Category Archives: Scotch Whisky Advent Calendar 2015

Scotch Whisky Advent Calendar dram # 5 – A.D. Rattray’s 9yo Caol Ila, bourbon hogshead # 303050


Region – Islay – 56.7% ABV

On the fifth day, G-d filled the seas with fishes and other water animals. In to the air above the earth s/he put many birds of all kinds and colors and sizes.

On the fifth day of Christmas my true love sent to me:

  • 5 Golden Rings
  • 4 Calling Birds
  • 3 French Hens
  • 2 Turtle Doves
  • 1 Partridge in a Pear Tree
    • Actually she brought me nothing because Chanukah is early this year…

Scotch Whisky Advent CalendarOn the 5th day of the Scotch Whisky Advent calendar, we are having a 9yo single cask of Caol Ila bottled by A.D. Rattray.  The color is quite light so I am assuming that this is a refill bourbon hogshead which suggests the flavors will be more spirit driven rather than cask driven.

This dram shall set us free:

Scotch Whisky Advent CalendarOn the nose — A good bit of cayenne spice upfront mixed with puffs of schoolroom chalk and well cooked bacon. Now the bacon overtakes and seems to have been smoked with applewood.

Pink salt and crushed green peppercorns on a plate in the middle of a hot/dry attic (so there is some wood presence here!).

In the mouth — Incredible mouth feel here. Oily, ooey, chewy, mouth coating goodness.  This dram is why I’m a lover of Islay whisky.  More applewood smoke, and the taste of the smell of a French patisserie. Biscuits and salty tarts galore!

A lovely note of lavender is quite present here, too. Nice.

Scotch Whisky Advent CalendarBurnt edges of waffles covered in warm salted honey.

Finish — Near endless. Salty, spicy and sweet.

In sum — I need a bottle. It’s as simple as that. This is perhaps the best Caol Ila I’ve ever had (not bottled by me).  Man-o-Maneshewitz!

Scotch Whisky Advent Calendar dram # 4 – Wemyss Malts “Velvet Fig” blended malt Scotch whisky


Region – a blend of regions mayhaps – 46% ABV

Scotch Whisky Advent CalendarHere we are, day 4 of the Advent calendar, and 21 more days to go!

Today in our glasses we have a Wemyss Malts-malt called “Velvet Fig.”

Aside from Wemyss Malts creating cracker after cracker, they come up with some inventive names to describe the whiskies they bottle.  “Velvet Fig” tells me that this dram should be soft, silky, perhaps a little sexy, rich, and comforting.

Bottled at 46%, it should be very approachable, too. While I generally stand by the motto of “Go Cask Strength or Go Home,” I will abide a minimum of 46% ABV. It’s at 46% ABV where you defo do not need to chill-filter the whisky and there is no artificial caramel coloring (or colouring, depending on where you hail from).

Let’s see how sexy-soft-silky-rich this whisky is…

On the nose — Ah, younger sherried whisky!  Reminiscent of a younger Glenfarclas bottling I’ve had.  Not very soft but wonderfully rich.

Scotch Whisky Advent CalendarRum cured raisins, Nürnberger Lebkuchen, crushed cherries soaking in grappa, a hint of peat around the edges (perhaps my mind’s playing tricks on me), recently extinguished apple pie scented candle.

Cinnamon, nutmeg, spice, and everything nice.

In the mouth —Here’s where the velvet comes in. This whisky slides on your tongue like warm walnut oil slides across a teflon coated pan.

Scotch Whisky Advent CalendarWhile the flavors do take a moment to kick in, when they do, we’re presented with: fig preserves meets navy style rum meets milk chocolate bars filled with raises and filberts.

Brown sugar toaster tarts covered in brown sugar frosting leads into a softening finish…

Finish —  This ends just as softly as it began on the palate. Short and quiet yet the flavors and scents we experienced bring you in for more.

