Okay, I have something to confess: I cheated! In
last week’s article I told you I’m going to reveal the last part of my Whisky
Advent Calendar Summary on December 25th because of the whole “To drink or
not to drink (because I have to drive)” story. The article was published
on December 24th and I didn’t have to “drink and drive”. I tasted the
last Whisky in the evening of December 23rd after I wrapped all my gifts for
Christmas. Then I wrote these lines and prepared everything in the blog to
launch this article on December 24th at noon. Here’s my fourth and last part of
the “Whisky Advent Calendar Summary 2015”!
The last four Whiskies of the Whisky Advent Calendar
December
21st – Scotch Lowland Single Grain Whisky Port Dundas Distillery
Nice, a Grain Whisky! A Single Malt has to
be made from – as the name suggest – malted barley. A Whisky made from any
other grain is referred to as a “Grain Whisky”. Typically Grain
Whisky is used for Blends as this kind of alcohol can be made quite fast an
cheap. It’s the “filling stuff” as a Blend made from just Single
Malts would be quite expensive. Therefore Grain Whisky is used. As I wrote it
is quite cheap and the influence on the taste of the finished product is very
manageable. It has to be matured in cask just like the Malt Whisky but usually
the duration is much shorter than the duration of the Malt Whiskies. Another
reason for the many “n.a.s.” (no age statement) Whiskies. As the
youngest Whisky dictates the age – and this is mostly a Grain Whisky – the companies
often decide to not tell the age on Blends. Well most of them don’t. They are
allowed to do so but it’s much easier for widely sold products like the
“Johnny Walter Red Label” or the “Ballentines” to keep the
same taste without the need to look at the ages of the Whiskies used (on the
other hand the Johnny Walker Platinum Label is a 18yo Blend). This particular
Grain Whisky was matured for 24 years which is quite old for a Malt Whisky but
for a Grain Whisky it’s quite a “Methuselah”. Just some words about
the distillery. The distillery used three Coffey Stilly – as it is typically
for Irish distilleries but also for Grain distilleries – to produce 39m(!)
litres alcohol per annum. Yes that’s 39 million litres a year! They produced
Grain Whisky for the blending industry (owned by Diageo). The distillery never
bottled a Whisky under their name just independent bottlings are available but
will become less and less as this distillery was closed in 2010.
My Tastingnotes
Age: 24yo
ABV: 41%
Distillery: Port Dundas
Colour: golden
Nose: Quite fresh and fruity but also some citric notes
from freshly squeezed lemons and freshly cut oak wood.
Body: quite flat
Palate: Manly oak wood but there are some – faint – notes
from toffee and some fresh fruits.
Finish: warming but not very long
My score: 64
This Grain Whisky reminds me of my
experiment I did a year ago. I got a very tiny oak cask from a friend (appr.
one litre) for Christmas last year. I first seasoned it with a Sherry for about
three months. During these three months I decided to go the easy way and bought
some alcohol at my local pharmacy. I diluted it to 62,5% abv and filled the
cask with it after the three months. After five months I took out the
“Whisky” and tasted it. Well, it was quite drinkable but far from
what I would call a Whisk(e)y. The reason I got remembered of this is this
heavy oak wood taste at the palate from this Whisky. Mine had this taste too.
Technically mine was a Grain “Whisky” too because I was too lazy to
distil my own Whisky from malted barley. Now that I’m thinking about, maybe I
buy some beer (which is – aside from the added hops – the basis for distilling
at the Whisky production) and distil it and fill up my cask again! If I do so,
I’m sure writing another article about it!
December
22nd – Scotch Speyside Single Malt Whisky Auchroisk Distillery
From yesterday’s Lowland Grain Whisky back
to the Speyside, the Heart of Whisky as there are nearly half of all producing
Whisky distilleries in Scotland. This time it’s a 19 year old Whisky from the
Auchroisk distillery. The distillery is located near Mulben, Banffshire. Jupp,
that’s the same county as last week’s Macduff distillery is located. The last
one is often referred to as a Highland distillery but have a look back on the
article about the Whisky from December 17th if you are interested. There are
only a few bottlings from this distillery owned by Diageo although this
distillery is capable of producing 3.1m litres alcohol per annum. Let’s have a
look what this 19 years old Whisky has to offer.
My Tastingnotes
Age: 19yo
ABV: 41%
Distillery: Auchroisk
Colour: gold-yellowish
Nose: Very intense, fruity with some oak wood, there are
even some spices (pepper?) and dried fruits.
Body: intense but smooth
Palate: Lots of vanilla and toffee in the beginning. Later on
there is some oak wood with the faint hints of some spices.
Finish: long and warming
My score: 75
December
23rd – Scotch Highland Single Malt Whisky Glen Garioch Distillery
This distillery is quite old (founded in
1797) and had quite a lot of different owners. The current owner is Suntory – a
Japanese company which also produces Japanese Whisky. The distillery was closed
soon after Suntory bought it but just a few years later it was reopened. There
is not much to say about Glen Garioch, it’s a typical Highland distillery with
roughly 1m litres alcohol output per annum. They use two Wash (or Wine) Sills
but only one of the two Spirit Stills for producing. Due to water shortages
around 1968 they had to stop the production but in 1972 they found a new water
source nearby. They release from time to time some special “Vintage”
releases. But aside from these quite special and quite rare releases there are
some other easier available Whiskies from Glen Garioch not only from the
distillery itself but also by independent bottlers. Just head over to the
website of “Potstill” (www.potstill.org) if you’re interested in
picking one up!
My Tastingnotes
Age: 21yo
ABV: 43%
Distillery: Glen Garioch
Colour: light golden
Nose: There is lots of honey, apple and lemon. But there
are also some distant hints of spices, maybe ginger and pepper.
Body: mild and smooth
Palate: Smooth, there are some spices, defiantly pepper maybe
ginger, some oak wood and some – very little though – smoked meat.
Finish: long and warming
My score: 74
December
24th – Scotch Islay Single Malt Whisky Bunnahabhain Distillery
Last day of the Whisky Advent Calendar!
What a finish! A 24yo Bunnahabhain as the last Whisky. Let’s see, the
distillery is located on Islay, to be specific near Port Askaig but it does not
produces the typically Islay Whisky. But fist the history. Founded in 1881 they
started making Whisky two years later. The town of “Bunnahabhain” was
built for the people working in the distillery. Till 2003 the distillery
belonged to the Highland Distillers but was closed for seven years between 1930
and 1937. In 2003 the distillery was bought by Burn Steward Distillers after
the distillery produced between 1999 and 2003 only from time to time and was
intended for closure. In 2014 the distillery was bought by Distell. The
distillery produces around 2.5m litres alcohol per annum and uses the biggest
Wash Stills in Scotland. There are some bottlings from the distillery itself
(like the 12yo, the 18yo and the 15yo) but there are some independent bottlings
available too. The typically Islay Whisky cannot be found here. If you are in
search for a (heavily) peated Whisky you are in the wrong place. Well kind of. You
may find a peated Whisky from them but their main profile is more oily, nutty
and herbal. Because they use pipes to get their water it can’t pick up some
peat on the way to the distillery.
My Tastingnotes
Age: 24yo
ABV: 41%
Distillery: Bunnahabhain
Colour: golden
Nose: Apple and lemon, some toffee and vanilla and even
hints of oak wood.
Body: mild and round
Palate: Fresh, little bit nutty with some toffee but also
herbal and maybe a hint of salt and meat.
Finish: long and warming
My score: 78
Well, that was a finish. There were quite
some interesting Whiskies in the past 24 days. So what’s my resume for this
Whisky Advent Calendar? It’s a little bit two folded. On one hand I liked the
different Whiskies very much on the other hand I’m a little bit sad, that there
were only two cask strength Whiskies. Most of the Whiskies had 40% to 43% abv
but I can understand that this product was designed to please the
“normal” customer. More than the two cask strength Whiskies would
have been too much for the casual Whisky drinker I guess. Nevertheless they
could have used Whiskies with 43% to 46% abv but I guess this is not the style
of that franchise. Last time I visited the store, most of the Whiskies they had
were bottled with less than 43% abv. Don’t get me wrong it’s perfectly fine to
do so but I think just a few more percent of alcohol could have improved the
Whiskies. On the other hand the less alcohol the more Whisky. I get that. I
probably buy the Calendar next year again. It’s quite convenient for me to get and
not that expensive. Also it’s a great gift for the occasionally Whisky drinker
or even for someone who wants to get into Whisky but doesn’t know where to
start. 24 Whiskies to choose from for around 70€ is quite a good deal. You just
have to wait for Christmas to come around next year.
That’s it for this week. I wish you all a
very Merry Christmas! I will be offline for a few days so enjoy the holidays
maybe with a nice dram of Whisky with some of your loved ones as I will surely
do!

Slàinte,
Lukas

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