KWM Whisky Advent Calendar 2016: Day 20

20 12 2016

As we near the finish line of 2016 Whisky Advent, we’re coming a bit full circle, back to the distillery (if not the bottler) that brought us Day 1.  We started off Advent with Gordon & MacPhail’s take on a Tomatin whisky, and tonight we let the distillery speak for itself, continuing the calendar’s now-three-year streak of Tomatin releases, after 2014’s blasé 18 Year on Day 12 and 2015’s awesome Port-aged 14 Year on Day 17.  The difference between those bottles and this one is twofold:  this one is cask strength, as the largest capitalized letters on the front label tell you, and it also has no age designation whatsoever, suggesting that it’s probably too young to market as a number.  The $73 price tag would go along with that theory.  (Incidentally, if you’re a whisky spendthrift, you should probably focus your scotch dollars on cask strength whiskies — you get the same volume of whisky at up to 50% higher alcohol, without a price premium in many cases, and when you pour yourself a serving you have to add water to it, something the distillery does itself to get its non-cask strength releases down to 40% or 46%.  In other words, you often pay the same price for post-dilution bottles as for pre-dilution bottles which you then dilute yourself, giving you way more whisky concentrate for your money at cask strength.)


This bottle’s packaging is an exercise in earnest oxymorons:  lilting italic script informs you that this whisky represents “The Softer Side of the Highlands”, immediately below the double-sized block letters stating “CASK STRENGTH” and immediately above the 57.5% abv listing.  I could describe this whisky in many different ways and it would not end up on the softer side of anything.

This is Tomatin’s first cask strength bottling in its core range of whiskies and saw (an unknown amount of) time in a combination of Bourbon and Oloroso Sherry casks before being bottled.  It was a fairly eye-catching dark golden wheat colour for a bottle coy about its age, yet unlike most whiskies which are aromatically the sum of its parts, this one just smelled like the parts, like barley and barrel and fermentation:  malt, grain, yeast, spice, salt, seawater.  You then completely forget about that, and everything else, once this Tomatin hits your tongue and your brain starts bubbling like it’s on a griddle.  The whisky is massive, overwhelmingly lush and nearly gelatinous in texture, to the point where it almost doesn’t even feel like a liquid.  A strange mixture of honey, baby oil, firewood, shortbread, spackle, flaxseed and rye bread, it is a raging beast of decidedly cautious flavours, a meek monster.  On an oddly bitter yet sweet-tinged finish, it leaves me with no other concluding thought than:  this is just so weird.

KWM Whisky Advent Calendar 2016: Day 4

4 12 2016

Usually I crave new finds and tasting experiences in these calendars, but today I was pleased to open the little cardboard door and find a familiar face.  BenRiach distillery has been sort of my anti-Kilchoman through 2.2 years of KWM Whisky Advent:  this will be my fifth whisky pulled out of a calendar, and all of the previous four (2014’s trio from Day 2, Day 11 and Day 21 and 2015’s Day 16) have easily exceeded expectations.  Like many distilleries that stumbled their way through the 20th century, BenRiach’s origin story is so crazy that it’s almost unbelievable it’s still around.  It first started producing back in 1898, but a near-immediate industry crash led to it being shuttered a scant two years later, in 1900…and it stayed closed for another SIXTY-FIVE YEARS before coming out of mothballs.  That is some kind of business model.  Most distilleries nowadays are being consolidated under the umbrellas of a few giant global beverage companies, but BenRiach skewed the other way in 2004, purchased from Seagrams by three individual entrepreneurs after another stint in mothballs in 2002.  Thankfully it has stayed open since, and is churning out some beauties.


BenRiach: quickly becoming my Old Faithful. A going concern for 118 years, but closed for over half that time.

Tonight’s BenRiach is the 12 Year from the distillery’s Wood Finishes collection, which highlights the effect of different types of aging vessels on the glorious liquid inside.  It is an eye-catching amber colour, very deep for a 12 Year (which, according to the KWM website, may be because it’s secretly a fair bit older than that).  The BenRiach 12 Year is the Sherry Cask expression, which shows itself in the sea breeze aromas lightly lingering over friendlier notes of coffee, salted caramel, clove, tangerine and Cabane a Sucre; the added approachability and sweetness associated with these smells as compared to sherry casks past comes from the partial use of dessert wine Pedro Ximenez sherry casks alongside the more rote Oloroso sherry casks.  It makes a massive difference.  The palate is rich yet focused, full of maple and fruitcake, chocolate-covered cherries and raisin, chalk and peach iced tea, all rolling up into a sweetly drying finish.  The whisky ramps up and crescendoes quickly on the tongue, then slooooooowly glides back down over at least a minute, letting you enjoy the lingering ride.  Beautiful work for $80, and another check mark in BenRiach’s PnP column.  16% done!!

