Whisky Archives – Singleton, GlenDronach, All Malt, The Belgian Owl

Here’s another from our whisky archives… this time from May 2013…

Following our standard format, we blind tasted samples before revealing the whisky. This month featured: Singleton, GlenDronach, All Malt and the Belgian Owl.

The Singleton – We found it tasted better when chilled otherwise a fairly ‘standard’ whisky. A Speyside offering from the Auchroisk distillery.

The Singleton (Photo: The Singleton Website)

THE SINGLETON (PHOTO: THE SINGLETON WEBSITE)

GlenDronach 12 year – Unique on the nose and on the palate. Another Speyside worth revisiting.

GlenDronach (Photo: GlenDronach website)

GLENDRONACH (PHOTO: GLENDRONACH.COM)

Nikka’s All Malt – A beautiful offering that which was quickly categorised as a `woman’s whisky’ for its delicate, nuanced character. Refreshing to sample a whisky from Japan!

All Malt (Photo: Nikka website)

ALL MALT (PHOTO: NIKKA WEBSITE)

The Belgian Owl – Nothing exceptional and not even up to our regular standards. Perhaps it needs to perch itself longer in the cask maybe? Sigh… or maybe our Belgian friends should stick to beer? Pity this eco-friendly, colouring free whisky isn’t…. well… better…

The Belgian Owl (Photo: United International)

THE BELGIAN OWL (PHOTO: UNITED INTERNATIONAL)

Our favourite of the evening? It was a toss-up between the All Malt and GlenDronach – both delightful in their own way.

For more posts on our tasting sessions and whisky explorations…

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Glengoyne 21 year marmalade

Now the gents I enjoy the Malt & Cigar evenings with tend to prefer the finer things in life. And have the means to indulge their predilections.

Our memorable kick-off with four ‘adult’ whiskies, all 21 years and older, was partly burned forever in our brains as the night four mature whisky corks all crumbled and the night we decimated a rare beautiful whisky – the Balblair 38 year and added the stunning Laphroaig T5 21 year as an afterthought!

Glenlivet, Glengoyne, Balblair

The runt of the litter that night was clearly the Glengoyne 21 year. At the time, I found it a bit ‘queer’… however when an opportunity presented itself to revisit, thought what the heck! And tried it with someone not earlier ‘tainted’ by our poor opinion…

Here is what we found in our revisit:

  • Nose – Sweet sherry spice
  • Palate – Woody, ginger
  • Finish – Nutmeg spice after smoking

I kid you not but ‘headache inducing’ and ‘burnt flesh at the back of the throat’ were real comments.

We further speculated that perhaps in the interest of achieving a coveted ‘age’ statement, some of the whisky had simply matured too long or perhaps it could be chalked up to our queer cork theory.

To put into perspective, we originally found:

  • ggoob-21yoNose – Sherry! Plums, caramel, very ripe figs, vanilla, sugar sweet, raisins, dried fruits
  • Palate – Woody, port… honestly a little too oaky. As in sat in the cask too long…
  • Finish – Long dry sherry spice with a wood hangover
  • Water – Opens it up a little and adds some zing!

In the end we concluded, that while not a complete disaster, it was far from a delight. Certainly not a whisky any of us would chose to drink.

The owner of the bottle admitted he’s been ‘scared’ and ‘scarred’ by this Glengoyne experience dismissing the distillery even when he receives recommendations from those he otherwise trusts.

And then entered the idea of a malty marmalade. It began as a joke, however the very elements that make the Glengoyne a little too woody, sherry, sweet… might actually be a quite fabulous counterpoint to the citrus in marmalade.

The very next day the Glengoyne 21 year was whisky off the marmalade maker’s home.

When finally will we have an opportunity to sample the fruit of the folly?

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Nordic Explorer #8 – Norway’s Audny Series 3, 4 year 46%

With our next sample, our Nordic exploration shifted countries from Sweden to Norway.

Audny means ‘hope‘ and is produced by Det Norske Brenneri (‘The Norwegian Distillery’). They were the 1st private Norwegian distillery, opened in 2005 distilling different spirits and then, in 2012, launched their first single malt.

