"It came without ribbons. It came without tags. It came without packages, boxes or bags!" The Grinch
As I awoke on December 25th in a hotel room far away from home (oh this could go off the rails right from the start!?) cuddled up next to Graham (Lassie redeems herself) I knew it was Christmas. The reality is, I really wasn't much in a festive mood this year at all so I was never more thankful to have it be "just another day". Graham surprised me this year with a getaway trip to Boston for a New England Patriots game. Blessed.
The great part of the trip was seeing a few whisky friends along the way: Darren McInnis (no relation), Bob Caron and the aunts (I LOVE those ladies) and a long list of whisky discoveries thanks to Bikram Singh at Norfolk Wine and Spirits. This man appreciates the whisky geek in all of us as he simply pointed us to "the room": Try whatever you like. We bought three great bottles as a result.
I've said it hundreds of times before, do not underestimate the power and kindness of the #whiskyfabric around us. It's magical, important, friendly and REAL. It does envelope me 365 days of the year and regardless of what some of the nay-sayers might think, for me it's better than celebrating the madness of one day we "Christians" call Christmas.
We packed up our suitcase, our whiskies and hit the road to home. 9 hours later, we were at Graham's parents for a very late turkey dinner. I was trying desperately to simply "live in the moment" and appreciate that we were opening gifts, spending time with family but in the back of my mind I knew I had to open door 25, nose/taste the whisky and write a blog. It was almost 10:00pm when my mother in law said: "So you two spending the night?", I looked at Graham and he stared at me. "Sure", I said... and I let go of it. The whisky will simply have to wait.
We got home at noon on boxing day. I literally just threw all of our stuff on the kitchen floor. Rushed down the stairs in my winter boots to open door 25. I knew what it was ahead of time as friends had posted in on twitter but to see the bottle with my own eyes was pretty cool. Up to the armchair for one last time, reached for a nosing glass and plopped myself down to enjoy the last dram of my amazing whisky advent calendar. I've quickly become a huge fan of Samaroli and will now actively seek out getting more of these bottles.
Samaroli 34 year old blended whisky, 40% ABV. Sherry Butt cask #18.
Color: Dark and old mahogany furniture.
Nose: Tobacco leaves, old cigar room and rich leather. A bit of unsweetened chocolate on the backdrop. Maybe a bit of Indians spices too.
Palate: Just as complex as the nose. Star of anise, rum soaked Christmas fruit cake (with orange peel, candied cherries) and just a hint of tannic flavour reminiscent of roasted coffee beans dipped in dark chocolate. GOOD LORD!?
Finish: Cointreau or some other orange liqueur I've tasted before. Overwhelmingly warm, satisfying orange compote with cloves. So mouthwatering, it really took me by surprise.
I sat in silence for the better part of an hour while Graham walked Miles. I looked over the last 25 days of pieces I wrote about each whisky. All so different, some very pleasing, some not so much for this Lassie. Through it all, it was one discovery after the next and the journey along the way seemed long yet at the same time short. Memories created, people remembered, moments shared, bruises (my elbow still hurts, hehe)... friendships, new whiskies, some old favourites and now it's all done. But is it, really?
I had almost pretty much stopped blogging this past summer. With family responsibilities taking on a new role in my life, it was really hard at first to come to terms where things might be headed. When Jonathan asked me to be the guest writer this year, I was thrown for a loop but at the same time excited at the thought of writing a blog every single day. I was never short on stories or adventures (that part wasn't a surprise)... The surprise was the whiskies and how people reacted to the blog rising like a phoenix.
Thank you, to all of you... It's been a weird sort of 2016, if not globally, for many of us who have lost someone we love, lost a job, struggled with mental illness or whatever else "we" went through. Just remember, this like the whiskies in our lives are simply moments.
Some are fantastic, some are weird, some are duds, some are downright ugly... We, in the end survive and move along. The advent calendar may be done, but the blog will not go silent. Thank you Jonathan for entrusting me with this gift and honour.
Oh my goodness I almost forgot Jonathan!!!
As 2016 comes to a close, I ponder at what lies ahead for many of us. Keep it real, love your family/friends and share your whiskies :)