Whisky Lady – Sultry September

What a Whisky Lady month!!

Everyday Asia

In Canada, September is when you taste the first chill of autumn. Whereas here in India, the weather remained sultry for this Whisky Lady!

Whisky Lady Top 10 A few bottles from Whisky Lady’s current top 10

It was also a seriously HOT posting month!

Juveniles, Corsair Triple Smoke, Greenore 18 year (Whisky Lady) Juveniles, Corsair Triple Smoke, Greenore 18 year (Whisky Lady)

Our regular monthly tasting session featured three unique whiskies that just so happen to work great in cocktails too:

September Whisky Ladies September Whisky Ladies

Last night, our 2nd whisky women’s Mumbai…

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100 whisk(e)y posts with 100 whiskies!!

Remarkably… this is the 100th post for Whisky Lady in India!!

That’s 100 whiskies folks! Now… not all posts were devoted to a single whisky and some whiskies for review are ‘in the pipeline’ (marked by an asterisk*).

Still… I’m a doing a little happy dance of celebration for this 100th post!!

post-milestone-100-2x

  1. Sullivans Cove – French Oak Cask
  2. Glen Breton 10 year
  3. Hammer Head 23 year
  4. Kornog bottled for The Auld Alliance
  5. Amrut Single Malt
  6. Amrut Fusion
  7. Amrut Peated
  8. Paul John Brilliance Single Malt
  9. Paul John Classic Select Cask
  10. Paul John Edited Single Malt – 1st bottle, 2nd bottle
  11. Paul John Peated Select Cask
  12. Bushmills 1975 49.1%
  13. Greenore Single Grain 18 years 46%
  14. Jameson Original NAS
  15. Jameson 12 year Special Reserve
  16. Jameson Gold Reserve
  17. Jameson 18 year Special Reserve
  18. Teeling NAS 46%
  19. Tullamore D.E.W. Phoenix 55%
  20. Tyrconnell 10 year Madeira Casks
  21. Asama
  22. Chita Single Grain Whisky 12 year 43%
  23. Hakushu 18 year
  24. Ichiro’s Malt Chichibu 2009 French Oak Cask 63.1%
  25. Chichibu ‘The Floor Malted’ 3 year 50.5%
  26. Houou-uhi (Phoenix) 46.5%
  27. Nikka ‘From the Barrel’
  28. Nikka ‘Yoichi’ 10 year
  29. Nikka Taketsuru Pure Malt 17 Year 43%
  30. Yamazaki Sherry Cask 1998 61%
  31. Hazelburn 12 year
  32. Springbank Vintage
  33. Balblair 03 1st bottling
  34. Blair Athol 16 year
  35. Deanston Virgin Oak NAS 46.3% 
  36. GlenDronach 18 year Allardice
  37. GlenDronach 21 year Parliament
  38. Glen Garioch Founder’s Reserve
  39. Glen Garioch 21 year
  40. Glenglassaugh Torfa
  41. Glenmorangie evening with The Original 10 year
  42. Glenmorangie 18 year
  43. Glenmorangie 25 year
  44. Glenmorangie Signet
  45. Lochside 1981
  46. Oban 14 year
  47. Old Pulteney 12 year
  48. Old Pulteney 21 year
  49. Highland Park 1998
  50. Jura Superstition
  51. Ledaig 1997, bottled 2013 (Gordon & MacPhail)
  52. Ledaig 18 year
  53. Talisker 10 year
  54. Talisker Dark Storm
  55. Ardbeg Uigeadail
  56. Ardbeg Corryvreckan
  57. Bowmore Laimrig 15 year
  58. Bowmore 21 year (1988)
  59. Bruichladdich – The Organic Scottish Barley 50%
  60. Bruichladdich Octomore
  61. Bruichladdich Islay Barley
  62. Bunnahabhaim Eirigh na Greine
  63. Caol Ila 12 year
  64. Caol Ila 1997, bottled 2009 (Gordon & MacPhail)
  65. Kilchoman Coull Point
  66. Laphroaig 16 year (1987) 46% (Silver Seal)
  67. Auchentoshan 12 year
  68. Auchentoshan Three Wood
  69. Auchentoshan 18 year
  70. Auchentoshan Cooper’s Reserve 14 year
  71. Little Mill 25 year
  72. Aberlour A’bunadh
  73. Auchroisk 20 year (Duthies)
  74. BenRiach Septendecim
  75. Glen Deveron 20 year
  76. Glenfarclas 12 year
  77. Glenfarclas 21 year
  78. Glenfarclas 40 year
  79. Glenfarclas 105
  80. Kininvie 17 year
  81. Mortlach 15 year (Gordon & MacPhail)
  82. Singleton Artisan
  83. Speyburn 10 year
  84. Bailie Nicole Jarvie
  85. Compass Box Asyla 40%
  86. Compass Box Great King Street Artist’s Blend 43%
  87. Compass Box Hedonism
  88. Compass Box Spice Tree 46%
  89. Compass Box Peat Monster 46%
  90. Compass Box Juveniles 46%
  91. Monkey Shoulder
  92. Kavalan Concertmaster
  93. Corsair Triple smoke 40%, Batch 162, Bottle 153 of 450
  94. Jim Beam White Label 4 year
  95. Beam’s Choice 8 year, 1980
  96. Hudson Single Malt Whiskey 46% (2014)
  97. Westland Cask No 395 54.6%
  98. Penderyn Sherrywood
  99. Penderyn Madeira
  100. Penderyn Peated