In sum —  Not a bad little dram. I would have liked a little more of a finish but I could see myself just having some much needed me time with a glass of this whisky.  When the kids have gone to bed, pour this one, open your favorite book and just relax…

Scotch Whisky Advent Calendar dram # 3 – Samaroli Glentauchers & BenRiach, 19yo


Blended malt Scotch whisky – 43% ABV

SCOTCH WHISKY ADVENT CALENDARMy dirty little not-so-secret secret is that of all the independent bottlers out there, Samaroli is my favorite (albeit a bit on the expensive side here in the US).  Everything they do is quite intentional, and as an independent bottler myself, I find them to be inspiring.

When I saw this blended malt bottled at 43% I was intrigued to say the least.  Usually, I’m am turned right off at 43%, especially when it comes to independently bottled whiskies. However, this is Samaroli. I love them.  Plus, the combination of Glentauchers & BenRiach is quite intriguing.

The age is listed at 19 years old which will be the youngest whisky in the mix. I am not sure which one is 19 years old, and how old the other malt is.

Let’s just dive right in:

On the nose — Oh, wow. Ok. So, how do I jam my nose event further into the glass? Seriously, this one, dram # 3 in the Scotch Whisky Advent Calendar, has the best nose yet. I’m not sure where to begin. (at the beginning maybe?) Sweet diluted honey, baklava, gobs and gobs of malt, a fresh spring morning, rain on sarsaparilla leaves, a clear spring, honeycomb. Oak is present for sure and it gives you that “I’m an older whisky” note.  Sweet chamomile tea. Lovely, simply elegant and loverly.

In the mouth — The mouth is an exact replica of what I go on the nose with the addition of spice on the side of the tongue. I will say, the entry was a bit weak and would likely benefit from being 46%…

Finish — The finish is where it’s at. The building of spice combined with the honey and oak make for a great and lengthy crescendo.

In sum — If the ABV were slightly higher, this one could have qualified for being in my top ten drams of 2015. It was that good. ‘Nuff said.

Scotch Whisky Advent Calendar dram # 2 – Malt Whisky Co’s “Craigmills” (Glenglassaugh), Sauternes matured


Region – Highlands – 59.3% ABV

Scotch Whisky Advent Calendar Glenglassaugh

I consider myself lucky with the fact that I’ve had the supreme honor and pleasure to spend time with Mr. Stuart Nickerson, Managing Director of The Malt Whisky Company. I first met Stuart when he was with Glenglassaugh and I was starting my own independent bottling company.  It was right around this time, as well, that I was doing a fun series of interviews on this blog and Stuart was nice enough to say “yes” when I asked if he would mind me interviewing him.

To check out the interview, click here.

As you’ll read from the interview, Stuart has had quite a history in Scotch whisky and he continues to make history now with his latest venture, The Malt Whisky Company.  Additionally, Stuart has become the Executive Director at Tipperary Boutique Distillery.

For more details on The Malt Whisky Company, click here.

Scotch Whisky Advent Calendar GlenglassaughOn to the whisky at hand:

Here we are, Dec 2nd. Yesterday we had a 15yo single sherry cask bottled by A.D. Rattray and today we’ve got an NAS, cask strength Sauternes matured Glenglassaugh which has been bottled at 59.3% ABV.

While NAS, the ABV tells me that this is likely some younger juice. This does not worry me one bit. Young whisky is where it’s at for me.

Scotch Whisky Advent CalendarOn the nose — Yup, smells like some lovely, youthful, Glenglassaugh. Nice minerality on the nose.  Followed by layers of fresh apricots, golden raisins, cooked pecans, and perhaps a touch of wet paperboard.

The sauternes cask influence is quite clear here and offers a richness that compliments the youthful qualities such as clear notes of fresh cut pear, fruity floor cleaner (the kinds that smell so good you want to drink them but don’t because that’s just crazy, and it’d make you sick. I mean, what were you even thinking?!)

