Whisky Ladies Compass Box Eve – Peat Monster 46%

At last! Our final Whisky Ladies Compass Box Quintet whisky of the evening!

We started with Spice Tree Extravaganza, then the lightly peated Great King Street Experimental Batch, shifted gears completely to the blended grain Hedonism before being bowled over by the majestic Flaming Heart!

No easy feat to follow, Peat Monster boldly entered the fray!

Compass Box Peat Monster 46%

  • Nose “Did I just singe my eyelashes?” Punchy, pepper, much spicer than the Flaming Heart, malty sweet embers, coffee
  • Palate – Sweet, campfires burning, spicy yet not harsh, smoky, malty, lightly fruity
  • Finish – Smoky embers, cinnamon sweet spice
  • Water – This was the 1st dram of the night where a few drops of water really helped open it up, dampening the fires, bringing out a wider range in the spice elements, black liquorice, basil and more… a kaleidoscope of flavours to the back of the mouth and throat

After the gorgeous complexity of Flaming Heart, Peat Monster was a return to a dramatic dram that gets right to the point. Nothing fundamentally wrong with that – in fact at times that is exactly what you are in the mood for! No nonsense, this is what it is and enjoy!

For some, previous memories of Peat Monster was of a well-balanced, rich peaty dram that didn’t demand a single drop of water. Yet this one did. With a few drops transforming it, achieving the accessibility and drinkability we remembered. Interesting…

Here’s what the folks at Compass Box have to say:

You will find a spectrum of seaside and medicinal peatiness, along with kipper-like smokiness, all surrounding a core of fruity malt whisky character. THE PEAT MONSTER is a whisky for those who love intensity, flavour and freshness, balance and drinkability. A whisky for those who appreciate the blending of seemingly dissonant elements to create something sublime.

For the whisky geeks, I’ve included Compass Box’s info graphic, outlining the break-up between Laphroaig, Ledaig, Caol Ila, Ardmore with a 1% dash of Highland malt (Clynelish, Teaninich, Duilaine) with a warning that with each batch variation will occur.

Our Compass Box evening included:

Psst… this wasn’t my first brush with Peat Monster… you can read more about my earlier experience here.

This whisky was purchased by one of our Whisky Ladies and sampled from an unopened bottle in July 2017. It is also available in India through The Vault Fine Spirits.

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Whisky Ladies Compass Box Eve – Flaming Heart 48.9%

Our Whisky Ladies Compass Box evening moved on to Flaming Heart with a “smouldering, spicy, complex” profile from whisky aged in new French Oak blended with peaty Islay single malt.

What did the ladies find? In short – wow!

Compass Box Flaming Heart 15th Anniversary Limited Edition (July 2015) 48.9%

  • Nose – Greeted by sweet smoke, surprisingly light and fresh, candied peat, leafy, a bit dusty almost musty, black pepper and also green capsicum, intense without being too much so. As it aired more, revealed vanilla, sea salt and seaweed, mossy, gaining in richness and aromas, even a faintly metallic quality. As even more time passed, it revealed further dimensions from star anise to dried fruits and tight berries to an almost herbal quality…
  • Palate – Rich, very unique, oily, heavy, peppery cinnamon or perhaps even a red chilli dark chocolate, gorgeous rich fruits, bitter, toasty, later even leather joined the flavours, an exceedingly tasty dram with a marvellous rich mouthfeel
  • Finish – Woody, dry, fruit spice, feels like it doesn’t end…

One of our ladies nailed it “I’ve been transported!” For her it was straight to Scotland. For others, it was a walk along a beach with the spray and scent of seaweed. Or striding alone along a wind swept cliff. Or coming home to an old leather chair, settling in with a dusty library of beloved books.

This is a ‘weighty whisky’ of substance. A big whisky. With lots of smoke and gorgeous complexity. So much personality and character.

Talk turned to whether it could be described as “Wuthering Heights” like until another quipped “No… this is Game of Thrones” for its complexity, its depth and range… its different personalities… its distinct stages with Acts 1, 2 and 3. This whisky is the stuff of the Iron Islands, sex and dragons.

Here is what the folks over at Compass Box have to say about their 15th Anniversary edition:

First released in 2006, Flaming Heart was the first whisky to combine the rich, complex spice of Scotch aged in new French oak with the evocative peat-fired smoke of Islay malt. It created a genre-defying style that was smouldering, spicy, complex – and so popular that we’ve re-released it four more times in the years that followed.

