Feeling rather Scottish… Farewell 2016!

Living in Mumbai means while we aren’t on most globe trotters “top spot to travel” list, we do get on some.

This also means we have house guests from time to time.

And some of them just so happen to know about my wee predilection for things whisky wise…


Hence these wee gifts made their way into our home. I happened to also spot the Bombay Scottish 2016 Tartan book… all looking rather festive together.

I have yet to crack open the tartan hip flask or sample the Glenfiddich trio… That will be something to try in 2017.

For now, I just wanted to wish all you wonderful whisky & non-whisky folks around the globe a very Happy New Year!

Farewell 2016 and raising a toast to welcome 2017!


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Whisky Live Survival Guide

When I strolled into the office in Jakarta Monday morning, straight from Singapore airport, the team were rather surprised to see a chirpy bright-eyed lass rather than a sorely hung-over miss.

Why such an expectation? The guys all knew I spent the weekend imbibing at Whisky Live Singapore and assumed much over-indulgence would have occurred.

The secret? I followed a ‘Whisky Live Survival Guide‘ regime recommended by a friend who has much more experience with such events than I.

It roughly goes along the following lines:

  • Sniff to your heart’s content, sip, swish and swash merrily away but above all… spit don’t swallow!
  • Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate… water more than aqua vitae is your friend
  • Less is more… yes the temptation is there to try everything but after a point it all blurs… so go slow, take breaks, give up trying to sample all
  • Select very carefully your full indulgences…
  • Go early to explore at a leisurely pace, chatting with folks before the crowds inundate and inebriation changes the dynamic

This all seemed rather sensible advice. I’ve always been a quality over quantity kind of gal, more interested in the tasting adventure and conversation that goes along with the exploration than the effects of alcohol.

Perhaps a sacrilege to some – including a few whisky brand ambassadors – who gasped at my dumping, rinsing before repeating my sampling routine, however the approach served me well.

Surely others must adopt a similar strategy? I can’t imagine actually drinking all on offer! Fess up you whisky convention veterans!! How do you survive?


Some of the distilleries and independent bottlers featured at Whisky Live Singapore included:

Plus some rare drams in the collectors room. Beyond whisky there were other discoveries too, such as Velier’s distinctive Clarin rums and stunning Hampden 2010 HLCF. And a convenient ‘Ladies Room‘ to escape for a few minutes of ‘down time’ before heading back into the sampling fray.

There were many highlights and the links above are to a few posts sharing various insights. Above all, it is the stories, meeting interesting people over the whisky fabric that was the most enjoyable.

I sincerely hope to be back next year and look forward to continuing explorations.


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Whisky Live Singapore – Teeling Trio Tasting

My Whisky Live Singapore tasting experience kicked off with a decided Irish air with a trio of whiskies from Dublin’s new Teeling distillery established near Walter Teeling’s old distillery from 1782.


Tasting notes are sparse as my approach was to sniff, sip and spit… then move on to the next dram. A sacrilege to many, but worked for me. Hence most of my scribbles are more impressions than proper tasting notes, providing more of a teaser of what is in store than proper evaluation.


Teeling Single Grain Wine Casks (08/2015) 46%

  • A sweet light fruity breakfast dram with a nice viscous mouthfeel, though soft has substance with a dry finish
  • The Teeling gent shared that the wine cask in question was a Californian Cabernet Sauvignon


Teeling Small Batch Rum Casks (11/2015) 46%

  • Another sweet easy going dram, vanilla spice on the nose, a bit sweet spice sour on the palate, with a finish that is there and gone
  • Matured in ex-Nicaraguan Rum barrels


Teeling Single Malt (09/2015) 46%

  • Lots of dry fruits, toffee, citrus, sweet spices, dry finish
  • A vatting of 5 wine casks – Sherry, Port, Madeira, White Burgundy, Cabernet Sauvignon


A light, sprightly start to tasting adventures…

Wanna read about more Irish whiskies? Check out:

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Whisky Live Singapore – Bruichladdich Black Art 4.1

One of the special treats from Whisky Live Singapore was an opportunity to sample whiskies I could otherwise never try.

One of the highlights was the Bruichladdich booth with many delights… the pinnacle of which was the mysterious marvel from Master Distiller Jim McEwan otherwise known as ‘Black Art’. The thinking behind this bewitching series is the alchemy of art and science, a secret recipe concocted by the master distiller, without divulging the magic behind the art.

Photo: Bruichladdich.com

Photo: Bruichladdich.com

Bruichladdich Black Art 4.1 23 year (1990) 49.2%

  • Nose – Honey sweet, warm sunshine citrus and much more…
  • Palate – Gorgeous, very well rounded, stunning, smooth as silk
  • Finish – Beautiful ripe fruit sherry finish

This was not a bold brash Bruichladdich but instead a something that contradictorily was both a soft, delicate delight, beyond beautiful while equally being rich, deep and sinfully smooth.

I must confess, my wee nip did not do it justice. This is not the whisky you want to ‘speed date‘. This is the kind of whisky you want to savour and enjoy, either solo or sharing with friends.

Here is what they say:

  • Nose – The aromas rise and mingle beautifully creating an olfactory symphony in your hand. Little notes of rich, plump, crystallised grapes flirt over heavier notes of honey. Go deeper and you will find the tang of lemon and lime – This is the DNA of our Bruichladdich spirit; the terroir of ancient peat lands and Islay’s exposed coastline, living, breathing proof that magic really does exist.
  • Palate – Without water the first thought that enters my head is wow! This is strong and my cheeks flush, my eyes water but my heart is in heaven. Its so, so mellow and mature and yes, you can find all of the aromatics on the taste buds and more!!! I get chocolate and coconut, tangerine and papaya and a wonderful infusion of barley sugar with a pinch of cinnamon and aniseed. Completely mesmerising.
  • Finish – Grilled peach and apricot sprinkled with demerera sugar, quite outstanding.
  • Mood – Drink whenever you wish, with whomever you wish. The last to leave will be the angels who danced with the devil and won.

PS I had a wee ‘sneak peak’ sip of the Black Arts 5.1 – What a stunner! Full of dry, fruit that became juicier the longer one sipped, a burst of rich fall colours and closed on a dry spice. For me, 4.1 was summer and 5.1 autumn. Both remarkable whiskies and a treat to taste – even if just a sweet nip!

A few other Bruichladdich whiskies sampled include:

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Tomatin 12 year 43%

Tomatin is one distillery we’ve inadequately explored… hence why it was an obvious choice for my June 2016 Canadian sample score!

Some may not be aware that Tomatin was one of the top 10 distilleries in Scotland… with much of its production going into blends like Antiquity. At one point in the 1970s Tomatin’s 23 stills producing 12 million litres of alcohol. By any standard, that is a prodigious amount of whisky!

However, it fell on hard times, went into liquidation and in 1986 became the first Scottish distillery to be owned by a Japanese company – Takara Shuzo Co. and Okara & Co.

The Tomatin 12 year was first launched in 2004, followed by further age statements – 15, 18, 21, 25 and more. It has since been joined in 2010 by a peated line now branded as ‘Cu Bocan.’ More recently a no age statement ‘Legacy‘ has joined the core range.

Tomatin 12

Here’s what I found with my sample…

Tomatin 12 year 43%

  • Nose – Definitely some sherry in there… stewed prunes, quite malty, perhaps a bit of subdued dried ginger, slightly nutty… as it continued to open found raw apple with a dash of cinnamon
  • Palate – Takes some getting used to… very dry, bit of charcoal, woody, yet with a sweetish element underneath, not fudge but close like a fruit and nut chocolate bar with a slightly burnt quality, then a musty mildew, fungus or mushrooms, again nutty and something else that couldn’t be quite pinpointed
  • Finish – No rough edges, sweet carrying forward the malt and wood, surprisingly longer than anticipated

This was one of those whiskies that I wanted to like, but struggled… Not terribly complex, nothing specifically wrong but was as though the sherry finish was ‘pushy’ or ‘forced’, being used to soak up or disguise the base whisky.

It sounds terribly uncharitable and so I decided to go back to it again and give it another chance – this time with company after we sampled the Tomatin Legacy.

In comparison, it was a treat to have a more mature avatar of the Tomatin. Everything in the Legacy more accentuated and richer.

And that key element I just couldn’t quite place? Ginseng!

Here’s what the folks at Tomatin have to say:

The Tomatin 12 Year Old is smooth and silky, having been matured in traditional Scotch Whisky, ex-Bourbon and ex-Spanish Sherry casks. A rich, fruity aroma is the prelude to sweet flavours of ripe apples, pears and a subtle hint of nut before the long, pleasantly oily finish. 

Thanks to a recent gift, I had Jim Murray’s Whisky Bible 2016 on hand… curious looked at the rating… 91.5/100?!

However… when you read further, pay attention to his wood comment:

For a great many years, Tomatin operated under severe financial restrictions. This meant that some of the wood brought to the distillery during this period was hardly of top-notch quality. This has made life difficult for those charged with moulding the stocks into workable expressions. 

That rang exceedingly true. And yes, good effort with this whisky but still not quite to my picky preferences…

Next up from the “I don’t collect stamps!” whisky collection:

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Winnipeg stash – Pure Malt 21, Bowmore 12, Macallan 15, Tomatin 12

It is finally time to sit down before the year comes to a close and share tasting notes from whiskies acquired from the 2016 Winnipeg stash. These four come from a friend’s whisky collection – in his own words “I don’t collect stamps.

Pure Malt 21, Bowmore 12, Macallan 15, Tomatin 12

Naturally I selected an eclectic range of whiskies not yet sampled…

I then added to this mix, a score from Winnipeg’s Cabinet:

Curious about the 2015 Canadian sampling ‘score’? Read more here

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Ghosted Reserve 21 year (2nd edition) 48.2%

The Ghosted Reserve 21 year was the inspiration for the evening of blends and mystery malts. We tried the 2nd release which features spirits from three closed Lowland distilleries – Ladyburn, Inverleven and Dumbarton.


Ghosted Reserve 21 year 42.8% Bottle No 89

  • Nose: Very pronounced coconut oil! Lots of bananas, pineapple, some beautiful floral notes, then fully back to the tropics then shifting to more citrus fruits. It reminded us of Malibu coconut rum and piña coladas!
  • Palate: Wow! We lost all the rum and instead found a light delightful desert drink, a wonderful oiliness, terrific mouthfeel, lots of dried desiccated sweet coconut, then hints of pepper peaking out, fruits still there – juicy and tropical
  • Finish: The most disappointing element as it was too subtle… after such a distinctive nose and quite delicious initial flavours it somehow drifted away

It actually reminded me a bit of the Nikka Coffey Grain or Compass Box Hedonism, with the grain elements quite pronounced – in a good way. Wonderfully tropical with coconut the consistent element. For one, this was his first encounter with such a whisky style.

Here’s what the chaps over at Master of Malt have to say:

  • Nose: Orange and lime peels, with a hint of orchard blossom developing later on. Hints of toffee and raisins.
  • Palate: Another helping of orange peels on the palate, joined by banana and sharp tropical fruit. A touch of peppery malt.
  • Finish: Floral on the finish, with a slight nod towards milk chocolate buttons.

For those curious about the distilleries, here is a synopsis about the trio of lost Lowland distilleries.

Ladyburn (Lowland), William Grant and Sons (1966-1975)

  • Ladyburn distillery was actually two sets of stills in the same complex as Girvan, a grain distillery.
  • While intended to supply malt whisky for the Grant blends, it was operational for less than a decade.
  • One can find a few rare bottles of Ladyburn whisky bottled under the name Ayrshire, named after the area where Girvan is located.

Inverleven (Lowland) (1938 – 1991) & Dumbarton (Lowland) (1938-2002) William Grant & Sons

  • Located on the border between the Highlands and Lowlands, Inverleven and Dumbarton shared a distillery with a column still for production of grain whisky (Dumbarton) and two pot stills for malt (Inverleven).
  • Once upon a time, Dumbarton was Scotland’s largest grain distillery, drawing water from Loch Lomand (not to be confused with the Loch Lomand distillery) of which a Lomand still was introduced from 1959.
  • Inverleven was intended to provide whisky for blending, however blenders never took to the Lomond spirit.
  • While the Dumbarton complex was mothballed in 2002, the equipment from Inverleven has gained new life at the Lochindaal distillery opened by Bruichladdich at Port Charlotte.

In addition to the Ghosted Reserve, our mystery malts and vatted blends evening featured:

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Berrys’ Islay Reserve 46%

After experimenting with Berrys’ Speyside Reserve, we moved on to the Islay avatar.


Here’s what our Bombay Malt & Cigar club found:

  • Nose: Peaty oily and quite earthy. Old leather. Buttery. Becoming quite sweet. Sunshine citrus yet restrained.
  • Palate: Smoke yet very smooth. Very sweet. Slight spice kick at the back of the throat. The peat while very much present is subtle and joined by slight cinnamon.
  • Finish: Soft spice that mellows out.

Here’s what the chaps over at Master of Malt have to say:

  • Nose: Coastal iodine notes, tarry rope, yuzu, wisps of peat smoke and starfruit.
  • Palate: As is often the case, it’s on the palate that the peat smoke some truly makes itself known, circling sweet golden barley, dried apricot and vanilla.
  • Finish: Lingering peat smoke and sea air.
  • Overall: Islay-ey.

For most, this was distinctly Islay in character and much more along the lines of what we’ve come to expect. And yet the Islay did not pair quite so well with our fancy expensive cigar… pity.

What else did we sample that evening?

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Berrys’ Speyside Reserve 46%

A complete departure was exploring less expensive (yet still elusive and somewhat exclusive) blends and mystery malts… We kicked off our evening with a Speyside from Berrys’….


Here’s what our Bombay Malt & Cigar club found:

  • Nose: Sour cherries that then sweetened into maraschino cherries dipped in chocolate. A little sulfur, ash smoke. Also a bit sharp with a citrus tang of orange peel. One recalled orange ‘Acqua di Parma’. Then a mustiness joined the tart sweetness. Shifting back again to bitter chocolate.
  • Palate: 1st sip of our evening and came across as a bit harsh – almost as though cask strength? Quite sharp. Once past the initial punch, a sense of sherry popped out. Glengoyne was mentioned…
  • Finish: Bitter berries, quite dry, like amla (Indian gooseberries)
  • Water: Needs it! Helped reduce the harshness and brought it to a more accessible level

This was one whisky where it seemed impossible it was only 46%. There was a real kick, much like what one tends to find in higher alcohol strengths. There were several remarks like:

  • “OK! My mouth is totally disinfected now!”
  • “Well that cleared my palate and sinuses alright! Did it singe my nostril hairs too?”

Did we like it? Mixed response…

However as the evening progressed, we found it was more approachable after sampling other drams and went well with the cigar.

What was the trio sampled?

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Whisky Archives – Oban 14 year, Deanston 12 year, The Six Isles and Yellow Spot

Another from the archives… from June 2013 and my 1st whisky post on EverydayAsia. Hope you enjoy!

Tasting Notes from 20 June 2013

Following our standard format, we blind tasted before revealing the whisky. This month featured: Oban 14 year, Deanston 12 year, The Six Isles and Yellow Spot.

“Oh us fortunate few! What an evening it was!”

Oban 14 year – Golden amber colour. A light fruity sweet nose. Unexpectedly oily, chewy body with a spicy bite yet smooth. Short finish. Felt familiar, nice yet not exceptional.

Oban 14 year (photo: Carissa Hickling)

Deanston 12 year – A little ‘extra’ brought out by our host for those who missed trying it in an earlier meeting. Nuanced nose with over ripe fruit, sweet and spicy on the palate, lovely finish with a hint of spice that slowly dissipated. Delightful!

Deanston (Photo: Carissa Hickling)

The Six Isles – A vatted malt with single malts from the Scottish Islands: Islay, Jura, Mull, Arran, Skye and Orkney, this one kept us guessing! Quite peaty on the nose with hints of spice and other elements. Burnt ash, rich, oily on the palate yet with only a drop or two of water transformed into an exquisite smooth sweet whisky that would even pair well with desert. A lovely mellow finish. What a wonderful surprise!

The Six Isles (Photo: Carissa Hickling)

Yellow Spot 12 year – From Ireland, a single pot still Irish whisky produced for Mitchell & Son of Dublin, matured in bourbon, sherry and Malaga casks. The nose was fresh and sweet with hints of a complexity to come. On the palate, initially a blend of sea salt and honey, it rounded out with chocolate to fruit, supported by a woody robustness. The finish was particularly superb! Complex, with a gorgeous flavour that lingered…

It has garnered some very well deserved praise from Jim Murray (and us)! An exceptional whisky that hit all our favourite counts for a wonderful malt.

Yellow Spot (Photo: Carissa Hickling)

Any different opinions? Any recommendations along the lines of Yellow Spot?

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