“I like the label!” Great King Street, Starward, Smoky Goat

There is the old adage “Don’t judge a book by its cover!” However let’s face it, we can’t help but be swayed by the ‘packaging’ sometimes!

The theme for our May Whisky Ladies evening was a trio of whiskies selected by our host simply because “I like the label!”

One was a familiar favourite and the other two were completely new to both her and our merry bunch of whisky women.

2016-05-17 Great King, Starward, Smoky Goat

We sampled:

With some very clear ‘wins’ – the ever lovely Compass Box treat and the surprisingly fabulous Starward from Australia.

2016-05-17 Great King St + Starward

And a very clear ‘no!’.. yeah this one decidedly got our goat for being unpalatable…

2016-05-17 Smoky Goat 2

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Unchartered Territory – Talisker 57′ North, Laphroaig PX, Inchgower 13 year

As the mercury rises in Mumbai and we impatiently wait for monsoon to make its appearance, our merry malt gang made its way over to a members home for an evening of whisky sampling.

The ‘non-theme’ of the evening proved to be ‘Unchartered Territory’. Each of the whiskies our host had never sampled. He also tried a reverse approach of starting with the strongest in alcohol strength progressing to the least powerful. Furthermore everything we tried for dinner were all new experiments. As usual, all tastings were blind before the dramatic reveal!

May's trio - Talisker, Laphroaig, Inchgower

May’s trio – Talisker, Laphroaig, Inchgower

What whiskies did we sample?

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Gourmet affair – Westin and whisky combine!

Once and awhile, I have the pleasure of joining special evenings… this was one such night!

TheWestin partnered with Nick Ord from Diageo‘s TheSingleton to host a private pairing of whisky and fine cuisine. It was very clear the chef and team spent considerable time and effort experimenting to find just the right combination (and perhaps imbibing along the way too!).

We were greeted by the poolside with a glass of Singleton, served as we wished. It was a hot muggy dark evening but the company was refreshing, the breeze delightful and the experience worth braving Bombay’s traffic to join!

Warning – my camera photos simply do not do justice… even still, you are liable to become rather envious of those lucky enough to be part of the evening.

With that caveat in mind, read on…

2016-05-22 Westin Whiskies Cards

Glenkinchie 12 year

  • Whisky – Aromatic, vanilla, cut flowers and creamy
  • Salad – Green and white asparagus, burrata with a quinoa chip
  • Pairing – An excellent starting combination, complimented well, whetted the appetite for more to come…

2016-05-14 Westin Asperagus

2016-05-22 Glenkinchie 10 year

Caol Ila 12 year

  • Whisky – Subdued, citrus fruitiness, a fresh and appetising nose, almond oil and after a while a pot pourri
  • Appetiser – Stuffed Kashmiri morels, mushroom puree
  • Pairing – Outstanding! Simply superb! Each on their own excellent but combined was easily one of the best pairings I’ve sampled so far. There was simply something about how the feta stuffed morel merged with the Caol Ila to bring out even more in each. Like taking something already fabulous and bring out something even more spectacular. It was that good.

2016-05-14 Westin Morel

2016-05-22 Caol Ila

Talisker 10 year

  • Whisky – Powerful peat-smoke with just a hint of the sea-water salt of fresh oysters, with a citrus sweetness
  • Option 1 – Panseared scallops, air dried prosciutto, cauliflower and truffle puree
  • Option 2 – Corn fed chicken smoked in clay oven, spiced yogurt, raw mango and pineapple chutney
  • Option 3 – Variation of the chicken dish with smoked paneer instead
  • Pairing – Folks raved about the scallops, spoke well of the chicken and my vegetarian fare was well balanced with the Talisker. Pleasant, worked well but not out of this world like the morel and Caol Ila.

Here Nick Ord from Singleton interjected that we should savour the Talisker 10 as stocks are running low – what is here today may be gone tomorrow.