A unique interplay between spice, sweet and smoke characteristics. Sweet fruits and wood-smoke on the nose. Fat and full-bodied on the palate with a spicy sweetness and a brooding complexity that is rich, sweet and addictively decadent.

And for the whisky geeks, here is their infographic on its composition:

Our Compass Box evening included:

This whisky was purchased at Le Clos at Dubai International Airport for AED 375 and sampled from an unopened bottle in July 2017. 

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Whisky Ladies Compass Box Eve – Hedonism 43%

At our Whisky Ladies Compass Box evening shifted gears completely… Having just sampled Spice Tree Extravaganza and the lightly peaty Great King Street Experimental Batch, we realized before launching into the decidedly peaty Flaming Heart and Peat Monster, it might be a good idea to recalibrate our palates with the unique Hedonism.

Compass Box Hedonism 43%

  • Nose – Exquisite! Subtle, nuanced, fresh oranges, exceedingly fresh and fragrant
  • Palate – Piña colada with that mix of coconut cream and pineapple, sweet light spice, silky smooth, vanilla custard
  • Finish – Starts with a great finish then “Oh you are gone, but was nice while it lasted!”

There was an immediate flashback to the Nikka Coffey Grain with its coconut, pinneapple, yet obviously a much more nuanced variant… for some it was absolutely delicious and for others, just not their style. Which seems to be the case with grain whiskies.

It was a complete departure from the earlier drams and an excellent example of the range of unique blends Compass Box produces.

Here’s what the folks at Compass Box have to say:

The inspiration behind our whisky HEDONISM is just that – pleasure, enjoyment, a celebration of that ideal marriage between distilled spirit and high quality oak maturation. The aromas and flavours hint of vanilla, caramel, a delicate fruitiness, accented by flashes of coconut in the finish. This is a whisky that will appeal to both the ardent whisky enthusiast and newcomers to whisky alike.

Our Compass Box evening included:

Psst… this wasn’t my first rodeo with Hedonism… you can read more about my earlier experiences here. I was delighted to sample a more recent incarnation.

This whisky was purchased by one of our Whisky Ladies and sampled from an open, nearly full bottle in July 2017.

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Whisky Ladies Compass Box Eve – Great King Street Experimental Batch 43%

Our Whisky Ladies Compass Box evening kicked off with Spice Tree Extravaganza followed by Great King Street – Experimental Batch. A few of us were familiar with the Artist’s Blend and Glasgow variants, yet all were new to this one…

Compass Box Great King Street Experimental Batch TR-06 (03 Sept 2013) 43% Bottle 1534 of 3815, 500 ml

  • Nose – Light smoke, very sweet, honey, vanilla custard, as it opened a hint of mosambi peel or its fragrant zest
  • Palate – Smooth, fabulous mouth feel, quite unctuous, not heavy, instead almost gentle yet full flavoured, delicately balanced between sweet, light spice and smoke with descriptions like “mouth-watering” and “lip smacking”
  • Finish – Spice and smoke curling and swirling about for a long time, closing with peppers and a faint almost bitter citrus peel

This was a terrific start to our evening, with a whisky that is quite accessible, one to sit, savour and enjoy, becoming sweeter and smoother with each sip.

We discussed how it falls between the flavour profile of Artist’s Blend and Glasgow Blend, veering more towards the Artist end of the spectrum. For one, the standard Artist’s Blend remains a favourite, for others this one simply hit its mark and was a lovely start to our Compass Box evening!

Here is what the Compass Box folks have to say about this whisky:

“Complex, smoky and aromatic with notes of seaweed, mint, salt spray and an underlying dried fruit sweetness.” 

This 500ml bottle was purchased at Le Clos at Dubai International Airport in June 2017 for AED 115, sampled from an unopened bottle in July 2017.

Our Compass Box evening included:

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Whisky Ladies Compass Box Eve – Spice Tree Extravaganza 46%

Our Whisky Ladies Compass Box evening kicked off with Spice Tree Extravaganza. Issued on the tenth anniversary of the original Spice Tree bottling being banned, the blend:

“draws its inspiration from The Spice Tree but reinterprets it through the use of older components and a significant portion of sherry-cask aged malt whisky. The Spice Tree’s trademark spice character is retained but set within a richer, more elegant frame with a new depth of flavour and complexity.”

And what did the Whisky Ladies of Mumbai think?

