Friday, December 2, 2016

Secret Spirits - Whisky Advent Calendar, Day 2!!!

The 6:15am alarm went off but I wasn't ready to face the day so I pulled the blanket up as far as I could. When consciousness finally bubbled to the surface of my hypothalamus, my eyes shot open and I threw off the blankets. "IT'S DAY 2!" I shouted as I sprung out of the bed and fumbled for my socks in the dark. As I lurched clumsily down the hall way, I banged my elbow and totally misjudged getting around the corner into the kitchen, which of course caused me to stub my left foot. So now, you can picture a swearing half asleep Lassie making her way to the whisky room as she wakes up the whole household. I arrive, a little worse for the wear, but smiling none the less. I'm starting to think we should have advent calendars that are 365 days long. This is INCENTIVE to get out of bed every day!!

Today I decide I'm going to pull out the whisky glass that came with the advent calendar. I've never used this one before. It is called the Neat glass. Should be an interesting experiment in nosing/tasting this whisky. I stare at number 2 and poke my finger through it. Reaching in, it's difficult not to feel completely excited. This does really bring back memories of my childhood when I was allowed to eat the advent chocolate first thing before breakfast. I wonder for a moment if I should do the same thing I did yesterday and keep my eyes closed however I simply can't. The little bottle comes out and as I bring it up to the light so I can see what it is, it falls out of hand, bounces onto the carpet and rolls under piano!

If you've read my silly adventures in the past you know this is par for the course in Lassie's world!?! Down on my hands and knees I drop and push my arm as far as it will go into the black abyss. I feel around for what feels like a few minutes and finally find the bottle. I pull it out to see that it's a small sample of rum!? Slightly confused, I realize it's one of Graham's bottles. I hesitate but then decide it's best I go and get a broom. Have you ever tried fishing with a broom? I might as well have tried eating oatmeal with chopsticks!? Exasperated, I go and grab a flashlight. By then of course the dog and the cat are now sitting in the whisky room and watching intently, likely thinking their "human" had lost something quite valuable under the piano. Back down on the carpet I go and the well light underbelly reveals.... Nothing!? Even more perplexed I get back up and now I'm circling the piano wondering where the hell door 2 whisky has gone.

Graham is now in the room. I'm assuming he's heard me muttering to myself as I continue walking around the room looking for the sample bottle. "What happened?", he asks as he hands me a hot cup of coffee. "Dropped day 2", I reply looking over by the bookcase. Graham walks over to the big arm chair and picks it up off the floor. I hadn't seen it roll in that direction at all. "Oh", he says smiling. "You are going to really like this one". I walk over and put my hand out. "A kiss" he demands. "Seriously!", I state as I push my hand forward. "Seriously", he says grinning like a mad man. So I put the coffee down and he wraps me in his arms. Payment made, I bound up the stairs and sit in my big armchair.

I finally look at day 2 whisky and discover, to my utmost delight that it's from one of my favourite independent bottlers - Wemyss Malts (Pronounced Weems). Craigellachie 13, distilled 2002, aged in ex-sherry butt. I am so tempted to pour just a little in the neat glass but I hold off. (This is going to be a challenge, every day). So I unscrew the cap and take in the aromas as best I can. It's slightly meaty, and sort of reminds me of a Mortlach. I'm intrigued to say the least because I love that distillery. So, I dip my finger in it lightly and bring it to my mouth. Also lovely, a bit of a sour note to it. Sort of like burnt coffee grounds. The name, fits it well I think, at this point anyway.

Later on, after I come home from what seemed like a very hard day at work, I immediately grab the sample and pour myself a healthy dram. I plop myself down into the armchair and proceed to stick my nose into the neat glass. But of course, the door bell rings so I put the dram down and go answer the door. Once done there, back to the chair but the phone rings. I'm starting to think I will never get to sample this dram!? Ok, done... sorted. I don't care if the house catches fire, I'm SAMPLING this dram!!!

Barrista's Dram, 46% ABV

Nose: Again, it's quite a meaty dram. Slightly pungent on the nose. It is almost a polar opposite to yesterday's dram. There is a bit of bicycle tire or maybe more like new car leather seats smell. I can't help but wonder what I would get in the Glencairn so I pour a bit in one of those too. There is a fruity smell attached to the dram in the Glencairn which doesn't seem to exist in the Neat? I can clearly pick out apples, or more likely fresh applesauce.

Palate: Is this ever "thick"... This is like the Guinness of whiskies, or almost like eating chewy steel cut oatmeal with apple slices in it. There is just a hint of sweet with a hint of ginger spice.

Finish: I liked the way this whisky leaves a taste of ground up roasted nuts. It has a bit of a "burnt" toast, that dark over cooked crunchy stuff. 

I can see why the people at Wemyss called this one the Barrista's Dram.  It's a thick, tasty whisky with a slightly "burnt or roasted" finish.  This is a fabulous whisky. If it is still available on the market, I may just look for it as a gift to myself. 

Well, dram #2 did not disappoint, but I have to say that is probably the hardest I have ever worked to finally get to enjoy a whisky!  It was truly worth the wait. So, if you'll excuse me I'm going to put my feet up and enjoy the rest of this lovely whisky.