KWM Whisky Advent Calendar 2016: Day 3

3 12 2016

As far as widely available, broadly distributed supermarket whiskies (intended non-pejoratively) go, Macallan has always been near the top of the list for me.  It’s often a gateway drug into single malt whisky, as its flavour profile tends to be approachable and mellow, pleasurably neutral.  This may be the first time a Macallan whisky has graced the KWM calendar, and the vanguard Advent mini-bottle is…nothing much like the above description of the distillery’s standard profile at all.  It’s from Macallan’s 1824 Series line of whiskies, which all have two things in common:  (1) they were aged for some period of time in 100% Oloroso sherry casks (sigh), and (2) nobody knows what that period of time is, because the bottle doesn’t say.  Unlike most whiskies on the market, this one has no aging designation on it at all, and the various scotches in the 1824 Series only hint at aging time through a series of ever-deepening colour names:  Gold, Amber, Sienna, Ruby.  This is the Gold version, about which Macallan’s website reveals hilariously little other than the fact that it is “a whisky to treasure”.  Try harder, Macallan.


Great looking bottle/box.  What’s missing from the label?

One thing Macallan does not seem to be trying to do is pull one over on anyone here:  the deep burnished golden colour of this whisky suggests that the lack of any age statement isn’t any indication of maturation shortcuts, and the $80 price tag is not one that would cry out for a ton of time in barrel in any event.  The sherry cask evil empire does its thing on the nose of this whisky, a funky/briny swirl of seawater, oyster shells and kelp hiding submerged hints of peach and orange.  Thankfully (for me at least) the palate is much more open and outgoing:  rich, round and pleasantly oily, it first comes across as a dead ringer for a Terry’s Chocolate Orange, then adding malt, honeycomb, coconut oil and crystallized ginger, leaving only a trace of that sherried salt for the finish.  A much more assertive, forward and daring endeavour than the standard Macallan lineup; not my favourite set of flavours, but an easy value for the price.

Whisky Advent Calendar 2015: Day 23

23 12 2015

Well, I’m officially on Christmas holidays from work…but not from this blog or my daily whisky spirit quest, which is now three days away from completion.  So close.  The Whisky Advent Calendar usually finishes with a flourish, and tonight did not disappoint in that regard, as we returned to Taiwan and a producer that’s quickly becoming a podium distillery for me, the world-renowned Kavalan.  Taiwan’s only distillery first showed up in the calendar on Day 5 with its superb cask strength ex-Bourbon bottling, a whisky so good that my father-in-law promptly (and quite properly) went out and grabbed the last bottle in the province after trying it.  That whisky was a pale transparent gold in colour.  This one, not so much.  Same cask strength series, same base spirit, likely a similar aging period (that is:  not that long a one, as Taiwan’s heat and humidity supercharges the maturation period and allows for maximum barrel character transfer in a minimal time window), but different aging vessels, as we go from Bourbon’s brightness to the colourful depths of Oloroso Sherry casks.  Oloroso is an oxidative style of sherry where the wine is aged with full exposure to oxygen for many years, giving it a deep tawny colour like fresh coffee, and that hue obviously sticks with the barrels, because tonight’s Kavalan cask strength (54%) Sherry Oak Single Malt was easily the darkest whisky yet, an amazing shadowy bronze.  It’s clearly darker than yesterday’s Balblair 1990, and that one aged in oak for 24 years; Kavalan’s only been in existence for 10, and I bet this malt only saw barrel for half that or less.  How crazy is that??


