Time Flies With Whisk(e)y
A Year in Review
We’ve just recently hit the one year mark here at A Wee(kly) Dram, and it’s been quite an adventure! Part of the motivation to start this blog stemmed from how much we enjoyed trying and sharing whiskies—and whiskey knowledge—with friends. Not wanting to bore all of our friends with stories and history of each bottle, A Wee(kly) Dram was born as a way to share information, connect with other whiskey lovers, and provide a fun activity to do together.
At the onset of the blog, we had a cabinet filled with bottles that made a weekly review easily achieved. As the year went on, we began to realize that our reviews were quickly outpacing the options in our cabinet. Admittedly, we didn’t quite know what we were signing up for when we started A Wee(kly) dram or how much time and effort would be involved, but we’re proud to say that we kept on schedule over the last year.
Now that we’ve reviewed nearly everything in our cabinet, we’ve decided to take the next few weeks off to hit the reset button, gather some new bottles, and prepare for the next year of reviews. As we close this first chapter and prepare for the next one, we wanted to highlight some of our favorites from the last year.
Thanks to everyone that has been a part of A Wee(kly) Dram—we’ll see you in a few weeks!
Most Surprising Whisky
While we admit to having much less experience with Irish whiskeys, let alone Irish single malts, we had tried enough to form an impression of what we thought Teeling’s Single Malt would taste like. Our experience was much different than anticipated. The use of 5 distinct types of oak created a rounded, yet complex fruit forward flavor profile that we felt ranked along with some of our favorite Speyside or Lowland single malts. A close second on this list was the Balvenie Peat Week we tasted in the whisky advent calendar. Expecting somewhat of a gimmick, the peat was aromatic and balanced, creating a smooth and subtle dram.
Favorite Cask Finished Whisky
Distilleries are increasingly using the technique of cask finishing - taking whiskey aged in one type of barrel and placing it a different type of barrel to finish- as a means of experimenting with flavors and textures (and, we suspect, to help produce higher volumes of whiskey faster). Though we reviewed plenty of whiskeys that were finished in different casks, Bottle 10.118 from the Scotch Malt Whisky Society was a favorite. Transferred from ex-bourbon oak to a port barrique, this whisky is a departure from the house style of the original distillery. We could tell the effect of the port cask in color, nose and taste.
Favorite Whisky To Share
Brenne French Single Malt has become a favorite for many reasons. The Estate Cask was also a front runner in our ‘most surprising’ category, with a flavor profile unlike any other single malt we have encountered. What is clear is that this whisky has become our go to when hosting friends, both because it has a unique flavor profile and because it is approachable for those who may not have tried whisky outside of a cocktail, and for friends that typically only drink wine. With flavors that evoke bananas foster and caramel desserts, the Estate Cask has been a huge hit whenever we have opened the bottle.
This category offered the least amount of surprise for us as the year unfolded. When we started this blog, Bruichladdich was the most common distillery in our cabinet, and that remained the case. Furthermore, as we picked up more knowledge, we appreciated the efforts the distillery takes to both experiment while keeping an eye towards history. The whiskies we reviewed from Bruichladdich all highlight different elements of the whisky making process - barley source, peat content, cask selection, and ageing. Underneath the flavor of each particular bottle is a house style that is approachable and complex, floral and a bit hearty.
Favorite Whisky Style / Element
We have always been drawn to peated single malts. Yet over the past few months, we’ve begun to diversify our peat palates by trying peated whiskies that don’t come from Islay or similar islands. Mainland peat exudes different characteristics, eschewing the maritime and medicinal notes of Islay peat for flavors and aromas of bonfires, barbecue, and herbs. You can get a sense with our reviews of Ardmore, Benromach, and Oban. We also discovered that Bruichladdich utilizes mainland peat, which considering our reviews makes a lot of sense. If you associated peated whisky with strong iodine, briny, flavors, we encourage you try peated single malt from the mainland.