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Singlemalting # 202 – 5th Edition Scotch Whisky Advent Calendar Day 5 – Secret Spirits Craigellachie 12 Year Old Single Malt

Hope you are enjoying the journey so far. I can promise amazing whiskies to come as the Secret Spirits Advent Calendar train winds its way across the Scottish countryside. It is so much fun putting this together every year that the inevitable challenges that come along are a great way to keep us balanced.

Craigellachie has made appearances in several of our Scotch Whisky Advent Calendars as a definite fave of mine. Being able to access this cask to be bottled by Secret Spirits was a real bonus. Founded in 1891 it now belongs to John Dewar’s & Sons and is one of the backbones of their Dewar’s Blended Scotch Whisky. Located in Arberlour, Banffshire near the wee village of Craigellachie. Perhaps one of the reasons why this is such a favorite is an afternoon dram or 3 that I had while visiting the iconic Craigellachie Hotel. Sporting an overflowing bar of amazing whisky options it is a must stop for any fan doing a Speyside tour.

Craigellachie Hotel
Craigellachie Hotel Bar

Secret Spirits Craigellachie Single Malt Whisky 12 Year Old – Speyside – Hogshead number 900674 – 61.6% alcohol volume.

Colour:             Super light Chardonnay’esque colour here on this Bourbon Hogshead. Love the no caramel on these as we have learned that colour does not equal flavour.

Nose:               Freshly washed hotel towels. Have you ever just pushed your face into a fresh towel that is all soft and snuggly? I do travel a fair bit and can say this is almost a ritual for me when I finally get away from the crazy airport and find myself safely deposited in my room. It’s the floral note and linen undertone that brings this to mind. Along with that there is a lovely freshly roasted fruit driven espresso note. My wife Cindy agreed with this and pictured herself wrapped up in fresh sheets sipping espresso that was just delivered by room service. What a great way to delve into this whisky.

Palate:             Baboom baby….. 61.6% is huge and wow oh wow is there a massive basket of fruit that was just dumped on my palate. Ok lets try to figure it out….tinned pineapple chunks that quickly give way to a massive hit of poached pears, those little tins of tiny cubed fruit pieces that I used to take to school as a kid. Pear was always the standout flavor in those even though there was “supposed” to be 4 other fruits involved.

Finish:           The lingering pear note is crazy on this. This may just be the most Pear influenced Single Malt that I have had in a very long time. When I close my eyes I can picture myself sitting on a bench at recess with my wee teaspoon gulping down those tiny pear chunks and then draining the syrup. Anything over 60% normally gets a mandatory drop of water and I found that the agressive pear note diminished a touch. Actually liked this more while it was spanking me. Kind of like lying under a pear tree at the end of the season and having them rain down on you, ripe soft juicy but just a touch painful every time one hits you. Love it.

The good news is that a very select few will be able to access a bottle of this Craigellachie thanks to a remnant of whisky still sitting in the cask once we were done with the mini’s. It will be bottled in 750ml format and be available on a pre-order basis only from our online stores in Canada and the USA. Keep pestering us for details. We will announce pricing and launch date as soon as we know when the bottling will happen.

What a treat to bottle a Craigellachie. Well It’s a fun viewing to see how the Whiskey Tribe and Scotch Test Dummies are coming along so don’t forget to check them both out.

In the 4th edition on day 5 we had the creamy and delicious Secret Spirits Caol Ila 8 Year Old. This could be a potential spoiler alert for the region we might be visiting tomorrow as we never want you peat heads to miss out for long. Hop aboard the ferry to Islay as we sail across the mountainous seas off the Western Scottish Coast to the land of all things peaty.

Looking forward to your company then




Day 17 – A.D. Rattray Craigellachie 2008 | Blog #106

Last year we compared three different expressions of Glentauchers. One from each of the 3 independent bottlers. 

