Shackleton 40%

Stories of antarctic explorations capture the imagination with the tale of Shackleton whisky are well known.

“I believe it is in our nature to explore, to reach out into the unknown.” – Ernest Shackleton

Our whisky tasting  groups have explored different versions of this whisky reconstruction with:

Along the way I had picked up this version where it quietly sat in my whisky cabinet, biding its time til it surfaced as part of a birthday celebration.

Shackleton 40%

  • Nose – Sweet apple cinnamon pie, toffee, vanilla
  • Palate – Easy drinking, fruity, sweet with malty cereals, dried fruits, hint of tart citrus
  • Finish – Carries on from the palate

I will admit these are more fleeting impressions than proper notes as it was a sociable occasion. However sometimes an enjoyable blend like this is “spot on” and appreciated by our crowd. By the end of the evening, there wasn’t a single drop remaining – voting through consuming is always a good sign!

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Highland Treat – Glen Garioch 15 year 53.7%

Waaaay back in the summer, our Whisky Ladies enjoyed a Highland Trio – starting with two whiskies from AnCnoc and closing with this Glen Garioch.

What did we think?

Glen Garioch 15 year Sherry Cask Matured 53.7%

  • Colour – A lovely dark ruby gold
  • Nose – Mmmm…. really good black coffee, honey, buttery, banana, caramel, treacle, banoffee pie, apricots… coming back loads of delicious sherry
  • Palate – Coffee candy, toffee, toasted raisin bread slathered in butter, raisin, dates, rolling around in heavy sherry with a great mouthfeel
  • Finish – A slow burn that tapers into sweet spice

This really was rather delicious! Generous sherry influence, quite satisfying in all ways.

The folks at Glen Garioch haven’t kept tasting notes on their website, however the folks over at Master of Malt have this to say:

Glen Garioch 15 Year Old has been aged in oloroso sherry casks and has a sweet and fruity character. The nose opens with dark berries and dried fruits, followed by sweet vanilla notes and a slight tartness. The palate is thick and full bodied, giving notes of dried fruits and cinnamon spice. A hint of heather honey appears before a long woody finish, with gentle spices throughout.

As of late 2019, you can still find this at The Whisky Exchange for approximately £125.

We also had these as part of our Highland Treat :

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Highland Treat – AnCnoc Rùdhan 46% 

From the honeyed sweetness of the Black Hill, we shifted into a peatier AnCnoc, with their Travel Retail edition Rùdhan. What did the Whisky Ladies think?

AnCnoc Rùdhan 46%

  • Nose – Strong and sweet, peat then settles down, bit of spice… a bit sharp… surprisingly we then found it shifted into vegetal aromas – distinctly carrot juice! Then shifted again to vanilla apple spice with cinnamon
  • Palate – First sip had a nice spice kick, lots of cinnamon, tobacco, like fireworks sparkling on the tongue, nicely buttery, honey
  • Finish – Peat yet also fruity with primarily apple just and a chaser of tart cranberry juice

It was quite provocative and perhaps a bit fickle minded. 

We set it aside and found it became even sweeter, the sharpness settled down and yet its character remained. Smoke and spice – subdued yet most enjoyable.

And what do the folks at AcCnoc have to say?

The highly anticipated Rùdhan is the latest travel retail expression to join the Peaty Collection. In keeping with anCnoc’s traditional style, the whisky takes its name from the peat harvesting process. The term ‘rùdhan’ [roo-an] refers to the final stage, in which the peat is stacked for several weeks to dry out ahead of burning to create the signature smokiness associated with the range.

  • Colour – Pale Straw
  • Nose – TA light fruitiness kicks off this elegant dram. Delicate floral notes play their part before bowing out to a burnt wood smokiness.
  • Taste – On the palate, it takes on a whole new character. Earthy peat smoke still prevalent, it is now accompanied by the more robust notes of spice and burnt sugar. 
  • Finish – The finish is smooth and warm.

Like the Black Hill, depending on where you travel, you may still be able to find a bottle for approximately €52.

We also had these as part of our Highland Treat :

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Highland Treat – AnCnoc Black Hill Reserve 46%

So back in July, our Whisky Ladies had an evening featuring a trio of highland drams. It was a lovely evening where the tasting progression was spot on! And then I somehow managed to lose my tasting notes – for months!

Finally recovered, hope you enjoy our impressions…

AnCnoc Black Hill Reserve 46%

  • Nose – First whiff was full fruity, a bit spicy, a little rustic, some hay, lovely honeyed sweetness, like a fresh fragrant meadow, rewarding us with a delightful perfume. After the 1st sip, grapefruit citrus twist, vanilla, desert custard, heather
  • Palate – Lovely, floral, lots of honey, orange, gets more and more flavourful, spice
  • Finish – Heather with leather, long and satisfying

We really enjoyed this one and found it both very well balanced and frankly, just well done! That light, bright sunshine kind of whisky that is a perfect way to start…

We set it aside to try the next two and then revisited to find honeydew melon, honey… quite pleasant.

And what do the folks at AcCnoc have to say?

Knockdhu Distillery’s enduring charisma echoes the timeless allure of the nearby Knock Hill, known to the locals as the Black Hill. It is the source of the springs which bring our whisky to life and in whose shadow the Distillery has flourished since 1894. Gaelic for Black Hill, Knockdhu remains rooted in traditional production methods, yet the refreshingly modern personality of anCnoc Highland Single Malt Scotch Whisky conveys its contemporary outlook. An outstanding addition to our range of whiskies, Black Hill Reserve is testimony to the finest qualities of anCnoc. Matured exclusively in first fill American oak ex-bourbon casks, it is a whisky every bit as captivating as the historic corner of Scotland from which it comes.

  • Colour – Bright Gold.
  • Nose – The bright and crisp notes of citrus, green apples and coconut are complemented by honey sweetness and layers of fresh vanilla. Satisfying and refreshing.
  • Taste – Full bodied and bursting with rich flavour, it brings to mind ground spices, pear drops, candied orange peel and sharp toffee sweetness underpinned by just a hint of old leather.
  • Finish – The finish is long and intense.

Did we agree? Absolutely!

Depending on where you travel, you may be lucky enough to find this in travel retail for around £52.

What else did we try in our Highland Treat?

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Whisky Lady – November 2019

Wow! My first month in my new country of residence – Germany – zipped past in a blink of an eye!

October had just a lone post about anticipating an Advent Calendar… which due its change in delivery date and my hectic schedule never reached me! It wandered its way back to the UK then was resent (with additional fees!) to Germany mid-November and never actually turned up as expected so am now awaiting the 3rd attempt from the UK. Let’s hope three times a charm and I can open it in my new flat early December and maybe even try some before I hop on a plane back to India December 20th!

So while my ‘kick start’ to German tasting adventures was a fiasco, November’s quick trip back to Mumbai was much more successful and I managed to sneak in not one but two whisky tasting sessions.

The 1st tasting session was with the Bombay Malt & Cigar gents where we explored an Irish Method & Madness Quartet of:

The 2nd with our original club was quite an exceptional evening – our host generously shared his birthday celebration with us, held the evening at Savor‘s unique tasting room and introduced us to another fabulous independent bottler – Chorlton Single Casks with:

  • Miltonduff 9 year 58.3%
  • Orkney 9 year 63.1%
  • Glenturret Ruadh Maor 8 year 62.5%

I also found the time (and tasting notes!) from the Mumbai original club’s September session which featured:

There will likely be even more disruptions over the next few months as I settle into the new job and life in Europe. Plus can’t wait to get home to Mumbai for a few weeks end December!!

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Original Club – Springbank 10 year 46%

Representing Campbeltown, our host selected this classic Springbank 10 year as part of our tasting trio.

We sampled it blind following and were completely taken aback – it wasn’t at all like what we have come to expect from Springbank. Read on and discover why…

Springbank 10 year 46%

  • Nose – Jackfruit, cream, old fruit, was there a hint of smoke or peat? Mandarin orange, marshmallow, then solvent? Huh? Which shifted into paan or betel leaf, vanilla, very sweet, grass
  • Palate – Surprisingly soft, orange marmalade, then peat, sweet and even more peat and sweet
  • Finish – There but not much, sweet lemon rind

This one didn’t quite sit right with us… there was a flat tone, one even called it insipid? We certainly thought it had a lower alcohol content than the one before… and we were stumped, we simply couldn’t place it.

The reveal was a shocker. Several of us – myself included – are quite fond of Campbeltown whiskies with this Springbank 10 year a standard.

How then did it not have any of the elements we normally expect? Where was the pear, yummy rich nutty oak, vanilla, pinch of cinnamon and nutmeg, a sweet dry yet satisfying finish??

And that’s where we realised without a doubt the impact of the tasting order. Starting off with the powerful peaty Caol Ila, the more delicate Springbank wasn’t able to reveal its true character. Setting them all aside and then coming back after the Scapa made such a difference.

What else did we explore?

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Original Club – Jura 11 year 58.6%

Our host had a clear theme in mind – to feature different Islands around Scotland. We’ve not explored many whiskies from the Isle of Jura – just Superstition and Turas-Mara. We sampled this whisky blind, without any inkling of what we were trying.

