Secret Spirits Scotch Whisky Advent Calendar

Scotch Whisky Advent CalendarAfter two years of planning and no end of hard slog Secret Spirits have finally brought to market their Scotch Whisky Advent Calendar just in time for Christmas – for Canadians.

With a total of 25x 50ml samples from three independent bottlers (IB) A.D. Rattray, Wemyss and Samaroli, this awesome box set will keep you well in drams right up to Christmas Day.  The actual whiskies themselves are a guarded secret (till people get them and open them up) but you can be guaranteed that these are not run of the mill whiskies that you can just pick up every day at your local bottle-o.

Only 400 of these box sets were produced and if you visit the website you will find they are close to selling out everywhere – so you better be fast!

For those of us not in Canada (particularly in Australia) unfortunately we will likely miss out all together.  But there’s always next year.

Taketsuru Pure Malt 12yo

Taketsuru Pure Malt 12yo Review

Taketsuru Pure Malt 12yoI like whiskies from all around the world and Japanese whisky is no exception. The Taketsuru Pure Malt 12yo caught my eye recently and I thought I would give it a run around the block. This is technically a blended whisky with both the Yoichi and Miyagikyo distilleries having input into this drop. Don’t let the term blended turn you off though, this is worth a try if even if it isn’t too exciting (and unless it is labeled as single barrel just about all whiskies are blended from multiple years).

Vital Stats

  • Distillery: Yoichi and Miyagikyo distilleries
  • Expression: Taketsuru Pure Malt
  • Age: 12yo
  • Strength: 40%
  • Country: Japan
  • Region:
  • Website:
  • Source: personal purchase


Strong, rich, dark colour that hints at the rich fruits about to come.


Rich, sweet, dark fruity nose. Makes me think of strong Christmas puddings. Brown sugars, caramels, a little peat though would not call it peaty. Easy to get your nose in to without too much burn.


Not as smooth as I would have thought, but not harsh either. The sugars and pudding are here again though not as much impact as the nose suggests.


Not a particularly long finish, bit of tongue tingle off the back. A touch spicy. Leaves a sweetness behind but not a lot to explore


I do like Japaense whiskies but I’d say I only just mind this one. Definitely wouldn’t turn it away, it is a nice drop, but I like whiskies that I can explore and I’m encouraged to take my time with – not here.


If you are familiar with Japanese whiskies by all means give the Taketsuru Pure Malt 12yo a whirl but don’t expect to be wowed by it, your mileage may vary of course. If you haven’t had a Japanese whisky I’d suggest you start your journey elsewhere.

Laphroaig Cairdeas 2014 Released

Laphroaig Cairdeas 2014Laphroaig have released their annual Friends of Laphroaig whisky the Cairdeas 2014. Fans of the peaty Isla drop may remember last year the 2013 Cairdeas sold out within hours.  So if you are after a bottle you better get in fast!

Update: Laproaig initially restricted the release of the Cairdeas 2014 to only one bottle per customer for 24 hours, but have now opened it back up to a maximum of three per customer.  If you ordered one in the first 24 hours, and ordered another afterwards be sure to contact Laphroaig so they’ll combine your order and save on postage.

Laphoraig Cairdeas 2013 Review

Laphroaig 2013 Cairdeas Port Wood Edition Each year Laphroaig release a limited edition whisky to celebrate Friendship (“Cairdeas” in Gaelic”). These release have been getting more and more popular and the 2013 expression literally sold out within hours of being available to purchase online. Luckily I was able to buy some bottles which I am very thankful for because this is a great whisky!

Vital Stats

  • Distillery: Laphroaig
  • Expression: 2013 Cairdeas Port Wood Edition
  • Age: NAS
  • Strength: 51.3%
  • Country: Scotland
  • Region: Islay
  • Website:
  • Source: personal purchase


Laphroaig Cairdeas 2013The 2013 Cairdeas has quite a unique colour for Laphroaig here, best I can describe it is a sort of Rosé in appearance, light and reddish. I tried to capture a photo of the colour, but it just doesn’t do it justice.


Straight up I am an Islay fan, so the nose on this just appeals to me on so many levels. Classic rich peat up front as I would expect. If I hunt for it I can pick up some citrus going on. A touch of water knocks the edge of the peat off and helps the citrus along slightly


At 51.3% this is a whisky to approach with respect.. Despite the high content it is reasonably smooth, but you have to keep your eye on it and still take due care, let this go down the wrong hole and you will have a coughing fit for 10 minutes. A spiciness is present, dustiness and bacon hock, and with a little water I pick up a hint of mint.


No surprises here a strong lingering finish. A little oily, the smoked meat coming through again, and after a while a touch of florals there, but I had to wait for it to come along.


What a great whisky, I really like it. Laphroaig feels like an old friend but the Cairdeas tastes just a bit different to their signature expressions. That smoked bacon mouth feel is really interesting. I’m glad I bought the allowed three bottles for this year’s release as I do want to save one to open again in a few years’ time. The third bottle will go into the Collection.


If you are an Islay fan, and more importantly a Laphroaig fan then this is an absolute must buy whisky. Unfortunately if you didn’t order one within hours of its release you won’t be able to pick up a bottle easily and may have to rely on the charity of friends. Good luck!

Whisky Live Canberra Tasting Line-up Announced

The whisky tasking line-up for Whisky Live Canberra 2013 has been announced. Some exciting looking drops are on offer including Amrut Fusion (a personal favourite), Octomore Heavily Peated (I’ll be trying that!), the new Talisker Storm Single Malt and drams from Tasmanian whiskies including Nant and Hellyers Road – and although it is not included I believe Lark Distilleries will also be there.

Whisky Live Canberra is on Saturday 27 July at Albert Hall.

  • Amrut Single Malt
  • Amrut Fusion Single Malt
  • Auchentoshan Classic
  • Auchentoshan 12 years old
  • Auchentoshan Three Wood
  • Baker’s 7yr Bourbon
  • Blanton’s Original Private Reserve
  • Blanton’s Special Reserve
  • Blanton’s Gold Edition
  • Bowmore Legend
  • Bowmore 12 years old
  • Bowmore 18 years old
  • Buffalo Trace Kentucky Bourbon
  • Drambuie Original
  • Drambuie 15 Year Old
  • Drambuie Royal Legacy 1745
  • Eagle Rare Single Barrel 10 YO
  • Elmer T Lee Kentucky Bourbon
  • Laphroaig 10yo
  • Laphroaig Quarter Cask
  • Finlaggan 10yo
  • Finlaggan Old Reserve
  • Finlaggan Original Peaty
  • Finlaggan Original Peaty Cask
  • Finlaggan Old Reserve Cask Strength
  • Glenfiddich 12yo Scotch Whisky
  • Glenfiddich 14yo Rich Oak Whisky
  • Glenfiddich 15yo Single Malt
  • Glenfiddich 18yo Ancient Reserve
  • Glengoyne 10YO Single Malt
  • Glengoyne 12YO Single Malt
  • Glengoyne 15YO Single Malt
  • Glengoyne 18YO Single Malt
  • Glengoyne 21YO Single Malt
  • Glengoyne Cask Strength
  • Glen Grant 10 Year Single Malt
  • Glen Grant 16 Year Single Malt
  • Glen Grant Five Decades Single Malt
  • Glen Grant The Majors Reserve
  • Glen Moray 12YO Single Malt
  • Glen Moray 16YO Single Malt
  • Glen Moray Chardonnay Cask 10YO
  • Glen Moray Classic Single Malt
  • Grants 12yo Scotch Whisky
  • Grants Sherry Cask Finish Whisky
  • Grants Ale Cask Finish Whisky
  • Hellyers Road Original Single Malt
  • Hellyers Road 10 Year Old Single Malt
  • Hellyers Road Peated Single Malt
  • Hellyers Road Pinot Noir Finish
  • Highland Park 12yo
  • Highland Park 18yo
  • Hudson Manhattan Rye
  • Hudson Baby Bourbon
  • Jack Daniels 1907 Brand
  • Jack Daniel’s Tennesee Honey
  • Jack Daniels Gentleman Jack
  • Jack Daniels Single Barrel
  • Kentucky Vintage Small Batch Bourbon
  • Label 5 12YO Blended Scotch Whisky
  • Label 5 Blended Scotch Whisky
  • Laddie Classic Scotch Whisky
  • Maker’s Mark Bourbon
  • McClelland’s Highland
  • McClelland’s Islay
  • McClelland’s Lowland
  • McClelland’s Speyside
  • Monkey Shoulder Triple Malt
  • Noah’s Mill Small Batch Bourbon
  • Octomore 5.1 Heavily Peated
  • Penderyn 41 Single Malt Welsh
  • Penderyn Madiera Finish Welsh
  • Penderyn Sherrywood Finish Welsh
  • Port Charlotte Peat Project
  • Pure Kentucy XO Small Batch Bourbon
  • Rowan’s Creek Small Batch Bourbon
  • Smokehead Islay Single Malt
  • Starward Single Malt Whisky
  • Talisker 10yo Single Malt
  • Talisker Storm Single Malt
  • Talisker 18yo Single Malt
  • The Balvenie 12yo Doublewood
  • The Balvenie 15yo Single Cask
  • The Glenlivet 12 Year Old
  • The Glenlivet 15 Year Old
  • The Glenlivet Nadurra 16 Year Old
  • The Glenrothes Select Reserve
  • The Glenrothes Vintage 1998
  • The Glenrothes Vintage 1995
  • The Glenrothes Vintage 1991
  • The Glenrothes Vintage 1988
  • The Nant Single Malt American Oak
  • The Nant Single Malt Port Wood
  • The Nant Single Malt Sherry Wood
  • The Six Isles Blended Malt Scotch
  • Willett Pot Still Reserve Bourbon
  • Yamazaki 12 years old

