Spirited News 07/2019: A Fine Christmas Malt

We take a short break from gin today for this festive malt. Every year The Whisky Exchange bottles a single malt whisky especially for the holidays. After last years exquisite bottling I just had to get my hands on this years edition. This year’s A Fine Christmas Malt is a 10-year-old cask strength whisky from Linkwood. Let’s see how it tastes.


In my opinion, Linkwood is one of the more underestimated Scottish single malt distilleries. In my time as a bartender, we had a few independently bottled Linkwood single malts in our whisky cabinet and I enjoyed them all very much. However, I never got around to  get one for my own collection. So, I was especially intrigued by this year’s The Whisky Exchange Christmas bottling. Linkwood distillery was opened in 1821 by Peter Brown. However, the operation only became legal in 1825 and originally only had two stills. In 1872 William Brown the son of Peter rebuilt the distillery. It operated under various owners until the second World War during which it was closed. The operating manager after the war Roderick Mackenzie believed that everything contributed to the quality of the whisky and therefore not even spider webs were allowed to be removed. In 1962 the owner the Scottish Malt Distillers decided that it was time for a complete refurbishing. The electrification of the production replaced the former steam engine and water wheel which powered the distillery before. In 1971 the distillery was again renovated and a new site (Linkwood B) was opened alongside the old one, adding four new stills. In 1985 the Linkwood distillery was closed, but it was reopened in 1990. However, the old site was closed in 1996, but rumour has it that currently production was restarted. Lastly, in 2012 six new washbacks replaced old ones.

Citrusy sherry notes

Currently, Linkwood has five fermenters with a capacity of 60.000 litres and six ones with 30.000 l. The mash tun has a capacity of 12 tonnes. Moreover, the three wash stills have a capacity of 15.000 litres and are pear shaped with large, spherical lids, and tall conical necks. The spirit stills are bigger with a capacity of 17.000 l. They have the same shape, but the spherical lids are wider than the wash still ones. This allows for a slightly different distillation flow. In the case of the Fine Christmas Malt 2019, the whisky comes as a 10-year-old bottling. It was mature both in ex-bourbon and sherry casks. In the end, the resulting ABV is 54,2 %. Compared to the 2018 Christmas Malt, the 2019 bottling is slightly less complex. However, this is due to the bourbon casks in the mix. They make the single malt a little bit lighter. Do not get me wrong the Fine Christmas Malt still is very complex and amongst the best whiskies I had this year. I especially enjoyed the mix of citrus notes with just the right amount of sherry fruits. The bottling at cask strength also gives it a little more bite!

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