A whiff of peat lurks beneath like a boat carrying passengers such as anise pizzelle cookies, gooseberries, acrylic varnish, fresh mustard seeds, and clementine compote with honey along the River Styx (I hope they have money for the boatman!).
In the mouth — Starts off quiet but as the mouthfeel begins to thicken, the clementine-like citrus note I got on the nose presents itself.
Celery stalks, celery salt, and jicama, like being thrown through the CERN particle collider, smash into notes of kumquat, paraffin wax, white pepper, and asian pear.
Finish — Short to medium. Hints of white pepper and *maybe* a little more citrus.
In sum — A great whisky that you can either just sit and enjoy or pick apart. On a day like today, I wish I had more of this so I could just sit and relax!!
Something totally unexpected in this Advent Calendar – a blend. But then again, you never supposed to know what to expect. Every day a surprise, right?
This blend is as inexpensive as $20/bottle (1L) at K&L and up to $40 in stores located elsewhere (I’m looking at you New Jersey).
As you would expect in a blend, this is a mix of malt whiskies and grain whiskies. However, this has 40% malt whisky and 60% grain whisky. Normally the ratio is closer to 80/20 (grain to malt). So we should hope for a little more quality here.
I’m just going to jump right into this one.
On the nose — Very grain forward yet there’s a nice Apfelkuchen (apple cake) note that comes at you quickly. A bit of uncooked biscuit dough, spiced cookie dough.
It’s a sweet bread blend, to be sure (not the disgusting sweet bread which is made from meats but actual sugary sweet breads).
In the mouth — Much of the same in the mouth as it is on the nose but now with the addition of a hint of peat.
Mouthfeel is the same as you’d expect from Johnnie Walker Black. Some hints of spice and Szechuan chiles.
Finish — Shortish with lasting spice on the sides of the tongue.
In sum — Perfectly inoffensive and easy drinking but nothing you’d need to spend some you time with. The is to be poured when you’ve got a big group of people over and they want “a Scotch.”
Unnamed Islays seems to be the way things are going now when it comes to independently bottled cask of Islay whisky. Most, based on comparisons to “Original Bottlings,” or “Owner Bottlings,” seem to be Caol Ila, Ardbeg or Lagavulin if you’re really lucky. All I’ve tasted have been great <shameless plug> includingthe 3, soon to be 4 “Undisclosed Islay” Single Cask Nation releases</shameless plug>.
This one is the first, however, that I will taste that is not bottled at full cask strength. Another 43% ABV for this Samaroli. Samaroli = elegance in my mind though I’ve rarely seen anything lower than 45% ABV until now.
Let’s see what happens with this 9yo at 43%:
On the nose — Soft peat wreathed in lavender rests on a bed of licorice nibs. Heather to the fore with gorse in the distance.
Some iodine and hospital beds make themselves known as does beach pebbles and blue slate.
A flinty minerality brings me in to sip…
In the mouth — Initial pepper sting that sticks to the tip of the tongue as the oily build dances about mid-palate. If I had to guess, I’d say this is a Caol Ila.
Very edgy stuff, not rounded in any way, which is nice. You get the softness from the lower ABV but the edginess from the youth of the whisky.
Think flint stones (not Flintstones) meets burnt brush and driftwood meets seaweed and burning peat meets dandelion jam and lavender with a hint of lemon rind.
Finish — Lasting, citrusy and sooty
In sum — What a way to enjoy a younger Islay whisky. Though I normally prefer the brash in-your-face-ness of young Islay whisky, the water tamed it to the perfect just-sit-and-relax ABV. My initial reaction was “another 43% whisky from Samaroli, really?” However, this was simply loverly whisky. I enjoyed the interplay between youth and elegance (by way of lower ABV).
Having one of the more difficult distillery names to pronounce, Craigellachie is a massive distillery located in the distillery-rich Speyside region of Scotland – just a few miles from the Aberlour distillery.
