Wemyss Summer Breeze – Linkwood 20 year 46%

It was several years waiting to try this beauty! I knew it would be a delight… and was exactly right. So right that it was enjoyed at a couple farewells with such joy that only a lone dram remained… waiting until this fine evening in 2021…

Linkwood 20 year (1995/2015) Summer Breeze Cask #20877 (Wemyss) 46%

  • Nose – Initially greets with crisp green apples, joined by sweet cheese and a sprinkle of sweet spices, some ginger, more apple… perhaps a hint of sweet basil? Lovely fragrant vanilla
  • Palate – Has more substance than the nose would indicate… reminded me of honey banana oats or a soft oat and raisin cookie, with more of that lovely ginger, apple cider
  • Finish – Warm drizzle of honey with a nice spice chaser

It is like wandering through an orchard full of apple blossoms on a warm summers day,,,  Wemyss have rather aptly named this whisky “Summer Breeze’.

Here is what they have to say on the bottle label:

A delicate, fresh, fragrant Hogshead to take you to a summer’s day.

Would I concur? Yes indeed.

This is one of those whiskies you simply enjoy… no fuss, no complications, just happiness. Which is why you will simply have to forgive the limited tasting notes… and permit me to going back to enjoy my last sip!

I picked up this bottle in 2017 at Le Clos, Dubai for AED 380 (approx EUR 85). There were 374 bottles produced.

What other Linkwood‘s have we sampled?

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Germany’s Stork Single Malt 43%

There I was in Neumark in der Oberpfalz, having spent a wonderful day exploring… from Schloss Rosenburg, Ruine Rabenstein, Burg Prunn, Wellenburger Kloster to the Danube… True it was cold and snowy. True, everything was shut, so we could only tromp around the outside… but it was still such an invigorating distraction after weeks of being shut in.

That’s one of the remarkable things about the area I now live in Germany – castles and fortresses, ruins and monuments… oh my! There is so much history and such variety in relatively close proximity.

So too is the whisky industry… there are apparently now over 200 whisky distilleries in Germany. Without the guidelines / limitations of the Scottish Whisky Association, quite a bit of experimentation takes place…. often in quite small / micro distilleries.

And on that particular evening in Nuemark, I was introduced to one such new player – Stork Club Whisky from Spreewood Distillers, 60 KM south of Berlin.

So what’s their story? Steffen Lohr, Bastian Heuser and Sebastian Brack apparently were on a road trip in 2015 to buy a barrel of whisky… and found themselves inspired to take over Spreewood Distillers. Dedicated to Rye Whiskey, focusing on small batch, triple cask aged – ex bourbon, ex sherry and ex white wine – using two distillates – malted and unmalted Rye, primarily from the Brandenburg region.

What did we find from this distillery primarily dedicated to Rye?

Stork Single Malt 43%

  • Nose – Chestnut, a bit of varnish then settled down, becoming sweeter and sweeter,  fruitier, beeswax, honey, almond, a bit of green grapes – the white wine cask influence perhaps?
  • Palate – Fresh, fruity, surprisingly creamy, a dash of cinnamon spice… it was a very ‘drinkable dram’ with no harsh notes

We found it was a terrific ‘sipping whisky’…. friendly and easy going yet had enough character that you knew it would also make a great cocktail base.

Talk turned to quintessential “Lufthansa cocktails” famous in the 50s and 60s… pre-mixed and bottled yet served with a certain panache and style. Speculation that this Stork whisky     would be terrific in an Old Fashioned or Manhattan… perhaps someone should suggest this to the folks behind reviving these cocktails?

What do the gents behind The Stork have to say about their Single Malt?

  • Flavour Profile: Fresh Hay, Honey, Tropical Fruits
  • Cask: Ex-Bourbon, Ex-Sherry, Ex-White Wine Cask
  • Occassion: One for every evening
  • Raw Ingredient: Barley malt
  • Beer Accompaniment: Pilsner, Wheat Beer, Pale Beer

Now outside of Germany or perhaps parts of the US fond of a “boilermaker”, listing a ‘beer accompaniment’ for a whisky may frankly seem a little strange. But in a land known for its beer and more recently whisky, why not?

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Whisky Lady – Farewell 2020

What a year… one none of us would like to repeat.

Late 2019 when I made the big move to Europe, it was under the assumption that I would regularly shuttle back and forth between my home in Mumbai, India and my new home in Nürnberg, Germany. As my husband adores Europe, has even toured Germany extensively, it was reasonable to think he would come as often as his hectic filming and performance schedule permits.

