It’s been a long while since I’ve done a whisky-specific post, how ridiculous! The holidays are rapidly approaching, and what better way to count down (and battle holiday stress) than to enjoy a whisky advent calendar from Master of Malt? Last year we got the “general” whisky calendar, and here are our tasting notes from that little adventure: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, and Part 4. It was a great way to explore new whiskies, especially some single grain, bourbon, and single malt expressions from new (to me) distilleries. This year I wanted to make it a bit more special, and got us the Single Cask Advent Calendar. Since we’ve tasted quite a few whiskies, this was our opportunity to try some very unique drams!
Some friends of ours (that we met at Westland Distillery) also got the same advent calendar, and we decided to do a tasting together. The more, the merrier! Truly, tasting with other whisky enthusiasts is really fun because we can really take our time with nosing/tasting the whisky (without feeling like a snob like when you’re out with non-whisky folk) and coming up with our own descriptions. Also, it’s fun to laugh at some of the “official” tasting notes that seem like somebody just wrote down an odd shopping list: apples, honey, leather, grass, christmas cake, tobacco, dusty grains, and band-aids. Uh…?(Admittedly, we also secretly wish our palates had that level of discernment!)
Generally, an advent calendar is a one-a-day experience, which is great. In terms of whisky-tasting, however, I really enjoy sampling the drams back-to-back. It really helps bring out the differences between them, and I think it makes the entire experience more fun and enriching. (But hey, you enjoy your advent calendar how you like!)
Day 1: Dalmore 20 Year Old 1995 (cask 91121)
Single Malt Scotch (Highland) 46% ABV
Nose: Sweet grains, dried cherries, honey
Palate: Spicy, oily, black pepper. Thick on the tongue. The Master of Malt tasting notes say “chocolate cake” but we got more of the buttery feeling left in your mouth from the frosting.
Notes: Generally just very spicy!
Day 2: Inchgower 11 Year Old 2005 – A Rare Find
Single Malt Scotch (Speyside) 59.8% ABV
Nose: Very light and sweet! Almost like candy, but in a good way. Light apples and sunshine (sure, that’s a flavor to me), with honey.
Palate: Sweet up front, but gingery. Drying like a white wine, but not acidic. Needs water to become a truly light and sweet delight!
Notes: Not too fiery considering the ABV, but of course, some water still opens it up nicely.
Day 3: Blair Athol 5 Year Old 2010
Single Malt Scotch (Highland) 46% ABV
Nose: Golden raisins, sweet grains
Palate: Little hint of tobacco, little sweet, very drinkable for a young whisky.
Notes: Matured in a sherry butt, but interestingly, it doesn’t taste sherried at all (to us). The most drinkable of the lot, but the least dynamic. By that I mean there’s one flavor and it doesn’t change that much in your mouth – sort of one-note.
Day 4: Cameronbridge 24 Year Old 1991 (cask 11225)
Single Grain Scotch (Lowland) 51.5% ABV
Nose: Sweet! Seems like there is corn in there to lend that sweetness (but I couldn’t find a grain bill anywhere to verify this.)
Palate: Very drinkable! Very sweet. Little spicy, and grainy. Has that bourbon quality. Not super dynamic, but good.
Notes: Aged in a refill hogshead.
Day 5: Talisker 8 Year Old 2008 (cask 12657)
Single Malt Scotch (Island) 50% ABV
Nose: Smoke, vanilla
Palate: Nutty, mildly smoky, little salty. Not much fruit, but still a hint of sweetness. Very pleasant! Need a crackling fire to fully fill out the experience.
Notes: Love the medium smokiness of this dram.
After our tasting of these five, we all chose our favorite…and we all chose a different one! All for different reasons, too. Way to start out strong, Drinks by the Dram. We’re loving the quality and contrast of the different character of these drams so far!