Saturday, December 31, 2016

Lassie's top 12 countdown of 2016 - Number 7!! Old young whiskies are where it's at!

I didn't travel as much in 2016 as I normally do. Family "stuff" kept me close to home. However, I was fortunate to take part in 4 or 5 tastings where old young whisky was being served. Two examples were at our very own festival here in New Brunswick -> The New Brunswick Spirits Festival where the Saturday master classes are for the true whisky geek. These classes would make most of you green with envy. This year we were extremely lucky to have Davin de Kergommeaux lead us through a vertical of Imperial whiskies. You read correctly.  A vertical selection of whiskies from a silent distillery. The line up:

1. G&M Connoisseurs Choice, D1970 - B1987
2. Signatory Un-chillfiltered collection, D1995 - B2015 Cask 50229 & 50330
3. G&M Connoisseurs Choice, D1993-B2011
4. G&M Exclusive, D1998 - B2014 Cask 1224
5. Imperial 15 (Distillery Bottling)
6. Benn a Cheo, D1995 - B2013 Cask 50229

What an amazing tasting to attend!  BUT WAIT!!! Then the second tasting started and, if you can imagine was even more amazing:

Entitled the Chairman's dram, this class sold out almost immediately and had people travel over 2,000km just to attend. Why you ask?

1. G&M Rosebank, D1979 - B1993
2. G&M Millburn, D1971 - B1988
3. Springbank 12 Rum wood, D1989 - B2002
4. G&M Port Ellen D1974
5. Littlemill 8 year old late 1970's
6. Port Charlotte 15 year old, Nouet Private Cask

Now... I dare any of you to tell me this was not a whisky enthusiast dream dram day!  

Of the 12 drams I tried that day, many were the type of dram where the entire room was so quiet you could have heard someone's stomach rumble if they were hungry! But... the stand out for me, above all the rest, was the Signatory Imperial 10 year old (Bet you thought this Lassie was going to say the Port Ellen!)

It was the best Imperial I've ever tasted and as far as I'm concerned should be one of the bench marks of what an ex-bourbon matured whisky should nose/taste like. It truly was perfection for me. 

And yes... I took notes:

Colour: Old gold

Nose: Fresh coconut milk, papaya and mango salad. Really fragrant!

Palate: Honeyed vanilla whipped cream on a fresh Caribbean salad. 

Finish: Long, sweet and very warming. Creamy even.

What a dram! What a Saturday... Hell, what a festival!!! The door is always open for anyone who would like to come and experience our festival, seriously one of the best in North America and worth every single dollar!!!

Here's to the unicorns and the once in a lifetime opportunities.  I hope 2017 has more of these on the horizons.

Cheers and down to number 6 and 5 tomorrow!


Lassie


Friday, December 30, 2016

Lassie's top 12 countdown of 2016 - Number 8 Springbank 16 tradesies

So last year in Campbeltown Graham and I met these two guys: Vit and Damian. They made our couple of days at Springbank probably the most memorable of the entire trip. Between the four of us you had a full bowl of "crazy". Several times I found myself clutching my ribs because I had laughed so much. It was an awesome time. 2016 came along, and Graham would not be travelling to Scotland with me this time. Vit got a hold of me on facebook and asked if we would be at the Campbeltown Festival and I responded with a no. I told him what my plans were, where I would be going and it didn't coincide with their annual trip back to the festival. Bummer....

A few months later, Vit messaged me again to let me know that he had been lucky enough to procure a few bottles of the newly released Springbank 16 Local Barley and the best part, he was willing to save me a bottle for Graham. We just needed to figure out how to get it to me. I wasn't worried about it as the # whiskyfabric comes through in mysterious ways. I didn't tell Graham and was hoping to surprise him. About a month later, I was fortunate enough to arrange a few days in London with my friends Dave & Kiat Worthington, this would allow me to travel with Kat (their daughter) to Scotland and make arrangements to see Vit & Dave. I was super excited! 


Vit accepting his Lot 40
I wanted to make sure I did something really nice for Vit, so while I was visiting Don Livermore in Windsor he made a customized bottle of Lot 40 for him on my behalf. I also brought over a few other bottles of Canadian whisky for consumption purposes ;)

The day came where I got to play tourist and Dave was kind enough to be my guide in London, yet once more. We contacted a few people and had a meet up at the SMWS. I had a fantastic evening with the lot of them. Drams were shared, bottles exchanged and once again my sides hurt from laughing so much. Vit and Dave, were... as crazy as ever. 




The Springbank 16 Local Barley traveled with me for 3 weeks all over Scotland and as tempted as I was to break it open, I didn't. When I arrived home, I unpacked my luggage and presented Graham with the bottle. He was super excited. "Can we open it!!!?", I yelled...  "No", was the answer. I spent the next two months asking on a regular basis if we could open it yet and the answer was NO...  Groan....

