It’s that time of December when the time eases off. Lights turn on in the darkness. Fires flicker within. Perfect time for a whisky with a bit of a bite, and preferably smoke with a side of a kindle. My very first advent calendar arrives, and it’s late, just in time. I rip into the box and pull out the treats. But instead of just one, I’ll be drinking two drams, side by side with these words, and we’ll see where it goes… if it goes anywhere… But first, the music! Now playing: Hotel Neon – Moments.
First up is a mysterious bottle of Aerolite Lyndsay, which, I immediately learn [from the web] is an anagram for “ten-year-old Islay”. Yet the true name of this single malt is concealed, so let’s see if I’m able to guess it at all. It is grassy and light, from the nose to the taste, to the colour and finish. I feel that I know most of my Islays, so I’ll go with a guess of my favourite: Caol Ila. And I swear, if I’m right, we are off to a good start! With a bit of research, I don’t get any answers. The distillery remains undisclosed, while this single malt, bottled by The Character Of Islay Whisky Company (Atom Brands), gets my very happy thumbs up. It’s a 46% ABV of natural colour and non-chilled filtered liquid gold, which sells for only £40 a bottle [that is cheap in my books]. The maturation marriage is split between 70% from bourbon barrels and 25% from Spanish oak ex-sherry quarter casks [plus the 5% “mystery cask” to throw us off the scent]. And although it is not the beast of Laphroaig or the ashy ghost of Ardbeg [mayhaps a hint of Lagavulin], it is very much a drinkable dram and is totally up my alley. I’m a big fan of young Islay single casks from the many independent bottlers, so I’ll happily remain uninformed. Undisclosed. Not unhappy. Let’s move on!
I switch over to The Glenturret Triple Wood before I finish off the first dram [I go back and forth between two], and it’s waxy and sweet and a little bit dry. Not as syrupy as the PX finish on other expressions, but after that Islay, the caramel is clearly pronounced. It’s a triple wood, which means the whisky has rested in a trio of bourbon, European sherry, and American oak casks [not sure in what order, but most likely started in ex-bourbon first]. I’m going to go ahead and guess that it’s the same whisky – not a marriage of three different casks. There is that vanilla cherry and a bit of dried fruit. Maybe cake. Maybe holiday candy. There’s no statement of age, but it’s darker and is natural in colour. It’s a Highland single malt, bottled at 43% from Scotland’s [allegedly] oldest distillery, built in 1775, which is up in Crieff, about an hour north of Glasgow. Their 2021 release full range includes a 12-year-old, a 15, and a young “peat smoked” 10, which I’m very curious about. There is also the 25-year-old sold at a grand, but I found a bottle from 1990 by Mackillop’s Choice at cask strength for £230. I’m curious about the latter, but I wouldn’t mind a dram first. So do be sure to stay tuned for a revisit.
And to close off, I’ll admit that I am partial to the peat. I would love to taste the Glenturret in the context of other Highlands and compare side by side, maybe Lowlands as well, like an Auchentoshan or Glenkinchie. But I’m also very curious of the other two undisclosed single malts from The Character of Islay bottlings: the Grace Île, which is a 25-year-old; and the Fiona Macleod, a 33-year-old at 400 quid! Therefore, I’ve ordered a tasting set of all four from Glenturret, plus a set from Character Of Islay. I just hope that this adventure will not end up in thousands. Or maybe I just hope it will. And so, the Aerolite Lyndsay wins this round.