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 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!

Craft beer advent calendar 24: St Nicks Blizzard Brew

Well, here is the last one – the final craft beer. I’m pleased that it’s not plum pudding flavoured, or brewed in a santa hat (do I sound jaded?) but it looks like a solid performer with a Christmas theme.

Pouring it into the glass, it’s apparent that it’s not a beer with a head. But I won’t let that colour my review, because ultimately it’s more about the taste. I do wonder what causes that, though.

On the nose the beer is rather anonymous without really much to say for itself. In fact, this continues into the tasting – its rich colour does not translate into a rich flavour. It’s by no means bad, and (maybe I’m stretching things a bit here) there is just a hint of a snowflake or two in the taste. It is a bit frosty.

It’s supposed to be full-bodied with a distinctive nutty, roasted aroma with a floral nose balanced by a gentle bitterness with a hint of sweetness. All of those flavours aren’t especially apparent but the beer is still pretty good. There is definitely a hint of something roasted (perhaps on an open fire?), but it’s certainly not full bodied – a fizzle rather than a bang. It’s pretty good, though and deserves a solid 7.5.

I may write a reflection or two in the new year nuzzling something interesting from the supermarket. But in the meantime, for anyone reading this, a very merry Christmas to you all!

Edit: At the end of the bottle and the glass, there was some unpleasant-looking sediment (see picture below). Not great, but as it’s Christmas I’ll not dock any points for this.

Craft beer advent caledar 23: Another Blooming Craft Ale

Well, we’re nearly at the end of this 24-day journey and I’m pleased to say that today’s beer looks pretty good. Another Blooming Craft Ale is the actual name of the beer and it’s a 3.8% ale with a rich amber look to it. The picture on the front looks like hops but I don’t really know that for sure.

The aroma is the honey note which I am getting used to with these hoppy beers. This one definitely has an edge to it, though, and that hoppy dryness is definitely there when tasting. It’s beautifully balanced and very drinkable. It leaves just enough weight on the palate to have a longish finish.

Really like this ale – I’m going to go so far as to give it an 8, the highest of the batch so far with only one to go.

Kat’s thoughts

It has a different smell. It actually tastes quite generic. From the smell I thought it was going to have a distinct taste – the smell is almost appley.

Craft beer advent calendar 22: Well’s Banana Bread Beer

Why?

 

Why make it? And why, if someone has to make it, do they have to put it in the craft beer advent calendar?

And why, if you have to put it in, does it need to be on day 22?

I have been looking forward to the advent calendar building up to something special. I am now slightly worried that day 24 will be “Christmas Turkey beer” or something similar. I am sure there are enough beers that they didn’t need to resort to this kind of gimmickry.

Apparently it’s made with real bananas. And you can smell them, as well. It’s not a good thing, when your beer smells of bananas, unless you’re expecting them and looking forward to it. If someone had bought me this pint without telling me what it was, I wouldn’t have tried it. But because I’m writing a blog, I at least have to try it.

It doesn’t taste good either. It’s got a banana taste to it. If you like banana bread or like that sort of thing, then maybe you’ll enjoy it – but I’d recommend you just go and eat a banana loaf. Me, I’m not going to have any more of this beer, and will get something else better to drink out of the fridge. 4/10.

Craft beer advent calendar 21: Williams Joker IPA

Well, this one looks interesting. After a few dodgy beers, we have a ‘wickedly hoppy’ IPA from Williams Brewery in Scotland, weighing in at 5%. I do believe that the hops are one of the key flavours in a good beer (from my one brewery tour ever) so unless this is overhopped then it could be a good one.

On the nose it’s not too bad. I’m getting that familiar lychee aroma but only very faintly. It’s also vaguely chemical as well – really faintly but because it’s not a strong smelling beer putting the nose right in revealed something right at the edge.

On first taste it has a really nice bitter hoppy flavour to it – nothing too intense, but a pleasantly balanced beer. In fact, I’d have liked maybe a bit more intensity to it – it feels just a touch watery to me. It certainly is refreshing (there is an odd edge to it again – like a strange spiciness. Not mustard this time, but something odd). It’s good enough to earn itself a 7.

Kat’s thoughts

Ooh. That’s really light and fruity, and definitely tastes of lychee. Do lots of beers taste of lychee? [Surprisingly, yes] It still has a bit of an unpleasant aftertaste though.

Craft beer advent calendar 20: Andwell Gold Muddler

So this is a blonde ale, which sounds to me like one of those beers which is continental, like Leffe. These are often quite fruity, and might even have a yeasty flavour (even if they’re not white beers). Anyway, the beer is very pale, and doesn’t have that slight opacity that I might have imagined there would be. Maybe I’m misremembering what a blonde beer should be like.

It does have an elderflower-like aroma, and there is certainly a hint of fruit in there. On tasting, it’s mostly what I would describe as ‘fresh’, but again rather too sweet for my liking. There is a taste of golden syrup about it which is unappealing. Maybe I’m getting too picky, but these last few beers have been a bit too much down one flavour path, eschewing balance for something a bit gimmicky.

I was really hoping I’d be able to build up to a crescendo of high scores towards the end of the advent calendar, but I’m a bit disappointed and have to leave this one with a 6.5. I feel like the scores are very crowded.