I eventually gave up knowing Graham would open it in his own time. The moment finally came when the bottle came up from the basement and the cork was popped! Drams were poured among friends and we enjoyed the whisky. Great discussion, good friends and a fantastic Springbank -> What more could we possibly want. This time though, I TOOK NOTES!  hehe


Springbank 16 Local Barley, 54.3% ABV.

Colour: Golden sunshine

Nose: Springbank at its finest: Damp earth, tomato plant leaves, with a hint of diesel fuel or refinery by-products.

Palate: Sweet, slightly smoky with that distinctive peppery and oily mouthfeel.

Finish: Not as long as some of the other Springbanks I love, but this is warming, spicy and quite satisfying.

This Springbank is a well balanced, delicious dram and other than some of the drams I've had straight out of the barrel at the distillery (There's nothing better than hearing Gavin sing: "Baby your a firework!", this is the best Springbank I've ever had... so far ;)

There's something quite special about knowing people in the #whiskyfabric. There are so many times when simple conversations lead to lasting friendships. An enquiry on Facebook such as, as anyone tried "this" yet, leads to a sample offer. Where the announcement of a trip turns into 12 people going to a festival together for a week. It's what I love so much about being Whiskylassie.


Me.... and "auto correct" Dave!
Thank you Vit for thinking of Graham when this bottle came to the market. It's not something we would have ever seen here. I hope you enjoy the Canadian whiskies I brought over and that I get to see you and Damian again someday soon!

Lassie...



Thursday, December 29, 2016

Lassie's top 12 countdown for 2016 - Number 9 Great uncle Donnie's gift

On March 25th, Donald MacKenney passed away at the age of 82. He was Graham's great uncle. A bachelor who never married or had children of his own. He loved to cook, he loved to tell corny jokes and he loved his nieces and nephews dearly. Uncle Donnie as we called him, was the patriarch of the MacKenney clan. 

Now, those of you who know me know that I'm a huge proponent of opening your whiskies now, while you are here and able to enjoy them. I always cringe when I hear people say: "Oh, I'm saving that one for a special occasion". Why do we need special occasions to open some of these? Isn't the fact that we are here, in the present, enough? Those were the questions I always pondered in my head but never said out loud. 

In late April when we were helping clean out uncle Donnie's house, we found several old bottles of liquor in the basement. George (Graham's dad) looked at a few of them and asked if Graham and I wanted an old ceramic crock of Ballantine's that was tucked away under the bar. Apparently, Donnie had been holding on to it for a special occasion. I shook my head... Another example of the "special occasion" that never came. Graham examined the crock and thanked his dad. When we got it home, we examined it a bit closer. It was filthy, covered in years of dirt and neglect. We did a bit of research and discovered that it was from the 1960's but we had no idea what the condition of the liquid was like inside. 



Donnie's was cleaned, everything was gone and the house was ready to be sold. Life... moved on. I went to Scotland, spent an amazing 3 weeks there. Graham stayed home and got the boat ready for launch. The next thing we knew it was the 3rd week of June and father's day was around the corner. We invited everyone over for a family dinner. George, Micky, Colin and his fiance Stephanie. After the meal, Graham went downstairs and brought up the Ballantine's. He poured everyone a dram and then surprised us with the whiskies. Jokingly Graham warned us this could be most horrible and so we raised our glasses to the memory of Donnie. In silence we drammed. George had a few tears in his eyes, which of course caused the rest of us to get a bit emotional as well. My father in law took very good care of his uncle in those last years of his life. It's what family does and I could not be prouder to be part of this one. The whisky, by the way, was absolutely sublime. 

Donald MacKenney
We all took turns telling stories about Donnie that night, we laughed and we truly enjoyed this very old and special whisky. I had a bit of an epiphany. I realized that even though I'm a staunch believer in opening and enjoying my whiskies, we would have never had the chance to try the Ballantine's the way we did if Donnie was of the same mindset. The reality is, the special occasion in this case, was Donnie himself.

I will likely never drink all the whiskies we have in our collection, mind you we will try our best ;) But I do know, that there is some comfort in knowing there just might be a few bottles left over that will be opened and toasted in my own honour when I leave this place we call earth. 

As always, my thought is share those whiskies with the people you love now, but... now I'll add: Maybe hold on to a few just in case you know people who might appreciate raising a toast in your honour once you pass.

Cheers and can't wait to tell you what lies ahead for the rest of the top 12... 


Lassie

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Lassie's Top 12 countdown for 2016 - Benromach 35 rounds out spot #10

Benromach has quickly made a name for itself. Their whiskies have developed a reputation as well as huge following in the very short time they have been on the market. I've had several of their different bottlings and always have at least 3 of them as staples in our collection: Benromach 10, 15 and Peat Smoke. 

As part of my trip to Scotland in 2016, I went to the Spirit of Speyside Festival. If you've never been: A) What are you waiting for? B) It's a MUST do for any whisky enthusiasts bucket list. Seriously! Take a look at their website: www.spiritofspeyside.com if you don't believe me.

One of the highlights of the festival for me this year was attending an evening at Benromach on April 29th. It was an intimate evening with some of the stillmen that laid some of the last casks in the 80's such as Willie McArthur and Tom Anderson, as well as the current distillery manager Keith Cruickshank and a few other very distinguished guests. We listened to stories of old as well as new and then went for a walk through the distillery. 


I watched Willie and Tom as they walked through, pointing out where certain areas had changed drastically. The distillery seem to come alive as Tom told us about the days when they were all younger men working there. 

Tom, me and Willie after the grand tour - honoured
Tom continued to regal us with touching stories of their camaraderie and friendships through the entire tour. They were truly like a band of brothers. At the end of the grand tour we went down to the filing station area and the gentlemen were each presented with a bottle of the Benromach 35 year old. A bottle was opened, drams were poured and we all toasted the stillmen of yesteryear. The evening was quite special indeed.

Now I reviewed this dram back in February of 2016. The dram is a very special one indeed. My review is here in the event you want the official nosing/tasting notes.  

http://whiskylassie.blogspot.ca/2016/04/benromach-35-delivers-more-than-just.html

I will forever remember the dram, the opportunity to meet Willie and Tom and the many sensory experiences and memories that are all linked together as a result. Benromach 35 easily makes the top 10 of this Lassie's 2016 list of most memorable drams.

Here's to the people we love and the drams that are truly special.


Lassie



Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Lassie's Top 12 countdown for 2016 - Whisky #11 Single Grain Single Cask Goodness

I know it was late 2013 when my friend Dave Alcock (www.thewhiskydramalista.com) contacted me on twitter. I don't remember if it was a twitter tasting he participated in or if his keen eyes had found this bottle somewhere but either way it was something he remembered I had been looking for. "Do you want me to get you a bottle and we will figure out how to get it to you?" Without any doubt or further thought the answer was a resounding YES!

So, he did. Bought it and held on to it for me until I was able to see him in spring of 2014. I was fortunate enough to spend a few days with him on a grand tour of the UK. Was one of the highlights of my trip actually. He and his wife were not only great hosts but I felt like I had known them for years or like they were family. Dave and I shared many amazing drams in his whisky shed, we all went on a #whiskyfabric road trip to Penderyn (which was a story in itself). He let me be a tourist in his hometown and ensured that I saw Stonehenge (Huge bucket list moment for me!)


The bottle in question was the Clan Denny Single Cask Single Grain Invergordon vintage 1966. Cask HH 7254, Ex-bourbon bottled at 47.1% ABV which made it back to Canada and then sat until October 7th when we held a club meeting at a friend's cottage. We ate a traditional Indian meal including an egg curry (amazing), we shared many a whisky and then we finished the evening with a bonfire overlooking the St. John's river. I opened the 1966 that night and as we all sat in silence mulling over the whisky, it brought me back to Dave's house. A morning when I woke up to the most beautiful guitar playing and how I closed my eyes and simply stayed in the moment. 

I eventually snuck out to the living room and didn't say a word, just continued to listen to Dave. Of course I snapped one of my favourite photos at that point :) 

It's always amazing to me that a dram can transport you back in time to an exact moment. I will say this again, no other spirit has the capability to do that for me. I made a promise to myself that night at the bonfire on that chilly October night that "we" would finish that 1966 before the end of the year. I shared it often and gladly. Did I take notes: Nope... ;)

The bottle was laid to rest on Saturday November 26th at the New Brunswick Spirits Festival. Friends present: Saravana, Mark, Stephanie, Benoit, Larry and Graham. In hindsight I really should have gotten everyone to sign it so that I could remember who got to try it with me, I'll remember for my 55th, hehe!

Thank you to Dave over in Bristol UK for getting this lovely bottle for me and appreciating that when I turned 50, I should have something quite special to share. 

Here's to looking out for one another and sharing what we have! Likely the fastest bottle drunk in 2016... it was worth the wait.

Number 11 - Thanks!


Lassie


Monday, December 26, 2016

Lassie's top 12 countdown of 2016 - The anchor, #12 LET'S START BIG!