2016-05-14 Westin Paneer

2016-05-22 Talisker 10 year

Lagavulin 16 year

  • Whisky – Intensely flavoured, peak smoke and a rich, deep sweetness
  • Option 1 – Australian lamb loin with madeira sauce, milanese risotto, truffle
  • Option 2 – Indian lamb shank with a signature ‘tear’ sauce and biryani
  • Options 3 – For vegetarians, broccoli on a mustard infused mash
  • Pairing – Though by all accounts the Australian lamb was excellent, however as a pairing it simply didn’t hit the high notes. In the case of the vegetarian version, the dish brought out spice in the Lagavulin instead of complimenting.  However, by contrast, the Indian lamb biryani was apparently spot on! It was yet another reminder, to not be afraid of bringing more desi flavours into the foreground with whiskies – particularly those with a bit more oomph!

2016-05-14 Westin Lamb

2016-05-22 Lagavulin 16

Singleton by Glen Ord 12 year

  • Whisky – Toasted nut, rich fruit and aromas
  • Desert – Delightful assortment of mignardises from fresh raspberry to a melting almond ganache to a crunchy ball bursting with flavours and more…
  • Pairing – Pure joy! After dutifully sampling a nibble of one with the Singleton, I gleefully abandoned all pretence of sticking to one whisky alone. A small bite of pure sin would tell me which whisky might work best… Fantastic way to close the evening!

2016-05-14 Westin Mignardises

2016-05-22 Singleton

While these single malts are all ‘standards’ – even familiar friends – it is always a pleasure to revisit… particularly with such carefully planned pairings.

TheWestin Mumbai team clearly put a lot of effort into playing around with possible options. Bravo to the organisers, TheWestin team and Nick!

2016-05-14 Westin Whiskies

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Irish Night – Connemara NAS 40%

Just to ensure we didn’t miss Ireland’s peated offering, the lads n lasses evening included Connemara!

(Six Mumbai 2015)

(Six Mumbai 2015)

Lina Sonne is our last Whisky Ladies of Mumbai guest whisky reviewer for our Irish Night… 

An escapee academic, Lina heads the Mumbai office of Okapi and its consulting portfolio on innovation and entrepreneurship. Her work focusses on enabling inclusive innovation, social entrepreneurship and start-ups across South Asia and she has traveled widely across the region.

Lina has developed a bit of a reputation for preferring whiskies with a bit more ‘hair on the chest,’ veering towards more robust and peated profiles. On a recent trip back to Sweden, she zeroed in on Mackmyra’s peated Svensk Rök as THE whisky she wished to share with Mumbaikars. 

Here is what Lina has to say about the Connemara….

  • Nose – Definitely seaside, distinct peat and plenty of wood.
  • Palate – Smooth and very light on the palate – a puff of wind on your tongue and it finishes! Where did all that peat go?
  • Finish – Light sweet finish, but with some bitterness and maybe a walnut hiding in there somewhere.
  • Water – Add water and old wood comes out, with a little spice to tickle your tongue.

Overall we found that the Connemara had a great peaty nose promising plenty, but failed to deliver on the palate, with the peat all but disappearing. While still an enjoyable dram, we had hoped for a bit more drama. Instead, it’s quite dry and makes you want to go looking for water.


Kilbaggan website

Here’s what the folks over at Kilbeggan distillery have to say about their Connemara:

Inspired by Ireland’s ancient distilling traditions, Connemara’s smooth sweet malt taste and complex peat flavours makes it a truly unique Irish whiskey.

Connemara is the most decorated Irish whiskey with a huge collection of Gold Medals and has been honoured as the “Worlds Best Irish Single Malt”. Connemara allows you to unearth the Peated Pleasures of Ireland.

Last but not least, more guest reviews by different Whisky Ladies of Mumbai:

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Irish Night – Bushmills Steamship 40%

Our Irish lads n lasses evening moved on to Bushmill‘s newer offering to the travel retail market – Steamship!

