Posted on December 27, 2022BONUS CONTENT: Read Andrew's post on the Glenfarclas KWM Casks we have had over the years, including our current 1992 Family Cask!
We made it, folks! Twenty-four days straight of whisky in small bottles to make that difficult trudge to Christmas Day all the more pleasant and fulfilling. Did it work? Did you find some new favourites? I know I did.
It is fun to take this time to reflect on the Whisky Calendar as a whole. Did some bottles stand out for you? I had tasted a few of these bottles before, though some I had never paid as much attention to. The most exciting part for myself was tasting some that were entirely new to me. Now that I have written about and tasted them all, here is a list of my personal top five six from the 25 in this year's lineup:
6 - Isle of Raasay Single Malt - From Day 21
5 - Kilchoman Sanaig - From Day - From Day 10
4 - Paul John Peated Select Cask - From Day 22
3 - Boutique-y Inchfad - Batch 1 - 13 Year - From Day 20
2 - Boutique-y Teaninich - Batch 3 - 10 Year - From Day 4
1 - Read on... Or click on this link to find out (SPOILERS)!
There is a lot of That Boutique-y Whisky Company on my list! What were your favourites from the 2022 KWM Whisky Calendar? Do you have a top five?
We have a tradition of ending our Whisky Calendar with a special 100ml bottle from The Scotch Malt Whisky Society of Canada. If you have purchased and enjoyed the KWM Whisky Calendar in previous years then this is not a revelation. Luckily, the bottle selected for the Calendar is always a surprise and something a little bit different. We will get to that soon. But first, for those new to our Whisky Calendar and the Scotch Malt Whisky Society - what is the big deal?
The Scotch Malt Whisky Society is the world's largest whisky club, and also an independent bottler. As a club, it has close to 30,000 members all over the world, and branches in close to 20 different countries. It bottles as broad a range of single cask, single malt Scotch whiskies as any other firm - if not more - and it doesn't stop there. It has also bottled Japanese whiskies, Bourbon, Grain whisky, Cognac, Armagnac, Rum, and Gin. Whether it is a whisky or another spirit, the Society always bottles the spirit from a single cask, straight from the cask, Unfiltered. Undiluted. Unrivalled.
The Scotch Malt Whisky Society was officially founded back in 1983. Membership to the SMWS is easy and gives you exclusive access to the widest selection of single cask single malt whiskies anywhere in the world. The Canada Chapter of the Scotch Malt Whisky Society celebrated its 10th birthday in October of 2021. Only Scotch Malt Whisky Society members can buy our exclusive...
Posted on December 25, 2022This post is Bonus Content. It has information on one of the KWM Cask bottles that are featured on the back of our 2022 KWM Whisky Calendar box. You can find the blog post for the mini bottle for Day 25 of our 2022 KWM Whisky Calendar here.
We have done 8 exclusive bottlings with Glenfarclas, though only 2 of them have been single casks. Our first-ever exclusive bottling of Glenfarclas was a 1997 Family Cask, bottled way back in 2011 or so. It was a 14-year-old with a rich, honeyed and nutty profile. Cask 1997
In the years since, we have bottled a number of cask-strength Glenfarclas bottlings, parcelled off from runs of their core range whiskies. We’ve bottled two different 15, 21 and 25 years old, four of which comprise what my staff started called the “Andrew’s Ego Series.” We’ve had a little fun with them over the years, and they’ve been embraced by our customers too.
One of them, likely the final bottle in the ego series, our second Glenfarclas 21-Year KWM Cask Strength, arrived early in the summer and is still available. Glenfarclas has tightened up allocations of their older age statement whiskies, and the prices have been rising in recent years. Our Glenfarclas 21-Year KWM Cask Strength #2, which featured George Grant and I circa 11 years ago when we were made Keepers of the Quaich. It is currently line priced with the core range 21-year bottled at 43%, but that will change in the months ahead with the 21-year set to rise about 25% in price, and then be phased out for a couple of years due to inventory shortfalls.
Glenfarclas 21 Year KWM Cask Strength #2
Andrew's Tasting Note
Nose: creamy, honeyed, and decadent with toasted oak and crisp spices; toffee chews, Scottish tablet, and dulce de leche; candied orange, maraschino cherries, and figs in honey; melons, kiwis, and guava.
Palate: big, fruity, and creamy with more spice and toasted oak; buttery with more toffee, tablet and dulce de leche; this has some of that warm blueberry pie character with which I have long associated the standard release of Glenfarclas 21; still fruity with more candied orange, guava, figs, melons, and kiwis, on top of a firm backbone of leather and decadent spices.
