GlenDronach 21 Year Parliament

Our January 2015 tasting session offered three new whiskies to sample: Bailie Nicole JarviePaul John Single Malt Edited and GlenDronach 21 Year Parliament.

This session was definitely one where the best was saved til last! As usual, we first sampled blind then revealed the whisky.

GlenDronach 21 year Parliament 48%

  • 20150115-GlenDronach 21 year ParliamentColour – Dark deep amber, almost ruby in colour
  • Nose – Instant sherry, bold, can immediately make out it is a complex and rounded whisky, a delight of berries, black cherry, toffee, banana, just bursting with character and not in the least linear
  • Taste – Raisins, plum cake soaked for long time before devouring, dry like rum, as robust as the nose suggested, earthy and rich
  • Finish – Plum finish like a dry sherry

For an all-nighter – one of those wonderful whiskies where a little goes a long way!

We also tried a small experiment:

  • Our host and partner sampled in Tulip glasses from a bottle previously opened
  • Myself and other club member tried in our standard Glencairn glasses

What was the difference?

Well…. We had a bit of debate over which was ‘sharper’ or ‘more mellow’ however it seemed the newly opened bottle was much more pronounced, rounder and more complex whereas the opened one slightly ‘cut’ but still a marvellous malt.

Confession time? Our host sez it is his current favourite! And I will admit to draining the last drop from the opened bottle… sorry folks!


More info:

  • Again one of those interesting distilleries, founded in 1826, that was quietly producing, neglected from 1996 to 2001 and then re-opened but only more recently catching attention for their single malts
  • Matured only in sherry cask – combination of oloroso and pedro ximinez – making it quite distinct from the typical ‘sherry’ cask finish approach
  • Released in 2011 and named ‘Parliament’ for the parliament of rooks that live in the trees near the distillery

In short – not to be missed!


20150115-GlenDronach Close up

Since sampling this, there have been more GlenDronach adventures:

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Paul John Single Malt Edited NAS 46%

Welcome to India’s newest offering in the Single Malt category!

This is the 2nd from our January 2015 Mumbai whisky sampling session after the Bailie Nicole Jarvie (BNJ).

Paul John Single Malt Edited NAS 46% 

Single malt from Goa – 1st bottling

  • Colour – Dark gold with the immediate impression that the colour was added not natural
  • Nose – Rubber, tincture of iodine, detached industrial smell, not fruit or flower, slight caramel
  • Taste – Sharp spice, musty yet also dry, perhaps a bit of salt
  • Finish – Um… well… there were no comments so clearly it didn’t leave much of an impact
  • Add water – While naturally the spice went up a tinge, there was a new element that reminded of bitter tumeric, a sourness added to the mix, then overripe banana

As we were having such fun with our discussions, the malt had time to ‘breath.’ Each time we returned to it, new notes emerged:

  • First the iodine transformed into dry coconut with a hint of vanilla and added a leathery dimension on the palate
  • Come back again and a clear caramel custard welcomed the nose and the sourness on the palate mellowed into sweet

20150115-John Paul Single Malt Edition

The unveiling:

Talk about a surprise! This new single malt from India definitely shows promise. It could benefit from more aging and peat… however as a first bottling, it is a good beginning. While clearly a work in progress, it will be interesting to see where Paul John goes next.

More info:

  • John Distilleries are from Bangalore best known for their “Original Choice” whisky and “Big Banyan” wine
  • Produce their single malt Paul John in Goa
  • A new entrant to single malt, the distillery uses copper pot stills and began manufacturing whisky in 2008
  • We tried one of their two single malt whiskies (Edited and Brilliance) released in May 2013 in Goa (not Maharashtra yet!) – and understand it the ‘1st bottling’- lucky us!

Best quote of the evening:

Promising… but should have practiced susegad a bit longer!

Other whiskies in our January tasting session:

Since this introduction, we’ve had many more brushes with Paul John whiskies!

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Bailie Nicole Jarvie (BNJ) NAS 40%

Our January 2015 Mumbai’s whisky tasting club‘s session was hosted by our resident expert and the first whisky sampled was the Scottish blend Bailie Nicole Jarvie – better known as BNJ.

As per our usual approach, we first blind tasted the whisky and then revealed it to then resample and discuss further.

Bailie Nicole Jarvie (BNJ) NAS 40 %

  • 20150115-BNJColour – Pale
  • Nose – Very light, honey, initially had more the scent of fruit than anything specific, then a hint of banana emerged, and vanilla. Post the initial tasting as it settled further to a delightful baked apple pie!
  • Palate – No palate complexity, had a sense of being watered down, slightly bitter and frankly a let down
  • Finish – Not much… if you were polite, you would call it delicate

Before revealing the whisky, we were challenged to identify what it reminded us of – it seemed most like a Glenmorangie – recalling the Nectar D’Or. The unveiling:

  • Scottish blend from Glenmorangie – bravo to our identifying prowess!
  • Our host shared it has been an ‘original’ blended malt long before vatted malt Monkey Shoulder came into picture, a ‘cult’ amongst Scottish whisky drinkers
  • Personally I love the packaging! A pity the whisky wasn’t more interesting…

We did let it breath further and revisited a few times during the course of the evening to see if anything new emerged. Other than the baked apple pie in the nose surfacing, it remained consistently light, pleasant and unremarkable.

Curious, I found out a little bit more information:

  • Blend of old scotch whisky from Lowland, Highland and Island whiskies – according to the bottle notes, all over 8 years
  • While boasts of having the “highest malt content of any blended Scotch Whisky” it seems that it is 60% single malt / 40% grain whisky
  • Blended by Glenmorangie and named after the Walter Scott novel – Rob Roy
  • Considered largely unknown outside of Scotland, was around in 1921 and quite popular in the early 20th century
  • Was re-launched in 1994 in the current avatar shown here

Our final conclusion? It is a mild-mannered whisky that could prompt more conversation than the Glenmorangie 10 year but in that same category. In other words… pleasant but nothing spectacular.

Other whiskies in our January tasting session:

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World Tour – Hammer Head, Glen Breton, Nikka from the barrel, Mortlach 15 year

One consequence of gallivanting off to Amsterdam in November is I missed our monthly tasting session. However given it featured whiskies from four different countries, I convinced our host to do a special ‘make-up’ session.

What follows is a blend of the original sessions notes from another club member and mine from last night for your reading pleasure. 

Hammer Head (Photo: Carissa Hickling)

Hammer Head 23 year

Hammer Head 23 years 40.7%, Czech, Pradlo distillery

  • Colour – Pale
  • Nose – Bright fresh citrus, dry fruits, hint of bourbon
  • Palate – Mild chewy yet dry oak, a tinge of sour, lack of depth… re-tasted after 20 mins and had a flash of masala paan
  • Finish – What finish?? Really nothing much at all…

Blind tasting reactions:

  • Guessed may be around 40% as had no ‘punch’ on the tongue, age of around 10-12 years, likely not a blend
  • Declared an evening no-nonsense malt, easy on the palette

You can be forgiven for not being instantly familiar with this single malt from the Czech republic. Back in 1989, Pradlo distillery decided it was high time to make a proud Czech single malt. With only Czech barley, water from the Bohemia region, aged in 100% Czech oak, the one concession was using a hammer mill masher from Scotland, a single batch was produced. Then the Berlin wall fell and everything changed. Any further production stopped and the distillery was more or less forgotten. Til 23 years later it was ‘rediscovered’ and commerce took over with a decision to bottle the mystery malt.

The result? A curiosity piece, great story and slice of history more than a memorable malt.

Glen Breton

Glen Breton 10 year

Glen Breton 10 years 43%, Canada, Glenora distillery

  • Colour – Light pale yellow
  • Nose – Medicinal, lemon fusion
  • Palate – 1st impression is spice then a bitter turmeric – nothing else
  • Finish – Slightly bitter then vanishes

Coming from Canada, we’re known for Rye whiskey blends not sophisticated malts. Touted as one of only two single malt Scottish-style distilleries in Canada, it is ‘matured’ in American oak barrels. However seems much more akin to a not so great 3 year old, certainly not a 10 year! We previously sampled this disappointing offer and were reminded – do not repeat!

Nikki from the barrel

Nikki from the barrel

Nikka from the barrel, no age stated 51.4%, Japan, Nikka distillery

  • Colour – Warm wheat
  • Nose – Plum cake, fruit basket, mild citrus aroma, bold & woody yet unmistakably sweet
  • Palate – Sweet on the first sip, then slightly spicy finish, mild hint of leather and cinnamon. When returning after 20 mins – pure sweet smoothness
  • Finish – Comes out to say an exuberant ‘hello!’ with sassy spice
  • Water – Shot up the spice, but then settled

This blend reminds that sometimes it is worth playing around – in this case blended and then re-casked to further mature. Definitely worth trying but not a future purchasing priority.


Mortlach 15 year

Mortlach 15 year

Mortlach 15 years 43%, Scotland, Mortlach distillery, Gordon & Macphail

  • Colour – Burnished gold
  • Nose – Oily, christmas cake, overripe banana
  • Palate – Dances on the tongue, dry yet somehow also with a heavy oily undertone, hint of sweetness, smoooooth
  • Finish – Finally a ‘real’ finish like it never wants to let you go! Spicy

By far the most interesting of the evening and a reminder to keep grabbing the Gordon Macphail bottlings. A cross-sampling of the Mortlach and the Ledaig led to speculation that while each is distinct, there is a stamp of ‘character’ that distinguishes Gordon Macphail products.

Must say I’m glad I didn’t miss our little trip around the globe!

Glen Breton, Hammer Head, Nikka from the barrel, Mortlach

Glen Breton, Hammer Head, Nikka from the barrel, Mortlach

Other global tasting adventures include:

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Bring on the bourbon and rye!

Finally proper whisky drinking weather in Mumbai! A hint of chill in the sea breeze just in time for the marriage marathons and seasonal festivities of the December / January ‘seasons.’

Our last monthly malt meeting of 2014 had a decidedly American twang with two Bourbons and a Rye! Given that the US now has over 2,000 whiskey listings with 600 new distilleries, it is no surprise that there are plenty of options to sample.
As none of us had tried these American offerings, we dispensed with our usual blind tasting and merrily went straight for the bottles!
We toured three different states – Kentucky, New York and Colorado.
Russel's Reserve

Russell’s Reserve

Small batch Kentucky straight bourbon matured in ‘alligator-charred’ virgin American oak casks.
  • Colour – bright amber (don’t let the pic fool you!)
  • Nose – banana caramel desert, vanilla, spirity with a slightly peaty element, agarbati smoke, curry leaves with a faint hint of fresh mint sprigs
  • Taste – bitter kerela, baby puke sour, dry and oaky
  • Finish – still bitter
  • Water – BLAND, tamed the sharpness but added nothing new
Conclusion – A nice, easy drinking whisky. And we all enjoy a bit of that from time to time!
Rough Rider

Rough Rider

This rye is matured only one year and is made from a mash of 95% rye and 5% malted barley, matured in 3 barrels – new American oak, straight bourbon cask, then finished in casks used to age Pine Barrens Single Malt Whiskey. The ‘Bull Moose’ name comes from the nickname of Roosevelt’s Progressive Party, formed in 1912. True Americana!
  • Colour – deeper amber than the Russell’s Reserve
  • Nose – lemon soapy scented bubble bath, fresh sawdust
  • Tastepoppins, ruafza, sweet on the tongue while harsh at the back, wine notes with a chardonnay brightness or gewürztraminer sweetness, smooth
  • Finish – very surface level, slightly sour
  • One thought had slightly synthetic flavour
  • Another suggested would be best drunk at a brunch, paired with a lemon tart
  • For a one-year old baccha, not bad… but certainly not one to go into the favourites category


From Colorado, Breckenridge is aged 2 years in charred new American oak barrels. Its key claim to fame is that it uses water from “snow melted from the rocky mountains.”
  • Nose – reassuringly bourbon banana sweet mellow raisins, fruity
  • Taste – the closest to being Scottish in taste, a bit chewy sweet, good whisky but no specific character hence slightly tricky to describe
  • Finish – light spicy finish
Best quote of the evening:
  • “Feel like cowboys / gals in leather chaps riding off to the sunset just like in those old Westerns. Yeehaw!”
Rough Rider, Breckenridge, Russel's Reserve

Rough Rider, Breckenridge, Russel’s Reserve

And just when we thought the tastings for the evening was over… out popped a repeat from an earlier session consistent with our evenings theme – Blanton’s Single-Barrel Bourbon. With its trademark Blanton stoppers – we have yet to collect each in the series to see the race in action!
20141218-Blanton Label 20141218-Blanton
2014 brought several opportunities to sample brash whiskies from North America, however my personal preference remains single malts from Scotland or a few favourites from Ireland and Japan. You?
Other American whisky evenings:

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