French Fancies – Le Pertuis 5 year 42.6%

One of our tasting companions in Paris was gifted a membership with “Flaviar“. So when she decided to have a French themed tasting, she decided to leverage this new membership to discover something “different” and “new”. Which can lead to wonderful discoveries or complete duds!

Enter Le Pertuis – sounds quite French, oui? Mais no. Turns out this particular whisky was actually distilled in Scotland, then brought to France to finish in ex-Bourbon, Cognac, and Pineau des Charentes casks.

Le Pertuis 5 year 42.6%

  • Colour – Light gold
  • Nose – Sweet hay and honey, some ripe prunes, comes across as an uncomplicated easy drinking dram, lightly fruity, toffee sweet
  • Palate – Simple, bit of spice, very straight forward
  • Finish – Peppery

Overall it was innocuous, if a tad insipid – nothing unpleasant but equally nothing really stood out. We set it aside, hoping more would be revealed in the revisit.

Well….?

  • Nose – A bit more sweet n sour, slightly salty, hard toffee… with more time, the toffee became even more pronounced, joined by chocolate milk
  • Palate – Still simple yet peppery, faint cinnamon
  • Finish – Similar, just this time with a hint of anise

As an “appetizer” to get things going, fair enough. But would I run out to buy? Certainly not.

What more do we know about Le Pertuis and this whisky? Here’s what the Flaviar folks have to say

A “pure malt” Whisky from northwestern France that’s worth a dram.

Île de Ré is a a 90 square-mile barrier island just off the coast of northwestern France. Saint-Martin-de-Ré is a small commune — one of ten on the island — that fronts the Pertuis Strait. In short… this might be the last place you would expect to find a Whisky maker. But sure enough, this small, idyllic, French hamlet is where they make small batches of Le Pertuis Whisky using locally-grown grains and old-world craftsmanship.

Technically, Le Pertuis Whisky is a Pure Malt. This means that their base Spirits is 100% malted barley, but it might be distilled in more than one location. Seems that demand for their signature Spirit outstrips the capacity of the stills on site, so a bit is farmed out to other houses to keep up the supply. They age their Spirit for five years in new oak before finishing it in three different seasoned barrels — ex-Bourbon, Cognac, and Pineau des Charentes casks. The results of each are blended to taste. And it’s darn tasty too.

Tasting notes:

  • Appearance / Color – Mahogany 
  • Nose / Aroma / Smell – A cornucopia of fruit — tangy grapefruit, baked apples, and cocoa. 
  • Flavor / Taste / Palate – Complex with fruitcake, figs, cinnamon, chocolate, and dried apricot. 
  • Finish – Medium length and warm with sea-salt toffee.

However it is possible the details on the website for Le Pertuis differs than the bottle we tasted – which clearly and transparently indicated the whisky originated in Scotland. Hmm…

What else did we explore in our French focused evening?

  • Glen Ar Mor 46%
  • Rozelieures Subtil 40%
  • Rozelieures Tourbe 46%

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Speyburn 10 year 40%

Well in advance of “needing” a resupply of whisky for various virtual tastings, I found myself stumbling on Whic.de “accidentally on purpose”, giving into the temptation to order a few whiskies. Happily it led to a wee bonus 3cl dram – which to me is the perfect size to be introduced into a whisky.

When I opened my shipment, I was amused to see they sent a Speyburn 10 year – quite a familiar friendly Speyside previously explored in Mumbai on three occasions:

However that was years ago and I re-glanced to discover the ABV was different – 40% not the 43% I’d experienced earlier. And when to try?

I decided – what better than a virtual “bar night” with the Bombay Malt & Cigar lads – now scattered around the globe. One of our members had hosted an evening with Stuart Harvey with the Speyburn well known. As each pulled out an open bottle from our respective whisky cabinets, I cracked open this mini.

What did I find with my revisit?

Speyburn 10 year 40%
  • Nose – Sweet cereals, honey, a bit malty, some nutmeg and vanilla… as it opened up became increasingly fruity with banana, mosambi, then shifted from citrus to hint of raisins
  • Taste – Honey water, toffee, fresh tobacco leaf, some more malt a bit of spice
  • Finish – Carries through with a bit of sweet, spice, faintly bitter

Did it live up to memories of past tastings? Yes indeed. I feared that at 40% it would be too diluted, however it remained what I expected – an ‘easy drinking dram’. No complaints and that wee 30cl bottle was finished far too fast!

It came across as primarily ex-Bourbon cask with just a touch of ex-Sherry, which could entirely be true as the Speyburn is matured with a bit of both.

As I’ve featured before what the Speyburn folks have to say, thought to share how the German distributor positions it:

A malty-mild Speyside single malt with a great price-performance ratio. Order this tasty aperitif whiskey.
  • 10 years old: The 10 years of ripening ensure a pleasant fruity-malty bouquet.
  • Price-performance ratio fits: For its low price, you get a well-matured and tasty single malt whiskey with a solid indication of age.
  • Not smoky: In this classic Speyside whiskey, the malt is not kilned over a peat fire. Therefore this whiskey is not smoky. Ideal for beginners or as an aperitif.
  • Mild and tasty: If you’re looking for a mild and pleasant after-work whiskey, you’ve come to the right place. If you are looking for something deep and difficult, you should keep looking.
  • Great entry-level whiskey: With its light flavor profile and low alcohol content, this Speyburn is a great entry-level whiskey. Inexpensive and tasty.
I would completely agree! As for “inexpensive”, what does that mean? In Germany, it is a mere EUR 25, just over INR 2,000 – very much value for money. I’m not sure how distribution has been affected by these strange times we live in, however it was once available in the Indian market – naturally with all the customs duties and taxes added on top!

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French Fancies – Le Pertuis, Glann Ar Mor, Rozelieures

Spring is in the air (despite the occasional ‘relapse’ of snow) and time to turn our attentions to some French fancies… of the whisky variety!

A quartet of minis made their way from Paris to Nurnberg and our Whisky Ladies Euro Chapter explored together one fine Friday evening. What did we try?

  • Le Pertuis 5 year 42.6%
  • Glann Ar Mor 46%
  • Rozelieures Subtil 40%
  • Rozelieures Tourbe 46%

We had clear favourites – both of the Rozelieures for different reasons! So much so that we are now even more impatient for COVID conditions to change so that we can plan a trip to the distillery in Lorraine, France.

Detailed tasting notes will be coming soon!

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Flora and Fauna – Inchgower 14 year 43%

Last in our Flora and Fauna series was the Inchgower. Our ‘host’ admitted being rather partial to this from past tasting experiences… did it live up to expectations this time?

Inchgower 14 year 43%

  • Nose – A wine like quality, musty and mossy, mould and mushrooms, earthy, cork, some vanilla sweetness, nougat, Dasheri mango or cantaloupe, baked goods then shifted into something more oily
  • Palate – Pungent, very dry spice, has character and kick, like the way wasabi opens up your taste buds, increasingly pronounced ginger
  • Finish – A bit salty, more almonds?

This whisky got off to a curious start… earthy then shifted to fruity, lots of character, but did we like it? Hmm… it certainly is interesting and a bit unusual.

We gave it some time, returning to find it had gone back to the vegetal earthy element and got a bit of ‘smoke’?

With all of these Flora and Fauna whiskies, we were not tempted to add water… this was no exception.

What do the folks at Diageo have to say?

This 14-year-old single malt whisky is a conundrum, in which the aromatics, and even the flavour, change continually. This is a complex and interesting mix with a sweet palate and bitter finish.

  • Appearance – Deep amber.
  • Body – Medium bodied and mouth filling.
  • Nose – Rich and deep and a hint of toffee. After a while offers some short-crust pastry and fruit, like greengage tart or damson pie. Then it settles and becomes lighter and vaguely ‘gun-metal’ – a mix of metal, gun oil and cordite, but all very faint. With water, it freshens up but gives little away. For a time there is an unmistakable scent of horse chestnuts – green and nutty – but after a while, it becomes much sweeter and more floral, like acacia honey.
  • Palate – Sweet overall, but also curiously mouth-drying, with some salt and traces of oil.
  • Finish – A saccharine-bitter finish that leaves an aftertaste of almonds.

Would we agree? To a certain extent…

Curious how this experience compares with other Inchgower drams? Check out:

As for what else did we sample in our foray into Diageo’s Flora and Fauna range? Here you go:

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Flora and Fauna – Auchroisk 10 year 43%

Flora and Fauna is Diageo’s official bottling series for their distilleries that predominantly go into blends or are found in independent bottling. After the Linkwood, our Whisky Ladies Euro chapter cracked open an Auchroisk. What did we think?

Auchroisk 10 year 43%

  • Nose – Cherry wood, cooked cherries, caramelized toasted nuts, candy apple… as it opened up more such aromas were joined by coffee, some tannins, spicier with hints of mulberry
  • Palate – Ahh… it does indeed have good body, some cinnamon spice, a bit of cherry cola quality and again those tannins from the nose come are on the palate too
  • Finish – A slightly smokey aftertaste that lingers

Just from the aromas alone there was a sense of body and substance which fully came through on the palate. Of the three Flora and Fauna whiskies we sampled together, this was the favourite for its character and

We set it aside and revisited after sampling the Inchgower… any change?

If anything, even more interesting! This time we found strawberry sweet, some milk chocolate and salty caramel. Delicious.

What do the folks at Diageo have to say?

An apéritif malt whisky, pleasant and light, which opens sweet, fresh and balanced then dries to a short finish. Doughy and buttery on the palate. This textured single malt whisky displays hints of lemon and pineapple with a slight aniseed and smokey finish.

  • Appearance – Pale gold.
  • Body – Smooth, with a light to medium body.
  • Nose – A mild nose for its strength. Sweet and fresh. Ground almonds are immediately apparent, even dry marzipan. Acetone. Some dark chocolate behind (this develops towards milk chocolate). Becomes nuttier all the time. With water, opens up: fresh and estery. Acetone, cooked pears, solvent. A light oily-fatty note behind, possibly nut oil. Nuttiness still apparent. Also a very light char in the back. Becomes more cereal-like – soggy Shreddies – and more ‘boney.’ Not so clean.
  • Palate – Takes a fair amount of water. Light and fresh; pleasant mouthfeel. Sweetish start, some acidity. 
  • Finish – Surprisingly dry, fairly short – all well balanced.

Curious about other experiences with Auchriosk? Read on…

What else did we sample in our foray into Diageo’s Flora and Fauna range?

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Flora and Fauna – Linkwood 12 year 43%

With even tighter ‘lock-downs’ happening around the world, our wee Whisky Ladies European Chapter carried on our virtual merry malty explorations. This time with the final trio from Diageo’s Flora and Fauna range….

The most natural place to begin was with the Linkwood – a distillery we’ve all tried before and have overall enjoyed for its light yet tasty and refreshing fruity sometimes floral character. So what about this official bottling?

Linkwood 12 year 43%

  • Nose – For me it started off with bubblegum, for my tasting companions one found prunes and another almonds… overall we found it fruity, with a good dash of vanilla, light and honeyed… however as it opened up, the effervescent fruity quality subsided  and it settled into a honey hay
  • Palate – A clear easy drinking dram, pleasant yet unsophisticated, creamy, with a bit of wood, light spice with some clove and tea
  • Finish – Not so long but with a hint of raw faintly bitter almond

We concluded this is a perfect late afternoon early evening sipping dram. Something the cheerfully enjoy, taking your time… and while obviously of a more ‘commercial’ bent than some of the cask strength independent bottler vintages we’ve sampled over the years, its a nice one to have around.

We set it aside and returned after trying the Auchroisk and Inchgower… had it changed?

That delightful bubblegum was back – and how! Joined by some apple sauce, very sweet… still easy drinking with a hint of floral and one even thought of champagne!

Was it the best Linkwood we’ve had? No…. however if you want an entry point into this distillery, it isn’t a bad choice.

Our whisky host for the evening read notes from the bottle… which said a lot of marketing blah blah about water but not so much about the whisky. So I checked online to see what the folks at Diageo have to say?

A whole garden of fruit and flower scents in a smooth, long, complex yet wholly integrated Speyside of utter distinction. This 12-year-old single malt whisky has a rich and oily mouthfeel with nutty, cereal notes and an aromatic and dry finish.

  • Appearance – Old gold.
  • Body – Mouth-filling, smooth and medium-bodied.
  • Nose – The first impression is of fresh soft-fruits (but indistinguishable), with a hint of vanilla in the background. Then light cigar-box notes are perceptible, and a faint hint of expensive ladies’ perfume. The whole effect is civilized, complex and tightly integrated. With water, it opens into carnations and lavender, with a whiff of perfumed smoke. There are traces of juicy green sticks, then cedar-wood, with undercurrents of pomander or dried orange peel.
  • Palate – Mouth-filling and smooth. Sweet, overall. Viscous, but fresh and clean: a pleasant acidity helps to maintain this.
  • Finish – Cedar notes emerge in the finish, which is long.

Curious about other explorations of Linkwood? There have been quite a few!

What else did we sample in our foray into Diageo’s Flora and Fauna range?

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Whisky Lady – March 2021

How is it that time seems to be both slow and slip past in a blink at the same time? That’s what March felt like… However we did manage to keep up with a few whisky explorations!

Whisky wise we certainly got creative with holding a couple sessions to explore a Campbeltown Trio

Our European Chapter of the Whisky Ladies also had fun with our 2nd quartet from Whisky Warehouse No. 8 this time featuring:

  • Glenturret 8 year (Dec 2020 – Apr 2019) Bourbon Hogshead 57.5% – Be a wee bit patient with this one…. to be rewarded with light peat and sweet
  • Ardmore 16 year (May 2000 / Feb 2017) Bourbon Barrel 52.3% – A more traditional style, something for Après ski!
  • Bunnahabhain 14 year (24 Oct 2002 / 31 Oct 2016) Bourbon Hogshead 3048, 56.7% – One of the best Bunna’s I’ve had in a long time!
  • Inchfad (Loch Lomond) 15 year (Feb 2005 – April 2019) Bourbon Hogshead 55.5% – Also give it time to reveal a bit of fruity ginger, honey spice

Just to keep the creative tasting buds working, I had fun with a wee solo exploration of some minis from Old Particular :

After a long-distance ‘teaser’ in February with the founder and master distiller from The Belgian Owl and his Whisky Ambassador, five 50 cl – yes cl not ml – whiskies made their way to Paris and Nurnberg… impatiently waiting their turn to be tasted together with another set making its way from Brussels to Bombay!

The month closed with another trio from Diageo’s Flora and Fauna range, however will save tasting notes for April!

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

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

The Belgian Owl

Sometimes one thing leads to another… What was originally intended to be a Bombay ‘bar night’ with various whiskies lying around turned (thanks to the wonders of modern technology and curious connects) into a special feature on The Belgian Owl together with the founder and master distiller – Etienne Bouillon – and brand ambassador – Frédéric Senet.

Alas I was already back in Germany so could only experience Identité ‘vicariously’ via the descriptions of the others – which were incredibly positive! Even from one who was a bit skeptical from his earlier brush almost a decade ago – however distilleries and palates evolve and the sincerity of the enthusiasm was clear.

How did this evening come about? Well, one of our Bombay Malt & Cigar gents currently splits his time between Belgium (where his wife lives and works) and Mumbai (where he lives and works).

On a recent trip to Mumbai, he was contacted via a consulate connect asking “Don’t you do whisky tastings? The folks from The Belgian Owl are interested in getting some feedback from an Indian perspective…” Which is a bit amusing considering the gent in question is actually British! However, like myself, has lived for decades in India, adopting Mumbai as home so not so strange after all.

He was so impressed with the bottle shared in Mumbai that our intrepid introducer made the trek to the distillery on his next trip to Belgium, determined to bring the full range to Mumbai.

As for myself? Courtesy of the fine folks we virtually met, I now have this very tempting quintet to explore…. not today but sometime soon when a similar set makes its way back to Mumbai so we can join together virtually in a Belgian quest!

  • The Belgian Owl Origine Pot Still unaged spirit 46%
  • The Belgian Owl Identité 36 months, first fill bourbon 46%
  • The Belgian Owl Passion 36 months, first fill bourbon, single cask 1538337 46% Bottle 29
  • The Belgian Owl Intense 40 months, first fill bourbon, single cask 1538452 72.7% Bottle 177
  • The Belgian Owl Evolution 48 months, first fill bourbon 46%

Nice to have something to look forward to in the coming months.

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

The Whisky Warehouse No. 8 – Inchfad (Loch Lomond) 15 year 55.5%

Loch Lomond goes by many names… From Loch Lomond to Inchmurrin to Inchmoan to Croftnegea – including Inchfad like this one. We speculated that this is all a marketing ploy – different brand names for slightly different expressions to tease the curious to select. Do we fall for it? Of course!

However above all, what matters is what we discover when explore… so for the last in our The Warehouse Collection quartet, we dove into this cask strength Loch Lomond dram!

Inchfad (Loch Lomond) 15 year (Feb 2005 – April 2019) Bourbon Hogshead Cask W8 438 55.5%, 300 Bottles

  • Nose – Oh my! Is that Pringles BBQ chips? However a curious thing happened, we went from hello peat to huh? Was there peat? Porridge, wet leaves, a bit metallic
  • Palate – Light peat was back, a bit spicy, coppery, a herbal medicinal quality
  • Finish – Limited
  • Water – To be honest, don’t think we even tried!

Our first thought was – better than the Glenturret (this was before the revisit) – has some “oomph!” and character, however… was it something that really stood out for us? Not really.

However like all the whiskies we sampled that evening, we set it aside and revisited. Interesting! After some time there was fruit, a dash of ginger, a bit of honey spice. It certainly improved after some time to open up… becoming an enjoyable drinking dram.

Curious about other Loch Lomond experiences?

What else did I try in the Whisky Warehouse No. 8 “Last Chance” set?

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The Whisky Warehouse No. 8 – Bunnahabhain 14 year 56.7%

Long back, a very talented multi instrumental, multi country music buddy encouraged “Bunna” explorations as his kind of Islay – not really peaty but having substance and character to spare. Over the years, I’ve had mixed experiences – some excellent, some so so and some that didn’t quite do it for me.

Bunnahabhain 14 year (24 Oct 2002 / 31 Oct 2016) Bourbon Hogshead No. 3048, 56.7% 307 Bottles

  • Nose – Initially greeted us with quite a distinctive coconut oil… which settled down into salt water taffy, candied guava, fresh bread, orange comfy or cointreau, even a bit of coffee candy, swirling about with a hint of smoke too – more like an echo or subtle embers than a live burn…overall leaving an impression of fruity
  • Palate – Silky smooth… some salted caramel, spicy desert, herbal, buttery… with a wee bit of even peanut butter, richly rolling around nicely on the tongue
  • Finish – Lovely and long, delicious
  • Water – No need… truly

I have to confess that this is without a doubt the best Bunnahabhain I’ve had in a long time. Even better as it sits in the glass, opening up more and more. While a different character, there was an element of the lightly salted ‘buttery’ quality that made us think of the insanely delicious Aveux Gourmands.

As for the folks at Whisky Warehouse No. 8? I’ve taken the liberty to ‘google translate’ my way through Julia’s terrific tasting notes:
Whiskeys from Bunnahabhain are always good for a surprise and this single barrel is no exception. Anyone who wants to deduce the taste from the nose impressions of this bottling will be amazed at how different the whiskey ultimately behaves on the palate. At least one can rely on the well-known attributes of most Bunnahabhain bottlings: hardly any wood, a little salt and a good balance of all aromas.
  • Nose: Soft and fully ripe fruit notes such as cherries, star fruit and lychees. Underneath there is a layer of salty peat that has a slightly medicinal effect, but also a damp campfire that was already burning the day before.
  • Taste: Spicy like in a hay barn, herbal notes like dried thyme and thistles, slightly nutty and almond-like, the fruit notes linger in the background, but they now appear much fresher and crisper. The peat and smoke notes also remain surprisingly restrained.
  • Finish: It is especially the herbal notes that stay on the palate for a long time and become dry towards the end. Very late, a pinch of fleur de sel tickles the taste buds.

What about other Bunnahabhain explorations?

My “Last Chance” set also contained:

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