This powerhouse produces 4.1 million litres of spirit per year (!!). After having toured the distillery this past May, I was surprised to see more references to the Dewars blend throughout the distillery as opposed to references to the actual distillery name itself. Then I reminded myself that the purpose of this production house was not for Single Malt (even though they just released some age statement whiskies – 13, 17, 19 & 23 years old). No, the purpose of Craigellachie is to provide malt whisky for your various Dewars products.
If you ever find yourself in Scotland, be sure to check out the Craigellachie distillery. Its massive production house factory-like feel acts as a great counterpoint to more classic style distilleries such as GlenDronach, Aberlour, Glenmorangie and many others. After your visit to the distillery, head over to the Craigellachie Hotel for a dram or four.
On Advent Calendar Day # 8, we’ve got another malt bottled by Weymss Malts. And wouldn’t you know it? It’s a Craigellachie.
This one is titled “Dark Treacle Fondant.” Have a think on that name while we pour the whisky into our glasses.
One the nose — Oh, that name is so suggestive. It smells of cake fondant! There’s even this waxy-like texture in the nose and the scents start off with dark chocolate and toasted brazil nuts.
I am then hit by the smell of sweet barbecue sauce on the grill on the day you re-open your outside cooking apparatus. Hints of licorice and hazelnut nougut rubbed with confectioners sugar.
In the mouth — Highly decedent stuff. While the mouthfeel is not super thick, the flavors sure are.
Let the laundry list begin: Molasses, Nutella, dark chocolate, rubber tires, burnt applesauce, old-school lickable stamps (the sticky side), fruit cake, candied orange peels, cloves, on and on, and on and on, and on and on (was that last bit grammatically correct? Was any of this grammatically correct?)
A little spice at the back of the throat: tell-tale sign of sherry butt matured whisky.
Finish — Really just a fading version o the favors I go on the palate.
In sum — If you like your sherried whiskies, the one would be right up your alley. It ticks all the boxes. The more I drink Craigellachie, the more I like it.
While this is my very first Advent Calendar countdown I know that the tradition of following an Advent Calendar goes back quite some time. And year after year young boys and girls around the world would get their little chocolate Advent Calendars, and get a new sweet each day until Christmas. Fun!
This year, however, I think , may be different for nearly everyone between the ages of 5 and 75. I think many (myself FIRMLY included) fall into this camp:
Doing all I can to NOT think about the upcoming Star Wars film, I will get “into the spirit.” Not the Christmas spirit (that wouldn’t be very Jewish of me now would it?), rather, I will get into the WHISKY spirit!
Today is another interesting one from The Malt Whisky Company. This is not a single cask but a cask strength (60.9% ABV) NAS release of Tullibardine matured in bourbon casks.
On the nose — A bit quiet at first but if you give it a minute you’ll be rewarded with quite present notes of an apple orchard on a warm late September afternoon. Crisp apples and groundlings swell the air with sweetness. Toffee, and honey, and cooked rhubarb all in buttery pie crust.
Some of the more bourbon-y characteristics come to the fore now: pencil shavings, coconut flesh, and is that a hint of mint my nose doth detect a glint?
In the mouth — In a word: Bright.
In two words: Bright, peppery.
In a set of words that is complete in itself (also known as a sentence): While the whisky starts off with a very bright pop of apple sweet-tartness, there is a growth of pepper that moves from the tip of the tongue to the back of the palate. However, this is whisky is in no way hot. (yay!)
Let’s take another sip…
The notes in the mid palate are much heavier when you focus on them: warmed honey with a hint of sea salt, white chocolate, Celery salt and shredded celery root, and Vanilla mocha. Also revealed is a note of yellow cake with white frosting.
The mouth feel is slightly oily with a touch of an effervescent feel on the tongue which is quite nice.
Finish — The pepper that grew to the back of the palate sticks around, yet the flavors are medium in length.
In sum — I will not lie here, this whisky seems a bit all over the place. However, I am an adventurous person and found it’s scatteredbrainedness to be quite fun.
I could find myself with a bunch of friends finishing a bottle of this in a couple of days and having a really good weekend doing it!