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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





Winter is coming | Blog #82

What a great time of year to get your thoughts turning to all things whisky. Apart from the huge amount of whisky related consumer events coming up there is just that chill in the air confirming that warming drams will be a mainstay to help get you through the long cold months ahead.

To kick the Autumn season off right my wife and I jumped into a little creative whisky warmer.

Boasting a fair amount of warming kick and some potential snuggle worthy time in front of the fire this is a whisky based fall drink not to be missed.

Hot Buttered Hazelnut Whisky


4 parts milk
1 cinnamon stick
2 parts whisky
1 part Frangelico
1 tablespoon whipped cream per individual serving
pinch of cinnamon (for garnish)

Bring the milk and cinnamon stick to a simmer in a thick-bottomed pot over low heat. Allow to gently simmer for 15 minutes, stirring constantly (if you don’t stir constantly, the milk on the bottom of the pan will start to cook onto it, and the next time you stir the pot little cooked milk bits will mix into the liquid. Not so fun.) Remove from heat, remove the cinnamon stick, and pour the milk into the serving glass. Add the whiskey and the Frangelico and stir to combine. Top with whipped cream and a sprinkle of cinnamon. Serve immediately.

We used a nice Highland dram for this as we did not want anything too heavy competing with the cinnamon and cream. Grab something handy from your collection that has a bit of fruit and a touch a sweetness.

Hot Buttered Hazelnut Whisky Hot Buttered Hazelnut Whisky

Whisky can be such a great base for so many drinks. Using decent whisky is a must. There is no doubt that the best cocktails I have ever had included only the best ingredients and especially the best whiskies. It’s like using great wine for cooking. The better the base the more flavorful the result.

Write in and give us some of your favorite warming drinks. We will work through all the entries and spend some time “testing” the best and post the most delicious on the blog in December. The winning entry will receive a set of 2 Angel’s Share glass Pot Still cocktail stirrer’s.

This is such a pretty time of year as the great outdoors puts on an amazing display of color. Enjoy it all while the leaves hold on as everyone in Alberta knows fall is just a speed bump in Winter’s path.

We have had a lot of you readers asking what events Secret Spirits will be participating in between now and Christmas.

Here is a short list of events that you can find us at:

October 3rd – Rocky Mountain Smokeout – Stoney Nakota Casino (sorry you missed a great night)

October 16th and 17th – Rocky Mountain Food and Wine Festival – Calgary

October 30th – Scotch Whisky Advent Calendar Sneak Peek – Wine and Beyond McTaggart Edmonton

November 4th and 5th – Zyn the Wine Market – Whisky Tasting and Scotch Whisky Advent Calendar sneak peek

November 4th – Whisky in the Warehouse Willow Park

November 6th and 7th – Rocky Mountain Food and Wine Festival – Edmonton

November 7th – Whiskies of the World Festival – Co-op Calgary

November 10th and 11th – Wine and Beyond Whisky Week Windermere and Emerald Hills – Edmonton

November 19th – Whisky fundraising event in Red Deer in conjunction with Liquor Crossing – Red Deer

November 20th – Single Cask Whisky tasting at Andrew Hilton Wines and Spirits – Lethbridge

November 21st – Crowfoot Wine and Spirits Whisky Festival – Calgary

November 28th – Whisky evening at Point McKay Wines and Spirits – Calgary

December 1st  – Scotch Whisky Advent Calendar 2nd Edition Launch Party. By invitation only.

I hope to see you at least once to one of these amazing events.


*Photos compliments of our fav food photographer Eva Kosmas Flores

Advent Day 23 – Wemyss “Ginger Spice” 1988 Glenrothes 24 Year Old Single Malt | Blog #55

The Glen of Dounie on the edge of the town of Rothes is the location for what has become a very popular whisky in recent years. Glenrothes Distillery, First opened in 1879 and used mainly for the Cutty Sark premium blend the squat round Glenrothes bottle is now instantly recognizable by Single Malt enthusiasts.

Whisky: Wemyss “Ginger Spice” 1988 Glenrothes 24 year old single malt

*Cask # 4249 – Sherry Butt – 46% non-chill filtered*

“Ginger Spice” Glenrothes 24yo

Colour: Tarnished Gold – light for a 24 year old sherry cask (perhaps second fill?)

Nose: Ginger lemon cookies coated in sugar crystals and infused with cinnamon and nutmeg.

Palate: Sweet poached apple/mandarin wrapped in a soft gingerbread layer.

Finish: Evolving citrus character and sweet clove lingering on.

Water: Brings out a lasting slightly zesty sweet citrus finish.

**Curt from All Things Whisky has also been “Tasting” along with the calendar. Check out his notes HERE.

This is a really lovely sherried whisky. The cask has not been allowed to overpower the spirit at all and could be for a 24 year old one of the most delicate sherried whiskies I have ever had.

Just delicious and a great way to continue to celebrate Advent and the last few days before Christmas.

This amazing whisky is available only from the following retailers in the very limited quantity of 60 bottles:


Silver Springs Liquor

Highlander Wine and Spirits

Crowfoot Wine and Spirits

Aspen Wine and Spirits


Sherbrooke Liquor Store

Spruce Grove

Liquor on McLeod


Andrew Hilton Wine and Spirits


Ingredients Artisan Market

Well, I hope you have been enjoying this last little buildup to Christmas.

Tomorrow we head off shore to visit a very rare independent bottling from A.D. Rattray for our Christmas Eve dram.

So finish your shopping early, make sure the kids are in bed and the fire is roaring. Grab your Spiegelau whisky tumbler and join me on the couch for a real treat.

See you on Christmas Eve …



Wemyss Malts Website

Advent Day 22 – “Samaroli Sherry” 1992 Glen Scotia 22 Year Old Single Malt | Blog #54

G’day everyone and welcome to Monday! So far we have had some outstanding casks from Samaroli and today we have our first experience of a whisky aged in Sherry from them and I can say I’ve been eagerly awaiting this day to dawn.

Glen Scotia is one of only 3 distilleries that reside in the small region of Campbeltown. Licensed in 1835 it is thought that Glen Scotia operated as an illicit still long before that. Campbeltown was once a thriving whisky mecca with 21 licensed distilleries and is the only town that is also a region.

Whisky: “Samaroli Sherry” 1992 Glen Scotia 22 year old single malt

*Cask # 4 – Sherry butt – 40% non-chill filtered*

“Samaroli Sherry” Glen Scotia 22yo

Colour: Still not really dark after 22 years it has a lovely rich reddish hue and polished bronze look about it.

Nose: Big for 40% and reminds me of getting into a brand new luxury car with full leather interior and mahogany wood trim. In the back seat is a bowl of dried fruit potpourri.

Palate: Creamy fruit driven double espresso with a marzipan and bitter orange biscotti.

Finish: Soft and long yet dry with some subtle tangy English marmalade.

This is a very complex dram and one that I could take a long time over to fully dig to the heart of everything that makes it tick.

Water: Didn’t do it as it is already at 40%. Please let me know if you had the courage to splash a drop or two.

**Curt from All Things Whisky has also been “Tasting” along with the calendar. Check out his notes HERE.

This is a great late night by the fire dram. Something that you want time and quiet for so you can contemplate what the heck is going on as different flavors intertwine and evolve.

The dry finish is typical of older Sherry casks but I love that it is still soft.

Fantastic whisky Samaroli good work guys.

This deep and complex Glen Scotia has only 60 bottles available from the following retailers:


Britannia Wine Merchants

Coop Wine and Spirits

Willow Park Wine & Spirits

Kensington Wine Market


Ingredients Artisan Market

Tomorrow we stay on the Sherry theme (very Christmassy) with another Wemyss Single Malt that will be sure to warm your hearts.

Tomorrow is the day before Christmas Eve and the excitement is building. Presents are safely tucked under the tree and if you have kids it’s probably already difficult to get them off to sleep.

The only sad part about tomorrow being day number 23 is that this years 1st Edition Scotch Whisky Advent Calendar will soon be coming to an end.

See you tomorrow …


Samaroli Website

Advent Day 21 – Wemyss “Evergreen Forrest” 1989 Cragganmore 23 Year Old Single Malt | Blog #53

The last Sunday before Christmas and a very fitting whisky title. Hopefully you have a lovely Evergreen Christmas tree up at your place and can snuggle on the couch with this dram from Wemyss.

This is another chance for a comparison if you think back to Day 3 and the “Samaroli Spey” which we learned was also from the Cragganmore distillery.

Whisky: Wemyss “Evergreen Forrest” 1989 Cragganmore 23 year old single malt

*Cask # 2853 – Bourbon Hogshead – 46% non-chill filtered*

Evergreen ForrestColour: Another extremely light whisky for 23 years of age. I am really anticipating some lovely delicate flavors here, goody goody. You can almost see some very light greenish highlights with the right lighting.

Nose: Damp moss and wild field berries. Some wet slate and white flowers. Like taking a walk through Kananaskis after heavy Rain.

Palate: Super smooooooth at 46% wow this is gentle on the tongue and releases it’s flavors in a very velvety delivery. A touch of candied pistachio and soft sweet caramel.

Finish: Very fresh almost like 8 O’Clock mint’s, sweet white mint filling with a touch of dark chocolate. That fresh creamy mint also ties in with the stroll through Kananaskis and the fresh mountain air.

Water: Develops a little more into a touch of black cat hair…..no wait what has Shadow been doing with my glass noooooooo ………..

Shadow -on the iPad keyboard on the computer keyboard ... cats! Shadow -on the iPad keyboard on the computer keyboard … cats!

…ahem….. after a bit of a reset and clean of the old faithful Spiegelau tumbler I get a touch of savory crusty fresh bread.

Don’t know if I’m tainted now after the close encounter with a particularly long cat hair but this was delicious whisky indeed.

**Curt from All Things Whisky has also been “Tasting” along with the calendar. Check out his notes HERE.

This yum in a bottle whisky is available from the following awesome retailers in the quantity of 60 units only:


Coop Wine and Spirits

Willow Park Wine & Spirits


Vinestone Wine Co


Andrew Hilton Wines and Spirits



Ingredients Artisan Market

Completely different from Day 3. With the comparisons of 3 Glentauchers and now 2 Cragganmore’s I hope that you can see how unique each single cask can be. While vatting together 100’s of barrels certainly has it’s merits for creating an ongoing flavor there is a lot to be said for finding those amazing barrels and saving them from becoming just one of the pack.

Independent bottling’s are super special for this very reason. If you take nothing away from this calendar journey except that trying single cask whiskies is cool then my work here is done.

See you tomorrow for the short countdown to Christmas Day. We head to an as yet untouched region of Scotland that only has a small number of distilleries so is pretty rare to see outside of their own labels.



Wemyss Malts Website

Advent Day 20 – Samaroli 1996 Glentauchers 17 Year Old Single Malt | Blog #52

Surprise surprise, for those that had not figured it out from my clues we have the third installment of the Glentauchers experience. Same distillery, 3 independent bottlers and 3 very different tasting whiskies.

This time Samaroli comes up to bat with an American oak version from not one but 2 sister casks.

Samaroli 1996 Glentauchers 17 Year Old Single Malt

*Cask#’s 4232 and 4233 – Speyside 45% alcohol non-chill filtered*

Take a quick refresh from day’s 13 and 17 with the Wemyss 20 Year Old and A.D. Rattray 18 Year Old Glentauchers.

Glentauchers 17yo Glentauchers 17yo

Colour: Scottish Shortbread

Nose: Bananana coupled with some mango and pineapple. A real tropical fruit salad.

Palate: Banana continues on the palate along with the rest of the tropical fruit. This is again a whisky that leads from nose straight into taste hand in hand like a honeymooning couple.

Finish: Not harsh in any way the 45% fits the flavor with just a light tingle. The tropical theme continues on like a hot night in Barbados.

Water: I did add just a splash to this and was rewarded with some additional green tea ice cream character on the finish.

**Curt from All Things Whisky has also been “Tasting” along with the calendar. Check out his notes HERE.

Well, could 3 whiskies from the same distillery be any different?

I hope that this little journey within a journey has opened your eyes to how complex and different each unique barrel is. Rather than throwing hundreds of barrels together and meshing all qualities into a consistent flavor, independent bottlers really do try to pick out only the most amazing expressions. Quite often they are looking for a particularly interesting and different take on the distilleries usual flavor profile.

This delicious take on Glentauchers is available from the following retailers in the limited amount of 30 700ml bottles:


Crowfoot Wine and Spirits

Aspen Wine and Spirits

Willow Park Wine and Spirits


Ingredients Artisan Market

Send in some comments as to which cask of Glentauchers you like best.

Tomorrow is time for a nice relaxing dram by the fire to help warm up the winter chills.

For some of you, heading out to see a Christmas play or musical might be an annual tradition. I know that my wife and I have seen a Christmas Carol in many formats including a zombie version at Loose Moose theater which was hilarious.


Samaroli Website

Advent Day 17 – A.D. Rattray 1996 Glentauchers 18 Year Old Single Malt | Blog #49

Think back to day 13 and Wemyss “licorice Spiral” Glentauchers 1992 20 Year Old. Look at your notes and get ready to compare.

I wanted to show how unique each single cask is and having the same whisky from the perspective of two bottler’s is a great experience. The “Licorice Spiral” was in a Bourbon hogshead and at 46% which should give it vastly different character than the A.D. Rattray cask that we are about to try.

Whisky: A.D. Rattray 1996 Glentauchers 18 yo single malt
*Cask # 1177 – Sherry 56.1% alcohol cask strength non-chill filtered*

Glentauchers 18yo Glentauchers 18yo

Colour: Deep amber
Nose: Big at cask strength so go carefully into the fray. Sticky date pudding (sticky toffee pudding is the Canadian version), miles apart from the Wemyss Glentauchers.
Palate: Zingy on the tongue at cask strength but not overwhelming. Rich caramel sauce and bread and butter pudding.
Finish: Long and evolving this finish is delicious. elements of spiced citrus make a play.

Water: The nose develops a ginger snap character and the palate gets a soft chocolate wrapping and just a touch of anise.

This is a really delicious example of Glentauchers and couldn’t be more different in contrast to the 20 Year Old Wemyss cask. It’s exciting to see how different the same distillery can be given varying cask types. These two casks are only 2 years apart in age but vastly wide apart in flavor.

**Curt from All Things Whisky has also been “Tasting” along with the calendar. Check out his notes HERE.

This is why whisky is just so much fun.

To remind yourself a little of Glentauchers history just zip back to day 13 to refresh your memory.

This sherried version of Glentauchers is available from the following whisky mad retailers – only 60 bottles:


Britannia Wine Merchant


Vinestone Wine Co.


Sherbrooke Liquor


Andrew Hilton Wine and Spirits

Tomorrow we are off to a Distillery that had to change it’s name to avoid consumer confusion.

See you on the morrow …



A. D. Rattray Website