Whisky Advent 2015

December 1st: Bunnahabhain 12

Tasting notes: Caramel and salt, with peaty undertones and a little herbal.

About Bunnahabhain: One of our favourite drams, well, the 18 year old that is. The 12 year old is also very drinkable. Sadly, we did not manage to visit the Bunnahabhain distillery on our whisky tour to Islay last year.

Amazon sells it for £35 on amazon.co.uk.

December 2st: Bunnahabhain 18

Tasting notes: Caramel and sherry, oily and dense. Perhaps a little salt and nutty too

About Bunnahabhain: The bigger brother of yesterday's 12 year old. It's quite a bit nicer, but also quite a bit pricier :-)

Amazon sells it for £80 on amazon.co.uk.

December 3rd: House of Lords whisky

Tasting notes: Apple toffee - very mellow, and easy to drink. I guess that's why the Lords don't get a lot of stuff done.

About the House of Lords whisky: This Speyside Single Malt whisky is aged for 10 years. It's specially selected for the House of Lords, this Single Malt has been aged in oak sherry casks in Scotland for a minimum of ten years. It has been distilled following the age old tradition of the Scottish Highlands, from the finest selection of malted barley.

December 4th: Old Malt Cask: Single Cask 21 year old Strathmill

Tasting notes: Sweet vanilla custard with caramel, with a hint of pepper at the end.

About the whisky: It got given to me by an anonymous benefactor—allegedly because of my work on Xdebug. It's single cask and one of only 294 bottles at 50% ABV. The Strathmill distillery itself is in the heart of Speyside and is currently owned by Diageo. They mostly use the whisky that this distillery produces in blended malts such as J&B whisky. Luckily, this one has escaped this horrendous outcome and stayed a nice single cask whisky for us to enjoy.

December 5th: Octomore 6.3

Tasting notes: Honey, peat, and some herbal tones, and alcohol. It lingers very long.

About the whisky: The Octomore 06.3 is a 5 year aged whisky, made from single field of barley from Islay—and hence, party of their "Islay Barley" series. It is one of the heaviest peated whiskies with a phenol count of 258 ppm, and it's cask strength at 64% too. Although it is so heavily peated, and it is most definitely there while tasting it, it is not overreaching and drowning out everything else, which I sometimes find with some of the much less peated Islay whiskies. We bought this bottle on our first anniversary at Milroy's after having gotten a free tasting at their bar after dinner. It does not come cheap at about £150.

December 6th: Single cask Glengoyne 14, bottled by Cadenhead's

Tasting notes: Peppery and very big. It's a bit chewy with hints of Sherry and toffee.

About the whisky: This is one of Cadenhead's small batch bottlings. As one of 840 bottles, it is not a single cask whisky. It was distilled in 2001 and at 14 years old, bottled at 46% ABV.

December 7th: Hakushu 12

Tasting notes: Light fruity whisky with some grass and ginger hints. A bit buttery on the palette.

About the whisky: A single malt whisky by Suntory. The Japanese distillery of Hakushu set in a forest, and often touted to be the source of the grassy notes of the whiskies.

December 8th: Hibiki 12

Tasting notes: Sweet oranges with a hint of cloves. A wee bit of oak and sherry on the palette.

Another Japanese whisky for tonight. This 12 year old blended Japanese whisky. Hibiki includes malt whisky from Yamazaki and Hakushu, as well as grain whisky from Chita. The whisky is partly matured in plum liqueur barrels.

December 9th: Lagavulin Distiller's edition 4/501

Tasting notes: A caramelly peaty expression from Lagavullin. Ending in a typical Pedro Ximenez sherry.

At some point in the mid- to late 1990s, Diageo started releasing versions of their "six classic malts" which had all been finished in some kind of fortified wine. This series of whiskies, called Distiller's Edition.

This whisky is an 18 year old limited edition of about 3000 bottles, distilled in 1995 (and bottled in 2013). It's double matured, of which the second maturation in a Pedro Ximenez sherry cask.

Sadly, with this tasting, I finished the bottle :-(

December 10th: anCnonc 22

Tasting notes: Christmas pudding in liquid form. Honey and butter, with oranges, cloves and nutmeg. Finalizes with some spicy smokey hints.

About the whisky: This is a relatively new anCnoc, distilled at the Knockdhu distillery. Its relatively low profile compared to some other Speyside malts, they've been quietly producing very good whiskies for some time now. It is aged in both American bourbon casks and Spanish oak Oloroso sherry-seasoned casks for a period of 22 years.

December 11th: Taketsuru 17

Tasting notes: Warm mellow honey. Hints of peat perhaps? But a bit of bitter oak. Doesn't linger long, and it's a little bit creamy on the palette.

About the whisky: This is a 17 year old blended malt named for Nikka's founder, the whisky-pilgrim Masataka Taketsuru. It won a few awards (best Blended, and best Blended Japanese malt) at the World Whisky Awards.

December 12th: Single cask Strathmill, bottled by Cadenhead's

Tasting notes: Oaky vanilla and sharp berries. Lingers medium long with an orange and red wine hint, a little bit tangy.

About the whisky: A single cask whisky distilled in 1995 and bottled in

2015. This 19 year old whisky was bottled at 55.1% ABV and was finished in a Château Lafite wine cask for the last 6 years. It's one of 264 bottles.

December 13th: Single cask Ord, bottled by Cadenhead's

Tasting notes: Warm honey, cherries, and chocolate on the palette. Notes of rum on the finish.

