Whisky Advent Calendar Day 15

Just 10 drams left to go and day 15 was the Islay Single Malt Scotch called Smokehead. The wisdom is that this is Caol Ila, but it doesn’t say so definitively on the bottle. I’ve been interested in this dram for a while, so was pretty pleased to get it.

Here are the dramstats:



  • ABV 43%
  • Price ~£28

Nose: Peat, freresher bars, citrus, then gets smokier with time in the glass. It develops a peaty chocolatey note like a smokey fruit and nut bar. Coastal notes come through too with seaweed and grilled seafood.

Palate: Smokey chocolate, a peppery blast and sweet.

Finish: Sweet and chocolatey with lingering peat smoke and really appealing bitter cocoa at the end

Verdict: Fantastic stuff this and mega-value. A lot of Islay whisky can be overpriced, but this little treat is really really competitive with all entry level single malts and puts many of them to shame. With all the whiskies that the advent calendar has convinced me to buy, I’ll run out of room and money!



Glengoyne 17 year old

This is an excellent dram that I bought in October after doing a tour of Glengoyne distillery.

Glengoyne is a nice little distillery just north east of Glasgow. It is technically a highland region single malt, though it sits right on the highland-lowland border. According to our tour guide, the malt is distilled in the highlands and matured in warehouses across the road which are technically in the lowlands. To me it looked as if it should be the other way around, but who am I to argue?

Actually, as distillery tours go, it wasn’t a great one. Our guide insisted that blended whisky is really clear unmatured spirit with caramel added (don’t worry, that is spectacularly untrue), and generally misinformed our party regarding the particulars of the whisky making process.

The tasting at the end though, was pretty good. Glengoyne make some excellent whisky. You can’t really go wrong with the 10 year old as an entry level malt, the 21 is a lovely rich ruby red and is very rich and fruity, but, for me, the 17 was the pick of the bunch.

Most Glengoyne whisky is sherry cask matured for the entire time of its maturation, so this malt is heavily fruity, whichever expression you buy. Here are the dramstats for the 17 year old:




  • Age 17
  • ABV 43%
  • Price £50

Nose: Moist christmas cake, raisins, sultanas and dates with soft brown sugar, fig rolls, warm buttered toast, cinnamon and oak barrels.

Palate: Bitter muscavado sugar, bitter dried fruit, buttery, caramac bars.

Finish: Blackcurrant liquorice, drying oak, melted butter and bitter dried fruit.

Verdict: Glengoyne have now gotten rid of the 17 year old and replaced it with an 18 year old expression. It is worth getting hold of a bottle of the 17 if you can, and if you shop wisely I think you can pick it up for under £40.

Whisky Advent Calendar Day 14

Today’s dram was Ledaig 10 year old. Yay! This is part of the revamped Burn Stewart range including Bunna, and Deanston as appeared earlier in the whisky advent series.

Loving this range at the minute with the no caramel, no chill filtration and higher ABV policy.

Ledaig is basically Peated Tobermory. That is, peated barley used in the process at Tobermory distillery on the Isle of Mull. Non whisky lovers will know Tobermory better as Balamory, (the setting of a kids TV program).

Tobermory was where it all started for me. On my honeymoon touring the west coast, we visited Tobermory because Mrs Dramstats used to watch the kids program. I saw the distillery and thought we should “do whisky” on our holiday in Scotland. The rest is history!

So, here are the dramstats for Ledaig 10:



  • ABV: 46.3%
  • Price £30
  • Non chill filtered
  • No caramel added

Nose: Peaty, citrus and pine with an earthy note. Really good! A creamy weetabix note underneath the pines and the peat.

Palate: Earthy peat

Finish: Peat turns to pine and a minty fresh note appears and then fades.

Verdict: This is a great whisky. However, despite the low price point, it’s probably not one for beginners. It’s unusual and doesn’t have many traditionally palatable flavours (like fruits, vanilla and grains) from things you might eat/drink outside of whisky. I say this, and yet many beginners like 10 year old Laphroaig, so what do I know? What I do know is that this is a whisky I will be buying and that the price is excellent, maybe even too good given the high ABV!


Whisky Advent Calendar Day 13

Day 13, unlucky for some. Perhaps not for me though as today’s dram is Dalmore 12.

Dalmore is a whisky I’ve always wanted to try, ever since I heard about the Dalmore 62 breaking £100,000 at auction. The bottle looks cool, and the idea of a malt to have with cigars (a la The Cigar Malt) sounds pretty good to me.

So, though it may only be the entry level 12 year old, it’s an intro to a range that intrigues me and therefore a great dram for the advent calendar. Here are the dramstats:



  • ABV 40%
  • Age 12
  • Price £35

Nose: Grim! Back in year 8 chemistry I accidentally set fire to the rubber on a clamp with a bunsen burner and this is what the nose reminds me of here. Perhaps not as pungent as full blown burning rubber, but heated rubber certainly. I can smell some rich fruit behind the rubber but it’s really unpleasant to get past. Oh no!

Palate: Not much nicer than the nose!

Finish: Rubber with a touch of watery fruit.

Verdict: I can’t finish this at all. It is too unpleasant! I’ve side by side sniffed it with Grants, with a sherried whisky and with a peated whisky, and I still come back to it and get the nasty rubber. I then left it overnight and tried again in the morning. In the end, the majority of this sample was thrown into the sink. I have to wonder, given other online reviews, whether I just had a duff sample. It can happen that the odd bottle is bad for whatever reason. I won’t be risking my own money to find out though! I’ve heard good things about the cigar malt. Maybe I can get a sample of that from somewhere.



Whisky Advent Calendar: Day 12

Whisky advent day 12 and I’ve definitely noticed an up in the price of the drams since day 10. Yay!

This one was Ballantines 17 year old, Scapa edition. Scapa edition? You what? I was once the proud owner of a bottle of Ballantines 17. A fantastic blend which, until I’d had Cutty 18, was my favourite affordable blend. So what’s all this Scapa edition nonsense?

Well the idea was that this blend was created to highlight the Scapa influence on the blend (Scapa being the “other” distillery on Orkney, home of Highland park). OK, so should be interesting, here are the dramstats:



  • Price £67.18
  • ABV 43%
  • Age 17

Nose: Honey, slightly coastal, chocolatey peat. Faint dried fruits and green notes, something different every sniff. It’s obviously complex but not as well integrated as the normal 17. Coastal more prominent.

Palate: Malty and slightly harsh. Fruity at first then taken over by malt and a harsh bitterness.

Finish: Slightly malty, touch of cocoa and white pepper with spicy oak.

Verdict: An interesting advent calendar dram definitely. However, this is not as nice as the normal Ballantines 17 and is far more expensive. If it ain’t broke don’t fix it. I would recommend just buying the original!


Merry Christmas! Silence lifted

Merry Christmas to all my readers!

First thing’s first, I need to apologise for a 2 week silence. I’ve not been well and one of the first things to stop when I’m ill is nosing and tasting whisky.

A two week absence has left quite a backlog too! Over the next few weeks there will be posts on a Twitter tasting of Milroy’s whiskies, a multi-blogger event dubbed the “12 drams of xmas” and, of course, 13 more days of the whisky advent calendar.

I’ll also have some reviews of this year’s whisky christmas presents (pictured below). Some damn fine drams to review there!


Whisky Advent Calendar: Day 11

We’ve past the single figures and I’m on a run of older/pricer drams. This one was Longmorn 16. A dram some of my whisky friends have recommended to me a few times. Was definitely up for trying this one then!

Here are the dramstats:


  • Price £48
  • ABV 48%
  • Age 16 years

Nose: Floral, lovehearts, citrus, a nice orange note, dry vanilla, grassy and a touch of oak.

Palate:  Creamy vanilla, hint of cereal and lovehearts.

Finish: Very creamy lingering mouthfeel, drying and spicy oak lingering vanilla with fruity hints, particularly apple. Excellent finish pulls this one up.

Verdict: This is excellent and I will be getting a bottle of this. The nose and finish are complex enough that I feel I didn’t get to know it well enough after only 3cl. Nice drop for early in an evening.