Laphroaig Cairdeas 2013 Sold Out Within Hours

It was early evening on Friday 7 June when an email pops into my mailbox stating that Laphroaig’s Cairdeas 2013 Port Wood Edition whisky had just been released.  I casually clicked through to the site, was delighted that this year I could buy up to three bottles (which I did), decided to add an 18yo for good measure, and made my purchase.

Little did I know that the Cairdeas 2013 would literally sell out within hours of the email.

And thus started what was to be a bit of a customer backlash on social media against the Isle of Islay distillery with many unhappy Friends of Laphroaig. For a start many people weren’t at their computer when the email came in and found out too late. There were those who had registered with work emails so were completely unaware for some time it had arrived. And others simply had the email delayed by plain old internet machinations because, let’s remember, there is no *guarantee* that email is instantaneous.

But while I got lucky, many others did not.  The criticism of Laphroaig on forums and their Facebook page ranged from mild to harsh though thankfully there was also some pragmatic comment too. Though what would have rubbed salt into the wound of the unlucky folk would have been the sighting of the Cairdeas on the German eBay site which still allows the selling of alcohol (eBay as a general rule in other countries does not).

I do think, however, that Laphroaig’s online management via Facebook was quite good even in the face of some pretty unkind comments.  Other brands out there could take note of their handling of the situation in remaining calm, polite and respectful of people’s concerns and opinions.

Anyway, how was this different to the Cairdeas 2012 release?  Well last year when Laphroaig released the Cairdeas 2012 Edition they were already pre-packaged, limited to one per customer and no option to buy other expressions to pad out the postage.  This meant for people like myself on the other side of the planet in Australia, buying a £45 / $70AUD whisky meant the additional £17 / $27AUD postage represented 28% of the overall purchase of £62 / $97AUD (conversions done at June 2012 exchange rates). Ignoring currency vagaries from last year to this year, by buying a total of four bottles this time around the postage is down to 16% of the value saving me somewhere around $40.

So what is Laphroaig’s move next year for Cairdeas 2014? In my humble opinion the sensible option would be to go back to a release of one bottle per customer, but given the option to buy other expressions or even Laphroaig merchandise at the same time.  Not only does this give more people a shot at a limited release, I would actually think it makes better business sense for Laphroaig to allow additional purchases at the checkout.

As to the fate of my three bottles, well sorry but they won’t be for sale anywhere.  I plan to open one in the very near future, save one for a little while down the track, and the third will take pride of place in what I hope is the start of a collection of limited release whiskies.

Keep an eye out for a review:-)


Overeem Port Cask Matured Review

Vital Stats


Quite a dark whisky though for one that has no age statement (NAS) potentially a little too dark.  Particularly due to the fact that according to the Old Hobart Distillery website they received their license in 2005, making this at best an 8yo whisky (Ed: happy to be contradicted/educated).


The port cask comes through strong with this one, being quite rich and sweet.  Caramel and vanilla feature along with maybe some boiled lollies.  Not too much on the alcohol but still approach with respect and a splash of water.


Not exactly smooth, belying its possible youth, but certainly not rough either.  That deep sweetness of port coming through again on the mouth, some more caramels.


A lingering finish that doesn’t exactly lay its stamp on anything in particular.  Still the sweetness comes through to the end as it started at the beginning.


I’ll acknowledge that the Overeem has won its share of awards, but for me it’is a case of you can’t like every whisky.  It’s not bad, don’t get me wrong, but I do feel it is before its time. According to the Old Hobart Distillery website these whiskies have been aged in quarter cask barrels which help a young whisky along compared to full sized barrels where a decent maturity isn’t expected until 10, 12, 16+ years.  Old Hobart Distillery isn’t alone in this with the likes of Laphroaig also doing a quarter cask expression. The whisky distillers in Australia are still quite young, in relative terms (despite a history that started in the early 1800’s which dies before it truly got legs) and you do need to forgive what could be described as boutique distilleries for trying to get a foothold as soon as they can.


At a price point, there are certainly more mature whiskies to be had, however, if we don’t support the boutique distilleries then we may never see the true potential of what the great southern land has to offer. At least give a bottle of Overeem a run around the block, you may get more from it than I did.

Single Malt Whisky Club, and why I like to be a member.

I’m a member of the Single Malt Whisky Club of Australia, which is a mail order club. The way the Single Malt Whisky Club works is you sign up (free) and give your credit card details, then once a month an email is sent to all members detailing what whisky is about to be released and how much it will cost (typically around $80AUD).  Unless you send an email requesting *not* to be included in that month’s whisky, your card is charged and there is a surprise in the mail not too long after.

The reason why I like how this club works is that it is essentially forcing me to try a different whisky each month.  Normally when I am at the bottle shop I tend to stray to my old faithfuls like Lagavulin 16yo or Laphroaig Quarter Cask but through the club I don’t have any control over what I get for the monthly whisky, other than to request not to have a particular month.

In the more than two years I have been a member I have received some great whiskies – the three month exploration of BenRiach expressions was a treat, we’ve a number of IBs (Independent Bottlings) and even whisky from Australia and New Zealand (Kaiapoi from NZ was something very different and very enjoyable). A lot of the whisky I don’t see on typical Australian bottle-o shelves either, meaning I will get something I haven’t seen on a regular basis.

So this is a great way to explore whisky and further enhance the enjoyment through trying something new, expanding the palate and sometimes taking me out of my comfort zone. I believe this particular club would only be open to Australian residents, so non-Australians be sure to let me know of any similar working clubs you have and I will list them here.

Oh and not every whisky from the club has been a winner, just like not every whisky I have bought off the shelf myself has been a winner – so it is not a guarantee of getting what *I* will like, but I accept that as part of the challenge and the journey. My one regret, not taking more tasting notes earlier.

Disclosure: this is not an advertorial for the Single Malt Whisky Club of Australia, just a post by one very happy member.

Whisky Decanter

Whisky Decanter

Whisky DecanterDo you ever decant your whisky? I have a beautiful decanter that my wife got me for Christmas and into it I typically try to have on hand my “go to” whisky – Glen Moray 12yo.  I say go to as I feel price v’s performance this is a great little whisky to have on the shelf. Debate does go on about the oxidisation of whisky in bottles that are half empty thanks to the air v’s whisky volume, and I suspect that a decanter would potentially increase this due to the lack of a proper seal for the neck.  Definitely keen to hear other’s thoughts.

My name is Glenn and it's all for the love of a good dram