Susan Dias is our next Whisky Ladies of Mumbai guest whisky reviewer… 

(Susan's LInkedIn profile)

(Susan’s LinkedIn profile)

What does a Chartered Accountant with a fierce pride in Indian traditions and keen interest in local spirits do? Naturally start a venture, Native Brews, with a dream of celebrating traditional artisanal Indian spirits in a contemporary context.  

After a year of extensive exploration and research into remote corners of India, Susan returned to Mumbai to begin playing around with the distillation of Mahua, a flowering tree found in central India. While still in the early stages (so be patient!), exciting experiments are already under way!

Having focused more on native Indian spirits, Susan is newer to exploring the world of whiskies… however this lass is fast catching up! 

Here is what Susan has to say about the Bushmills Steamship….

Bushmills Steamship – Sherry Cask Reserve is part of Bushmill’s first ever travel retail exclusive, ‘The Steamship Collection’. The collection is inspired by the historical SS Bushmills steamship and celebrates its maiden voyage in the 1890s. Story goes that after being commissioned by then owner the Boyd Brothers, it sailed to America, travelling as far as Philadelphia and Yokohama, and returning with refilled casks of rum, fortfied wine and Bourbon.

The Steamship Sherry Cask Reserve is a no-age-statement single malt Irish whiskey exclusively matured in Oloroso Sherry casks.



Susan’s Tasting Notes

  • Color: Medium rich gold
  • Nose: An intriguing almost spicy aroma, burnt sugar sweetness
  • Palette: Sweet, dried fruits, vanilla
  • Finish: Medium finish, sweet
  • Water: Brings out spice. Opens it up and after sitting for a while becomes more enjoyable.

It is quite evidently a young whiskey. The first launch under new owner Jose Cuervo’s expansion plans, it has the characteristics typical of the brand, but lacks the maturity (pun intended) of its older siblings.

Colum Egan, Master Distiller at The Old Bushmills Distillery, said about the Steamship Collection

“For centuries distillers have experimented with different barrels so naturally I was inspired by the adventures of the ship and the opportunities it opened to experiment with various casks from around the world. So, together with Master Blender Helen Mulholland, we created a whiskey with a rich, complex flavour and a smooth finish – a characteristic synonymous with our range of triple distilled whiskeys.”

The experts at the tasting gave the Steamship a thumbs down although quite a happy one. This is because at some point (I don’t know how it came up – I was quite a few drams down by then) it was compared to a gay lad on the Love Boat. I will let you figure that one out yourselves!

PS Poor wee whisky, in the consumption contest, Steamship lagged behind all the other Bushmills…

Bushmills Steamship, 10, 16, 21

Bushmills Steamship, 10, 16, 21

Here are more guest reviews by different Whisky Ladies of Mumbai!

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Irish Night – Bushmills 21 year 40%

Our Irish lads n lasses evening continued with the Bushmill‘s 21 year!



Shruti Sutwala is our next Whisky Ladies of Mumbai guest whisky reviewer… 

With a background in marketing, Shruti took the plunge to transform her passion for travel into a profession. Her company, TripFolk, curates unique travel experiences with like minded travelers, tapping into local bloggers, travel writers, wine and food enthusiasts, art curators and more….. 

Given that Shruti travels extensively (plus has a partner who shares her whisky explorations), she can always be counted on to have a good whisky bottle (or more!) kicking around in her cabinet.

She’s particularly fond of more nuanced whiskies with a wide variety of profiles. Shruti has introduced us to Japanese whiskies like the yin yang Nikka Blended and the subtle Nikka Coffey Grain.

Here is what Shruti has to say about the Bushmills 21 year

(Bushmills official website)

(Bushmills official website)

  • Colour – Dark Amber
  • Nose – Woody & spicy (hints of pepper) with some freshness of citrus fruits like orange
  • Palate – Sweet, sweet, sweet as you sip it! Gets a little nutty and spicy as you let it sit on your palate for some time!
  • Finish – It has a spicy finish which balances the sweet palate overall, however overall it’s not complex as expected
  • Water – You should try this with a few drops of water if you are really looking for some complexity in this 21 year old! It does bring out a few caramely notes..

