Tag Archives: Smoke

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).

Scotch Whisky Advent Calendar dram # 5 – A.D. Rattray’s 9yo Caol Ila, bourbon hogshead # 303050


Region – Islay – 56.7% ABV

On the fifth day, G-d filled the seas with fishes and other water animals. In to the air above the earth s/he put many birds of all kinds and colors and sizes.

On the fifth day of Christmas my true love sent to me:

  • 5 Golden Rings
  • 4 Calling Birds
  • 3 French Hens
  • 2 Turtle Doves
  • 1 Partridge in a Pear Tree
    • Actually she brought me nothing because Chanukah is early this year…

Scotch Whisky Advent CalendarOn the 5th day of the Scotch Whisky Advent calendar, we are having a 9yo single cask of Caol Ila bottled by A.D. Rattray.  The color is quite light so I am assuming that this is a refill bourbon hogshead which suggests the flavors will be more spirit driven rather than cask driven.

This dram shall set us free:

Scotch Whisky Advent CalendarOn the nose — A good bit of cayenne spice upfront mixed with puffs of schoolroom chalk and well cooked bacon. Now the bacon overtakes and seems to have been smoked with applewood.

Pink salt and crushed green peppercorns on a plate in the middle of a hot/dry attic (so there is some wood presence here!).

In the mouth — Incredible mouth feel here. Oily, ooey, chewy, mouth coating goodness.  This dram is why I’m a lover of Islay whisky.  More applewood smoke, and the taste of the smell of a French patisserie. Biscuits and salty tarts galore!

A lovely note of lavender is quite present here, too. Nice.

Scotch Whisky Advent CalendarBurnt edges of waffles covered in warm salted honey.

Finish — Near endless. Salty, spicy and sweet.

In sum — I need a bottle. It’s as simple as that. This is perhaps the best Caol Ila I’ve ever had (not bottled by me).  Man-o-Maneshewitz!

PX Finished Kilchoman single cask – an Abbey Whisky Exclusive


Kilchoman-Abbey-Whisky-Exclusive-Cask-285-09-PX-finish-whisky-250Islay Region – 58.3% ABV – £79 (£66 ex. VAT, $106 for those of us in the US of A)

Here we have a Kilchoman distilled in 2009 that spent 4.5yrs in first fill bourbon then 4mos in a PX sherry cask.  Bottled at full cask strength, this cask rendered a total of only 270 bottles, all of which were bottled at 58.3% ABV.

Let the intro be short and the review come soon and the whisky be wonderfully delicious!

My wish is my command.

Kilchoman-Abbey-WhiskyOn the nose  What a lovely little mixture of peat smoked, chipotle infused eraser rubbings!  Drizzlings of smoked Molé sauce over grilled cayenne peppers and burnt Douglas fur needles.

Kilchoman-Abbey-WhiskyIt’s like Christmas is burning in Mexico, in a glass!  This is a Kilchoman for Cinco de Mayo.

Kilchoman-Abbey-WhiskyOn the mouth This is absolutely wild whisky. The peat-meets-sherry reminds me a bit of the Lost Spirits Leviathan (albeit a more tame version).  Lots of horse butt and damp farm barns here.

Incredibly sweet but thankfully not as forceful as most PX matured whisky (perhaps this is the difference between fully matured in PX and finished in PX?).

Kilchoman-Abbey-WhiskySalted licorice.  Actually, this is quite salty and anise-y.

Some of those savory pepper notes I got on the nose help to take me to the finish which is…

Finish Quite long and drying with growing salt and peppery notes along the side of the tongue.

In sum A not-very-Kilchoman-y Kilchoman but a wonderful experience nonetheless.  So good, in fact, I bought a bottle after receiving and reviewing this sample.  If you enjoy big and brash Islay whiskies, this’ll be up your alley.  Defo one to share with friends.  It’s a “Hey, you’ve got to get your tastes buds on this crazy-mo-fo!” sort of whisky.

Special thanks to one of the Sharpest guys in Scotland, Mike Sharples, for the sample!

Lost Spirits California Navy Style Rum – 68% of ABV Amazingness!


Lost Spirits Navy RumRegion – California – 68% ABV – $45

Rum has always been a go-to for me during Passover.  That or Tequila.  As much as I like those spirits I end up missed malt whisky for a solid 8 days of Passover.  During Passover observant Jews are not permitted to eat or drink anything that has been made with barley/wheat/rye, etc… Nothing grain based.

While enjoyable, the above mentioned spirits are simply not whisky and there is no spot-on alternative.  I think, however, I may have just found a spirit that is the next best thing for drinking during Passover.

Note: this is not a kosher for Passover certified spirit but it’s made from Baking Grade Molasses, Evaporated Sugar Cane Juice and Water.  Zero grain so, it’s good for me!

Lost Spirits Navy RumOn the noseIt all starts off with a sweet and damp pack of Winston cigarettes and burning medjool dates which has been tightly wrapped with a a few hundred horse mane hairs.  Does that make sense to you?  After a few sips of 68% ABV rum, it just may!

Lost Spirits Navy RumA New England brush fire on a late October day.  Heavy brown sugar with the scent of some of the nicest brown bread with rum raisins.  Molasses (of course) and a touch anise.  At 68%, it’s so easy to nose though it’s a tad dense yet, in a good way.

A couple more notes before I move to the palate portion of the tasting – toasted oak covered in apple sauce with heavy brown sugar and a touch of cinnamon.

On the mouth —  Pow! Blam! Bash! and a host of other 60’s Batman TV show fight scene words… This punches your tongue and wakes you up.Lost Spirits Navy Rum

Lost Spirits Navy RumYou’d think this were a sherried malt.  While not very oily there are loads of notes that include (though not limited to) figgy pudding, cola cubes, date pits, cherry skins and cigar wrapper (dark).

Bruised strawberries and a slight hint of wintergreen (really?!).  Prune and prune filled butter cookies.  Wow.  Yummy.

FinishMedium in length with some light brown sugar and more of that wintergreen.

In sum I’ve had my fair share of rums, most of which were 40-46% ABV.  I’ve had a decent amount of over-poof ones, too.  I’m fairly confident in saying that this is the best over-proof/cask strength rum I’ve had to date.  I could add water to this and I’m sure it’d be a bit of a water rat.  However, it’s so damn good at full cask strength so I’m going to remain a purist.

Well worth your time and attention, people!  Find a bottle.  Find it and love it.

Special thanks to BD for the ample review sample!!