Saturday 28 December 2013

A Whisky Advent Calendar

Towards the end of my first year of discovering whisky I was wondering how on earth would I be able to increase my catalogue of whiskies tasted and adding to my liquid log. Although I was buying at least one bottle a month reaching 101 whiskies looked a long way off.

It was early December when the kids were enjoying their traditional chocolate advent calendars that I thought it would be a good idea if I could have a whisky advent calendar with a miniature for each day of December leading up to a full bottle for Christmas Day. This would allow me to sample 24 new and different drams. I sketched it out, I was going to make it from veneer faced plywood (bringing my old boat building skills into play) with 12 small doors either side of a large pair of doors where I could put a full sized bottle for Christmas. I worked out how much it would cost me to do, just sourcing the miniatures, and realised that it would be very expensive to do, and would probably take me more than a year to complete in my 'spare time' and put it all to one side.

The next Christmas I was a little deflated when I saw that Master of Malt had launched their own Whisky Advent Calendar, using their 'Drinks by the Dram' 3 cl miniatures, in a disposable / recyclable cardboard calendar. I say deflated because in my head I had wanted to bring my design to market and was beaten to it.

This Christmas we were kindly given one to give away in our Christmas Competition and one of our Twitter followers, David Churcher (@smokiechops) won this awesome prize. Imagine how surprised and thrilled I was when I received one of my own from my wife. So here is how it went.
Day 1 Balvenie Double Wood 17 Year Old (Whisky Discovery #457)
I first tasted at Balvenie Fete in London back in June this year where I met David Stewart and tasted my first Tun 1401 at the launch event for Batch 8. No tasting notes were made at the time, and so it's great to be able to revisit and finally jot some notes down.

Day 2 Talisker Port Ruige (Whisky Discovery #409)
I was fortunate to receive a sample when this was first released earlier this year. You can see what I though of that here: Whisky Discovery #409 and I'll save this for Kat to enjoy

Day 3 Nikka 'From the Barrel' (Whisky Discovery #674)
A NEW whisky discovery and one I really should have tried before as I've only heard good things said about this Japanese blended whisky.
Initial nosing note; Chrysanthemums and Lapsang Souchong.

Day 4 Glencadem 21 Year Old (Whisky Discovery #662)
A NEW Whisky Discovery and my first from the Glencadem Distillery. I didn't know anything about this Distillery until researching in the latest Malt Whisky Year Book.
Initial nosing note; Very biscuit like followed by a citrus burst.

Day 5 Glen Garioch 12 Year Old (Whisky Discovery No.453)
First tasted at a Glen Garioch tweet tasting with Rachel Barrie, and it also featured during the Glen Garioch Virgin Oak Launch and I've since added one to my shelf too. You can see what I thought of that here: Whisky Discovery #453

Day 6 Chivas Regal 18 Year Old (Discovery No.663)
A NEW Whisky Discovery. Whilst I have tasted the 12 Year Old before this 18 Year Old was new to me.
Initial nosing note; Malty oranges with hazelnut toffees
Day 7 Smooth Amber Old Scout 7 Year Old (Whisky Discovery #664)
A NEW Whiskey Discovery and the first whiskey from America. Smooth Ambler is a modern, state-of-the-art Craft Distillery in Greenbrier County, West Virginia.
Initial nosing note; Chalky blackboard rubber with rum notes.

Day 8 Blue Hanger 9th Release (Whisky Discovery #675)
A NEW Whisky Discovery. I've tasted a few Blue Hangers before, spending an evening in the Berry Bros & Rudd cellar with Doug McIvor tasting the 2nd, 4th and 6th releases as well as previewing the 7th release. You can read about that here: Blue Hanger.
Initial nosing note; Soft malty with a gentle peat reek

Day 9 Bowmore 15 Year Old 'Darkest' (Whisky Discovery #196)
First 'discovered at The Whisky Exchange Whisky Show in 2012. You can read all about my day at the show here: TWE Whisky Show 2012 Pt1 I also revisited it at a private tasting with Morrison Bowmore brand ambassador Phil NicksonWhisky Discovery #196

Day 10 Grants 25 Year Old  (Whisky Discovery #676)

A NEW Whisky Discovery from William Grant & Sons, and their oldest blended Scotch whisky containing 25 different malt and grain whiskies.
Initial nosing note; Soft malty with rich sherried fruits and plasticine

Day 11 Evan Williams Single Barrel 2003 Vintage  (Whisky Discovery #677)
A NEW Whiskey Discovery and the second from America in the advent calendar. This 10 year old bourbon is distilled in Kentucky's Heaven Hill Distillery.
Initial nosing note; Dusty grain with hints of cinnamon

Day 12 Mackmyra 'Brukswisky' (Whisky Discovery #359)
First tasted at Whisky Live earlier this year with their award winning Master Blender Angela D'Orazio. I have a few Mackmyra samples to review so a full blog post will follow eventually. You can read all about our trip to Whisky Live London 2013 here: Whisky Live London 2013

Day 13 Balcones Texas Single Malt (Whisky Discovery #346)
First tasted in March 2013 and from a sample from @Whiskylassie, the founder of the #WhiskyFabric on Twitter. This is a firm favourite and has been experienced many times at shows where we have worked with Balcones, educating attendees in the power of Texan whiskies and a Twitter Tasting with @TheWhiskyWire. You can see what I thought of that here: Whisky Discovery #453

Day 14 Tomintoul 14 Year Old NEW (Whisky Discovery #678)

A NEW Whisky Discovery from Speyside distillery Tomintoul who have a core range of nine single malts ranging from 10 to 33 years old. Tomintoul is known as 'The Gentle Dram'
Initial nosing note; Danish pastries and apple blossom

Day 15 Dalmore 18 Year Old (Whisky Discovery #278)
This was first tasted at The Dalmore Tweet Tasting with  @TheWhiskyWire and revisited again at this years Midlands Whisky Festival at an amazing Master Class with David Robertson where we tasted four of the prohibitively expensive Constellation Series. You can see what I thought of that here: Whisky Discovery #453

Day 16 Balvenie Caribbean 14 Year Old (Whisky Discovery #190)
First 'discovered at The Whisky Exchange Whisky Show in 2012, and subsequently a bottle was added to my shelf a little later on. You can read all about my day at the show here: TWE Whisky Show 2012 Pt1 and yes, I still need to post my notes!

Day 17 The Glenlivet Nadurra  (Whisky Discovery #59)
Tasted at the first whisky we ever attended, Whisky Live London 2012. This show was a huge turning point in our journey. We love visiting Whisky Shows and try to attend as many as possible. You can read all about our first whisky show here: Whisky Live London 2012

Day 18 Yellow Spot 12 Year Old  (Whisky Discovery #193)
First 'discovered at The Whisky Exchange Whisky Show in 2012. You can read all about my day at the show here: TWE Whisky Show 2012 Pt1 while I write my notes
Day 19 Auchentoshan Three Wood (Whisky Discovery #35)
This was my 'Official' January 2012 purchase and was the first I ever posted on the Whisky Connosr website. You can see what I thought of that here: Whisky Discovery #35

Day 20 Johnnie Walker 18 Year Old 'Platinum' (Whisky Discovery #165)
This was one of the '12 Blends' tasted earlier this year back in April 2013. A group of 12 Whisky bloggers all sent each other a blended whisky dram, blind, for 12 evenings of highly entertaining madness on Twitter. You can read about that here: #12Blends

Day 21 Scapa 16 Year Old (Whisky Discovery #270)
I first tasted this at the Birmingham Whisky Club's trial Show back in December 2012. No notes were recorded at the time so it's good to be able to revisit and make some legible notes. You can read all about that show here: Birmingham Whisky Show

Day 22 Glenfiddich 15 Year Old Distillery Edition (Whisky Discovery #84)
I first tasted this at the second whisky show we ever visited, The Whisky Lounge's London Show in April 2012. I actually managed to get some notes down that day too! You can see what I thought of that here: Whisky Discovery #84

Day 23 Yamazaki 12 Year Old (Whisky Discovery #89)
This was also first tasted at The Whisky Lounge's London Show in April 2012 but sadly no notes were recorded. I also revisited this at The Birmingham Whisky Clubs' Trial Show in December 2012 and again no notes so it's good to finally put some notes down.

Day 24 Glenfarclas 40 Year Old (Whisky Discovery #187)
The final dram was a great surprise. A 40 Year Old from Glenfarclas. OK, so not a new Whisky Discovery having first tasted this at The Whisky Exchange Whisky Show in 2012. You can read all about my day at the show here: TWE Whisky Show 2012 Pt1 while I write my notes

So What Did I Think?
Well considering I thought of it first, this is a fabulous idea! 

In their first year just two advent calenders were launched featuring whisky in One and Gin in the other. This year additional spirits were covered with Tequila, Rum and Craft Gin Cognac, Armagnac Vodka and Absinthe as well as the introduction of a Premium Whisky Advent Calendar which along with the Whisky and Gin calendars should satisfy most spirits adventurers! (all details can be found here: Master of Malt Advent Calendars)

Whilst I had just eight new whisky discoveries to make, I had at the time of opening already logged over 600 different whiskies in my journey. Just three of the calendar had been or are already on my whisky shelf meaning the other thirteen drams were all just fleeting tastings at Whisky Shows where I rarely get the chance to scribble some meaningful notes. especially if tasted towards the end of the show where notes, if legible, consist of smiley (or sad) faces or stars.

Out of interest I went to see if I could have purchased all of these drams from Master of Malt in their 'Drinks by the Dram' range. Although many were available six of these advent calendar drams were 'money can't buy' drams albeit that five of these are within my whisky budget and may eventually grace my whisky shelf one day

If you are starting your own whisky journey or you haven't expanded your whisky tastes past the supermarket offerings then this is a must for you! So much better than chocolate I really looked forward to coming home and opening my advent calendar. I quite fancy a Tequila one next year, and I've never tried Armagnac and Cognac - so a few more to keep the run up to my Christmas merry and bright!

Wishing you all the very best for 2014 Slàinte! Dave

1 comment:

Laura Rangeley said...

Great post! We very much enjoyed ours too, as well as the Gin one! Did you have a favourite? I loved the Mackmyra!