Dec 222014

Secret Spirits Advent Calendar Day 22 – December 22nd058

“Samaroli Sherry” 22 y.o. (Samaroli)

Cask #4 Sherry

40% abv

Score:  79/100


A whisky from the Secret Spirits Advent Calendar First Edition.

This is Glen Scotia.  I know that from seeing Jonathan’s post at Single Malting.  Otherwise, there’s not a hope in hell I’d guess this distillery even if you gave me 80 kicks at the can.  This is like literally no Glen Scotia I’ve ever encountered.  A true WTF? malt if ever there was one.

Glen Scotia is one of only three operational distilleries in the lovely little borough of Campbeltown.  The distillery neighbours nearby Springbank, but generally produces a much more contemporarily styled malt than Campbeltown’s darlings.  I should note here though, that recent Glen Scotia OBs are quirky at best and actually quite foul at their worst.  Additionally, the new packaging is even more unnerving than some of the bottle contents.

This malt, however, is actually closer to a Springbank than anything I’ve ever seen from Glen Scotia.  It’s a heavier dram (despite the anemic bottling strength) than expected, but in mostly the wrong ways.  Not bad, per se, but also not in tune with my palatal preferences.

I’m not sure from whom Glen Scotia may be sourcing their sherry butts, but I can’t say I’m impressed (at least with this one).  Single casks should be special.  This cask should not likely have been bottled as a single.  I kinda think Samaroli should have found a way to marry this one away somehow.  They’ve shown exceptional taste in so many of their releases for this calendar.  This selection is questionable.

Nose:  Meaty sherry.  Mince tarts.  Old leather, well-oiled and warmed.  Pith.  Polish and wax.  Very, very dried fruits.  Not very lively fruits.  Heavy oily notes.  All spice and faded old cigar boxes.  Figs.  Caramel.

Palate:  Thin and watery.  Leather again.  Figs and currents and raisins and such.  Is that it for fruit?  Quite dry and flinty.  Wet woods.  Almost a fishy note.  Wonder if this came out earlier, would it have been better?

Thoughts:  Not my favorite style of sherried malt.  Manzanilla perhaps?  Lacks the sweetness I’d hoped for.

Bonus:  My mate, Jonathan, and I are gonna blog on these drams side by side through the season.  Here’s a link to his notes on the same whisky at


– Reviewed by:  Curt

– Photo:  Curt

 Posted by at 10:51 pm
Aug 072013

Glen Scotia 16 y.o.020

46% abv

Score:  75.5/100


Is the Glen Scotia distillery producing gin in between whisky runs?  Seriously.  I ask this not to be facetious, but because I am truly at a loss with this whisky.  I have never encountered a profile as obtuse and irreconcilable as this 16 year old single malt from Campbeltown.

Before saying any more, let’s get it out front:  this whisky noses and tastes like it was distilled right after a batch of gin, with no cleansing of the spirit still in between runs.  All of those bold juniper notes so prevalent in gin are weighing this one down like a fat kid on a seesaw.  There is no counterbalance here.  It’s sharp…it’s certainly unique…and it’s absolutely not my cup of tea.  (Or whisky)

Don’t get me wrong.  I’m not saying this is bad.  I’m simply saying it is bad for me.  Splitting hairs maybe, but you never know what others will like.  This is just not all that ‘malt whisky’-ish to me.  More like some kinda funky hybrid.  Perhaps I’m being a little obtuse myself now, but this one veers a little too far from what I know and imagine Scotch to be.

Anyway…some credit where credit is due.  This release is part of the revamped Glen Scotia range, weighing in at a healthier 46% abv and bearing a bold ‘non-chill-filtered’ tag front and center on the packaging.  Right direction, guys.  We thank you for it. 

And finally…speaking of packaging…wow…a mention for some of the most gawdawful packaging I’ve ever see.  This nasty opaque high-gloss tin and bottle, featuring the glowering mug of a shaggy-ass long haired Highland Cow, should be cause to reevaluate the output of your marketing department.  I can’t stress enough how tacky this looks on a shelf next to the rather elegant and austere packaging of most single malt whiskies.  Good thing I’m not one of those that feel packaging plays any part in the actual scoring of a malt. 

Anyway…the bottles in this range, stretching from 10-21 years, each feature this same image, but with a different color scheme for each expression, supposedly showing the beast under variations of the Northern Lights.  Ok, then.  Clever…I guess.

Nose:  Heavy, heavy botanical notes, primarily juniper (but citrus, anise and maybe cardamom too).  Very gin-like.  Vanilla oakiness.  Some fresh pepper tingle.  Lemon zest.  Freshly squeezed orange juice.  Dusty grain.  Cheap chocolate.  Salty greens.

Palate:  Lemon and barley.  Again…very gin-like.  Threads of chocolate.  There’s something slightly bitter and over-toasted here too.  Fades on oak, grain and a dry banana pith note.

I’d like to say that it’s better than the notes above make it out to be, but…it’s not.


– Reviewed by:  Curt

– Photo:  Curt

 Posted by at 10:36 am