The Nector of the Daily Drams – Highland Park 24 year 50%

At La Maison du Whisky in Singapore, we explored a quartet of whiskies bottled by The Nector of the Daily Drams.

While my companion started with a peaty Springbank, I went straight for a 24 year old Highland Park.

Highland Park 24 year (1992/2016) 50%

  • Nose – Started with caramel, then quite fruity from oranges to apricots to apples, sweet vanilla, then shifted into herbal, then more mineral and earthy qualities, almost a bit musty
  • Palate – The fruit came from the nose came though – with a shift between apple and pear side then citrus… There is also a touch of salt too. One of the best qualities on the palate was the subtle light hint of smoke
  • Finish – Long light spice

While the Springbank was sheer indulgence, the Highland Park was much more subtle and gentle. Certainly one I enjoyed immensely.

Just in case you were curious, as of November 2018, this bottle is still available at Master of Malt for nearly $400 – yikes!

Here are a few more whiskies tried from The Nector of the Daily Drams:

Curious about other Highland Park tasting experiences? Check out:

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The Nector of the Daily Drams – Springbank 23 year 50.6%

At La Maison du Whisky in Singapore, we settled down to explore whiskies from The Nector of the Daily Drams.

My companion has more of a peat bent so began with a peaty Springbank.

Springbank 23 year (1994/2017) 50.6%

  • Nose – A bit salty, almost a brine peat and sweet, then some lemon custard, minerals or an earthy element
  • Palate – Nice and rounded on the palate with a solid old school campfire peat, light tobacco with some stewed fruits subtly in the background
  • Finish – Really rather good – long and strong with a delicious light chocolate and almost herbal quality at the end

If you enjoy the peatier Campbeltown style, this one is certainly for you! It has a deceptive complexity that grows on you the more you sip… and yet it is also eminently approachable.

While it is from the “Springbank” distillery, in terms of style, it is what we today know as “Longrow” or the peat line from the Campbeltown distillery.

You won’t find this at a liquor store near you… instead it was last seen on Whisky Auctioneer with the winning bidder parting with £425. Gulp!

We tried it as part of a special evening with Mario of The Nector of the Daily Drams along with:

  • Ben Nevis 21 year (19967/2017) 48.7%
  • Deanston 19 year (1999/2018) 51%
  • Highland Park 24 year (1992/2016) 50%
  • The Anniversary Dram XO 45.4%

Curious to try other peaty whiskies from this distillery?

And Springbank’s unpeated avatars:

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The Nector of the Daily Drams with Mario

It isn’t so often one has an opportunity to sample a dram or two with the person responsible for bringing it to your glass…

So what is The Nector of the Daily Drams?

It is the name of a range of whiskies bottled by The Nectar (Belgian whisky importer and distributor). They’ve been around since 2006 and are  primarily focused on the BeNeLux market. However, you can find them in other markets – specifically in Singapore – through La Maison du Whisky.

And who was with us in Singapore?

Mario Groteklaes, Marketing & Sales Director who also is primarily responsible for cask selection of their Daily Drams whisky series.

Now I must share, Mario thought my taking a few scribbled notes while tasting nonsense – quite clearly drams are to be enjoyed not dissected and detailed.

My companion and I selected two different whiskies each – sharing a few sips with each other. Then chose another two… again sharing – a most civilized approach!

Here is what we had at La Maison du Whisky before Whisky Live:

  • 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

I then followed this quartet with the tiniest taste at the Whisky Live VIP room:

  • Deanston 19 year (1999/2018) 51% – Fruit, spice and rather nice!

Read on over the coming days to know more about what we discovered…

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Whisky Live 2018 – Edradour Ballechin

Edradour has been known as the smallest traditional distillery, up in Pitlochry, Perthshire part of the Highlands region.

Currently owned by Pernod Ricard, the Edradour distillery produces a range of different single malts under both the Edradour (unpeated) and Ballechin (peated) brands with a dizzying array of wine cask finished experiments as well!

And what did we try at Whisky Live Singapore in the VIP room? Two distinctly different drams…

Edradour Ballechin 8 year (2009) 46%

  • Nose – Had a lovely nutty quality – veering towards hazelnut and almond – with a clear influence of both the sherry dried fruits and a puff of smoke
  • Palate – Beautifully balanced between peat and sherry sweet, fruity, smooth and a light chilli spice, honey
  • Finish – Sweet sherry fruits and spice – delicious!

The gent who encouraged us to try was a merry Scottish fellow but completely mixed up the contents and context!

It is a marriage of Edradour’s un-peated ex-Sherry cask # 69 and the peated Ballechin ex-bourbon casks # 279, 280 and 281.

It was rather good and I was exceedingly surprised to discover how affordable it was in the UK at GBP 50… alas in Singapore it is a pricy SGD 198 (ie more than double at GBP 115).

Edradour Vintage 10 year (2008/2018) FF Sherry Cask No 8, Bottle 515 57.9% (LMdW)

  • Nose – Juicy berries, red fruits, clear robust sherry
  • Palate – Follows through on the palate with the nose, light sweet spice, black raspberries, dry
  • Finish – Full finish, with dry sweet spices of cinnamon bark and clove

No doubt this was some quality sherry and the bottle noted it was a first fill sherry cask.

If you are curious, in Singapore, this bottle goes for SGD 258 and was specially selected for La Maison du Whisky.

What about other Edradour’s sampled by our Mumbai based tasting clubs over the years?

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Kilchoman Loch Gorm 2010/2016 Sherry Cask 46%

Over the years I’ve had some interesting experiences with Kilchoman. However the last bottle that was actually mine to keep (as opposed to helping others source) was the Coull Point which was my ‘daily dram’ of choice for as long as it lasted back in mid 2015!

So when Islay Storm  showed up as part of an Islay tasting flight at The Single Cask early 2017, with an unmistakable ‘stamp’ of Kilchoman, I vowed it was time to acquire another bottle for home.

Enter the Loch Gorm 100% sherry matured… sourced from the UK. Earlier experiences with Kilchoman’s peat and full sherry sweet were all cask strength with an Olorosso and Pedro Ximenez, so I looked forward to trying a ‘connoisseurs’ strength of 46%.

Kilchoman Loch Gorm (2010/2016) 46%

  • Nose – Lasang souchon tea, bandaids, antisceptic, one found fish? Then it started to settle down with some sweet cinnamon and maple syrup…
  • Palate – Very pronounced peat! And with the peat was sweet, and yet it was initially a bit unbalanced, some sweet smoky cinnamon, cloves, dry
  • Finish – Peat with ash

After the absolutely stunning BenRiach, this was quite the change. Certainly as a contrast, it succeeded. However as a whisky for the gents to relax, unwind and enjoy… not that evening.

So I took it home…. and added a few generous drops of water – wow! Transformed…

  • Nose – It became much fruitier, rich chocolate, mince pie, vanilla and even, dare I say it, marshmallows?
  • Palate – Now we have the balance! Much sweeter, fruitier yet lost none of the “oomph!” and character
  • Finish – Long, cinnamon sweet with an unmistakable curl of smoke… almost sacred ash like… with a chaser of spice.

I think it might be fun to revisit again with the Whisky Ladies as part of a Smokey Night… where the Loch Gorm will have some peaty Islay company!

Here is what the folks over at Kilchoman have to say:

Named after a famously peaty loch overlooked by the distillery, Loch Gorm is the only fully ex-sherry cask matured release in our range. Since it’s first launch in 2012 a new edition of Loch Gorm has been released every year, each with it’s unique balance of sherry influence and maturity. Bottlings are differentiated by distillation and bottling years printed on the label. Loch Gorm combines rich sherry fruits and spices with smouldering peat, cloves and lingering sweetness.

And for this specific bottle? The box has this to say:

  • Colour: Rich mahogany
  • Nose: Spicy and sweet with peat smoke and dark chocolate well integrated
  • Palate: Soft fruits, well rounded and full of character
  • Finish: Lingering, sweet and well balanced

Kilchoman whiskies sampled include:

Here are the whiskies explored in our Sherry Unusual evening:

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BenRiach 12 year (2005/2018) Sherry Cask No 5052 59.3%

When planning my sherry unusual evening, I wanted there to be variety – hence Irish, Indian and Islay – yet also knew we needed at least one “proper” classic sherry dram.

Enter the BenRiach single cask, single malt bottled for World of Whisky, Heathrow Airport. Now lest you think this was standard travel retail fare, this cask was launched for World Whisky Day in May 2018 for a slightly pricey £120.

Matured in Olorosso Sherry, non-chill filtered with natural colour, we managed to nab bottle 292 of a mere 597… and discovered it was worth every single pound!

BenRiach 12 year (14 Oct 2005/2018) Cask No 5052 59.3% 

  • Nose – Milk caramel sweets, slight citrus hint, heavy toffee, rum raisins, chocolate eclairs…  started to shift into chocolate liquor, dark fruits, nuts… after quite some time there was almost a hint of blue cheese
  • Palate – Gorgeous! Simply a class act. Dark plums, black cherries, rich and simply outstanding. Lovely cinnamon, raisins, complex, so well balanced, every sip a reward.
  • Finish – Huge long flavour. Everything we loved about the palate simply carried through… for an incredibly long time… superb!

There was no doubt this was an exceptional single malt.

