The Whisky Advent Calendar
My Christmas present to me was a Masters of Malt whisky advent calendar. So this was 24 30ml bottles of whisky for £119.951 so that's 720ml or about a bottle of whisky in total and for that price it seemed pretty reasonable to try so different whiskies.
It's taken me a while to get through these at two a night over 12 nights but I finally finished tonight so it's taken me four months rather than one. I also wrote brief notes as I tasted each one and I thought I'd publish them, so here they are (emboldening is notes to myself for later):
- Tomatin 12yo, 43% - very nice, lightly sherried and only £43 from MoM. I can see me getting a bottle of this one.
- Benromach Contrasts Organic, 46% - 8yo, peaty but still very drinkable. Don't think I'd buy a whole bottle mind you
- Bruichladdich The Organic 2009, 50% - remarkably fine (and drunk just after 16. Caol Ila Moch below). Nose and initial taste of honey but with grassy notes on the taste. Some honey on finish too. Nice mouth feel with some waxiness. £75 a bottle mind you but would like this as a present.
- Redwood Empire Pipe Dream Bourbon, 45% - mainly corn. Bit syrupy. Not that impressed.
- Kilchoman Sanaig, 46% - I didn't think this was going to go well initially as it, unsurprisingly, had a very peaty nose but it grew on me quickly, perhaps because it's also sherried. Quite sweet, with a long lasting and complicated finish which grew on me through the dram.
- Cotswold Single Malt, 46% - very disappointing, especially as it's aged in red wine casks. Thin, very weird mouth feel, and didn't taste like whisky at all. After two sips the rest went down the drain.
- Glen Scotia 18 Year Old, 46% - £109.95. Curious nose, good mouth feel, peaty flavour and a good sweet finish. Nothing wrong with it - it's a fine dram, but in truth I preferred 21 (which I had the same night) at half the price.
- Mosgaard Single Malt Whisky Pedro Ximénez Cask Finish (Batch 8), 46.4% - Danish and my first single malt from outwith the UK. Organic. Very nice it is too with a good mouth feel, and long finish. The only oddity is that when you first swallow there's a burst of something like an anise for a second or too ... which isn't a bad thing but just surprising. Bit pricey mind you at £64.49 for 50cl so I don't think I'll be getting a bottle.
- Black Bottle Island Smoke - Alchemy Series, 46.3% - £25.75 a bottle. Blended Islay and not at all bad. Little bit thin but excellent peaty taste and finish. Not my perfect peated by not at all bad and a steal at the price.
- Kavalan Concertmaster - Port Cask Finish, 40% - Taiwanese! Nice mouth feel for a 40% and good flavour and finish. Really very fine. Bit pricy at £62.50 a bottle but it's come a long way.
- Filey Bay Moscatel Cask Finish, 46% - very impressed by this young English whisky. Nice nose, good taste and mouth feel and good finish. Could definitely taste the moscatel and there were vanilla notes too.
- Bowmore 15yo, 43% - nice bouquet, soft Islay peaty, long finish. Like Old Ballantruan with the volume turned down. Ah, apparently finished in sherry casks, which probably explains why it's working for me. Not at all waxy. Beth says probably chill filtered.
- John Walker & Sons Celebratory Blend, 51% - yes, that Johnnie Walker. Actually very fine for a blend. Initial notes were a bit woody but it grew on me a lot through the drinking with good mouth feel and a pleasant finish. Sadly MoM only have two bottles left so I doubt I'll get any of this.
- Compass Box Hedonism, 43% - blended Scottish grain whisky. Very smooth (I'd never guess it's 43%) with a nice, if unusual flavour. Reminds me a bit of an American rye, and indeed it may have some rye in it. Slight hint of watermelon in the finish. Pricey though at £62.95 a bottle.
- Highland Park Cask Strength - Release No.2, 63.9% - woody and a little peaty and not really my sort of dram but decent enough nose and grew on me as I sipped my way through it. No longer available from MoM although the peatier release 3 is.
- Caol Ila Moch, 43% - disappointing thin and weakly flavoured peated whisky. Nuff said.
- Starward Red Wine Barrel, 55.4% - Australian single malt matured in red wine casks. Very smooth, lovely taste and mouth feel and excellent finish. Sadly this is no longer available from MoM but they do do other, similar, expressions ...
- Yamazaki Single Malt Whisky, Distiller's Reserve, 43% - Suntory. Matured in Bordeaux wine casks and Sherry casks. Nice mouth feel but slightly odd finish which got worse through the dram. Didn't leave me rushing to buy a bottle.
- anCnoc Peat 46% - from Knockdhu Distillery. Smooth, nice mouth feel. Peated, but not excessively with a sweet taste and an excellent finish. No colour or chill filtering. Described by a reviewer on MoM as comparing very well to Ardbeg Uigeadail. I would be very tempted to get more but £99.95 a bottle!
- Daddy Rack Small Batch Straight Tennessee Whiskey, 40% - Tennessee whiskey, 80% corn and 10% each of rye and barley. Remarkably fine for a 40% (cheap too at £35.99). Good mouth feel, and a nice finish. Unfortunately I followed it up with a dram of Minor Case Straight Rye ... which reminded me what really good American whiskey can taste like.
- Glen Moray Rhum Agricole Cask Finish Project, 46.3% - Speyside aged for two years in a rhum agricole cask from Martinique (rum made from sugar cane juice, not molasses). Nice nose, good mouth feel, and a decent finish too. A pleasant dram. Was considering a bottle but sold out.
- Old Perth Cask Strength Blended Malt, 58.6% - sherried, not coloured or chill filtered. Pleasant nose. Good mouth feel. Quite sweet. Only £41.90 a bottle and they also do a 46% expression at only £33 a bottle.
- Laphroaig Quarter Cask, 48% - I'm very familiar with this already as it's one of Beth's favourites ... but not mine, so I left it for her to drink.
- Craigellachie 17 Year Old, 46% - Speyside so, unsurprisingly, sherried. To be honest I was a little disappointed in this one. Pretty average mouth feel and disappointing finish. I followed it with some Craigellachie 13 Year Old Bas-Armagnac Cask Finish which I've been enjoying for a while now, and did again and more than this one. Pricing is interesting too: the 17 year old is £105 a bottle vs £54 for my 13 year old. Go figure.
So, looking back, what are my conclusions?
Well, it's fine way to try some new whiskies and it also meant I tried whiskies from countries I probably wouldn't have done otherwise like Korean (10) or various English (6 and 11).
It also meant that I tried blends, which I wouldn't normally touch, like 13, 14 and 22.
Bit of a shame that some are already no longer available, especially Glen Moray Rhum Agricole Cask Finish Project21 but that's the problem with many interesting expressions: they only make a few bottles.
There was only one real disappointment, the Cotswold6, but some real winners three of which I've now bought whole bottles of: the Tomatin 12yo1, Compass Box Hedonism14, and AnCnoc Peat19 (which I bought for £80 from The Whisky World rather than the £100 that Masters of Malt wanted!). Beth likes the last one too.
I can't see me doing this every Christmas but I'll certainly try it again at some point.