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Singlemalting # 192 – Big Brand Jazz

G’day everyone and welcome back to a brand New Year. After spending Christmas in Ontario I was back at another wonderful whisky festival week in Edmonton, Calgary and Victoria. You can read about how amazing these festivals are in one of my previous blogs. As promised today I am sharing a rareish bottle of whisky from the largest producing brand of Single Malt in the world.

Shadow oversees the blog writing

Glenfiddich is mopst likely extremely well known to everyone reading this blog. As an imbiber of all things independent bottling it is a scarcity for me to reach out and grab a big brand bottle. I literally stared at this particular packaging for almost the entire month of December while promoting our Scotch Whisky Advent Calendar at Costco in San Francisco. As a branding and packaging piece, the team at Glenfiddich did an amazing job. Everything from the box to the bottle is full of little details that make it exceptionally well thought out.

Seems like I might have had a wee dram or two

This is the Glenfiddich 21 year old Reserva Rum Cask Finish. The rich orange colouring of the box with the double opening doors allows for light to play on the whisky bottle and to say that it beckoned me to open the bottle is an understatement. Like most everyone I am also swayed by beautiful packaging and well thought out design. After tucking it under my arm and transporting it back to Canada I could hardly wait to see if what was inside the bottle would live up to the eye candy.

Glenfiddich 21 Year Old Reserva Rum Cask Finish – Bottled at 40%. With the Rum cask no doubt giving it a rouch of extra colour I would hope that it does not have any caramel added but I expect with the worldwide distribution and number of bottles that it is. Also sadly chill filtered.

Nose:   Tropical fruit influence taking me to ripe banana split with vanilla bean ice cream and hot caramel fudge drizzled all over it.

Palate:   Light delivery that leaves me needing another sip as it was all gone rather quickly. There are some light sweet spices… a touch of ginger, vanilla, and a hint of the tropics like the smell of the fruit bowl when its across the other side of your resort hotel room.

Finish:  Drying and trying to hang on but fading quickly. There is some citrus poking through at the death but little else.

Was really hoping for a lot more and if it had been 46% and non-chill filtered I know that I would have been rewarded handsomly. However the bottle yield would have been much less and alas that is not the way Glenfiddich plays.

I went in search of some reviews to compare and found a few lucky souls that had received barrel samples of this whisky and lets just say that their experience was much improved over the final version.

So this bottle was selling for around $ 180 US. For a packaging analysis and big brand experience blog experience I would do it again. If I were a consumer I might be a touch dissapointed that the whisky could have delivered so much more. Why dress the whisky up in the finest of formal evening wear only to strip it of all the nuance and complexity that would have made it shine.

Great experiment and fun to do. Would be nice to really see the big boys let it be all about the whisky sometimes even allowing for spectacular packaging. My suggestion would be to save your $$$’s for something a little more epic but by all means grab it off the shelf and check out the packaging.

Next blog as promised quite a while ago I am going to be tasting a small batch bottle of something crazy from the boys at Two Brewers in the Yukon. Stay tuned.

Slainte

Singlemalting.

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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.

Cheers

Singlemalting

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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

Cheers

Singlemalting

 

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

Cheers

Singlemalting

 

 

Whisky Advent

Singlemalting # 187 – Day 21 – 4th Edition Scotch Whisky Advent Calendar Old Malt Cask Glen Keith 20yo

As promised we are back to Hunter Laing and their Old Malt Cask series with a cask from the Glen Keith distillery. Glen Keith was the first distillery to open in Speyside after the great crash in 1898, opening its doors in 1958. Always owned by Chivas Bros it was mothballed in 1999 and then reopened in 2012. Almost all of its production goes into blends for export markets but a few casks escape that fate and wind up in the hands of independent bottlers like Hunter Laing.

Glen Keith Distillery

This is the first time we have seen an expression from this distillery in any edition so it is exciting to add another name to the ever growing list.

Old Malt Cask –

20 Year Old Single Malt – Bottled at 50% and aged in a refill sherry butt HL13359.

Colour:   Rich gold

Nose:   Rose petals and English Toffee. Turkish delight.

Palate:    Chewier than I thought it would be with robust flavors of bitter dark chocolate, pomegranate and quince.

Finish:    The fruit rolls on with a burst of dry sherry jumping in at the death. Its the pomegranate that seems to be the heavy lifter here for me all the way through.

A very interesting dram from Old Malt Cask. Loving the sherry refill after 20 years as I had to mull it over for sometime to get to the bottom of everything that was going on. Even now as I sit here there are some other flavors still trying to push their way to the top.

If you really like this dram it is available for Canadians (sorry Southern cousins). Just email me and we will get it sorted for you.

On day 21 in the 3rd edition we had the Wemyss Malts Marmalade Appeal Glenrothes 27 year old.

Please head over to Scotch Trooper as we head towards Christmas I have it on good authority that there will be some awesome climactic shots to look at.

Tomorrow we have another amazing Single Malt Combo from Samaroli. These 20+ year old Samaroli blended malts are always incredible so I am thinking this will be something special.

Looking forward to your company tomorrow

Until then dram safe and dram often

Cheers

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

 

 

Scotch Whisky Advent Calendar

Singlemalting # 168 – Day 2 – Scotch Whisky Advent Calendar – Wemyss Malts Spice King Batch Strength

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

Only 6000 bottles made and we used a bunch for our 4th edition calendars.

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…….

Delicious Lychee

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.

Please head on over to Scotch Trooper and check out today’s awesome shot. Scotchtrooper-blog.com

Until tomorrow keep on dramming.

Cheers

Jonathan

 

 

Scotch Whisky Advent Calendar

Singlemalting # 167 – Day 1 – 4th edition Scotch Whisky Advent Calendar – Old Malt Cask Tamdhu 18 Year Old

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.

Tamdhu Distillery

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.

Bull and Bear Lemon Dessert

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.

Looking forward to a fun December.

Slainte

SInglemalting