This whisky smells EXACTLY like fresh pancakes and maple syrup, almost to the extent that I don’t want to write another aroma note about it.  It’s eerie.  If I must expand, I would go with French Toast Crunch (Cinnamon Toast Crunch’s lesser-known cousin, which also smells like pancakes and maple syrup), cinnamon twists, cabane a sucre, raisins and mincemeat.  You will not be surprised after looking at this that it was hearty and warming on the palate, with mind-warping depth of flavour for a whisky so young.  There was a purity to it, like tasting French press coffee as compared to office coffeemaker coffee (particularly since it actually did taste like coffee), with warm accompanying notes like marzipan, salted caramel and walnuts mixed with toasty oak, elastic bands, fruitcake and suntan lotion.  The finish was extended and all Oloroso – deep, rich and sherried.  I would call this a value for $160, even though stylistically I may prefer the ex-Bourbon slightly; the margin between the two is razor thin for me.  Kavalan just can’t lose.

Whisky Advent Calendar 2015: Day 19

19 12 2015

The last weekend of 2015 whisky writing is upon me.  I can smell the end of this December blogging marathon; it smells like scotch.  This is the fifth time in the past two years that I’ve opened a calendar door to see a black cardboard box wedged inside, which can mean only one thing:  a trip back to Campbeltown and its dominant Springbank distillery.  This time it’s the main label whisky as opposed to its sister labels, the triple-distilled Hazelburn (as seen in Day 13 this year and weirdly also in Day 13 last year) and the heavily peated Longrow (as seen in Day 20 last year, and with five more days to make an appearance this time around).  Last year the KWM Whisky Advent Calendar completed the triumvirate with the Springbank 10 Year on Day 18; this year we graduate to the Springbank 15 Year, the staple of the distillery’s core lineup, which runs for $112 at KWM.  Springbank distillery was established in 1828 on the site of an illicit still run by an Archibald Mitchell, and four generations later it remains run by Mitchell’s great great grandson, remaining in the family for close to 200 years.  100% of the whisky-making process for each label’s lineup occurs on site at Springbank, an extreme rarity in the scotch world.  The distillery’s website describes its 15 Year Single Malt in a way that requires remedial English lessons:  “Like a storm gathering off the Kintyre coast, our 15 year-old Springbank is dark and ominous, yet delicious.”  Um.  OK.  How is a gathering storm delicious??  Simile police APB – calling all units.  This sentence was a train wreck from about the third word in.


Grammatical terror aside, this is a beautiful dram that should please all comers, regardless of their flavour preferences and sensibilities.  It is a rich amber, almost orange in colour, and (especially without water added) smells strongly sherried at first, salt and seashells and yeast added on top of leather, raw pumpkin and Elastoplast aromas.  A few drops of water bring out softer, more welcoming baking spice notes like brown sugar, gingerbread and clove.  Like a storm gathering off the Kintyre coast, this Springbank is concentrated and fiery on the palate, yet delicious, with a viscous mouthfeel and a lingering set of flavours crossing multiple taste groupings.  There’s a sweet honeyed wheatiness to it, like breakfast cereal, a hint of peaty mossiness and smoke, a touch of sherry nuttiness and brine, and a dollop of caramel and fig maturity, all in roughly equal proportions.  This is the Goldilocks whisky, likely to come across as just right to a host of different palates.  Clearly a way better metaphor than the storm thing.  Into the 20s tomorrow!

Whisky Advent Calendar 2015: Day 13

13 12 2015

I could have sworn that I had read or heard somewhere that the 2015 KWM Whisky Advent Calendar would contain no duplicate whiskies from the 2014 calendar, which I’m sure was a logistical challenge due to the so-so availability of mini-bottles, but which I thought was an excellent choice to maintain the intrigue for repeat buyers.  So far this year we’ve had a couple of distillery overlaps, but zero identical bottles, as was expected.  But that ended tonight, as 2015’s Day 13 whisky was strangely the exact same as 2014’s Day 13 whisky:  the Hazelburn 12 Year Single Malt from Campbeltown, Scotland’s least prevalent whisky region in the southwest corner of the country.  I will not try to hide my disappointment at this development, particularly since I was sort of meh about this scotch last year; of all the ones to repeat in the calendar, why this one?  Hazelburn is a relatively new line of whiskies from the Springbank Distillery, which is by far the largest and most important remaining in Campbeltown.  This lineup was first distilled in 1997 and features triple distillation as its calling card:  the whisky is run through old copper stills three separate times during distillation, with each run removing more and more impurities and heightening the proof level of the spirit.  Removing impurities isn’t exactly the distilling goal of scotch whisky (if you removed almost all of them and ended up with a nearly pure spirit, you’d basically have vodka), as what keeps the spirit impure is the flavour and character of the land and grain, but the extra distillation results in a lighter, more subtle dram that is Hazelburn’s signature style.