Distiller’s Art with Jura 11 year (2006/2018) 58.6%, Refill Hogshead, bottle 229 of 270

  • Colour – Quite light straw
  • Nose – Sour kumquat, drunken fruit, solvent, volatile, rose petals, country liquor, limoncello, lalima rose, vitamin B complex, santosh sandalwood, unusual and atypical
  • Palate – Tangy, spice and sweet, a narrow palate profile, not evolving, no 2nd or tertiary flavour, peculiar and odd
  • Finish – Burn slightly bitter
  • Water – Made the sweetness very prominent, much more spice, prickly on the mouth and palate

This was a puzzle – it initially came off as almost not like a whisky at all! One speculated it may even be a grain? We overall concluded it likely was not Scottish, maybe one of these experimental whiskies… quite curious.

With the reveal we were surprised. Not at all what we had expected. Which just goes to show that it is good to explore without brand bias or pre-conceived notions.

What else did we explore?

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Original Club – Caol Ila 8 year 59.2%

Our original tasting club in Mumbai has a tradition of sampling blind. We also try to explore something new – which sometimes leads to amazing new discoveries and sometimes disappointments.

What this means is trying familiar distilleries but in new avatars. In this case, we explored an old favourite Caol Ila from Hunter Laing’s newer Distiller’s Art bottling line of Single Casks. Then to add an even further special twist, these particular bottles were picked up from a particular store at cask strength.

Caol Ila 8 year (2009 / 2018) 59.2%, Sherry Hogshead, Bottle 173 of 180

  • Nose – Varnish, sharp, astringent, light banana, honey and caramel, vanilla, overall quite young
  • Palate – A bit harsh, raw, salty, spice kick, very piquant, hint of bitter coffee, chocolate
  • Finish – A warm burn, jaggery, spice, salty butter lingers… long and tingling

We suspected it was likely an ex-bourbon cask and definitely was high alcohol with an ‘in your face’ quality. Powerful and unbalanced… so we added water – a generous dollop. What a difference water made!

  • On the nose, it brightened it up, revealing lemon, floral honey.
  • Then on the palate, rounded it out, smoothing it into buttery leather, old wood and had much more depth
  • Suddenly it had an insane long finish!

While there were clear hints of peat before adding water, there were just too many forward elements competing for attention. With the water, it was truly a different dram.

What else did we explore?

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Original Club – Caol Ila, Jura, Springbank, Scapa

In September, I’d planned to be off on a Scottish whisky tour… however the visa powers that be had other ideas and I found myself cancelling that trip and remaining grounded in Mumbai.

The silver lining was being able to join one more whisky tasting session with our original Mumbai group.

What did we explore?

Our host decided the order by age and yet after we finished the tasting, we thought how a reverse order may have brought out the elements of each whisky more fully.

Which led to the alternate whisky our host had originally thought to include – the Scapa 40% instead of Springbank 10 which is normally a favourite.

It was an interesting evening and one I was delighted to be able to join.

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The last dram standing…

Years ago I cracked open my old whisky cabinet with intent to share and empty “dram dregs” with our newly formed Mumbai whisky club and friends. It was a most enjoyable evening and while we didn’t polish off all the bottles, we certainly made a dent!

So when I managed to free up the Friday evening before flying off to Nuremberg for the big move to Germany, the BEST way to enjoy was to invite a little assistance to “save” a few bottles from oxidation further in Mumbai’s far from ideal storage conditions.

Everything that was open came out of the whisky cabinet without exception!

Tasting stations were setup with:

  • Ex-bourbon
  • Sherry
  • Japanese
  • Experimental & International
  • Peat
  • Secret stash

The ex-bourbon‘s proved a popular starting point so several were polished off and only a few remained:

In the Japenese corner we had:

  • Hakushu 18 year – The last drops of a favourite whisky that I suspect was open for nearly 10 years (yes you read that correctly)…
  • Chita 12 year – From over 4 years ago, it remained exquisitely perfumed, such a delight and quite different than the Chita NAS found these days
  • Ichiro’s Houou-uhi – A mythical “Pheonix”… these final drops did not disappoint and reminded me just how exceptional this blend of discontinued Kawasaki and Hanyu malts truly was!
  • Remarkably we still had a bit of the Nikka From the Barrel remaining…

And in our peat section?

While we certainly did not complete our mission of polishing off ALL, we did a very respectable job of making a serious dent with a focus on those quite low with just a few drams.

All told, we emptied 11 bottles.

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