There you have it!

I consider myself a passionate novice drammer. To have managed to accumulate 100 whiskies to write about, well… that’s really quite fabulous.

Slainthe! Here’s to many more whisky adventures ahead!!

Time to add a wee dram to sample...

Time to add a wee dram to sample…

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You seriously spit out whisky?

Was the incredulous response when my partner described to a new acquaintance our ‘ritual’ in blind sampling whiskies.

Spit your 1st sip…?

When our monthly group first started our tasting adventures in February 2011, we had a ‘rule’ to spit out the 1st sip.

Now, I must admit, somewhere along the way we mostly abandoned this rule. However, there is a very clear rationale behind it.

Why spit?

It is all about acquainting your palate with the high alcohol content. In short, you let the first sip go so it helps clear the way to enjoy the real flavours. Think of it as calibrating the palate for the delights to come.

Keep it coming…

As most of us whisky aficionados taste whiskies for fun not funds, if you have lined up more than three whiskies in an evening, a certain amount of healthy pacing is in order too.

Psychologically using the spittoon for the 1st sip helps you slow down, distill the different elements before you have that 1st swallow that coats your throat with whisky goodness.

Whaddya do?

Any others adhere to this recommended approach or merrily abandon it in favour of gleefully gulping the 1st quaff?

Whisky sipping...

Whisky sipping…

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Johnnie Walker ‘The Spice Road’ NAS 40%

I love 200 ml bottles of whisky! It is the perfect amount to sample solo, with a friend or two and even revisit.

Even better when they come free… as this little one did. Though I will admit, I did not buy the Johnnie Walker 1 L bottle that had it attached.

I will also admit the last time I had any kind of Johnnie Walker was at “The Journey” festival at Mehboob Studios in December 2014. For those in Mumbai end of the year – it really is a fabulous cultural event well worth catching!

However, I digress… let’s get to the whisky…

Johnny Walker 'The Spice Road'

Johnny Walker ‘The Spice Road’

Johnnie Walker ‘The Spice Road’ NAS 40%

What did I find?

  • Colour – Amber
  • Nose – There is a nice cinnamon, honey, as it airs sweetens more, a little smoke, some vanilla, cereals
  • Palate – Oddly flat, bitter, there’s that cinnamon again however it also has dried ginger and cloves, some peppercorns, quite dry, some malty caramel
  • Water – Even with just a couple drops its insipid – just don’t!
  • Finish – Limited, bit woody

At 40% it honestly is a bit wimpy, not complex and while the ‘spices’ are there, it isn’t in a well-rounded lip smacking kind of way.

So I recalibrated my expectations and threw caution to the wind! It was a warm evening..

Would it do well with ice? Not bad.

In fact if this is served at the next ‘The Journey,’ I might go for it… or consider it as a base for a more interesting cocktail – clearly others have this idea too! However as a duty-free exclusive that is unlikely.

So what’s this JW expression all about?