Sure we were struggling a bit on the visa front, but that would get sorted soon enough and the years being a cross-continent commuting couple would fly by! Or so we thought…

The year began optimistically… we celebrated quietly with friends in the country and I was so proud of achieving 1,000 blog posts! However what I didn’t share was shortly afterwards, how sick both I and my mother-in-law were… she was in ICU for weeks (thankfully recovered!) and I somehow managed to get (I thought) well enough to keep my scheduled flight back to Germany.

January’s posts were nearly all written during my December break. February mostly sharing past experiences. Then there were months of silence. Why?

I didn’t realize it at the time, but that wasn’t a mere nasty flu that knocked me out in India, getting “better” but then radically worse in Germany – bronchitis which became pneumonia which so badly impacted my lungs that I needed to go on steroids and, for the first time in my life, used an inhaler…? Then even once I could get out of bed, still took so incredibly long to fully recover… even after months, I barely had the energy to get through the work week to find my weekends disappeared into a blur of exhausted nothingness.

By now, unless you’ve been completely disconnected from all media, it is pretty clear what this all meant.

As the months progressed and COVID changed all our lives completely… it became increasingly obvious that all attempts for me to return to India was proving impossible and equally, my husband was unable to get a visa to come to Germany. By summer, we needed an alternate plan. Enter late August a Bollywood film… they chartered an entire plane and sequestered actors and crew in a Glasgow hotel for months… recreating Delhi, Lahore and Dubai airports in Scotland! Ah… the magic of cinema!

After his 2 week quarantine, I was able to join my husband… To be in Scotland for the 1st time after years of exploring whiskies was a dream come true! However naturally nearly all distilleries were shut… only a few had recently re-opened their shops and even fewer had limited pre-booked tastings. No official tours were permitted. Still, I managed to pop over to Glengoyne for their “malt master” experience and we took a memorable day trip to Isle of Arran to spend a little time at Lochranza and Lagg distillery.

Even better was our next few weeks in the UK with an unforgettable “honeymoon” courtesy of dear friends – both in their lovely London home and their Georgian manor just outside of Bath. Full credit to my malty companion for rekindling the love of exploring drams… together we enjoyed an exceptional evening with The Whisky Exchange’s Sukindher Singh and four delightful sessions of minis:

This malty merriment continued in Germany as I went straight from Frankfurt airport to Ziegler distillery with the German Sharing Angels. Something that now seems almost impossible but true! I haven’t yet shared this experience… think of it like ‘hoarding’ to bring out in the leanest months…

Determined to not lose momentum, a trio of Whisky Ladies of Mumbai found ourselves in Europe, so we decided to launch of our European chapter. We’ve successfully held five virtual sessions already!

Spurred by this, I audaciously ordered a German based bottler’s whisky advent calendar – Vita Dulcis. Unbelievably I managed in December to get through all 24 miniatures – though it must seem like I’ve been ‘spamming’ all who follow this blog – apologies for that!

What next? As I write, I still don’t know if I will be able to get on a plane home to India. Our original plans for Dubai with family were dashed. Then the new strain from the UK wrecked havoc on my effort to get to Mumbai for Christmas… Just as finally one impediment has been solved – my Indian visa – the ability to actually use it is proving challenging.

However I remain ever optimistic and am thankful for all that we have – a roof over our heads, food in our bellies and sufficient means to indulge in the occasional dram or two. This is far more fortunate than many in the world today… So wishing you and yours a significantly better 2021!

Curious to know more? Check out recent Whisky Lady’s 2020 semi-monthly summaries:

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Vita Dulcis 24 – Sweden’s Mackmyra 5 year Rök 46.3%

Unbelievable but true! I have managed to taste all 24 minis within one month. Something I have never imagined I would accomplish. Now… admittedly, I wasn’t tasting every day. Nor was I even completing each mini. Instead I grouped them in trios and quartets, settling into  a sniff, swish and consideration… mostly on weekends. Curious to know more? You can read about all of the minis here.

As for my penultimate dram? Fittingly, it closed on Europe with a single cask of a Swedish peaty Mackmyra, bottled specifically for Vita Dulcis.

Sweden – Mackmyra 5 year Rök Oloroso Cask Finish 46.3% Exclusive single cask bottling for Vita Dulcis

  • Nose – A bit dusty, then smokey, a dash of honey, fresh and woodsy, a dash of caramel, cinnamon, then shifted into maple chased by vanilla, cured meats
  • Palate – OK now we have peat, delicious, peaking behind was fruits, then baked goods
  • Finish – Bitter sweetness, cinnamon, nicely lingers…

I must say, the more I sipped, the more I enjoyed it. Even after finishing the last drop, came back to my empty glass just to enjoy the aromas. A nice way to wind things up…

As a single cask, I wasn’t able to find specific tasting notes, however I checked out my previously experience with Svensk Rök 46.1%. I’d agree it is certainly in the same vein.

You may also find other encounters with Mackmyra of interest:

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Vita Dulcis 23 – Ireland’s Connemara Peated 40%

Over the years, Connemara just keeps popping up in various forums… including here with a guest post in 2016 and again later that year. However it has been a few years since I’ve sat down and given proper consideration to this lightly peated Irish dram.

Ireland – Connemara Original Peated 40%

  • Nose – Briney, sweet cereals, hint of smoke
  • Palate – Well… that’s a kick! Sweet, light peat with a cinnamon edge
  • Finish – That briney quality comes back

OK… I remember Connemara as being quite a light touch with peat. And it is true – this isn’t heavily peated. However it has much more kick than I remembered. Could it be there has been a shift in peat levels? A little more PPM earlier, then a few years with less and then back to a heavier hand? Or just mood and environment linked.. either way, this was certainly a sharper peat than I remembered on previous brushes.

Distillery official tasting notes?

An aroma of sweet barley with wafts of peaty smoke, kippers and well baked apple crumble. Tastes of lightly honey sweet, subdued clean rather than sooty smoke with peaty vegetal notes, sweet barley water, light spice and vanilla oak.

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Vita Dulcis 22 – Ireland’s The Quiet Man “An Culchists” 12 years 46%

Back in 2018, I met Michael Morris of The Quiet Man on his 1st trip to Mumbai, India. It was a relatively low key gathering that enabled a few different discussions on the Irish whisky industry and a chance to sample their 8 year old – naturally not yet their spirit but with whiskies blended in a style they hope to achieve..

So I was curious to see how their journey has progressed – with this wee mini in my Vita Dulcis 2020 Advent Calendar.

Ireland – The Quiet Man “An Culchists” 12 years 46%

  • Nose – Initially a bit sharp, then honey, custard, baked goods – like butter brioche or fresh hot from the oven sour dough
  • Palate – A kick of chilli spice, then citrus, followed by chocolate orange like those Terry Christmas chocolates, a bit of cracked black pepper, wood
  • Finish – Honey

Overall it is pleasant, nothing particularly outstanding. What will be more interesting to explore is once they have their own spirit out in the world.

What more do we know? To be honest, the Quiet Man website wasn’t working for me beyond their landing page, so I couldn’t see if they provided any official tasting notes for this expression. I did find on a German website that it is ex-bourbon, though naturally the distillery is not disclosed.

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Vita Dulcis 21 – Ireland’s Hyde No 5 Burgandy Cask 46%

The Irish whisky industry is going through a resurgence with a combination of new distilleries and brands – some with distilleries ‘to be’. Hyde describes their approach as:

At HYDE, we carefully hand select only the very finest Irish whiskey, made by only the very best Irish whiskey distilleries, which we then finish in vintage oak casks which we source directly from distilleries and bodegas around the world.

I had the pleasure of meeting a couple gents from Hyde back in 2017 during an exploratory trip to Mumbai. They kindly sent a bottle of their No 6 – back in the day when it was possible to ship liquor from other parts of the world to India. I also had an opportunity to briefly sample this expression No 5 in a special speed tasting experiment.

I was curious to see how that quick memory from three years ago compared with the miniature in the Vita Dulcis 2020 Advent Calendar.

Ireland – Hyde No 5 “The Aras” Burgundy Cask Finish 46% – Single Grain Whiskey

  • Nose – Initially a touch sharp with spice, then a bit of vanilla and faint fruits
  • Palate – Starts a bit spice, roasted wood, apples
  • Finish – Again – quite spicy

i checked my notes from my previous ‘speed taste’ – was quite similar. In both cases, there was nothing that really stood out and the burgundy influence was hardly discernible.

What do the Hyde folks have to say about this expression?

Hyde No.5 is a triple distilled, Single grain, Irish whiskey from one single distillery location. Originally distilled in a traditional “Coffey” Copper Column still from pure Corn / maize grain.

Matured for a minimum of 6 years in flame charred, first fill, ex-bourbon casks from Kentucky in the U.S.A. before being ‘finished’ for a further 6 months in vintage BURGUNDY French red wine casks.

These Pinot Noir red wine casks come from the BURGUNDY region of France from the Côte d’Or vineyards near Dijon, France.

What about the Hyde team’s official tasting notes?

