A tour through an Advent Calendar
We’ve almost made our way through the entire calendar. So far, we’ve found quite a few new bottlings and distilleries we liked, and there have been some absolute hits mixed in with only a few drams that we strongly disliked. From our previous reviews, you can glean that we favor single malt whisky. Nonetheless, we’ve been excited to expand our knowledge of blended whisky with drams from so many smaller companies that we had never heard of or hadn’t tried. Blends with a focus can achieve remarkable results, so it was good to have a chance to step outside of our comfort zone.
The final week finished with a bang, featuring a lot of high scoring whiskies. With that being said, the biggest surprise whisky of the week was from a company everyone is familiar with—Johnny Walker. Long time followers of our blog will remember that we took a look at this global brand with their Black Label, and this time, we had the chance to sample Green Label. Johnny Walker Green label was delicious and featured quite a bit of peat smoke, something we were totally unprepared for. We confess to not having tried the range beyond Red and Black label, and had no idea that Green was so different from the aforementioned blends.
The best whisky of the week was from Glenfarclas, one of our new favorite distilleries. We recently reviewed the 21 year old, and so we were very excited to try a cask strength example from the company. We’re not sure if this whisky was aged in bourbon or sherry oak, but either way the evidence of the Glenfarclas style was there with rich texture and a menagerie of sweet flavors. This variety had some interesting twists with a buttery mouthfeel that was unlike most of the whiskies we tried this month.
*With the craziness of the holidays, we missed out on taking a couple photos
Dec. 19 - Glengoyne 12 Year Old
On the Eyes: Pure gold, lager colored. Medium texture.
On the Nose: Classic Speyside nose - orchard fruits, a bit of citrus, and measure of oak dryness. Very fruity aroma. A bit of pineapple or mango.
To the Taste: A mix of grape juice with black pepper at first, clean with a fair amount of heat in the middle. More fruit flavors and sweetness as the dram continues.
And the Finish: Taste of honey drizzled over toasted bread for the finish.
A very flavorful Highland. Complex and enjoyable.
Dec. 20 - Jura Seven Wood
On the Eyes: Liquid caramel color. Viscous and rich texture in the glass.
On the Nose: A full plate of fruit - ripe cantaloupe, fresh red grapes, and passionfruit all combine for a clean, sweet nose.
To the Taste: The flavor of this dram arrives all at once, a sort of savory-sweet blend like a spoonful of a beef empanada - meaty, peppery, but not without mild sweetness or fruit flavor.
And the Finish: The flavor of a sea salt bagel covered with with honey
An unusual flavor palate and salty finish make this dram really unique.
Dec. 21 - Green Label
On the Eyes: Ale colored, copper-gold. Lighter in the glass
On the Nose: Clean, floral aroma. Light with a hint of peat smoke and smoldering wood underneath
To the Taste: A surprising mix of peat smoke and vanilla/honey ice cream, sort of like a smoked rice pudding.
And the Finish: Cloves and cinnamon combine to produce a building heat at the end, which trails off into honey sweetness.
Totally surprising, a good peat/sweet balance with a lot more complexity than anticipated.
Dec. 22 - The Naked Grouse
On the Eyes: Copper colored, very light and thin in the glass
On the Nose: Lots of cherry, raisins, and dried figs.
To the Taste: Oily, sweet, and very monotone. Lots of dessert flavors, carrot cake, dates, and strawberry preserves.
And the Finish: The finish has a small hint of oak and smoke, but is mostly clean and soft.
A very clean, easy drinking sherried whisky
Dec. 23 - Glenfarclas 12 Year Old (Cask Strength)
On the Eyes: Pure amber colored with a light texture in the glass
On the Nose: Scents of bananas, butterscotch, and candle wax. With water the nose brought out the scent of roasted chicken glazed in honey.
To the Taste: Sweet with caramel flavor and texture. Big wave of heat follows, and then the palate has the taste of custard filled pastries. Water reduced the buttery texture and brought out more fruit flavor, with cooked peaches coming to mind.
And the finish: Notes of cherry pie filling, cooked figs, and cinnamon. Water brought forward oak tannins.
Sticky toffee pudding in a glass, rich and sweet. When compared to Glenfarclas 21, this dram has a much more rich and buttery palate.
Dec. 24 - The Blended Whisky Company The XL Blend Batch 1
On the Eyes: Orange-gold color, similar to apple juice. Super long lasting legs, signaling a rich texture.
On the Nose: Wood furniture and candle wax aromas mix with dessert wine, raisins and apricots.
To the Taste: Rich, creamy, and elegant with the flavors of a peach cobbler, and dessert wines.
And the finish: Long lasting and syrupy, with a final salutation of of oak tannins.
Rich and elegant, this whisky lives up to the hype that comes from blending whisky at least 40 years old.
Overall, the Advent Calendar was a success. Opening the drams became a highlight each night and provided a little taste of relief from all of the activity that the Holidays bring. We were pleasantly surprised by several drams this year, and we have quite a few distilleries to try again, including Dailuaine, Tamdhu and Balvenie.