It was a great experience to see how unique each cask can be and the differences in each of them was remarkable. This edition we wanted to do the same thing but instead of 3 from the same distillery we decided to do 2 different expressions from 2 different distilleries. Today we head back to Craigellachie but this time from A.D. Rattray. Let’s see how different this is from the Wemyss Dark Treacle Fondant Craigellachie from day 8 Blog # 97.

A.D. Rattray Craigellachie 2008 – 6 Year Old Single Malt aged in a Sherry Butt cask # 900861 and bottled at the cask strength of 58%.

Colour:     Pale Gold – After only 6 years this colour is pretty much identical to the Benriach 19 year old that we tried yesterday.

Nose:     Soft chewy caramel squares right off the bat and in spades. This is like ripping off the top to the fresh caramel packet and sticking my nose right in there. Barley Sugar and fresh hay throw in to undercurrent the caramel.

Palate:     The caramel is there though softer than the nose. Balanced for 58% the sweet barley note hits a chord wrapped up in white chocolate and topped with macadamia pieces.

Finish:     Longer than I would have expected from such a young malt (the youngest in this years edition). More maturity here than I would have believed. Still some of that youthful sweet barley present throughout with the caramel softly ebbing and flowing through till the end.

We have certainly given you a lot of interesting sub 10 year old malts to look at this edition and for good reason. Younger whiskies are absolutely delicious and bring a youthful exuberance to the table especially when they are aged in really good barrels and bottled by top notch companies like A.D. Rattray, Samaroli and Malt Whisky Company.

I hope you have enjoyed the experience of all these different younger whiskies because it’s all over for this years edition. From here on in we are luxuriously entering into the spirit of Christmas with only 20 year old whiskies and above for the last 8 days.

Did I mention that I overspent on this years whiskies? All of you are now going to reap the benefits of my lack of self control 🙂

Goody goody goody (rubs hands together gleefully)

Ho Ho Ho ladies and gentlemen I usher you into a week of Wonder.

Joshua who is a lover of younger whiskies gives you his insights into the A.D. Rattray Craigellachie HERE

Last year on this day we tasted the A.D. Rattray Glentauchers 1996 18 Year Old. Blog #49

You can find the only 60 bottles of this caramel infused Craigellachie from the following retailers:


Coop Wine Spirits Beer

Point McKay Wine & Spirits

Zin The Wine Market


Wine and Beyond


Coop Wine and Spirits Saskatoon

See you tomorrow as we begin our 20+ year old countdown to Christmas

Can’t wait …


Day 8 Wemyss Malts Dark Treacle Fondant Craigellachie 2002 | Blog #97

Working our way into the second week of daily drams and we find a single cask offering from Wemyss Malts. I don’t know about you but Dark Treacle Fondant just sounds inviting.

Craigellachie Distillery Craigellachie Distillery

The Craigellachie distillery is in Speyside. The name Cragellachie means “Rocky Hill” Which is apt for the cliff overlooking the river Spey as well as the Rocky Mountains that rise above the BC version of Craigellachie on the Trans Canada famous for the last spike driven to complete the trans Canada railway. It was built in 1891 and is owned by Bacardi (Dewar’s). Most of it’s production goes into the Dewar’s blends. Rarely seen as a proprietary bottling it is left to the various indie bottlers to get these unique single cask expressions out there.

Wemyss Dark Treacle Fondant Craigellachie 2002 – 12 Years Old bottles at 46% and the only info they gave me on the cask was that it was a Butt so potentially a sherry cask. No. 900095

Dark Treacle Fondant Craigellachie by Wemyss Malts Dark Treacle Fondant Craigellachie by Wemyss Malts

Colour:     Burnished Amber

Nose:     Butterscotch, black strap molasses, worn leather and big thick old books, what an interesting combination.

Palate:     I do get the dark syrup, very palate coating for 46%, some bitter dark chocolate, stewed plums and a touch of good espresso.

Finish:     Some additional dark fruit skips in, blackcurrant reduction. Warming and long with just the tiniest spark of tingle to keep it rolling. Some lingering winey notes and soft tannins.