Finish: warming, fruity, coating, and long; a lovely mix of cream, fruits and spice.
Comment: as with the standard release of Glenfarclas 21, our exclusive cask strength bottling is on the lighter, likely refill, side of sherry; but it is complex, layered, and elegant, as you'd expect; probably as good a point as any to put a lid on my ego... I could have kept going for quite a while!
I never thought we would ever bottle another Glenfarclas Family Cask, as the prices kept going up and up. But, encouraged by my staff, we a...
Posted on December 24, 2022BONUS CONTENT: Read Andrew's post on our very special Compass Box KWM 30th Anniversary Blend!
Christmas Eve Proper is upon us! With only two drams left in the 2022 KWM Whisky Calendar, I am starting to feel conflicting emotions. Part of me is relieved that I will be able to take a break from all this frantic and excessive blog posting. However, there is a piece of my soul that will immediately yearn for the days spent typing up these missives and pretending that my opinion on topics even tangentially related to whisky matter to anyone other than myself.
I am sure my wife also has mixed feelings about all of this. She will be happy that I will finally be doing less “work” at home and potentially be more present in conversations again (hah!). That feeling will probably be short-lived though, as she soon realizes that once again, she is stuck being the audience for every single pithy pun I blather and half-formed idea that spills from my mind.
I am getting ahead of myself, though, aren’t I? I do still have two more blog posts to bludgeon words on and inflict on anybody silly enough to read them. So: onto today’s whisky! Behind Door Number Twenty-Four in our 2022 KWM Whisky Calendar, you will find a mini bottle of That Boutique-y Whisky Company Blended Malt #6 Batch 2 – 24 Year Old. That is a mouthful to both read and type, but what does it actually mean? It means we are headed to Soup Town – I mean Campbeltown!
Oh boy, am I excited for this bottle! I have tasted Batch 1 of this 24-year-old Blended Malt a few times, and in my opinion, it is darned good whisky. I am curious to see how this Batch 2 compares. Batch 1 is rustic. It also is tropical. But, it is sherried. And it is salty and coastal. It contains a cacophony of what should be jarringly opposing notes and styles, yet they remain harmonious in a way that Campbeltown distilleries seem to pull of better than pretty much any others in Scotland.
So, just what could be in this Blended Malt from a place fictitiously named Soup Town? Well, Soup Town is a reference that only That Boutique-y Whisky Company and their wit could come up with. Soup Town refers to Campbeltown. Campbell = Soup. Campbell’s Soup. Get it? Oh, and spoilers: Apparently the other part of the blend is likely from Loch Lomond. Check out the YouTube video of Andrew and Dave Worthington discussing the Soup Town Blended Malt for more info!
Campbeltown is currently the most bereft distillery region in Scotland, as it contains only three active distilleries: Springbank, Glengyle (bottled under the name Kilkerran), and Glen Scotia. This was not always the case. A little more than a century ago, there was a joke told about Campbeltown having more operating distilleries than churches. This was an impressive claim and funny joke beca...
Posted on December 24, 2022This post is Bonus Content. It has information on one of the KWM Cask bottles that are featured on the back of our 2022 KWM Whisky Calendar box. You can find the blog post for the mini bottle for Day 24 of our 2022 KWM Whisky Calendar here.
I have already touched on this one a little on Day 16 when I talked about our 25th Anniversary Compass Box Blend. While the latter was a Blend proper, the Compass Box KWM 30th Anniversary bottling is a Blended Malt, meaning there is no grain in the mix. The whiskies used in its creation were matured exclusively in American oak, which means we have room for oxidative fruity tones and lots of spirit character…
The largest component is 20-year-old Caol Ila (37%*), and the next is 20-year-old Teaninich (30%*). While neither in and of themselves might be exciting, think of the Teaninich as something of a stand-in for Clynelish, and 20-year-old Caol Ila… that’s not something you see too often anymore. The two remaining components are the most interesting to be because, at ¼ and 1/10 of the overall volume of the whisky, you wouldn’t think they have too much impact, but this is far from the case. The 19-year-old Mortlach (23%*) adds some weight and a touch of savoury meaty tones. And the 17-year-old Ardbeg (10%*), this is the whisky’s capstone, and despite being the smallest component it makes itself felt with citrus fruits, salt and elegant peat.