Years ago I started keeping track of how many different whiskies I tried over the course of a year. From January 1 - December 31st, I take a photo of every single new whisky discovery. In 2015, I broke my all time record and had tried over 400 new drams. I will wait to reveal how many the Lassie had this year ;)

In the meantime, let's revisit the top 12 drams for me this year. Each of course has a story, a reason, a season or a rhyme. Or... something like that!? The point of the matter is, each one has a special place in my heart for a variety of reasons. You ready?  HERE.....  WE......  GOOOOOOOOOO! It's only befitting that we go all the way back to January 1 2016 for dram #12. Our friends Krista & Ross Galbraith invited us to their annual New Years Day event - Outing at Tin Can Beach. Now for those of you are not from anywhere near Saint John New Brunswick, Tin Can Beach is a little gem in the south end of the city that overlooks the mouth of our harbour and the bay of Fundy. 

Tin can beach crew of 2016
There we were: Krista & Ross, Susan & Michael, Robin & Michael, Lori & Steve, me and Graham. It's a cold but sunny day and we've all brought whiskies to share. I made sure to pack one small but very important dram because someone gave it to me with the caveat that it would be opened and shared before my 50th birthday. I kept my promise and shared with this lovely group of friends, of which a few had already joined the 50's club, and some who still had not.  :)

The great part of that day was simply welcoming 2016 as best we knew how: Among friends, in the great outdoor, admiring the beauty of our own city and toasting what was yet to come. Thank you to Davin de Kergommeaux for the dram in question:


Gordon & MacPhail Glen Grant 50 year old, distilled in 1948, bottled in 1998. 40% ABV. 

The dram was poured in two Glencairns and they were passed around so that everyone could get a taste. Did I take notes -> Nope. Do I remember what it tasted like -> Mostly. I know I enjoyed it. The reality is that I enjoyed the moment and the fact that we all got to try it. After we were done dramming and spending time on the beach that lovely first day of 2016, we were all invited back to Krista & Ross' for a great spread of food. 

I realized a few things that day. One: Surround yourself with good people. Two: Share your whiskies with those who will appreciate it as much as you do. and Three: The importance of traditions. It was a memorable day and the perfect way to start 2016.

Thank you to Davin, the Galbraith's and everyone else who made that day possible. 

Cheers,

Lassie




Day 25 - The grand finale Samaroli 34 year old blended scotch

"It came without ribbons. It came without tags. It came without packages, boxes or bags!" The Grinch

As I awoke on December 25th in a hotel room far away from home (oh this could go off the rails right from the start!?) cuddled up next to Graham (Lassie redeems herself) I knew it was Christmas. The reality is, I really wasn't much in a festive mood this year at all so I was never more thankful to have it be "just another day". Graham surprised me this year with a getaway trip to Boston for a New England Patriots game. Blessed. 

The great part of the trip was seeing a few whisky friends along the way: Darren McInnis (no relation), Bob Caron and the aunts (I LOVE those ladies) and a long list of whisky discoveries thanks to Bikram Singh at Norfolk Wine and Spirits. This man appreciates the whisky geek in all of us as he simply pointed us to "the room": Try whatever you like. We bought three great bottles as a result. 

I've said it hundreds of times before, do not underestimate the power and kindness of the #whiskyfabric around us. It's magical, important, friendly and REAL. It does envelope me 365 days of the year and regardless of what some of the nay-sayers might think, for me it's better than celebrating the madness of one day we "Christians" call Christmas. 

We packed up our suitcase, our whiskies and hit the road to home. 9 hours later, we were at Graham's parents for a very late turkey dinner. I was trying desperately to simply "live in the moment" and appreciate that we were opening gifts, spending time with family but in the back of my mind I knew I had to open door 25, nose/taste the whisky and write a blog. It was almost 10:00pm when my mother in law said: "So you two spending the night?", I looked at Graham and he stared at me. "Sure", I said... and I let go of it. The whisky will simply have to wait. 

We got home at noon on boxing day. I literally just threw all of our stuff on the kitchen floor. Rushed down the stairs in my winter boots to open door 25. I knew what it was ahead of time as friends had posted in on twitter but to see the bottle with my own eyes was pretty cool. Up to the armchair for one last time, reached for a nosing glass and plopped myself down to enjoy the last dram of my amazing whisky advent calendar. I've quickly become a huge fan of Samaroli and will now actively seek out getting more of these bottles.

Samaroli 34 year old blended whisky, 40% ABV. Sherry Butt cask #18.

Color: Dark and old mahogany furniture.

Nose: Tobacco leaves, old cigar room and rich leather. A bit of unsweetened chocolate on the backdrop. Maybe a bit of Indians spices too. 

Palate: Just as complex as the nose. Star of anise, rum soaked Christmas fruit cake (with orange peel, candied cherries) and just a hint of tannic flavour reminiscent of roasted coffee beans dipped in dark chocolate.  GOOD LORD!?

