Sipsmith’s Sloe Gin Martini

Every once and a while folks move on to different lands, leaving behind a gift or two. In this case, it was a bottle of Sipsmith Sloe gin…

For those not familiar with sloe gin, what makes it distinctive is soaking blackthorn ‘sloe’ drupes and sugar in gin, bringing both colour and flavour to the gin.

sipsmith-soe-gin

I met up with this friend recently in Singapore and so on my return, decided to enjoy a summery Sunday (yes – it is still hot here in Mumbai!) cocktail.

Here is what I made…

Sipsmith’s Sloe Gin Martini

  • 2 generous drams of Sloe Gin
  • 1/4 dram of Vermouth
  • Few dashes of Angostura bitters
  • Shake or stir over ice until cold
  • Garnish with an orange peel
  • Serve in a chilled martini glass

If you want it even lighter, add a splash of sparkling water or soda…

This particular Sipsmith Sloe Gin is from 2013 and has a juicy sweet plummy flavour which becomes more refreshing chilled and diluted with ice.

Other cocktail adventures include:

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Cleveland Underground Apple Bourbon Whiskey Sour

Ah… there are times when a chilled whisky sour just hits the spot! Which is exactly why our bourbon evening closed with a non-traditional take on this whiskey cocktail standard.

This isn’t quite what we tried but pretty close…

Underground Whiskey Sour
  • 1 ½ oz Underground Bourbon
  • 1 tsp lemon juice
  • ½ tsp sugar
  • 1 drunken cherry
  • Chickpea froth
DIRECTIONS
  1. In an old fashioned glass, add Underground Bourbon, lemon juice, and sugar
  2. Shake with ice and strain into chilled tulip glass
  3. Add the froth
  4. Garnish with a cherry

Often it is made with frothed egg white… in our case we had a less traditional “vegetarian” version made with the froth from boiling chickpeas – which works surprisingly well.

Our Bourbon trio included:

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Cleveland Underground AP Bourbon Whiskey 45%

One of the great things about our Mumbai whisky tasting groups is their adventuresome bent. When opportunity arises to grab something distinctly different, we do!

This was one such experiment from Cleveland Underground closed our bourbon evening.

We sampled it blind and here is what we found…

Cleveland Underground AP Bourbon Whiskey finished with Apple Wood Batch 3 Bottle 1638 90 Proof 45%

  • Colour – We just had to observe this was bright almost reddish with jewel tones
  • Nose – Fresh mash, medicine capsule, wet oats, uncooked porridge, atta flour for making chapatis, sour dough yeast
  • Palate – Frankly a bit weird, tricky on the palate, very untypical, some unboiled peanuts or groundnuts, quite curious
  • Finish – Bitter end

To be honest, we weren’t terribly impressed. There was something rather peculiar about this one which was certainly different but not necessarily in a good way.

With the reveal it was shared this bourbon has taken an experimental approach to maturation – starting with wood barrels, the whisky matures this way for approx 6 months. Then it is transferred to stainless steel tanks where the wood staves from the barrels are added then alternate pressure cycles and temperate to accelerate the maturation process.

The whole raison d’etre of Cleveland Underground whiskies is to push the boundaries. Their bourbon’s include whiskies finished not only with Apple, but also Sugar Maple Wood,  Black Cherry Wood, Honey Locust Wood, and Hickory Wood.

And while it is terrific to experiment, not all experiments are successful with all audiences. With our tasting group, this particular approach didn’t hit the mark in Mumbai.

What do the Cleveland folks have to say about their Apple Wood?

Light and airy body. A tender sweetness with notes of baking spice backstopped by an almost tart finish.

Hmm… don’t think we would agree but still wish the Cleveland Underground team well for their endeavours to do something different.

Our Bourbon trio included:

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Talisker 18 year 45.8%

Last in our random session of Scottish drams, was an opportunity to revisit this Island whisky from Talisker – nicely matured to 18 years.

Here is what our Whisky Ladies found..

Talisker 18 year 45.8%

  • Nose – Seaside peat, sweet, salty, reminded a few of Douglas Laing‘s Rock Oyster, fried fish with lemon and tarter sauce, maple bacon with hickory smoke, lots of bacon, sea salt and iodine
  • Palate – Started by dancing along the surface of the palate, very sweet, cinnamon gum, cinnamon hearts, lovely sweet
  • Finish – Peaty with light cinnamon finish

Overall we found it was a fall whisky, think apple pie and autumn leaves.

Here is what the folks over at Talisker had to say:

Nose:

  • Rich and fruity – Victoria plums, greengages, perhaps dried orange peel – with some butterscotch or rum toffee and a thread of smoke behind. The smoke soon advances into the foreground and the toffee note is joined by a light mintiness. 
  • With water, appropriately, maritime characteristics emerge – dry boat varnish, edible seaweed. Still sweet; now with notes of iodine and the smokiness of an un-struck match.

