Dancing Pines Distillery – Loveland, Colorado

The past few years we’ve enjoyed a quiet Christmas home in Seattle. No stress, no fuss, but also no family. This year we bit the bullet and traveled to be with Adam’s family in Fort Collins, Colorado. At the airport, I expected the full holiday nightmare of endless lines, clueless travelers, and screaming children. Amazingly, though, it was all just fine! We even got a lovely view on the way out.

Perfect view of Mt. Rainier!

Awhile back, my father-in-law had sent us a picture of a distillery in nearby Loveland, Colorado, and I knew we’d have to check it out during the holidays. Dancing Pines Distillery is owned by a husband and wife team, and has been in business for five  years. Their space was great – a good mix of rustic and modern design. They have quite the range of spirits and liqueurs: rum, vodka, gin, whiskey, and many liqueurs. For tasting, of course, we started with their whiskeys. I didn’t take copious notes, so forgive the brevity!
  
 
Bourbon Whiskey

Nosed like a very standard bourbon. Vanilla, caramel, and oak. Tasted exactly like it smelled.

Awry Whiskey (100% rye)

Spicy, dry, hints of fruit…both in smell and taste.

Glen Pines Single Malt

Very bright on the nose. Almost piney. The palate had a little spice, hints of the pine, but no caramel or fruit sweetness. Not very dynamic, but still smooth and quite different than most Scotches I have tasted.

Black Walnut Bourbon Liqueur

This one was really interesting. The nose is sweet walnuts and caramel. It tasted almost syrupy sweet. Bourbon with toasted walnuts. A dessert whiskey liqueur. Delightful.

  

  
Next, we sampled a few more of their liqueurs. 

Creme Brûlée Liqueur

Wow. The nose on this was incredible. It smelled and tasted exactly like creme brûlée. The burnt sugar flavor couldn’t be missed and it had a creamy mouthfeel. I really wanted to use it as a topping over some vanilla ice cream.

Chai Liqueur

It smelled divinely spicy with a hint of sweetness. It tasted exactly like chai tea and just needed some foamed milk for it. I’m sure it could be really fun in cocktails.

All in all, I was most impressed with their liqueurs. The other spirits were fine and well-balanced, but not overly dynamic. Their liqueurs were well blended and had incredible flavors. I’d like to try the others that are fruit-based, too.

A fun holiday trip to a distillery. 🙂

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Whisky Advent Calendar: Days 19-24

The final part of our advent calendar adventure!

 

Day 19!

Day 19: The Lost Distilleries Blend Batch 6

Blended (Scotland) 49.3% ABV

Nose: There’s a lot going on! Fruity sweetness (pears and peaches), with some sweet and savory smoke. Light floral and perfume notes.

Palate: Fiery because of the ABV. Light spices, some nuttiness with a suggestion of smoke on the finish.

Notes: Very interesting!

 

Day 20: Isle of Jura Elixir 12 Year Old

Single Malt Scotch (Island) 40% ABV

Nose: Dried fruits (plum), brown sugar. Sweet roasted quality, almost like glazed nuts. Hint of brine on the end.

Palate: Cinnamon, chewy bread, raisins. Roasted flavor on the short finish.

Notes: It’s okay, but a bit one-dimensional.

 

Day 21: Dalwhinnie Winter’s Gold

Single Malt Scotch (Highland) 43% ABV

Nose: Puff of smoke right away, then a fruity sweetness.

Palate: Spices that linger. Hints of orange and a touch of brine. Long finish, but more of a one-hit wonder, like a firecracker.

Notes: Served cold, as per instructions. Didn’t like it as much as I had hoped.

 

Day 22!

Day 22: Teeling Small Batch Irish Whiskey

Blended (Ireland) 46% ABV

Nose: Sunshine! Bright citrus, cut grass, some spices, vanilla.

Palate: Pleasant and subtle. Mild vanilla and spices. Creamy with a little lemon.

Notes: Super drinkable.

 

Day 23: Glenfiddich 18 Year Old

Single Malt Scotch (Speyside) 40% ABV

Nose: Citrus, bit floral, bright. Honey, and lumber.

Palate: Fresh, with spices. Bit tart, and almost tannic. Short finish.

Notes: Glenfiddich is always a bit too spicy/punchy for me, but it is a classic.

 

Day 24!

Day 24: Invergordon 50 Year Old 1964 (Cask 2) – Xtra Old Particular (Douglas Laing)

Single Grain Scotch (Highland) 43% ABV

Nose: Wow – a lot going on! Some nail polish remover on the front, then raisins, plums, crème brûlée, and fudge.