Scotch Whisky Advent CalendarIn the mouth — Incredibly sweet and as dense as a sticky bun. With time you can pick it apart, and when you do, I hope you’ll find: apricot jam, crushed filberts, olive oil spiciness toward the back of your throat, and honey over pears.  The mouthfeel is oily as heck.

Finish — Rich apricot sweetness that lasts quite a long time. Green peppercorns dance on the tongue for a time, too.

In sum — The flavors are so tight here, you really need a good 30 minutes to pull it all apart. This is a thinking wo/man’s dram, no doubt. You do not want to just toss this one back. Spend time with it, reveal its secrets. You’ll be happy you did.

Scotch Whisky Advent Calendar dram # 1 – A.D. Rattray’s 15yo Tomintoul, Sherry cask # 9289


Region – Speyside – 61% ABV

Hon·or (änər): as defined by Oxford English Dictionary (this being the 3rd definition of many): Something regarded as a rare opportunity and bringing pride and pleasure; a privilege: ‘Mrs Young had the honour of being received by the Queen.’

hon·or (
änər): as accepted by me when I am asked to be *the* blogger to review all 25 Scotch Whisky Advent calendar drams by the good people that put this whole fancy thing together:

Scotch Whisky Advent Calendar

Con·fu·sion (kənˈfyo͞oZHən): as defined by me when it comes to Advent calendars.  What does this Jew know from Advents and such?

Actually, I know quite a lot. Being that we Jews are the vast minority basically everywhere other than New York and Israel, and that Christianity is ubiquitous and Christmasness is the law of the land from Oct 1 – Dec 26, there’s simply no dodging knowledge of Christmas customs.  I don’t knock such traditions. They’re quite beautiful, in fact. I may not follow them, but I do see the beauty.

So, here we find ourselves together, joining schwartzes, you and me, to do a series of things: discover whisky, appreciate a nice surprise (25 new whiskies per day from Dec 1 – Dec 25!!), and celebrate each day as something new and different.

Today, December 1, 2015, has us opening hole # 1 (sounds a bit dirty, yes, but keep your mind out of the gutter). In hole #1 (teehee) we find a 5cl bottle of 15yo Tomintoul from 1999. Cask # 9289 which has been bottled at 61% ABV.  That’s quite a way to kick off the days leading up to Dec 25th!!

We’re a strong group of men and women though, right? We laugh at 61% ABV – HA!

Scotch Whisky Advent Calendar

On the nose — Initially, it’s a bit sharp on the nose but after a few minutes, it’s still a little sharp on the nose. That said, let’s give a puff of air into the glass to dissipate the alcohol and see what happens…

Scotch Whisky Advent CalendarOh, wow, a wonderful sherry richness comes through! Orange and black pepper marmalade is to the fore followed by bitter chocolate and baked pears.

Quite a bit of spice on the nose (not heat now, spice) a la Cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, and, get this, a hint of turmeric!

Finally, pickled walnuts and hints of sour grapes (interesting).

Scotch Whisky Advent CalendarIn the mouth — Easy entry, even for 61%. Silky mouthfeel with hints of quince jam, spiced charoset and the flavor of the smell of sweet potpourri that has a good amount of orange in it.

I don’t usually add water but I’m feeling adventurous.

Scotch Whisky Advent CalendarWith a few drops: roasted chicory and loads of honeysuckle make themselves known.  The richness here is huge without being too sherried/too oaky. In fact, there’s virtually no astringency even as we get to the finish.

Finish —  Somewhat short yet there a lasting nuttiness that is quite pleasant.

In sum —  Someone once said that any distillery that starts with a “T,” with the exception of Talisker, is “terrible.” I wholeheartedly disagree. This here cask of Tomintoul is proof that great whisky can be produced at any distillery.  This is a fine cask selection.  Thank you to A.D. Rattray for choosing this cask for the Scotch Whisky Advent Calendar!