It’s Christmas time and that means I get to once again enjoy my (favourite) advent calendar – the Whisky Advent Calendar! For 2022 (and for the second year in a row), I went with the one from Kensington Wine Market. What I really liked last year was the inclusion of other whiskies like the New Riff Straight Kentucky Bourbon and I hope this year’s calendar delivers the same types of surprises and new discoveries!
Day 1 – Mortlach Aged 11 Years
Bottled By The First Editions ~ 52.1% ABV ~ 11 Years Old ~ Speyside
Nose: Old leather-bound books, a hint of floral, and a bit of cherry wood.
Palate: A smooth, slightly oily feel on the tongue with tingles and a sour note. Some sharp spices follow close behind.
Finish: As the spices peak and fade, the sour notes remain with a trailing (almost medicinal) note that reminds me of cherry throat lozenges.
Overall: While I don’t know the barrel(s) this was aged in, I wonder if a red wine or port cask was part of it (maybe as a finishing cask). I added a kiss of water to bring out more of those notes which really lets you dig into this whisky. I’m not sure how I feel about that cherry throat lozenge finish though.
Day 2 – Lindores MCDXCIV
Lindores ~ 46% ~ NAS ~ Bourbon, Sherry, Wine Barrique ~ Lowland
Nose: Light and fruity with vanilla and caramel notes.
Palate: A zesty citrus with rich apple and pear notes and warming spices.
Finish: The spice lingers and gives way to soft vanilla notes from the nose mingled with the sweetness of dried fruit.
Overall: A lovely little whisky to sit with and enjoy.
Day 3 – Paul John PX Select Cask
Paul John ~ 48% ~ NAS ~ Pedro Ximénez ~ India
Nose: Hay and subtle florals, sweetness from the PX cask. Apricot jam once I added some water.
Palate: Grassy, spices, and a dry woodiness. With water, notes of raisins and apricots.
Finish: Spices that linger, fruit preserves deep into the finish, and sweetness that sits underneath.
Overall: I found this to be quite tight at 48% but a splash of water opens it up. Even with the water, though, I find the grassy note almost overpowers some of the other flavours.
Day 4 – Teaninich Aged 10 Years
Teaninich bottled by That Boutique-y Whisky Company ~ 49.2% ~ 10 years ~ Batch 3 ~ Highland
Nose: Apples and pears, spiced toffee cake, and woody notes.
Palate: Creamy with nutty spices, orange citrus, and toasted oak notes.
Finish: Zesty citrus fades into earthy spices and orchard fruit sweetness.
Overall: Holy Christmas, what a delicious whisky! I’ve somehow managed to leave some in the bottle so I can enjoy it again later.
Day 5 – Big Peat Small Batch
Bottled by Douglas Laing (Caol Ila, Bowmore, Ardbeg, Port Ellen) ~ 46% ~ NAS ~ Islay
Nose: Soot and ash, salty seaside, and sweet peaty notes.
Palate: Smoky and salty, a wonderfully smooth peatiness, and an undercurrent of sweetness.
Finish: Those sweet and peaty notes fade to an oddly delicious iodine taste.
Overall: I love the complexity and depth of the Big Peat expressions by Douglas Laing. I could easily nose and taste this one for an hour.
Day 6 – Dream to Dram
Kingsbarns by Wemyss ~ 46% ~ NAS ~ 1st fill ex bourbon, 1st fill STR (Shaved, Toasted, and Recharred) barriques ~ Lowland
Nose: Soft herbal notes amongst tropical fruit and banana.
Palate: Savoury and peppery, slightly underripe bananas, and custard.
Finish: The spices keep tingling and bring ginger along for a long, tongue-coating finish.
Overall: After the softer nose, I’m surprised by peppery-ness on the palate. I tasted this for the first time in Secret Spirit’s 2019 Whisky Advent Calendar (also on Day 6 coincidentally) and see the taste profile has evolved (or – equally possible – my palate has changed). Either way, a punchy dram that shows off the wonderful variety that can be found in whisky.
Day 7 – Elements Red Wine Cask
M&H Whisky Distillery ~ 46% ~ NAS ~ Red Wine Cask ~ Israel
Nose: Red berry fruits, spiced wood, soft coconut.
Palate: Smooth and creamy, tannins and oak, a touch of vanilla and florals.
Finish: A bit peppery and longer-lasting wine notes.
Overall: Absolutely love when I get to taste great whisky from different parts of the world. M&H has crafted a proper dram here!
Day 8 – Cameronbridge Aged 27 Years Batch 4
Cameronbridge bottled by That Boutique-y Whisky Company ~ 48.9% ~ 27 years ~ Lowland
Nose: That fresh note of a single grain whisky, vanilla and butterscotch, hints of tropical fruit, coconut, and banana cream.
Palate: Creamy on the palate, toasted pineapple and coconut, dashes of nutmeg and vanilla.
Finish: Nutty and earthy notes that fade away to something that reminds me of a Terry’s Chocolate Orange.
Overall: Smooth, delicious, and deserving of another pour or two!
Day 9 – Boulder Spirits Peated Malt
Boulder Spirits ~ 46% ~ Minimum 3 years ~ 53G, Level 3 Char ~ Colorado, United States
Nose: Earthy, chocolate, a waft of cigar and peat, a hint of metallic.
Palate: Cedar and wood smoke, peaty, spices like chilli flakes, dark berries hanging around in the background.
Finish: Those spices fade to a mix of salty, smoky, and woody notes.
Overall: This evokes memories of ski trips in the Canadian Rocky Mountains, with s’mores and a few drams around a fire.
Day 10 – Kilchoman Sanaig
Kilchoman ~ 46% ~ NAS ~ Sherry Cask ~ Islay
Nose: Grape jam, maple and gingerbread, smoky peat.
Palate: Smoked meat, peat that develops to take center stage, red berries, and fruit preserves.
Finish: Peppery spices fading to seaside peat in a long finish.
Overall: Wow, I may have a new love from Kilchoman. Don’t worry, Machir Bay, you’ll always have a special place in my heart.
Day 11 – Speyburn Aged 10 Years
Speyburn bottled by That Boutique-Y Whisky Company ~ 49.5% ~ 10 years ~ Batch 3 ~ Highland
Nose: Maritime notes at first? Fresh grass, waxy apple, a kiss of citrus.
Palate: Tingles without water. A bit of an oily mouthfeel. Salted caramel, barley and herbal notes, a soft undertone of mint.
Finish: Honey, peppermint tea, soft notes of apple.
Overall: A splash of water lets you explore this whisky and uncover a lot of delicious notes and layers.
Day 12 – Tullibardine 225 Sauternes Cask
Tullibardine ~ 43% ~ NAS ~ 225 litre Sauternes Cask ~ Highland
Nose: Orange citrus, vanilla, table syrup drizzled over oatmeal.
Palate: Creamy orange zest, peppery notes, baking spices, and a sweet fruity note. A faint chocolatey note.
Finish: The sweet notes and spices fade over a long finish.
Overall: Delicious! A wonderful whisky that you could easily sip alongside a dessert.
Day 13 – Port Askaig 110 Proof
Port Askaig ~ 55% ~ NAS ~ Islay
Nose: A sweet peat with some soft fruity notes. A few drops of water brings salted fish and the nose becomes creamy.
Palate: Smoke and peat with a hint of eraser shavings. That salt and creaminess really show up with water and brings notes of tinned pineapple.
Finish: A long, sweet finish filled with swirls of smoke, iodine, and peat. That water lets the sweet fruity notes play for a lot longer and I pick up a bitter note (almost like ashes) deep into the finish.
Overall: I was expecting to get bowled over with oil and peat but this is a treat to explore all the layers. As an interesting comparison, last year included the Port Askaig 100 Proof on Day 17. I ended up buying a bottle so a side-by-side tasting feels in order.
Day 14 – Benrinnes Aged 11 Years
Benrinnes bottled by The Old Malt Cask ~ 56% ~ 11 years ~ Ex-bourbon ~ HL56013 ~ Speyside
Nose: Apple, peaches and cream, alcohol. Oaky notes come out and the alcohol calms down with water.
Palate: Quite hot initially. Fruity notes like green bananas. Water gives it a creamy vanilla quality and brings apples, citrus zest, florals, and loads of wood spices.
Finish: A medium finish of wood spices and vanilla with nutty notes deeper into the finish.
Overall: Once you add water, this whisky explodes with flavours. A beauty of a dram!
Day 15 – Dubh Glas KWM Cask
Dubh Glas ~ 75.4% ~ NAS ~ Bernheim Wheat Whiskey Cask ~ B-014 ~ BC, Canada
Nose: Sharp juniper-scented cleanser that will kill everything. With water: florals, lemon peels, notes of needle leaf trees.
Palate: Help, my mouth is filled with junipers on fire. With water: more florals, spicy ginger, oregano oil.
Finish: Oh good, the fire is out and now everything tastes like gin. With water: a syrupy quality that draws out spicy and peppery notes.
Overall: I literally cried when I tasted it at cask strength but I think that was the alcohol content. Holy smokes. Once I added water, this was like exploring a spirit that’s half scotch and half gin. Incredible stuff coming out of Oliver, BC!
Day 16 – GlenDronach 12 Year
GlenDronach ~ 43% ~ 12 years ~ Oloroso and Pedro Ximénez ~ Highland
Nose: Sweet notes, Raisin Bran cereal, a bit of sulphur like a struck match.
Palate: Spices, ginger, red berries, nutty notes, raisins.
Finish: Spices, drying sherry notes, a mixture of nutty and woody notes.
Overall: GlenDronach seems to always produce incredible spirits and this one’s no exception.
Day 17 – Jack Daniel’s Single Barrel Select
Jack Daniel’s ~ 45% ~ NAS ~ American Oak ~ Tennessee, USA
Nose: Caramel, banana bread, sweet corn, and oak.
Palate: Creamy mouthfeel, dried banana chips, oak, and caramel.
Finish: A medium-length finish of charred oak and brown sugar.
Overall: While not technically a bourbon, it has a similar quality that you can sit with and enjoy. That said, I wish there was a bit more depth and complexity.
Day 18 – Elements Sherry Cask
M&H Whisky Distillery ~ 46% ~ NAS ~ Oloroso and Pedro Ximénez Casks ~ Israel
Nose: Fresh lemon, red berry fruits, sweetness from the sherry casks, and oak.
Palate: Tingly/zesty notes, light sherry sweetness, oaky notes, and a hint of dark chocolate in the background.
Finish: Spices throughout, the oak lingers, and a tobacco-like note arriving much later on.
Overall: This whisky “slaps” as the kids say. Love the entire experience and that tobacco in the finish is like icing on the cake.
Day 19 – Millstone 9 Year Old Single Grain Whisky
Zudaim ~ 46% ~ 9 years ~ American Oak ~ Netherlands
Nose: Honey, bourbon, toffee, soft orange, and iced tea.
Palate: Apple cider, toffee, ginger and nutmeg spices, orange peel, and dill.
Finish: Drying as the oak, spices, and fruity notes linger.
Overall: A great dram from Millstone, one that seems to be a blend between a bourbon and a single grain scotch. Terrific!
Day 20 – Inchfad Aged 13 Years
Inchfad (Loch Lomond) bottled by That Boutique-Y Whisky ~ 49.5% ~ 13 years ~ Batch 1 ~ Highland
Nose: Sour and a bit of peat, fruity. Water brings out a cheese note and some more of the fruit.
Palate: Some funk and cheese, lemon, and honey. Water brings pears, gentle peat, and a vanilla wafer or graham cracker note.
Finish: Spicy heat, a bit oily, and a touch of honey lingers as the other notes fade.
Overall: The water opens this up beautifully. The funk and cheese are definitely odd to come across but certainly gives this whisky a unique character.
Day 21 – Isle of Raasay Single Malt
Raasay ~ 46.4% ~ NAS ~ Rye Whiskey, Chinkapin Oak, Bordeaux Red Wine Casks ~ Islands
Nose: Light peat, briny lemon, a whiff of soot, sweet red berry fruits.
Palate: Creamy and malty, smoky peat, oak spices, honey and medicinal notes, and sour cranberries.
Finish: Tingly spices that fade to sweet, salty, and soft earthy notes.
Overall: Good lord, what a tremendous whisky! For anyone wanting to explore around the edges of peated whiskies, this would be a great way to start.
Day 22 – Paul John Peated Select Cask
Paul John ~ 55.5% ~ NAS ~ Ex-bourbon ~ India
Nose: Salted lime, peat, sweet mango, and a note that makes me think of candied bacon.
Palate: Spicy with peat and barley. Pepper, a hint of tropical fruit, and roast pork with a sweet and salty glaze.
Finish: The salty pork hangs on with the tropical fruit sweetness coming into the foreground.
Overall: Really enjoyed this one! The higher ABV is remarkably smooth, the peat isn’t overpowering, and there’s lots to explore.
Day 23 – Kilchoman Machir Bay
Kilchoman ~ 46% ~ NAS ~ Ex-bourbon and Ex-Sherry ~ Islay
Nose: Smoky seaside, vanilla, and soft apple notes.
Palate: Sea salt and peat, peppery, and a cinnamon cookie.
Finish: Gentle fade to seaside with a bit of earth.
Overall: I said on Day 10 that I may have a new love other than Machir Bay from Kilchoman. Fortunately it’s possible to have two loves.
Day 24 – “Soup Town” Blended Malt #6
Blend by That Boutique-Y Whisky Company ~ 48.8% ~ 24 years ~ Blend #6 ~ Campbeltown
Nose: Seaweed, salt, some orange peel, and a tropical note. A balsamic vinegar note in the background.
Palate: Creamy with very in-your-face sweet sherry notes and orange zest, salt and pepper, chocolate cake with dark cherry filling, and bitter notes that remind me of biting into a clove.
Finish: Dry with dark chocolate, leather, and raisins.
Overall: What an adventure across tastes and smells! My brain is still trying to make sense of it all.
Day 25 – Orange Creamsicle Crush
Glentauchers ~ 51.3% ~ 19 years ~ Speyside
Nose: Soft rose florals, jelly bellies, and strawberries and cream.
Palate: Coconut, apricots, orange pop, vanilla bean, and heat.
Finish: The heat fades to orange creamsicle.
Overall: Lip-smacking goodness and very aptly-named by SMWS.
And that’s a wrap on another fantastic Whisky Advent season. I was smart this year and left a bit in each bottle to revisit the favourites. A very Merry Christmas and Happy New Year! May you find love, light, peace, and happiness in all aspects of your life 🎄