Whisky Advent Calendar 9: The Big Peat

Day 9, and we have another whisky with an emphasis on peat. Not sure why there is such an emphasis on peat in some whiskies, or where these distilleries get their idea to create a really peaty whisky from.

Once again, this is a really pale whisky, and like the previous whisky, it has a strong aroma that you can detect from a way away. This whisky has a strong peaty nose but with a bit more of a nutty and earthy aspect than before.

On tasting the whisky it’s very, very medicinal. It’s not quite as punchy as the previous one, but it’s a bit one-dimensional; there isn’t a huge amount of interest in this whisky. While the peat provides something unusual, it’s a bit of a one-trick pony. Shame, really – I feel like it’s a waste of a whisky. 6/10.

Whisky Advent Calendar 8: Glengoyne 15

Well, it’s been a while. Last weekend I was in Warsaw, and unfortunately I ended up on a flight delayed by 4 hours, which should have taken 2 hours but ended up taking 6 and landing in the wrong airport. Long story short, I have been ill this week and not able to review my whiskies.

Unlike last year when catching up with beers was relatively straightforward, I really don’t want to be having a lot of whisky in any given evening. So I will be going at a sensible pace but probably won’t finish the lot before Christmas.

Tonight I get a real joy in having a whisky I know quite well. The Glengoyne would probably be my favourite whisky since a few years ago I was kindly given a bottle of the 18 year old.

The Glengoyne is a little frutier on the nose than I recall, but still has a nice balance to it – a touch of wood and a number of interesting aromas. It is medium amber in colour.

In flavour it is butterscotch and toasted grains, with some of the fruit mentioned earlier as well as spices. Perhaps it’s the Christmas feeling, but it does seem to be seasonal in its flavour. Ultimately a lovely dram with a really good combination of flavours. 9/10.

Whisky Advent Calendar 7: Peat’s Beast

So this is a double post in one day, and the reason is I’ve got a bit behind. On Wednesday night I was just too tired from work, on Thursday night I didn’t want to drink because I had an exam the next day, and then on Friday night was the work Christmas do. So I’m catching up (but won’t be fully caught up for a couple of days).

Today’s whisky is known as Peat’s Beast, possibly with a pun intended on the name (Pete?). In any case, I haven’t actually opened it as of writing this because I wanted to record the full impact of the expected peatiness.

The first thing I noticed before opening the bottle is that it’s very, very pale. That’s fine – not a particular issue, but very noticeable. Holding it against some white background:

Actually that looks redder than it does in real life.

Anyway, opening the bottle, yes, you get the immediate slightly medicinal smokiness that slightly reminds me of bonfires, the smell of diesel, and Lapsang Souchong.

I went for an unusual view for my third picture as I’m slightly having trouble with wifi and so used the camera on my Pixel C instead. I do think it looks pretty pale from this angle.

Getting my nose into it again, the smokiness isn’t quite as diesely as before. In fact, it has a certain savoury-ness to it which actually reminds me of a smoky cheese or a smoky sausage.

On taste, it’s like eating smoke, though again with a bit of flavour to it. The cheese bit is actually coming stronger now, and i’m pleased that it’s not intensely smoky and spicy/other flavoured. The peatiness is the main event.

Ultimately, though, I’m going to struggle to really recommend this except perhaps in an ‘academic’ sense…I’m glad I had it, but would be cautious about serving it up to anyone except for interest. 6/10.

Whisky Advent Calendar 6: Auchentoshan Three Wood

It just occurred to me that this might be a golf reference.

I’m really not into golf at all, but I do like the Auchentoshan whiskies that I’ve had. A lowland distillery, this whisky is a good reddish amber colour, I guess most likely an indication of the type of wood used for the casks.

At first sniff I do get a bit of a woody smell – not at all unpleasant or dominant though. A bit earthy without being peaty. On tasting, this note continues and it’s a solid, interesting whisky without too much of any one aspect dominating. It’s very subtle (certainly not overwhelming) and it’s a bit of a refreshing change from the highland caramel and honey fest that had become a bit of a theme. I actually looked up the types of wood which prevents me from guessing but the bourbon casks (which is apparently the first of the three woods used) do have a nice effect.

All in all, a really interesting whisky which it’s worth thinking about as you drink it! 8/10.

Whisky Advent Calendar 5: Glendronach 12

12 years old seems to be the minimum acceptable age for a whisky. Of course, that doesn’t stop other whiskies from being released, but it does seem to be a an expected minimum.

Another day has come around with another 12 year old whisky; this one is Glendronach, another whisky which I don’t think I’ve had before. It’s a Highland malt, and has a lot of the characteristics – quite a balanced nose with a moderate colour. The flavour is a bit more interesting than normal though, with an interesting mix of spices and sweetness. The caramel note isn’t too great, and although there is balance, there is variety too.

I really like this one, and it’s one that I’ll be looking into again. I’ll give it an 8/10.

Whisky Advent Calendar 4: Inchmoan 12

Inchmoan 12. If you told me about this, I wouldn’t have imagined this was a whisky. Inchmoan is not a distillery that I’ve heard of, and I always like trying new things.

The whisky is medium-dark, and has a light and airy nose, with a few hints of citrus and perhaps a floral element. And on first taste it’s also very light. There is a faintly chemical taste as well, though really hardly noticeable. Later, lighter flavours include some touches of spice.

All in all a pretty nice whisky, though I wouldn’t say that I’d have it particularly frequently; it’s a bit too light. Glad to have tried it though! 6/10

Tree’s decorated, though!

Whisky Advent Calendar 3: Monkey Shoulder blend

Day three and we have a blend. Monkey Shoulder is a well-known blended malt whisky from Dufftown. It’s a darkish malt, but has a robust nose of honey and golden syrup, which continues into the taste. It doesn’t really go much beyond that except perhaps a hint of bourbon; it’s very drinkable, but is almost too sweet.

Not really much to say beyond that. It’s unfortunately anonymous, although inoffensive; it doesn’t really challenge the palate at all. It’s perfectly nice, but not much more than that.

At this point in the reviews I feel like pointing out a real design flaw in the wax caps. They come with a little side thing which I guess you’re supposed to pull to unwind a bit of wax and unscrew it. Unfortunately, so far for all three days the wax has just snapped off (despite careful pulling today). Oh well, I can just cut the wax with a knife.

Whisky Advent Calendar 2: Port Askaig 8

It’s day 2 already, and I eagerly opened the door to today’s whisky to reveal a whisky I haven’t heard of before. It’s called Port Askaig and it labels itself as an Islay 8 year old.

Fiddling off the wax seal on the bottle and opening it, I got an immediate whiff of peat. Looking at the bottle, the whisky is extremely pale, and holding it up to a white surface this whisky is very, very lightly coloured.

The taste is surprisingly mellow given the peaty, smoky nose and the pale colour. This may not be a very old whisky but it’s got a character to it that is more than just smokiness. But it’s not much more – a hint of toffee, perhaps, and something in the background struggling to make itself noticed. But it is a sippable whisky, and I enjoyed the fact that it doesn’t cram peat down your throat. It does make me think that with more age it might get interesting.

Adding a drop of water to it didn’t actually change much. It perhaps brought out a bit more sweetness to it, but not really noticeable.

Ultimately, a clean whisky with a touch of smoke and some possible interest in the background…but not one I can get behind in any strong way. 5/10.

Whisky Advent Calendar 1: Glenfarclas 21

So my first whisky is Glenfarclas 21 year old. At 43% it’s pretty typical of a single malt, and it comes with quite a robust amber colour. As a Highland malt, I start with the assumption that it is a balanced malt with caramel tones, which is certainly reinforced by the nose. Caramel and butterscotch are abundant.

At first taste it is actually a bit lighter than I expect, almost delicate; despite its colour, there was no dominant note. On second and third sip the caramel note definitely comes through, with maybe a bit of fruit in the background. The caramel and sweetness comes from the Oloroso sherry casks, a dark and nutty sherry. This perhaps does come through a bit.

Adding a dash of filtered water, suddenly the nose is a lot sweeter, but the taste isn’t; it’s more rounded and takes the edge off it.

All in all, a decent and well-balanced whisky – not particularly different, but reliable. I’d give it a solid 6 out of 10.

Whisky Advent Calendar 0: Introduction

One of the things I got into at university was whisky. And I’ve seen in the past people posting and sharing the whisky advent calendar. So recently I made suggestions that I would be keen on one…

…and I was given one for my birthday!

So it’s about time that I start writing whisky reviews – and what better way to do that than to do this on this year’s advent calendar?

As last year, I’ll be ranking the whiskies on a 1-10 scale. I don’t have the time or space on this blog to write about the background to whisky, but I’ll be talking about bits and pieces as I go through. But the key things I’ll be looking at are the colour, nose, taste and finish. I will likely add a drop of water too; a ‘drop of branch’ often takes the edge off the whisky and may release some flavours. The water I will use is water from the filter as the pure tap water often tastes a bit chemically.

I’ll be using my trusty nosing glass too, from Penderyn; it’s a good glass with a narrow opening to focus the vapours from the whisky.

And I don’t think I’ll necessarily go for one a day; I feel like that might not be good for me! So as last year, there might be a break or two, which I’ll make up by having two on other days.

Slàinte!