North Star’s Macduff 11 year (2006/2018) 55.2%

From the Highland region, our next North Star Series 5 exploring 5 regions in Scotland was from the Mac Duff distillery, best known for their Glen Deveron brand.

Our guest reviewer Rekha Sharma has been part of the Whisky Ladies of Mumbai from the start.

Having lived a fairly nomadic existence since a young age, Rekha gained over two decades of varied corporate & entrepreneurial experience.

From cable media industry in Hongkong with Disney Challen then Turner Networks (CNN), she then moved to New York where she founded & managed a retail business in Manhattan, combining an Asian antique store with an art gallery & a cafe/bar.

Now living in India, Rekha manages a serviced apartments business in Bombay,  being a part of a rapidly changing economic & social landscape that is India today.

Above all, Rekha enjoys the arts, cooking, interior design, travelling & good whiskey!

Here is what she has to say…

Macduff 11 year (Nov 2006/May 2018) 55.2%

  • Nose – Dish water soap, very light, flowers, flirting with us by running away then gently re-appearing, red delicious apple, balsa wood and some lovely ripe bananas
  • Palate – Peach, apricots, metallic, almost eggy, liquorice
  • Finish – Bitter walnut, big red chewing gum
  • Water – Much better! Really brings out more with this one and gave it a somewhat sweet, creamy finish

It was a friendly easy drinking dram and hard to imagine it was cask strength!

The North Star Macduff was bottled from a refill bourbon hogshead, un-chill filtered, natural colour with only 240  bottles.

North Star’s tasting notes:

  • Nose: Red apple & that smell you get when rain hits hot tar macadam
  • Palate: Instantly creamy & sweet, like my mum’s custard
  • Finish: The crispy topping on a creme brûlée 

This whisky was purchased online from Master of Malt in August 2018 for £53.76 / USD 70 / INR 5,080 and was opened in November 2018.

Don’t miss the other Whisky Ladies guest reviews of North Star Series 005 whiskies covering 5 Scottish regions:

Original Group’s North Star Discovery:

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North Star’s Campbeltown 4 year (2014/2018) 57%

Next in our North Star Series 005 quintet was a whisky from Campbeltown, which was reviewed by fellow Canadian Paula McGlynn.

Paula McGlynn is a CEO and Founding Director of Gulbadan Talkies and Bharatiya Digital Party (BhaDiPa). BhaDiPa is the pioneer of Marathi digital content, starting with its hit series “Casting Couch with Amey & Nipun” in 2016, and recently revived the Marathi Stand-Up comedy scene, now managing over 15 comic artists. BhaDiPa now has 3 channels under it’s brand, including Bha2Pa (Travel) and Vishay Khol (Politics and Infotainment). BhaDiPa recently received the Zee Talkies Marathi Comedy award for “Best Web Series”, and currently has over 80 million views and over 800K subscribers.

Entrepreneur, producer, actress, script writer… Paula will track down a new whisky experiment from Canada or the US, take an hour off from a film shoot in Goa to pop over to Paul John distillery for a tour (plus collect a coveted bottle of Peated) or drop by WhiskyLive when in South Africa… just because… whisky!

You can also check out her #daarudiscoveries on Instagram at Dev_Paula

Here is what Paula has to say about the Campbeltown…

North Star Series 005 – Campbeltown, 4 yrs, 57.4%
  • Blended Malt (blend of 2 casks) – Distillery Unknown
  • Bottled from a refill bourbon hogshead, un-chill filtered, natural colour.
  • Item no longer available for purchase

The second in an impressive-looking line up of North Star whiskies was a bit of a surprise – a 4 year old blend, cask-strength bottle (uh-oh) 57.4%!

The Campbeltown immediately drew a few raised eyebrows, and when assigning review-duties to the whisky ladies Carissa warned me to be ‘gentle’ considering its youth.
Upon opening, the first few whiffs led to a few remarks around the table about nail varnish and alcohol fumes… reaffirming our concern that this whisky needed some more time with the wood before bottling.
However, much to everyone’s surprise there started to appear notes of honeycomb, cream, vanilla, and those small, sweet and tart mandarin oranges!
Upon first sip, we were all pleasantly surprised to discover a delightfully light and fruity palate echoing the nose – honey, oranges, ginger, and an orange-maple liqueur quality.
Ending with a mid-length finish (again, a nice surprise), we drew further floral notes of lavender, aromatic bitters, salt, and some lingering orange sweetness.
After sampling a few more whiskies, we returned to this one to find the nose had shifted to a delicious butterscotch, while the palate remained much the same as before.
With a few drops of water, it brought out a lot more hard spices like cloves and ginger, and lost some of the more delicate floral notes. Still, not a bad trade-off depending on your mood!

Campbeltown 4 year (Apr 2014/May 2018) 57%

  • Nose: sweet mandarin orange, honeycomb, floral, cream, vanilla, and sprite! (later butterscotch)
  • Palate: honey, oranges, spice, ginger, orange-maple liqueur
  • Finish: mid-long, bitters, lavender, light sugar-water sweetness, salt, and some lingering orange flavour
The official tasting notes remark on something most of us had never tried… ‘oddfellows aromatic sweeties.’ I did a quick Google and turned up an image of some chalky-looking sweets of mixed colors… I felt it must have been somewhat accurate as mixed fruit, floral, and citrus flavors coming together in a heady-sweet mix from being mixed around in a paper bag. (the image source was named Scottish Retro Sweets)
I really really loved this whisky, not just because it was unique to find such a light summery orange element in a whisky, but the pure surprise element of this depth and complexity coming from a 4-year old whisky. It’s like the underdog story, distilled and bottled… everyone loves it!

North Star’s official tasting notes:

  • Nose: Lemon citrus & cut-grass. Oddfellows aromatic sweeties
  • Palate: Gingerbread & a lovely clementine
  • Finish: Super summer fruit with a touch of sea salt

Carissa asked the folks at North Star for more insight and this is what Ciara Hepburn had to say:

The Campbeltown in Series 005 was a blended malt, and unfortunately they do not give us information as to what the whisky is made up of. I love bringing this bottle to my tastings as there is usually a few dinosaurs in the room that cannot believe this is only a 4 year old!

We couldn’t agree more! It was a hit and great reminder that terrific whisky can be crafted with just a few years.

For those curious what we paid (before it disappeared from online shelves!), this whisky was purchased from Master of Malt in August 2018 for £37.40 / USD 50 / INR 3,600 and was opened in November 2018.

Don’t miss the other Whisky Ladies guest reviews of North Star Series 005 whiskies covering 5 Scottish regions:

Original Group’s North Star Discovery:

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North Star’s Glentauchers 11 year (2007/2018) 58.9%

From the Speyside region, we picked the gentler Glautachers as our first selection for our North Star Series 5 evening with our Whisky Ladies of Mumbai guest reviewer Nikoulina Berg

Photo: Team Table

Niko knows her stuff. Experienced in the F&B industry with a career that has spanned Germany, US, Spain, China, Singapore and now India, Niko has a certain flare for food and fine spirit and wines.

Currently based in Mumbai, Niko went from heading operations at The Table and Le Pain Quotidien, she went fully independent in 2018 to bring her expertise to advise existing and new hospitality companies on everything from guest experience, IT, operational excellence, entire concept creation to execution. More recently in December 2018, she launched ‘Sorrentina’, a classic Italian all-day dining restaurant and India’s largest gourmet grocer’s ‘Foodhall’ very first restaurant in Santacruz, Mumbai.

With the Whisky Ladies, Niko has shared Bavarian whisky (Slyrs), several Japanese whiskies (AkashiMars IwaiNikka Grain, Super Nikka) and from La Maison du Whisky That Boutique-y Whisky Company’s Glentaucher’s 20 year.

So what did she think of North Star’s 11 year Glentauchers by comparison?

Glentauchers 11 year (April 2007/May 2018) 58.9%

  • Color: light golden 
  • Nose: lots of fruit! then after a couple of minutes of letting it breathe notes of sherry, vanilla, smokey, a bit like s’mores, peaches, canned pear, minty fresh fumes
  • Palate: salty dark licorice, very strong, later coats your tongue with an oddly taste if boiled milk or maybe a version of dulce de leche
  • Finish: very salty, keeps burning on your tongue – medium finish. For some of the ladies a harsh burn. Later anise seed, liquorice, coating of sherry  
  • Water: very different characteristics with water – soil, vegetale, not the grassy type though, less burn. If don’t add water but rather have a sip of water in between – brings out a burnt caramel taste 
  • Overall: It’s an absolutely beautiful whisky and definitely one of my favourites from the series we tasted! 

I prefer it without water but it needs some time to unfold fully. 

After the Glentaucher’s 20 YO from ‘The Boutique-y’ I am starting to see a pattern with my notes and ratings of Glentauchers drams!

If you can get your hands on this – get it while you can! Highly recommended!

North Star Spirit’s shares it was matured in a refill bourbon hogshead, finished in a PX Sherry, un-chill filtered, natural colour… and have this to say:

  • Nose: My gran’s syrup sponge pudding
  • Palate: Thick cream, condensed milk just before the tablet sets
  • Finish: Touch of aniseed with a delicate sherry coating

For those curious about cost, this whisky was purchased online in July 2018 from Master of Malt for £53.76 / USD 70 / INR 5,080 and was opened in November 2018.

Don’t miss the other Whisky Ladies guest reviews of North Star Series 005 whiskies covering 5 Scottish regions:

Original Group’s North Star Discovery:

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The Vault Biennale – Mumbai Feb 16 and 17, 2019

I’m so excited to be part of this weekend’s The Vault Biennale in Mumbai. For anyone who is in this part of the world – don’t miss!

And while there will be all sorts of interesting spirits to experience, discover and indulge… for those keen to listen and learn, I have the pleasure of helping weave together different Spirited Stories with a remarkable lined-up of industry experts on Saturday, Feb 16th, 2019.

Come find us in the Listen tent with:

1.00pm – 1.30pm – Spirit of Craftsmanship

  • Experts: Michael Vachon (Maverick Drinks, UK), Ewan Gunn (Global Whisky Ambassador), Keshav Prakash (The Vault)
  • Anchor: Tirthankar Dash (Story crafter, Singapore)

1.45pm – 2.15pm – The Curious World of Gins

  • Experts: Ginsmiths-Walter Riddell, Tarquin Leadbetter & Guillaume Drouin
  • Anchor – Shreya Soni (Delhi Secret Supper Club)

2.30pm – 3.00pm – The Rum Renaissance 

3.15pm – 3.45pm – Beyond Jugaad – The Indian Globalists

  • Experts: Spirit makers – Sakshi Saigal (Third Eye Distillers), Ashok Chockalingam (Amrut), Michael D’souza (Paul John)
  • Anchor – Rajeev Samant (Sula Vineyards)

4.15pm – 4.45pm – Vermouth – The Secret Soul of Cocktails

  • Experts: Grazia Di Franco (Vermouth specialist, Italy)
  • Anchor: Dimi Lezinska (Beverage Director, KOKO Mumbai)

5.00pm – 5.30pm – The Smoky Islay Tales

  • Expert: Anthony Wills (Distiller of Single Malt, Islay)
  • Anchor: Carissa Hickling (www.whiskylady.co, Mumbai)

Alas I will be catching a flight to Munich that evening so miss the next day. But you shouldn’t!

From time to time, you can also find other whisky related updates and activities on:

Aultmore 12 year 46%

Bonds of friendship, strengthened over a good dram, can span the globe and remain solid even if opportunities to meet are rare.

Such is the case with one friend from the US who happened to be in Mumbai while I was in the US. As I braved blizzard conditions in North America, she was enjoying catching up with our Whisky Ladies in much more pleasant conditions.

I returned home after she left, to be greeted by a lovely bouquet of lilies, some delicious chocolates and carefully put away in my whisky cabinet, a generous and much appreciated gift – an Aultmore 12 year.

Aultmore 12 year 46%

  • Nose – A lovely fresh citrus, delightful drizzle of honey, some vanilla then crisp orchard fruits, a creamy quality with a nougat, oak, bit of spice
  • Palate – Sweet with a light spice, a bit malty with gentle wood, more of that nuttiness, cream almost oily
  • Finish – An easy finish with spice, surprisingly long with the spice continuing
  • Water – While it isn’t needed, a splash of cool water goes well too, making it even more accessible

There was something quite fresh about this whisky, reminding me of spring bursting with new growth with a soft perfume in the air. Nothing complicated, it is easy and enjoyable, understated yet really rather good – one I’m delighted to have grace my whisky cabinet.

As I raised a silent toast to my friend, I thought it rather appropriate to have such an enjoyable sociable dram remain as a malty reminder of our times together… and look forward to the next chance our paths cross somewhere in this world

And what do the folks over at Dewar have to say?

Crisp notes of apples and pears with an aromatic floral finish.

What about other Aultmore experiences?

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That Boutique-y Whisky Co – Fettercairn 21 Year (2018) 48.6%

We closed our That Boutique-y Whisky Company samples quartet with a whisky from Speyside – Fettercairn distillery… While the others were from Diageo, this one was from White & Mackay.

It was my 1st encounter with a single malt from this distillery… and I have to admit up front, it impressed us.

Fettercairn 21 Year (May 2018) 48.6% Batch 3, 669 Bottles 

  • Nose – Greeted us with a sherry spice, sour plums, chilli chocolate, vanilla cream, an  indulgent desert, salty caramel… a bit savoury too, think peanut brittle, caramel custard
  • Palate – Dry hay, overripe fruits, tobacco leaf, well rounded, substance, well done toast
  • Finish – Burnt caramel, bitter roasted almond… lovely and long

This was no light dram, instead we found this one had terrific “oomph!” and character…

We returned after some time and discovered a sharp cheese, grassy and distinctive.

And what do the folks over at That Boutique-y Whisky Company have to say?

Fettercairn (the town) is home to Fettercairn (the distillery), and it has been since 1824. They use an inventive method of making a lighter style of spirit – when they’re collecting the middle cut, the run cool water (not the fragrance) along the outside of the still’s neck, which increases reflux, resulting in a lighter spirit. Science in action. The chaps on the label of our Fettercairn appear to be judging cairns. Looks like one of them likes the larger one.

Tasting notes:

  • Nose: Yellow plum, pear, warm gingerbread, honeyed barley, a little cut grass underneath
  • Palate: Bramley apple, sweet custard and fresh oranges. Winter spice, hazelnuts and a little toffee.
  • Finish: A hint of raspberries is present in a good-length finish.

Depending on where you acquire it (if still available), a 50 cl bottle would set you back approximately £58.

I was very amused when saw their label – we definitely concurred with pronouncing this our favourite for the evening!

Fettercairn B3.jpg

Photo: That Boutique-y Whisky Company

What other That Boutique-y Whisky Company samples did we try?

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That Boutique-y Whisky Co – Glenlossie 17 Year (2018) 48.4%

Next up from our samples from That Boutique-y Whisky Co was a sample from Glenlossie… Like the others, part of the Diageo stable and rarely seen outside a blend.

Most recently marvelled at the Compass Box Phenomenology – which is 72% Glenlossie.

So what did we think of our wee sample?

Glenlossie 17 Year (May 2018) 48.4% Batch 3, 206 Bottles

  • Nose – Initially a bit organic… even a hint of peat? Then shifted into lemon, a yummy butter cream biscuit, some vanilla, pineapple, very light spice, a nice malty quality… the aromas started to become increasingly elusive… Then after the 1st sip, a delicious cheesecake, butter pastry, basmati rice
  • Palate – Mmmm….bannoffee pie, then with the 2nd sip, a black pepper and clove spice… with more time and a return, was there coconut? Licorice?
  • Finish – Banana… correction… smoky banana, spice then sweet then bitter… what a fabulously long finish

Overall we enjoyed this one… returning after sampling all four whiskies to discover spice, bit of compost, coconut, then more of that baking sweet, spice and light fennel too.

Glenlossie B3 (1).jpg

And what do the folks over at That Boutique-y Whisky Company have to say?

Glenlossie is a beautiful distillery in Speyside, with some splendid pagoda roofs and stunning onion-shaped stills. It was founded in the latter half of the 1800s, and since the early 1900s, it has been closely associated with Haig’s blended whisky – you know, the ones with the cool-shaped bottled, the one that was on that TV show about the science teacher and his foray into… Well, yeah. Anyway, Glenlossie. Onion-shaped stills. What we did was we made it look like the still on the label is actually made of an onion, and has a spring onion line arm and garlic-bulb condenser. We like similes and metaphors.

Tasting notes:

  • Nose: Cake mix with hints of desiccated coconut. floral notes and dry grasses follow
  • Palate: Coconut creams, malty, grassy, and a peppery spice builds
  • Finish: Malty, grassy, hints of anise, while the peppery spices linger

Depending on where you acquire it (if still available), a 50 cl bottle would set you back approximately £69.

Glenlossie B3.jpg

What other That Boutique-y Whisky Company samples did we try?

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That Boutique-y Whisky Co – Strathmill 21 Year (2018) 47.7%

We moved on to another Diageo distillery from Speyside – Strathmill. In keeping with our theme, this single malt is rarely found on its own and in this case was bottled by That Boutique-y Whisky Company.

Here is what we found…

Strathmill 21 Year (June 2018) 47.7% Batch 6, 401 bottles

  • Nose – Fruity and was that a bit of sulfur? Sherry brightness, likeable, happy, sugary yet behind all that lightness was a sharpness too. Apricot and leather, woodsy with peach.
  • Palate – Sugar water, then by the 2nd sip had much more personality, sweet, sharp, some oats and a bit nutty. Frankly we just liked it!
  • Finish – Walnut butter, long and spicy then some more of the fruity peach, nectarine and powered chilli

Don’t be tempted to dismiss this whisky as a lightweight… As we continued to sip, it vacillated between cheerful and a deeper character…

We set it aside and revisited it together, contrasting and comparing with the others…Here we found the prominent notes that remained was a nice hazelnut and citrus quality.

