Whisky Advent Calendar day 12 : Coal Ila 12 years old

Day 12 !  I’ll make it short ’cause it’s already getting late.

This is actually quite a classic in France I think, and it’s one of the first bottles that I bought when I started my whisky journey, and one that made me discover peated whiskies (along with Laphroaig 10 years old if my memories are correct).

I have to admit I like it quite much, so I’m not scared at all to drink this tonight ;-)

Name: Coal Ila 12 years old
Owner: Diageo
Distillery: Coal Ila
Region: Islay
Type: Single Malt Scotch Whisky
Age: 12 years old
ABV: 43%
Bottle size: 3cl

Colour: White wine

Nose: Starts on a maritime peat composed of seaweed, iodine and foam. Really makes you feels like you're walking the seaside on a windy day. You then get wood smoke, chimney ashed and a tad of leather. Finally, there is a light lemon background.

Palate: Oily. As the nose, it immediately begins on a dry maritime peat (whatever that means), and then follows up on chimney ashed and anise. Powerful and warming, yet really balanced and quite elegant. The end palate is spicier with lots of pepper and licorice.

Finish: Very long and warm on anise, licorice, pepper and wood smoke. It goes on and on.

Overall: Very good. An excellent value if you find this in a supermarket. For me, this "entry-level" expression represents the embodiment of Islay far more than any others. I recommend this to beginners (but not only !) who want to discover peated whiskies. This is actually one of the few bottles that I buy regularly (and it's quite rare that I do !). Now off to sleep ;-)

Whisky Advent Calendar day 11 : Arran – Batch 4 – That Boutique-y Whisky Company

Day 11.

I’ve never had a bottle of Arran at home, but the few drams I managed to try always pleased me and I’ve since then wanted to buy one.

I’ve now got the opportunity to try one this day thanks to this Advent calendar.

This one has been bottled by “That Boutique-y Whisky Company”, that has acquired quite a reputation. I managed to try a few of their bottles at the Whisky Live Paris this year. They had quite a few interesting bottles.

Let’s see how this one fares.

Whisky Advent Calendar day 11 - Arran Batch 4 - That Boutique-y Whisky Company

Name: Arran - Batch 4
Owner: Isle of Arran Distillers Ltd
Distillery: Arran
Bottler: That Boutique-y Whisky Company
Region: Isle of Arran
Type: Single Malt Scotch Whisky
ABV: 52%
Bottle size: 3cl

Colour: White wine

Nose: Seems powerful that one. Starts on big barley after a rainy day, followed by almonds that get sweeter and transforms into almond paste as time goes by. Raw stuff, pepperish. Some fruits finally unload : peaches, apricots, lemon, reine-claude... With water (after the first mouthfuls that nearly overwhelmed me... see below) : Less aggressive, sweeter and fruitier. Banana and pineapple appears.

Palate: Whoa ! This is powerful ! I think I'm going to need some water in it... First mouthful impressions : Lots of fruits, lots of pepper and barley. Let's try again... All right, it's more manageable with lower lower quantity on the tongue... but damn, what power ! So yeah, a lot more fruits than on the nose with ripe banana, apples, lots of peaches (and I'm probably skipping quite a lots of fruits honestly). Really rich and intense ! I'm actually impressed, it's a delight ! I also get roses and a _BIG_ part of pepper and piment d'espelette. The end palate is on citrus bitterness. With water : creamier, it doesn't loose too much intensity on the fruity side, but on the spices well... do not put too much water maybe... I think my hand was too heavy. I preferred neat.

Finish: Very long and intense on the spices, with pepper, lemon zest bitterness and a yellow fruits mix.

Overall: What a dram ! The nose was raw and felt already powerful, but not as much as to make me expect that ! The palate and finish were an explosion of flavors and spices. Awesome ! Definitely awesome...

Whisky Advent Calendar day 10 : Monkey Shoulder

Already December 10th. December sure fly by so fast.

I’ve gotten a bit of a cold, but it doesn’t seems it’s affecting my nose and palate for the moment, and I hope it’ll stay that way and come to pass quickly.

Anyway, quite a famous blend for today, and one I remember to be a bit “flat” but rather pleasant for the price => the Monkey Shoulder !

It has apparently been called that way as an “homage” to the maltmen, which after years of faithful services in cold weathers to turn over the barley during malting and produce our favorite whisky, had shoulder problems :-(

Well… let’s see how this blend of Balvenie, Glenfiddich and Kininvie honors them !

Name: Monkey Shoulder
Owner: William Grant & Sons
Distillery: Glenfiddich, Balvenie and Kininvie (apparently)
Bottler: William Grant & Sons
Type: Blended Malt Scotch Whisky
ABV: 40%
Bottle size: 3cl

Colour: Light amber

Nose: Medium richness. Begins with intense vanilla and anise, then it continue on light apples, pears and green bananas. This is rather subtle for a "cheap blend".

Palate: Creamy again. The profile is a follow-up on the nose with a bit of crunchy apples, lots of vanilla and anise on the nose. It skips towards coffee and chocolate after a (long long) moment.

Finish: Medium length on anise, green banana and chocolate.

Overall: At less than 25€ in a supermarket, who can beat that seriously ? This is really well made, and a "bang for your buck". The flavor profile is rather light and lacks character, but believe me, this is REALLY fair for the price.

Whisky Advent Calendar day 9 : Tullamore D.E.W. 12 years old

Day 9 is Irish day, with the Tullamore D.E.W. 12 years old.

It’s actually labeled as a “Blended Whiskey”, but a quite check up online mentions that a good part of it is pure pot still. We’ll have to take this on their word.

Not sure it really matters anyway… not in my book in any case, as long as it’s good quality and taste wonderful.

Let’s verify that part.


Name: 12 years old special reserve
Owner: William Grant & Sons
Distillery: Tullamore D.E.W.
Type: Blended Whiskey
Age: 12 years old
Cask: Bourbon and sherry oloroso
ABV: 40%
Bottle size: 3cl

Colour: Gold

Nose: Very Irish, you immediately see the similitude between this and the Yellow Spot for example. It starts on tasty vanilla cake, custard and lemon cake. Banana, marmalade and peaches then follows on a cinnamon and woody background. Really gourmand, it smells like a dessert (ie. smells awesome).

Palate: Sweet and creamy. Thinner than the nose might let you think. It begins on unripe banana, vanilla, anise and then continue on faint licorice flavor and cloves (getting stronger with time). The end palate is loaded with those spices and lemon.

Finish: Short / Medium on lemon, grapefruit and orange.

Overall: Not bad, not bad. The nose was the highlight in my opinion, but the palate miss a bit of a punchy side. That being said, it is good and the easiness / softness can be quite pleasant to relax and enjoy without taking it too seriously, or when you're tired. Oh, and the value seems good too !

Whisky Advent Calendar day 8 : Balvenie 15 years old Single Barrel Sherry Cask

« And on the 8th day, he had a Balvenie 15 years old Single Barrel, finished in Sherry casks”.

I’m not sure he did that on the 8th day, but I’m pretty sure that’s what I’m going to do in the next moment.

Anyway, I know I already tried this at a tasting somewhere in the previous months, and I’m pretty sure I liked it.

Let’s verify that claim.

Whisky Advent calendar day 8 - Balvenie 15 years old Sherry Cask

Name: Single Barrel Sherry Cask - 15 years old
Owner: William Grant & Sons
Distillery: Balvenie
Region: Speyside
Type: Single Malt Scotch Whisky
Age: 15 years old
Cask: Sherry cask
ABV: 47.8%
Bottle size: 3cl

Colour: Dark amber

Nose: Very rich. It starts on tarte tatin, barbecued pineapples, fresh peaches, passion and butterscotch. Perfect balance. Really mouth-watering. A little bit of vanilla and cinnamon appears at the end with some chocolate.

Palate: Creamy and spicy. As in the nose, it starts on tarte tatin and fresh fruits but this time immediately followed by chocolate, vanilla, toffee. It then turns into a spice bomb towards the end palate with black pepper, cinnamon, licorice and clove. This dram possess energy ! Very rich and tasteful.

Finish: Long and spicy on dark chocolate, licorice, fresh coffee and pepper.

Overall: Well... my memories were correct : this is very good ! The nose was rich and perfectly balanced, the palate had that punchy side that I thrive for, and the finish brings everything to a lengthy end without any false notes. Definitely on my buying list ! Second favorite on the advent calendar for the moment.

Whisky Advent Calendar day 7 : Glen Scotia double cask

December 7th => Glen Scotia Double Cask

This is the first dram from Campbeltown that I try that isn’t from the Springbank distillery. I have to admit I’m pretty much curious about this one, so let’s not waste time.


Whisky Advent calendar day 7 - Glen Scotia Double Cask

Name: Double cask
Owner: Glen Catrine Bonded Warehouse Ltd.
Distillery: Glen Scotia
Region: Campbeltown
Type: Single malt
Cask: First-fill bourbon barrels and Pedro Ximénez Sherry casks
ABV: 46%
Bottle size: 3cl

Colour: Gold

Nose: Dark notes of cocoa, coffee and heavy caramel. These are taking the upper hand over the rest it seems, though maybe I'm detecting a bit of peach and / or apple... really well hidden behind in any case. Not really promising if you ask me.

Palate: Well this is much better ! Lot of spices, especially black pepper. The fruits are also more prominent, with pineapples, passion, peaches, oranges, lemons and grapefruits. Identical to the nose, get get some caramel but this time disguised as butterscotch (ie : more gourmand and with an added layer of vanilla). Really rich and quite powerful, which is a combination that I like in a whisky.

Finish: Medium and warm on heavily burned caramel and coffee again.

Overall: Well... the palate was very nice, but I find the nose and finish quite lacking unfortunately. I think the PX has overwhelmed things too much.

Whisky Advent Calendar day 6 : Kilchoman Machir Bay (2014)

Day 6 !

This is this time a quite known expression to me, and one I love. I name Kilchoman Machir Bay, 2014 edition.

Prepare yourself for peat awesomeness !

Whisky advent calendar day 6 - Kilchoman Machir Bay (2014)

Name: Machir Bay
Distillery: Kilchoman
Region: Islay
Type: Single Malt
ABV: 46%
Bottle size: 3cl

Colour: White wine

Nose: Oily (does that means anything ?). It starts on white fruits (mainly apples and pears), and continue on a maritime peat (sea breeze), iode and anise. Very fresh. It isn't too strong or too dull either, and it has a very good balance. After some time, the peat gets more floral with seaweed and licorice.

Palate: Powerful and oily. Intense licorice, anise and cloves. It doesn't allow much space for other things, but we still manage to identify some white fruits behind. Damn how I love those powerful drams ! It really transport you somewhere else.

Finish: Very long. Salty from the start to the end, with seaweed and licorice taking much of the space again. The retro-olfaction is on chimney ashes.

Overall: Awesome as always. I admit I have a thing for powerful and challenging drams, and this one isn't getting old. It isn't expensive either, so I consider it a very good value. Definitely one to bring into a skying week ! Or on a boat, this is also pretty much effective :-)

Whisky Advent Calendar day 5 : The Dalmore 15 years old

Day 5… do I have to keep doing this until December 24… ? I need to find a more original way to introduce my tasting notes….

Anyway ! Today is for The Dalmore 25 years old ! People knowing me will know that I’m not particularly fond of Dalmore, so it’s time to try to change my mind ! It’s soon Christmas after all !

Advent calendar day 5 - The Dalmore 15 years old

Name: The Dalmore 15 years old
Owner: Whyte and Mackay Ltd
Distillery: Dalmore
Region: Highland
Type: Single Malt
Age: 15 years old
ABV: 40%
Bottle size: 3cl

Colour: Dark amber (E150 colored...)

Nose: Rich and sweet. It really takes your nostril hostage with all those flavors. The first sniff makes me think of my father's pain d'épices, with its cinnamon and pine honey scent. Then, you get some chocolate along some butter caramel. To finish with, plums, peaches and grapes appears. Smells so good !

Palate: Really balanced. Is this weird that it makes me think a bit of some cognac ? This is probably because of the grapes. Anyway, next to those we get orange and orange zest. On the spices side, we once again get some cinnamon but this time there is also anise added into the equation. Finally, caramelized apples show the tip of their nose.

Finish: Medium / Long on grapes, apples, chocolate & caramel.

Overall: Well, I know I've been heard saying bad things about Dalmore lately... but I have to admit this is rather really good, I probably missed the subtlety a few years ago... Is this a good value ? I'm not sure about that but well... to each their own after all ! Really good balance and subtlety. The nose is awesome, and the whole is really good and presents a really warm expression that should be especially pleasant around Christmas.

Food pairing suggestion: Homemade pain d'épices (not those cheap things found in grocery stores !)

Whisky Advent Calendar day 4 : Elijah Craig – 12 years old

Fourth day, fourth dram, represented by Elijah Craig 12 years old which is an unknown distillery / brand to me (and even more so an unknown dram !).

Defined as “small batch”, it is apparently located in Kentucky.

Well… let’s see how this sings.

Name: Elijah Craig 12 years old
Owner: Heaven Hill Distilleries
Type: Bourbon Whiskey
Age: 12 years old
ABV: 47%
Bottle size: 3cl

Colour: Honey

Nose: Sweet and mellow. Really sweet. This smells of happiness in a warm mountain cabin, watching the snowflakes pass by the window while sitting near the fireplace. It is mainly gourmand, with milk chocolate topped bananas, sweet caramelized pineapples, poire belle Hélène, peaches, marmalade, tarte tatin... with a wood smoke background ! What an outstanding and complex nose !

Palate: Powerful. It starts on green bananas and pursuits on bitter lemons and oranges. You also get some vanilla, plants (can't define them), caramelized pineapples again (but less sweet than on the nose). The background is quite spiced and on the end palate you finally get some bitter dark chocolate (which is a nice twist in my book). Good.

Finish: Medium / Long on orange zest, burned caramel, green bananas again.

Overall: Well... the nose was really, and I mean REALLY, excellent. Maybe this has put my expectations too high, and unfortunately the palate and the finish didn't live up to it. Don't get me wrong though, this is still a good dram and a very good value (this advent calendar is full of them until now, isn't it ? :-). Nice discovery, will definitely buy one day. Recommend.

Whisky Advent Calendar day 3 : Compass Box – Great King Street – Artist’s Blend

Day 3.

Today we have Compass Box Artist’s Blend, from the Great King Street series. I actually tasted this recently (last week) at a Compass Box tasting in Paris, and I have to say it left quite a good impression on me considering the price, so I look forward to this tasting !

Name: Great King Street - Artist's Blend
Bottler: Compass Box
Type: Blended Scotch Whisky
ABV: 43%
Bottle size: 3cl

Colour: Straw

Nose: Sweet yet manages to keep quite a punchy side. It is immediately announcing its tight relationship with its original cereal spirit (what's the proportion of barley in that ? does anyone know ?) by delivering some sweet barley flavor. Then, you get quite your fill of banana along with some marzipan and vanilla. The empty glass is also really pleasant.

Palate: I was expecting something more creamy, but there is some dryness in that too. It stays on the same notes than the nose, but with an added layer of pepper and cloves (those are especially intense as time goes by). Quite rich.

Finish: Long and warm on spices. Maybe a bit too bitter (lemon zest style) after some time.

Overall: My assumptions at the tasting last week were good : I like it ! I find the intensity quite to my taste, and it avoids things from getting too dull / boring / straightforward. Furthermore, taking into account the price, I have to say this is a good blend and, once again, a good value. A more intensive evaluation with a full bottle would probably bring the score somewhere between 80 and 83.