The Lost Distilleries Blend, Batch 6

Well, lookie here! Last year's Christmas eve dram makes a reappearance in this year's number 19 slot. That bodes well for the final countdown to Christmas Day! The Lost Distilleries blend, as the name suggests, is a blend of whiskies from shuttered distilleries. Batch 6 contains malt whisky from Mosstowie, Port Ellen, Glenisla, Imperial, Caperdonich, Glen Mhor, and Brora, with grain whisky from Port Dundas. It was limited to 534 bottles that sold for around $450 each. This should be fun...

Behind window #19: The Lost Distilleries Blend, Batch 6, 49.3% alc., SOLD OUT (but 3cl sample is £18/$27)

C: Extra virgin olive oil

N: Complex and beautifully integrated with pine resin, pear drops, and distant farmyard

P: Velvety texture with a nutty sweetness that presents notes of toasted hazelnuts in toffee, however, there are also lighter lemony/grassy notes to bounce off the heavier sweet notes

F: Excellent length with a lingering oily mouthfeel that holds flavors of wildflower honey, milk chocolate, and lightly salted almonds

In conclusion: A tremendous blended whisky! Obviously the price is prohibitive to most but it's well worth treating yourself to a sample for the experience of an expertly crafted blend.

Sincere thanks to Master of Malt's Drinks by the Dram for the sample.

Monkey Shoulder

We're dealing with an interesting juxtaposition today. Yesterday's Irish blend from William Grant & Sons is followed by today's Scotch blend from William Grant & Sons. Monkey Shoulder is a blend (technically a vatted malt, I suppose) of the company's three Scottish distilleries: Glenfiddich, The Balvenie, and Kininvie. The name is derived from the malady that affected the chaps who turned the barley on the malt floor.

Behind window #10: Monkey Shoulder, 40% alc., £21/$32

C: Reflective gold

N: Leads with the malt, some oak, some vanilla

P: Light and bright with Asian pear, malted barley and vanilla custard

F: Short to moderate with more malted barley and lingering pear skin

In conclusion: It's neither complex nor particularly interesting but it is incredibly drinkable. Share a bottle with a buddy over some great conversation and don't think too deeply about what's in your glass. Hell, throw in a cigar for good measure.

Sincere thanks to Master of Malt's Drinks by the Dram for the sample.

Tullamore D.E.W. 12 Year Old Special Reserve

Under William Grant and Sons' ownership since 2010, Tullamore D.E.W. (named for sixty year employee and former manager Daniel E Williams) has six bottlings in its line. Today's advent calendar offering is the "Special Reserve," a 12 year old blend of triple distilled grain whiskey, malt whiskey, and pot still whiskey matured in bourbon and sherry casks for twelve to fifteen years. Originally released to the travel retail market it's now generally available.   

Behind window #9: Tullamore D.E.W. 12 Year Old Special Reserve, 40% alc.,£41/$62

C: Gold

N: Grain forward with window putty and Pineapple Kubes, some honey, some vanilla

P: Pronounced sweet fruit notes (pear and more pineapple) with a little vanilla and hints of ground nutmeg 

F: Short and sweet with a slight astringency and lingering grain 

In conclusion: It moves quickly across the palate and finish. The memory is of sweetness but there's little texture and few defining characteristics.

Sincere thanks to Master of Malt's Drinks by the Dram for the sample.

Compass Box, Great King Street Glasgow Blend

I waxed lyrical about Compass Box and John Glaser in this morning's Artist Blend review so let me just say I was very excited to see Glasgow Blend follow Artist's Blend in the Great King Street line. Having frequented Glasgow plenty in my youth and early college days I always thoroughly enjoyed the Wellington statue with the traffic cone on his head (out front of the Gallery of Modern Art -- well worth a visit in it's own right and completely free). Now I live in Virginia and having a wee bit of Glasgow on my shelf is quite lovely.

Great King St Glasgow Blend is one third grain whisky and two thirds malt whisky. The malt whisky components hail from the Highlands, Speyside, and Islay (I was reliably informed that this is Laphroaig and comprises 20-30% of all the liquid in the bottle). Maturation comes from first fill bourbon and sherry casks with additional refill bourbon casks and a bit of french oak finishing (just like Artist's Blend).

Compass Box, Great King Street Glasgow Blend, 43% alc., £30/$45

C: Pale gold

N: Oh, yes, that's the stuff! Delightfully peaty at first whiff with a very quiet fruitiness around the edges, hints of vanilla and white pepper, too

P: Peat forward on the tongue with decent texture for a lower strength whisky, warm salted cashews and poached pears come through after the peat softens

F: Moderate length with lingering peat, ground grey pepper and oak

In conclusion: Come for the peat, stay for the peat, get the fire crackling next to you and really enjoy that peat. Oh, and be sure to include Nick Offerman in the fun.

Compass Box, Great King Street Artist's Blend

I've long been a fan of both John Glaser and Compass Box. They make smart decisions, blend wonderful whiskies, and tell interesting stories. And they get right up the nose of the Scotch Whisky Association. What's not to love?

This first release in Compass Box's Great King Street line (there's now a Glasgow Blend) is intended for both whisky connoisseurs and those who may be dipping their toe in the whisky loch for the very first time. The blend is comprised of Lowland, Northern Highland, and Speyside whiskies with a combination of first fill bourbon and sherry maturation with some new French oak finishing. Full details can be found here.

Behind window #3: Compass Box, Great King Street Artist's Blend, 43% alc., £28/$42

C: Reflective straw

N: Light and fresh (pears, green apples, vanilla) with a cereal thread running through it

P: More cereal up front with a subtle nutty component (ground cashews), then a little spice on the back (nutmeg)

F: Moderate and sweet, lingering pears and apples, then a ground pepper spiciness begins to creep in

In conclusion: Such a delightful wee dram. Artfully crafted, this is a perfect intro whisky for those who claim to not like the stuff. It's an ideal breakfast whisky, too (if you're into that kind of thing).

Sincere thanks to Master of Malt's Drinks by the Dram for the sample.