Birthday whisky – Auchentoshan 40 year 41.6%

After our untraditional ‘risky whisky?‘ trio of lesser known whiskies from France (Brenne & AWA Pinot Noire) and the US (Virgil Kaine), we turned to a very traditional Lowland… and no young thing either… a mature 40 year old Auchentoshan no less!

And why such a rare aged whisky magically appearing in our Whisky Ladies of Mumbai midst?

It was all thanks to a Whisky Ladies’ birthday… 40th birthday… from an uncle who knows nothing would be more appropriate than giving the birthday lass a venerable 40 year old whisky! And generous soul that she is, our birthday Whisky Lady both hosted the evening and shared her special gift!

Auchentoshan 40 year (4 Nov 1965/4 Aug 2006) Bourbon Cask 41.6% Bottle No 196/200

  • Nose – A sense of very mild old sherry, a light sharpness, fresh pears, hint of ginger with a slight citrus twist, light toasted nuts
  • Palate – Very clean, elegant and clearly a ‘proper whisky’, figs and prunes yet all with a light touch
  • Finish – Lasting mild-mannered finish, one where you can really take your time, mellow, mellow, mellow…

Such an easy drinking whisky… most of all the descriptions “elegant” and “mellow” are most apt!

In the Glencairn vs Norlan glass experience, the Norlan gave a totally different finish – very spicy and more ‘alcohol’. Definitely one to have in the Glencairn!

What is also interesting is this is apparently matured only in a bourbon cask yet had some of the soft sweetness one associates with sherry finish.

Sipping this whisky sparked a wee debate on whether such a price tag was merited… a figure of some $2,000 was mentioned that had most of us aghast. Seriously?? No… not worth that price, especially as we could have bought some 15 – 25 other interesting whiskies for such an amount! Yet… none of use regretted an opportunity to sample such an elegant mellow Lowland dram…

Here’s what the producer has to say:

Rich, old gold in colour, the nose is a delicious combination of sweet vanilla, delicate lemon and orange citrus notes, a touch of almonds and a light, leafy freshness.  The palate is clean and zesty but is beautifully complemented by hints of vanilla and a touch of raisins.  The finish is soft and mild.

What else did we sample that “risky whisky” evening?

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Risky whisky? Virgil Kaine 2016 Ashcat 45.6%

Our trio of potentially ‘risky whisky‘ closed with a shift from old world France to new world US of A – with a “low country” whiskey from Charleston, South Carolina!

Virgil Kaine was started by two chefs – David Szlam and Ryan Meany. The idea behind Virgil Kaine was to draw on culinary “know-how” to blend, infuse and tinker in order to craft whiskeys like a ginger-infused bourbon, a ‘high-rye’ bourbon blend and a ‘robber baron’ rye… and more recently their limited edition “Ashcat” which is what we sampled.

Virgil Kaine 2016 Ashcat 45.6% Bottle #0612

  • Nose – Dusty, sawdust, cologne, spirit, dark honey, bitter, beeswax, caramelized honey, light raisin
  • Palate – Bourbon with a sherry twist! Warms, direct, spice
  • Finish – Finally a finish! Raisins, chocolatey hazel nuts

From practically the first sip, our birthday whisky lady gave an unequivocal announcement “I like this very much!”

This was no single malt, definitely a bourbon, yet we appreciated that it had other elements too.

In our Glencairn vs Norlan glass comparison, we found the Norlan brought out much more raisins, dark heavy honey on the nose and made it much more rounded on the palate, pumping up the slightly bitter quality.

Here is what the folks from Virgil Kaine have to say:

Virgil Kaine’s first detour from our three original whiskeys. A limited edition that strikes a balanced blend between the sweetness of a wheated bourbon, the spice of High-Rye bourbon and tannins derived from sherry casks. Which is all just a fancy way of saying we created a great tasting bourbon we hope you love as much as we loved making it. Savor this one. When it’s gone, it’s gone.

  • Nose – Cane sugar & sherry
  • Taste – Butterscotch, orange peel & dried figs
  • Finish – Smooth, long finish

What else did we sample that “risky whisky” evening?

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Who knew Alsace produces whisky? AWA Pinot Noire 42%

Next up in our risky whisky evening was another offering from France – this time the Authentique Whisky Alsacien (AWA) Pinot Noire.

The whisky lady who brought this unusual offering shared how she discovered this whisky nestled amidst all the wine in France. As in AWA was the ONLY whisky to be found amongst a LOT of wine! Apparently there are other varieties of AWA – linked to different wines like Reisling, GewurztraminerPinot Gris and this Pinot Noire. Plus someone clearly has a sense of humour with AWA’s “The Dog’s Bullocks” whisky!

So… what did we find?

AWA (Authentique Whisky Alsacien) Pinot Noire 42%

  • Nose – Dark purple grapes, fruity almost reminds one of a sloe gin, fresh figs, flower like wild rose or hibiscus, then took on a deeper quality with malty treacle
  • Palate – Initial hit of raw grain for some, flowers like a bouquet bursting in ones mouth for others, bit of a sharp zing, sits on top
  • Finish – Grapey wine-like finish

There is a playful quality to this whisky. Sophisticated? Nope. Just fruity fun! Perhaps it was our imagination but we certainly found the wine influence which made it quite a departure from your standard ex-bourbon / ex-sherry cask fare.

Overall this surprise from a Whisky Lady’s trip to France received a ‘thumbs up’ just for being… rather.. well like-able!

When we contrasted tasting this whisky in our standard Glencairn glass vs Norlan, we found in the Norlan it flattened the nose to brown sugar however brought much more out in the palate – much spicier with cloves, quite a delicious piquant quality.

The verdict? Comes across more like “whisky” in the Norlan than the Glenairn glass. So all depends on how you like your tipple.

You won’t find much about AWA however… try as I might no luck finding any official tasting notes! If anyone does – let me know!

What else did we sample that “risky whisky” evening?

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Risky whisky? Not with a delightful Brenne

Our whisky ladies evening began with a decided romance spun atmosphere by candlelight… thanks to a rather more mundane reason – the road was being dug up in front our host’s home!

Yet starting the evening with a soft glow was rather apt for the 1st sample –  a French Single Malt Brenne Estate Cask.

Brenne is one of those whiskies I’ve been curious to try for some time. The brainchild of Allison Patel (The Whisky Woman) in partnership with a 3rd generation Cognac producer, she set about creating a ‘new’ whisky.

Brenne Estate Cask 40%

  • Nose – A burst of apple sauce, then bubble gum – as in bazooka or hubba bubba – quite candy sweet and as it opens up, sweet basil, honey and lavender join the choir, settling into a raspberry cherry cough syrup sweet
  • Palate – Lightly spiced sweet apple juice, light, soft, gentle cognac, cherry cola, more and more cherry
  • Finish – Red dark cherry

For some, this style of whisky may be too sweet yet it somehow manages to be a desert whisky without slipping into that sickly sweet territory. Think of it like ice cream after a meal!

In short it is a quite lovely whisky, pretty, delightful and something you could easily sip at the start or end of an evening. Rich and complex? Certainly not, but nonetheless quite enjoyable!

We wondered how the notes might change between our standard Glencairn glass and Norlan… with the Norlan, there was more flower than bubblegum and on the palate a very clear apple cognac with whisky cream. Little change in the finish.

We then wondered how it might be if chilled so put a glass of Brenne in the fridge.

The verdict? Don’t! Cold it simply became syrupy sweet stepping clearly onto the side of being TOOOOO sweet and loosing all its lovely nuance.

Brenne is produced in the Cognac region, initially aged in new Limousin oak barrels then finished in used Cognac casks – on average for approximately 7 years. The distilling technique follows the “Cognac” style, using colder fermentations and small batch production, then twice distilled in copper alembic still.

As we understand, each Brenne is from a single cask so one can anticipate some variation between what you sip today vs another bottle from a different cask tomorrow.

Here is what the Brenne folks have to say about their whisky:

SMOOTH, APPROACHABLE with lots of FRUIT A distinct experience of fruit-forward expressions followed by the spice notes from malted barley, all balanced with the sweetness from Cognac soaked oak

What else did we sample that “risky whisky” evening?

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Whisky Live Singapore – Ladies Room

Believe it or not, Whisky Live Singapore had a room exclusively for women.

Though the thinking behind it seemed slightly sexist. “Come ladies for a little pampering – get your mani/pedi done, facial, massage while your man does the manly thing drinking whisky.” (an imagined not real quote!)

In truth, there were quite a few women at Whisky Live Singapore – however some were the Dictator domanatrixes with gravity defying black high heels, attempting to be ‘eye candy’ brand ambassadors. Vaguely insulting much?

That shared, it actually was nice to have a quiet refuge to relax for a bit. Apparently later at night it became a bit wild as a place for those who over-indulged to pass out for a bit, however when I wandered in, it was a secluded refuge for a little whisky ‘down-time’ before rejoining the fray.

2016-11-13-whisky-live-ladies-room

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Whisky Ladies Risky Whisky

Our Whisky Ladies are generally an adventuresome set. Which is why our whisky explorations are not limited to your standard Scottish fare… not to say we don’t thoroughly enjoy a solid Scottish dram, just that our predilections lean to the off-beat rather than well trodden paths.

Which sometimes leads to some rather stellar flops! Most recently the AD Laws Triticum + Hordeum stand out as whiskies we would never ever chose to repeat. On the other end of the spectrum, that very night Canada‘s Shelter Point was an instant hit or another evening Finland‘s Teerenpeli 10 year was just yum!

We know when you take risks with your whisky choices there will be some delicious surprises mixed in with some unmitigated disasters!

When we began our evening, we had no idea how our selection would fare… just that we wanted to continue our whisky explorations to seek out new distilleries! Here is what we tried:

Then we added brilliant bonus drams… Our whisky lady host of the evening was celebrating her 40th birthday. What better way than with a 40 year old Auchentoshan!! And her whisky lady mother then decided we simply must have an extra desert treat of a rather brilliant bourbon Willlett.

What did we discover? Tune in over the next few days for detailed tasting notes!

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Nordic Explorers – What a journey!

Over the past few months, a fellow whisky lady and I have slowly been working our way through a delightful dozen 20 ml bottles representing five Nordic countries and seven distilleries.

There were some highlights and lowlights and it was a fascinating tasting travel. For those who missed the individual posts, I thought I would share a short synopsis of our Nordic journey…

Sweden - Smogen + Box

Denmark

Finland

Iceland

Norway

Sweden

Nordic Whisky Set

*** Thank you again 

Now… to fill these bottles back up and return the favour. What shall we chose for Thomas to try??

PS These are not the only Nordic whiskies we’ve sampled… Check out the Europe page.

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Krishna Collection – BenRiach 20 year (1994/2014) 54.7%

Last in an evening with Krishna Nakula, India’s Malt Maniac, was a whisky from BenRiach

Photo: Scotch Whisky Auctions - note image is for Cask 806 not 808

Photo: Scotch Whisky Auctions – note image is for Cask 806 not 808

BenRiach 20 year (1994/2014) 54.7%

Cask No 808 Olorosso Sherry Peated OB for Taiwan Bottle 84/678

  • Nose – Peaty, sherry, brine, sweet spice, heather and flowers
  • Palate – Smooth, peat, a little spice, very well balanced
  • Finish – Lovely

One of those whiskies that sound like the different elements would not go together, but somehow do. The interplay of sherry and peat works wonderfully and was a worthy close to our evening.

Other whiskies sampled that evening with Krishna included:

Other BenRiach whiskies sampled so far include:

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Krishna Collection – Kavalan Solist Sherry (2008) 55.6%

For a few years now, Kavalan from Taiwan has done rather well in the world whisky awards department – with good reason.

As the Malt Maniacs 2016 awards were released there was a lot of chatter in one Mumbai whisky WhatsApp group. Kavalan had clearly dominated – sweeping with the ‘Supreme Champion’ award, Ultra premium, Premium… with an insane 6 Gold awards, 13 Silver awards and 4 Bronze awards.

As Keith Wood shared the Malt Maniacs report, they “received 23 different cask entries of Kavalan; 2 bourbon, 3 port and 18 different sherry casks. At this point I must add that Kavalan themselves only entered the permitted 3 bottles, all others were from private cask owners.”

I thought of this development as I brushed off notes from a sampling of a 2015 Malt Maniac entry… here is what I found…

2016-04-25 Kavalan Solist

Not the whisky sampled – another Kavalan Solist Sherry (OB)

Kavalan Solist NAS Sherry Cask S081229026 55.6% 08 Bottle 421/527

  • Nose – More saccharin than honey, sweet prunes, dry fruits, heaps of dark chocolate
  • Palate – More mellow, sweet spices, cinnamon and oak bark, teasingly playful, peppers dipped in sugar
  • Finish – Very sweet finish, exceedingly long and lovely

What makes this one interesting is that it is vibrant, not mature and bursting with character. It may not be the most sophisticated whisky you will find, but it has a certain something that draws you back.

That’s just what Kavalan has accomplished with its Solist series – each single cask has a distinctive character. It may be in a similar family yet distinctive – take 2010’s casks S1001200358 vs S1001290048. All Solist single casks have unique qualities and can clearly stand on their own too. That cannot be said of all single casks.

Other whiskies sampled that evening with Krishna included:

Other whiskies previously sampled with Krishna:

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Finally… an Amrut that made me go “Wow!”

It is one of those ironies that the best whiskies produced in India are not available in India. The complexities of getting permissions for each state, distribution challenges, restrictions on alcohol percentages by state for Indian made spirits, and locally acceptable price points are all barriers to bringing quality locally produced whiskies to the locals.

However it is a shame that much of what has made the world of whisky pay attention to Amrut is simply not available in India.

This sample shared by Malt Maniac Krishna Nakula was no exception. Made purely for distribution in Taiwan, the only reason it made it back into the country was as part of the Malt Maniac global independent award tasting competition.

Photo: Whisky Auctioneer

Photo: Whisky Auctioneer

Amrut 5 year (May 2010/Jun 2015) 56.5% Cask No 3823 Olorosso Sherry for Taiwan Bottle 1/600

  • Nose – Musty, sweet, very vibrant, the dusty quality is actually what makes it interesting, there are many layers – spices like cinnamon, cloves then sterile notes, pickles, dried currents, some oils, a dash of salt, the ‘khatta‘ quality of tamarind
  • Palate – Big thick raisins, spice kick, sugar-coated chillies, marshmellows
  • Finish – Sweet liquorice

The beautiful thing about this is the layers, sherry but not too much sherry… there is a brightness to it that contrasts with the heavy rich flavours. Even re-reading through my notes, it doesn’t sound like it should work but it does.

I hope more such Amrut’s wander their way to me.. this is certainly one I would have liked to spend more time enjoying.

Other Amrut’s sampled include:

Other whiskies sampled that evening with Krishna included:

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