Finish: Cointreau or some other orange liqueur I've tasted before. Overwhelmingly warm, satisfying orange compote with cloves. So mouthwatering, it really took me by surprise.

I sat in silence for the better part of an hour while Graham walked Miles. I looked over the last 25 days of pieces I wrote about each whisky. All so different, some very pleasing, some not so much for this Lassie. Through it all, it was one discovery after the next and the journey along the way seemed long yet at the same time short. Memories created, people remembered, moments shared, bruises (my elbow still hurts, hehe)... friendships, new whiskies, some old favourites and now it's all done. But is it, really? 

I had almost pretty much stopped blogging this past summer. With family responsibilities taking on a new role in my life, it was really hard at first to come to terms where things might be headed. When Jonathan asked me to be the guest writer this year, I was thrown for a loop but at the same time excited at the thought of writing a blog every single day. I was never short on stories or adventures (that part wasn't a surprise)... The surprise was the whiskies and how people reacted to the blog rising like a phoenix. 

Thank you, to all of you... It's been a weird sort of 2016, if not globally, for many of us who have lost someone we love, lost a job, struggled with mental illness or whatever else "we" went through. Just remember, this like the whiskies in our lives are simply moments. 

Some are fantastic, some are weird, some are duds, some are downright ugly... We, in the end survive and move along. The advent calendar may be done, but the blog will not go silent. Thank you Jonathan for entrusting me with this gift and honour. 

Oh my goodness I almost forgot Jonathan!!!


As 2016 comes to a close, I ponder at what lies ahead for many of us. Keep it real, love your family/friends and share your whiskies :)

Respectfully and with all my love, from the whisky armchair... I raise my glass to you all. 


Johanne


Saturday, December 24, 2016

Day 24, Lassie gets two great gifts

DAY 24!!!

I found out, totally by accident when my brother in law blurted it out, that I was going to a New England Patriots game for Christmas. My heart soared. I'm not just a Patriots fan, I'm hard core. 1978 was the first year I watched a game with my friend Roger Gregoire. We left the morning of December 23rd and the game was on Christmas eve. Me, Graham and 75,000 of our closest friends :)

Welcome to day 24. Even as I sit here at the Holiday Inn near Foxborough with the dumbest smile, I'm trying as hard as I can to stay focused and actually nose/taste whisky. Pats Fan first, whisky enthusiast next, sorry....  This is my HAPPY place.  

So, there isn't going to be a long write up and there isn't going to be an introduction. Me, the whisky, my notes -> That's it for today, hehehe!

Behind door 24 is a lovely 1988 Bunnahabhain from Single Cask Nation. Let's just right in shall we cause I've got a GAME TO GET TO!!!

Single Cask Nation, 1988 Bunnahabhain 28 year old, 51.3% ABV. Refill Hogshead cask #7403.

Colour: Hard to believe this is a refill sherry cask? But then again, this advent calendar has changed my thought on what to expect for colour. It's the lightest of golds.

Nose: A waxy honeycomb (reminds me of Clynelish actually?!) It's a bit spicier though. I love that I get a complex array of aromas. After it's sat in the glass, the sweetness of butterscotch really comes out.

Palate: Just a little too strong for me, all I initially got was a very "burny" whisky. So, after a bit of water this really changes to a creamy creme caramel. Very nice indeed.

Finish: My goodness this a huge hit of LEMON! My whole mouth watered from the tartness. There is also a a bit of spice there that I often think reminds me of Chinese Five Spice. 

I took the rest of the dram to the Patriots game and let me tell you after a 41-3 win over the Jets, was even more of a fabulous whisky!!!  I LOVED, LOVED, LOOOOVED my whole day. 

Thank you Graham for being a fantastic partner. You know exactly what I need when I need it. 


Tomorrow we drive home and I can't wait to open the last day of the advent calendar!!!

Head over to see what Jonathan thought of day 24: www.singlemalting.com

Stay tuned for the LAST reveal tomorrow....  

Merry Christmas my lovely whiskyfabric friends!

Lassie


Friday, December 23, 2016

Day 23 - And what should appear but another Samaroli that I hold dear!

Day 23 and my alarm goes off as it usually does on a Friday, however, I’m not getting up to go to work. I am on vacation. So what, pray tell, is the Lassie up so early for?

