Later this month, I will celebrate four decades of existence on Earth. I remember seeing these milestone birthdays as a kid, where people received wacky gifts and all of which were attached to being "Over the Hill," or diving into some sort of a mid-life crisis. Now, I can certainly appreciate being of the proper age to wear Tommy Bahama clothing, but The Greatest Wife In The World really stepped up her gift-giving game to meteoric heights that I will never be able to reach. I now have in my possession a Drinks by the Dram Advent Calendar: Whisky Edition, produced by the folks at Masters of Malt.
Yes, this is a real thing and not some Internet meme or semi-pretend video you keep seeing on social media at this time of year. This is an authentic opportunity to taste 24 unique bottles of ANY SPIRIT, not just whisk(e)y. Are you a rum fan? They have a kit. Cognac? Gin? You name it, they have it. Each of the Advent kits have a 30ml sample for you to try; each bottle is wax sealed so you don't have to worry about leaks during transport. The calendar itself was packaged in a sturdy bubble pack that kept everything intact. There are also other smaller tasting kits that have five or ten 30ml samples that you can enjoy. It seems like Master of Malt has all bases covered. As you can see, I have already begun nerding out and making notes to share with you.
There is the option to customize a box instead of going with the prepackaged selections; The Greatest Wife In The World is doing everything possible to test my education in the subject of whisky, including Scotch, Irish, Japanese, American, and other unusual products from the rest of the world. I may not have tasted everything before, but thus far I have some commercial awareness of the drams behind the windows I have opened.
Don't worry, non-whisky drinkers...I will not bludgeon you too badly, but what can I say? I'm very excited about this gift. I'm going today's post to four examples. I also know I won't get to a sample each day before Christmas, so I will include what I can to give you a feel for what's in this box. I will include price of each bottle if you were to purchase a full 750ml. Here is the first batch of what I have opened up:
Ledaig 10 Year Old Single Malt Scotch ($57): This is a product of the Tobermory distillery on the Isle of Mull, located right next to the Western Highlands. Ledaig (Led-chig) is the peated label, which takes its name from the 57 acre plot upon which Tobermory was founded back in 1798. This is not very malty, but rather clean and aromatic with green herbs, seaweed and applewood smoke. Briny and smoky on the palate, it finishes with a smoked meat character that becomes rich and savory with additional time.
Highland Park 12 Year Old Single Malt Scotch ($54): This is, and always will be, my smoky style example of single malt Scotch that I use in my classes. Highland Park uses about 80% unpeated malt and the balance peated with the local Orcadian peat; this leads to smoky-but-floral, delicate whisky on the nose. On the palate, it has citrus and green apples with a little tropical fruit and spice. The peat subsides and gives way to fresh oranges on the finish.
Mackmyra Brukswhisky ($N/A): So here's the rub with this Swedish whisky...there is no US distribution. That's one reason why this was special to taste. The nose is soft, with honey and chamomile tea aroma. On the palate, the whisky is light and lively with red berries, ginger and pepper, while the finish is black licorice. Master of Malt essentially acts as their distribution arm out of the UK, but if you were to order a single 750ml bottle from them, you are looking at about $80 if you factor bottle cost plus shipping cost. Here's hoping we get greater access to their product line.
Amrut Fusion Single Malt Whisky ($67): This was an amazing whisky and it hails from India! Where do I begin...the candied oranges, chili powder, and savory-smoky peat, or the rich dried tropical fruits (mango, papaya)? This finishes savory and earthy, though I have to admit that this whisky changed so much with each sip over time. Adding water tempers the fiery peat (and 100 proof alcohol) and lets the fruitiness come through. This is a real treat that has US distribution and provided a great contrast to the Swedish whisky.