The 12-year maturation in sherry casks gives this scotch a lovely deep golden colour, and I am an admitted fan of the Oakland Raider-style silver and black label design (with the aforementioned three stills front and centre).  The nose was a swirling melange of rubber, chemical, peaches and cream, popcorn kernels, char and citrus, with the fruit notes mostly overtaken by the industrial ones.  As I remembered from last year, the Hazelburn 12 comes across as heavily wooded when you taste it, like the barrels used were strongly toasted or something, as smoke, hickory and ash are at the flavour forefront, with banana and cantaloupe fruit, honey, vanilla and varnish sneaking through the oak wall at various points ahead of a dusty, papery, fiery finish.  Looking back at the tasting notes in last year’s writeup, I see a number of similarities emerge, although my notes are clearly less identical than the bottles are.  Let us hope this will be the last time we’re able to do this kind of head-to-head 2014 vs. 2015 comparison.  Bit of a letdown night overall, I have to say.

Whisky Advent Calendar: Day 22

22 12 2014

With a scant two days left in Advent after this, I feel like we’re finally hitting our stride scotch name-wise.  Three days ago I drank The Antiquary.  Yesterday I feasted on the gladiatorial glory of SEPTENDECIM!!!  And tonight it’s back to aristocratic class with GlenDronach’s 21 Year Highland single malt, simply called Parliament.  If you’re not going Latin, go governmental – I approve.  I hope GlenDronach has a Senate, Cabinet and Supreme Court in the lineup somewhere.

Just look at that colour.  #nofilter

Just look at that colour. #nofilter

This is the second GlenDronach whisky in the KWM Advent Calendar, following up Day 9’s disappointing (and disappointingly named) Allardice.  Believe me, after tonight, all is forgiven.  This is a top 3 calendar whisky for sure, maybe even higher.  It’s sherry-based and I don’t even care.  It’s fantastic.  And at $130, it is an absurdly smoking deal.  If any of you are my Secret Santa this year, I know what you can get me.  (Quick tip:  add a bit of water to your dram – at 48%, it’s a little much to have on its own.) Read the rest of this entry »

Whisky Advent Calendar: Day 18

18 12 2014

Deja vu all over again?  I did a bit of a double take as I pulled the black box surrounding this whisky out of the calendar tonight.  Day 18 of the KWM Whisky Advent Calendar is located right beside Day 13, and Day 13 was home to an identical little black box, belonging to Springbank distillery’s Hazelburn 12 Year Single Malt.  Tonight’s neighbour box decided to forego the sister label and stick to the heart of the core brand, containing Springbank’s “benchmark whisky” (as KWM puts it), the 10 Year Single Malt.  As you already know if you tuned in 5 days ago, Springbank is interesting because it’s one of only three distilleries left in the scotch region of Campbeltown, and by far the best known of the three.  The Hazelburn label’s distinguishing features was that it was unpeated and triple-distilled; I don’t think either of those factors apply to the Springbank 10, which seemed to me to contain a bit of peat and which does not feature the hyper-literal three stills on its label like its sibling does.

Should sister labels look identical in the package?  My vote is "no".

Should sister labels look identical in the package? My vote is “no”.

My big issue with the Hazelburn was that I came out of it not really knowing how I was supposed to feel about it.  It’s a little bit easier to align myself with the Springbank, which seems to have more of a confident identity to it, although the two whiskies are quite alike in many ways in terms of smell and taste.  I wrote the tasting notes below for the Springbank 10 without going back and re-reading my Hazelburn writeup first — go back and cross-compare and the similarities will jump right out at you. Read the rest of this entry »

Whisky Advent Calendar: Day 15

15 12 2014

Two cool factoids about the producer of tonight’s daily Advent whisky:  (1) it is the first new distillery on the isle of Islay in 120 years, having opened its doors in 2005, and (2) it is a farm distillery, meaning that it actually grows and harvests some of the barley that it then malts, ferments, distills and matures into scotch.  Very cool on both fronts, and hopefully the start of a trend of some newer names in Scotland’s whisky field (ideally not starting with “Glen”).  The distillery in question is Kilchoman, and the feature whisky is their workhorse label Machir Bay, a blend that is bottled once per year using the distillery’s own whisky reserves, such that the components of the blend get older with time as the distillery does.  Machir Bay used to be a blend of 3 and 5 year scotches, but it’s now up to 5 and 6 years.  Interestingly, despite being a mixture of different whiskies, this bottle can still be called a “single malt”, as the “single” in this designation refers to the fact that all of the whisky comes from a single distillery as opposed to a single batch or year.

By FAR the hardest bottle to get out of the calendar yet.  Damn box.

By FAR the hardest bottle to get out of the calendar yet. Damn box.

The Machir Bay was initially matured in first-fill bourbon barrels, but then transferred to my most dreaded of aging vessels, Oloroso sherry casks, for finishing — that makes at least 8 out of 15 whiskies in this calendar so far that have had the Oloroso treatment.  This one is by far the weirdest.

Read the rest of this entry »

Whisky Advent Calendar: Day 14

14 12 2014

Two straight weeks of blogging and drinking the hard stuff – I’m so caught up in this calendar that I barely noticed Christmas is a week and a half away.  What am I going to do without 50 mL of whisky before bed every night?  Ten more days!

Lovely scotch; worst label of the 14 to date by far.

Lovely scotch; worst label of the 14 to date by far.

The KWM Whisky Advent Calendar seemed to be gradually scaling upward as the days went along, both in terms of the pedigree and age of the whisky and in terms of the bottle price, but tonight represents a bit of a reset on both fronts.  The showcase whisky is probably both the youngest and the cheapest single malt of the bunch so far:  the Benromach 10 Year Single Malt scotch from Speyside, clocking in at a mere $68 for a full bottle.  This whisky aged for 9 of its 10 years in 80% bourbon and 20% sherry hogshead casks before being finished in its final year in – wait for it – first fill Oloroso sherry casks.  Sigh.  Benromach has the interesting distinction of being the smallest distillery in Speyside, which is basically the core region of scotch production. Read the rest of this entry »

Whisky Advent Calendar: Day 13

13 12 2014

I have a Christmas party to attend tonight, so for the first time this Advent it’s afternoon whisky time!  Today’s whisky closes the loop on the scotch-producing regions of Scotland:  we’ve already had whiskies from 4 of the 5 regions (Speyside, Highland, Lowland, Islay), and this one hails from the lone remaining region, Campbeltown, a peninsula found on Scotland’s southwest coast.  This used to be a high-production area for scotch, but it has gradually fallen from prominence, to the point now where only three distilleries remain:  Springbank, Glengyle and Glen Scotia.  Springbank is by far the best known of the three and produces whiskies under three different labels, one of which is today’s feature scotch.  The Hazelburn Campbeltown 12 Year Single Malt is unpeated and triple-distilled, a production method common in Irish whiskies but rarely seen in scotch.  It spends its aging time in sherry casks (unclear whether they’re Oloroso or not, so I can’t get righteously indignant) and retails for $98.

I need some feedback on this one - have you had it?  What do you think?

I need some feedback on this one – have you had it? What do you think?

I can’t decide whether I like this whisky or not.  On the one hand, it has a beautiful straw-golden colour and a sense of individuality that sets it apart from the other drams in the calendar.  On the other hand, it doesn’t seem to handle its 46% alcohol as well as most of the other whiskies, coming across slightly fiery and harsh at the edges and remaining steadfastly gut-warming on the finish.  The nose, though restrained, has a bit of everything, from spice, celery and copper to apple juice, sulphur and dried grass.  Each sip is initially predominated by alcohol, roasted oak and mesquite, but somewhere in the midpalate more interesting notes of anise, dried citrus, coffee and honey emerge.  I hate to leave a post ambivalent about anything, but I really don’t know how I feel about this scotch, other than happy to add some Campbeltown to my repertoire.  Until tomorrow!

Whisky Advent Calendar: Day 12

12 12 2014

Well, I am officially halfway through the Kensington Wine Market Whisky Advent Calendar, and half of my whisky drinking experience so far has been through the lens of the Oloroso sherry cask.  I didn’t even have to research whether tonight’s whisky made it 6 out of 12, as the Tomatin 18 Year Highland Single Malt advertised on its mini-label that it was finished in what seems to be every distiller’s container of choice.  Turns out the scotch only spent the last 2.5 out of its 18 years in Oloroso, with the previous 15.5 ex-bourbon casks, but that’s not enough to allay my wrath.  I am done with you, Oloroso.  Stop being an aging vessel.