Palate: Little heat on the initial sip, but that goes away quickly. Strong roasted flavor, but different than in a Westland malt. Sweetness (corn on the mash bill?), vanilla and caramel. Very smooth and warming.

Notes: Wow! VERY complex and interesting. A full bottle is $432, so it is likely the most expensive whisky we’ve had!

 

Part 4 of our advent calendar tasting finished strong. There were some very interesting malts, and some we loved and some we didn’t as much. The Lost Distilleries Blend Batch 6 was a favorite, but the clear winner was the Invergordon 50 Year Old. It’s incredibly impressive to have a whisky that old that hasn’t been ruined by that many years in a cask, but it was complex and delightful.

I’m so glad that we got this advent calendar! It had a fantastic range of whiskies – in flavor, style, and price. I now have some distilleries in mind that I’d like to follow up on to try more expressions, specifically Mackmyra. Also Fettercairn, Arran, Balvenie, and Invergordon. I’d also like to explore some Irish whiskey and see how it compares to my much-adored Scotch. We’ll definitely be getting an advent calendar again next year!

Whisky Advent Calendar: Days 13-18

Part 3 of our whisky advent calendar adventure gave us some more unique whiskies that gave us a bit more to talk about.

Day 13: Glendronach 12 Year Old

Single Malt Scotch (Highland) 43% ABV

Nose: Fruity and spicy (ginger). Definitely sherried.

Palate: Fruity, some spice. Some nuts, too. Long finish!

Notes: Very good.

 

Day 14: Isle of Jura Superstition

Single Malt Scotch (Island) 43% ABV

Nose: Grains, darker sweetness. Hint of brine and smoke.

Palate: Buttered toast, and more grains. A little honey on the end.

Notes: Well balanced and tasty! Would get it again. We’ve had a few Juras before, and sometimes they’re excellent and sometimes less so. This one is definitely good!

 

Day 15!

Day 15: Fettercairn Fior

Single Malt Scotch (Highland) 42% ABV

Nose: Subtle. Grainy, brown sugar.

Palate: Spicy (more savory than sweet). Little bit more fire than the Jura. Hints of cocoa and espresso. A dark, roasted, slightly bitter flavor with a faint hint of peat.

Notes: Adam really liked it. In reading more of the notes about it, it’s primarily blended of 14-15 yr old whiskies with a 5 yr old peated one. That explains a lot about the flavors.

 

Day 16: Balvenie 12 Yr Old DoubleWood

Single Malt Scotch (Speyside) 40% ABV

Nose: Sweet, bright, some wood. Fruity.

Palate: Blast of fruit followed quickly by a woody flavor. Not as sweet as the nose indicates, but still some there. Not unpleasant. Drying on the finish.

Notes: Adam really likes it. For some reason, for me, it has hints of bourbon. The woodiness of the American oak?

 

Day 17!


 Day 17: Mackmyra Brukswhisky

Single Malt (Sweden) 41.4% ABV

Nose: Bright, sunny. Lemon peel. Piney, vanilla, hint of ginger.

Palate: Light, clean, floral. Bit of rye and apple on the finish. Hints of spices.

Notes: Very good and complex. Delightful! We really enjoyed this dram and the contrast to most of what we’ve tasted so far. Definitely want to try more from Mackmyra.

 

Day 18: Girvan Patent Still Proof Strength

Single Grain (Lowland) 57.1% ABV

Nose: Vanilla! Salted caramel.

Palate: Sweet and spicy, but light. Candied citrus peels or a lemon drop.

Notes: Dangerous because it’s not fiery like most high ABV whiskies. Tasty and delicate.

 

These were all wonderful drams, and we thoroughly enjoyed them all. The Mackmyra was our favorite of this excellent bunch!

Whisky Advent Calendar: Days 7-12

After the first few days of our advent calendar, Adam went on a little trip to visit a friend. Instead of hoarding all of the whisky for myself, I waited to continue tasting until he returned from his little vacation. This gave us the opportunity to taste of few whiskies together, which I actually prefer than tasting them singly. Tasting samples back to back really gives you the chance to compare flavors…and frankly, it’s more fun to do it this way. 🙂 Here is part 2 of our advent calendar adventure!

Day 7: Glen Scotia Double Cask

Single Malt Scotch (Campeltown) 46% ABV

Nose: Rich, red fruits and brown sugar.

Palate: Pleasant. Not overly complex. Sugary but not cloying. Tiny hint of herbs near the end.

Notes: Very drinkable!

 

Day 8!

Day 8: Balvenie Single Barrel Sherry Cask 15 Yr Old

Single Malt Scotch (Speyside) 47.8% ABV

Nose: Very alcohol-y smelling, but a sugary sweetness with it.

