“The Spirits Have Done It All In One Night.” – Charles Dickens (A Christmas Carol)
…and now, shamelessly, a quick advert…
Granted it is only mid October, but some things need be done sooner than later.
Whisky advent calendars have become all the rage of late, and it’s not hard to see why. One…the Christmas season is a merry one, and what better method of merry-making than a dram a day? Two…they inject a little bit of childhood excitement and anticipation into a sadly far-too-adult life. And three…they make for a bloody brilliant gift for the discerning individual (or snooty Scotch snob alike!).
Having said all that, I’m happy to be able to help a good mate of mine, Jonathan Bray, spread the word about a project he and his wife, Cindy, have launched. The first edition of the Secret Spirits Advent Calendar is a seriously impressive undertaking. From humble beginnings through to the eve of launch, this has been a fun endeavour to follow to fruition. I’ve gone back and forth with Jonathan through much of the journey, and still can’t help but be wowed by the end result.
The calendar is a 25 day outturn of drams from three of the whisky world’s leading independent bottlers: A.D. Rattray, Samaroli and Wemyss Malts. This means, of course, that the whiskies herein could be from any number of different Scottish distilleries. For those of us in Alberta, where nearly all (if not actually all) of these calendars will end up, this is a very special treat indeed, as bottlings by Samaroli and Wemyss are rare sightings around here and in a way we can almost consider this their formal entrance onto our local whisky stage.
Directly related to this grand arrival on the scene is what I personally see as the most exciting aspect of the calendar. Many of the whiskies you’ll try from within its compartments will be made available in a limited number of 700ml bottles (maximum of 60 bottles) from select retailers. Now this is smart marketing. I can imagine there will be more than a few gems in here where a sample simply won’t be enough. The theory is that each day through the month of December, when the whisky of the day is revealed on the website, the retailers with that day’s whisky will be featured.
The wee bottles snugged into each cushioned seat of this hefty Dickensian / Victorian gothic chest are all generous 50ml pours, and run the range through all of the major whisky producing regions of Scotland. A perfect introduction to the world of Scotch whisky for the aspiring single malter, or just an opportunity for the seasoned pro to take a ‘virtual jaunt’ through the rolling hills of Scotland. In short, if you’re keen on Scotch, this should be right up your alley.
As to the spirits themselves…well…
I’ve shared the word on A.D. Rattray releases (and the company itself) a few times here on the site. To put it simply, Mr. Morrison has some spectacular casks at his disposal, and duds are few and far between. Any chance to try a new expression launched under this banner is welcomed.
I only recently tasted a Samaroli release for the first time. A few weeks back, Jonathan came by for a visit and a few drams and brought along a bottle of Samaroli that has to be one of the most unique releases I’ve ever tried. I’ll save the specific details for a very near future review, but suffice it to say that the casks at the disposal of Samaroli seem to be of an astromonical quality.
And when it comes to Wemyss, I must admit that I’m as ignorant as can be, so will happily just join the rest of you on the ride and see what sort of stocks they possess.
(And no…I do not know exactly what whiskies are in the calendar. Pease don’t ask.)
The calendar was unquestionably a labour of love. The aesthetes out there will easily be won over by the top notch craftsmanship, as the attention to detail is astounding. But much like any other whisky, it’s what’s inside that counts. On that note…I ask anyone who does manage to score themselves one of these units to share their thoughts and nosing / tasting notes on the malts each day through December as they’re unveiled.
And finally…speaking of scoring one of these…
Do note that they probably won’t last long in stores. This first edition is limited to a mere 400 units. I’m pretty sure if you don’t get in early, you won’t get in at all.
So…for those of you for whom single malts are old hat, but who just want to mix it up with a surprise a night…this is a hell of a way to do so. And for those out there looking to begin their journey down the road to Scotch knowledge, there is simply no better way to work your way through the Highlands, Lowlands, Islands, Speyside and Islay than what amounts to a crash course in Scotch whisky.
Secret Spirits have set the bar high with this first edition calendar. I can’t imagine a better launch for this new brand. We’ll be looking forward to watching the company grow in the coming years.
The Secret Spirits Advent Calendars are confirmed to be hitting store shelves before the end of October.
Check out the Secret Spirits site for further details and a list of retailers who should have this available for purchase in the coming days.
…and for anyone who cares to sponsor me a calendar, I’m not too proud to accept early Christmas presents.
An early seasons greetings to you all and a wish for sweet dr(e)ams.
- Words & Photos: Curt