Overall we found this to be the most “Irish” of the other expressions of Bushmills. A fun easy going whisky to drink which gives you a few nuances to experience, without making it too complicated and serious. One of the gentleman actually said “you almost feel like breaking into an Irish dance along with this whisky!”

Here’s what the folks over at Bushmills have to say about their 21 year:

Bushmills Single Malt Whiskey 21 year old is aged for a minimum of 19 years in former Oloroso Sherry and Bourbon-seasoned casks, then transferred into Madeira casks for a further 2 years. The result is a whiskey awarded ‘Best Irish Single Malt 2013’.

It has huge depth that interweaves dried fruit flavors with spicy, aromatic maltiness and subtle nutty raisins notes.

PS The Bushmills 21 year clearly won the consumption contest!! An entire bottle was polished and could see eyes coveting the 2nd bottle waiting in the wings…

Here are more guest reviews by different Whisky Ladies of Mumbai!

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Irish Night – Bushmills 16 year 40%


Next up in our Irish lads n lasses evening was Bushmill‘s 16 year!

Fellow Canadian Paula McGlynn is our 1st guest whisky reviewer…

In addition to her blog & experiments with Pollywood Vlog (now discontinued), Paula is a film maker with her partner (Gulbadan Talkies) and actress, recently making her Marathi film debut.

What matters to our Whisky Ladies in Mumbai, is she’s the kind of lass that will track down a new whisky experiment from Canada, take an hour off from shooting in Goa to zip over to Paul John to collect a coveted bottle of Peated or pop into WhiskyLive when in South Africa… just because… whisky!

Here is what Paula has to say about the Bushmills 16 year….

Bushmills Single Malt Whiskey 16 year old is aged for 16 years in a combination of Oloroso Sherry and Bourbon-seasoned casks, then matured for several months in port wine barrels.

(Photo: www.bushmills.com)


Paula’s Tasting Notes

  • Color: Amber
  • Nose: Sweet and subtle nose. Burnt sugar, toffee, citrus, overall restrained.
  • Palette: Cinnamon, caramel, marmalade, orange peel, star anise.
  • Finish: It hangs at the back of the tongue. Fennel and spice.
  • Water: Leather and more spice. Not recommended. It damps it down, but it was noted that after sitting for a while, the water brings out more of the Port notes.

Overall it is reserved and subtle but clean. Retains the distinct sweetness characteristic of Bushmills expressions.

Here is what the folks over at Bushmill have to say about the 16 year:

“The unique maturation process gives this single malt its distinct notes of juicy fruits, nuts and spice, as well as a hint of ruby redness.

It’s best enjoyed neat or over ice.”

It was also awarded Gold at the 2010 San Francisco World Spirits Competition.

PS In the consumption contest, Bushmills 16 year was 2nd!

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Irish Night – Bushmills 10 year 40%

Rather than bounce around with multiple distilleries, our recent Irish evening narrowed its focus to primarily Bushmills.

For those not familiar, the Old Bushmills distillery can be found in Bushmills, County Antrim, Northern Ireland and traces its history back some 400+ years.

1st up in our combined Whisky Ladies & Bombay Malt & Cigar evening was the Bushmills 10 year.

Carissa’s tasting notes:

(Bushmills official website)

(Bushmills website)

  • Nose – Light, sweet, sprightly, a bit of banana, hints of vanilla, some honey, a whiff of spice all typical of an ex bourbon cask, mellowed into a soft caramel
  • Palate – Some fruit – apples and pears, very smooth and easy to drink, a hint of sweet spice like cinnamon, malty cereal
  • Finish – Was there a finish? Maybe a little light whisky sweetness…
  • Water – Hmm… honestly don’t… it was already quite ‘thin’ to our palates now more attuned to cask strength than 40%… and the whisky character is already quite restrained so best avoided

Overall we found it was a good start to the evening – one of those eminently accessible whiskies. While it doesn’t challenge, it does an admirable job of lubricating the senses with a sweet, sociable, uncomplicated yet pleasant whisky.

Here’s what the folks over at Bushmills have to say about their 10 year:

Bushmills Single Malt Whiskey 10 year old is triple distilled from 100% malted barley and matured for at least 10 years in bourbon season barrels which give it it’s honey, vanilla and milk chocolate aroma.

It can be served neat, over ice or if you’re feeling a little more adventurous, try it frozen.

We didn’t try it frozen, however…in a muggy Mumbai May night? Perhaps that wouldn’t be such a bad thing.

Extra special treat for this sessions are guest reviews by different Whisky Ladies of Mumbai!

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Irish Night – When the BMC + Whisky Ladies unite!

To the casual observer, it may seem slightly absurd that one woman living in Mumbai could be part of three whisky tasting groups. Yet each are unique and completely delightful.

Particularly our Whisky Ladies group attracts quite a bit of… ahem… gentlemanly attention with many men wishing to crash our female only party.

However the lads over at our Bombay Malt & Cigar club are a rather more civilised lot. Clever gents, they knew the best way to enjoy an evening with the ladies would be to extend a gracious invitation to the mysterious whisky women of Mumbai.

And thus the Irish night was conceived!

While it didn’t take 9 months for this momentum occasion to become a reality, many  most amusing efforts went into selecting more sociable Irish whiskies, with the gentlemen taking full charge of sourcing everything from the whiskies to pipettes to acquiring more Glencairn classes to even glass covers!

Bushmills Distillery 21 May 2016 (Photo: Arti)

Bushmills Distillery 21 May 2016 (Photo: Arti)

At one point some 10+ whiskies were being bandied about as options, however in the end they settled on:

Then a few more were added as ‘bonus’ whiskies:

As always, the proof of what proved most popular is what was consumed most during the evening… in this case, the evidence is quite clear! The Bushmill’s 21 year beat the pants off the entire competition. Followed by the 16, 10 and Steamship lagged behind…

Bushmills Steamship, 10, 16, 21

Bushmills Steamship, 10, 16, 21

Our venue host personally cooked an Irish stew as the focus entrée of a fabulous sit down dinner which followed our slightly inebriated pronouncements about the various drams. We even had an Irish themed assortment of music and naturally much merriment was had by all!

To say the lads fully embraced our Irish evening is a wee bit of an understatement.

As for the lasses? Let’s just say we are plotting how to return the courtesy… with a theme that may completely disrupt normal notions of what defines a good dram!

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Good to the last drop! JD Tennessee Honey Liqueur 35%

To close our Whisky Ladies evening, we needed something to recover from the disasterous Chinese local hooch!

Galloping to the rescue was an American offering, completely out of synch with the predominantly Far East theme, but a welcome accompaniment to our chocolate pizza (oh yes! that is a thing and it is insanely yummy!).

Enter Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Honey liqueur..

Jack Daniel's Tennessee Honey

Whisky liqueurs and other experiments have become more plentiful in recent years as NAS whiskies are given increasingly creative avatars in an effort to capture attention and market share… particularly those not governed by the Scotch Whisky Association rules.

Here’s what the folks over at JD have to say about their Tennessee Honey:

Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Honey is a blend of Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Whiskey and a unique honey liqueur of our own making, for a taste that’s one-of-a-kind and unmistakably Jack. With hints of honey and a finish that’s naturally smooth, Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Honey is something special.

  • Nose – Complex sweet nose, maple syrup and praline
  • Palate – Sweet up front, nutty on the finish, rich without being syrupy

Then proceed to invite you to mix it with lemonade!

As for the whisky ladies? Heck it was sweet JD and we had chocolate. What more can we say?

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