Whisky Advent Calendar: Day 23

One more window to open!

Day 23 is Aberlour 18. I have tried this once before, as the last dram of a 7 dram tasting at the distillery and, to be honest, it had been blown away by 3 cask strength expressions and I struggled with it. So, here is another opportunity and here are the dramstats:


  • ABV 43%
  • Age 18
  • Price £54

Nose: Red apples, sherbet, vanilla and milk chocolate raisins.

Palate: Sweet with lots of dessert apple and vanilla sugar. Delicious!

Finish: Lots of creamy toffee sauce and sweet apples. There is a hint of chocolate raisins right at the end that is really excellent.

Verdict: Probably the most rounded and tasty Aberlour I’ve had the pleasure to sample. I think if this were around £45 I’d buy a bottle, but it’s a little on the pricey side. Still, what’s £9 between friends?

The 24th Dram from the Advent Calendar was Master of Malt, 50 year old speyside whisky. I will save this for the right mood and post a review later in the year.


Whisky Advent Calendar: Day 19

A 15 year old single barrel edition of Balvenie. Another excellent and eclectic dram from the advent calendar. The teens have been really good to me!

Here are the dramstats:



  • ABV 47.80%
  • Age 15 yrs
  • Price ~$48

Nose: Immediately sweet honey, followed by pepper, red apple and vanilla. Lovely brandy snap note. Needs just a drop of water to open up. A strange herbal note comes through with water. Coriander+parsley :S.

Palate: Sweet fruit and honey then a wave of pepper and chilli attacks the palate.

Finish: Sickly sweet honey burst with caramelised apples and toffee sauce with brandy snap fading into the distance.

Verdict: This is very nice by sickly. I’d characterise this as a mood whisky and I’d only ever have 1. I’m not sure, therefore, whether I’d buy a bottle of this for myself, but, given the right mood…

Whisky Advent Calendar Day 18

Ok WOW! This one was a really interesting dram to find in my Advent Calendar:

Glenisla 34 years old, 1977 cask strength collection (Signatory). ooooooo.

So firstly, Glenisla? Where’s that? Never heard of that distillery before. Here are the results of my research.

Glenisla is actually a slightly peated malt distilled at Glen Keith distillery. It is very rare and the result of an experiment at Glen Keith in the 70s. I’ve not been able to find any from later than 1977.

So, this is a pretty interesting dram and a unique experience for me. Here are the dramstats:



  • Age 34 years
  • ABV 44.3%
  • Price ~£158 (though sold out at most places)
  • Filled into cask in 1977

Nose: Eau de cologne, tropical fruits with toasted coconut, banana flavoured medicine, brazil nuts. A salty soapy note with lots of resin and pine with a mild springbank-type of peat smoke. Very interesting and complex. Not Islay style peat at all.

Palate: Citrus, guava, mango and oak. Lots of different fruit and an odd soapy note.

Finish: Tropical fruit juice with brazil nuts and hazelnuts with the inner skin on. Then a tinge of smoke and pine.

Verdict: Very interesting with lots of tropical fruit to enjoy and a very unusual peat present. I wouldn’t want to pay £150+ for a bottle of this, but I’m very glad to have tasted it. Wonderful treat in the advent calendar!


Whisky Advent Day 17

The day was Monday, the last week at work before the christmas break. I opened the advent calendar, intending to see what the dram was, then make breakfast. But breakfast would have to wait 10 minutes, as inside the calendar was a whisky I’d never heard of: Poit Dhubh 12 year old?!

I didn’t even know what country this was from, let alone what type of whisky this was, so it was time to do some research.

Poit Dhubh, pronounced “Potch Ghoo”, is Gaelic and it is a whisky from the Gaelic whisky collection produced by Praban na Linne Limited, a whisky company based on the Isle of Skye. The name means illicit still in Gaelic, and the rumour is that there is some elicit malt whisky in the blend, though I suspect this is largely tongue in cheek.

Poit Dhubh 12 year old is actually a blended malt. There is no indication of what whiskies it contains, so this is a bit of a fun mystery dram. Good old advent calendar!

Here are the dramstats:



  • ABV 43%
  • Blended malt
  • 12 year old
  • Price £29
  • Non chill filtered

Nose: Quite malty, ovaltine + vanilla. There is a note of tropical sweets, thinking opal fruits (starburst for drammers under 25), just a hint though.Time in the glass leads to red apples and bubble gum “bottles” (Those blue and pink bubble gum flavour bottle shaped sweets at the pick ‘n’ mix.

Palate: Sweet vanilla and lots of malt. Really really malty!

Finish: Malty malt gets maltier! Dooley’s toffee cream liqueur and a touch of drying oak.

Verdict: I loved it! A real session dram at a decent price. Alternatively, have it instead of ovaltine as a malty bedtime treat for grown ups!


Big Peat Xmas 2012

My last dram of the new year had to be a 2012 dram, and what better way to end the year than with the special small batch 2012 xmas edition of big peat?

I was lucky enough to win this bottle from Single Malts Direct, so it’s not something I would have thought about buying. Big peat is a blend of Islay whiskies containing Port Ellen (a whisky I’ve not had the opportunity to try). It is presented at cask strength and is not chill filtered.

Here are the dramstats:



  • Price £43 from single malts direct
  • ABV 53.6%

Nose: All encompassing peat with a slight medicinal note saturated in smoke. Light fruit on top of the smoke with apples and pears. Then citrus, specifically lemon peel. Time in the glass leads to a slight winey note.

Palate: Smokey and medicinal. However, this is not like Laphroaig. That plasters/iodine note is there but the smoke is much richer and lighter citrus notes give it a zing.

Finish: Spicy pepper kick followed by rich smoke giving way to sticking plasters and lemon peel and a creamy after taste.

Verdict: It’s definitely a peat monster but I much prefer it to Laphroaig, though I was hoping for a little more complexity from a blend. For £43 for a cask strength peat monster though, you can’t go wrong. I may look into the standard big peat and I’ll be very tempted by xmas 2013…


Whisky Advent Day 16

And day 16 is….

Glendronach 15 year old “revival”.

I’m pretty excited about this as I’ve never tasted it, but I’ve heard only good things. Glendronach was restarted by the good chaps behind Ben Riach and so represents an independent distillery that needs our support. they inherited old stock distilled before the place was mothballed, and judging by the awards it must really have been decent stuff.

Here are the dramstats for the revival:


  • Price ~£40
  • ABV 46%
  • Age 15 year

Nose: Tons of rich sherry fruit. Lovely! Chocolate raisins, medjool dates, toffee apples, muscavado sugar, then very malty ovaltine.

Palate: Oh yes! The nose, which promised so mucy rich malty sherry is carried through to the palate with a rich malty sherry fruit explosion! chocolate, dates and malty ovaltine!

Finish: Raisins, sherry and chocolate vanilla with malty ovaltine.

Verdict: YUM! Serious bargain, one I really enjoyed finishing off!

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!