Not one of us were tempted to put even a single drop of water. Each sip we enjoyed more… and it kept evolving. By the 3rd we discovered cayenne, by the 4th chocolate, by the 5th the dark fruits again came to the fore… and the next dripping in honey… you get the picture!

This was one worthy whisky that invited you to slow down, take your time, savour each sip and be rewarded with the most marvellously long finish.

A brilliant reminder of what a quality sherry dram can and should be!

BenRiach tasting notes with the bottle:

  • Colour – Amber
  • Nose – Honeycomb, chocolate, honey covered dates
  • Taste – Rich dark chocolate and herbs, honey coated almonds and figs

Here are the whiskies explored in our Sherry Unusual evening:

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Paul John 7 year Oloroso (2009) 57.4%

I’ve been ever so patiently waiting to sample this whisky… wanting just the right opportunity to share it with one of my Mumbai based whisky tasting groups.

Finally… nearly 2 years after I acquired this lovely bottle, it graced an evening of Sherry explorations…

What did we find?

Paul John 7 year (2009) Oloroso Sherry Cask Finish 57.4%

  • Nose – Starts quite nutty – specifically walnut, some balsa wood, toast then starts to shift into sweet dry fruits and spices with an inviting warm cinnamon, mince pie, dates, fresh figs, orange citrus, a delicious drizzle of honey or perhaps maple syrup?
  • Palate – Full force and fabulous! There was a lovely spice, cherries, rich and full bodied while remaining nicely rounded. Some black pepper and cinnamon bark, complex and dry.
  • Finish – Long, strong, sweet and sumptuous, even a little hint of licorice at the tail
  • Water – Wow! Really opened it up… Much fruitier, dried apricot, still keeps the orange, rum raisins, even sweeter yet without losing the lovely “Ooomph!” and character…The nose then took on some vanilla, cream, think of a yummy egg nog with a generous dash of nutmeg

What a whisky! Even before  the 1st sip, we already heard comments like “Beautiful!” and “Remarkable!”

No question this was cask strength. And equally no doubt this was one exceptional whisky. Full flavoured and quite fabulous, it really came into its optimal character with a splash of water.

To put it in desi terms – we were “maha” impressed! Even more so when the reveal was Indian, provoking much national pride. Bravo Paul John!

And what the folks at Paul John have to say?

A limited edition of the Indian single malt from the sunny Goan coasts, Oloroso presents an aromatic tapestry of complex yet gorgeously weighted fragrances, from toasted honeycomb to figs and a touch of dry raisin. Matured for 3 years in American bourbon barrels and finished in sherry casks for 4 years, its creamy flavours offer a delectable blend of barley with grape. The intense sherry richness towards the end, gives this rare whisky its name. The finish is long and luxuriously spiced, with a cocoa tinged vanilla. It is a wholesome Goan experience, packed into every sip.

  • Nose – Complex and gorgeously weighted, Toasted honeycomb, dry resin, dates, figs and apricot, its almost an aromatic tapestry.
  • Palate – Magnificent mix of barley and grape, sweet and creamy, intense richness of sherry in the end.
  • Finish – Long and luxurious, with pulsing vanilla-cocoa mix and a build-up of spices.
  • Colour – Dark Amber
  • Pairing – This extremely complex whisky needs food that can complement it well. Tender, juicy steaks and blue cheese can help you unravel every nuance of this magnificent malt from Goa.

Paul John Whiskies:

Here are the whiskies explored in our Sherry Unusual evening:

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Hyde No. 6 President’s Reserve 46%

Thanks to a mutual whisky aficionado, I was introduced in Mumbai many months ago to two of the merry men behind Ireland’s new whiskey brand – Hyde. Note the deliberate use of brand not distillery… as these folks are building a name for themselves as “bonders” working with existing distillers to craft a range of whiskies with ambitious plans to some day some way have a distillery of their own.

What did they send our way?

Well… A curious miss greeted the Hyde on its arrival… and then I waited an exceedingly long time to find the right evening to share this bottle… So what did we find?

Hyde No. 6 President’s Reserve (May 2017) 46% Bottle No 4780/5000

  • Nose – Bright lemon, a very light sherry perfume, talcum powder, hint of lavender, somehow quite astringent with the lemon the most obvious element – shifting from zest to liquid dishwashing soap, a synthetic lemon desert
  • Palate – One found sulfur, for most it was honey or sugar water, lightly fruity
  • Finish – An initial spice that then relatively quickly dissipated

As the gents knew the theme was some dimension of sherry, speculation turned to it certainly not being fully matured in an ex-sherry barrel but instead only finished and that too not a PX but perhaps Olorosso.

It was a pleasant beginning, simple, sweet with the nose probably the most interesting element.

What do we know about this whiskey?

First off, it is a blend an 18 Year Old Irish single malt and 8 Year Old Irish single grain. Both were first matured in bourbon casks before being finished together for 9 months in Oloroso sherry casks.

It was named in honour of Douglas Hyde, Ireland’s first president, who was inaugurated on 25th June 1938.

And here is what the Hyde folks have to say:

  • Nose – Delightfully floral notes of vanilla, sweet, honey, caramel, chocolate, and mixed fruit, infused with spices.
  • Taste – Wonderfully smooth yet complex, creamy yet fruity with notes of caramel, honey, apricot, and apple, with a silky rich texture.
  • Finish – Rich & Oaky. It lingers in the mouth with a rich long finish.

Here are the other whiskies explored in our Sherry Unusual evening:

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Sherry Unusual – Hyde, Paul John, Kilchoman, BenRiach

Sherry’s effect on whisky can be a marvel. And I wanted to do something a bit different for our Bombay Malt & Cigar gents to push the boundaries beyond the known sherry drams like Aberlour, GlenDronach, Glenrothes, etc.

Normally we dive straight into whiskies, knowing what we are trying. However I wanted to have a bit of fun with a surprise…. So kept my fellow tasters “blind.”

Next, I introduced a “reference” pour.

I said nothing about it – merely to smell (not sip) with a request between each whisky to go back to the “reference” to recalibrate senses and compare.

It didn’t take long til they realized the “reference” wasn’t whisky at all but instead a sherry… with speculation it may be a “cream” or sweetened avatar rather than a dry fino or amontillado.

I later revealed that it was a Kingsgate Canadian sherry from KittlingRidge Ontario, Canada  described on the bottle as:

“A premium medium dry sherry, barrel aged in oak for extra smoothness.”

However this Kingsgate is now known as Apera with an explanation that it is medium dry Oloroso sherry “style” dessert wine. This 2013 nod from to EU regulations recognizes that a “true” Sherry can only come from the Spanish triangle.

Which tells you this funny little bottle, inherited from a friend who was leaving India, has been around for a few years…

As for what we tried? Not quite your usual fare…

Here is the progression we explored with our Sherry Unusual evening with whiskies from Ireland, India and Islay…. plus an extra special single cask:

Hyde #6 President’s Reserve 8 year single grain + 18 year single malt 46%

From Ireland, picked as an appetizer, the bottle stated it was finished in Sherry. What made it unusual is that it is a new brand, released to help promote the Hyde name before their Hibernia distillery in Cork is fully producing.

Paul John 7 Year (2009) Oloroso Sherry Cask Finish 57.4%

This was the biggest surprise – none imaged it could be from India! We were mighty impressed with what the folks from Paul John produced with four years in ex Bourbon then 3 years in ex Sherry casks. It also opened up beautifully with a bit of water.

BenRiach 12 year (2005/2018) Oloroso Sherry Cask No 5052 59.3%

A true class act. Selected just to be sure we had at least ONE proper single malt in our evening. Gorgeous and astounding how at 59.2%, not a drop of water was desired.

Kilchoman Loch Gorm (2010/2016) Sherry 46%

A pure peat monster tempered with 100% sherry from Islay. Not everyone’s tipple but certainly demonstrated how peat and sweet can combine!

Just click on the whisky links to find out even more about what we discovered!

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Compass Box Great King Street Glasgow Blend 43%

Our Whisky Ladies November session quite randomly ended  up with a trio of Highland drams plus the delicious Compass Box Great King Street Glasgow Blend.

As a tasting group, we were no strangers to Compass Box and its whole new calibre of blends. In an earlier session we had even tried a limited edition Great King Street blend – the Experimental Batch.

Here is what we thought of the peaty Glasgow version…

Compass Box Great King Street Glasgow Blend 43%

  • Colour – Light straw
  • Nose – Nutty, lightly smokey, old furniture, autumn leaves, some spice, a bit of minerals, some vanilla, biscuits
  • Palate – Simply superb! Coffee, sweet berries, beautifully well rounded, some basil, a bit woodsy
  • Finish – Wood smoke, cinnamon, cloves

Overall we enjoyed our wee nip of this blend and the small bottle was completely polished off!

Here is what the Compass Box folks have to say:

In his 1930 book “Whisky”, Aeneas MacDonald teaches us that Glaswegians historically preferred fuller bodied and more flavour-packed whiskies than people in other parts of the world. So what better name for a whisky such as this?

You’ll find here a rich vein of peaty-smokiness, underpinned by sherry cask-aged whiskies, full of dried fruit and wine character. The palate is full and round, with a sweetness typical of whiskies from our company.

You can also see exactly what this blend is made of, courtesy of the fabulously transparent disclosures of Compass Box.

Here is what else we tried:

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