Nordic Whisky Set

Audny Series 3, 4 year Single Cask 46%

  • Nose – Neutral, organic, quite herbaceous, light whisp of smoke, hint of sherry, sweet stewed fruits
  • Palate – This is a first for a whisky… we found bad perfume, flat sweet, like campari, we had expected more spice and pepper but… nope!
  • Finish – Hmm…. wasn’t much of a finish

Spoiled by young yet interesting whiskies like Kilchoman, we will admit we hoped at 4 years there would be something more going on.

The nose had some promise but overall it simply didn’t come together.

However these are early days yet… perhaps the promise can be fulfilled in a more mature or different avatar.

*** Whiskies courtesy of 

For more information on Mackmyra whiskies, do read Thomas’ posts on Whisky Saga. Specifically:

A fascinating journey so far with our Nordic whisky experiences:

  1. Smögen Single Cask 7/2011 4 year old 57.3%
  2. Smögen Sherry Project 1:4 57.2%
  3. Box Whisky The Festival 2015 54.5%
  4. Shareholders 2016 52%
  5. Mackmyra Preludium:01 – De Första Dropparna, 3 year 55.6%
  6. Mackmyra 8 YO Dram Good Whisky 54.4%
  7. Mackmyra Bachair 3 YO Private Cask
  8. Audny Series 3 46% (this post)

With another four to go, our appetites for Nordic whiskies has indeed been whetted.

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Nordic Explorer #7 – Sweden’s Mackmyra 3 Year Bachair Private Cask

Our Nordic exploration followed with a 3rd whisky from Mackmyra distillery.

After the first drop (De Första Dropparna), the 8 year old Dram Good Whisky, our attentions turned to Bachair Private Cask. Now, we tried to find out more about this whisky – to no avail!

We suspected in this case ‘private cask’ literally means it is indeed a private cask and not available on the open market. Lucky us!

Nordic Whisky Set

Mackmyra 3 year “Bachair” Private Cask

  • Nose – Varnish, smoked pine, sweet grass, peat like the embers of a dampened campfire. As it aired more, it became increasingly sweet, windy woods
  • Palate – Smooth then opened into wildfire, outdoorsy, bit of warm alcohol burn
  • Finish – Like it was reminded one “Still here mate!”

Very different than the other two… this had a very ‘back to nature’ kind of vibe. Distinct and quite unforgettable. Hence our curiosity to learn more…

I turned to our whisky benefactor ( this is indeed a real live actual private cask.

He shared that many Nordic Nordic distilleries will allow individuals or groups of individuals to purchase a cask of their choice (typically bourbon or sherry) and have it filled with their choice of new make (typically peated or unpeated), then one waits for a minimum of three years and decide when to bottle it. 

And this particular one? It was purchased by friends of our whisky benefactor… who came up with the name ‘Bachair’ one late night. With a whisky like this, certainly can’t have come from listening to Bach’s Air in G string at the time?? 

*** Whiskies courtesy of 

For more information on Mackmyra whiskies, do read Thomas’ posts on Whisky Saga. Specifically:

Other Nordic whisky experiences include:

Other Nordic whiskies sampled together:

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Nordic Explorer #6 – Sweden’s Mackmyra 8 year Dram Good Whisky

Our Nordic exploration continued with another whisky from Mackmyra distillery.

After the first drop (De Första Dropparna), we moved on to an 8 year old Mackmyra.

Now it wasn’t directly released by Mackmyra… nothing so simple as that! Instead Dram Good Whisky is a collection of friends who banded together to buy barrels of whisky. You won’t find this cheeky label on a retail shelf anywhere.

Which made our having an opportunity to try a sample all the most appealing. Our inner whisky geek was getting rather tickled at the opportunity to try something a wee bit obscure!