Focused on the lucrative duty-free crowd, the Explorer’s Club Collection with their Trade Route Series features three expressions:

  • The Spice Road for the journey from Europe to Asia
  • The Royal Route from Europe to Persia
  • The Gold Route of the Americas and Caribbean

What do they say about The Spice Road?

A complex whisky with rich flavour and exceptional smoothness. Matured in old oak casks for an intense finish inspired by the spice markets of Asia yet true to the Johnnie Walker signature.

What others say:

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Top 10 whisk(e)ys… sort of…

Anyone heard this before: “Oh, you drink whisky? Which is your favourite?”

I have a tough time. My whisky preferences are often tied to mood, company, and… let’s face it… accessibility!

Let’s also be honest… folks that drink blends are a loyal lot. They have a ready answer to the ‘favourite’ question.

Those of us tending towards single malts are rather promiscuous… always looking out for something ‘new’ to try. We’d rather end up with a disaster than miss a possible gem.

However when Whisky Girl from the Netherlands gave a challenge to share a Whisk(e)y Top 10, I had to rise to the occasion!

Whisky Lady in India's current favourites

Whisky Lady in India’s current favourites

Here goes! From my Whiskies by Country list with random reasons for their pick (by country/region order):

  1. Sullivans Cove – French Oak Cask – Only Tasmanian whisky sampled so far and makes me really wanna try more
  2. Kornog bottled for The Auld Alliance – Why I’ve begged my gal pal on a biz trip to Paris to pretty please bring me back ANYTHING from Kornog or Glann Ar Mor
  3. When in a ‘desi’ (Indian) mood – Paul John’s cask strength Peated
  4. Hakushu 18 year – No surprise this old favourite from Japan made the cut!
  5. Perhaps because I sampled it recently, but the ‘Yoichi’ 10 year has character…
  6. Springbank from Campbeltown shows promise with Hazelburn 12 year
  7. Love the chocolaty coffee yumminess of Glenmorangie’s Signet
  8. Caol Ila 1997, bottled 2009 (Gordon & MacPhail) simply notches up what I enjoy most about Caol Ila
  9. My current ‘everyday dram’ is Kilchoman Coull Point
  10. The American craft whiskey that made me go ‘Oh yes!’ Westland Cask No 395 54.6%

The most remarkable “I can stop now” single malt is Lochside 1981… Completely out of my reach, but I have to mention it… it is simply that good.

And one that is completely unfair to include – blend of two discontinued distilleries (Hanyu & Kawasaki) plus impossible to buy – Ichiro’s Malt Houou-uhi (Phoenix) 46.5%.

See how hard it is? I couldn’t even restrict myself to 10!

Come on… share your top 10 (or 12)!! You know you want to!

Slainthe!

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‘Old Fashioned’ – Greenore 18 vs Corsair Triple Smoke

With all the bans, whispers of prohibition, it is no surprise that the 1920s style “Speakeasy” bars are popping up all over India.

On a recent trip to Gurgaon, I stopped by CND and sampled their insanely good Scotch Sour. It was a toss-up between trying that and an Old Fashioned.

When our recent tasting session in Mumbai featured whiskies that encourage cocktails, thought why not create a little “Speakeasy” atmosphere at home!

20150917_Greenore Old Fashioned

Greenore Single Grain 18 year 43%

Greenore is an Irish single grain whiskey which they say can be enjoyed “neat, over ice, or makes a perfect base for a cocktail.”  Their 18 year only has 4,000 bottles and is deceptive as comes across as quite young.

Here’s the ‘Greenore Old Fashioned‘ recommendation for the 18 year….

  • Muddle together a cube of white sugar, dash of Angostura bitters, tablespoon of soda water
  • Top glass with cubed ice
  • Add whisky and stir slowly
  • Garnish with fresh orange peel, spraying a little on the glass

See their mixologist’s video here for more details.

Triple Smoke Old Fashioned

Triple Smoke Old Fashioned

Corsair Triple Smoke 40%

Corsair is an American small batch fine spirits maker. Their Triple Smoke has a bolder character – think smoky bacon on the nose, chewy coffee and tobacco on the palate with a complex curl of smoke. Rather an interesting base for a cocktail…

Here’s the Corsair Triple Smoke version of an Old Fashioned:

  • 3 oz Triple Smoke Whiskey
  • 1/2 oz Amber Agave
  • 2 dashes old fashioned bitters
  • Combine in a mixing glass, add ice and stir til well chilled
  • Strain into a chilled rocks glass
  • Add large ice cubes
  • Garnish with a bing cherry

So there you have it – two very different whiskies with two contrasting Old Fashioned recipes!

Slainthe!

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Greenore Single Grain 18 year 43%

We’ve sampled quite a few Irish whiskeys over the years – not just Jameson but also a few of the T’s – Teeling, Tullamore and Tyrconnell.

Most are NAS or a maximum of 10 years… so it was a surprise to discover this Greenore Single Grain has ‘ripened’ to 18 years.

As usual, we sampled blind then revealed and reacted to what we found. Read on…

Greenore 18 year

Greenore 18 year

Greenore Single Grain 18 year 43%

  • Nose: Lemony, musky, rose water, definitely on the sweeter side, honey, fruity but not any specific fruit, perhaps a little wine? Come back after a few minutes and the nose takes on a citrusy character
  • Taste: Lemony, bitter, very light on the tongue, like sweet ice wine. Then a light spice…
  • Finish: No finish to limited with the faintest hint of woody smoke
  • Comment: You can get friendly with it, and have fun”
  • Overall: Unbelievable this is 18 years!

I’m not sure if others would agree, but if there is one characteristic we seem to find in whiskies from Ireland is their ‘sociable‘ quality. They may be a bit rough around the edges or a little light like this Greenore, however they all come across as quite ‘friendly’ sorts, tempting you to forget fancy shmancy tasting rituals to simply kick back to enjoy.

In this case, the very simple, fun element of the whiskey seems contradictory for its age. One typically expects a little complexity in an 18 year old single malt which is completely absent here from this grain whiskey. However if you set aside any assumptions about age = complexity, its happy character has a certain appeal.

From Cooley Distillery – part of the Kilbeggan Distilling Company now owed by Beam Suntory – the Gleenore 18 year has a limited production of 4,000 bottles.

What the Greenore folks have to say about the 18 year:

  • Nose: Soft sweet corn accompanied by a burst of zesty orange and citrus lemon
  • Taste: Sweet butterscotch toffee with a rich creamy vanilla character
  • Finish: Sweetness lingers on the tongue giving way to smooth clean oak note

They also encourage using it as a base for cocktails – like the Old Fashioned.

Check out the other whiskies sampled at our September 2015 session:

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American attitude – Corsair Triple Smoke Small Batch Whiskey40%

This month, we braved Ganapathi festival traffic in Mumbai to sample three quite distinct whiskies from three countries – Scotland, Ireland and this American.

Unfortunately, I was insanely delayed reaching so we had two sets of tasting notes… the core group captured beautifully by another member and then her capturing of my ‘speed tasting’ solo impressions. I have definitely never zipped through sampling three whiskies in mere minutes before!

Corsair Triple Smoike

Corsair Triple Smoke

Corsair Triple Smoke 40%, Batch 162, Bottle 153 of 450
For the Corsair, here is what we found:
  • Nose:
    • Group – Medicinal to smoky bacon, the nose gives the feel that it must have body… breathing very well like a “book flippping opening fast,” honey-glazed ham, marmalade
    • Solo – Oily, a bit ‘in your face’ as in ‘Pay Attention!’ but in a good way, overripe fruits, bananas, definitely quite ‘forward’ on the nose… as it opened baby puke sour, bacon then back to sour with the smokey meaty element gone
  • Taste: 
    • Group – Coffee, dry on the tongue, no smoke / peat on taste
    • Solo – Robust, tobacco, chewy, faintly bitter
  • Finish: 
    • Group / Solo – No finish… as in nada
  • Overall – It has attitude and also is quite a character. Worthy of further exploration. Something is going on with this one!
Corsair is an American small batch distillery based in Nashville Tennessee and Bowling Green, Kentucky. They have become a bit of a cult favourite for their edgy fun approach to fine spirits.
Corsair’s description and details for Triple Smoke:
  • Smoky. Buttery. Rich. Crafted for Cocktails.
  • We take three fractions of malted barley, each smoked by a different fuel – cherry wood, peat, and beechwood – to craft this deeply complex whiskey.
  • Pot distilled then barreled in a new charred oak, Triple Smoke has the sweetness and barrel notes of an American whiskey and a single malt’s rich smoke, broadened by tones of cherry and beech. Excellent mixed or neat.
Their tasting notes:
  • Huge, rich flavour. Three smokes with peat at the fore, sweetness and vanillas. Buttery, broad flavour and long finish. Makes a great Manhattan.

