12 Drams of Christmas - My Guesses

Tomatin 15 Year Old In December of 2012 a group of 11 "virtual friends" from the world of whisky sorted themselves out with a bottle of whisky for which they sent the samples to the other 10, these samples were then tasted blind and guesses emailed in to allow scoring, this was known between the group as #12dramsofxmas.

It had to be 12 though, so we talked nicely to Tomatin Distillery who provided us with the whisky which would be used for Day 1, the Tomatin 15 Year Old.

Some of these whiskies i'd tried before, others i had not, so it was a real mix of stuff that was going on and some top class drams to be sampled along the way. I considered posting up individual reviews of each of these whiskies but realistically i'd tried a couple before and my notes werent the strongest ones i've ever written so instead i'm going to write this single blog article about them.

Dram 1

Day 1 was the Tomatin 15 Year Old, a seperate review exists of this whisky here, but i'm going to repeat the information for completeness.

Bottle Name Tomatin 15 Year Old
Bottler Tomatin
Distiller Tomatin
Age* 15
ABV 43%
Noselots of vanilla, apple and pear juice, some oaky woody notes and ryvita biscuits, a wee drop orange peel lurking in there too
Tasteryvita biscuits covered in manuka honey with lemon and lime citrus and clementine
Finisha little bit drying and very malty

Glengoyne Burnfoot Dram 2

Day 2 was provided to us by David Carson (@TIA568B) from the Glenuntitled.com blog.

I've swapped samples with David a number of times and have an idea of the types of whiskies, and distilleries, which he likes and this influenced a part of my guess on this. Now like the rest of thee i am going to show my guesses and how bad they were so no laughing.

On the basis of knowing David enjoys his trips to Cambelltown, and in particular the Springbank distillery, i went with the Springbank 10 Year Old at 54%, i was quite a bit wrong and David's actual choice was a brilliant Highland whisky. This was my first time trying the Glengoyne Burnfoot and it's one i would seek out in future.

Bottle Name Glengoyne Burnfoot (Travel Retail)
Bottler Glengoyne
Distiller Glengoyne
Age* NAS
ABV 40%
Nose Instantly thinking a touch of wine, very malty and cerealy, slightly fruity, very interesting nose
Tastehas a hint of wine in there im almost certain, really quite fruity compeletely different to the nose
Finishgrows and grows, don't think it's hugely strong but has a kick.

Glenkeir Treasures Dram 3

Day 3's dram was provided by Adrian Barnett (@mynameisgone) and was a really interesting one for me.

I've had this whisky before, in fact i've even reviewed this whisky before (see here for the review) but i got a completely different experience from it this time around.

In my first review there was no smoke, none at all, so i don't know where it comes from in this sample from Adrian. The glenkeir treasures are all casked in store by the Whisky Shop so part of me wonders if there was previously a peated whisky in the cask prior to the Deanston.

Anyways my guess for this was the brilliant Benriach Curiositas Peated Whisky.

Bottle Name Deanston 12 Year Old (The Whisky Shop Glenkeir Treasures)
Bottler The Whisky Shop
Distiller Deanston
Age* 12
ABV 40%
Nose peat Smoke, but light and fresh isnt too Islay like, has a light freshness, almost floral underneath
Tastesweet and with a little smoke on it there, very speysidey in nature i think.
Finishlight and fresh, with a touch of lasting smoke

Linkwood 15 Year Old Gordon and macphail Dram 4

Day 4 was a new dram for me and was provided by Sandy Gould (@sjjgo).

This was the first time i'd tried a dram from this Speyside distillery and i was very impressed with what i had, the linkwood is a very nice dram indeed.

Somehow i thought this was quite familiar to me and so i went for the brilliant Bruichladdich Sherry Classic Fusion as i felt it had similar qualities, with the Sherried fruit and floral sweetness underlying, oh how wrong i was.

Bottle Name Linkwood 15 Year Old (Gordon and Macphail)
Bottler Gordon and Macphail
Distiller Linkwood
Age* 15
ABV 43%
Nose sherry comes first, with a lightness fresh and dewy grass undertone, fruity and a little mentholy
Tastei recognise this but can't put my finger on what it is, very familiar to me though, sherry and chocolate, almost like belgian chocolate covered sherried raisins.
Finishwarming but not too alcoholic.

Caol Ila 12 Year Old Unpeated (2010 Release) Dram 5

Day 5 was providd by Rod Graham (@rodbodtoo) who writes about whisky at DrinkBritain and has his own SmellTheCork blog.

This cracker of a whisky really threw a few people, although one person actually got the distillery correct, the major issue here being that the whisky was unpeated yet it still maintained a fairly potent amount of peat.

My own rubbish guess for this dram was an Ardbeg 15 Year Old single cask, right island but wrong distillery.

Bottle Name Caol Ila 12 Year Old Unpeated (2010 Release)
Bottler Caol Ila
Distiller Caol Ila
Age* 12
ABV 57.6%
Nose light and wispy peat smoke, some freshness underlying it there also, almost like a peated speysider. slightly spicy
TasteHuge smoke and peppery kick, like eating a very good cigar, sweetness there too and lots of spicy pepper
FinishFoly Huck this has got warmth to it, it grows and grows

Glen Keith 10 Year Old (Pre 1983 Bottling) Dram 6

Day 6's rare dram came from Andrew Purslow (@ardbaggie) and this was the first dram to really stump almost everyone with very little scores being allocated from this dram.

This Glen Keith 10 Year Old was bottled before 1983 and is only now available from auction or if you're very lucky from one of the specialist retailers who has managed to pick up a bottle.

I was literally miles away with this one as i went for the Irish Redbreast 12 year old from the Midleton distillery, certainly a far stretch to what it actually was.

Bottle Name Glen Keith 10 Year Old (Pre 1983 Bottling)
Bottler Glen Keith
Distiller Glen Keith
Age* 10
ABV 43%
Nose light and fresh initial nose, a touch floral maybe even grain like in nature has that dewy note in there
Tastequite malty but very smooth, malty, honey, and a little floral
Finishhas quite a nice warming honied finish

Benriach 16 year old Cask Strength and Carry on Dram 7

Day 7 was provided by Jonathon Webb (@dvdbloke) and is yet another utter cracker of a dram.

I have since reviewed this for this site here after receiving another sample but i actually used my original notes from the #12dramsofxmas as the notes on this review.

My guess was utterly rediculous and was Glendronach 15 Year Old, i certainly wasnt scoring many points in this.

Bottle Name Benriach 16 Year Old, cask Strength and Carry On
Bottler caskstrength.net
Distiller Benriach
Age* 16
ABV 55.2%
Nose definite sherried notes, some dried fruit with tobacco and ground coffee, treacle scones and old fashioned caramel chews, some bourbon notes also with a touch of vanilla custard in there too
Tastesome sweet jam and bitter coffee mixed with vanilla pods and dried fruit, more treacle scones
Finishsweet and lasting treacle

Auchentoshanan Valinch 2012 Dram 8

Day 8 was my dram and i had supplied the lovely Auchentoshan Valinch 2012 (Festial Bottling).

I originally thought that this would be an easy guess for most and that there would be a lot of people would easily guess it as a lowland and head to Auchentoshan so scores would be high. I could not have been more wrong, in fact the lowest scores were from this one it seemed to confuse most of the guessers.

A range of guesses included Bruichladdich, Aberlour, Craigellachie and even some Wemyss Malts blends but no-one came close at all.

Bottle Name Auchentoshan Valinch 2012 (Festival bottling 65/200)
Bottler Auchentoshan
Distiller Auchentoshan
Age* NAS
ABV 57.2%
Nose oaky sweet vanilla custard and caramel topping acetone hints and slight dewy grass notes
Tastecreamy vanilla and oak with crunchy creme brule
Finishmedium length lovely and creamy

Sainsburys Taste The Difference Islay Dram 9

Day 9 came courtesy of Danny Williamson (@dramstats) and the Dramstats

Danny had decided to pop in this whisky after hearing lots of good things about it, including a great review in the 2013 Whisky Bible and i would have to agree that it's a pretty fantastic dram.

My guess for this was the Big Peat by Douglas Laing but once again i was wrong.

Bottle Name Sainsburys Taste the Difference 12 Year Old Islay Single Malt
Bottler Sainsburys
Distiller Sainsburys
Age* 12
ABV 40%
Nose Instantly quite peaty, bbq spare ribs and gentle undertones of cream and fruit
Tastesweetness and peat, not huge amounts of peat smoke but it's there in a bbq form, and sweet creamyness
Finish Sweet and Smoky

Bowmore 12 Year Old Dram 10

Day 10 came all the way from the Netherlands and Femke Tijtsma Sijtsma (@Girl_Whisky) from the WhiskyGirl blog

This one threw me and i was surprised to find it was the lovely Bowmore 12 Year Old. I didnt get the peaty, meaty notes i normally expect from Bowmore although thinking back to the last time i had Bowmore 12 it was a similar shock at not being as peaty as i was expecting.

My guess for this was based as much on it being from Femke than anything else as i went for the Swedish whisky Mackmyra

Bottle Name Bowmore 12 Year Old
Bottler Bowmore
Distiller Bowmore
Age* 12
ABV 40%
Nose quite subtle but has a spicy, peppery note, malty and cerealy, a touch of malt loaf
Tastequite woody and peppery, in fact hugely peppery and spicy, lovely stuff
Finish a touch of smoke and a lick of peppery spice

Glenturret 10 Year Old Dram 11

Day 11 is from Steve Prentice (@steveprentice) of Somerset Whisky Blog.

I'm ashamed, i should have got this one, i know it, in fact i've had a couple of bottles of this in the past, i knew it was familiar but i just couldn't nail down what it was. I've even reviewed it previously here.

So what was my guess, well it was the Balblair 10 Year Old

Bottle Name Glenturret 10 Year Old
Bottler Glenturret
Distiller Glenturret
Age* 10
ABV 40%
Nose very familiar nose but can't place it, a touch of acetone and oak mix with some sweetness and cereal notes
Tasteoaky and cerealy, lots of malt loaf and digestive biscuits
Finish warming and oaky

Balcones Dram 12

Day 12 is a cracker of a dram from Sean Foushee (@WhiskyMarks) and the WhiskyMarks blog

Sean is located out in Texas and managed to get this dram from Chip at Balcones. They had wandered around the distillery warehouse and came across this cask which chip bottled a single bottle of for Sean. The rest of the cask is still to be bottled so this dram is technically never goign to be the same and a complete one off

I don't really know anything about American whiskey so i plumped for one i want to try and Jim Beam Red Stag as i know it has cherry flavours.

Bottle Name Balcones Blue Corn Whiskey (One Off)
Bottler Balcones
Distiller Balcones
Age* Less than 1 year
ABV 63%
Nose huge fruity notes, cherries especially, strawberry jam and sweet wine
Tasteoak and definite wood influence, lots of sweetness and a great cherry and jam flavour
Finish warming and fruity, with oak influence

Overall a fantastic experience and some utterly brilliant drams, i can't wait til the next time.

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