KWM Whisky Advent Calendar 2016: Day 18

18 12 2016

PSA:  I am told that not everybody will be receiving the same whisky in their calendars tonight.  Some, like me, will end up with the intended calendar whisky, the GlenDronach 8 Year The Hielan Single Malt, but due to unexpected shipping issues, there wasn’t enough of it available when the calendar had to be finalized, so the remaining calendars were filled with BenRiach’s 10 Year Curiositas, the Day 16 whisky from 2015.  The shipping problems have now been rectified and the full supply of The Hielan has now arrived in town, so if you ended up with the Curiositas, you can come by KWM anytime and pick up a complementary mini-bottle of The Hielan as a bonus 26th Day whisky – they have a list of everyone affected.  Now back your regularly scheduled whisky programming.

One more week!  It is Day 18 and there are only seven more days until Christmas and until the end of another string of marathon blogging.  Man was I happy to open the calendar today and see a GlenDronach starting back at me – I was starting to wonder if one was going to be included in Whisky Advent this year, or if KWM felt that two straight years of utter calendar dominance from this distillery was enough and that somebody else deserved a fair shake.  My top whisky from the 2014 calendar was the unspeakably excellent GlenDronach Parliament 21 Year, which is close to my favourite scotch ever; my top whisky from 2015 was the nearly-as-good GlenDronach Revival 15 Year, which officially crowned this producer as the only atomic superpower of the Whisky Advent scene.  This year it may be a bit much to ask for GlenDronach to complete the trifecta, as its representative for 2016 was the $64 8 Year The Hielan, the youngest and most entry-level whisky in its core lineup.  But if I was going to believe in miracles from anybody…

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It’s hard to believe this scotch is less than a decade old; by eye, it looks like one of the older whiskies in the calendar, coming out of the bottle a gorgeous deep orange-gold.  Whatever they did with the mixture of bourbon and sherry casks to mature this worked fast, and its magic extended aromatically as well, creating a symphony of oxidative notes streaked with citrus, toffee and Caramilk bars and marzipan and lemon peel that weaved together beautifully.  But The Hielan was a little forward and impetuous on the palate, its flavours a touch jumpy and its alcohol slightly jagged without the benefit of time to settle in.  Burnt sugar, carrot cake, butter tart and tonic water were cut short by sandpaper and a streak of woody tannin, although still carried a hint of the resonance of GlenDronachs past.  This doesn’t quite carry the same level of majesty as its predecessors, but it’s on its way somewhere, and the smell alone is well worth the sub-$65 price tag.

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