Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Day 6, another independent bottler discovery for the Lassie - Highland 18 year old

Tuesday December 6 dawns, yet another cold morning here in eastern Canada. As I wipe the sleep from my eyes I can hear Graham in the kitchen making coffee. I'm really not in the mood to even get dressed let alone go to work today. I get up, stretching and yawning. My muse... the advent calendar calls me from the basement. It's like my whisky siren at the moment and it's been a great initiative as far as getting me moving and excited for the day ahead.

It snowed through the night so there is a clean white blanket of snow on everything. I consider myself super lucky to experience all four seasons where I live. I find it bizarre to think that people in places like Brazil or Texas don't have cold white winters? These are things that run through a Lassie's head at 6:25am.  Go figure...  ;)

The calendar sits on top of my piano bar, almost at eye level. I poke at door number 6 but it doesn't break open. I use two fingers this time and hit it much harder. This one is a stubborn one!? I reach forward with my two hands and grasp the advent calendar firmly with one hand while I push even harder with my fingers and finally it pops. "You need help down there" the voice rings from the kitchen. "Nope, got it!" I yell back. Reaching in, I pull out the usual 50ml sample but this time as I read the label I'm almost a little confused...

I have never heard of an independent bottler by the name of "Ainneamh"? As I skip back up the stairs and enter the kitchen Graham hands me my morning cup of coffee (I love rituals, don't you!) and I say: "Tell me something... "Have you ever heard of Ain-Nea-mh before", I bastardized that poor name like you wouldn't believe!?! Of course my lovely partner of 13 years stared back at me blankly. I try again: "Ainne-amh" I say trying to add inflection and pronunciation emphasis in there somewhere. "I'm not sure what you are even trying to ask me Johanne" he says as he takes a sip of his coffee. I pull whisky #6 out of my robe pocket and hand it to him. He reads it, smiles and hands it back. "No, and I'm not even going to try and pronounce that" he states as he makes his way back down to the bedroom. I follow but grab a Glencairn as I walk by the bookcase (Yes, I keep whisky glassware almost everywhere, as you never know when an emergency dram may be needed!) When I do make it back to our bed and get myself properly tucked into the blankets I google "Ainneamh" to see how it's pronounced and what it actually means. So according to a few sites it's pronounced Anny-oov and means Rare or scarce. It certainly wasn't an independent bottling company I had ever heard of but after a bit of digging it seems the company is owned by two chaps who don't release many whiskies but when they do they are something pretty special and unique. 

As it's become customary I opened the little sample and poured just a wee bit into my Glencairn. Maybe it's because my palate is so fresh or because I drink coffee first thing but this whisky is simply sublime with aromatic flavours at this point. Quickly get a fresh fruit salad with a dab of fresh whipped cream and a drizzle of honey. How mouthwatering is that!? Dipped my finger in it just as Graham stole the glass and stuck his nose in it. "Hmmm he says, pears.. fresh cut up pears". 

And just like that, it's time for me to get to work. Once again I find myself thinking about my wee dram back home and once again as I walk through the door at 4:30pm, I head straight to the bookcase and pour the dram into another glass. I kicked off my shoes, parked myself into my big armchair and lost myself in the dram as I watched Greg play ball hockey in his driveway. It's amazing how just nosing a whisky in silence can melt away the deadlines, the complaining customers and the grime from the day's work that is now solidly behind me. It's almost like an instant reset button for me some nights. Greg is now joined by 3 or 4 more boys from our street. All tall and gangly, awkward teenagers running around this sticks, yelling and jousting for position. And like every other whisky moment it hits me...  The whisky is my sample is the same age as Greg. It was likely distilled close to the year he was born. This is where I always marvel and think...  The whisky in my glass has been sitting in a cask for as long as my neighbour's boy has been around. That, in my mind always makes me realize that when we drink these lovely drams... we are truly drinking history. (To quote my friend Benoit Bailey). 

I close my eyes and take my time, after it this drams deserves a little time spent with it, don't you think ;)

Ainneamh Highland 18 Year Old, Refill Hogshead, 57.0% ABV

Colour: White gold, quite light indeed

Nose: Again with the fresh tropical salad, with a fresh dollop of whipped cream. But this time, I get a bit of a briny backdrop... Reminds me of Martine Nouet's "Fleur de Sel" seasoning that she keeps in her kitchen. It's a delicate salty smell. 

Palate: Honeyed, almost like biting into an actual honeycomb (childhood memories), it's creamy but not buttery, it has has a bit of a sour lemon candy backdrop (wasn't expecting that!?)

Finish: Slightly bizarre as it turned into a "meaty" dram. The finish surprised me so much that I had to try it a few times to make sure it was consistent for me. It's tangy like a sweet & sour pineapple sauce?! The kind I would put on Hawaiian meatballs. 

So this dram took me in a direction I was not expecting. It started out quite sublime, almost on the delicate side and finished with a BANG!? I really enjoyed this dram very much. While I finished making my notes, I noticed it was getting darker outside and the other boys were leaving to get home. I watched Greg awkwardly pick up his hockey gloves and the net and just as he turned around to grab the puck he saw me standing in our bay window. He smiled and waved. I instinctively raised my dram to him. He laughed and tipped his ball cap very graciously in my direction.

Maybe someday, when he's a little bit older I'll introduce him to whisky but for the time being, I'm content continuing my journey and my own personal discoveries. This one hit the spot and was another great dram. I'm on a roll, that's 6 in a row that were quite impressive and masterfully chosen for this advent calendar. The suspense builds and I'm doing a great job of not peaking. What... will tomorrow bring?

As always I refrain from reading what Jonathan posted but check out his website to get more information about this whisky and/or find out if it's available where you are:

From the sunset of my front yard, my wish to all of you: May your drams be as satisfying and lovely as mine...


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