Strathmill 21 Year Old - Batch 6 (That Boutique-y Whisky Company).jpg

And what do the folks over at That Boutique-y Whisky Company have to say?

Step back in time for a second and you might happen to see the Strathmill distillery, but it could very well be producing something completely different to tasty Speyside whisky – porridge! Yes, Strathmill used to be a porridge oats mill, but it was soon converted into a working whisky distillery, and the rest is history. Delicious history. Anyway, renowned thief Goldilocks clearly didn’t get the memo and she’s gone searching for her favourite breakfast treat in the Strathmill distillery. Somehow she found some leftover porridge oats and is now fortifying her breakfast with a particular classic brand of gin…

Tasting notes:

  • Nose: Floral honey, lemon zest, grassy malt and biscuit dough.
  • Palate: Sultana and raisin, followed by banana chips and chicory.
  • Finish: Continued banana notes, now with a hint of red chilli.

Depending on where you acquire it (if still available), a 50 cl bottle would set you back approximately £90.

Strathmill B6.jpg

What other That Boutique-y Whisky Company samples did we try?

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That Boutique-y Whisky Co – Dailuaine 15 Year (2018) 47.5%

For our That Boutique-y Whisky Co samples from Master of Malt, we deliberately focused on distilleries not yet sampled in their single malt avatar.

We began with a whisky from Speyside – Dailuaine. Part of Diageo stable, it is rarely seen outside blends… in 2005, it seems only 2% of the distillery’s output was bottled as a single malt.

Fast forward a bit and Diageo finally did a “Flora and Fauna” bottling, describing it as:

Sweet, nutty and rich.. This is not just an after dinner dram, it’s an after-dinner mood in a liquid. Thick, rich yet pleasantly, palate-cleansingly sweet. Try Dailuaine whisky with the cheese course, or just nose the cheese rind, fruit and citrus aromas hidden in its depths.

What did we think of our TBWC sample?

Dailuaine 15 year (May 2018) 47.5% Batch 2, 950 bottles

  • Nose – It initially came across as young and fruity, dripping in honey, then shifted and began to reveal a more vegetal sour dimension, organic and musty, leafy, woodsy even a touch of hay, yet still sweet and delicious
  • Palate – Very easy going yet with a bit of spice too, straight forward with more of that slightly sour element, then spice… Revisiting after some time, the woodsy quality was even more apparent with a nice light oak, something of depth and character in this one yet still approachable
  • Finish – A touch bitter

After time, yet comfortable like a cashmere sweater… even the gentle soap used to wash one too! We found the nose a bit more interesting than the palate. Overall it was an excellent introduction and a terrific way to kick off our evening!

Dailuaine 15 Year Old - Batch 2 (That Boutique-y Whisky Company).jpg

And what do the folks over at That Boutique-y Whisky Company have to say?

The Dailuaine distillery lives up in the Speyside region, and has done since 1852. It was home to Scotland’s first pagoda roof, an architectural element used by quite a few Scotch whisky distilleries over the course of history. Sadly, the Dailuaine pagoda roof burnt down in the early 1900s, which did stop production for a short while, but soon enough they were back to it! Interesting to note that until recently, some of the condensers at the Dailuaine distillery were made from stainless steel instead of copper, which resulted in their single malt having a touch of sulphur to it – some people are well into that, some aren’t. Our Dailuaine label features a pair of sulphur molecules, one seems to be nice and the other seems to be some sort of terrible nightmare creature from the netherworld. Steer clear of that one.

Tasting notes:

  • Nose: Meaty at first, with leafy hints and molasses developing later on.
  • Palate: Barley sweetness, juxtaposed intense oak spiciness.
  • Finish: Lingering red berry and cinnamon.

Depending on where you acquire it (if still available), a 50 cl bottle would set you back approximately £55.

Dailuaine B2.jpg

What other That Boutique-y Whisky Company samples did we try?

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That Boutique-y Whisky Company – Dualiane, Glenlossie, Strathmill, Fettercairn

One evening over a malty minis evening, my fellow whisky explorer and I did a little online shopping for our combined Whisky Ladies and Bombay Malt & Cigar club… the result was an exceptional collection from independent bottler North Star.

However we were also distracted by the Master of Malt dramples – wee little 3 cl sample bottles that enables you to explore “drinks by the dram.” Who could resist??

My tasting cohort and I selected a range from That Boutique-y Whisky Company which has made a name for itself with its quirky bottle designs that look more like graphic novels than whisky labels…  and for the quality of their small batch whiskies.

So what did we pick for our That Boutique-y Whisky Co explorations?

As these whiskies came out some time ago, you won’t find more details on the “That Boutique-Y Whisky Company” website.

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