Mackmyra 8 year Dram Good Whisky No 3, 54.4%

  • Nose – Much more subtle than the 1st drop, fruits, juniper, apricot, stewed fruits, minerals, vanilla
  • Palate – A touch harsh, mineral, more juniper, wood, resin, pine, lively
  • Finish – Bitter wood, herbal

Overall it was quite pleasant. While still in the territory of being a bit ‘raw,’ it managed to achieve the state of becoming a drinkable dram that made us wish we had just a few drops more.

Once again, what a treat to try something we would otherwise have never been able to acquire!

*** Whiskies courtesy of 

For more information on Mackmyra whiskies, do read Thomas’ posts on Whisky Saga. Specifically:

Next up in our Nordic whisky experiences:

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Nordic Explorer #5 – Sweden’s Mackmyra Preludium 01 – The First Drops 3 year 55.6%

Our Nordic exploration continued with whiskies from Mackmyra distillery.

This was not our first encounter with this Swedish distillery. Years ago I sampled Svensk Ek in Singapore and then our whisky ladies enjoyed the peatier Svensk Rök.

1st up? The first drop (De Första Dropparna) brings together the first drops from their pilot distillery (1999-2002) and the first casks from their first real distillery – Mackmyra Bruk. It was released in March 2006 and the sample comes from our Nordic explorers collection, courtesy of Thomas at Whisky Saga.

Macmyra website

Macmyra website

Mackmyra Preludium:01 – De Första Dropparna, 3 year 55.6%

  • Nose – First whisky harshness, the vanilla, berries, perfume, apples, cinnamon, soft fruits, caramel, apricot, a bit of wood
  • Palate – A bit raw, alcohol. However the ‘hooch boom’ dashed off. While clearly young, it was sweet, raw wood, itchy nose
  • Finish – Limited

While clearly young and on the brash side, it takes a certain panache to stand up and say “Here is where we started!” Given that we have enjoyed where they have gone since, it was indeed interesting to see where the journey began.

World best whisky? Nope.

Fantastic to see the early stages? Absolutely!

*** Whiskies courtesy of 

For more information on Mackmyra whiskies, do read Thomas’ posts on Whisky Saga. Specifically:

More Nordic whisky experiences coming soon!

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Balmenach 26 year (1988/2015) 51.1%

The last in our quest for great cask strength whiskies for around 100 pounds was from a distillery one rarely sees sitting on shelves.

We closed with Balmenach from the InverHouse stable… A distillery I now know better for their Caorunn gin than whisky!

Long have rumours run that there are plans to start producing official distillery bottles. I considered this session’s offering a sneak peak into what may come to more of us… in due course… hopefully…

balmenach-26

Balmenach 26 year (09.11.1988/07.09.2015) 51.1%

Hogshead Cask No 3242, 192 bottles, from Signatory

Here is what we found:

  • Nose – Smoky bacon, wet dish rag, high phenols, lots of pine tree, sweet leather, subtle, sun dried, sweet dry spices, more the hint of potential peat not smoke like vanilla scented candles
  • Palate – Lots of body, hazelwood, sweet, dusty, dry yet entirely pleasant, more of the cinnamon, nutmeg sweet spices, fruits and cream
  • Finish – Relatively short finish yet zero burn, a delicious spice
  • Water – Not required but also accommodated

This whisky was easy to enjoy, moved in one-way yet without a doubt the most interesting of the evening. In many ways, it was quite classic in character.

Like the other cask strength whiskies sampled, we set it aside for some time. In our revisit found oily bacon, less spice but overall quite nice and worked well with the cigars.

Overall, for most the Balmenach was the ‘winner’ of the quest and we would certainly want to explore more…

Billy Abbott’s tasting notes on TWE rang true:

  • Nose: Fruit salad to start – orange segments, apples, pears and tinned peaches. Sharper and weightier notes build, with oily touches joined by cut grass, vanilla toffee and raisin-studded shortbread biscuits. Softly floral waxiness sits underneath, combining singed candle wicks with heather and honeysuckle.
  • Palate: The buttery biscuits of the nose leap to the fore, with whipped cream and warming woody spice – cinnamon, nutmeg and clove. Stewed apple peeks out from behind the spice, and charred staves and earthy dunnage notes sit beneath. Water unlocks fresh fruit and sweet cream.
  • Finish: Spicy to start, softening through apple pies and poached pears before liquorice and anise revive the heat.
  • Comment: Layers of fruit and spice with even more fruit revealed if you add a drop of water. Old-fashioned fruity whisky at its best.