Did we like it? You bet!

Check out the other whiskies sampled at our September 2015 session:

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Cocktail whiskies anyone?

Call me a single malt snob, but generally I prefer my whiskies neat.

However, this month’s tasting session featured three countries, three quite distinctly different whiskies from three different companies where a little cocktail mixing is encouraged.

Compass Box Juveniles, Corsair Triple Smoke, Greenore 18 year

Juveniles, Corsair Triple Smoke, Greenore 18 yr

I took a peek at the suggested cocktails… may be worth abandoning my snobbery and experimenting with a few!

Start with the Old Fashioned

Any favourite whisky cocktails out there with unique whiskies as their base?

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Kininvie 17 year 42.6% – a quandary no more!

Earlier this year, I wrote about my quandary regarding the Kininvie 17 year. You see, I picked it up from Singapore duty-free but as a 1st bottling, wasn’t sure if I should keep it a bit longer or open it immediately. After all, I’m not in the collector’s league and whisky for me is something to enjoy!

Kininvie 17 sample

Kininvie 17 sample

At the time, Ronald Ding of Whiskyrific made a lovely offer – to share a sample on which basis I could make an informed decision to crack open or keep.

Alas my Singapore travel plans kept getting postponed and when I did finally go in June 2015, Ronald and I simply could not manage to connect.

So he made an even kinder offer – to post the sample to me in Mumbai, India.

Now… I had my doubts. Would it actually make it through customs to my doorstep without incident or hassle?

Remarkably it did!

Kininvie 17 year, batch 1, 42.6% (bottle #3959)

So here is what I found…

  • Nose – Instant grapey wine-like quality, a bit of oak, powder, floral, sweet, the usual flirting with vanilla and honey, then a slight nuttiness peeps out
  • Palate – Again grapes – as in serious grapiness (is that a word?), mellowed into a delightful dram, the usual maltiness, creamy, yes a bit buttery too, a hint of warm spice to round out
  • Finish – Did I say grapes before? This time think grape coolade…
  • Water – Nope – didn’t try as it is already quite light
  • Overall – Without a doubt smooth, light, classic Speyside… with grape!

I don’t think I’ve had a whisky that reminds me so forcefully of grapes… at first wine-like on the nose, then juicy grapes on the palate and grape coolade on the finish. I kid you not.

Which if you don’t like grapes means this isn’t the whisky for you.

But if you do… it is actually quite nice, pleasant, gentle, and grows on you sip by sip. I was disappointed when my wee sample dram was done.

KininVie 17

Kininvie 17, batch 1, bottle no 3752 with sample from no 3959

The Kininvie distillery is based in the Conval hills of Dufftown, part of the Balvenie distillery compound and I first encountered it as a component in the rather yummy Monkey Shoulder.

There were a few prior single malt releases under the ‘Hazelwood’ label in honour of Janet Sheed Roberts, granddaughter of Glenfiddich’s founder William Grant, who lived to a remarkable 110 years old. From lawyer to director of William Grant & Sons, as noted on the label, she opened the distillery in 1990.

Kininvie 21 then 17 year was initially released in Taiwan and now available in the UK. You can read more about Master of Malt’s insights on this distillery here.

The official tasting notes suggest:

  • Nose – Rich and full aroma with fresh fruit notes and a deep vanilla sweetness. Uniquely fragrant with a characteristic floral note that is accentuated through the addition of a little water
  • Taste – Beautifully sweet, buttery vanilla and slightly spicy
  • Finish – Long and lingering with a notable sweetness

So many thanks Ronald!! I do suggest you check out his assessment on Whiskyrific – Kininvie 17 year!

As for my quandary? I think I will hang on to it until the right opportunity presents itself… as in to share not save.

Slainthe!

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