24 Days of Whisky | Pt. 2
A tour through an Advent Calendar
We’re continuing our trek through the whiskies we sampled from our Drinks by the Dram Scotch Whisky advent calendar. While the first 6 whiskies featured a healthy variety of blends, single malts, cask strength, and independent bottlings, the next 6 drams pushed the variety envelope even further. Only one of the distilleries featured was what we would characterize as common, and even that dram was from a limited edition bottling. The flavor profiles cover the full spectrum
The most surprising dram from this week was the Balvenie Peat Week (2003 Vintage). Balvenie is a Speyside distillery that produces an unpeated single malt using a number of different cask finishes, including rum and port wine. Since 2001, the distillery has decided to distill a peated malt for a week, using peat sourced from the Highlands. We never know what to expect when a distillery transitions from non-peated to peated, or vice versa, but we were very pleasantly surprised by this release from Balvenie. The Highland peat produces an earthy, fragrant smoke that we’ve been increasingly enjoying this past year. Aged 14 years, the 2003 Peat Week is an elegant, smoky whisky that is very complex.
Our next favorite whisky from the week was a dram from Kilchoman. You probably know by now that we are big fans of Islay whisky, and Kilchoman is one of the newer distilleries on the island, opening in 2005. The company focuses on controlling every aspect of the production process, including using local barley and malting in house. Kilchoman has an ever expanding range of expressions, and the 2012 Wine Finish represents one of the companies limited editions. The wine casks were sourced from Portugal, and the whisky
Dec. 7 - Fettercairn 12
On the Eyes: Reddish gold with thick viscous legs
On the Nose: Clean and brisk. Floral, scents of perfume. Underneath aroma of carmel.
To the Taste: Crisp and malty with oak tannins and notes of rosemary.
And the Finish: Sweeter and fruity with lingering finish of red apples
Good balance, lots of flavor from a distillery that we’ve never tried.
Dec. 8 - Crabbie 8 Year Old Single Malt
On the Eyes: Deep gold color like a lager beer. Fairly rich and viscous.
On the Nose: A mix of stone fruit and yogurt scents. With time the fruit aromas dominate
To the Taste: Light, tannic, and savory with flavors of roasted pork with rosemary and salted butter.
And the Finish: Salty, savory finish with the taste of sourdough bread.
4.4/9The sour notes are a bit much but it is a very meaty dram with a savory twist that was unexpected. We learned this distillery has been reestablished.
Dec. 9 - Carn Mor Strictly Limited Dailuaine 4 Year Old 2012
On the Eyes: Very light color, almost like lemonade or ginger ale. Surprisingly more viscous in the glass than expected
On the Nose: Fruit forward aroma, lots of stone fruit mixed with a bit of acetone and vanilla.
To the Taste: Taste of fresh made al dente pasta (no sauce), vanilla toffee, and a fair dose of heat
And the Finish: Cereal grain and vanilla finish.
For a young whisky this one is not too spirit forward. Light and fruity, a pleasant dram.
Dec. 10 - Kilchoman Red Wine Finish (Cask 405, 2012 Vintage)
On the Eyes: Hefeweizen colored, almost pure gold with a bit of red. A bit lighter texture in the glass
On the Nose: An appetizing combination of toasted bread and peat smoke. Like a bakery fueled with peat bricks. A hint of ocean breeze and custard.
To the Taste: Initial strawberry sweetness turns quickly to a hefty dose of spiced cake with some smoked meat on the side. A bit tannic midway through.
And the Finish: Cereal grains and salt dominate the finish. Like a fresh toasted salt bagel.
The best so far, well peated but not a one hit wonder. The nose is like a combination of Laphroaig Quarter Cask and Port Charlotte.
Dec. 11 - Loch Lomond 12 Year Old
On the Eyes: Pure amber color, rich with long lasting legs in the glass
On the Nose: Clean aroma of baked apples, pears, and cinnamon with fresh bread dough. Decent amount of fresh oak. After a few minutes, the nose gets more interesting - fresh baked apple strudel with heavy cream.
To the Taste: At first a mix of honey and yogurt, then a helping of black pepper and cardamom round out the palate.
And the Finish: The finish is cleaner, sweeter, and the orchard fruit flavors emerge to match the nose. After a bit of time in the open air more baking spices emerge.
Needed some time to open up, but eventually is a solid, if unassuming dram that carries a lot of complexity.
Dec. 12 - The Balvenie Peat Week 14 Year Old 2003 Vintage
On the Eyes: Light gold, the color of apple juice. Somewhat lighter texture in the glass
On the Nose: Smell of honey glazed pork ribs on the bbq. Earthy, yet light. A bit of church incense in the smoke.
To the Taste: Lots of fresh baked wheat bread mixed with light forest honey. Soft layer of baking spices underneath. Just a hint of sea salt.
And the Finish: Finishes like a croissant drizzled with honey.
A great example of Highland peat. Light, earthy, and aromatic. A very compelling alternative to Islay peat. Very balanced too.
All told, the second week of our calendar was full of hits. Several of the drams fit perfectly well into the season, with flavor palates built for the early winter weather.
Check out last week’s post on the first batch of calendar drams we tried.