What else did we sample in our trio?

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Longmorn 24 year (1990/2015) 53.7%

Next up in our quest for a fabulous cask strength whisky around 100 pounds was Longmorn…

Now once upon a time the Longmorn 16 year was easily found on duty free shelves, however it has become increasingly scarce… For quite some time now, a fellow Mumbai whisky lady has a standing request for any traveling folks to pick her up a bottle… in vain.

Needless to say, I was looking forward to a fine specimen. To graduate to 24 years and cask strength? This was anticipated with bated breath…

longmorn-24-year

Longmorn 24 year (24.09.1990/04.08.2015) 53.8%, Hogshead 216 bottles  (TWE The Single Malts of Scotland)

Here is what we found:

  • Nose – Sugar, spice and all things nice! Caramel, cardamon, toffee, yet also had fresh citrus zest, a sense of being oily, woodsy, sweet yet complex
  • Palate – Tasted like it smells… that oily quality was quite welcome, rose and orange peel
  • Finish – Dry wood, burn
  • Water – Kills the nose, to the extent it took on a wet bread quality, and the palate became curiously flat

Here we found a cask strength whisky that was optimal at cask strength. Water simply didn’t do it any favours – quite the opposite for us.

If the Linkwood was summer, the Longmorn was autumn… the discord between aroma and palate found in the Linkwood was in complete accord here, singing the same note in harmony.

Again we set it aside to see if it further evolved. The glasses with water were disappointing. The pure cask strength retained the earlier elements adding a sweet drizzle of dark honey.

What else did we sample in our trio?

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Linkwood 24 year (1991/2015) 53.8%

Our quest for great cask strength whiskies around 100 pounds began with a Linkwood…

Interestingly, our last session also featured a Linkwood – a rather delightful 25 year old from Gordon & Macphail. So hopes were high!

linkwood-24

Linkwood 24 year (16.061991/04.08.2015) 53.8%

Cask No 586497, 268 Bottles, Hogshead  (TWE The Single Malts of Scotland)

Here is what we found:

  • Nose – Quite summery, grass, vanilla, flowers, sweet, light, hay, light toast. As it opened further a little spice, honey, sweet tree sap. Post our initial sips, took on more wormwood, resin and the sweetness subsided
  • Palate – Great kick, a blaze of unexpected spice, big mouthful
  • Finish – An elongated burn
  • Water – With a few drops, spice and more burn… added more and started to open up

In short, this one needed water. A very generous dollop not a mere drop or two… bringing closer to 46% seemed a more balanced level.

I couldn’t help but wish we had the the Gordon & Macphail 25 year bottling to compare. At 43%, that Linkwood was truly superb. Fabulous value for a quite lovely whisky.

Whereas this one, at cask strength, had terrific promise on the nose but no follow through on the palate. It wasn’t that the whisky was ‘wrong’ it simply wasn’t really ‘right’ either.

We gave it even more time and returned after sampling the other whiskies… once again a lovely aroma yet just didn’t deliver on the taste. One even remarked this was a ‘heartburn’ whisky?!

Our quest was clearly off to a shaky start…

What else did we sample in our trio?

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Cask strength quality? Linkwood 24, Longmorn 24 and Balmenach 26

Thanks to mad travel schedules, the Bombay Malt & Cigar club held our session early November… this time on a quest for cask strength quality below 100 pounds. All were from the prodigious Speyside region yet none were distillery bottles – two were from The Whisky Exchange with their Single Malts of Scotland series and the last from Signatory.

linkwood-balmenach-longmorn

Here are the bottles sampled in our quest:

As for whether we were successful in our quest? Jut click the links above to read about our experience…

For more related updates and activities, check out: