Dubai Dreams – Midleton Very Rare 2011 40%

So what does an Irish whisky have to do with Dubai? It just so happens this particular bottle was enjoyed in Dubai with an Irishman who truly appreciates his Irish whiskies.

And he wasn’t the only one… our gathering of gents had many who enjoy their whiskies… however truth be told, slowing down, sniffing and discussing the aromas before the first sip was a departure from their usual approach.

However they were kind enough to indulge my light admonishment to be a bit patient.

When I shared this was the luxury brand of Irish single malts, this caught their attention.

And it truly is. Not only is Midleton the Jameson groups premier brand, this particular bottle is a rare collectable one… these day if you are very lucky, you may find it online for around €500.

Midleton “Very Rare” is an annual limited release started in 1984 to celebrate the best of Midleton (read Jameson) distillery. Each year these bottles tend to fly off the shelf and for Midleton fans, half the fun is comparing the different expressions – particularly the “old” which had their retired master distiller Barry Crocket’s involvement vs the “new” (2014 onwards) which purely reflect their master distiller Brian Nation’s hand in the blend.

What did we find?

Midleton Very Rare 2011 No 042585 / L121731255 40%

  • Nose – A pronounced butterscotch, caramel and toffee character, sweet grass, dripping with honey, after time some vanilla cream
  • Palate – Smooth, one could even say buttery, light fruits, honey, some black pepper spice, a nice oily feel though it was also quite light and “clean” on the palate
  • Finish – Quite gentle, there but with a light touch and continued with the linear “clean” dimension
  • Water – No temptation to add… It was perfect “as is”

The quality and character of this particular blend lends an easy comparison with a Highland malt. We described it as quite “spring like” with a fresh appealing and accessible approach.

Our somewhat biased Irish sampler declared this “Simply the best!” However there clearly was concurrence. We discussed how there were no harsh notes… and would put this in the category of a lovely easy drinking dram.

We spoke of what makes Irish whisky distinctive – tends to be triple distilled, not malted, limited use of peat and judicious use of ex-sherry casks.

As the last drop was drained… there were satisfied murmurs of appreciation… what a wonderful way to kick off our evening!

Our most generous host shared a remarkable collection of drams:

  • SMWS G10.10 “Busy buzzing bees” 38 years (23 Nov 1977) 49.6%
  • Old Pulteney 17 year 46%
  • Longmorn 25 year (1988/2014) Cask 14384 46% (Berry’s Bro)
  • Kilchoman Sherry (2007/2013) Cask 447/2007 59.5%
  • SMWS 29.229 “Harmonious balance” 19 year (13 May 1998) 55.2%

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LMdW Artist #8 – Ardmore 10 year 60.3%

We were nearly through our exploration of the full range of the new La Maison du Whisky Artist # 8.

Back to the non-sherry drams and shifting again back to peat… with Ardmore and a label that made me think of wandering through a chilled winter forest.

Ardmore 10 year (2008/2018) Cask #800168 60.3% (233 bottles)

  • Nose – Citrus, herbal, then shifts into sweet spices, classic
  • Palate – Light spice and again quite herbal, traditional styled peat
  • Finish – Long, tobacco

I will admit by this point, I had been sniffing and swishing through 8 drams. Did this one stand out? Not exceptionally so. Particularly after the powerful Bowmore.

That doesn’t mean it wasn’t a fine dram – it certainly had some interesting qualities however a fleeting sip leaves only an impression than full fledged proper tasting. And I have a feeling to properly appreciate this Ardmore, one would need to slow down to give it full attention and due consideration.

As for a ball park on cost? In Singapore, this bottle would be SGD 300 at La Maison du Whisky.

And what do the folks there have to say?

  • Nose – Both powerful and unctuous. So Ardmore, the first nose does not go with the back of the spoon and we propose to discover a peat trimmed with billhooks. Very chocolaty and spicy (cloves, nutmeg), this peat impregnates the aromatic palette. In the background, some white flowers and peppers (Cayenne) reinforce its heady character. To be noted, its beautiful herbaceous and busty register (verbena, sage).
  • Palate – Rich, dense. In tune with the nose, the attack on the palate is full of vivacity. Whole blocks of peat literally fall down the walls of the palace. At the same time, coconut and juicy pears release their sweet juices and constantly refresh the taste buds. The mid-palate is marked by various essential oils (savory, rosemary). Gradually, a diaphanous smoke starts to intensify.
  • Finish – Silky, nourished. Gourmet, it evokes a delicious milk pie. As it goes, it becomes more and more herbaceous (green malt) and saline. Pink berries and cloves give it the tonicity that will allow it to finish in beauty on notes of red fruits (raspberry, strawberry). Intensely smoke and ash, the retro-olfaction reveals notes of tobacco and menthol. Fibrous, empty glass pays tribute to malted barley.

—-From LMdW website with an imperfect google translation from French.

La Maison du Whisky Artist #8 sans Sherry

We’ve not had so many Ardmore’s and those that made it to Mumbai were both just this year (2018)!

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LMdW Artist #8 – Caol Ila 15 year 54.2%

We shifted fully into peat mode with Caol Ila… part of the new La Maison du Whisky Artist # 8 series.

Just as you would imagine from the swirl of smoke from Jérémie Lenoir’s photographs, this was no shy retiring whisky…

Caol Ila 15 year (2003/2018) Hogshead Cask #302465 54.2% (282 bottles)

  • Nose – Sweet peat, light hickory, bay leaves and sweet basil
  • Palate – Surprisingly soft and smooth yet no mistaking it was powerful too
  • Finish – An absolutely terrific finish – incredibly long and strong

The smoke remained… so pungent that I needed to change glasses before continuing with the rest of the series!

As for what it would set you back? SGD 388.

And what do the folks at La Maison du Whisky have to say? No detailed tasting notes…. just a few thoughts.

Particularly suggestive, this absolutely beautiful version transports us in the proper sense of the word. Continuously traversed by swirls of smoke and a sea wind of exquisite sweetness, the aromatic palette is a succession of hectic sequences and moments imbued with tranquility and serenity.

—-From LMdW website with an imperfect google translation from French.

La Maison du Whisky Artist #8 sans Sherry

Clearly we’ve had other flirtations with Caol Ila:

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LMdW Artist #8 – Bruichladdich 25 year 46.9%

We continued exploring the full range of the new La Maison du Whisky Artist # 8 with a trip to Islay with a whisky from Bruichladdich.

Now I am no stranger to Bruichladdich! In Singapore, the most memorable Bruichladdich sampled til date was at Whisky Live Singapore 2016’s Collectors Room – with the 15 year “Royal Wedding H.R.H. Prince Charles” (1965/1980) 52%!

Here in Mumbai we’ve had the most memorable Peat Progression Evenings and even explored their PC MP5 trio.

However I will admit none attained the venerable age of 25+ years.

So what did my teasing sniff and swish at Whisky Live Singapore 2018‘s VIP room reveal?

Bruichladdich 25 year (1993/2018) Hogshead Cask #1640 46.9%

  • Nose – Earthy, hay, organic… think wandering around a farm on a warm summer day, a bit of salty minerals, sweet grass, orchard fruits and even a bit herbal too
  • Palate – Sour, soft, very natural, more of that organic quality…. everything on the nose followed through on the palate in a nicely rounded way
  • Finish – Light pepper spice, some nuts and ends a bit sweet

This wasn’t an easy romping dram, it was one that I would have preferred to slow down and get to know a bit better. However with only a teasing sip, it was not enough to do justice.

So what do the folks at La Maison du Whisky have to say?

  • Nose – Slim, fine. With a lot of freshness, the first lets us contemplate with rare acuity a field of barley. Rather salty, it is also imbued with medicinal tones (mustard, camphor). Its airiness is so beautiful that it raises enthusiasm. Gradually, vanilla and some yellow fruits (pear, apple) give replica to very fragrant plants (rosemary, savory). The aromatic palette is a marvel of balance.
  • Palate – Both delicate and lively. Not in rest, the attack in mouth also takes height. Very fond and juicy (pear William), it is also vanilla and lemony. The middle of the mouth makes us smell the heady perfumes of geranium and red fruits (strawberry, raspberry) that escape from a tank in full fermentation. The end of the mouth evokes the zucchini flower.
  • Finish – Long, serene. In the same fermentary register, it is milky (coconut, almond). Increasingly saline, it extends on notes of salicornia, pig ears and more autumn flavors of chestnut and liquorice. The retro-olfaction comes back on red fruits and more particularly raspberry. The empty glass is medicinal and peppered.

—-From LMdW website with an imperfect google translation from French.

La Maison du Whisky Artist #8 sans Sherry

Just a few past explorations of Bruichladdich whiskies include:

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LMdW Artist #8 – Glenturret 30 year 55.3%

We continued exploring the full range of the new La Maison du Whisky Artist #8 series with a Highland dram from Glenturret.

I nearly forgot having tried the Glenturret 10 year back in 2013! Somehow Glenturret just isn’t one of those distilleries our merry Mumbai malters manage to encounter in our travels around the globe.

To then have an opportunity to sample a rather fine specimen of some 30+ years? Well, what a treat!

Glenturret 30 year (1987/2018) Hogshead Cask #371 55.3% (214 bottles)

  • Nose – Peach and other orchard fruits, complex, subtle dusting of sugar, a deeper French vanilla, a sweet perfume… utterly delightful
  • Palate – Delicious!! What a class act and how marvellously balanced. Honey sweet yet not too much so, a bit more depth with a zesty spice.
  • Finish – Long delicate fruits, berries, sweet spices… and oh how it lingers

Truly a lovely whisky with tremendous balance and beauty. Really quite superb. My sampling companions were amused as I was clearly in my “happy place” with this whisky! I would have loved to enjoyed this simply on its own and not part of a teaser sampling with 10 in this series!

Just to keep things in perspective, what would this beauty set you back? If buying in Singapore, it would be SGD 595 (approx US 435).

And what do the folks at La Maison du Whisky have to say?

  • Nose – Ample, rich. Very jammy (mirabelle, queen-claude) and vanilla, the first is also herbaceous (cut hay, alfalfa) and candied (lemon, pear, apricot). At aeration, the malted barley spreads with extreme delicacy over the entire aromatic palette. Then, he becomes more and more greedy (oat cake, leavened bread, raisin bread) and powdered (cocoa bean)
  • Palate – Creamy, creamy. A spicy sequence (star anise, clove) infuses a lot of pep to the attack of mouth. Then, in the process, bunches of white grapes release a wonderfully tart juice and notes of green grass give it a lot of freshness and going. Very gourmet, the mid-palate invites us to pick a variety of vegetables (zucchini, pumpkin, tomato, eggplant). The finish is honey (lime) and oily (sunflower).
  • Finish – Long, fluffy. From now on, it is the exotic fruits (mango, passion, pineapple) which take the leading role. They are accompanied by some red fruits (raspberry, strawberry) and black (blackberry, blackcurrant). This taste development is a real bath of youth for the taste buds. He also demonstrates that this Glenturret is never short of arguments. The retro-olfaction is spicy (star anise, ginger), vanilla and menthol. The empty glass reveals notes of porridge.

—- From LMdW website with an imperfect google translation from French.

La Maison du Whisky Artist #8 sans Sherry

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LMdW Artist #8 – Benrinnes 20 year 49.4%

We kicked off exploring the full range of the new La Maison du Whisky Artist #8 with a non-Sherry Benrinnes.

This was a far cry from my first encounter with Benrinnes which was a Single Malts of Scotland bottle of a 24 year old cask strength. That one was harsh and medicinal. And this one? Read on…

Benrinnes 20 year (1995/2018) Hogshead Cask #9063 49.4% (279 bottles)

  • Nose – Started a bit dusty, light fruit, mild and subdued… then started to evolve… even more pronounced fruits, vanilla sponge cake, sweet dry grass
  • Palate – Again soft and mild, gently sweet and exceedingly easy to sip, slightly “rusty”, then a bit spicy
  • Finish – Lightly bitter and nutty, sweet, spice and a bit metallic

Much more enjoyable and interesting than my previous encounter.  When I later read the tasting notes, thought they were rather apt!