The Tomatin 18 retails for $115, quite a reasonable price for such an old single malt, but I can’t quite get behind it.  The nose is slightly sour-tinged, mealy, malty and briny, with a weird sweat and cigarettes aroma lurking behind a chemically/vegetally citrus, Pine Sol-esque note.  There is some bold spice and hickory on the palate, with the sherry influence shining through loud and clear in the secondary flavours of parchment, old library, dried blood and salt.  The finish is surprisingly pleasant, with lingering cinnamon hearts and fresh bread lurking long after you swallow, but it doesn’t quite redeem what came before.  It might just be my mood, my preference for something different at the end of a big week, my annoyance at being Oloroso-ed again, but I’d put this one in the bottom quartile of the 12 to date.  Fully expecting a rock star tomorrow!

Whisky Advent Calendar: Day 9

9 12 2014

A series of firsts in today’s KWM Advent Calendar offering:  first whisky over $100 for a full bottle ($118); first whisky over 16 years of barrel age (18 Year); first whisky aged in Oloroso sherry casks…no, just kidding, it seems that EVERY whisky nowadays ages in Oloroso sherry casks.  It’s just the cool thing to do.  If I owned a distillery I’d age all my whisky in Amontillado sherry casks just to be a rebel.  The GlenDronach Allardice (named after the founder of the distillery) 18 Year Highland Single Malt at least commits fully to the trendy Oloroso path by aging 100% in Oloroso sherry casks for the entirety of the scotch’s aging period — none of this wishy-washy “finishing” stuff.  As a result, it does not mess around with nutty, mealy, maple-y oxidized sherry flavour, but dives in headfirst.

If I hear the word "Oloroso" again this Advent I'm going to scream.

If I hear the word “Oloroso” again this Advent I’m going to scream.

The first thing to note is the colour of this whisky, which almost looks like oversteeped tea as opposed to barrel-aged spirit.  Then the Oloroso aromatic brigade starts, carrying with it a series of grimy kernel- and nut-inspired flavours that would make a barroom floor proud:  salt, stale beer, peanut shells, cold coffee, pretzels.  Things get malty and lively on the palate, all ginger ale, coffee beans, fig, cloves and dark chocolate, leading into a finish that’s a dead ringer for a cappuccino.  Yes, I know that’s weird.  Maybe it’s just Oloroso cask fatigue, but nothing about this whisky really moved me, although I can appreciate the additional complexity and flavour commitment that goes along with the extended aging process.  Sorry GlenDronach:  wrong year, wrong calendar.

Whisky Advent Calendar: Day 8

8 12 2014

Week two begins!  Tonight’s whisky is the first single malt on the Advent docket from Islay, even though it’s the second time we’ve run into this distillery on our mini-alcoholic Christmas tour of Scotland.  Bowmore was a component of the multi-distillery blend in Day 5’s excellent Big Peat; now it’s on its own on Day 8, which showcases its 15 Year “Darkest” Single Malt.  This is, rather insanely, the 4th out of 8 Advent whiskies to date that has spent some time aging in Oloroso sherry casks.  This surge of barrel popularity makes sense when you think of the long, slow, oxidative process that goes into making dark, treacly Olorosos, a procedure that would leave plenty of colour and flavour imbued into the barrels ready to pass along to the next thing that filled them.  This Bowmore spent the last 3 of its 15 years in Oloroso casks (largely for the colour enhancement which gave the Darkest its name), with the prior dozen in a mixture of bourbon and (other) sherry casks.

Quick - guess which barrels?

Quick – guess which barrels?

I believe this is the most expensive scotch of the bunch so far, although it’s still comfortably under triple digits retail at $88.  I was a massive fan of the Darkest:  its deep bronze colour lived up to its title, and its nose was impeccably balanced between the dirtier, grimier Islay scents of moss, tar, rubber and oil and warmer, prettier notes of baked apple, cinnamon and incense.  Once you took a sip the symphony of flavours was amplified to include celery, saddle leather, moccasins and iron, but nothing ever stood out as overpowering, and everything was tied seamlessly together with the soft kiss of oak and even a hint of tannin on the finish.  If it wasn’t for my joy over the whimsy and constituent elements of Big Peat, this might have been my new favourite of the calendar, but a silver medal position this far into the race isn’t bad.  Internal probability when I first got this calendar that I’d be ranking Islay whiskies 1-2 after 8 days:  0%.

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