Kilkerran 8 year Cask Strength 56.2%

From thriving to languishing to a recent resurgence, the Campbeltown whisky “region” that technically lost its status according to the Scotch Whisky Society. Today Campbeltown has only two producers – Springbank Distillery with its ‘extra’ plant Glengyle and Glen Scotia. Some of the distilleries that closed with prohibition and depression became brands under the Springbank family – Glengyle, Hazelburn and Longrow.

What do the Springbank/Glengyle folks have to say about their Kilkerran brand? A fair bit on the bottle label:

Mitchell’s Glengyle Ltd. are very proud to be continuing and adding to the great Campbeltown Distilling tradition and the choice of name reflects that Kilkerran is derived from the Gaelic ‘Ceann Loch Cille Chiarain’ which is the name of the original settlement where Sait Kieran had his religious cell and Campbeltown now stands. Kilkerran is thought to be a suitable name for a new Campbeltown Malt since it was unusual for the old Campbeltown distilleries to be called after a Glen, a custom more usually associated with the Speyside region.

A not to subtle dig at Glen Scotia?

But I digress… on to the most important matter at hand… what did we think of the Kilkerran 8 year seated cask strength whisky? Note… we sampled completely blind so the tasting notes are based purely on our thoughts and speculation before the “great reveal.”

Kilkerran 8 year Cask Strength 56.2%

  • Colour – I rather fancifully dubbed it “light sunshine”
  • Nose – Initially quite an oily peat, almost kerosene, sharp, a hospital dispensary, but then it began to mellow in the glass, revealing a fruity sweetness, some light seaweed and hint of brine, a bit of blue cheese or wet socks, shifting back to the peat with campfire embers, an earthy aroma, then more citrus sweet like a lemon tart and then betel nut
  • Palate – Fabulous! Peat perfectly balanced with sweet cinnamon and spice. Just a great balance between the three elements like a well cooked beautiful meal. Some chilli spices, more of that paan character too.
  • Finish – Sweet cinnamon
  • Water -This was a whisky that welcomes water and enables so much more to come to the fore…. Absolutely fabulous with water with a delicious creme caramel, milk chocolate, very creamy quality, like a salty caramel cheese cake, a bit perfume too

There was no doubt we loved it however a few remarked how the peat in the nose was initially so intense it took over the show. However after time to oxidate and the addition of water, everything clicked into perfect harmony. Particularly the balance on the palate was simply outstanding.

Our speculation turned to discussion the quality of peat – what was clear was this was no Islay yet most hesitated to guess beyond that. Overall we found it well constructed and clearly cask strength.

The reveal of Campbeltown and for most of us, only our second Kilkerran, was a cementing of a growing opinion that these folks clearly know what they are doing.

What else do we know? That it was distilled at Glengyle in Campbeltown, is non-chill filtered with no added colouring. We understand it is a 50 PPM.

This was their 1st release which is now sold out, so if you were curious about how much would this set you back…. will need to check out a different version of this whisky – currently retailing at Master of Malt for approx £49.96 – complete value for quality!

Here is our pedigree trio:

You can also find Whisky Lady in India on:

Sullivans Cove 16 year 47.5%

Sullivans Cove shot from quiet quality in a special niche corner to global prominence a few years ago thanks to a few well deserved awards. Since then, tracking down a bottle is challenging… even more so to find one with an age statement.

Our merry Mumbai malters were earlier introduced to the Sullivans Cove French Oak Cask and not so long ago our Whisky Ladies went on a Trans Tasmanian Tour which included  Sullivans Cove Double Cask, yet these glimpses into what Tasmania has to offer and more specifically Sullivans Cove remain rare opportunities here in Mumbai.

Which made it all the more interesting to discover, sampling completely blind this beauty…

Sullivans Cove 16 year 905/12/2000-22/02/2016) Barrel No HH0561 47.5% Bottle No 74 of 120, Non-chill filtered, American oak ex-bourbon cask

  • Colour – Dark gold
  • Nose – Sharp, distinctive, came across as high alcohol initially, then opened into a tropical fruit paradise, some biscuit, compost and wet earth, moss, it then rapidly dissipated closing up… with a few deep sniffs could discern rubber, cashew feni… quite tricky on the nose as it was on the one hand a bit sharp and on the other hand shy… After the 1st sip revealed pears, dry copra, beyond the coconut, the tropical fruits really came to the fore, quite lively… After quite some time and a revisit, there was paan betel nut too!
  • Palate – Barley water and really rather sweet, then the spice grows, not harsh but surprisingly forceful, chew and get cinnamon. It had this most amazingly deceptive quality of seeming mellow and yet take a good swish and breath in to find SPICE!  Yet equally take a small slow sip and it was like honey water with just a dash of pepper,  so so smooth
  • Finish – A funny sort of finish… An immediate ‘flash’ then just holds you gently for quite some time
  • Water – Most were not tempted. Those that did found it took the sharp and spice mellowing it to modest and nice.

While initially the nose gave a sense of alcohol strength, the palate clearly put this into perspective with a determination it must be below 48%. There were many aspects of this whisky that were ‘tricky’ – in a very interesting way. It also was one that demanded time and attention. Sit back, relax and enjoy the dialectic.

With some whiskies, we find the flavour profiles are fairly universal – accessible to practically anyone in the world. In cases like this Sullivans Cove, we found many qualities that fit perfectly with the palate of Indian fruits, spices, country liquor and deserts. Which made it all the more meaningful and memorable to enjoy in India.

What else do we know about this Tasmanian dram? Here is what they say…

To create this exceptional Single Malt Whisky our distiller has selected the highest quality local ingredients and American Oak ex-Bourbon casks. The award winning result is elegant and creamy exhibiting sweet malt, vanilla and citrus notes with a lingering finish. Taste our splendid isolation, indulge your senses.

Our host admitted this bottle set him back a pretty penny. I do believe something like $400 was mentioned, in large part as a rather hefty “Angel’s Share” made the remaining liquid all the more precious.

What did we try in our “pedigree” evening?

You can also find Whisky Lady in India on:

Midleton Barry Crocket Legacy 16 year 46%

In the world of Irish whiskies there may be brands a-plenty yet there are relatively few full functioning distilleries that have been around for decades. This is because back in the 1970s the Irish Distillers company decided to close most of their distilleries and create the Jameson Midleton Distillery with its ability to produce a range of styles using its 4 pot stills, 7 column stills for grain, malt and as combined together blends. It was opened in 1975 and since then brings to the world JamesonRedbreast, Powers, Tullamore Dew, Paddy, Green Spot, Yellow Spot and yes Midleton.

While initially stock from the old Midleton Distillery was used in the Midleton Very Rare  in the mid-1980s, today it is purely whiskey from the current Jameson Midleton Distillery… and more and more what is being released are pot still expressions like this one.

So then who is Barry Crocket? He is their Master Distiller Emeritus … Son of Midleton’s them master distiller, he joined the distillery in 1981 and continued for nearly 50 years…  from when the Irish whiskey industry was struggling to clearly making its mark around the world. And today? He is establishing an archive in the house where he was born on Midleton’s distilling history.

For us, it was a complete mystery… sampled blind with no idea what we were trying…  Here is what we found…

Midleton Barry Crocket Legacy 16 year No 10205 46% American Bourbon seasoned and unseasoned, triple distilled, non chill filtered. MSPR’16 L623631258

  • Colour – Bright yellow
  • Nose – Initially quite fruity, caramel, vanilla, lots of apricots, apple sauce, then shifted into dark chocolate, a bit sour then citrus tang, green apples, lots of honey. Then revealed wood, cumin, caraway seeds, melon seeds… then orange citrus candies.. Then all the intense colours and notes were gone…. After time, perfumes emerged, like scented rubber, then sweet banana synthetic candies, then pine… talcum powder vs sweetened egg yolk… finally fresh tobacco leaf
  • Palate – Honey spice and simply delicious, more of those apples, pears, sweet with white and black pepper, wood, sesame oil and light tobacco, over time it became creamier
  • Finish – There but… completely deceptive. Initially a few remarked there wasn’t much but then… hold it… definitely 100% there… subtle, lightly bitter and gently fruity, long, very long
  • Water – Add and some found it opened up, bringing more body, spice and perfume. Some preferred with water. Some preferred it au naturel.

What a remarkable nose – it kept going through different quite dramatically different shifts.

Overall we were convinced this was simply one well crafted whisky. It had a fruity floral no fooling around quality. What fun!

What do they have to say about Barry Crocket Legacy?

  • Nose – Elegant aroma of vanilla and toasted oak completed by succulent green berries, pears and green sweet pepper
  • Taste – Light pepper carries onto citrus, limes and mandarine orange sweetness. A hint of cinnamon with vanilla and oak revelasyears spent in American oak
  • Finish – The full spectrum of flavours that lasts well into th finish slowly fading to expose the clean American oak foundation

You can still find this whisky from retailers like The Whisky Exchange for approx £150

What trio did we have a tryst with in our Untraditional Pedigree Malts eve?

You can also find Whisky Lady in India on:

Pedigree Malts – Midleton, Sullivans Cove, Kilkerran

There is no doubt that the world of whisky has changed and will continue to change. What has emerged are a few players that are truly “pedigree” even if their origins are not your typical Scottish… Brands that are being recognized for their consistent calibre…

We were treated to such a trio on a fine monsoon swept evening in Mumbai… Each was sampled completely blind with the reveal done only after all three were given our full and careful consideration.

