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Kensington Wine Market's 2023 Whisky Calendar UBER EDITION Day 25 - SMWS 76.151 - Cloves studded in honey-glazed ham

Posted on February 8, 2024

by Evan

Here we are on Door and Day number 25 in the 2023 KWM UBER Whisky Calendar! This is the last dram we get to enjoy together from the now torn-apart Whisky Calendar box. It has been a lot of fun to write these posts up and do the tasting notes for this and the other 2023 KWM Whisky Calendar. All total, this makes 50 blog posts with 50 tasting notes over the past 25 days, and about 36,000 words in total between the two. Some of those words even made sense when I managed to combine them correctly in the form of a sentence! I think.

Here is my personal top 5 list from the 2023 KWM UBER Whisky Calendar:

5 - SMWS 42.73 Quiet Confidence from Day 1

4 - Glenfarclas Family Cask 1990 S22 from Day 9

3 - Port Askaig 28 Yr Islay Single Malt from Day 5

2 - Boutique-y Millstone 25 Year from Day 4

1 - Whisky Trail Silhouette Carsebridge 1973 from Day 16

I could easily make a long list of honourable mentions if I went further into detail on the UBER Edition of the KWM Whisky Calendar. For me, the UBER Edition was stuffed with bottles I had never tasted before, with a few drams that I was very happy to revisit along the way. Hopefully, most of these drams were new for you as well, and it has allowed you to discover some new favourite styles or distilleries to keep an eye out for. I would love to hear what your own personal favourites are, and even which ones didn’t hold up to scrutiny if you want to share that! Please let me know in person or via email. I always enjoy talking about whisky!

Now, let's take a look at the final dram in the 2023 KWM UBER Whisky Calendar: Your bottle should read:

SMWS 76.151 - Cloves studded in honey-glazed ham – 30 Year Old

What does the 76.151 mean? Is this a mystery malt? We have had a one of those in the 2023 KWM UBER Whisky Calendar – including the Boutique-y 24 Year Old Bourbon from Day 18 (which just missed my top 5 in the calendar) and back on Day Five with the Port Askaig 28-Year-Old. However, the numbers on an SMWS bottle do refer to which distillery it comes from, if you know the codification of it.

First comes the 76. That means that this bottle comes from the 76th Distillery that the SMWS ever bottled. The .151 means that it is the 151st cask bottled by the SMWS from Distillery 76.

Both the Distillery Numbers and Cask Numbers are chronological, and reference the order in which they first appeared in an SMWS bottle in. This means that the first Distillery bottled is still referred to as 1.XXX, the second Distillery ever bottled is still referred to as 2.XXX, and so on down the line. For the SMWS, Distillery 1 is Glenfarclas, Distillery 2 is Glenlivet, Distillery 3 is Bowmore, and so on. Distillery 76, which is what the bottle we will taste today is from, is Mortlach.

To summarize: 76.1...

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KWM 2023 Whisky Calendar Blog Day 25 - G&M Linkwood 25

Posted on December 25, 2023

by Evan

We made it folks! If you went in order on the 2023 KWM Whisky Calendar, this is the final dram in the kit. If you are following along in December and it is the 25th, then Merry Christmas!

As is tradition: here is my personal top 5 list from this year’s calendar:

5 – Maligne Lake Tekarra from Day 16

4 – Bowmore 18 Year Old from Day 23

3 – Compass Box Orchard House from Day 6

2 – Arran 2013 KWM Cask from Day 9

1 – SMOS Speyside 25-Year-Old from Day 19

This was a tough list to make,  The Malinge Lake just edged out the Boutique-y Teaniich from Day 2 for me thanks to its surprising flavour and the excitement of tasting something completely new. Old Forester 1920 would slide in just behind that. I could go and list my other favourites, but I would rather hear what you have to say. Let me know what your faves are, and your least favourites and why for that matter, if we have the opportunity to chat in person or via email!

Now, let's check out our final dram from the 2023 Whisky Calendar!

For the first time in quite a few years, we are not ending the KWM Whisky Calendar with an SMWS bottle. Instead, we had that yesterday for Christmas Eve. This year, our dram is the Gordon & MacPhail Distillery Label Linkwood 25-Year-Old.

Linkwood Distillery’s single malt whisky production is used mostly in blends and does not have much in the way of official releases. Sound familiar? We talked about Dailuaine Distillery from Day 22 in the same manner. And Strathmill Distillery on Day 13. Same with Teaninich Distillery, which we covered back on Day Two. Also, Benrinnes Distillery, from the SMWS bottle we tasted yesterday.