As for what it would set you back? SGD395.

And what do the folks at La Maison du Whisky have to say?

  • Nose – Refined, complex. At first, the aromatic palette is covered in a thin layer of arnica and peppermint aromas. Then, everything shatters, ceding to notes of green malt, cut hay and incredibly juicy fruits (white grape, canary melon, Louis bonne pepper). The longer it is left to breathe, the more concentrated it becomes. Vanilla pod and acacia honey bring lots of consistency.
  • Palate – Elegant, rich. On the attack, the vanilla pod has developed into a creamy custard and numerous aromatic plants (verbena, sage, rosemary), highlighting its pleasant freshness. The mid-palate is characterized by notes of polish (beeswax, emery cloth) and honey (still acacia). The spicy (grated ginger, cinnamon) end of the palate struts its stuff.
  • Finish – Long, airy. Green almond and fresh walnut appear alongside freshly cut hay. Then, unexpectedly and with originality, it develops notes of green olive and lime. The luscious (sorrel, lemon balm) retronasal olfaction is slightly peppery and sprinkled with a few grains of salt. The empty glass faithfully reproduces the medicinal notes of the initial nose, adding cocoa bean and praline.

—-From LMdW website transition from French.

La Maison du Whisky Artist #8 sans Sherry

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LMdW Artist #8 sans Sherry – Benrinnes, Glenturret, Bruichladdich, Caol Ila, Ardmore

La Maison du Whisky has created special Artist Series… at Whisky Live Singapore 2018 in Singapore, they featured their new 8 Series.

This time, they split the approach into non-sherry and sherry, with two different artists. We sampled them in the suggested order, alternating between non-sherry and sherry whiskies.

For the non-sherry whiskies, the artist selected was French photographer Jérémie Lenoir. As they share

“Immerse yourself in an ode to the purity of the elements and the natural graphics of the earth’s surface through the five labels of this new range.”

La Maison du Whisky Artist #8 sans Sherry

I personally thought each label remarkably fit the character of each whisky:

Brilliant chose of expressions and images to match!

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Whisky Lady’s 2018 Highlights (and Lowlights)

Hello 2019! And farewell 2018… What a year it was!

For this Whisky Lady there was a fair amount of travel within India but surprisingly little international travel… until November 2018 which kicked off with Whisky Live Singapore, a work jaunt to Turkey, Germany and closed with New Years in Dubai!

What this also meant was that I was mostly home in Mumbai, so missed very few tasting session this year – yeah!!

Bombay Malt & Cigar Club

We tried a few different blends from Douglas Laing & Sansibar Blends  (combined with the Whisky Ladies), to a Compass Box Quartet to the Lost Distilleries archival reconstructions.

We also did some “virtual” travel to Canada, Europe and Japan for whisky, Columbian & Seychelles for rum. Plus some 21s, a Sherry Unusual eve… We even threw in a Bar Night for good measure!

  • Highlight – Really tough to chose as the gents have “upped” their game… we’ve had some remarkable whiskies, great themes however Compass Box’s Phenomenology is truly remarkable for how individual
  • Lowlight – This was easy… the Domaine Des Hautes Glace Organic Single Malt 42% from our European evening… whether it was “off” or just the opposite of what we seek in a whisky, absolutely NOT for us!

Whisky Ladies

We also had two rounds of our free wheeling contributor’s choice (Mar and Oct)“Bar Bottles”Smokey Night and even had an evening dedicated to exploring Grains.

As for our “virtual” travels, we had rather a lot of fun with our Irish jig, Islay AdventuresHighland Hijinks and “Trans Tasman Tour.”

  • Highlight – For it would be finally cracking open the Whisky Exchange’s Sukhinder Singh’s Cask Strength Trio, carefully selected for our ladies to be affordable yet fabulous!
  • Runners up – The Islay Adventures were a terrific variation on Laguvlin whereas purely for the inventive theme, Northern Lights with whiskies from Canada, Iceland and Sweden.

Our Original Club

Not to be outdone, our original club found a way to explore Repeats in new ways, including our very own Keshav & Anjan Prakash’s Vault Collection, a classic Scottish Trio,  Pedigree Malts, some standards plus different Sherry Expressions.

We also narrowed our focus to explore a Kavalan Solist Cask Night and Bruichladdich’s Port Charlotte 10 year MP5.  And fun with the packaging…

And other adventures?

Ooooh there were a few rather amusing nights with interesting whisky folks like Ireland’s Quiet Man with Michael Morris, Malt Maniac’s Krishna Nakula with some exceptional drams, IBHL’s master distiller Stuart Harvey, and The Vault’s Keshav Prakash. We had two minis evenings April and Aug, a special evening of just gins with the ladies.

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Whisky Lady – December 2018

Happy New Year!!! December was full of mischief in Mumbai, merriment in Munich and delightful New Year celebrations in Dubai.

Our Whisky Ladies enjoyed a Smokey Night of:

Plus notes from an earlier Whisky Ladies session with:

Our other two groups took a break for the holiday season providing a chance to share a few tasting experiences from my November Singapore trip starting with Nector of the Daily Drams:

  • Ben Nevis 21 year (19967/2017) 48.7% – Not my tipple but a good example of a Ben Nevis style
  • Highland Park 24 year (1992/2016) 50% – Delightfully well-balanced and exactly why once upon a time this was a preferred distillery
  • Springbank 23 year (1994/2017) 50.6% – What one would more aptly associate with the Longrow brand – peaty and pleasurable!
  • The Anniversary Dram XO 45.4% – A rather successful effort to reconstruct an ‘old style’ Macallan
  • Deanston 19 year (1999/2018) 51% – Fruit, spice and rather nice!

Then from Whisky Live Singapore with:

Plus a sampling of various Gordon & MacPhail offerings with:

Plus tasting notes from our Bombay Malt & Cigar Sherry Expressions eve:

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Smoky Night – Kilchoman Loch Gorm 46%

Last in our Whisky LadiesSmoky Night” evening was this Islay – Kilchoman’s full sherry expression – Loch Gorm.

What did we think?

Kilchoman Loch Gorm 46%

  • Nose – Mmmmmm…. lovely tobacco, sea salt, smoke, mixed with Christmas cheer, some orange twist, dried fruits and sweet spices
  • Palate – Yum! Soft and buttery, chocolate, peat rolling around with a clear sherry dry richness
  • Finish – Gorgeous peat

For many, this was proper peat and sweet dram – a full, robust and satisfying whisky.

More than anything else, this evening was a terrific reminder that tasting order and environment makes all the difference!

After the rather disappointing Bunnahabhain, this Loch Gorm was “Oh yeah!” The peat hit just the right note and the sweet was also quite welcome.

Whereas for the Bombay Malt and Cigar lads, we sampled this same whisky after a trio of unpeated sherry drams. And the one just before – the BenRiach – was particularly spectacular. So when we got to the Loch Gorm it was a bit of a shock to the palate.

And what do the Kilchoman folks have to say about Loch Gorm?

  • Nose – Orange peel, cloves, caramel and mixed spice with waves of fruit cake and citrus.
  • Palate – A beautiful balance of spicy richness, cooked fruits, chocolate with layers of brown sugar sweetness and earthy peat smoke
  • Finish – Mouth-filling peat smoke, lasting tropical sweetness, toffee and rich dried fruit.

The biggest distinction here being 100% oloroso sherry cask matured… As the Kilchoman folks put it:

It is common for distilleries to use a variety of sherry producers but for our consistent quality and character, it is vital that we source them all from just one bodega. We select a combination of sherry butts and hogsheads from Jose Miguel Martin that provides two separate styles of maturation.

These ex-oloroso sherry casks impart a combination of heavy sherry notes, spicy dark chocolate, rich fruits and burnt sugar. This balances beautifully with the Kilchoman peat smoke and citrus fruits found within our farm crafted spirit.

For us, the results worked!

Our Smokey Night with the Whisky Ladies also included:

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