Compass Box Spice Tree Extravaganza 46% (Bottled Aug 2016)

  • Nose – Vanilla, sweet spices, rich and almost rum-like, very sweet, dried apricots, stewed spiced apple or an apple crumble with lots of cinnamon
  • Palate – Spiced cider or wine with cinnamon, allspice, ginger and cloves, with all the hallmarks of Thanksgiving – a little pumpkin pie, light roasted nuts, slightly bitter, yet also buttery too with a great mouthfeel
  • Finish – Nice long flavourful finish, chased by delicious spices

Initially harsh for some, however this was the 1st dram of the evening, and one we readily settled into. Once past the 1st sip, it had the most amazing warm spice burn that actually became more not less pronounced over time – remarkable!

We found it quite balanced for a ‘spicy’ whisky, with the most beautiful aromas… ‘festive’ in its character and one decidedly for a cooler evening. And yet, with all its sweet spices swirly about, it was much more autumn than Christmas in character – the sherry dimensions not overly pronounced, an accent not pushing to the fore… In keeping with a more mature sherry malt than brash young sherry bomb.

In short, it was a rather marvellous malt to commence our Compass Box explorations…

Here is what the Compass Box folks have to say about Extravaganza:

Decadent and playful on the nose, you will find notes of sherry wine, dark berries and the fragrant sweetness of traditional sweet shops.

On the palate there is juicy red fruit, a dark brown sugar richness, the trademark Spice Tree ginger and clove spice character and an endlessly long, spicy, substantial finish.

Recommendations This is an excessive, rich, dare we say extravagant whisky. The perfect drink with which to mark one of our more infamous anniversaries. Drink it any way you like – there are no rules that can’t be broken.

For more information, check out Compass Box’s info graphic on this whisky:

Our Compass Box evening included:

Psst… this wasn’t my first tryst with Compass Box’s Spice Tree… you can read more about my earlier experience here with its standard avatar.

This whisky was bought from Singapore Changi Airport Duty Free for SGD179 and sampled from an unopened bottle in July 2017.

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Whisky Ladies Explore a Compass Box Quintet

Most of our Whisky Ladies are no strangers to the often remarkable Compass Box blends. As a group, we’ve sampled the delightful Asyla, Great King Street – Artists Blend and the unique Hedonism. Independently, some of us have tasted many more…

For some time now, we’ve wanted to enjoy a focused session exploring Compass Box offerings… and found our chance on a monsoon evening in July 2017!

It began as a trio, yet morphed into a quintet – oh my! And no ordinary set either… no siree! We found ourselves exploring several limited edition avatars too..

Here is what we tried:

As always, the distinctive designs, superb craftsmanship and unique take on different whisky profiles was impressive. What a treat to try these together!

Related Compass Box posts:

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Whisky Lady in India – Celebrating 500 posts!!

For an avid amateur, I’m exceedingly pleased to share another Whisky Lady in India milestone!!

When I reached 100 posts with 100 whiskies, I couldn’t believe it was possible. Then 200 posts, 300 posts… and today 500 posts! Clearly whisky tasting and sharing of these experiences is no accident…

Who would have thought it?

When a group of friends first came together in 2011 in Mumbai, would we manage to keep meeting every month – even now!?

When jotting down a few notes, then sharing on Everyday Asia… became by late 2014 its own full-fledged blog “Whisky Lady in India“…

When the Whisky Ladies of Mumbai was founded mid-2015.. with our often merry slant, wry humour and pointed insight… no missish maids but women who can hold their own in any forum! Including any big boys of whisky.

When the Bombay Malt & Cigar gents joined the fray in 2016… enabling exclusive and dare I say access to wish list type whiskies. The Balblair 38 year ($1,600) or Laphroaig 21 year T5 ($2,250) come to mind…

When I attended my 1st Whisky Live in Singapore… from the Collectors Room to Master Classes and so much more…

When I went on my 1st distillery tour at the Crown Royal plant in my home province of Manitoba, Canada.

And by 2017, with three Mumbai based Whisky Clubs going strong, travels continuing to augment the adventures … I made it to a whisky distillery in my adopted home India – Paul John. Wondered at The Whisky Exchange’s Sukhinder Singh’s remarkable collection… So many more amazing opportunities, tasting events, completely unexpected club contributions and more!

So here we are…. 500 posts. Over 3,000 followers. And it feels like the fun is just beginning!!

Thank you for joining the journey!! Slainte mhath!!

If you are new to this blog, why not start exploring with:

Comments welcome! Feel free to also contact me at info {at] everydayasia [dot} com

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Is Single Rum the new Single Malt?

Recently while in London, my friend and I were conversing with Sukhinder Singh, owner of Specialty Drinks and The Whisky Exchange about what is new and interesting in the world of spirits. Without hesitation, a discussion commenced on single rums and more specifically Luca Gargano – a remarkable figure who has brought rums from around the world from the category of something to mix with coke for a cuba libra to stand on par with exceptional whiskies.

Clearly, this was a sign to finally share insights from my experience at the 2016 Singapore Whisky Live Master Class with master of all things malt – Dave Broom and the unforgettable character – Luca Gargano.

Before us were four brown spirits and one bonus white spirit. The question was to discern which was whisky, which was rum, gaining appreciation into each. Before serving, the rums and whiskies were carefully watered to be the equivalent of 46% to bring parity in strength between each.

1. Habitation Velier Forsyths White (2005) 57.8% (watered to 46%)

Quite clearly rum… and yet clearly no ordinary one…

  • Nose – Pear, apples, bright then becoming more sour
  • Palate – Marvellous spice, fruits, a slight tin or metallic quality, lots of oils, quite soft yet sumptuous in its dancing elements
  • Finish – After the initial burn, leather and pineapple, over-ripe fruits

There was an appealing, genteel yet quirky quality to this rum. Dave Broom observed it has an “Elegant, wonderful fruit… “ with a “funky character.” As it aired, it revealed increasingly sour elements yet still sweet.

The distillery closed in 1962 and then re-opened, remaining completely independent.

2. Balvenie 12 year Single Cask No 12742 47.8%

Whereas the 2nd sample was clearly whisky, yet had some qualities in common with the rum just tasted.

  • Nose – More sweet soft apples, an almost candy floss sweetness, floral, gentle honey, thinned bannana
  • Palate – Spiced yet soft, a kind of juicy fruity character, lots of creme caramel
  • Finish – Clean, soft and sweet

The overall pronouncement? One heard the exclaim – this is a “disgracefully drinkable dram!” And an excellent example of Balvanie character from a single ex-bourbon barrel, released in 2013.

3. Edradour 10 year (2006) 46%

Again, distinctly Scottish whisky yet with character…

  • Nose – Initially had a clear sherry stamp. As it opened, much more sour than the earlier two. Dried fruits, light “new shows” leather
  • Palate – Very smooth with a spice body, rich, powerful and slightly oily,
  • Finish – Sweet spices like cinnamon, all spice, shifts into liquorice, becoming dry, sweet, spice

Quite a beautiful sweet spice whisky and again falls into the category of “terribly drinkable.”

4. Hampden 2010 HLCF 68.5% (watered to 46%)

No doubt this was rum, of an exceptional character.

  • Nose – Darker sugars, spiced caramel, pineapple, egg nog… a symphony of aromas
  • Palate – Such flavours! So multilayered with spice, toffee, cream, roasted nuts, an almost malty quality
  • Finish – Delicious…

As we sipped and appreciated this remarkable single rum, Luca described with graphic imagines the conditions under which this rum is produced. He shared how they still use 18th century methods, in wooden vats, open with flies, horrible breadfruit, bacteria, in an environment that creates something “beautiful” with “fermentation that is magical.”

5. Clairin Vaval 58.1% (watered to 46%)

This last rum is quite distinctive and memorable. I could immediately place it as the Haitian rhum auricle, 1st sampled back in 2015 at La Maison du Whisky.

  • Nose – Very organic like new make spirit
  • Palate – Overripe fruit, tropical and distinctly different. Like sunshine in a bottle. Light sweet spices, a hint of vanilla, then warms into fruits, berries and even a hint of nuts.
  • Finish – Sugarcane, long and sweet

Luca spoke of history of sugar, from Java in 1770s to Haiti, no hybrid sugar cane, transported by donkeys, fermented and distilled in small pot still, then the evolution of multi-cultivation sugar cane.

Dave added his thoughts about the role of artisanal small stills “in conditions that make you humble“… full of “heart, as good, as clean terroir as one can get.”

In comparing the impact of tropical temperatures in which rum is typically produced vs whiskies in Scotland, Luca explained the correlation between evaporation and remaining spirit… pointing out how in just 6 years, spirits aged in tropical climates have only 610 ml remaining, comparing it with 25 years in Scotland with 600 ml.

