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!

How not to sell me whisky

Now, I love a good whisky. In fact, it was one of the things that gave me the idea that starting a blog about food’s finest things might be fun.

I was therefore amused by the way that someone tried to sell me whisky the other day.

I was in a big warehouse store where you tend to buy things in bulk. Not whisky, though; you buy it by the bottle. And on this particular day they were giving out free (tiny) samples of a whisky that was on sale. I honestly can’t remember the name and I’m not interested in commenting on it here. Because it was the sales pitch that was the most fun.

“This whisky is really good! It doesn’t taste too strong.” Hardly an appeal to the senses, then. So I tried a bit, and sure enough, it didn’t taste strong. In fact, it didn’t taste of much. It was slightly sweet and alcoholic. But the trump card had not yet been played.

“You see, sir, this is a fine whisky. It is endorsed by David Beckham!” His hand rose with a flourish to point out the large poster of Sir Beckham himself, with an expression that certainly looked like he was being paid to endorse something.

At this point I carefully placed the half empty sample cup in the bin. The assistant looked at me with incredulity. “You didn’t like it? It’s only £22!”

Perhaps I’m not the target market, but neither celebrity endorsement nor lack of strong taste nor a low price point are the main things I look for in a whisky. And they shouldn’t be for anyone.

Image: “A Glass of Whiskey on the Rocks” by Benjamin Thompson – Own work. Licensed under CC BY 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons