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Singlemalting # 195 – Promise of Hope – Whiskey collectables

G’day everyone and welcome to what will be the first ever blog that I have written on a whiskey without actually tasting it.

 

Bourbon Sunshine

 

Recently I was on yet another trip South and managed to snag myself a bottle of something extremely rare. I have not really been a big buyer of whisky in the past. Wait on a sec before you get all shocked and horrified I need to clarify that having been in the industry most of my whisky drinking life I literally have more whisky in my basement than I can drink.

Whisky shopping can be a bit like Antique shopping with dusty bottles of amazing whiskies often sitting around for years before someone in the know scoops them up and makes an instant 100% return or more. This is frequently the case for Limited edition distillery bottlings but even in the independent bottling world there are bargains to be had. For indies there is even more chance that a special bottle has been overlooked for years and will gift someone a “start the car” moment.

For me this is perhaps the first bottle in what might become a long line of purchases that go into my “whisky fund” collection. I have always been a drinker of whisky and not a collector. Almost every bottle on my shelves is open and I am a firm believer that whisky was made to drink but I have no problem with the fact that the drinker may not be me. Like any investment there are always risks to take and a level of comfort you need knowing that you could blow your money. In the case of whisky investment the worst case scenario is that you can drink it……um seems like a win win to me.

Hope for ALS

In these uncertain times and stock market fluctuations whisky has been a consistent winner for investors over a long period. So with a little homework and a bit of luck you too can find those treasures and start your own whisky bank.

The topic of today’s blog just happens to be a bottle that found it’s way to me after a year of waiting. The Parker’s Heritage Collection from Heaven Hills has had some epic releases over the years including extremely old whiskey. The Promise of Hope is a 10 year old Bourbon at 48% and even reading through many tasting notes and reviews I have found a consistent thread of incredible balance and harmony in this whiskey. Almost enough to make me want to crack it and have a sip right now but I’m going to resist the urge on this occassion.

Parker Beam having been diagnosed with ALS has begun the Promise of Hope fund that goes towards research, advocacy and compassionate care for a very difficult disease with no cure at this time. This is the first single barrel whiskey released under the Parker’s Heritage Collection and helped to add around $ 250,000 into the fund.

If any of you are interested in helping out with this worthy cause you can check it out here – Promise of Hope Fund.

So to give you an idea in numbers for a bottle like this. Original retail price – $ 50. Almost immediately on release that went to $ 100 and is now worth over $ 500 on the secondary market. All this in only 5 short years after ithit shelves in 2013.

Promise of Hope

If you like whiskey/whisky in all its forms and can be disciplined enough to not open every bottle that you bring through your front door then get out there and find some gems. The rewards will be well worth it.

Next time drinking then writing – should be fun.

Cheers

Jonathan

Singlemalting 194# – Keeper Time

G’day everyone,

It has been an extremely eventful year thus far and overdue for me to ket the fingers flying on the keyboard for another Singlemalting Blog. Earlier this year I had the absolute honour to travel to Scotland and attend the Spring induction of the Keepers of the Quaich. If you are unfamiliar with this organization for Scotch Whisky you can read all about them on their website here.

After living my whisky passion that has been for the most part a Scotch Whisky Journey for the past 15 years it was thrilling to be included alongside so many incredible people. Everything from the walk up the red carpet surrounded by an honor guard and pipers to the swearing in ceremony, epic banquet and opportunity to talk whisky together was nothing short of mind blowing.

Even the whiskies on the table paired with dinner were extra special including a Single Cask bottling of Talisker especially for the Keepers of the Quaich that had me more than a few drams in by the end of the night.

My gorgeous wife Cindy has been a big part of my inspiration and journey into this fantastic world of whisky and I was so glad to have her alongside me for such a special moment.

Red Carpet Arrival

There are roughly only 2500 Keepers in the world and there are only 60 to 70 added each year shared between two ceremonies in the Spring and Fall. In this elite company of Scotch Whisky lovers are some absolute industry legends. As I sat listening to the achievements of the other Masters and new Keeper inductees I had to pinch myself that I was becoming part of it all.

From across the globe the 38 new keepers at my induction all had amazing stories to tell. Some working tirelessly for big brands, some breaking new markets, some like myself working with independents but all living and breathing the world of Scotch Whisky.

To my knowledge there are very few Keepers that are Canadian and even less that are Australian. I could probably safely bet that I might be the only Keeper that is both.

I have to say a massive thankyou to my nominator Stuart Nickerson of the Malt Whisky Company. Many of you have read my reviews of his whiskies over the years and having the chance to stay with Stuart and Wilma at their home was hospitality of the highest order. A special thankyou to Wilma who somehow even with a 30 minute roadblock managed to get us to the ball on time. The other industry legend that I must thank is Tim Morrison of A.D. Rattray and Clydeside Distillery who backed up Stuarts nomination by seconding it and endorsing my membership. I have been working with A.D. Rattray for over 15 years now and so it was very special for me to have Mr Morrison as part of this milestone.

Grinning Keeper

Thanks to everyone who has supported Cindy and I and Secret Spirits as we work to bring you amazing whiskies and our labor of love the Scotch Whisky Advent Calendar. Without you this would not have been possible.

Slainte

Jonathan

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