Taste:

  • In brief… Sweetness and power, with less smoke and chilli than younger expressions.
  • In a sentence… Unmistakably Talisker; mild-mannered and sweet to begin with, then more assertive, warming and smoky.

Here is what else we tried in our Whisky Ladies evening:

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The Balvenie 14 year Caribbean Cask 43%

Gotta love how whisky becomes a world traveller. This particular Balvenie started its life in Scotland with the usual approach but then was finished in ex-rum barrels from the Caribbean. Then made its way to Taiwan where it was purchased for the Whisky Ladies of Mumbai, India.

What did we think? Read on!

Balvenie 14 year Caribbean Cask 43% (from Taiwan)

  • Nose – Lemon curd, caramel very spring-like, no question there was a rum influence, loads of rum raisins, dry fruits, nuts, chocolate, cloves, quite pronounced honeyed rum, after sipping and some time, it settled into something almost floral
  • Palate – Not as pushy on the palate as it is on the nose, toffee, mellow, then became a bit sour, then a lot more spice
  • Finish – Very sweet, ripe plums
  • Water – Don’t…. reduces it to flavoured water

Overall it was pronounced enjoyable. And while clearly part of the ‘standard stable’, the rum finish is a nice touch.

Here is what the folks at The Balvenie have to say:

  • NOSE Rich, sweet and creamy toffee on the nose combines with fresh fruit notes
  • TASTE Rounded with vanilla and sweet oak notes, with a fruity character that develops with time
  • FINISH Soft and lingering

Our core focus was a trio with a wee ‘appetizer’ blend:

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That Boutique-y Whisky Company Glentauchers 20 year for LMdW

That Boutique-y Whisky Company has crafted trade-mark labels and fine contents. One of our Mumbai Whisky Ladies picked this particularly bottle up some time ago and we’ve been patiently waiting for th right opportunity.

On the label you can see Thierry Bénitah (La Maison du Whisky CEO and son of its founder, Georges Bénitah) in the 1980s, surrounded by classic whisky bottlings and wearing a particularly snappy turtleneck…

Glentauchers 20 year (Boutique-y Whisky Company) Batch 4, 46.9% bottled for La Maison du Whisky with 327 bottles

  • Nose – Hazelnut cream, wood, almond, also some ripe fruits, maple syrup, oodles and oodles of butterscotch, a bit of menthol, green almond
  • Palate – A real tingle and oomph! A bit bitter, some sweet spice, caramel fudge and nougut, with a bit of tart sour sauce, berries
  • Finish – Spice like white pepper

Some loved this one. Others found the blend so approachable that following with this single malt was a bit of a jolt.

As this whisky came out some time ago, you won’t find it on the “That Boutique-Y Whisky Company” website, however can track down some tasting notes at The Master of Malt:

  • Nose: Fresh and floral with hints of violet and honey. Stewed berries with a scoop of vanilla ice cream. Butterscotch.
  • Palate: Roasted chestnuts and black pepper. Apricot jam, quince and a whisper of cinnamon.
  • Finish: Sodabread with salted butter, floral malt once again, cumin and dried raspberries.

Our core focus was a trio with a wee ‘appetizer’ blend:

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The Appetizer – Ballantine’s 17 year Glentauchers 40%

When one of our Whisky Ladies mentioned she would be bringing a special 20 year old Glentauchers bottled by that Boutique-y Whisky Company for La Maison du Whisky, I suddenly remembered I had an old small bottle of a series presented by Ballentine’s to show off the respective character of key elements in their blend.

So pulled it out, dusted it off and hoped it wouldn’t be completely oxidized and terrible… we were in luck! It had stood the test of Mumbai storage conditions rather well!

Ballantine’s Glentauchers

Ballantine’s 17 year Glentauchers 40%

  • Nose – Fruity, nutty, lemon, butterscotch, ice cream
  • Palate – Lemon cherry, very smooth, buttery, light and balanced, a bit of chilli, slightly bitter
  • Finish – Bitter burnt caramel

Overall this whisky was pronounced “Yum!” Simply an exceedingly easy “appetizer” of a whisky. Far from being a disaster, it was actually quite delicious. Clearly this blend had stood the test of time.

What followed was a trio of single malts:

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Whisky Lady – October 2018

Happy Hallowe’en! In Europe or North America, October is full on fall… the trees change colour, there is a cool nip in the air and winter is just around the corner. Perfect weather for whisky.

In India, specifically in Mumbai, it is our 2nd summer which can be even hotter, more humid that our 1st summer! Not so perfect weather for whisky… except when finding refuge in air condition comfort.

All three of our tasting groups met, clinked glasses and explored…

Bombay Malt & Cigar’s Canadian Club:

Our Whisky Ladies Contributor’s Choice evening was a Sunday sundowner with:

  • Ballentine’s 17 year Glentauchers 40%
  • Balvenie 14 year Caribbean Cask 43%
  • Talisker 18 year 45.8%
  • Glentauchers 20 year (That Boutique-y Whisky Company)

Our third whisky tasting group went traditional with a Scottish Trio:

My month also began with a quandary – do I go to Whisky Live Singapore in November or not? Clearly I decided YES as I’m already in Singapore now!

Plus tasting notes from the previous month…

For our Whisky Ladies, we shifted gears to grains with:

Our original club explored 3 different bourbons with carefully curated cocktails. Wow!

Whereas our Bombay Malt & Cigar gents went for a more classic 21 year evening:

Plus shared brief notes of a marvellous evening with an exceptional rare malt:

Curious to know more? Check out recent Whisky Lady’s monthly missives:

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Royal Brackla 21 year 40%

Royal favour has its benefits… including in the world of whisky.

The distillery was founded in 1812 by Captain William Fraser of Brackla House on the estate of Cawdor Castle and by 1833 was selected by King William the IV to be the royal court whisky. The distillery changed hands, had its ups and downs – including closing for some time in 1943-45 and 1964-66 then 1985-91.

And yet the “Royal” title remained, even as it changed hands eventually ending up as part of the Dewar & Sons portfolio.

We sampled this 21 year old whisky blind, with a reveal at the end. Here is what we thought…

Royal Brackla 21 year 40%

  • Nose – We were greeted with varnish, lime, sharp and direct, link control, medicinal soap, started to shift and become very sweet, cinnamon spice candy, bananas, hallowe’en corn candy, marshmallows, wood sap, toffee, burnt caramel, a puff of smoke, resin, white pear, leafy basil, curry leaf
  • Palate – Soft, a nice coating and well balanced, raisins and resin, a bit of chocolate, loads of wood, honey, with the 2nd sip was much spicier
  • Finish – Cinnamon spice – delicious!
  • Water – I never would have thought to try but others prompted – the whisky takes water quite well, opening up a complete fruit basket of aromas, butterscotch, rounds it out even more, with a lovely sweetness, revealing a nice fresh grassy element on the palate, surprisingly it also improved the mouthfeel

It was a rather nice way to finish up our Scottish traditional trio. Again it had the sense of being a combination of ex-bourbon with some ex-sherry too.

And the reveal?

A recognition this is a distillery we rarely encountered. Yet were pleased to do so that evening.

So what do the folks at Dewar (aka Barcardi) have to say? They have quite succinct tasting notes:

Richly fragrant with summer berries, dark chocolate, star anise, and a sherried sweetness.

Our original tasting group explored two other whiskies in our classic Scottish trio evening:

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Old Pulteney 17 year 46% revisited

Sometimes it is nice to be reminded of how much you enjoy a particular distillery and its whiskies. We had just such an opportunity with our Scottish “classic” evening…

Naturally half the fun was tasting completely blind with the reveal only at the end. Here is what we found…

Old Pulteney 17 year 46%

  • Colour – Copper
  • Nose – Sweet perfume, floral, vanilla, a touch of salty brine, chocolate, butterscotch, so familiar and inviting, toffee, some gentle sherry influence. After the 1st sip we found marzipan, almonds, light sweet citrus like a lemon cake. As it opened even more, there was a hint of smoke. As we let it sit even longer, the citrus shifted into a lively orange peel oil.
  • Palate – Soft sweet spice with some salt. A lovely complexity, sweet lime, lightly bitter with a subtle touch of tobacco leaf, a wisp or puff of smoke, so beautifully balance
  • Finish – Ends on a sweet note, gentle spice, really quite beautiful, a bit of liquorice
  • Water – Mellows it out… some preferred with and some without

We all really enjoyed this whisky and found it quite lovely, with a “feel good” character. While exceedingly easy to drink, it also had complexity and kept evolving. We all were confident that it must be Scottish and clearly well crafted. It also had all the hallmarks of an ex-Bourbon cask with a bit of ex-Sherry too.

A few of us kept remarking how there was something so completely familiar about it. We settled on Highland, one even mentioned Old Pulteney, another an old style Balvenie.

And our reaction to the reveal that it was an Old Pulteney 17 year?

Delight! An excellent reminder of how this whisky is simply one good dram.

Naturally this was one of many enjoyable evenings with Old Pulteney of which a few included:

Our original tasting group took an evening with a classic Scottish trio:

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