Whisky Lady – July 2021

My European adventures continued – this time to Scandi country starting on the west coast hopping over to Hven – practically touching Denmark then up to the capital Stockholm on to Gavle with Mackmyra distillery.

What a time to go to Sweden! It was such a fabulous couple of days and well worth the inconveniences of traveling in COVID times.

First up was jaunt from Gothenburg to Laholm to Veen to visit Spirit of Hven where we took a distillery tour and tasted:

  • MerCurious Corn Whisky 45.6%
  • Seven Stars 6.2 Alcor 45%
  • Seven Angels – St Raphael 40.9%

Then we popped over to Stockholm and from there to Gavle for a tour of Mackmyra distillery and tasting of:

  • Macmyra Reserve Bourbon Forlagrad (Pre-stored) Fatnr 41155 (2018-10-29 to 2019-05-14) 55%
  • Macmyra Reserve Oloroso Elegant Fatnr 39502 (2016-11-22/ 2020-09-21) 49.6%
  • Mackmyra Moments – Brukswhisky DLx Nr 659/1499 46.6%
  • Macmyra Reserve Bourbon Rok 3.5 year Fatnr 7765 (2018-11-13) 50.3%
  • Macmyra Reserve New Oloroso Rok Fatrn 38740 (2014-1010/2018-10-10) 57.3%
  • Mackmyra Svensk Rok 46.1% WL (2021 distillery visit) 

I managed to catch up on some tasting notes from my June Paris trip… which began with sharing a few drams with our Euro Whisky Ladies:

Then continued with Maison Benjamin Kuentz where we sampled:

  • Aux Particules Vines (1st Edition) 46% WLE
  • Aux Particules Vines (4th Edition) 46% WLE
  • Aux Particules Vines (5th Edition) 46% WLE

(Tasting notes STILL to come!)

However I finally got around to sharing tasting notes about a sextet from German distillery St Kilian. The original plan was to go to the distillery in November 2020 – COVID dropped that idea! Then samples were sent to those who were SUPPOSED to be there. Mine didn’t quite make it in time for the online tasting. It then took me MANY months to crack them open with friends – an interesting experience which ranged from promising to a bit perplexing. I then took even more months to try and track down via two folks I knew received the same samples for more insights. As many months had elapsed with both doing such regular tastings that the details were lost. So I hope I can be forgiven for sharing minimal insights… I’m still curious enough to want to explore more – just not the peated drams!

My month closed with a wee Penderyn virtual tasting and a flight home to Mumbai!

Curious to know more? Check out a few more monthly summaries:

And if you don’t want to miss a post, why not follow Whisky Lady on:

Additionally, there are the two ‘off-shoots’ with:

St Kilian Part 2 – A curious turn

This is the 2nd part of six samples courtesy of St Kilian organized by Whiskey Jason. While the distillery trip was cancelled and I missed the official tasting experience, I was still super curious. 

The initial three were overall promising – particularly the 2nd sample was really enjoyable. We couldn’t wait to dive into the next ones…

4th Sample – Industrial

  • Colour – Quite pale
  • Nose – Oil refinery, heavy peat that was “in your face”, like a chemical processing plant, iodine, hot machine shop, cured leather, oily and very industrial, gun oil, adhesive, wood chips, parsley to strong cinnamon, cured meat and bacon
  • Palate – Embers in a cold fireplace, no balance, hard core metallic
  • Finish – Same

When I looked back on my notes, there was a quote… I hesitate to even share.. but the reaction to the 1st sip was “Ugh! Disgusting!” We really struggled with this one… after the really promising start with the initial three, it was such a shift in gears… a very curious turn…

5th Sample – Briney smoke

  • Nose – Butter fudge, creamy, vanilla, saline, briney fishy peat, cream of tartar
  • Palate – Spice, cinnamon, old smoke, hot buttered rum, such a contrast from the nose to discover such sweetness, heavy cinnamon
  • Finish – And yet the smoke lingers…

In this one the peat sort of snuck up on you… perhaps after the forceful peat of the previous one, this didn’t seem so strong. Yet as we sniffed and particularly after the 1st sip, the peat became stronger and stronger.

6th Sample – Pharmacy

  • Nose – Interestingly, it began light and fruity, then took a decidedly chemical bent… like an organic chemistry lab, shifting to a more medicinal direction, dish water, paper glue, rotten fruit and compost
  • Palate – Really bitter, on the front of the palate some sugars, yet at the back was tar
  • Finish – Slightly sweet

My goodness! How did it go from slightly fruity to compost and full pharmacy. 

We sat there stunned… perplexed… in such a quandary… what could the folks at St Kilian have been thinking? Clearly the direction of these drams was no accident but… why? What would posess pursuing a clearly industrial pharmaceutical bent? 

If you don’t want to miss a post, why not follow Whisky Lady on:

St Kilian Part 1 – A promising start…

St Kilian is one of the newer distilleries in Bavaria… I had the great pleasure to meet with a couple of folks from there together with a fellow German Sharing Angel at Nurnberg’s The Village Whisky Festival in February 2020.

Fast forward to November 2020 and there were plans to visit the distillery. I was incredibly excited to spend a weekend learning about the distillery, their processes, ideas and overall approach to whisky making.

Alas as fall progressed into winter, COVID conditions deteriorated and the trip was cancelled. However very kindly, the folks at St Kilian dispatched samples and set-up a virtual tasting. Unfortunately the samples reached me late and I also missed the virtual session too.

However, I remained very curious so on a weekend with fellow whisky enthusiasts, we cracked open the 6 bottles, split each sample into 3 and we started to explore…

1st Sample – Bursting with flavours

  • Nose – Vanilla, fruity, creamy toffee, nice bourbon cream pie… then shifted to something more herbal, vegetal with ripe tomatoes, celery… then balsam fir
  • Palate – Creamy, fruity apple, dried plums, quince, a bit raw but still interesting
  • Finish – A bit of bitter almond?

Young, till a bit fiery, scrappy… and frankly quite a promising start.

We returned after some time and it had ten on almost an artificial sweetness, candy floss and vanilla on the nose but then a biting spice on the palate with a bitter nutty finish.

2nd Sample – Tasty treat

  • Nose – Very fruity, starts with overripe bananas, then shifts into hazelnuts, back to bannoffee pie, then the nutty quality became stronger and stronger with cashew, pecan nuts adding to the hazelnut, vacillating between roasted nuts and raw nuts freshly plucked from their tree, vanilla pod, fresh resin
  • Palate – Spicy yet nothing in the slightest bit harsh! Has more substance than expected from the aroma, fuller, incredibly tasty
  • Finish – Sweet spices of cinnamon, cloves, lightly bitter

We really liked this one – it had character and remained enjoyable. Even after we set it aside for some time and returned, it was bubblegum, wintergreen oil and still delicious.

3rd Sample – Tropical punch

  • Nose – Oh my! Tropical fruits – pineapple, mango… cinnamon red candies.. very prominent banana, a hint of rubber, overall sweet with a hint of alcohol, vanilla cream, a bit of roasted chestnut, candle wax, soooo sweet… then had a hint that was almost like a bandaid adhesive 
  • Palate – Initially the bananas on the nose carried through on the palate, a hint of smoke, raw chestnut, green walnut, became sweeter and sweeter
  • Finish – Strong cinnamon finish

The colour of this last dram was quite significantly darker than the others. What was curious was the smoke. It was more like the kind of smoke that settles on the walls of a room that had someone smoke in long before rather than anything direct. 

If you don’t want to miss a post, why not follow Whisky Lady on:

Chorlton – Croftengea 13 year 53.9%

So there we were, one fine evening in Paris with two beautiful bottles from Chorlton‘s  La Nouvelle Vague series…  We began with the superb Orkney that surprised us with its lush complex character. We then turned to the Croftnegea…

If you aren’t immediately familiar with Croftnegea, perhaps you have heard for Loch Lomond? Just in this case it is the brand for their heavily peated version… much like Glenturret is also known as Ruadh Maor

It was with this heavy peat expectation that I had thought to try this after the Highland Park “Orkney”. However what we discovered was quite the opposite!

As for the whisky…. read on…

Croftengea 13 years 53.9% 231 bottles

  • Colour – Bright gold
  • Nose – Pear, ripe bananas, caramel, a bit of spice, cough syrup, malty, after the 1st sip, the aromas shifted to a delightful lemon meringue pie, strawberries, subtle spice and honey
  • Palate – Buttery sweet brioche, then citrusy with light peat at the end
  • Finish – Lingers, wonderful
  • Water – Made it even more accessible and very yummy, more fresh sweet bread, lemon curd

There was such a contrast between the aromas and palate, quite dynamic on the nose and subtle yet lovely on the palate.

We set it aside and revisited comparing the glass without water which had become perfumed and sweet, citrus and sugar. The one with the water was fruitier with the peat a bit more pronounced, cinnamon mini donut, Christmas market!

What did David have to say?