About the whisky: This is a 10 year old whisky aged in a Bourbon Butt. It is one of 420 bottles and bottled at 60.9% ABV. Technically, this is not mine, but the Mrs'.

December 14th: Single cask Ord, bottled by Cadenhead's

Tasting notes: Butterscotch, and raisins. Hints of spices (nutmeg? cloves?) and lingering honey.

About the whisky: This is a twin whisky to yesterday's malt. Just like above, this is a 10 year old whisky aged in a Bourbon Butt. It is one of 450 bottles and bottled, slightly less, at 60.5% ABV.

Even though the whiskies are the same age, from a similar type of cask, and distilled and bottled at the same time, their characteristics are really quite different different. It all comes from the differences between single casks only.

December 15th: Finlaggan Cask Strength

Tasting notes: Definitely an Islay, as the peat is very much centre stage. It is oily, and it has a finish of ash. It is a little better with a drop of water.

About the whisky: Very difficult to find information about on-line. It is an Islay whisky, but they're being secret about which distillery. Whiskybase does not have this specific whisky yet - although there are 2012, 2013 and (I believe) 2014 variants on there. I got it as a gift from Daaron, through my Amazon wishlist.

The whisky is bottled at cask strength at 58% ABV. Some more information at http://www.vintagemaltwhisky.com/finlaggan/.

December 16th: The Arran Malt 12yo Cask Strength Batch #5

Tasting notes: Light and a bit salty with oak. Sweet sherry, but chewy. The finish isn't very long at all.

About the whisky: This the fifth batch of the cask strength 12 year old Arran malt. It's a reasonably small batch with 18000 bottles, and it is bottled at 52.9% ABV. It was bottled in May 2015.

December 17th: Longrow Red peated

Tasting notes: Sweet berries, and a little woody. Minor hints of peat, but that makes it nice and Christmassy. With a little water there are more gently flavours, such as some prunes and raisins. Ends with peat and hints of mango.

About the whisky: This whisky aged 12 years - 11 years in a standard bourbon cask, and another year finished New Zealand Pinot Noir wine casks. The whisky is distilled at the Springbank distillery in the Campbeltown region. It's a limited released, and bottled at 52.9% ABV. There are only 9000 bottles of it—well, 8999 at most, as mine is nearly finished!

December 18th: Highland Park 21

Tasting notes: Light fresh caramel and smoky spices. The finish is little oaky, and the palette is a bit watery. There are also lingering hints hints of aniseed.

About the whisky: The 21 year old has one Best Single Malt of the Year at the World Whisky Awards 2009. It is bottled at a higher strength than normal non-cask-strength whiskies at 47.5% ABV. The whisky was released in 2007 and considered one of the better expressions from Highland Park. I find it a bit expensive for what it is, and would prefer many single cask whiskies over this one. The distillery itself is based on the Orkneys, a group of islands North of Scotland.

December 19th: Waitrose Islay 12 year old

Tasting notes: Very smooth, and little hints of peat. It starts with a little peppery spice, and there is vanilla, and then it ends with smoke. The palette is a little watery, but this is a very drinkable whisky.

About the whisky: It is an "Islay" whisky from Waitrose. But they're secret about which distillery it is. The label hints that it is a seaside whisky from Islay (which excludes Kilchoman), and that it's over 150 years old. Ardbeg, Laphroig and Lagavulin are over 200 years old, so that should leave only Coal Ila. Then again, it doesn't taste like a Coal Ila… who knows? That's all the fun :-) This is a bottle I got given for my birthday (which is coming up on the 22nd).

December 20th: Ardbeg Auriverdes

Tasting notes: On the peatier side, with burnt oak, but at the same time some vanilla and caramel. The peat is quite medicinal. It is a little watery on the palette, and it has a long smoky after taste bordering on ash.

About the whisky: A special edition single malt launched on Ardbeg Day 2014. Auriverdes stands for Gold and Green, and is a name used to refer to Brazil's sports teams, most notable the football team. In this case, it refers to both the football world championship in Brazil, as well as the golden whisky and the iconic Ardbeg green bottle it dwells within. It is quite a limit release, and not easy to get any more. I've just opened it!

December 21st: Glentauchers 15

Tasting notes: Oaky on the smell and lingering oak on the after taste. Quite alcoholic which overpowers a little. Needs a drop or two of water. Scent has a little vanilla, and it is a little sweet like a dry fino sherry.

About the whisky: Got this as a minature from Cadenhead's on the birthday trip as Belgium isn't known for its whisky.

December 22nd: Ardmore

Tasting notes: Peaty earths, but it has sweetness.

About the whisky: It is a non-chill filtered whisky, so it can get a little cloudy - but it does have additional colouring added. I got this given as part of my birthday presents.

December 23rd: Glenrothes 15, by Cadenhead's

Tasting notes: It's quite a strong whisky, which definitely needed water. Without there were harsh bourbon and oak flavours. But after a drop of water, there is a very oaky taste with a hint of vanilla-y sweetness. Lingers quite long with oak, but otherwise a little disappointing.

December 24th: Dalwhinnie 15

Tasting notes: Light creamy whisky with oaky hints. Smells of wood, tiny bit of caramel on the nose and on the palette. Wood finish too, but not very long lingering.

About the whisky: Last whisky of the calendar, sponsored by my dad! Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.

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Comments

I'm a fan of the Dalwhinnie 15 myself. I'll have to try a few others on this list.

Happy Christmas to you and Morag, Derick!

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