In speaking about “Pure Single Rum” vs “Pure single Malt”, Luca shared his emphasis on transparency, giving information on the label, educating producers, retailers and bartenders, rather than pushing for imposition of regulatory rules… demonstrating a passion to bring unique, quality rums to the world.

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Monsoon malts and more…

I love this part of monsoon – the temperature dips, the rains have a wildness and for a bit of time, we have just the right conditions to curl up indoors and enjoy a good dram.

So one fine Friday night, I and two whisky affianados found ourselves free to explore a few interesting whiskies… just because.

What all did we sample?

  • Eddu Silver 40% – Buckwheat whisky from Bretagne, France 
  • R & B Distillers – New entrant bottling interesting whiskies
    • Borders Single Grain 51.7%
    • Raasay “While We Wait” 46%
  • The Exceptional – Craft Distillers Sutcliffe and Ex Macallan’s Willie Phillips new baby
    • Blended Grain Scotch Whisky 43%
    • Blend Small Batch Scotch Whisky 43%
  • Highland Park 12 year 40% – An echo of an 18 year favourite
  • Finlaggan Cask Strength 58% – A most enjoyable mystery Islay

Oh yeah, and an absolutely undrinkable chilli rice-whiskey from Laos… Plus an impromptu chilled cocktail playing around with the Eddu’s unique qualities.

Tasting notes coming in the next few weeks… or so…

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Glenmorangie Bacalta 46%

Finally, after tasting The Original and Lasanta, attention turned to the main purpose of the Glenmorangie event… the revelation of the 2017 private edition – Bacalta.

Dr Bill Lumsden with Brendan McCarron shared the thinking and process behind the Bacalta – which means baked in Gaelic.

Bill shared the inspiration was a discontinued Madeira finished whisky that was replaced by Nector D’Or.

Knowing it would not be possible to simply acquire ‘ready made’ casks, a partnership was struck with a Malmsey Madeira maker, casks specifically created, heavily toasted before then holding the ‘sacrificial wines’ i.e. seasoned by the Malmsey Madeira, baked the traditional way. Bill shared that he found Malmsey Madeira had the “lively refreshing character, high acidity that reacted well to the toasted wood.”

Once ready, the wine was discarded and the 10 year aged Glenmorangie transferred gain its unique finish through maturing in the ex-Madeira casks.

Glenmorangie Bacalta 46%

  • Nose – Initially sharp blue cheese – rancio, then chocolate, aged balsamic, while one could discern the ‘house’ characteristics of The Original, it had layered on top ripe peaches, apricots like a thick smear of marmalade on toast, baked citrus  becoming caramelized
  • Palate – First sip had a gorgeous spice, then brioche, revealing a mineralogy and savoury almost smoky element, followed again by spicy textures, a big mouthful of pepper, so incredibly sweet like sucking on fruit lozenges
  • Finish – Chased by menthol mouthwash that slipped into paan, then lemon pepper and back to that hint of aged balsamic

The Bacalta was like a rich baked fruit syrup with almost a smoky quality… delicious but one where less is more.

Talk turned to pairing the Bacalta with grouse, pheasant – in short any gamy bit with a fruity sauce. This was no light sprightly pairing but one to take advantage of Bacalta’s unique qualities.

And what do the Glenmorangie formal tasting notes have to say?

The eighth release in our multi-award-winning and always intriguing Private Edition, Glenmorangie Bacalta brings new heights of complexity to a rare wood finish. Inspired by the long, balmy days on the island of Madeira, Glenmorangie Bacalta (Scots Gaelic for “baked”) is a sun-soaked single malt which delivers wonderfully warm layers of sweetness, brimming with baked fruits and honeyed tones.

It has been created from Glenmorangie first matured in former bourbon casks, then extra-matured in bespoke casks baked under the sun which once contained Malmsey Madeira – the sweetest and most prized of the Madeira wines.

  • Aroma: Fragrant, honeyed and sweet. Some ripe apricots, mead-like, and a curious flinty note, followed by sweet white chocolate.
  • Taste: An initial burst of mint toffee, with baked fruits such as caramelised oranges, honeycomb, almonds and dates.
  • Finish: A rich, syrupy aftertaste, with more caramelised citrus and pears, creamy fudge, and an intriguing mentholic sensation in the background.

In short, it was a classy experience – start to finish – as one would expect from the Luis Vitton Moet Hennessy brand.

Other Glenmorangie experiences:

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