What did we try in our Pedigree Malts?

While none of these are the “traditional” pedigree vintage whiskies, each has a dedication to quality that shines through.

You can also find Whisky Lady in India on:

A Phenomenon Revisited – Compass Box Phenomenology 46%

Compass Box’s Phenomenology is one of those whiskies that is both phenomenal and a phenomenon. I have yet to encounter a whisky that provokes such a range of reactions – with highly individual perceptions.

I first had it with our Bombay Malt & Cigar gents back in February 2018. Where our host very generously asked if I would like to take the bottle home to share with others. Would I?? Oh yes indeed!

And the perfect evening presented itself in June 2018 with the Whisky Ladies. We were a lovely small group and after our Highland Hijinks trio, our evening didn’t seem quite finished…

Enter Phenomenology…

And what a remarkable experience it was. Just to give a feel for the contrasting responses, I’ve deliberately kept them separated by speaker for the nose… read, discover and see if this possibly could be the same whisky!

Just a sampling of the aromas different ladies found are noted below:

  • Floral, lots of jasmine, honeysuckle, perfume
  • Almond, like Amaretto, shrewsbury biscuits
  • Citrus, salt, melon or more precisely cantaloupe, a licorice saunf and surprisingly sharp
  • Almond, dum biryani
  • Salted caramel, toffee, rhubarb, orange rind, musk, tobacco leaf
  • A kaleidoscope of aromas, fresh green apples, french vanilla, pure dessert, icing sugar powder, blue cheese, toasted rice, yoghurt

As for the rest, our combined experience was:

  • Palate – A light hint of peat, great “teeth”, whiff of skunk, cedar plank with salmon, sage, had a great mouthfeel, light spice
  • Finish – Citrus and floral, mild spice, black cardamom

To say we loved it was an understatement. It was complex, challenging, sparked conversation. And not only did we each find largely quite different aspects, even individual women found multiple elements too… this was no one-dimensional dram. No siree!

Above all – how could such contrasting characters emerge from the same whisky?

Here is where the folks at Compass Box excel, they share their secrets, telling the world exactly what goes into the bottle so one can attempt to dissect, deconstruct, discover and above all learn and be inspired…

What is fascinating is the bulk of this blend comes from Glenlossie – a distillery I’ve yet to try as a single malt and has no specific official bottles outside of Diageo’s Flora and Fauna range. Yet its been around since 1876 quietly producing whisky for blends.

And what does it add to Phenomenology?

  • 72% total liquid volume with a malt whisky matured in re-charred hogshead
  • And what does it add in terms of its flavour profile? Fresh, Fruity, Apples
Next up? Tamdhu with 24.5% matured in first fill bourbon cask adding Caramel, Oak, Spice. In this case, one I’ve tried but long ago and not at a time when I took any tasting notes, which means I have no particularly memory.
And the last 3? A split between rather familiar distilleries:
  • Highland Park with 2% matured in re-charred hogshead bringing burnt butter, bonfires, tar
  • Talisker with 1% matured in refill butt adding salty, coastal, brine dimensions
  • Caol Ila with a mere 0.5% matured in a hogshead throwing marshmallow, vanilla and sweet smoke into the equation
With this knowledge, do we understand more? Perhaps. And yet the proof is in the pudding so to speak… the way in which the whiskies were blended in such a masterful way to produce something unique and quixotic. And well worth revisiting.
You can also find Whisky Lady in India on:

Context is everything… Discovering your Daily Dram

I must admit that normally, I drink whisky only during tasting sessions… where my palate preferences are pre-primed for a range of sensations and kinds of whiskies. I can fully get behind a peaty punch same as a rich sherry bomb or a full-on cask strength dram. Curve balls are welcome. Even something that isn’t ‘good’ but pushes the boundaries or introduces a new experience is given a chance.

But a funny little thing has started to happen.

As we worked at emptying the various ‘nearly done’ bottles as part of the whisky ‘house cleaning‘, I realized that for simple enjoyment, my preference has turned to primarily ex-bourbon, more nuanced and dare I say it? Accessible drams.

When did that occur??

It seems for me at least, context is everything. And when the context isn’t a tasting session – structured and formal, or impromptu and casual – I’ve veered away from inviting those crazy outliers and gravitated instead towards something simpler.

Perfectly hitting that “preferred style” dram was Shelter Point’s Single Malt – 1st Batch from 2016. Which repeated a year later with the next batch. Awaiting a chance to grab the next to meet this “sweet spot”!

You can also find Whisky Lady in India on:

The Auld Alliance, Singapore

In terms of whisky, the absolute highlight of all Singapore “watering holes” was an evening spent at The Auld Alliance a few years ago.

I was joined by one of the original member of our Mumbai based whisky tasting club. Since his move to Singapore a few years ago, he’s been much missed.

