Golden Note

Last Sunday of 2013, and the sun slivered through heavy rain clouds now and then to cast a brief, golden light on an otherwise grey day.

We finished off our Whisky Advent Calendar with a 40-year-old Glenfarclas, a real treat. I’ve had a bit of a cold, so I can’t really say as much as I’d like to about the taste, but I just got too impatient to wait another week to try it.

A chandelier of olive oil jars, seen in Geneva Old Town. Photo: PK Read

A chandelier of olive oil jars, seen in Geneva Old Town.
Photo: PK Read

It’s rich, with a lot of butterscotch, resin and leather notes – which all blend into something I feel like I should be drinking while sitting in a fine leather armchair in my own private club, maybe next to a fireplace.

The Whisky Advent Calendar was a bit of a mixed bag this year, but it finished with a golden flourish.


Whisky Thanksgiving

We’ve had our Whisky Advent Calendar sitting on a shelf for weeks now, and it was a consolation to us yesterday. Yes, we have already entered the final month of a year that has flown by, but on the bright side, we got to open the first day of our whisky calendar.

The first red-waxed dram was a nice surprise, 17-year-old Balvenie Doublewood. As the 12-year-old Doublewood is one of our standards, we were happy to try its more aged sibling. Both are aged in oak casks before being switched to sherry casks. DSC01955

This is a lovely whisky, from the meady, sweet apple aroma to the smooth oak, fruit and spice taste. It’s got a lot of body and depth combined with that light Balvenie touch.

The bad news is, it’s quite expensive and not always easy to come by.

The good news is, although it’s excellent, we found that it drifted a wee bit much into sweet liqueur territory for our taste.

Maybe it’s because we just spent an expat Thanksgiving weekend gorging on pecan pie and pumpkin pie and our taste buds have been strangely affected, but we’ll be sticking with the more pedestrian 12-year-old version.

Between the Advent Calendar, and the fact that we got through our Thanksgiving in London without alerting the local fire department, it was a pretty good beginning to winter’s dawn.balvenie-doublewood-17-year-old-whisky

Seasonal Calendar

On an evening run last night, the sky was blazing while the meadows and paths held strange flying carpets of white. 13100060

Autumn is creeping in, leaving the first tentative misty patches at ground level before the great fogs of winter settle over the Lake Geneva basin. 13100056

Time to prepare for the upcoming season. And so I ordered my Whisky Advent Calendar 2013 for this year. There are two versions, ‘regular’ and ‘premium’. the-whisky-advent-calendar

Yes, I cheated and took a peek at the the contents of the ‘regular’ set of 24 little bottles, and was satisfied enough that I ordered that rather than the more expensive ‘premium’. After all, I’d like to try drams of whiskies I could conceivably afford to buy should I take a fancy to one. A friend ordered the ‘premium’, and I look forward to her detailed reports and recommendations.

But mostly, I look forward to sharing the 24 Advent drams with my husband over the course of a December that will hopefully be filled with more blazing skies than thick layers of fog.

I ordered my calendar here.  There is also a Gin Advent Calendar, as well.

A little autumn music for the season:

Whisky Advent Calendar – An inventory

Photo: PK Read

Photo: PK Read

I wanted to list the contents of our 2012 Whisky Advent Calendar by day. We purchased the calendar from Master of Malt, which explains the MoM listings. Whisky calendars are available from other suppliers and I imagine their drams contain other whiskies. My next attempt will be to place them on the Whisky Tasting Wheel.

1 Aberlour 18-Year-Old (Speyside)

2 Master of Malt 10-Year-Old Speyside Whisky Liqueur

3 The Glenlivet Archive 21-Year-Old (Speyside)

4 Glenfarclas 30-Year-Old (Speyside)

5 Dalmore 12-Year-Old (Alness Highlands)

6 Glengoyne 12-Year-Old 1998 Old Malt Cask (Douglas Laing) (Glasgow Lowlands)

7 Aultmore 5-Year-Old Single Cask (Master of Malt) (Speyside)

8 Yamazaki 18-Year-Old (Shimamoto, Osaka, Japan)

9 Glendronach 15-Year-Old Revival (Speyside)

10 Craigellachie 12-Year-Old 1999 Old Malt Cask (Douglas Laing) (Speyside)

11 Longmorn 16-Year-Old (Strathspey)

12 Glenglassaugh “The First Cask” (Highland/Speyside)

13 Aberlour a’Bunadh Batch 42 (Speyside)

14 Strathmill 12-Year-Old – Flora and Fauna (Speyside)

15 Auchentoshan 12-Year-Old (Glasgow Lowlands)

16 Allt a Bhainne 14-Year-Old 1996 Old Malt Cask (Douglas Laing) (Speyside)

17 Pikesville Straight Rye (Bardstown, Kentucky)

18 Bunnahabhain 12-Year-Old (Islay)

19 BenRaich Batch 1 (That Boutique-y Whisky Company) (Speyside)

20 Ballantines 17-Year-Old Scapa Edition

21 Compass Box – Hedonism

22 Ledaig 10-Year-Old (Island)

23 The Macallan 21-Year-Old Fine Oak (Speyside)

24 Master of Malt 50-Year-Old Speyside (3rd Edition)

It’s called being spoilt for choice.

Whisky Mo’ (Advent Calendar revisited)

A winter month (almost) of whiskiesPhoto: PK Read

A winter month (almost) of whiskies
Photo: PK Read

Over the month of last December, we had the pleasure of exploring an Advent calendar comprised completely of whisky. I never got around to talking about its contents, but I thought I’d remedy that oversight by starting with an image of all 24 whisky days. In the interests of full disclosure, I will admit that we did not finish all 24 bottles in the allotted amount of time (i.e. between the 1st and 24th of December). It took us a bit longer, although we were very good about unpacking each new bottle from its nest.

Next week I’ll list each whisky day by name.

This song deserves a better video, but I couldn’t get it out of my head today.

Advent at the End



Bodleian Advent Calendar

Bodleian Advent Calendar


Well, the twenty-four doors of the Bodleian advent calendar have all been opened. Not only is it Christmas Eve, but the optimistic calendar makers must not have been adherents of the most recent non-Apocalypse, because there were 24 days on the calendar, and not 21 to coincide with the now-defunct End of Days on Dec. 21st. As it is, the candles are on the tree, the gifts are wrapped and we are ready for our ragtag expat X-mas traditions taken from our various families, countries of residence, and personal preferences.

The Advent whisky calendar is still a work in progress – my partner in tasting was out of town again for a few days, so while all the little bottles have been successfully extracted from their calendar cubbyholes (all but one, that’s for this evening!), we are rather tardy on our whisky trials and log. Certainly by the end of the year, we will have completed the tasty drams.

The turkey is in the oven, the pie has been made, and in keeping with my theme of champagne and whisky, I used up a bottle of sparkling wine to moisten the dressing and stuffing. I mistakenly opened it one night thinking it was Champagne and it turned out to be a Crémant we usually use for party punch. Not quite up to sipping snuff, and no party this week in need of a bubbly aperitif, but a pity to let it go to waste. So we will find out what oyster mushroom, sausage and sparkling wine stuffing tastes like later today. It fizzed nicely when I poured it into the bowl for mixing, and if having fun whilst cooking adds to the flavor, then I expect some very good stuffing indeed!