  • Nose : Spiced with notes of red berry fruit, vanilla, and toasted oak.
  • Taste : A creamy nutty palette entry with notes of sweet custard, apple peel, red berries and orange blossom honey.
  • Finish : A nice long satisfying finish of plum, jam and spice ending with a silky combination of oak and barley

As for my earlier encounters with Hyde? Just the two:

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Vita Dulcis 20 – Ireland’s Roe + Co Cask Strength 2019 Edition 59.1%

This was my first brush with Roe & Co from Dublin – creators of Irish whisky blends. The miniature from the Vita Dulcis 2020 Advent Calendar was their 2019 Cask Strength edition.

Ireland – Roe & Co Cask Strength Limited Release 2019 Edition 59.1%

  • Colour – Light straw
  • Nose – Sharp, crisp fruits and hint of flowers, cereals – particularly hay, ginger, vanilla custard
  • Palate – Again sharp, pine wood, apples
  • Finish – Spice

Nearly all of the whiskies in this calendar were between 40 – 46% and I simply wasn’t even tempted to add water. However with this one, given it is a bit ‘hot’, thought to see how it fares.

With water? It helped open it up further, smoothed out the palate and before I knew it, my wee 2ml teaser was gone!

On their website, they provide relatively limited details:

This blended whiskey has pronounced flavours of orchard fruit, layers of creamy vanilla and warming woody notes.

And there you have it!

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Paul John Christmas Present

Once upon a time, some lovely ladies from Mumbai hopped on a plane for an indulgent  weekend getaway to Goa. This was back in August 2019 and we were on a quest to explore Paul John distillery.

Naturally a highlight of our visit was a tasting – which was no ordinary opportunity! It included an opportunity to sample two limited edition bottles that are deliberately available only in Goa around Christmas / New Years. Even better – they are kept affordable, accessible and celebrate Paul John whiskies unique take on a Christmas spirit.

Paul John Christmas 2019 46%

  • Nose – “Oh what fun!” It had elements of the PX lingonberries mixed with roasted pine nuts
  • Palate – A lovely spice, sweet, satisfying with a hint of peat?
  • Finish – Really rather a nice finish, closing on sweet

Overall this one had great balance – a happy whisky, very shareable, perfect for a social occasion and merry gifting. Priced at approx. INR 4k (USD 50) in Goa, it is excellent value for quality.

What do we know about it? It did indeed spend some time finishing in an ex PX cask with a bit of peated malt mixed in to add some depth. What a fabulous combination!

Paul John Christmas 2018 46%

  • Nose – Now this says Christmas! All those lovely Christmas pudding notes with dates, berries, nuts, densely packed and delicious, topped off with smoke
  • Palate – Also followed through with Christmas cheer, very balanced and well rounded
  • Finish – Was sweet, spice and subtle peat – delightful
  • Water – While normally adding water tends to initially punches up the spice then mellows out a dram, in this case it seemed to accentuate all the elements – bringing them out even more powerfully

Now comparing isn’t really fair, however those who tried both tended to prefer the 2018 edition. Not that the 2019 isn’t a fine dram, just 2018 hit all our Christmas high notes with that extra peat punch that added a certain something!

Both are terrific and frankly if you do happen to stumble across either edition, don’t hesitate to grab a bottle and discover for yourself.

As for 2020? For those lucky enough to be in Goa, do check out the new Christmas 2020 edition… I have little doubt it will be in a similar vein and well worth picking up!

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Vita Dulcis 19 – USA Knob Creek Straight Rye 50%

Next up… another from the US  in my Vita Dulcis 2020 International Advent Calendar… And I’m in the home stretch with just a few more to go!

USA – Knob Creek Straight Rye Whiskey 50%

  • Nose – Sweet grains, then sour mash, herbal, ginger
  • Palate – Yup! There is that distinctive rye spice! Packs a bit of a whallop… then settles down, brown sugar
  • Finish – A bit of pepper

To me, this is a clear rye. 

I admit, I sampled it on two occasions – once on its own and I realized I simply wasn’t in the mood, so set it aside after a sip. And again this evening after sampling Heaven’s Door Straight Rye Whiskey.

When you think of a classic American rye… it is something like Knob Creek. At first it comes across as direct, no finesse… yes it isn’t just rye spice, there are herbs, wood elements and other things… that start to grow on you…

Distillery official tasting notes?

  • Colour : Shades of gold to light amber.
  • Nose : Expansive notes of herbs and rye with nuances of oak.
  • Taste : Bold rye spiciness with undertones of vanilla and oak.

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