The origin of the Ardbeg used is a cool story… it is actually the remnants of the parcel of Ardbeg used to create the Compass Box No Name I. I loved the audacity of the first edition of No Name, which married a parcel of 14-year-old Ardbeg, infuriating Ardbeg single malt purists the world over, with Caol Ila and Clynelish. I had the privilege of trying the Ardbeg on its own, before it was blended, and can confirm that the final product, No Name I, was an improvement on it. That’s one of the things they do at Compass Box, they find cool things and then ask themselves how they can make them better. In theory, a good blend should be able to improve on its component parts… It also highlighted how the addition of something delicate, like Clynelish, in relatively small quantities, could still have an impact. So we were thrilled that James Saxon chose to include that same Ardbeg, which continued maturing in cask for an additional 3 years in our blend. And despite only being roughly 10% of the liquid, it is an identifiable component…
You may have noted the * after the percentage of each of the components. Funny story about the recipe for this whisky, it has a margin of error... At the time of blending, one of the necessary components could not be added in precisely the right volume, though how much it was short was not entirely clear. This necessitated a bit of improvisation by Whisky Maker Jam...
Posted on December 23, 2022BONUS CONTENT: Read Andrew's post on a very curious Aberlour KWM Cask!
We are in the home stretch ladies and gentlemen! If you are following along on the day of this blog, we have made it to Christmas Eve-Eve. Shall we have some whisky to celebrate? Perhaps something peated?
Yesterday, having nothing new to write about Paul John, I managed to pull a blog post out of… the ether, let’s say. Will I be able to do the same thing today for Kilchoman Distillery? Like Paul John, we already talked about one Kilchoman in the 2022 KWM Whisky Calendar back on Day Ten with the Sanaig. Now, for Day 23, we have the Kilchoman Machir Bay!
Machir Bay is the flagship bottle in Kilchoman Distillery’s whisky lineup, and like the Sanaig, Loch Gorm, and other bottlings from other Islay Whisky producers, it is named after a geographical location on the island. Machir Bay itself is about a 5-minute drive from the Kilchoman distillery and only a few hundred metres from the tiny settlement of Kilchoman. The bay contains some rugged and rocky coastline but also a sandy beach.
Now to the whisky. Machir Bay was first introduced in 2012, about six years after Kilchoman first opened. With this being one of Kilchoman’s regular expressions and easily the most obtainable release from the distillery, this looks to be the second time we have featured the Machir Bay in one of our KWM Whisky Calendars. It was likely in our 2014 KWM Whisky Calendar, back then Andrew was etching the blog posts on stone tablets that were distributed via carrier pigeon back then, so unfortunately they have not survived the test of time.
I did find four blog posts from December of 2014 in the archives, including one talking about our Christmas Trees being stolen. I take comfort in knowing that even back then, our entrance was undergoing cosmetic deconstruction. If anybody has seen these stolen trees in the eight intervening years, please call Crimestoppers. I suspect a black Dodge Ram may have been involved, but I cannot prove it due to the BETAMAX security videotape being grainy and not in colour.
Where was I? Oh, right. The Kilchoman Machir Bay is matured in a combination of ex-Bourbon and ex-Sherry casks, but much heavier on the ex-Bourbon side of things. The peat level of the malt is around 50 PPM and sourced from Port Ellen Maltings. This is the same spec that Ardbeg Distillery uses. Thanks to its peaty profile and mostly ex-Bourbon cask makeup, Kilchoman’s website states that the main traits of this bottling include “Citrus fruit, layered vanilla and butterscotch”. Let’s give it a taste and see if we agree!
Kilchoman Machir Bay – 46%
Also available in full-size bottles
Machir Bay was the first edition of the Kilchoman core range, and it remains a stap...
- KWM 2022 Whisky Calendar Day 25: Scotch Malt Whisky Society 63.99
- History In A Bottle Day 25: Glenfarclas 1992 KWM 30 Annv Family Cask
- KWM 2022 Whisky Calendar Day 24: Boutique-y Soup Town Blend 24 Year
- History In A Bottle Day 24: Compass Box KWM 30th Anniversary Blend
- KWM 2022 Whisky Calendar Day 23: Kilchoman Machir Bay
- History In A Bottle Day 23: First Editions Aberlour 23 Year KWM Cask
- KWM 2022 Whisky Calendar Day 22: Paul John Peated Select Cask
- History In A Bottle Day 22: SMOS Clynelish 24 Year KWM Cask 10204
- KWM 2022 Whisky Calendar Day 21: Isle of Raasay Single Malt
- History In A Bottle Day 21: Elements of Islay Peat & Sherry KWM Cask