Cheers and see you tomorrow for dram #3.


Thursday, December 1, 2016

LET THE ADVENTURE BEGIN - Day 1, what a great way to start my advent calendar

You can imagine the excitement that presents itself when someone sends you an email saying: "Whiskylassie, we would love you to be our guest writer this year for our Scotch Whisky Advent Calendar". So, you try to sound all cool and collected but on the inside you are jumping around like a little kid who realizes they have just won the mother-load of all possible Christmas gifts. Then, the waiting begins...  Wait until it arrives, open the box, rummage through the envelopes, and small gifts (Nice glass!), look at it with your eyes (not your hands) and the hardest part:  NO PEEKING. My lovely 'other-half' actually hide it on me because I was playing with it too much (his words, not mine). I eventually found it while he was on a boys night out. I proudly placed it in my whisky room and every day I watched the calendar, day by day inching closer to December 1. I started justifying why I should open day one ahead of time : "I will only look at the first door and nothing else". Well we know what happens after that. It's like having a cookie jar full of homemade double chocolate chip cookies and saying I will only eat one. I have no self-control, I admit that. I would have indeed peeked at the first one and then said to myself: "Self, you can look at two at random. Close your eyes and pick a few more, and then a few more until none would have been left as a surprise for this Lassie". The suspense just about killed me but then it was December 1st.

As I stood there with my pjs on at 6:45am making coffee I thought to myself, is it inappropriate to open that first door now after all my nose and palate are really fresh?! I ran back to my whisky room and propped open my lovely advent calendar. As my eyes adjusted to the light, I found door number 1 and touched it with my index finger. I began to get butterflies in my stomach and giggled. Knowing day 1 would be the beginning of a 25 day whisky adventure made me feel so exuberant. I poked the little front door. It twisted but didn't break. I used two fingers this time and it spun off unto the floor somewhere below me. Reaching in, I grasped the mini whisky bottle firmly and closed my eyes. It felt cool to the touch. I spun it around in my hands a few times then stopped, unscrewing the top and taking that first inhale straight from the bottle. My olfactory senses went into overdrive. 

You see, I have this lady that sits up there, her name is Mabel and she operates my memory bank of whisky smells like a switchboard operator. This morning, she's on point and she's plugging in those scents faster than my 89 year old neighbour can share the street gossip. Rich velvety ripe peaches, honeyed custard and fresh coconut (thanks Mrs. Dave). I really want to take just a small sip, but after all I'm supposed to be headed to work in about an hour?! So, I refrain and screw the cap back on. I am so tempted to look at this little bottle and see where this whisky comes from but I choose not to, slipping it into my robe pocket. I bound back up the stairs to find Graham standing in the kitchen looking a little sleepy and plenty confused. I grin, he smiles and shakes his head: "Couldn't wait, could you". I laugh all the way down to the bedroom, coffee in hand. 

I think about the little whisky bottle most of the morning. At afternoon break a coworker asks me why I seem so happy and for a split second I consider telling her about my wonderful whisky advent calendar but then I hesitate because she might think I'm just a wee bit crazy if I reveal that I was sniffing scotch before 7:00am... So I simply state that I have something really nice waiting for me at home. I bounded through the door, threw down my coat and went straight to the whisky room only to remember I had put the little bottle in my robe pocket. Back up the stairs, two by two (you'd swear it really was Christmas morning?!) and I literally run down the hallway. I reach in and pull it out of the pocket. It's finally time for the big reveal. Whisky #1 for my Secret Spirits Scotch Whisky Advent Calendar is:  Speyside 18 Year Old.  What a fabulous way to start!!

Listed as 58.1% ABV, and as the bottle says it was matured in a refill bourbon cask. I poured myself a healthy dram, kicked off my shoes and sat down at my desk to finally imbibe this first and inaugural dram!

Nose: Still the ripe sweet peaches, but now that I have a proper nosing glass it's much more of a peach pie with a large dollop of vanilla bean ice cream. 

Palate: It is a bit hot, but then again it is 58.1%. Silky on the tongue, ginger snaps, with a bit of "tinned" taste. A few drops of water brings a creamier texture, again a fruity custard with a hint of citrus. 

Finish: It doesn't linger for long but it's quite pleasant. Slightly peppery, a sweet heat, so to speak. Then a touch of smoke? Am I imagining that...?

The door swings open and Graham is standing there. "I figured I would find you here". I smile and flip the small bottle at him. He looks at the label and opens the sample. He reaches for my glass and I oblige. I watch as he noses and then takes a sip from the glass. He nods and winks. "Worth the wait then?" 

"Yes, yes... every minute". He closes the door behind him and I sit silently as I enjoy the last of my dram. Jonathan, this was a fabulous day 1 dram. I can only imagine what is to come. 

Christmas often holds traditions for many of us, so for the next 25 days I plan on doing the same thing every day. Wake up, run downstairs, poke through the door, nose the whisky then wait until later on in the day to experience it fully. I, will be celebrating every single day with a brand new whisky. I hope you will join me on this latest of Lassie adventures.

For now...  here is my Christmas card this year to all of you. It's called Throw back to the 80's, this is "Archie & Ethel"  

Cheers everyone!