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 22

Only 3 drams to go 😦 today’s treat was Glencadam 21 year old. Looks like the advent calendar is trying to build to a 50 year old climax :D.

Glencadam is a highland single malt made by the same guys that make Tomintoul. I’ve never had any before, so what’s it like? Here are the dramstats:


  • Age 21
  • ABV 46%
  • Price £55

Nose: Quite floral with icing sugar at first, then bubblegum bottles, baked vanilla custard and lots of biscuity notes, apple and sultana gariboldi and fig rolls in particular. Quite malty and a note of custard creams.

Palate: Sweet light fruits, green apple, vanilla, and a touch of white pepper with custard ever present.

Finish: Cereal, malted milk, custard, oak, rich tea. The oak gets very dry.

Verdict: It’s lovely and right up my street. It’s not too pricy for a 21 year old and if you want something really biscuity and drinkable, you can’t go too far wrong.

Whisky Advent Calendar: Day 21

Number 21 sees Aberlour A’bunadh Batch 42. Excellent stuff!

I had a bottle of batch 18 and loved the huge burnt christmas cake notes, so needless to say, I was looking forward to seeing how this famous bargain dram has evolved.

Here are the dramstats:



  • ABV 60.3%
  • Price £40

Nose: Huge alcohol burn and uh oh, that unpleasant “something” from my recent review of highland park 12 is there. It’s clearly fruity but this baby needs water. Once the water is added there is sherry soaked dried fruit and pepper. The characteristic Aberlour red apples, then raisins and sultanas all seem to be there. But this harsh unpleasant something is not going away with dilution. I’m starting to think this is sulphur 😦

Palate: Without water it’s sweet, fruity, juicy, then burns! Seems quite young. Not really one for drinking neat for me. With water, sweet sherry fruit and spicy with crackling pepper, juicy apples and black grape. Almost a fruit punch quality to this.

Finish: Peppery then drying. With water much more sweet christmas cake and a real burst of dried fruit. It takes a lot of water and still delivers that burst on the finish, with red gooseberries. The fruit keeps coming!

Verdict: Thank goodness this dram redeemed itself on the palate. Lots of fruit and really exciting. I still don’t know if the nose burn is sulphur or not, but it doesn’t go away with water and it ruins the nose for me. For that reason I wouldn’t buy this batch and that’s a pity. I’ve rented a cottage in Aberlour for a week in Feb and had planned on coming back with a drop of A’bunadh. These things vary quite a lot from batch to batch, so I’ll be trying new batches and waiting for one that ticks the boxes, because when it does, it’s a real cracker!


Whisky Advent Calendar: Day 20

Well we’ve left the teens and they were pretty good to me with plenty of highlights. How would the last 5 drams fare? Well, we know that there is a 50 year old whisky somewhere in the mix (I’m expecting it on xmas eve), so really there are 4 mystery drams to go.

Day 20 revealed Glendronach 12 year old. Great news! The 15 year old has been one of the highlights of the advent calendar so far, so only three years younger, this one should be pretty good right? Here are the dramstats:



  • Age 12 years
  • ABV 43%
  • Not coloured
  • Non chill filtered
  • Price: £31

Nose: It looks as if it may be sherried, but it’s not too fruity at first. Liquorice, malt loaf, cough mixture and chocolate malty vanilla. Needs a little time to open up, but when it does it goes ultra malt with sweet vanilla and ovaltine.

Palate: Cough mixture and liquorice, burnt malt. With time it becomes sweet and malty.

Finish: Malt lingers with vanilla, then bitter notes come in with the earlier liquorice leaving a lasting impression.

Verdict: Lovely, particularly after time in the glass. If the huge maltiness found in this and the 15 year old represents the distillery character, then please buy me Glendronach for xmas! At £31 this is almost a no-brainer. The only thing stopping me saying I’d definitely buy this, and I mean the ONLY thing, is that the 15 year old is only about £9 more and I thought the 15 was even better. In the light of most whisky at 12 years old, this is a monster bargain. But, if you can possibly stretch £9 further, buy the 15 and you won’t regret it! I’m spending a week in Speyside in February and, though it is a few miles to the east, Glendronach is now top of my list for distillery visits. Look forward to a review later in February and thank you Master of Malt for showing me Glendronach!


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!