Category Archives: Islay

Scotch Whisky Advent Calendar dram # 13 – Single Cask Nation’s “Undisclosed” Islay 7yo, Cask 613-2/2112


Region – Um, Islay – ABV – 56.3%

You know, it just did not seem right that I would review a whisky that my company, Jewish Whisky Company, bottled. We bottle whisky under the Single Cask Nation label and today’s whisky is a 7yo single malt from an “Undisclosed” distillery.

This is the second “Undisclosed” Islay we’ve bottled and while both this and our first Undisclosed are completely sold out, our third “Undisclosed” Islay is still available to members of Single Cask Nation.

I will now pass the baton over to my friend, Dr, Matt Lurin.  Being a long time aficionado and collector aside, Matt puts on a wonderful charitable whisky event in NYC called “Water of Life.”  You can find out more about Matt’s event here.

It’s all you, buddy!

I was honored when Joshua asked me to be a guest reviewer for The Whisky Advent Calendar day 13. Although some may find the number unlucky, I consider myself the fortunate one here. You may ask what qualifies me as a guest reviewer, which is a fair question. In a nutshell, I am a long time collector, organize a large charity whisky event, and am one of the ‘founding father members’ at SCN.

Scotch Whisky Advent Calendar 2015I enjoy all sorts of whisky, but am well known for my fondness for Islay whiskies, and am found there in late May each year for the Feis Ile, a celebration of the wonderful islands (Islay and Jura) and a time to appreciate their great whisky.

You may be curious about my fondness for Islay whiskies, and that too would be fair. I tell everyone there are 3 main reasons I love them, First off, the iodine and medicinal tastes. I work as an ER doctor, and this smell takes me back home in a positive way. Secondly, the smoke. This reminds me of the smell at my old job in the ambulance bay, when the nurses take break and gather by the no smoking sign, puffing away. And third, most folks would not believe the stuff I have to smell daily at work. No human being should have to endure that, and it takes a strong whisky to help clean my sinus and palate, as well as help me to forget. There you have it.

On that note let’s approach today’s whisky.

Scotch Whisky Advent Calendar 2015Hello to ‘2008 Undisclosed Islay’, 7 yo, 56.3%, the third undisclosed Islay whisky bottled by SCN in the past year. and what a dram it is.

Visually I appreciate a straw colored liquid. Makes me appreciate the youthfulness of this dram, as well as the likelihood of this being from a Bourbon Barrel. I’m excited, let’s continue.

The nose screams to me – Northern Islay. I appreciate the smells of the ocean, a sea spray if you will, that takes me back to a boat ride on the sound, checking out the seals and feeling the crisp breeze in my face. I also find myself enjoying a little waxy lipstick scent, some peppers, peppermint, smoke and some dusty cellar. At 56.3% I do get a little alcohol burn on my nose, but the freshness survives.

The palate is rich and oily. Loving the smoke, and the iodine. It’s now that I want to fall back to a favorite tasting note. “I get tropical fruit”, and to be fair since all fruits are considered tropical on Islay I’d be correct. But let’s work a little harder. Is that banana? A Creme Brullee note? Wait a second, there’s the pepper, ginger, and black licorice. Patience truly is a virtue.

The finish is long and warm. I was truly hoping to enjoy this dram outside on a New York December night, having this warm me up. However, Holiday lights not withstanding, I am able to sit outside in a short sleeved Islay shirt, enjoying the 60 + degrees heat. I do find this very soothing, on the finish. Cracked pepper, menthol and oh that peaty goodness.

In Sum: A wonderful winter dram, even if a warm 60 degrees. It may be an Undisclosed Islay, but it’s a classic Islay and a cracking whisky.

Thanks for the opportunity Joshua. See you May 12, 2016 at Water of Life, and I hope a few times before then. Now back to you.
Scotch Whisky Advent Calendar 2015

Scotch Whisky Advent Calendar dram # 10 – Samaroli “Islay” 9yo, cask # 80006


Region – um, Islay – ABV – 43%

Unnamed Islays seems to be the way things are going now when it comes to independently bottled cask of Islay whisky. Most, based on comparisons to “Original Bottlings,” or “Owner Bottlings,”  seem to be Caol Ila, Ardbeg or Lagavulin if you’re really lucky. All I’ve tasted have been great <shameless plug> including the 3, soon to be 4 “Undisclosed Islay” Single Cask Nation releases </shameless plug>.

Scotch Whisky Advent Calendar 2015This one is the first, however, that I will taste that is not bottled at full cask strength.  Another 43% ABV for this Samaroli.  Samaroli = elegance in my mind though I’ve rarely seen anything lower than 45% ABV until now.

Let’s see what happens with this 9yo at 43%:

On the nose — Soft peat wreathed in lavender rests on a bed of licorice nibs. Heather to the fore with gorse in the distance.

Scotch Whisky Advent Calendar 2015Some iodine and hospital beds make themselves known as does beach pebbles and blue slate.

A flinty minerality brings me in to sip…

In the mouth — Initial pepper sting that sticks to the tip of the tongue as the oily build dances about mid-palate. If I had to guess, I’d say this is a Caol Ila.

Very edgy stuff, not rounded in any way, which is nice. You get the softness from the lower ABV but the edginess from the youth of the whisky.

Scotch Whisky Advent Calendar 2015Think flint stones (not Flintstones) meets burnt brush and driftwood meets seaweed and burning peat meets dandelion jam and lavender with a hint of lemon rind.

Finish — Lasting, citrusy and sooty

In sum — What a way to enjoy a younger Islay whisky. Though I normally prefer the brash in-your-face-ness of young Islay whisky, the water tamed it to the perfect just-sit-and-relax ABV. My initial reaction was “another 43% whisky from Samaroli, really?” However, this was simply loverly whisky. I enjoyed the interplay between youth and elegance (by way of lower ABV).