Peated single malt from Captain Haddock’s favourite distillery! This one starts on a sweet note, with banana milkshake, Milky Bars and a funky sort of fruitiness on the nose. The palate starts with fudgy chocolate, soft ginger and mango, before the peat makes itself felt with light smoke and a hit of black olive saltiness. This is a hugely fun whisky, and enjoyably weird around the edges.

I purchased this in December 2020 for £62.50 plus tax and courier charges. And I am sooooooo glad I managed to grab this while it was still available!

Here is are two more from La Nouvelle Vague series:

Here is the full set of Chorlton‘s sampled til date from the L’Ancien Régime series:

If you don’t want to miss a post, why not follow Whisky Lady on:

Chorlton – Orkney 15 year 57.1%

This is my 2nd Chorlton from the La Nouvelle Vague series… I’ll admit that I had high expectations however this one blew us away!

While the distillery is not explicitly named, considering there are only two distilleries on Orkney Island with quite different characters, and David mentions it is the more famous of the two, it will clearly be Highland Park rather than Scapa.

As for the whisky…. read on…

Orkney 15 years 57.1% 121 bottles

  • Colour – Deep copper
  • Nose – Smoked pork? Wow! What an active aroma – jumping all over the place in an amazingly powerful way the sweet smoke was initially predominant but not alone. From strawberries to cherries, hibiscus with a bouquet of flowers, citrus then shifted to red berries or French sweet red currents, a gorgeous dessert, underlaid with old wood, dark bitter chocolate, nutty, treacle and ham
  • Palate – Fabulous! Sweet, peat, generous berries, bitter coffee, absolutely flavour packed with so many layers, complex… all on the 1st sip. As we went in for our second sip, it was meaty, spicy, some french toast drowning in maple syrup, buttered brioche, caramelized banana, honeyed ham
  • Finish – Long and strong, phenomenal, with a rich mocha coffee initially which then also morphed from coffee and chocolate to cherry
  • Water – Needed? No. However is it also brilliant with water too? Yes. We found it was even more chocolatey

Even before opening, we started speculating about the cask given its incredibly dark hue and a mere 121 bottles from a hogshead barrel which typically would produce more than double!  And then we cracked it open and were amazed at the promise shown just from the cork alone – strawberries and bubblegum!

Then to have the caleidoscope of aromas then richly complex palate and stellar finish? We were floored. Our experience went well beyond any expectation and was decidedly different than recent brushes with Highand Park.

When we set it aside and revisited it was equally enjoyable. This time with a new briney seaside quality we missed in our earlier exploration. It is clearly a whisky to savour and enjoy – over and over!What did David have to say?

This whisky (from the more famous of the two Orkney distilleries) has been matured in a very active cask, giving it the sort of hue you might expect from first-fill bourbon. The nose has waxy citrus, sea water and sticky cherry-flavour cough syrup alongside a lightly fragrant peat smoke. The palate is oily and chewy, with stewed red berries, smouldering wood, rose petals, herbal pastilles and a long coastal finish.

I purchased this in December 2020 for £75 plus tax and courier charges, back when it was still possible to get whiskies directly from the UK.

Here are two more from the La Nouvelle Vague series:

Plus the Chorlton‘s sampled til date from the L’Ancien Régime series:

If you don’t want to miss a post, why not follow Whisky Lady on:

Arran Quarter Cask The Bothy Cask Strength 56.2%

Nearly a year ago I was in Scotland and one of the few distilleries I had the pleasure of visiting was Lochranza on Isle of Arran. It was a fabulous day trip with friends and well worth doing.

One whisky I tried there was their no age statement Quarter Cask – and absolutely loved it! However as I could only walk away with one bottle for Mumbai, chose one that was only available at the distillery – the gorgeous rich and intense 23 year old cask strength.

A few months later, I bought the Quarter Cask online in Germany with plans to bring it to India during my summer trip as a way to ’round out’ a no-age-statement trio – joining bottles of the Lochranza Estate and Port Finish already patiently waiting for a tasting session in my Mumbai whisky cabinet.

And then summer came with no chance of a trip home in sight, I decided to open this bottle and simply enjoy! Naturally sharing samples with my Whisky Ladies in Paris.

Whilst we had minis of the Arran vertical 14, 18, and 23-year-olds plus the Port finish, I chose to dive into this one as an appetizer before the mighty Chorlton cask strength Orkney and Loch Lomond.

So what did we think?

Arran Quarter Cask The Bothy Cask Strength 56.2%

  • Nose – Mmmm….. vanilla, sweet sponge cake, Barbados rum, fruity, honey caramelized nuts which then flipped through a combination of blanched white almonds, hazelnuts, Brazil nuts, coconut, back to honey, vanilla, pineapple upside-down cake, milk chocolate
  • Palate – A wonderful warming spice, nicely well-rounded, a much more “solid” character than anticipated from the dessert-like aromas, approachable yet with substance, oily, a touch of dark bitter chocolate, nutmeg – rich without being heavy, lightly fruity
  • Finish – Lingers with pineapple and honey, lovely and long
  • Water – While we didn’t think it needed, decided to try – and you should! It brought out buttery sweet brioche on the nose, reduced the nuttiness, amping up the fruitness, bringing out on the palate a citrus twist and orange marmalade without compromising the delicious finish

We loved it! The nose was so inviting and delicious, the palate is marvellously well balanced and the finish long and rewarding. What isn’t there to enjoy?

We set it aside for a revisit and was greeted by a delightful perfume on the nose, fabulous flavours on the palate – which much more citrus than we initially found. Loved it!

What do the folks at Arran have to say?

Our Quarter Cask expression is a complex, rich and intensely fruity Single Malt, a cask strength delight and the perfect partner to our Sherry Cask Single Malt!

The Arran Single Malt selected for this cask strength expression was initially matured in first-fill ex-Bourbon barrels for 7 years before being transferred for secondary maturation into smaller Quarter casks also made of the finest American oak for a further 2 years. The process of transferring our whisky into the smaller 125 litre sized casks for their final 2 years of maturation produces far greater contact between the whisky & oak and a faster, more intense maturation.

The end result is a full-bodied expression of Arran Single Malt combining power and finesse full of rich vanilla sweetness and bold peppery spice. Bottling at natural Cask Strength without chill-filtration or artificial colouring of any sort presents this whisky in its purest form. Small casks would have been a common feature of the Arran whisky trade in the eighteenth & nineteenth centuries as they were easier to handle and transport around the island. With our much-loved Quarter Cask expression we proudly bring this tradition back to life.

Official distillery tasting notes:

  • Nose – Apple tart, pineapple brioche
  • Palate – The citrus hallmarks of Arran welcome you, and the sweet spice of cinnamon and vanilla promises a memorable dram.
  • Finish – Sweetness, Honey, Pineapple, Vanilla, Coconut.

To be honest, we didn’t read the official tasting notes however clearly we would completely agree!

This expression is available from the distillery for GBP 50 and I bought it in Germany for EUR 53.56.

Ad arran quarter cask bottle box product detail rebrand

What else have we recently tried from Arran?

If you don’t want to miss a post, why not follow Whisky Lady on:

Chorlton’s La Nouvelle Vague picking up from L’Ancien Régime

Ah… Chorlton… it has fast become a favourite independent bottler with their beautiful whiskies with even more beautiful labels.

In 2020, David came out with a new series – La Nouvelle Vague – and I simply could not resist! While I haven’t acquired all, I am a proud owner of this trio! So far we’ve only sampled the first… and I couldn’t wait to crack open the next two… bringing the full bottles with me on a trip to Paris to share!

Alas since I got my hands on the Croftnegea and Orkney, Brexit has complicated things considerably and I suspect future Chorlton acquisitions may be quite challenging.

Here are all the Chorlton‘s sampled till date from the L’Ancien Régime series… both with the Whisky Ladies European chapter and earlier in Mumbai with our original tasting group…

  • Miltonduff 9 year 58.3% – Creamy dessert with fruits, breakfast cereals… in short delicious!
  • Orkney 9 year 63.1% – Copper, minerals, salted caramel, and smoke, all beautifully balanced
  • Ruadh Maor 8 year 62.5% (aka Glenturret) – Seasoned meats and fried snacks…. a chameleon quality that evolved differently in each glass

Each one has been unique and interesting in its own way… Slainte!

If you don’t want to miss a post, why not follow Whisky Lady on:

Arran Duo – Quarter Cask and Port Finish

Back at the start of 2021 I was in Mumbai, rebottling whiskies into miniatures for tasting in India and to bring some back to Europe. The Campbeltown and Arran sets were dutifully dispatched early February to Paris and we dove into the Campbeltown ones almost right away!

As for the Arran trio? Let’s just say we got distracted with all the other whiskies we had accumulated or had wandered their way to us!

So when I decided to “pop” over to Paris, I decided to augment the trio already with my fellow “Euro Whisky Ladies” with another duo…. this time bringing the additional drams by hand.

So what was in the original Lochranza vertical?

And what did I add to augment it?

Tasting notes for The Bothy are from this summer however the Port is from a few years ago. We haven’t yet revisited it, though no doubt will soon enough. It may be some time before we slowly but surely work our way through a few sets before the Arran drams. Ahh… a problem of plenty is not really a problem at all!

If you don’t want to miss a post, why not follow Whisky Lady on:

Whisky Lady – June 2021

Confession time – with Europe cautiously opening up again I simply couldn’t resist hopping on a train to Paris for a week!

A highlight of the trip was meeting Benjamin Kuentz, the man behind Maison Benjamin Kuentz that has enthralled us with his creations. As one Whisky Lady had hunted down the 1st edition of Aux Particules Vines, our focus was on that series joined by samples of the 4th and 5th editions. After our tasting, we were connected with a Parisian distributor who had the 3rd edition however so far the 2nd edition remains elusive!

We also avidly discussed our impression of the 2nd edition of Aveux Gourmands compared with the original – which we found more pronounced in the buttery salted caramel.

I took advantage of this trip to bring gifts of my much beloved Chorlton bottles and other samples for us to enjoy together. One evening we sat down together to try:

Before joining our Whisky Ladies in Europe, we held a virtual session exploring the quintet generously sent by the folks at The Belgian Owl.

  • Trying the spirit with Origine provided interesting insights into the underlying qualities
  • Their flagship Identité at only 3 years is friendly with delicious aromas
  • For us, the 3-year single cask Passion was the only disappointment, coming across as a bit unbalanced and ‘not quite there’ the way Identite nailed it… and curiously lacking “passion”
  • When we first tried the 4-year Evolution, we loved how it was a clear step forward from Identite, building on what we appreciated with the added maturity really augmenting the experience on the palate in particular
  • And with Intense? Remarkable! At 72.7% we thought it would be too intense – not at all!

Curious to know more? Check out a few other ’round-up’ summaries:

And if you don’t want to miss a post, why not follow Whisky Lady on:

Additionally, there are the two ‘off-shoots’ with:

The Belgian Owl – Intense 72.7%

I am pretty sure that The Belgian Owl Intense has to be the strongest whisky I’ve ever had – by alcohol strength that is! Most distilleries will reduce the new make spirit by adding water before maturing in barrels – hence even in younger cask strength whiskies we see ABV hovering around the 60%s or less. Not so with Belgium Owl who have bottled at a whopping 72.7%! What did we think of the whisky?

The Belgian Owl Intense 40 months, first fill bourbon, single cask 1538452 72.7% Bottle 177

  • Colour – Bright gold
  • Aroma – We initially thought of a dusty attic, very different. Nutty, resins, as it opened up, becoming increasingly pleasant, sweetly vanilla, a floral perfume, toffee, strawberries, Victoria sponge cake, cream, pure desert, really interesting and inviting. It kept shifting – from desert to sweet grass and honey, back to cinnamon, then caramelized bananas
  • Palate – Salty buttery caramel, cinnamon, chocolate milk, toffee, vanilla, bananas
  • Finish – Initial burn, then very sweet soft caramels
  • Water – While surprisingly smooth without water, it is even better with – bringing out a buttery cinnamon roll… over time there was almost a “perfume” on the palate

Had we sampled this “blind”, I highly doubt anyone would have guessed the ABV. It was way too delicious with different dimensions and not at all harsh. In many ways this was the most interesting of the quintet – bursting with character yet surprisingly not overwhelming.

What do the folks at The Belgian Owl have to say?

The Belgian Owl Intense is a single cask whisky stored at its degree of ageing, specifically selected by Etienne Bouillon. Each cask is unique and unveils its own character. We would like to promote some of these casks, we are sure you will be delighted.

The choice of bottling at cask strength is a completely natural choice for us. We can offer you a tasting as if you were here with us, in our whisky storehouse, undiluted, straight from the cask. This sensation is intense and unforgettable. We hope that these emotions will accompany you wherever you are.

Overall when we considered the five different whiskies in our The Belgian Owl quintet, we thought:

  • Trying the spirit with Origine provided interesting insights into the underlying qualities
  • Their flagship Identité at only 3 years is friendly with delicious aromas
  • For us, the 3-year single cask Passion was the only disappointment, coming across as a bit unbalanced and ‘not quite there’ the way Identite nailed it… and curiously lacking “passion”
  • When we first tried the 4-year Evolution, we loved how it was a clear step forward from Identite, building on what we appreciated with the added maturity really augmenting the experience on the palate in particular
  • And with Intense? Remarkable! At 72.7% we thought it would be too intense – not at all!

This set was kindly provided by The Belgian Owl – to me in Germany, my tasting companions in Paris and hopefully soon by folks in India too. However, the views here are our own.

If you don’t want to miss a post, why not follow Whisky Lady on:

Additionally, there are the two ‘off-shoots’ with: