Whisky Advent 2022

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!

Tasting notes will be posted here each day and you can follow along on this page, on Twitter, or on Instagram. Ready then? Here we go…

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 🎄

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