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

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

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

Aerial view of Tomintoul Distillery

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

See you all then

Cheers

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

 

When Scotland Calls one must answer – Part 3 | Blog # 79

2:30 am again…..really. OK then into a somewhat grueling routine of early emailing, 5:00am workout, 6:00am brekky and onto Craigton ready for work at 7:00am.

With a hope to get the Canadian order knocked over by the end of the day we all got stuck in to what was now becoming a very well oiled production line. Getting a video of a calendar rolling through the line from start to finish was fun. The friendly banter and good natured jibes were almost endless as everyone seemed to be having a good time buying into the team atmosphere and a belief that we were making something really awesome.

Lunch time came around all too fast and it was time to head off to A.D. Rattray’s Scotch Whisky Experience in Ayrshire. Knowing that everything was in good hands I was still going to be back the following morning for any last minute finishing touches.

Finally the traditional Scottish weather kicked in as it absolutely threw down all the way out to Kirkoswald. Ducking inside as quickly as possible I was just in time for a lovely sandwich and a cup of tea before having a great meeting with Nick White the general manager of A.D. Rattray. With very fortuitous timing Tim Morrison and his son Andrew were also visiting from the US and it was great to catch up albeit briefly with such an industry legend.

With much needed whisky work out of the way and a showing of the Collector’s Edition to Tim and all the A.D. Rattray staff, it was time for some whisky. Nick pulled out all the stops and I had the absolute pleasure of trying some exceptional drams including a 50 year old Girvan Single Grain, a 20 Year old Macallan and a heavily sherried 1999 Tomintoul. I will do a more thorough tasting of each of these at a later date.

Kept to just a wee tiny sip of each with an hours drive back to Glasgow I was at least able to get enough to know that I would happily keep a bottle of each on the shelf. There is also the added benefit of a tiny wax dipped sample bottle of each that was specially prepared for me to bring back to Canada. A special thanks to Emily for putting them together.

No rest for the wicked and believe me when it comes to having whisky related fun there are none more wicked than yours truly. Back into Glasgow to hook up with Iain Croucher brand ambassador for A.D. Rattray. After fighting through some dire traffic Iain was able to get downtown and whisk me away for a quick pint and a dram before dinner. Mother India was the venue for some top quality Indian fusion. Absolutely fantastic if you love Indian food and a great place to just chat about all things whisky with a top bloke. With Iain on his way to Spain the following day and me hitting the jet lag wall we called a relatively early night.

Hoping for a wee sleep in before heading North to Dunblane for further Scottish adventures.

Slainte!

The Craigton Packaging Plant and our little helpers … and tons of minis!

Scotchy Scotch Scotch Part 2 | Blog #64

Edinburgh Castle

What’s better than a lazy day taking a train through the lush Scottish landscape from Glasgow to Edinburgh on a sleepy Sunday?

Afternoon Tea Edinburgh

Day 1. Well after settling in to our hotel we made good use of the lobby lounge to relax and have afternoon tea complete with scones, jam and cream while looking at the splendid view of Edinburgh Castle. Amazing!

Some of you may have read my blog# 60 that covered the experience of my first night in Scotland. Well, I wanted to replicate it a little with Cindy getting in on the fun. Cindy, being the organized one, had a wee travel umbrella that had come in handy quite a few times but alas it was not big enough for both of us so with night setting in and a steady rain falling we grabbed a nice Tartan brolly to complete the set. Armed against the Scottish weather we strolled along the cobble stoned streets towards West Bow and the Bow Bar.

With the picturesque street lamps playing their light on the shiny wet cobblestones, Edinburgh looked like something right out of a Charles Dickens Novel.

Edinburgh

Arriving safe and dry at the Bow Bar, Cindy and I both grabbed a dram to toast the success of the first leg of our trip. Cindy’s dram of choice was a Glendronach 21 Year Old and mine was the proprietary bottling of Tomintoul 16 Year Old. Both delicious and cockle warming drams. The other truly fun part of spending time at lots of different Scottish bars was “Real Ale”. A big part of the craft brewing scene in the U.K. that can’t be missed is hand pumped ales and cask aged ales that are a must to experience some really yummy beer. Hand in hand with the many drams were an accompaniment of fab local real ales.

A pie and a pint at the Castle Arms was just the ticket to end a fun evening in the old city.

The Wemyss crew...all rugged up! The Wemyss crew…all rugged up!

Up nice and early ready for more difficult whisky tasting duties, this time with Wemyss Malts at their “arctic office” that had lost heating the night before. Without giving anything away we tasted some really exceptional drams with Jacqueline, Emma, Ginny and Susan. The Wemyss family has a long and lavish tradition with their fingers in many different business pies. Wemyss Malts, although a junior company compared to some of Wemyss exploits, has become one of the most important, acting as the face of Wemyss to consumers all around the world.

Perhaps teetering on the edge of losing my professional non-bias outlook on whisky for this years’ calendar, it was decided that I should take some of the whisky samples back to Calgary to try them in a less romantic setting 🙂

All of these intense tasting and negotiating sessions invariably lead to some sort of amazing dining experience. Jacque, Emma, Cindy and I braved some very chilly and windy conditions pushing into the breeze for a mere 200 meters that felt like a mile to The West Room. Yummo is all I can say after a delicious Real Ale and a crisp Gewurztraminer with some fabulous company. It was really great to get to know the team at Wemyss a little better. I am so excited to be working with such amazing companies and all I can say is that calendar owners this year are in for a real treat. Sadly, we had to leave the Wemyss team to don more jumpers and get back to their daily duties.

Jacquline & Emma

The Hanging Bat The Hanging Bat

Given a free reign for the evening Cindy and I were well up for an early cocktail at Moriarty’s followed by beer Nirvana at the Hanging Bat. Suggested to us by a long time industry friend James Cowan, the Hanging Bat was amazing. Some seriously great beer on offer. My suggestion would be to do the tasting flight. Rather than lining the beer up on a tray as is typical of flights I was presented with 5 Hanging Bat bottle caps which I could come back to the bar and redeem anytime for my next tasty treat. Pulled pork and 5 truly exceptional half pints made for a perfect pairing.

Day 2 with Wemyss and we were up at the crack of dawn meeting Jacque for a train ride across the Forth Road bridge, which is something to behold, and then onto Kingsbarns Distillery after a lovely drive through fields of snow drops. Wind and plenty of it is a regular hallmark of the Kingsbarns Distillery location just down the road from the home of Golf St. Andrews. Kingsbarns owned by the Wemyss family was brainchild of Doug Clement who drove past the old Dovecot and stone building everyday on his way back and forth as he caddied at Kingbarns and St. Andrews golf courses. Doug started us on a very interesting tour and I have to say that they have done a fantastic job on not just the distillery but the visitors center and tour. If you are anywhere near St Andrews on your next visit to Scotland you absolutely have to go and check out Kingsbarns.

Click photo to play video…

The most exciting part of our visit was seeing spirits pour from the stills knowing that the very first cask was about to be filled. A privilege indeed.

Kingsbarns Distillery Kingsbarns Distillery

The tasting room is full of delicious Wemyss bottlings and we got to try some that I had never seen before. Wow really impressive casks. Nose almost pressed to the glass I salivated over the Loch Indaal Catch 1982 Bowmore 32 Year Old. Not enough left for it to make it into the calendar but we may be lucky enough to see a few cases come our way later this year. The Flotsam and Jetsam 1991 Glen Scotia and the Smoldering Hickory 1997 Bunnahabhain were both delicious.

Bolstered with some hearty soup and yet another local beer from the Kinsbarns cafe, Jacque took us back to Edinburgh but not without a visit to the Old Course and a stop at St Andrews beach so I could brave the near gale conditions to fill a mini with St Andrews sand for a friend. I can barely imagine what it is like trying to play golf when it is that windy. The course was full as the golfing faithful braved the nasty conditions to play at the mecca of the golf world.

Thanks Jacque for taking us on such a great journey and Doug for showing us what I know will become a sought after distillery. Can hardly wait till the first bottling rolls off the line. Sad for our time with Wemyss to end this time around as we had so much fun.

A little more time in Edinburgh and another supplier meeting all coming up on next weeks blog.

Slainte!