So very different to the A.D. Rattray Craigellachie I reviewed this Summer on blog #76 The taste profile does lend me to believe that this cask from Wemyss was a sherry butt.

Wemyss mostly bottle their single casks at 46% and sometimes they find casks that they just have to bottle at cask strength. I would like to see more of those. Nice easing into week two with this little Craigellachie.

**My friend and fellow blogger Joshua Hatton is blogging side by side with me this year as our special guest. Be sure to check out his take on the Dark Treacle Fondant  HERE.

Tomorrow we will be tasting the highest alcohol percentage of any whisky in this years calendar. Strap into your chairs and hold tightly to your Samaroli glass, tomorrow we take a plunge after the steady clickety clack of the Roller Coaster climbing us to the precipice. Warning… Fun times ahead – eternal pessimists and those unwilling to fly their hands in the air and scream like little girls do not make the height restriction and will have to sit out.

Last year in the first edition we tasted the A.D. Rattray Cask Islay in blog #40

Those of you looking for a little Dark Treacle Fondant you can find full bottles at these great retailers:


Co-op Wines Spirits Beer

Vine Arts

Point McKay Wine & Spirits

Zyn The Wine Market


Vines at Riverbend

Everything Wine and More


Co-op – Saskatoon

😉 see you all tomorrow …


Cricket Tour – Dram Tasting Second Edition | Blog # 76

So here I am again on the annual Glenmore Cricket Club tour of Vancouver and Victoria. 

Sneaking along a delicious bottle of unique whisky adds a touch of the civilized to the mostly rudimentary fun of beer, cricket, darts more beer and really good mates.

This time around the hotel in question is right in the heart of English Bay in Vancouver and I got to use a glass tumbler instead of last years plastic cup. Way to step it up!!

The whisky of choice that I grabbed out of my basement before jumping into the car with 3 other guys and heading off on this years cricketing adventure is a 16 year old Craigellachie from A.D. Rattray.

Bottled at the cask strength of 54.7% in a first fill ex-bourbon barrel, there were only 320 bottles available of which a mere 60 came to Canada. This whisky was distilled in 1989 on the 9th of October and bottled in 2006 on the 10th of August, the second year that A.D. Rattray whiskies were available in Alberta. Cask number 3881 and 16 Years Old.

It was apt that this particular whisky was chosen as my last day on tour was spent at the 3 Valley Gap resort a short distance away from Craigellachie, British Columbia. made famous by the driving of the last spike in the Trans Canada Railway. It was named after the president of CPR Sir George Stephen who traveled to Britain to source desperately needed funds. After success Sir Stephen telegraphed a message back “stand fast Craigellachie”.

The CPR heritage train food and beverage manager has at times thought about an exclusive cask of Craigellachie and one day there may well be a CPR bottling. Something to look out for if you are a history buff or just love trains and the gorgeous Rocky Mountains.

So onto the whisky tasted in a Best Western Sands rock glass while overlooking English Bay.

Colour: Burnished gold
Nose: Plenty of oomph there even in a big open tumbler, waxy spring blossom honeycomb.
Palate: Far more savory on the palate with herbaceous notes of fresh soft hay bail tinged with an undercurrent of sourdough garlic bread fresh out of the oven. Really interesting whisky and quite different to other Craigellachie casks that I have tried.
Finish: Long and even more savory leaving a lingering whiff of garlic which is really cool. Vampires beware of this dram. Through it all the sweet little slab of honeycomb weaves its way adding a great layer of complexity.

If you can find this dram I would suggest nabbing one. Try Chateau Louis in Edmonton who have a remarkable library of A.D. Rattray bottlings.

Just when I thought I had a handle on whisky I get this little beaut that expands my mind yet again.

A fabulous dram to take on tour and one that some of the cricket club boys readily agreed was worth bringing.

Until next year when I pop another cork on the cricket road trip have fun drinking great whisky under any circumstances.