Novelty advent calendars for adults are ten a penny these days but, if memory serves me correctly, it all kicked off with Master of Malt’s Drinks by the Dram Whisky Advent Calendar. Since then, many pretenders to the throne have tried to replicate this success, but MoM’s expanding range of boozy calendars still reigns supreme.
On Wednesday evening, I took part in a Tweet Tasting courtesy of Steven Rush at The Whisky Wire and the guys at Masters of Malt, to preview this year’s calendar. And if you’re thinking of investing in one, then you’ve got an interesting whisky journey ahead of you.
The Macallan 12 Year Old Sherry Oak – 40% ABV
The Macallan 12 Year Old Sherry Oak was the perfect whisky to start a festive whisky tasting with. Although I was (bizarrely) getting lots of rum on the nose to start, the festive flavours started to come through – stewed apples, cinnamon, nutmeg, raisins, dried cranberries and burnt brown sugar. The palate was silky smooth to start but with an edge towards the back of the throat. Oranges. A hint of strawberry? Caramel. Cereal. The spices were more muted than on the nose.
Bain’s Cape Mountain Whisky – 40% ABV
Not only was it a nice surprise to see a grain whisky included in the calendar, but it was also the first ever South African whisky I’d tasted. Right from the off, there was no doubting it was a grain whisky – very light and citrusy on the nose, with notes of vanilla, apple, Kola Cubes. And, strangely, something about it reminded me of damp fish and chip paper. The palate was creamy, half melted vanilla ice cream to precise, but I struggled to get much past that.
The Lost Distilleries Blend: Batch 10 – 51% ABV
The next one was something a bit special – a blend created using whiskies from distilleries that have shut their doors. As the project reaches its tenth batch, the whisky features Caperdonich, Rosebank, Imperial, Mosstowie, Glen Mhor, Glenisla, Glenlochy, Craigduff, Port Ellen and Brora, alongside grain from Port Dundas. The nose on this one took a while to warm up, but when it did, there was plenty of vanilla again, with marzipan, oak, apple peel. It was quite buttery too. The palate was a cracker. Very sweet vanilla. Buttery fudge. Vanished oak. Reminded me of a top class bourbon.
Mackmyra Brukswhisky – 41.1% ABV
An interesting experiment from our Nordic cousins. This Mackmyra bottling is matured primarily in first fill bourbon barrels but also includes whisky aged in Sherry and Swedish oak casks, as well as some smokier malt. This combination gave it a bright bouquet of flowers on the nose, with peaches, almonds and walnuts. The palate switched from flowery to sweet, with a sugary, crystallised sweetness and the smoothness of vanilla cream. There was a slight harshness to the finish though.
Kilchoman Sanaig – 46%
We’re back to Scotland for the final dram, with a release from Islay’s smallest distillery, which has been vatted from both bourbon and Sherry casks. Under the (obvious) Islay peat, it’s quite exotic – pineapple and passion fruit – with a medicinal edge and a toffee sweetness. The palate was very oily. It coats the whole mouth with a smokehouse peak, and flavours of dark chocolate, red berries, icing sugar. And, erm, peanuts?
This year’s Drinks by the Dram Whisky Advent Calendar is a great journey through everything that the whisky world – both home and aboard – has to offer. And if you fancy going on the journey yourself, then you’ll find this calendar and more on the Drinks by the Dram’s website.