Wednesday
Dec042013

Whisky Advent Calendar Day 4: Glencadam 21 Year Old

Hint on the window: Roasted cereal

Tuesday
Dec032013

Whisky Advent Calendar Day 3: Nikka Whisky From the Barre

Hint on the window: Aromatic Spice

Like Santa and Mrs. Claus, this fine Japanese whisky has experienced marriage. But for the whisky, marriage happens when matured malt whisky and grain whisky are blended and then re-casked. While I'm a fan of the Clauses, I'd much rather attend a holiday dinner party with this delicious scotch. It's full of personality characterized by solidity, depth of taste and a richly expanding aroma. 

The nose has a medium-body with good balance. There's spice, a little oak and – just like that vegan couple in Pasadena who refuses to put out milk and cookies – notes of cut flowers and fresh fruits. That's the aromatic part.

The spice part comes into play on your palate, where this whisky shows its full-body and punch. There's also plenty of toffee, a little caramel and a good mouthful of fruitcake, but not just like grandma used to make. A few sips of Nikka Whisky From the Barrel and you'll completely forget she always adds too many raisins and squeezes your cheeks too hard. Finally, the oaky, spicy finish is reminiscent of Rudolph's snout – it's long and fruity.
Nikka Whisky From the Barrel is a great value, and deserves a place on your brown liquor shelf. But don't go buying a bottle thinking this is your average scotch. If that's what you're looking for, this whisky isn't for you. It's too unique, strong and flavorful. Open your mind, open your mouth and enjoy the warm, creamy sensation of Nikka Whisky From the Barrel singing Christmas carols in your belly. Pick up a bottle here.

 

 

 

 

Monday
Dec022013

Whisky Advent Calendar Day 2: Talisker Port Ruighe

Hint on the window: Lightly Malted
 

Pronounced Talisker "Portree", like the largest town on the Isle of Skye.

To answer your first question, it's delicious. A pleasant balance of sweetness and smokiness, it's perfect for sipping by a crackling holiday fire. But this scotch is no one-season wonder. It's more smooth and gentle than Mrs. Claus, making it a good choice for Christmas in July and every other warm summer night. 

When you close your eyes and breathe it in, you'll swear you're about to get pelted with a wave of sea spray, Crayola crayons and a touch of white chocolate. But don't stop there. Take a sip and you'll recognize a wee bit of brine, which is a common characteristic of most Taliskers. Before you know it, warm chili, orange pith and just enough smoke to give it depth will be dancing on your taste buds. After initial maturation in American and European Oak refill casks as well as casks that have been deeply charred, Port Ruighe is finished in Port casks, which is where the sweetness of plum and chocolate comes from.

It's a great scotch whisky for people who don't think they like smoky scotch whiskys. Like a plate of milk and warm cookies, it can be enjoyed by all. Get together with some friends and a bottle of Talisker Port Ruighe, and you'll all have good nights.

Find a bottle to stick in your stocking here.

Sunday
Dec012013

Whisky Advent Calendar Day 1: Balvenie DoubleWood 17 Year

Hint on the window: Toasty Spice 

 The only downer on Day 1 was that there was only a dram.


Each day of the Whisky Advent Calendar is labeled with a short description. Day #1 is innocently marked “Toasty Spice.” But those two words can't come close to describing the silky smooth single malt that lay in wait inside.

Balvenie DoubleWood 17 Year Old Single Malt Whisky, released in 2012, is a scotch with few peers and many aficionados. Both for good reason. 

To craft a scotch that’s richer than the Grinch after a night of pillaging, this batch went through consecutive maturation in two types of cask, a process referred to as ‘cask finishing’. First it’s aged in ex-Bourbon casks, which impart sweet vanilla notes. Then it’s finished in ex-sherry casks, adding spice and full flavor. Then the barrels are serenaded by Mrs. Claus and massaged by the small, soft hands of elves. How else could a scotch be this toasty and spicy and straight up sensational?  

Some say it tastes like visions of sugar plums, but I personally discovered flavors of cinnamon, fresh winter spices and butterscotch moving over my palate at a slow crawl, like Rudolph limping back to the stable after getting jumped by the Abominable Snowman.

The nose of this fine scotch, sprinkled with green apple and warm honey, is brighter than Rudolph’s bright-red snout and more useful, too. Just like a bar crawl with Santa on December 26th, the finish is gloriously long with notes of vanilla and honeysuckle.

I highly recommend you drink nothing but Balvenie DoubleWood 17 Year if you can afford it. If not, put in on your Christmas list. Miracles do happen, after all. 

Friday
Nov292013

Count Down To Christmas With The Whisky Advent Calendar

The Whisky Advent Calendar is a daily dose of holiday spirit.

 

The holiday season is a time to celebrate many things. Like many different little bottles of whisky.

Three weeks back, I received a rectangular package from my lovely sister-in-law. It smelled of charred oak, peat moss and manliness. Eagerly ripping it open, I discovered an advent calendar made of fine whisky in my hands. Against all odds, I managed to not devour each and every day of whisky that very moment, but instead save it for the job it was intended to do: keep track of the days of December. 

While it was technically a housewarming gift, it's destined to warm much more than our house for weeks to come. As I type these very words, my mouth, throat and satiated belly are all tingling with the warm fuzzy feeling of Day #1, a Balvenie DoubleWood 17 year single malt. There's no question that each day comes with enough holiday spirit to put Santa out of business. 

Out-of-work elves can picket Drinks by the Dram. They're the masterminds behind the Whisky Advent Calendar, first released in 2012 and brought back for a second year for obvious reasons. Chocolate advent calendars had a good run, but they don’t stand a chance against this time-keeping tour de force. 

Behind each of the 24 windows lies a different 3cl sample dram of mouth-watering whisky, eagerly waiting that special day when it emerges from its calendar cocoon and blossoms into pure happiness at the bottom of a fine scotch glass, the way nature intended.

Pick up a Whisky Advent Calendar for the whisky lover in your life. It’s not cheap, which is great – that means it’s full of the good stuff. But not as good as the Premium Edition, which at almost double the price provides exactly double the bragging rights amongst your whiskey-loving brethren.