Teeling Small Batch

Our second Irish whiskey in the advent calendar. The Teeling Whiskey Company is run by brothers Jack and Stephen Teeling, members of a whiskey family with over a two hundred year history. Owners of the first distillery in Dublin in one hundred and twenty five years they've been selling a range of whiskeys while building their new facility. Teeling Small Batch is a selection of whiskeys further matured in ex-rum barrels.

Behind window #22: Teeling Small Batch, 46% alc., £28/$42

C: Engine oil

N: Takes a wee while to open up then it's grain forward with milk chocolate, US Smarties, and poached pears and ginger

P: Decent texture with a spicy profile (apple cake sprinkled with cinnamon) and more milk chocolate

F: Short despite all that spice, lingering grain, hints of toffee

In conclusion: Solid little Irish session whisky. Needs patience in the beginning and there might be too much spice (for some) but it holds together well. Great entry level strength and price.

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

Dalwhinnie Winter's Gold

Diageo's Dalwhinnie distillery is centrally located and renowned as Scotland's highest (and coldest!) distillery. Cashing in on that has taken a bit of time but finally we have "Winter's Gold," a 2015 release of vatted casks laid down during the winter months and released without an age statement. Given that Diageo's marketing wing recommends drinking this from the freezer we can safely assume that we're dealing with a chill-filtered expression (so the liquid isn't cloudy when it gets a wee bit of a chill). I've never had any success with straight-from-the-freezer dramming so rest assured that this one will be sampled at a pleasant room temperature of 68F (20C).

Behind window #21: Dalwhinnie Winter's Gold, 43% alc., £33/$49

C: Golden (not surprisingly)

N: Quietly floral at the outset with hints of apple and pear, honey, and dried barley -- which is all to say it noses like a young whisky

P: Starts to liven up here with pronounced honey, toasted oats, pear skin, and clove -- credit where it's due, there's more texture than I anticipated despite the chill-filtration  

F: Moderate with lingering spice (cinnamon and clove) and dark honey

In conclusion: After a slow start on the nose the palate and finish really open up. There's a pleasant spiciness that builds on the palate after two or three sips and remains in the back of the throat after a few more. I'm really surprised; didn't think this would be nearly as tasty as it is! Maybe I'll have to return to it and see if the straight-from-the-freezer bit is more than marketing mumbo jumbo.

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

Jura Elixir 12 Year Old

After yesterday's selection, it's hard not to experience a bit of a let down. The fact that the letdown comes with Jura (not a favorite) makes it even worse. However, it's time to put on my big boy pants and give this a fair shake. Crossing fingers...

Behind window #20: Jura Elixir 12 Year Old, 40% alc., £38/$57

C: Reflective copper

N: There's a jammy sweetness (damson jam) with young wood (cedar and pine), beeswax, and resin, toffee notes around the edges

P: Again with the woody notes, walnuts in toffee, warming spice (cinnamon), and vanilla extract

F: Moderate length with lingering wood notes, some citrus and some nuttiness

In conclusion: If you're a Jura fan you have to be over the moon with this. For a non-Jura fan it's not too bad. I don't see me ever needing to reach for a bottle of it but out for a drink with friends or at a party I would happily sip on this while enjoying some lively conversation.

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

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.

The Girvan Patent Still Proof Strength

Nice to see a grain whisky show up in the Whisky Advent Calendar (and at cask strength, to boot!). The Girvan distillery, situated on Scotland's southwest coast is owned by William and Grant Sons. Since 2007, it has also housed a single malt distillery, Ailsa Bay. Patent stills differ from pot stills in a number of ways. I'm not going to go into it here but you can read much more here. On to the tasting.

Behind window #18: Girvan Patent Still Proof Strength, 57.1% alc., £62/$92

C: White tea

N: Leads with the anticipated vanilla notes but there's shortbread and oak immediately following

P: Pleasantly sweet and textured with vanilla ice-cream and Custard Creams, little bit of white pepper coming in behind the sweet

F: Decent length with lingering sweetness, crystalized ginger, and vanilla custard

In conclusion: A solid introduction to grain whisky and well worth sharing with friends looking for a break from the whisky norm.

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