Drinks By The Dram’s Scotch Whisky Advent Calendar

In this write-up, I want to take a moment and summarize my experience through the journey of 24 Scotch Whiskies, courtesy of Drinks By The Dram, which I purchased at the end of last year for about £150. This was my very first “Advent Calendar,” offering behind each numbered door a wax-sealed 30ml bottle of Scotch (single malts and blends). I’ve opened one at a time, in order, and paired it with something similar from my own collection, to see if it was something else that I’d be into. There were many successful pairings, but I’ll admit, a few have failed, either due to my own pour selection or a rushed tasting. Nevertheless, I have discovered many interesting things along the way, so let’s see what they are. But first, we need music! Now playing: CEEYSThe Grunewald Church Session.

There were plenty of new samplings on offer. Many of which I’ve heard of before, but never had the time to actually try out. As a result, some are now in my collection- GlenAllachie and Fettercairn are great examples. Or, one may also say, as a result, some will never be again – I didn’t like Ailsa Bay, Crabbie’s Yardhead, or Darkness 8 – and thereby this really saved me money. A few previously unknown and independent labels have turned up, like the Aerolite Lyndsay which I can’t wait to try again. A big shout out goes to That Boutique-y Whisky Company from whom I have now bought four single malts (and more sample tastings, including their own Advent Calendar!) Other drams I have tried a long time ago and was pretty happy to revisit in this context (I’ll even say that for Johnnie Walker’s Black Label).

I tallied up all the “winnings” – see a complete table below and my “Final Thoughts” on each particular pairing – and 9 out of 24 drams beat my own selections. I think that’s pretty good if you consider that the ones that “lost” have also brought some knowledge. Out of all the ones I’ve tried, 16 out of 24 were completely new to me – that’s more than half, and surely worth it. And finally, I’ll say that this indeed was so much fun! I really loved the journey through these drams, and yes, I’ve even bought more “calendars”, including Old & Rare, Premiums and last year’s boxes. I guess I am an avid fan, and you will see more musings on this matter. What’s next? I’ve got a lot more drams to log!

Whisky from the Advent CalendarWhisky paired againstNew dram to me?Won the Pairing?Final Thoughts and Comments
Aerolite Lyndsay 10Glenturret Triple WoodYesYesThis was my very first pairing, and I screwed it up by having two whiskies from the calendar go against each other.
Glenturret Triple WoodAerolite Lyndsay 10YesNoAs a result of the above, one stood out more than the other. I’ve ordered another sample of Aerolite Lyndsay to try it again. So overall, a success!
GlenAllachie 12GlenDronach 21YesNoI didn’t win, but I got curious about the distillery and as a result, bought GlenAllachie 32-year-old PX sherry puncheon.
Glengoyne 10Glen Garioch Founder’s ReserveYesYesAnother great find. I didn’t buy anything else from Glengoyne yet, but it is definitely on my radar now.
Balvenie 12 DoubleWoodBalvenie Single BarrelNoNoI’ve had this bottle many times, but it was nice to try it again since in the last few years I’ve “upgraded” on my Balvenie.
Glenfiddich 15 SoleraGlenfiddich 18 Small BatchYesNoHappy to have tried the Solera, which I wouldn’t have otherwise picked up. This will expand all my Glenfiddich horizons.
Johnnie Walker BlackJohnnie Walker Gold ReserveNoNoI have completely given up on Johnnie Walker Black, but this tasting made me want to revisit it in the context of other blends.
Ailsa Bay Sweet Smoke 1.2Compass Box Peat MonsterYesNoNot sure I liked this one at all. That being said I’m glad I tried it, as it saved me from purchasing a whole bottle.
Crabbie’s YardheadMonkey ShoulderYesNoSame as above. In fact, I was a bit disappointed in the overall presence of this inexpensive dram. Nevertheless, I’m glad I tried it.
Tamdhu 12Tamdhu 1997YesYesA surprising delivery from the distiller’s core range. As a result, I bought a few more Tamdhu bottles (albeit independent ones).
BR Speyside Blended MaltBR Perspective Series 1YesNoIt was fun to try a “cheaper” blended malt from one of my favourite independent bottlers, even if it didn’t make the final cut.
Glenfarclas 105Mortlach 13NoYesIt was exciting to revisit with Glenfarclas once again, and as a result, I have purchased more of their expressions.
GlenDronach 12Macallan 12 Sherry OakYesYesI’ve had plenty of GlenDronach before, but never the 12-year-old and was impressed how well it stood out.
Ledaig 10Ardbeg 10YesNoAlthough this Ledaig didn’t win against the Ardbeg, I have become even more curious about it and ordered more!
Johnnie Walker GreenGrant’s Distillery EditionYesNoBelieve it or not, I never had JW Green. And even though it lost, it was indeed an awesome pairing.
Highland Park 12Caol Ila 12NoYesI’ve had plenty of Highland Park in my life, but never in my collection. As a result, I bought the 18!
Benriach 12Cragganmore Distiller’s EditionYesYesI’ve never had Benriach, so this was another surprise. And although I have not purchased a bottle since, I’ll check out other expressions.
Dalmore 15Macallan Fine Oak 15NoNoI’ve never had this “middle” Dalmore. I may buy it, but it has definitely piqued my interest in independent bottlings.
Jura 18Highland Park 18NoYesAdmittedly this was a tie. But I was amazed to find an 18-year-old on this calendar. A treat indeed and so I bought another bottle!
Fettercairn 12Oban 12YesNoThis was a ‘failed’ tasting on my part. But as a result, I have tried more from Fettercairn and now own two [older] bottles.
Bowmore 15Ardbeg CorryvreckanNoNoIt didn’t really stand up against the Ardbeg, but since then I’ve purchased single barrels from Bowmore and am absolutely in love!
Macallan 12 Double CaskMacallan Edition No 2NoYesThe good ‘ol Macallan still stands out, and this bottle remains very accessible, even as the older expressions skyrocket.
Darkness 8Glenmorangie MilseanYesNoThis felt a little gimmicky and slightly disappointing towards the end of this journey, but I may give it another try.
TBWC Speyside #4 (Batch 1)BR Undisclosed SpeysideYesNoI’m quickly becoming a fan of TBWC, but this mystery single malt didn’t hold up. Nevertheless, I’m happy it appeared!

My top 5 selections from the entire batch of 24 Scotch Whiskies, two of which I’ve never had before.

  1. Jura 18
  2. Macallan 12 Double Cask
  3. Highland Park 12
  4. GlenDronach 12
  5. Tamdhu 12

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s