Palate: Fruity sweetness with winter spices. A bit of bitterness/tartness in among fruit and spices.

Notes: Considering the alcohol content, it’s quite smooth.

 

Day 9: Tullemore D.E.W. 12 Year Old Special Reserve

Blended (Ireland) 40% ABV

Nose: Sweet, vanilla, and smells creamy.

Palate: Tastes like it smells. Hint of nutmeg. Coconut on the finish??

Notes: Pleasant and easy drinker. Safe, nothing offensive here.

 

Day 10!


Day 10: Monkey Shoulder

Blended (Scotland) 40% ABV

Nose: Sweet cereals and vanilla. Lovely.

Palate: Balanced, vanilla, cereals, creamy with a hint of spices.

Notes: Very pleasant and drinkable. We ended up buying a bottle of this for the holiday visit with family. A safe (and affordable) option for folks not too familiar with good Scotch whisky!

 

Day 11: Arran – Batch 4 (That Boutique-y Whisky Company)

Single Malt Scotch (Island) 52% ABV

Nose: Alcohol sharpness up front (not shocking with the ABV). Light fruits, melon and peach. Brown sugar.

Palate: Lightly spicy. Some vanilla and light fruits, but nothing outstanding besides some of the spice. It’s definitely fiery and needs a bit of water to smooth it out.

Notes: Sunshine. With the accompanying heat. 😉

 

Day 12: Caol Ila 12 Year Old**

Single Malt Scotch (Islay) 43% ABV

Nose: Peaty, peppermint, campfire. Smells like a “man’s whisky.”

Palate: Smoke, briny, little sweetness comes out with some water.

Notes: Long finish. Not too fiery, and not overwhelming smoky. A nice change-up from “the usual” for me (sherry-finished Scotches).

**We happen to already own a bottle of this, so this was a chance to revisit our tasting notes.

 

Interestingly enough, in this part 2 of our Advent calendar exploration, we had no clear winners. We rated these drams within a few points of each other, with the exception of the Caol Ila. That one is really for someone who likes the peat. Otherwise, the rest were easy drinkers, but no real stand outs.

Whisky Advent Calendar: Day 1-6

As a Christmas gift for ourselves this year, we splurged for an advent calendar of whisky! I saw them last year from Master of Malt, but we were too late to order one. I made sure we got one this year and it’s been fun so far. Here is part 1 of 4 of our advent calendar adventure.

 

Day 1!


Day 1Glenfarclas 25 Yr Old

Single Malt Scotch (Speyside) 43% ABV

Nose: Little menthol up front with some fruit and vanilla following.

Palate: Quite zingy! Not as fruity as expected, but pleasant.

Notes: Short finish with oak following.

 

Day 2: Nikka Yoichi

Single Malt (Japan) 43% ABV

Nose: Vanilla sweetness with a little citrusy sharpness.

Palate: Sweet without being fruity. Hint of menthol and citrus peels with a puff of smoke on the finish.

Notes: Very good! I haven’t always enjoyed Nikka, but this one I like.

 

Day 3!


Day 3: Compass Box Great King Street Artist’s Blend

Blended Scotch 43% ABV

Nose: Fresh up front. Apple, sweetness, splash of vanilla.

Palate: Bright, sweet and creamy. Some light fruitiness, with some oak on the finish.

Notes: Nothing offensive, easy drinking, but nothing exciting.

 

Day 4: Elijah Craig Small Batch 12 Yr Old

Bourbon (USA) 47% ABV

Nose: Sweet and oaky.

Palate: Sharp. One-dimensional. Not medicinal, but has a sharp flavor that I don’t enjoy. Water helps a little bit.

Note: Still not a fan of bourbons… <sigh>

 

Day 5!


Day 5: Dalmore 15 Yr Old

Single Malt Scotch (Highland) 40% ABV

Nose: Sweet and rich. Dark, juicy fruits. Brown sugar.

Palate: Fruity, winter spices, ginger.

Notes: Medium finish. Adam really liked it.

 

Day 6: Kilchoman Machair Bay 2014 Bottling

Single Malt Scotch (Islay) 46% ABV

Nose: Peaty. With a bit of freshness behind it. “Smells like summer,” but with some mustiness and band-aid.

Palate: Very peaty. Tough to discern much else as there is some other quality interfering. Little bit earthy, but a sharp woodland quality.

Notes: Water smoothed out the fire, but we did not enjoy it! I had tried a different Kilchoman just the day before and had really liked it, so this was a disappointment.

 

Excellent start to the holiday season. The Dalmore was our favorite in this batch of 6. Looking forward to the rest!