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The Whisky Advent Calendar

My Christmas present to me was, for the second year running, a Master of Malt whisky advent calendar. So this was 24 30ml bottles of whisky for £119.95 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.

Master of Malt Pour & Sip Advent Calendar 2022

It's taken me a while to get through these at two a night over 12 nights but I finally finished on Sunday night so it's taken me six months rather than one.

As I did last year I 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):

  1. Lagavulin 8 year old 48% - just what I'd expect from a Lagavulin really. Bit smoky, but not excessively. Good nose and mouth feel. Vaguely sweet and reasonable finish. Didn't really excite me and at £58.99 for something only 8 years old it wasn't screaming "buy me, buy me"

  2. Brenne French Single Malt Whisky 40% - this was an odd one. Weird nose, tasted of apples and, later in drinking it, a bit of vanilla. Apparently it's matured in European oak and finished in cognac casks but if I didn't know better I'd say it was finished in calvados casks and it tasted more like calvados than whisky to me.

  3. Jameson Single Pot Still - Five Oak Cask Release Whiskey 46% - nice nose, and good mouth feel too with a slightly sweet flavour, and concluding with a good finish. Nothing exceptional but still very pleasant. The only oddity is that it got slightly worse down the dram whereas normally things improve. Currently £47 a bottle. If it was a bit cheaper I might buy it as an everyday whisky but ...

  4. Mortlach 12 Year Old Whisky 43.4% - disappointing, which surprised me a bit as I've had pretty good expressions from them in the past, and also considering the £60 a bottle price. Below average mouth feel and woody flavour which I didn't enjoy and had my mouth puckering. Finish was disappointing but long lasting. Unfortunately.

  5. Sheep Dip Whisky, 40% - blended from a dozen Scotch single malts matured for at least five years in a variety of first-fill sherry, first-fill bourbon, and refill oak casks. There's nothing wrong with this but it's just a bit ... inoffensive. I'd forgotten it within minutes of finishing it. The only plus side is that at £27.49 a bottle it's cheap, but I won't be buying any.

  6. Talisker Port Ruighe Whisky, 45.8% - I've never had Talisker before but Beth is not a fan so I was a bit trepidatious about this one however it was finished in port casks which is normally good news for me. But it wasn't. The nose alerted me that I wasn't going to like it and the taste and finish were both sour and woody as hell. If you like Rioja you'll probably be very happy but I wasn't. Not a trace of the port. The only good news is that it had excellent mouth feel but that really was it and so most of it was thrown away ... which means that I moved on to number 7 on the same night.

  7. Nikka Whisky From The Barrel, 51.4% - Japanese blended single malt and grain whiskies, some of which had been sherried. This one was quite lovely. Good nose and mouth feel, very smooth, excellent flavour and strong finish with lots of competing flavours. £40.25 a 50cl bottle so £60.75 really but I can still see me buying some of this one.

  8. Speyburn 15 Year Old Whisky, 46% - perfectly fine Speyside but a bit inoffensive. Not sherried. Wouldn't say no if offered one ... but wouldn't choose it.

  9. Kyrö Malt Rye Whisky, 47.2% - this is first one which I already know ... and indeed there's an open bottle in the cupboard right now, so I put this one to one side to start the dram next time I fancy a Finnish rye.

  10. Beinn Dubh The Black Whisky, 43% - this is from the Speyside Distillery, from whom I've had Fumare in the past which was very fine. This one had a weird nose and great mouth feel but the caramel (there's a reason it's so dark) was pretty in your face, both in the taste and finish. It's also currently £67.24 which is steep for something without and age statement (and I suspect it's young), coloured, and not that strong. Gets very mixed reviews on Master of Malt and I can see why.

  11. Samuel Gulliver & Co. England's No.6 Whisky, 46% - this is actually from St George's Distillery in Norfolk. It's no age statement and has been finished in rum casks. Not much of a nose but decent enough taste and I thought it might be a blend with some grain in as it reminded me a bit of the likes of Compass Box but I suspect that's the effect of the rum. Overall a bit disappointing. Lacking in mouth feel and with a finish that got worse over time so, having finished it I wanted a drink of water as I didn't want it hanging around. Oh, and also £69 a bottle!

  12. Chivas Regal Extra 13 Year Old Whisky, 40% - coming after 11 this was a return to form. On the negative side it's only 40% and I suspect it's been chill filtered as it had no mouth feel. On the plus it was aged in first-fill Oloroso sherry casks and the resulting taste and finish were just fine. I just wished I could have tried the blend at 46% say.

  13. Stauning Rye Whisky, 48% - perfectly fine rye from Denmark. Bit of an odd nose but good mouth feel and taste and excellent finish. My only problem with this one is that it's about £60 a bottle and I can get some very decent American ryes with a very similar overall taste for £30-40.

  14. Singleton of Dufftown 15 Year Old Whisky, 40% - nothing fundamentally wrong with this one, it's an unsherried Speyside aged in American and European oak casks, but it's just ... well ... inoffensive and rather dull. I've had it before, or possibly the 12 year old, as a Master of Malt freebie and I seem to remember feeling the same about that one too.

  15. Gulliver's 47 Whisky, 47% - see 11, same deal in origin, but this one "gently" peated and finished in Jim Beam casks. Weirdly chemical nose and the sort of strongly peated taste that puts me off some Islay whiskies. After a couple of mouthfuls I threw most of it away and moved on to a "Whisky Santa" miniature and so we have:

    15a. James Eadie's Trade Mark "X" Whisky, 45.6% - this is a blend, and they've been producing a blend with this name (sort of ;-)) since 1854. They stopped in the late 1940s but now it's back and includes 14 of the 16 whiskies that appeared in the original Trade Mark "X", including a couple of closed distilleries! And the result is ... pleasing. Very light trace of peat (see Gulliver's this is "gently") with a pleasant nose, taste and long finish. Lots of flavours popping out occasionally to say hello. A very pleasant dram and only £34.95 when Master of Malt which is very reasonable for a 45.6%.

  16. Jura 14 Year Old American Rye Cask Whisky, 40% - this was rather fine. Partially finished in American rye cask (and also white oak and bourbon) the result is a very pleasant, smooth and well balanced whisky. I'm not a great fan of 40% expressions but this one worked well and the finish meant that I paused after this one for quite some time before trying 15 ... and then 15a (I'd started the evening with the 40%). I'd love to try this in a 46% or thereabouts.

  17. Bulleit Bourbon 10 Year Old Whiskey, 45.6% - pleasant nose, good mouth feel with some waxiness and a sweet taste, and a nice finish too. Aged for an unusually long time for a whiskey. This one definitely grew on me and, at £46.11 a time, I could imagine getting a whole bottle.

  18. Tobermory 12 Year Old Whisky, 46.3% - I've had a bottle of this before and it's a fine dram with a good nose, taste, and long finish. A very drinkable whisky finished in american oak.

  19. Nc'nean Organic Single Malt Whisky, 46% - I've had a bottle of this before and I do like it. It's aged in a combination of red wine and American bourbon casks with a little finishing in sherry casks so no real surprise that it's my sort of whisky. Very smooth, gorgeous taste with a hint of melon, and a nice finish.

  20. Talisker 10 Year Old Whisky, 45.8% - although very different to the Nc'nean, was not at all bad. Very woody and smoky with a sour taste but it definitely grew on me with a long lasting finish that's still with me now as I type this and I'm still enjoying it.

  21. Teeling Small Batch Whiskey, 46% - Irish blended malt and grain aged first in ex-bourbon casks and then ex-rum casks for the last twelve months. Not chill filtered. Not at all like a typical irish whiskey. Quite sweet with more than a hint of apple in both the nose and flavour. Good mouth feel and a pleasant, if subdued, finish. Really rather fine, and only £37.95 a bottle.

  22. Noble Rebel Orchard Outburst Whisky, 46% - blended whiskies by Loch Lomond Distillers. Not coloured or chill filtered. Not wild about the nose but interesting taste with bursts of fruit flavours. Strong finish. Nothing fundamentally wrong with the package but it didn't really grab me.

  23. Balblair 15 Year Old Whisky, 46% - I've had this before, or possibly the 12 year old, and it's a very pleasant and smooth dram (although not cheap at about £77 a bottle). Pleasant nose, very nice mouth feel, finish doesn't linger though. Another Highland Council region distillery too - one of the group scattered along the A9 up to Wick - so a "local" whisky for me. If it wasn't for the price I'd get a bottle this.

  24. Waterford The Cuvée Whiskey, 50% - disappointing nose and thin mouth feel although it did have a good taste. A sour finish which lingered. £69 a bottle. Apparently the distillery was founded back in 2015 by Mark Reynier, formerly the co-owner of Bruichladdich so this is a young whiskey, which probably explains its lack of depth. Won't be rushing to try this again.

So, looking back, what are my conclusions?

Well, it's fine way to try some new whiskies, although I thought this year's selection was a little tame compared to last year. Only two not not finished: Talisker (6) and Gulliver's 47 (15). It certainly seems like St George's Distillery in Norfolk are not doing my sort of whisky (see also 11).

I have since bought, and am enjoying, a bottle of James Eadie's Trade Mark "X" (15a), Nc'nean Organic (19), and Bulleit Bourbon (17). The last is going down very nicely when I'm in the mood for an American bourbon.

Written 28/05/24

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