We were taken on a tour of the remarkable collection by Arun who shared insights and tales about the remarkable collection – from ship wreck rescues to historically unique bottles – traversing the world of whiskies.

We returned post a delightful dinner to sit down and enjoy two custom created sample sets featuring four whiskies each:

Arun challenged us to go ‘hard core’ blind where we sipped from black glasses so could not even be influenced by the whisky colour.

It was a perfect evening and a complete treat!

Since then my whisky sampling companion and I have tried other places yet tip date, nothing tops that particular evening in June 2015.

You can find The Auld Alliance at:

  • 9 Bras Basah Road, RendezVous Hotel, Gallery #02-02A, SINGAPORE 189559 
  • info@theauldalliance.sg Tel: +65 6337 2201

North Star Discovery – Glenrothes, Ardmore + Islay

There is something so fabulous about being truly surprised.

Which is why our original Mumbai tasting group keeps to its habit of tasting blind. Sometimes we reveal each whisky immediately after tasting, other times we wait until we have sampled all three whiskies.

In this case, it was after tasting all three drams and what a reveal! Why?

As it introduced North Star Spirits, a new independent bottler based in Glasgow. Starting in just 2016, we understand it is a “one man” operation by Iain Croucher, earlier part of A.D. Ratraay group.

Interestingly, he has a distribution relationship in Germany with Sansibar – which is another independent bottler that caught my attention recently for its ability to spot good casks for relatively reasonable rates.

My photos do not do justice to their packaging which is …

What did we sample?

  • North Star’s Cask Series 001 – Glenrothes 20 year (Oct 1996/Oct 2016) 54.6% 1 of 252 bottles
  • North Star’s Cask Series 001 – Ardmore Peat 8 year (June 2008 / Oct 2016) 57.1% 1 of 198 bottles
  • North Star’s Cask Series 002 – Islay 8 year (June 2008 / May 2017) 58.3% 1 of 230 bottles

Unfortunately North Star bottles have already captivated attention that it is best to pre-order online as they seem to be snapped up quickly!


You can also find even more Whisky bits ‘n bobs on:

Bruichladdich PC 12 year 61.1% (Blackadder Raw Cask)

We have another Blackadder Raw Cask whisky… this time from Bruichladdich… or rather more specifically from Port Charlotte.

Port Charlotte 12 year Sherry Cask No 622 (July 2003 / May 2016) 61.1% Blackadder Raw Cask range. Bottle 209/284

  • Nose – Chocolate, dark fruits, what do you want! Smoke, peat, sherry, peppers, earthy, mineral
  • Palate – Outstanding – beyond connoisseur quality, sacred ash, spice, a 3-D fullness, fruits… from orange to dark berries, dry with just the right balance between spice, sweet and a chaser of peat.
  • Finish – Holds, spice, green capsicum, a bourbonesque close… also marvellous
  • Water – Please do! Then wine notes are revealed, much sweeter, brought out the peat, dampened the spice, lots of gorgeous dark fruits, delicious

Had the best qualities of a brash youngster yet the complexity of a more seasoned character. This was clearly no ordinary Port Charlotte… and one we felt privileged to try.

With a bit more patience, it took on an even spicier character – like biting into a green chillies vs our normal experience where spices tame and get subdued over time. I truly wished we had more to try as had the sense that it would have kept evolving and revealing even more dimensions.

It certainly re-sparked by interest in exploring more from Bruichladdich… and Port Charlotte specifically… Here are just a few tried til date:

You can also find Whisky Lady in India on:

Chieftain’s Choice 22 years (1993/2015) 52.7%

There are an increasing number of independent bottlers putting out single malts with the distilleries kept deliberately undisclosed. In this case, the bottle was part of Chieftain’s Choice, from Ian Macleod, which tend towards rare whiskies  – be it the distillery such as ones that are now closed, age or something specific that makes it unique.

Chieftain’s Choice 22 years (1993/2015) 1st Fill Sherry Cask No 3612 52.7%, 579 Bottles 

  • Colour – Bright ruby
  • Nose – Pure sherry bomb – in every way. Press hard and the different dimensions of prunes, raisins, bitter, rum soaked tart, stewed brandied fruit, then even sweet almond milk is revealed.
  • Palate – Honey sweet with spice then pure sweet with some tannic woods – again perfect sherry balance
  • Finish – Exceedingly sweet

We pronounced it “Pure desert!” And while it reminded us a bit of a Glendronach, that is pure speculation and we could be off completely.

What do we know for certain beyond it being matured in a 1st fill sherry cask? Only that it is from Speyside… and it is an exceptionally good example of an unadulterated sherry cask.

If ever anyone is able to share more, we would be most curious to know!

You can also find Whisky Lady in India on: