The final installment of our Single Cask Whisky Advent Calendar of 2016! We concluded this adventure with our whisky friends, Ali and Alison. We had SO much fun, and we think there should be more “Advent” Calendars for different times during the year. Maybe one for spring equinox, summer solstice, fall equinox – what say you, Drinks by the Dram? 😉 (Luckily, I already ordered another small tasting set to continue the whisky tasting fun in 2017.)
Day 19: Aultmore 9 Yr Old 2006 (cask 7120) The Cooper’s Choice (The Vintage Malt Whisky Co.)
Single Malt Scotch (Speyside) 46%ABV
Nose: Bright, sweet grass, buttery, vanilla
Palate: Well balanced. Grassy, but sweet. Light fruits. Bit of pepper and sweet fruits at the end.
Notes: Aged in a bourbon cask.
Day 20: English Whisky Co. Heavily Peated 5 Year Old 2010
Single Malt English (England) 67.4%ABV
Nose: Very smoky with an edge of caramel. Hints of some mild fruits.
Palate: It should need water at this ABV, but it’s drinkable as is! The first flavor is fruit that is quickly overtaken by smoke. Lingering pepper and cinnamon. Long finish!
Notes: OKAY, I’ll admit I was worried about this one. I’ve had only one other dram from the English Whisky Co and I thought it was dreadful. Like licking a piece of burned firewood at camp, but with no other flavors (or bits of fallen s’mores on it, unfortunately.) That said, this one surprised me. It’s not my favorite, but it had more hints of fruity and caramel sweetness than I expected and it was very drinkable considering the high ABV. Will I seek it out to drink again? No. Would I turn it down if someone offered some to me? No, I’d give it another shot!
Day 21: Strathclyde 24 Yr Old 1990 (cask 2777) – Rare Auld Grain
Single Grain (Lowland) 55.7%ABV
Nose: Smells like you’ve stuck your head in a freshly made wooden chest. After some more air exposure it has some brown sugar present as well.
Palate: Not rich or full bodied. Sharp, with rubber. Our collaborative narrative: new shoes in a freshly laminated cabinet… with a green banana sitting next to it. Not a favorite overall.
Notes: The very few single grain whiskies I’ve had I really enjoyed. This one did not fall into the category. It was memorably odd.
Day 22: Glentauchers 18 Yr Old 1996 (cask 10779)
Single Malt Scotch (Speyside) 48.4%ABV
Nose: Citrus and… root beer? Very light, honey, brown sugar on the back of it.
Palate: Citrus, vanilla, and very well balanced.
Notes: Matured in a refill barrel. Honestly, it was a nice balm to the previous two less-than-fantastic drams. “An apology” said Alison. Very enjoyable!
Day 23: Auchentoshan 12 Yr Old 2003 Distiller’s Art (Langside)
Single Malt Scotch (Lowland) 48%ABV
Nose: Honey, slightly ripened bananas
Palate: Triple distilled! Very light and smooth very pleasant, easy drinker. Hard to distinguish nuanced flavors in this one because it’s so light. Hints of light fruits and a little oak, but very smooth.
Notes: Tastes like warm sunshine (versus the cold Midwestern sunshine of a January day. It’s a thing. Don’t judge.)
Day 24: Macallan 1989 (bottled 2015) (cask 15067) – Malts of Scotland
Single Malt Scotch (Speyside) 47.8%ABV
Nose: Smells like a classic Speyside, only richer and bit more complex. Dark fruits, little bit of orange peel, honey.
Palate: Very rich with baking spices. Fruity and smooth. Rounded edges on this one.
Notes: Matured in a refill sherry hogshead. For comparison, we then tried a bottle of Macallan Select Oak that our friends had on their shelf. You could easily pick out the Macallan character, only the Select Oak had more edges to it. This 1989 expression was just richer and had more depth in the flavor. Very good!
This year’s advent calendar was very fun and tasty! It’s not often you get the opportunity to sample such unique drams as the ones we tried. Additionally, tasting with some equally enthusiastic friends made the experience even more entertaining.
I was surprised at how few smoky whiskies there were, and how many Speyside distilleries were represented. However, I think Islay generally focuses more on their peaty flavors while Speyside focus on enhancing flavor with their casks (with exceptions in both cases, of course!)
It was a great exploration of 24 different drams, and a great way to countdown to Christmas! I hope everyone has a wonderful holiday season. Happy Merry Everything!