What do those four distilleries have in common with Linkwood Distillery? They all have the same owner, of course! Diageo is the company behind this travesty, hiding the Single Malt Scotch of these four distilleries from our noses and palates. HOW DARE THEY!

Diageo, of course, has their reasons for this. Whether we agree with them or not. All four distilleries pay key roles in the Blended Scotch that Diageo produces. Linkwood features prominently in the Johnnie Walker range as well as the company’s White Horse blend. It isn’t just Diageo hoarding it for blends either – Linkwood is prized by blenders in general thanks to its light, delicate, floral, grassy, and orchard fruit driven style.

Linkwood Distillery was founded in 1821. In 1872 the distillery was completely rebuilt, and nearly a century later in 1971 a second distillery was buil alongside the first. The second distillery was dubbed Linkwood B. In 1985, the old Linkwood A was closed, leaving Linkwood B to be the primary Linkwood Distillery. The older Linkwood A was used for production for a few m...

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Kensington Wine Market's 2023 Whisky Calendar UBER EDITION Day 24 - Whisky Sponge Glen Keith 1993

Posted on December 24, 2023

by Evan

Okay, stop me if you have heard this before: The distillery we are tasting whisky from today has had a tumultuous history and is owned by a very large company that uses its single malt whisky production almost exclusively for blends.

That doesn’t tell the entire story of Glen Keith, though. It even does it a bit of disservice, because Glen Keith Distillery was not built with consistency in mind. The Glen Keith Distillery was built in the late 1950s by Seagram Distillers, which was run by a Canadian named Samuel Bronfman. Samuel was the son of immigrants from Russia who settled in Brandon, Manitoba. Samuel and eventually his sons' lineage had a great deal of influence over the whisky world for much of the 20th Century. The Bronfman Family itself has also been behind quite a few long-lasting philanthropic endeavours thanks to the money made in whisky, spirits, and other industries.

While Glen Keith was built primarily to be a fully operational distillery, it was also set up to be a bit of a skunkworks or test lab, meant to experiment with different styles and batches of distillation. For about a decade, it actually made both double-distilled and triple-distilled whisky in different runs. It also did occasional runs of peated whisky, which were named Craigduff and Glenisla.

Glen Keith was the first new distillery to be put into operation in the Speyside region in over 60 years when it started production in 1958. The distillery is located a literal stones-throw away Strathisla Distillery, if you have a good arm and the wind direction offers some help. Strathmill Distillery resides nearby as well. The distillery operated consistently for about the first 40 years of its life but was mothballed in 1999. It was then sold to current owners Pernod Ricard in 2001, who eventually revamped and reopened the distillery twelve years later in 2013.

Most of Glen Keith’s whisky production was and is earmarked for blends from its inception, and it was used predominantly in Chivas Regal, Passport and 100 Pipers. As a blend, Chivas Regal is very well known. 100 Pipers may not be as well known in Canada, but the brand is massive in Asia and parts of Central and South America. It is the number one-selling Blended Scotch Whisky in India, which is where most if not all of it is bottled.

Official bottlings of Glen Keith are currently non-existent and have been a rarity throughout its operational history. It can be found occasionally through independent bottlers, like this 1993 Glen Keith from Whisky Sponge. Very, very rarely there are bottlings of peated Glen Keith under the Craigduff or Glenisla names crop up as well, but those are becoming even fewer and further between as time goes on.

Shall we give the penultimate dram in the 2023 KMM UBER Whisky Calendar a go?


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KWM 2023 Whisky Calendar Blog Day 24 - SMWS 36.209 - WILL YOU JOIN THE WORM TUB CLUB?

Posted on January 6, 2024

By Evan

We are going to do things a little differently for this blog post. We are going to start with the bottle and my tasting notes. Then, I will give you more information on the distillery, and the company behind the bottling we are tasting. Here we go!

Scotch Malt Whisky Society 36.209 - WILL YOU JOIN THE WORM TUB CLUB?

SMWS Tasting Note

“The scent immediately put a smile on our faces with aromas of tobacco, prunes, cinnamon, nutmeg, cherry pie and sticky toffee pudding – do we need to go on? The palate reminded one Panellist of roasted duck with red wine cabbage and potato dumplings while others detected burnt wood, mixed nuts and cooked amarena cherries. After dilution, the list of aromas carried on – beeswax, toffee, mulled wine, stewed fresh porcini mushrooms, boysenberry chutney and orange pomander. To taste, we found that typical glycerine flavour of old sherry, slightly sweet and responsible for roundness and smoothness. Will you join the worm tub club? Following 11 years in an ex-bourbon hogshead, we transferred this whisky into a 1st fill Spanish oak oloroso hogshead.”

Evan’s Tasting Note

Nose: Dates, plums, dried blueberries, Beef bouillon cubes, battered and deep-fried onion rings, Dutch Licorice, celery salt and celery root, a touch of miso broth, and a hint of hickory.

Palate: Sweet and savoury clash with notes of pralines, salty and oily Marcona almonds, walnut liqueur, Hoisin sauce, more Dutch licorice, Werther's Original candies, and milk chocolate coated raisins.

Finish: Richly sherried and slightly drying with plenty of nuts, chocolate and dried fruit notes sticking around.

Comment: Some people get scared away when they see savoury notes mentioned in a sherried whisky. You need to taste this one, though, because there is nothing to be afraid of here! This is decadent and rich and wonderfully put together; a Benrinnes that shows big sherry yet still has the distillery character in there as well.

If you are reading this on or around December 25th, 2023 – then here is the bad news with this whisky:

You do have to be an SMWS Member to purchase it.
The full-sized bottles won’t be released until the first SMWS Outturn of next year, in January 2024.

That is a whole year from now! Or, about a week and a half from December 25th, 2023. So, it's not that bad.

Are you a Scotch Malt Whisky Society Member? If not, and you need information on them, read on!

About the Scotch Malt Whisky Society

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 cas...

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Kensington Wine Market's 2023 Whisky Calendar UBER EDITION Day 23 - G&M Bladnoch 1988 KWM Cask

Posted on December 23, 2023

by Evan

Well, now. Here is another distillery I don’t believe I have written about yet. Bladnoch!

Bladnoch is a distillery in the Lowlands, nearly as far south in Scotland as you can get. It resides in the village of Bladnoch in Wigtownshire, on the north side of the River Bladnoch. It is just across the B7005 road, west of the Bladnoch Inn, and just north of the Bladnoch Bridge. Bladnoch. Bladnoch. Bladnoch. Its nearest distillery neighbour is likely Crafty Distillery, which does not yet have a whisky but does make Hills & Harbour Gin. Crafty is about a 10 minute drive to north along the A714.

If you continue north on the A714 for another 45 minutes or so, you will come across the town of Girvan, which is home the Ailsa Bay Single Malt and Girvan Single Grain Distilleries, which are part of Wiliam Grant & Sons. If you head east from Bladnoch along the A75 for about an hour and a half, you will get to Annandale Distillery, which started up in its current iteration in 2014.

Bladnoch was founded in 1817 by John and Thomas McClelland on what was at that time their farm. It remained in the hands of the McClelland family until 1905, then production ceased for 6 years until it was purchased by Irish Whisky company Dunville & Co, which did not spell whisky with an ‘e’ on their labels like most other Irish Whiskey brands did. That company operated Bladnoch sporadically for the following 25 or so years until 1937, when Dunville & Co. was shut down and liquidated.

It was then purchased by another Irish company called Ross & Coulter, who eagerly leaned into the liquidation concept by dismantling and selling off Bladnoch’s distilling equipment and all of its mature whisky stock. Bladnoch “distillery” was tossed around to various owners like a hot potato after this fire sale before finally reopening in 1956. Things were looking good for a decade and in 1966 production was increased thanks to new stills being added. Ownership of Bladnoch continued to change hands about every decade or so until 1993, when the then-owners United Distillers mothballed the distillery. 1993 is the year another Lowland Distillery was shut down; that was Rosebank Distillery in Falkirk.

In 1994, Two Northern Irish brothers with the last name of Armstrong purchased the Bladnoch Distillery and the land it was on; but the purchase came with the stipulation that the site could not be used to make whisky. This curious term of sale stood for six years until the brothers finally convinced Diageo (the new name for United Distillers) to let them distill up to 100,000 litres of spirit annually. Limited production commenced near the end of the year 2000 and continued sporadically until around 2010 when Bladnoch was once more mothballed.

In 2015 the Bladnoch Distillery was purchased by David Prior, a businessman from Austr...

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