My lovely husband and I are driving to Boston today (7 hour drive) to go to a New England Patriots game on Christmas Eve. Now, some of you might think that sounds a little crazy right before the big day but honestly, I am not a huge fan of Christmas to begin with so when Graham surprised me with this little trip, well… this Lassie was overjoyed because he knows how much I struggle this time of year. This is exactly the perfect gift for me. Thank you Graham…

So the adventure began early enough where I was running around the house, packing Patriots gear, checking weather reports, getting the animals ready to go stay at “nanny & grampy’s” and packing up a care package for my dear friend Bob in New Hampshire. Car packed by 8:30, a few last minute items to take care of and then run down the stairs to open #23 and #24 (I am not cheating, I won’t be home tomorrow!!) I was stunned to see another Samaroli in my advent calendar, this is really going to be a great trip indeed!!! I won’t reveal what day 24 was, but also excited about that one.
We were on the road by 10:30 am.  Passports? Check! Patriots’ tickets? Check! Whisky & glassware? Check! And…most importantly: Patriots scarf, hat, long johns and jersey CHECK!! We have other things that we need like warm clothes, podcasts downloaded (Hey Mark Gillespie), directions to our hotel and a last minute surprise whisky tasting with our friend Darren McInnis from the North Shore Whisky Club later tonight.


After crossing into the United States through the New Brunswick/Maine border, we listened to a podcast, ate some lunch, talked while Graham drove. It was a sunny and somewhat mild afternoon. The sun glistened on the trees and we both sat in silence, simply mesmerized by the beauty of the scenery around us. It’s rustic, majestic and lovely. We drove through Maine, New Hampshire and arrived in Mansfield to meet our friend Darren at the Norfolk Wine & Spirits where @CachacaDave (Dave Catania) was pouring some Amrut Indian whiskies. 


Meeting the legendary Bikram Singh that I had heard so much about was fantastic. He did not disappoint! If ever you are in the Boston area, a trip to his shop is well worth the effort. Rare, interesting and many "off the beat and path" whiskies from all over the world, including SAMAROLI!!! Thank you Darren for this gem of a find!

Now, speaking of Samaroli, back to my day 23 dram:

Samaroli Peaty Blended Whisky 20 year old, 45% ABV. Refill sherry butt Cask #54.

Colour: Pink gold!

Nose: Another smoky whisky. The peat is a bit more predominant on this one for me. Reminds me of wet dark earth. Not overly sweet on the nose.

Palate: Thick, viscous and again peaty goodness. A bit of creamy lemon on the backdrop. It's a lovely "aged" peated whisky.

Finish: Long lingering and quite satisfying. This could easily be a dram that Graham would love after a cold dog walk in January. 

Another triumph for a Samaroli. I cannot tell you how impressive these are. I'll be talking to Jonathan to see if this is one of the bottle that will be available. 

Check out what he thought at: www.singlemalting.com

As for this Lassie, day 23 was simply phenomenal. I love the #whiskyfabric and can't wait to tell you what is in store for tomorrow.


Cheers lovely people!!


Lassie


   

Thursday, December 22, 2016

Day 22 Advent Calendar - Ode to Bob...

Our house has been fairly busy this last week and Graham and I were fighting off some sort of bug. I had been feeling a bit sluggish and really achy. This morning was no different. My knees creaked a bit as I planted my feet on the cold floor and as I searched for my slippers in my semi-conscious state I could feel a twinge in my lower back. "Getting old sucks" I said out loud at the cat, who of course simply blinked and went back to sleep. I wandered quietly down the stairs and poked my finger through door 22. I did a bit of a double take and couldn't quite believe my eyes. I read it and then spelled it out loud just to make sure: C-A-M-B-U-S. What happened next, I can't print... It was a slew of expletive language that even now, my mother would slap me behind the head for... 

This is a unicorn dram for me... Something I never thought I would get to experience in my lifetime. Cambus was a Stirling Scotland grain distillery from the early 1800's that closed forever in 1993. Grain whiskies are often exquisite, especially those that have spent much time in the barrel. I carefully poured just a little in my glass and proceeded to nose/taste it. My train of thought immediately drifted to distilleries of days gone by and how fortunate I have been in these 32 years o whisky imbibing to have experienced so many of their wonderful whiskies. Then an image popped into my head. A moment in time with my friend Bob Rae who we lost in May 2015. Bob... a friend of days gone by. It was difficult not to tear up as I remembered some of the great moments we had shared. He and his wife Daphne showing up in a snowstorm to a "party" we had cancelled, but Bob said: "Nonsense" and showed up anyway. There we were the four of us, spending a fabulous evening talking, sharing drams and laughing while the blizzard raged on. That was the last time I saw Bob.
I went to work but thought of Bob all day. When I got home, we had errands to run and things that needed to get done. I didn't get back to the whisky until much later. I got into my pj's, got a warm fuzzy blanket and proceeded to finally make notes about the Cambus. 

Adelphi Cambus 1988, Single grain whisky, 27 year old at 48% ABV. Bourbon refill cask #59353. 

Colour: Another really pale whisky. Barely there yellow!

Nose: Powdered sugar on an apple danish. Creamy, buttery and sweet.

Palate: Delicate, silky. Vanilla pound cake but with of a Madeira cream sauce. 

Finish: Not as sweet as the nose and palate and it has a bit of a strange aftertaste... a bit "plasticky"? 

Overall this was a very good dram, except the finish threw me off completely. I'm happy I got to try it, but I didn't find this one as balanced as many of the other drams in the calendar. The great part of the discovery is how it made me remember a friend from days gone by.

If you'd like to see what Jonathan thought: 



Dr. Robert Rae - We miss you dearly my friend

Can't wait to see what is next... and here's to the memory of distilleries and friends gone but never forgotten.

Lassie


Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Day 21 Wemyss Glenrothes 27 year old!!! Need I say more?

I can't believe how quickly this has gone? When I started on day 1, it was almost a little intimidating. I have to nose/taste a whisky every day for 25 days straight, and here I am on day 21 looking at all the empty doors with only 5 left to go. It's been a fantastic adventure so far and as I poke my finger through door 21, the reveal makes me squeal with delight once more. I'm noticing that as we get closer to day 25 the drams are getting more and more special! 

Today's dram is Wemyss Glenrothes 27 year old - Marmalade appeal. With a name like that, how could my mouth not begin to water immediately. Marmalade is my favorite of all the preserves!!! I run back up the stairs, taking them two by two. (At least I'll have gotten 25 days of exercise out of all this?! hehe) I trust the bottle into Graham's face: BOUUUYAH! I announce as those I've won the lottery.  He laughs at me and reads the label. "Nice!" he says as he hands it back. I snatch it from his hands and skip (yes, I skipped) back to my arm chair. Pop that baby open and nose... nose... and sink into my chair just a little. The aromas of the whisky are simply divine.


Martine once walked us through a very interesting masterclass where all you relied upon was the nose/taste of the whisky to conjure up one image of what the whisky in your glass represents for you. As I sat there, nosing Marmalade appeal, I was suddenly brought back to an era that I did not exists in, the Victorian period and it was lovely. This whisky evoked an image of sophisticated ladies with muffles and gentlemen in top hats! 

I seriously got lost in this dram to the point that I didn't finish my coffee and Graham wandered into the living room and just stared at me: "You, errrr, going to work?". I stopped for a moment and considered it, but then how do you explain to your boss you can't come in because a whisky sidelined your whole day? :)

Once the day was done, I had a bit of a headache. Supper/dishes out of the way and I knew I had to get back to that whisky. I sat overlooking our street, all decorated for Christmas and simply smiled. It was another one of those simple but lovely moments created by whisky. It was perfect in the time and place I was at. 

Wemyss Glenrothes 27 year old, Marmalade Appeal, 46% ABV. Sherry Butt cask #5376. 

Colour: Hay bail at sunrise. 

Nose: Chocolate pot de creme with shaved orange rind. The smell captures you immediately and lulls you into the glass. Gorgeous!

Palate: Seville orange marmalade allll the way! The sweetness and tangy kick makes your saliva glands kick in immediately. Warm and rich dram.

Finish: Long and sweet! Probably the longest finish of this whole advent calendar so far. It stayed with me for the better part of 20-30 minutes. 

Some drams are lovely sipping whiskies, this one my friends, is a time traveller. It brings you back to a different time and quality of whisky that we don't see very often anymore. Jonathan, this is my favourite dram, so I hope this will be available soon in full bottle! 

If you want to read more about this lovely whisky please click here to see what Jonathan thought:  


In the meantime, to my friend Jacqueline who works really hard on the Wemyss team, thank you for this sublime whisky. I truly loved it for many reasons and it made me miss you all the more xoxox


Cheers for now,

Lassie

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Secret Spirits Advent Calendar, Day 20 - Something special behind the door...

December 20th 2016. It's the day before the longest night of the year. I can look at this two ways, after tomorrow the days start to get long again OR... it's the beginning of winter, which around these parts means below -30C, blizzards, lots of SNOW. Hmmm, I stick with the days start to get longer and put on an extra pair of long-johns!?

I literally punched the alarm clock this morning when the radio came on at 6:15. It seems to be getting harder to wake up at this time every morning. Come on longer days!? Down the stairs I creep. I giggle as I think to myself that by the end of this advent calendar I may have well beat down a small path through the carpet to the basement! The calendar waits silently for me as it has 19 days before this. "Old friend", I say, "it's going to be hard to say goodbye in a few days"... and I punch the little door as hard as I can with my index finger. POP! Almost sounds as nice as opening a brand new bottle of whisky.

