Dec 252014
 

Secret Spirits Advent Calendar Day 25 – December 25th143

1980 “The Samaroli” 33 y.o. (Samaroli)

Cask #34 Blended Malt Bourbon Cask

43% abv

Score:  92/100

 

A whisky from the Secret Spirits Advent Calendar First Edition.

And this, my friends, is where we part ways.  If you’ve been dramming your way alongside with your own advent calendar you’ll likely have some idea of what I mean when I say that I’m actually a little sad not to have a new bottle to open tomorrow.  That’s ok.  It’s been a fun ride.  I think we’ll finish off this series with a bit of a recap and an overall score for the calendar.  Watch for that in the next couple days.  In the meantime…let’s check out our final dram from behind door number 25.  A little something special for Christmas day.

This is a 33 year old blended malt called “The Samaroli”.  Blended malt meaning, of course, that this is a blend composed of only single malts, no grains in the mix to water down the character.  As I’m writing this (Christmas eve, 2014) I have no idea what casks have gone into this particular expression.  You may recall that Samaroli has another nifty blended malt called Evolution that we looked at a while back.  That whisky was built from some pretty spectacular casks from days gone by.  Seeing as Samaroli have declared 33 years to be the youngest cask in this vatting, I can only imagine that this one also contains some stunners from eons ago.

Either way…this is a beautiful whisky.  Rich and seductive.  A perfect conclusion to a wonderful journey.  Well done, Secret Spirits.

Nose:  Oh wow…fantastic nose.  Good nougat with fruit.  Dunnage.  Orange.  Some cherry and toffee.  Chewing gum, fruit candies and the sweetest melange of spices.  Lots of fruits, but more fruit salad than overtly tropical.  A lovely soft almond note.  Did I mention fruits?

Palate:  Sweet, syrupy fruits and a touch of licorice.  Orange and citrus pith.  Slight waxy with a nutty background.  Oak and grain are clear and clean as individual notes.  Surprisingly mouthcoating for a rather anemic 43% abv.  Dries out into a paper-like note.

Thoughts:  Reminds of a lovely old Bruichladdich I’ve tried.  Slightly better nose than palate (especially at the back end), but overall a very special whisky.  The nose here is probably the best in the calendar.

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 SingleMalting.com.

 

– Reviewed by:  Curt

– Photo:  Curt

 Posted by at 2:25 pm
Dec 032014
 

Secret Spirits Advent Calendar Day 3 – December 3rd013

1993 “Samaroli Spey” 21 y.o. (Samaroli)

Cask #1974 American Oak

45% abv

Score:  89.5/100

 

A whisky from the Secret Spirits Advent Calendar First Edition. 

Ok.  Not gonna lie.  I’m drinking ahead with my advent calendar.  I have to in order to ensure I can get these updates posted daily.  At this point I am through the first ten whiskies, and man…I gotta say…Samaroli are absolutely knocking my socks off.  These folks obviously have some killer casks at their disposal.  I simply cannot wait to get my hands on more of their releases.

With that out of my system, let’s dive in and try the wee bottle from behind door number three: a 21 year old malt called “Samaroli Spey”.

As I’m not doing any research on these whiskies while drinking my way through (it’s more fun just to simply enjoy the dram and publish some very raw notes), I had no clue which Speyside distillery this malt was from until I started pulling together this post over my morning coffee.  While copying the link to Jonathan’s review (see below) I noticed that he referred to this “Samaroli Spey” as a Cragganmore.  Ok.  Fun stuff.  Cragganmore is a Diageo holding, and not a distillery that has a particularly broad range of expressions on the market (primarily just a 12 y.o. and Distiller’s Edition…at least locally, that is).  I have tried a couple of other Cragganmore indies, and found ’em to be anything from ‘better than average’ to ‘very good’.  Having said that, let’s see what Samaroli can do with this typically rather tame spirit.

Nose:  Very soft.  Very nice.  Honey and nougat.  Sugar cookies.  A little bit of white chocolate.  Spicy bourbon notes.  Grapefruit and orange.  Pie crust.  Sponge cake.  All sorts of white or green fruits and nearly any ‘light’ and ‘soft’ dessert you can imagine.

Palate:  Wow.  Stunning delivery.  Just the ‘woosh’ of oily loveliness at first.  Coats everything.  It’s after that the flavours all expand outwards.  Flan.  Green grapes.  More of those bourbon spices and some wet wood notes.  Cinnamon.  Apple.  Fruit skins.  Not quite as awe-inspiring as the nose, but still delish.

Thoughts:  This whisky came from a very gentle barrel.  I sort of wonder what would have happened with a few more years in wood?  Either way…already a great whisky.

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 SingleMalting.com.

 

– Reviewed by:  Curt

– Photo:  Curt

 Posted by at 9:06 am
Nov 252014
 

Samaroli Evolution 20115837

45% abv

Score:  90/100

 

Arguably one of the most unique whiskies I’ve ever had the pleasure of making acquaintances with.

Evolution is a seemingly annual (or at least vintage batched) release from independent bottler Samaroli that is built on something like a Solera process (without actually being a solera vatting, you understand).  Apparently this great experiment began with the marriage of about twenty rare old single casks in a great wooden vat somewhere.  After a steeping period (my words, not theirs) of approximately six months the blended malt whisky was laid to rest in both bourbon and sherry barrels to further integrate and mature.

After this initial fateful meeting, these barrels would then be re-vatted from time to time, with a portion of the overall volume siphoned off for each new release.  Over the years, additional casks would occasionally find their way into this celestial spirit.  Effectively this process ensures the long-running and eternal DNA of the origin casks has some infinite influence in the ever-maturing malt.  Spectacular and singular.    

See the label in the bottle shot above?  Yes…those are indeed the component malts that make up this whisky.  1957 Mortlach; Springbank from 1959, 1962 and 1965; a Bruichladdich from 1964; both 1967 and 1970 Laphroaigs; a 1976 Ardbeg; some old Port Ellen; and Talisker; Longrow; Glenlivet; and on and on.  Wow.  Just…wow.

On the surface these would seem to be some pretty special barrels.  Reading those names and numbers is like a surreal trip through some of my sweetest whisky dreams.  The reality is, though, that every distillery fills dud casks from time to time, and I simply have to question whether or not some of these barrels may have been less than first tier wood.  I can’t imagine anyone in their right mind deciding to vat away some of these individual components, when single barrel releases would most likely net them astronomical profits above and beyond what the vatting does.  The only thing arguing against my inherent cynicism is that the end result – this Evolution expression – is a damn fine drink and shows no signs of second class whiskies being ‘blended away’ within. 

At the end of the day I’ll simply take my hats off to Samaroli for creating a fine and wonderfully unique expression, and one I’ll not soon forget. 

If this is what Samaroli is bringing to the market, I can’t wait to try more.

Nose:  Raisin.  A bit of smoke.  Old books, and pipe tobacco.  A touch of leather.  Grape juice.  Rye bread and spiced dough.  Dusty dunnage warehouse and a faint flinty-ness.  Licorice root.  Coffee.

Palate:  Almost tastes like a bit of wine-cask influence at work here, though I know that’s not the case.  Cough syrup.  Espresso.  Apples.  Dried apricot.  Old fruitcake or fruit leather.  Moth balls (WTF?!).  Slightly nutty and almost bitter finish.  Not even remotely unpleasant though.

Thoughts:  Shows definite indications of the advanced age of its component malts.  Just smells…’old’.  Very odd profile, but I like it.  Certainly a special whisky.  A great dram, but I do mourn ‘what could have been’ in the individual casks.

 

– Reviewed by:  Curt

– Photo:  Curt

 Posted by at 3:33 pm