Singlemalting # 208 – 5th Edition Scotch Whisky Advent Calendar Day 11 – Wemyss Malts Vanilla Burst Blended Malt

Well hello again calendar junkies. Today we have another one of those American TTB label challenges. This whisky from Wemyss Malts is actually called Vanilla Burst but we could not put vanilla on the label so instead we chose Delicious Burst. Hope that no one is as confused as I am. Vanilla is delicious right? Wemyss has been fighting this battle with the TTB for over a decade and still have not really gotten anywhere. It is surprising to me that the Scotch Malt Whisky Society seems to be able to get their bottles into the US as every label is even more apt to include all sorts of non-whisky flavors than Wemyss. Hopefully sanity will prevail and at some point the Wemyss line of delicious single casks will be available in the US market. Looking back at some of the past calendars you can read about whiskies like Aromatic Orange Tobacco and Applewood Bake. We will certainly continue to feature Wemyss Malts in the future and I am hoping that we dont have to water down their great labels.

Vanilla Burst

This limited edition of only 4800 bottles is made up of Single Malts from 2 Speyside distilleries. All the 14 casks used were 1st fill ex bourbon American oak barrels. Vanilla is certainly a flavor profile that a lot of people pick up on with American Oak. Lets see how true to the name this whisky is. We have generally included at least one of Wemyss Malts limited edition blended malts in each edition as they have all been stellar. Some of you may remember with mouth watering fondness an outstanding Wemyss Malts blended malt whisky from our 2nd edition, the very impressive Velvet Fig.

Wemyss Malts Vanilla Burst Blended Malt – 4800 bottles – 1st Fill Bourbon Barrels – 46% alcohol – Speyside

Colour:     Nice rich golden 1st fill Bourbon colour.

Nose:        There certainly is a big hit of fresh vanilla bean, creme brulee, fudge and an earthy grassy undercurrent. I thought there might actually be even more vanilla but am pleased to see some other characters vying for my attention.

Palate:      Nice mouth coating spread of flavor and the vanilla dies down a touch compared to the nose. More cask infuence coming through now with some touches of white pepper and that fresh hay and mown grass cuts through the middle. This is a very easy going dram and as the name implies is meant to showcase the use of American oak with lighter speyside spirit.

Finish:      Vanilla fades as the cask takes over a bit leaving a dry citrus note hanging on.

 

Remember to TRIBE and DUMMY today and see what those guys think about this little blended malt.

On this day in our 4th edition we had the Samaroli Islay 2017 edition. For those peat heads that are already starting to pine for more in this 5th edition hold tight help is on the way soon.

Tomorrow we are taking a second step back in time with the boys at Lost Distilleries.

Looking forward to getting my geek on again.

Cheers

Jonathan

 

 

5th Edition Scotch Whisky Advent Calendar Day 10 – Singlemalting # 207 – Secret Spirits Royal Brackla 11 Year Old

Welcome to another Secret Spirits cask. Today we head to the Highlands and are filling our glasses with a dram from the Royal Brackla Distillery. It is one of only 3 distilleries to ever bear the name Royal. Royal Lochnegar is still in production however the other, Glenury Royal was unfortunately demolished. The Brackla distillery was built in 1812 on the grounds of Cawdor Castle and received it’s royal warrant from the King in 1833 becoming the first distillery to receive this lofty title. As is the case with a lot of older distilleries Royal Brackla has been closed and opened a number of times including during the second world war. A training airstrip was even built alongside it for aerial gunnery practice. After reopening in 1991 following a closure of 6 years it has now remained in continuous production. It is owned by alcohol powerhouse Bacardi. Independent bottlings are still somewhat rare so I was pretty pleased to get the chance to grab this cask for a Secret Spirits bottling.

Royal Brackla Distillery

Secret Spirits Royal Brackla 11 Year Old Single Malt – Refill Bourbon Barrel # 31878 – 57% alcohol – Highland

Colour:                   Pale straw. Another very light whisky in colour. This was a refill bourbon so even at 11 years old there is not a lot imparted. This could actually be the lightest whisky in this edition so far.

Nose:                       Marzipan, furniture polish and linseed oil. There is something funky underlying here…a mixture of my cedar humidor and all the lovely tobacco notes that rise out of it..

Palate:                     Bees wax, new leather (not that I have new leather for dinner often), hints of papaya but very muted. That polished wood tobacco note is still there.

Finish:                    The almond nutty marzipan comes back again in the background while the furniture polish feel rolls on. There is some hints of dried rose petals right at the death.

Nice to see that not all Highland whiskies are all about just sweet honey and dessert. This is a very cool whisky and I am going to be on the hunt for an older expression of Royal Brackla for future calendars for sure. This is a very delicious dram and one that I was super excited to find as it is pretty rare. Let me know if you would like to see some more Royal Brackla in future. Perhaps in a different type of barrel like a sherry cask?

Head over to you know where – Whisky Vault and Scotch Test Dummies – every day without fail…. just do it.

The day 10 offering in the 4th edition was none other than the Lost Distillery Jericho Archivist. A delicious older blended malt.

Tomorrow we are in for another treat from those tasting note toting Wemyss Malts folks and I can’t wait. We will fight the TTB one funky tasting note label at a time. Let me know your thoughts on the tasting note challenge. Do you think their actual labels are misleading?

See you on the morrow fellow drammers. I hope that you are enjoying the ride and going to places in whisky that you have not gone before.

Cheers

Jonathan

 

5th Edition Scotch Whisky Advent Calendar Day 9 – A.D. Rattray Glen Moray 10 Year Old – Singlemalting # 206

So all is revealed in the fullness of time. Glen Moray is our comparison distillery this edition and we have a cask off between Secret Spirits Glen Moray 9 Year old from way back on day 4 and this A.D. Rattray bottling on day 9. If you didn’t keep any of the Secret Spirits bottling and you didn’t take any notes you can always just go back and read my blog or check out Whisky Vault or Scotch Test Dummies for a refresher. So how will the A.D. Rattray compete with my mum’s Creamed Rice Pudding.

I won’t go into the details on the distillery again but I will point out the comparison pieces we had in previous editions.

1st Edition that you cannot get your hands on anymore for love nor money saw a 3 way battle between Samaroli, Wemyss Malts and A.D. Rattray with the Glentauchers distillery. We only had 3 independent bottlers back then and each one put up a really great cask of Glentauchers that were all very different and unique.

2nd Edition that is still available for a fairly hefty pricetag these days saw Wemyss Malts take on A.D. Rattray with casks of Craigellachie. The Wemyss Malts cask was sherry and the A.D. Rattray Bourbon offering very different takes on a great distillery.

3rd Edition that you can still add to your collection had a battle royale between Malt Whisky Company with their amazing 8 Year Old Sherried Glenrothes and Wemyss Malts 27 Year Old Glenrothes. You would think it was a one sided affair however the Malt Whisky Company cask was incredible and showcased how stunning younger whisky can be.

4th Edition that can be found on our online stores had Samaroli up against A.D. Rattray with different expressions from the MacDuff Distillery. It is so cool to be able to try different casks from the same distillery so we promise to search high and low in all future editions to keep the tradition alive.

Glen Moray barrel warehouse

A.D. Rattray Glen Moray 10 Year Old Single Malt – Bourbon Barrel # 5677 – 57.7% alcohol – Speyside

Colour:        Always hard pressed to get a lot of colour from a Bourbon Cask even 1st fill. Light Gold.

Nose:           This Glen Moray goes in much more of a zesty lemon direction. Lemon pound cake with vanilla icing. Like walking into a local bakery in Australia and looking at the delicious selection under the glass. This smell takes me right back there. Ok bang…. lemon tarts, you know the little pastry shells filled with tangy lemon filling. Finally got right down to it. My wife Cindy says that that I am out to lunch and this is way more pineapple/Pina Colada. I have great respect for Cindy’s palate as it is a scientific fact that the ladies percieve a larger range of smells and flavours. Who do you vote for?

Palate:         The citrus meets pastry is all over this for me. Sugar dusted fresh baked lemon muffins with a dollop of cream cheese.

Finish:         High ABV zestiness kicks in big time on the finish for me leaving strong citrus (lemon) continuing for ages. No doubt the finish on this is longer I think than the Secret Spirits Cask.

So which cask do you prefer out of the Secret Spirits and A.D. Rattray Glen Moray’s. Did you find as much difference as I did or were they very simal for you? Both Bourbon casks and very close in age but for me very different.

Last time around in the 4th edition on day 9 we had Wemyss Malts “The Hive” Batch Strength.

Scotch Test Dummies and Whisky Vault share their insights on this cask off so check it out.

Delicious times ahead for tomorrow as we get into double digits with day 10. Another cask from Secret Spirits and another distillery making it’s first appearance in any of our editions. Awesome.

Cheers

Jonathan

Singlemalting # 205 – 5th Edition Scotch Whisky Advent Calendar Day 8 – Old Malt Cask Balmenach 13 Year Old

Old Malt cask get their second appearance in our calendars and showcase Balmenach Distillery. This is the first time we have had the pleasure of bottling a cask of Balmenach in any of our editions so I’m excited to share this dram with all of you. As you may be aware Old Malt Cask is a brand owned by Hunter Laing. They always bottle at 50% alcohol for this brand and always do single cask expressions. No chill filtration or caramel colouring ever touches these whiskies so you can be happy that every ounce of deliciousness is still in the bottle.

Balmenach Distillery

Balmenach is a Speyside distillery that was established in 1824 by James MacGregor from farmers and illicit distillers living in Tomintoul. It stands beneath the nearby hill of Tom Lethandry where the Jacobites were defeated in the battle of Cromdale in 1690. Never a shortage of serious history to discover in Scotland that just adds to the awe surrounding this delicious spirit. It is now owned by Inver House Distillers who also own Knockdhu, Speyburn, Balblair and Old Pultney.

Old Malt Cask Balmenach 13

Old Malt Cask Balmenach 13 Year Old Single Malt Scotch Whisky – Refill Bourbon Barrel number HL14727 – 50% Alcohol – Speyside.

Colour:          Super light Sauvignon Blanc colour as a result of aging in a refill Bourbon barrel.

Nose:             Custard Apple, ginger snaps, vanilla wafers and fresh cream.

Palate:           Creamy vanilla custard over baked Fuji apples. Light but with a lot of swirling delicate flavor. You can guess by now that this little adventure is meant to take you well out of your comfort zone and make you think a little more than perhaps you do normally when sitting down to a dram. I do like drams that take time to discover so hopefully you blanked out time in your busy schedule to really dive in.

Finish:           Very gentle for 50% ABV and the delicious vanilla wafers and cream continues on. The apple dies away but I get that touch of ginger or perhaps the alcohol finally kicking onto the tip of the tongue and making me think spice.

Balmenach is very rarely seen so it is a real treat having this cask. Thanks Hunter Laing for adding this distillery to the list of Advent Calendar Adventure stops. I would like to see more Balmenach in future editions and perhaps something older or in a first fill cask just for comparison.

Whisky Vault………Scotch Test Dummies………must visit……..must watch……….

On day 8 of the 4th edition Scotch Whisky Advent Calendar we had the A.D. Rattray Fettercairn 11 Year Old.

Tomorrow it is time to have our yearly taste off. Every edition we bottle at least two casks from the same distillery. This is so that you can see how different each single cask is even if the whisky is from the same distillery and close to the same age. Always done from different bottler’s perspectives this excersise has generated some of the most interesting discussion over the years.

See you tomorrow then same dram time same dram channel.

Cheers

Jonathan

Singlemalting # 204 – 5th Edition Scotch Whisky Advent Calendar Day 7 – Adelphi Breath of Speyside

Hello there Advent’urers. Hope you are all having a blast so far. Here we are at the end of our first full week and it’s time to get some serious sherry cask action going. Adelphi has made only one appearance before in our third edition with the only closed distillery bottling we have had to date. That Cambus 27 Year Old was truly something special and so we desperately wanted to have them back in another edition. This time around we have a blended malt featuring only Single Malts from the Speyside region and aged entirely in a Sherry butt. There were only 529 bottles produced and we used 150 of them alone just for our 5th edition calendars.

Adelphi is an independent bottler that also boasts distillery ownership. The Ardnamurchan distillery opened in 2014 and it is anyones guess when we will see the first whisky release. My meeting with Alex earlier this year did unlock the fact that it should be just around the corner. So even though this is presented as a blended malt I do have it on good authority that it is a teaspooned Sherry Butt of Glenfarclas. Teaspooning is as way for distilleries to sell casks to independents that cannot then be botted as a single malt or showing the distillery name. All they have to do is pour a teaspoon of another malt into the cask and boom blended malt. For all intents and purposes however one teaspoon makes no difference at all so the character of the cask remains untouched.

Breath of Speyside

Glenfarclas is a Speyside distillery that uses entirely sherry casks for all of their expressions. Planning well ahead they have had barrel programs in place with Spanish Bodega’s for a long time ensuring their uninterupted supply of sherry casks. Glenfarclas is said to have started production in 1791 but was first granted a license in 1836. In 1865 it was purchased by John Grant and is still owned by the Grant family remaining one of the oldest family owned distilleries operating in Scotland. It is located in the wee town of Ballindalloch in Speyside and has a fantastic visitors center and is a must for anyone doing a Speyside distillery crawl.

Glenfarclas Rainbow

Adelphi Breath of Speyside “Blended” (teaspooned) Malt Scotch Whisky 11 Year Old – Aged in a 1st fill Sherry Butt – 57.8% alcohol

Colour:                Some deep colour on this whisky for only 11 years. 1st fill sherry will do that and Glenfarclas has access to excellent casks.

Nose:                    Stone fruit medley, plums, peaches, nectarines all being lightly poached in an Amontillado sherry reduction.

Palate:                  Fantastic weight here with the 57.5% and boy do those luscious stone fruits come through big time. For me perhaps the plum comes out the most. My brother and I used to spend a lot of time at my grandfathers place in Adelaide and apart from the fabulous apricot trees he also had 2 plum trees. In my childhood memory they always seemed to be overflowing with delicious satsuma plums. The slightly dry and faintly bitter note is deliciously reminiscent of that thick satsuma skin. Once the initial bite passes the skin there is an explosion of juicy sweet deep red plum flesh that I can remember like it was yesterday. Sweet and Sour Sauce.

Finish:                  Nice dry tannic finish throwing that 1st fill sherry cask influence right at us. Plum roll please…………..Bud um Bom.

Make sure you dont forget about our friends at the Whisky Vault and Scotch Test Dummies.

On day 7 in the 4th edition we had the Ainneamh 12 year old sherried blended malt. Would have loved to try these side by side as the Ainneamh was a combination of single malts that included some Islay influence.

Tomorrow we are back to a Single Cask expression from our friends at Hunter Laing. Their Old Malt cask range has made an appearance before so lets see whats in store this time around.

Until then don’t drink your dram all at once…. or empty every last drop into your Aurora glass until theres nothing left but memories.

Cheers

Jonathan