The reveal, I really special Secret Spirits exclusive: Speyside 26 year old, and my favourite type of casks these days, bourbon refill. I immediately opened the little sample bottle and poured some in my NEAT glass. Immediate and irrevocable: Sticky Toffee Pudding with a butterscotch sauce. My eyes shoot open and I run upstairs as quickly as my feet will carry me. Graham totally missed the alarm and is still in bed. I give him gentle "nudge", well he would like describe it as a push ;) and I say, you have to smell this. In his stupor all he can muster is to stare at me, blinking profusely.

Coffee, discussion, ready for work. I spent all day thinking about the dram. Don't you love that whisky can do that?! Back home, made supper, stepped out for a meeting... tic toc, tic toc! Come on, I've got a dram waiting for me!!! Boots kicked off at the door, straight to armchair and pour my dram, finally. Ahhhhhhh.... and RE-LAX.

Secret Spirits Speyside 26 year old, 55.9% ABV, Cask #5575 Refill Bourbon

Colour: Old yellow gold

Nose: The sticky toffee pudding with a butterscotch sauce is still there. Simply lovely.

Palate: A bit high test (burning...) so a few drops of water and boom: The spices that go into a beef pho: Cardamom, anise seed, ginger, cloves... It's a really deep and rich spiciness. Very satisfying.

Finish: Still quite sweet, especially after the water. It's got a bit of kick too, fresh grated ginger. Slightly lemony!

I really do like this dram. Another well balanced, tasty from start to finish dram. Even after I finished the dram, I just sat in my chair nosing my empty glass. I saved some of it for Graham, because it's important to share ;)

If you want to see what our jet setting friend (he's off to Australia right now) thinks....


With 6 days left, I'm almost worried what is to come!? That... or I need to start saving some money so that I can get a few more bottles!  

See you tomorrow... same channel, different whisky!

Lassie


Monday, December 19, 2016

Day 19 - SAMAROLI!!! 20 year old for me and Marko!

Ugh... Monday. I can do this, I think to myself as the 6:15am alarm goes off. The reality is, I'm so tired today. But, I know my little advent calendar is calling to me so I muster getting my slippers on and make my way down the cold dark hallway. Flipped on the light (Good Lord that's bright) and squinted my way over the table. I poke my finger through #19 and the reveal is yet another Samaroli, holy wow... I'm really feeling quite lucky now. I skip up the stairs and proudly display to Graham my spoils! "Oh nice!" he says as he admires the bottle. "Did you see what this is, it's two casks: One from Miltonduff and the other from Tormore blended together". Now, I had something to look forward to for the rest of the day!

It was a hellish day at the office, people are trying to get too much done before the holidays and many were "cranky", including me by 5:00pm. Once home though, in the comfort of my own home, the pants come off and I relax (I put PJ's on!!!). I sat in my arm chair and poured myself day 19. As I nosed the lovely elixir, I browsed social media and started a conversation with my friend Marko. I sent him a photo of what whisky I was enjoying and he did the same. Just so happens, it was the same one! I asked if he wanted to help me write about this whisky today and he said YES!  So away we went, sharing day 19 together, nosing/tasting, making notes even though we live almost 2 hours apart. 

Samaroli 1995 Samaroli Spey 20 year old, 45.0% ABV. Cask #2845 Miltonduff & #20267 Tormore

Marko was sitting in his home office listening to some of his favourite music. I was already on the nose at that point so that's where we started comparing notes.

Colour: A lovely Chablis, again another light coloured whisky

Nose, Marko: Floral to which his wife helped him discover which one: Lavender. Bang! It's Lavendar with a little citrus but not a really pungent citrus, a little bitterness and a hint of vanilla.  Lassie: I had a lavendar scented vanilla creme brulee once that reminds me of this...

Palate, Marko: Sweet, creamy, vanilla cake or maybe vanilla cream or maybe a combination of both! Delicious, delicious... A lovely Speyside, yes. Lassie: I'm getting a bit of key lime pie with fresh whipped cream, it's sweet but tart, it's got a zesty and zingy feel to it but it's also creamy. (This is a complex dram indeed!)

Finish, Marko: There is the citrus/lime again with a little bitterness again. Wow. Simply wow. Lassie: A bit of a sweet minty aftertaste, it's delicate but lovely indeed.

Overall Marko thought this was a very well balanced dram, it wasn't too dry and didn't seem to have too much influence from the oak. He really loved it and would buy a bottle if he could find it.

Overall I felt this was a very enjoyable dram and the Samaroli's are bang on in this calendar. Every single one has been impressive.It's interesting to see how they chose two different types of barrels and blended them to create something quite unique. I can't help but wonder if this is common for some independent bottlers?


It was not only a great whisky but a fantastic way to share a dram with a good friend. It made my day so thank you Marko!  

You can always go and check what Jonathan thought today by clicking here: www.singlemalting.com

With 6 days left, what will come up next! 

Thanks for sticking around so far. See you all tomorrow

Lassie