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Master of Malt Islay Single Malt

Whisky Advent Calendar - Day 1

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@talexanderReview by @talexander

1st Dec 2013


  • Nose
  • Taste
  • Finish
  • Balance
  • Overall

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  • Brand: Master of Malt
  • ABV: 40%

Today is December 1! Which means I can dive into Master of Malt's Whisky Advent Calendar. This is an annual release, through their "Drinks By The Dram" series, which provides 30mL minis of various whiskies to consumers. What a GREAT idea to put 24 of them together into an advent calendar! The packaging suggests this is the 2012 edition, but when I researched to find out the contents, the Day #1 I found online was different than the one that is here…so maybe there are different contents per box? Or they changed this one up? Who knows? Who cares? Exciting!

Master of Malt is a retailer that started in 1985, in bricks-and-mortar form; now they only do business online. They specialize in single malts but also sell other distilled spirits (in fact, they also have a Gin Advent Calendar). They are also an independent bottler with a variety of different expressions and ranges.

This dram is one of them: their "Secret Bottlings" range, with does not give the distillery name. It is an Islay single malt, with no age statement, and the only clue given is that has a "decidedly South Coast style…"

Which makes me ask the question - could there be anyone reading this who is not familiar with Islay? This west coast island is home to eight distilleries, and all (except Bunnahabhain) are known for the smoky, peaty taste profile. I visited Islay in May of this year, staying in Port Ellen and visiting Ardbeg, Lagavulin, Kilchoman and Bunnahabhain. It was an unforgettable experience; I could write about it (and Islay) for pages but I won't here...

The colour is a coppery gold. On the nose, hot tar, honey, coal smoke, freshly grated lemon peel, and gentle Islay peat. The kind of soap you'll find in an industrial factory bathroom. Antiseptic bandages, and definitely some vanilla there in the background. A good Islay nose but it doesn't fully commit, though a drop of water helps bring out more smoke.

On the palate - a little thin and disappointing. Creamy mouthfeel but very weak on the peat, and features little else; perhaps a touch of iodine. A bit of salt-and-pepper but it seems a little watery here which, inversely, is improved with a little water…but not by enough.

The finish is similarly lacking, bitter and very short. A tiny bit of spice and wood, slightly mouth drying, but not much else. Too bad this is the first dram out of the box! Of course, I know there are all sorts of varieties and excitements in store for me here, but I wish Day 1 were a little more interesting. For the record, I think it's very young Laphroaig (almost 100% sure) but hey, I could be wrong.


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