Bruichladdich Octomore 7.2_208 5 years PPM 208 58.5%

Our Bruichladdich Peat Progression evening shifted from Port Charlotte to the mighty Octomore expression!

In this case from their travel retail line, matured in American oak casks and casks which previous held Syrah wine. I believe it was released late 2015 and picked it up in Singapore in 2016.

The whisky was sampled in three sessions:

  • Initially with the Whisky Ladies with a freshly opened bottle
  • Then a mini Whisky Ladies session with two who missed our main night
  • Followed by our original Mumbai tasting group who had all whiskies completely blind before the reveal

Bruichladdich Octomore 07.2_208 5 years PPM 208 58.5%

What did the Whisky Ladies think?

  • Nose
    • Waves of sweat peat, nutty chocolate, cinnamon and nutmeg
    • Mild menthol, deceptive as the peat becomes quite restrained – almost minimalist, creamy, a bit antiseptic, sinus clearing like horseradish, dark chocolate, molasses
  • Palate
    • Incredibly smooth, remarkable how there can be so much peat swirling about and yet not a single harsh note, there is passion but… no rough jagged edges
    • Simply delicious! Chocolate, cinnamon, so smooth….
  • Finish – Lingers, long yet restrained – more like the echo of sweet peat

For the Whisky Ladies, I introduced Bruichladdich’s brand ambassador Murray’s “trick” to enjoying whisky in Asian heat… out came a few glasses filled to the brim with ice then topped up with water.

A few shots of ice cold water to cool the mouth and then a sip of Octomore – sublime! Silky smooth, gentles and smooths the peat without subduing the seductive quality – I do believe the expression “Sex on toast” was mentioned. It brought out ice cream, floral, prunes with the peat becoming quite shy – there but holding back.

And our original underground Mumbai whisky club?

  • Nose – Peaty, heather, honey sweetness, marigold flowers or nasturtiums, incense, pipe tobacco, after opening more green apples and pears, shifting between subtle peat, floral and fruity elements
  • Palate – Very sweet, so incredibly smooth, thick body, incredibly balanced with the smoke, sweet flower and fruit with a light salt coming together in harmony
  • Finish – Initially bitter, then sweet vanilla on the back of the tongue, shifting between leather and honey
  • After a shot of ice water – Red velvet, salty caramel, sweet spice

With the reveal, it was impossible to believe a peat level of PPM 208. If anything the Port Charlotte 12 seemed to have more of a peat swagger or ‘punch’ at a paultry PPM 40. There was no doubt this was a stellar whisky of exceptional craft. Just as it was no surprise we polished off the last drop!

For the original group, this whisky closed our evening. We reflected back on the range and could see a thread of bitter sweet common to all with each having depth and character. There was no doubt of the tremendous care and craft that went into each creation… and we found it overall very impressive.

And for the ladies? Our night was yet to close! We moved on to contrast the Octomore 07.2 with the 07.1…

What do the folks over at Bruichladdich have to say?

  • Character – Enigmatic. Defiant. Forget what you thought you knew.
  • Colour – Liquid gold.
  • Nose – Golden syrup, smoke and red berry fruits to begin. The gentle smoke weaves through poached pear and apple pie from the distillation with the ripe fruits from the cask, red berries peach and apricot. As you inhale deeper, delicate floral notes unclouded by the smoke are released heather, lilies and orange blossom.
  • Palate – The combination of sweet fruits and smoke is classic Octomore. Huge levels of peat sit in perfect balance with the flavours released from the cask. Add a drop or two of water and we get cherry, bramble, strawberry from the Syrah casks; cinder toffee, brown sugar, honey and crème brulee from the American oak burst through. You can feel and taste the rewards of our patience – slow trickle distillation provides the soft silky texture that coats your mouth and releases wave after wave of the soft fruit and floral fragrance.
  • Finish – As lemon zest, red fruit and vanilla oak fades away the deep smoke lingers, a potent reminder of the strength and character of Islay.
  • Mood – To be enjoyed in good company. Pour another dram. Everything else can wait….

Our Bruichladdich Peat Progression evenings also featured:

You can also find Whisky Lady in India on:

Bruichladdich PC 12 Oileanach Furachail 58.7%

Next in our Bruichladdich Peat Progression evening was another bolder peatier Port Charlotte offering with the PC 12 Oileanach Furachail…. peated to 40 PPM and bottled 21 July 2015.

It was sampled in three sessions – initially with the Whisky Ladies then a mini session with two ladies who missed the main evening, followed by our original Mumbai tasting group who had all whiskies completely blind before the reveal.

PC 12 Oileanach Furachail 58.7%

What did the Whisky Ladies think?

  • Nose
    • Much more complex than the CC:01, bursting with character, musty, old leather shoes, yet beyond the tobacco factory was lily
    • Sour, leather, betel nut leaf, old leather polish, black sour cherry, a mechanics garage, quite industrial, then becomes sweet with vanilla, then black peppercorn
  • Palate
    • Super amazingly smooth, well rounded, much more subtle on the palate than one would have anticipated from the nose, absolutely delicious – think spicy smoked chickpeas, dark berries, clove encrusted oranges
    • Musty, sweet, round without a single harsh edge – a contrast from the industrial nose, black pepper, clearly ‘peat’ yet a ‘collaborative peat’ that marries well with the other elements
  • Finish
    • The aftertaste has subtle bitter chocolate with absolutely no burn
    • Long drawn out finish – like having a chunk of spicy red chilli, invites you to introspect
  • Water
    • Bringing out a vegetal quality – think celery root. Not unpleasant but a tinge harsh initially before opening up. Some thought under no circumstances should water be added. Others thought it brought out more…
    • Became initially quite floral on the nose, with fruit, tobacco, a dried potpourri, almost too much spice on the palate til it settles down…

Absolutely beautiful to drink. The palate is truly superb. It is not your standard whisky on the nose – one called it “Stinky feet on the nose but when sipping… I absolutely love it!”

The ladies thought it to be an after dinner whisky, a sociable dram to enjoy with old friends. Without a doubt – this was clearly a “hit!” for many ladies.

Our original underground Mumbai whisky club found the following:

  • Nose – Burnt rubber, sweaty socks, lemon citrus, rotting fruit, car manufacturing unit, fresh leather, burnt dry wood, then apricot… after airing for much longer it was remarkable how the peat settled down and the fruitiness became much more apparent with a chaser of nuts
  • Palate – Starts sweet, then flat, clearly high on spirit, some speculated if there might be a hint of sherry as it had chewy dark berries and slight prune
  • Finish – Bitter cinnamon spice, dum biryani
  • Water – For some, they found it helped bring out a more sophisticated side to this whisky – revealing more complex elements. For others they found it made it more ‘singular’ in an interesting way but with less complexity. One shared that with water it goes from “lust to love”

For the original group, this one was much more industrial. While quite interesting, we had become ‘tuned’ to the sophisticated nuance of the CC:01 that curled around the Port Charlotte character. By contrast the Oileanach Furachail swaggered about with much more ‘in your face’ qualities. With the reveal, we were surprised at how little peat there is compared to its bold peaty character!

What do the folks over at Bruichladdich have to say?

Adam Hannett has been working alongside Jim McEwan since 2006, watching and learning from the legendary distiller. Adam has a special talent, a perceptive nose and a rare ability to analyse and objectify sensory experience. One day the ultimate responsibility for this precious spirit will rest on his shoulders. Here we acknowledge Adam and his ongoing journey with Jim. “Oileanach furachail”.

  • Character – A heavyweight Islay – rich, smokey and smooth.
  • Colour – Polished walnut in an autumn sunset.
  • Nose – Opens with bursts of smoke, salt and dark fruit then develops raisins, toffee, sweet oak and ripe plum. Hints of cinnamon spice, polish, candied orange and lemon peels. hazelnut and dates.
  • Palate – Rich and succulent in texture bringing harmony to a spirit of 58.7%. Sherry flavours of date and fig combine with peat smoke to balance honey, lemon and hot toasted oak. Apricot pear and green apple are subtle but the character of our pure spirit cannot be hidden. There have been no shortcuts to get here. Long years in our warehouses on the shores of Loch Indaal have brought out the exceptional qualities of casks sourced from far and wide. Combine this with the influence of fresh salty Islay air and you have a dram of unmistakable character.
  • Finish -You may think it will never end as the smoke lingers releasing touches of liquorice, date and sweet malt. Close your eyes and you are on Islay. As this dram fades you can reflect on another step of your journey and look forward with confidence as there are many more to come.
  • Mood – To be enjoyed when there is time to relax. Throw a few more peats on the fire and settle back in contemplation.

Our Bruichladdich Peat Progression evenings also featured:

You can also find Whisky Lady in India on:

Bruichladdich PC 2007 CC:01 8 years 57.8%

Next in our Bruichladdich Peat Progression evening was introduction to the peatier Port Charlotte line with the 2007 Cognac Cask 8 year…. their first experiment with aging completely in French Oak that previously held cognac.

For the Whisky Ladies, this wasn’t our first tryst with a whisky matured in a cognac cask – just a few months earlier we enjoyed the delightful Brenne. For the original tasting club, this was the 1st that I could recall of sampling together a whisky matured in a cognac cask.

The whisky was sampled in three sessions – initially with the Whisky Ladies then a mini session with two ladies who missed followed by our original Mumbai tasting group who had all whiskies completely blind before the reveal.

Bruichladdich PC 2007 CC:01 8 years 57.8%

What did the Whisky Ladies think?

  • Nose
    • Peat, black forest ham, pine, an organic natural quality
    • Bacon, hickory, with a woodsy quality, then smooth apricot, subtle liquorice
  • Palate
    • OMG peat! Woodsy, cigar chomping but not in an overwhelming way at all
    • Smooth, oily with prunes, complex
  • Finish
    • A bit strange or off at first, after the initial ashtray, settled in
    • Bitter, sweet underneath the peat, long drawn out
  • Water
    • With water, cherries were added to the mix. Dampening the forest fire, making it much more approachable, brought out the iron minerals, like entering a wet cave
    • Almond nougat, spice, prunes, raisins, dusty musty fur coat from a teak closet on the nose, whereas became a fruitcake on the palate, and an incredibly long drawn out cinnamon sweet finish – much more subtle than before yet lingers in a lovely way

There was initially a sense of this being like a wilder Caol Ila. Yet oddly not quite balanced. One commented that it was “Really good to look at but…” 

Whereas the 2nd tasting with just two whisky ladies found this to be more of a “nostalgic ‘character’ whisky” – it was not in the least unbalanced and one that grows on you more and more.

What was clear is that this was no sweet civilized Brenne gently matured in a Cognac cask, instead the underlying sea spray and peat of the Port Charlotte came to the fore for an interesting interplay with Cognac!

And our original underground Mumbai whisky club?

  • Nose – A happy hello to peat! Hamond soap, pork bacon, rum sweet, dampened smoke like you doused water on a campfire, wet mud, a dispensary, then a peak of perfume beneath the peat, become sweeter and sweeter, taking on a jasmine or lily quality… as it kept evolving different elements emerged from blue cheese to apricots to an incredibly sweet sticky toffee
  • Palate – Unexpectedly robust, yet equally silky smooth, clearly peat with a rounded tar quality, lots of body, character, chewy, almost buttery, many layers with spice, chilli chocolate, meaty, leather
  • Finish – Very long big oily finish that just doesn’t disappear
  • Water – Some debate on this – for some it brought out more sweet, rancio qualities yet when contrasting those with water and those without – we found without water the whisky continued to evolve its character in a beautiful way whereas the one with water arrested it at that stage

The most remarkable element of this whisky was how it simply kept evolving… we gave time to the experience and the more we spent with it the more we appreciated its unique qualities. This was clearly a ‘non-veg’ kind of whisky… one to enjoy as an after dinner drink with a cigar. One gent asked if he could get away with calling it quite a ‘masculine’ whisky yet it had a sophisticated quality too.

Overall I was thoroughly impressed with how this particular whisky transformed… it is certainly  one I would recommend not rushing and possibly deliberately letting it oxidate just a bit. The layers and complexity that revealed itself in the 3rd tasting was far superior to the experience freshly opened.

What do the folks over at Bruichladdich have to say?

As with every Port Charlotte the starting point is rich, elegant and thought-provoking spirit. High-provenance, smoky, heavily peated barley married to our slow, Victorian, trickle distillation delivers power with finesse. Here, this fascinating spirit has been matured full term in casks of finest French oak [Quercus robur]. They previously held one of the greatest Eau de Vie, from the western Cognac region. The salt spray of Islay combines with peat smoke to vie with the toasted oak and lemon barley sugar flavours of the wood to give a complex and unbelievably rewarding dram.

  • Character – It’s Port Charlotte, but not as we know it. the spirit of adventure is alive with a wonderful marriage of Port Charlotte spirit with its classic Islay DNA and truly exceptional casks from the heart of France.
  • Colour – Rose gold.
  • Nose – The DNA is Islay. Peat smoke and salt spray collide with the fruit and complexity of our classic spirit. poached pears, vanilla fudge and sweet apricots. Toasted oak and lemon barley sugar notes rise from the glass as it warms in your hand. As it breathes the whisky will release festive, warming aromas of cinnamon, ginger and more rich vanilla.
  • Palate – Irresistibly complex. This dram has layer upon layer of subtle fruit flavours so characteristic of our spirit wrapped comfortingly in the blanket of peat smoke. Yet there is a new dimension to this next release of Port Charlotte. A depth of character that comes from the years of maturation in ex cognac barrels. We have watched the spirit mature slowly over the last eight years to become a beguiling spirit that shows our spirit of curiosity and adventure is alive and well. This spirit has taken us down many paths and this particular journey has come to fruition with a spirit that is a joy to taste. The wonderful french oak gives vanilla and spice and has brought this heavily peated Islay spirit to maturity with a class and finesse beyond its years. The fruit is rich and sweet – apples apricots and plums – as is the barley sugar and lemon honey notes that reassure you this is an Islay spirit matured in our warehouses under our watchful eye.
  • Finish – This whisky stays on your mind for longer than your palate and it stays on your palate for an age. Floral heather honey, zesty lemon and a nutty smoothness settle with the peat smoke that is always last to leave you. A truly astonishing whisky.

Our Peat Progression evenings also featured:

You can also find Whisky Lady in India on:

Bruichladdich Bere Barley 2008 50%

For the Whisky Ladies, next up in tour Bruichladdich Peat Progression evening was the Bere Barley 2008.

This is an unpeated whisky made from bere barley – an ancient Orkney barley that grows quickly despite the cool climate, with long straw, producing “desperately low yields – 50% less than a modern crop.

It is Bruichladdich’s 3rd Bere Barley edition from the 2007 crop, harvested from the Weyland & Watersfield, Duncan Cromarty at Richmond Villa on South Ronaldsay, Keith Hourston at Skilbister in Orphir and Magnus Spence from the Northfiled Farms on Murray. The whisky was distilled in February 2008 and bottled in November 2014.

What did the Whisky Ladies think of the Bere Barley 2008 50%?

  • Nose – Sweet cammomile, lavender, very subtle, a bit rustic with a hint of oak, organic wheat and wet hay, curd that became ‘creamier’ as it opened
  • Palate – Initially a bit strong with a spicy tingle and slight raw quality, quite malty, then becomes quite smooth with a citrus twist and subtle saltiness, like the hint of a salty crust on a fresh french baguette, a drizzle of honey, becoming increasingly sweet – almost sugar cane sweet – chased by black peppercorns
  • Finish – Initially a bit of a raw burn then as it settles in, becomes quite sweet, fresh and clean… however as we continued to sip, the finish became increasingly bitter with a burnt caramel quality
  • Water – A must for this whisky! “Now I like it!” It brings out meadow flowers, a sunshine summer quality on the nose with a hint of eucalyptus, becomes quite smooth on the palate with a lovely spice finish

We found this whisky a bit deceptive… even without water, it begins to grow on you and you can’t help but find yourself continuing to sip… even the rustic quality becomes like a worn familiar friend.

Then when water is added it changes from “wallflower to belle of the ball!” taking on both a silky smoothness, more substance in a delicious package. Clearly one where a bit of water to open up transforms!

What do the folks over at Bruichladdich have to say?

  • Character – Elegant and sophisticated. The spirit is deceptively light concealing a depth of flavour rarely found.
  • Colour – Straw yellow.
  • Nose – Instantly floral. Delicate but powerful. Honeysuckle, yellow gorse and heather rise from the glass coaxed by a splash of spring water. As you inhale, the ancient grain surrenders malt sweetness fused with cooked apple and ripe rear, all this swathed in rich oak offering vanilla, heather honey and lemon zest. Displaying the skill of slow distillation and craftsmanship that created it this single malt is harmonious in its complexity.
  • Palate – The texture is that of honey, smooth and suave. Vanilla, brown sugar and zesty citrus stand tall as gentle waves of soft fruit apricot and peach are driven on by a Hebridean breeze filled with the scents of summer. Like a receding wave washes the sand clean your palate is refreshed by a spirit that is gentle and powerful, young and yet knowing.
  • Finish – Sweet soft and floral, continually pulling you in to release its secrets, to touch this single malt to your lips is a beguiling experience long remembered. A superior spirit skilfully created that has age beyond its years.
  • Mood – Enigmatic. Open yet secretive.

Our Bruichladdich Peat Progression evenings also featured:

You can also find Whisky Lady in India on:

Bruichladdich The Laddie Eight 50%

For our original tasting group, we kicked off our Bruichladdich Peat Progress evening with The Laddie Eight. We tasted blind, with the reveal only after all were sampled.. enabling us to focus only on what was in our glass.

What did the original group think of the The Laddie Eight 50%?

  • Nose – A sweet beginning, lemon citrus, blue cheese, a little sharp then became creamy, hay and grains, oily, complex yet fresh, a fruit basket then soft vanilla, then perfume, flower honey, mint chocolate, basil… from herbs to light salty baguette
  • Palate – Sweet tangy salty spice, very clean and fresh, bringing together all the aromas in a way that initially seemed very light yet as you kept sipping, revealed substance and depth too
  • Finish – Initially bitter, for some they thought it ‘short yet fulfilling’ then realized an echo remained and remained and remained…

The most remarkable feature was how the nose slowly unfolded… we took our time to wrap our senses around all the different elements… it was a wonderful whisky to ease our way into our evening… sniffing and discussing as we watched the sun set over the Arabian sea.

We also found this was one of the rare whiskies where the promise on the nose completely carried through on the palate. Those citrus, fruity, lightly floral aromas continued in a fresh way – like springtime, yet with a solid base.

We set this whisky aside, covered it, and returned to find the glass sweaty with condensation. Opening after initially a waft of sour curd, it revealed sweet jaggery, green apples, and pears, grated fresh coconut, old fruits… completely delightful! We came back to it even later and discovered overripe bananas… clearly a whisky to sip and enjoy at a leisurely pace.

One remarked it was like what they would imagine an unpeated Kilchoman could possibly taste like – a clear compliment as it came from a huge Kilchoman fan!

While it was not possible to side-by-side compare The Classic Laddie with The Laddie Eight – both had a vibrant freshness, were completely approachable, neither gave a hint of being 50%, and most important – either would be welcome anytime.

What do the folks over at Bruichladdich have to say?

  • Character – An elegant expression of Bruichladdich style. Super fruity and full of Atlantic freshness.
  • Colour – Lemon marmalade.
  • Nose – The opening notes are of fresh fruit, typical apple and pear slightly under ripe so characteristic of our spirit. Then pear drops apricot and pineapple in fruit syrup rise in the next wave. Vanilla oak is not far behind rolled in malted barley sugar and with a hint of straw. After a moment of warming the glass in your hand the floral tones of gorse and honeysuckle come through. The longer the whisky has to breathe the more you will find on the nose.
  • Palate – Spice gives way to sweetness as a pepperiness on the lips becomes mango and peach. Layer upon layer of oak from the variation of casks used to create this dram gives vanilla, lemon, honey, toffee and a creamy buttery texture and mouth feel. A second taste will bring hints of fruit, raspberry and strawberry for sure and a touch of citrus and orange marmalade. the complexity is a joy to taste as each style of toasting or charring of the barrels plays its part in bringing a depth of flavour you will be eager to explore. This dram has vitality, depth and mellow-ness all at once as the classic Bruichladdich DNA of soft fruit and floral elegance mix with exotic fruit from such a variety of amazing oak. The quality of our Scottish malted barley is evident as the sweet malt sugar holds all the fruit and oak together in wondrous harmony.
  • Finish – Fresh sea breeze, sweet floral heather honey and citrus bring this dram to a close, but like a typical island good-bye it’s not cheerio straight away, there is still a word or two to be had as the finish extends into the night with a long lasting vanilla note that doesn’t seem to end.

Our Bruichladdich Peat Progression evenings also featured:

You can also find Whisky Lady in India on:

Bruichladdich The Classic Laddie 50%

With a wee debate between our Whisky Ladies host and I, we decided to start our Bruichladdich Peat Progression evening with the Classic Laddie. We were both familiar with this whisky and thought it a rather enjoyable way to kick off our evening!

What did the Whisky Ladies think?

The Classic Laddie 50%

  • Nose – Fresh grass, wild flowers, light honey, sweet green grape, a light liquorice, freshly desiccated coconut, some sweet vanilla, sweet citrus zest
  • Palate – Light spice of the Christmas sweet spices variety but with a light touch, a sense of being quite ‘crisp’ fresh and inviting
  • Finish – Very warm and sweet
  • Water – Brings out more of the malt, sweeter, some found it became a bit bolder, greater focus whereas for others adding a few drops did very little to change its character

What was interesting is that it smells lighter than it tastes – one described it as being like having a ‘Hot rum toddy without the rum!’

Overall it was simply a terrific start to our evening and clearly one of those whiskies that is far too easy to drink.

Would we consider it a classic? Yes! And the kind of whisky you want to keep in your cabinet to bring out for a social evening with friends who appreciate a good dram. A nice sunshine summer dram!

What do the folks over at Bruichladdich have to say?

  • Character – Smooth as pebbles in a pool. It’s clean, fresh and lively with both the oak and the grain in perfect harmony.
  • Colour – Sunlight on fields of early summer barley
  • Nose – The bouquet is brilliant. Opening with barley sugar and a hint of mint before leading into the most wonderful notes of freshly cut wild flowers; buttercup, daisy, meadowsweet, myrtle, primrose and cherry blossom. The cleanliness of the spirit is remarkable. As the seconds tick by, more aromas rise from the glass, little zephyrs of spindrift and sea pinks reminding you that this spirit is matured exclusively by the sea. After some four or five minutes and with the addition of a little water, caramelisd fruits drift onto the scene; lemon drops and honey, tangerine and tablet
  • Palate – The palate entry is so refined and refreshing, the sweet oak and the barley arriving together sending the taste buds into raptures. The fruits from distillation drift in on an Atlantic breeze and pop on the tongue like champagne bubbles. A combination of ripe green fruit, brown sugar and sweet malt bring closure. A taste back in time, a realisation that not all single malts are equal and to achieve the absolute optimum, you must use barley that is made in Scotland. Make this one the benchmark for all others you meet on your journey through the stills of Scotland.
  • Finish – Unforgettable! Its best enjoyed in good company, you just don’t want the evening to end. It brings warmth to the heart and soul. The clock slows down and the cares of tomorrow disappear into the dawn. .
  • Mood – Conviviality! Relaxed, enjoying the spirit in the glass and the laughter from tales often told but never tired of hearing.

Our Bruichladdich Peat Progression evenings also featured:

You can also find Whisky Lady in India on:

A Bruichladdich Peat Progression…

This was an evening much awaited! Planned back in early 2016 initially for January 2017 then postponed to May 2017… To say I was rather impatient waiting for this session is a bit of an understatement!

Now normally, we prefer to keep our sampling to 3 whiskies… however the idea of sampling two unpeated, two peated and two super turbo peated from the same distillery was impossible to resist! Particularly if that distillery happened to be Bruichladdich.

Our Whisky Ladies are made of sterner stuff and have proven we are up to the challenge! Hence the ‘birth’ of the Bruichladdich “Peat Progression”  evening…

As all but the Classic Laddie and Octomore 7.1 were my bottles, I decided to share with our original underground group too – just to contrast and compare what the Whisky Ladies thought vs another Mumbai malt club!

Then one our ‘whisky mules’ made his way to India just in time to substitute The Laddie Eight for The Classic Laddie for the original club’s line up…

Which meant the Whisky Ladies experience was with freshly opened bottles (except the 7.1) whereas the original club’s sampling was from open bottles (except The Laddie Eight) – which does change the whisky as it starts to oxidate even with a ‘vacu-vin’ trick to slow down the process.

Added to the mix was a follow-up tasting with two Whisky Ladies who could not make it to the main event but were not willing to be left behind our whisky adventures!

The tasting notes tell you as much about the whisky tasting sessions as they do about the whisky itself!!

Other Bruichladdich’s sampled include:

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Celebrating 30+ European whiskies!

In the grand scheme of things, trying 30 whiskies is no big deal.

But when you live in India and those happen to be European whiskies… it is an accomplishment!

Let’s face it, exploring the world of whiskies behind a crazy custom’s “curtain” that restricts access not just bringing into India but state by state… means relying on individuals making an effort to source directly from far-flung lands rather than simply strolling over to a corner liquor store.

Hence it is indeed a celebration – with thanks – to share a summary of European samples! Now… just providing a list alone isn’t fun.. so with each, I’ve shared a fleeting impression so you can see what might peak your interest to read more…

European Whiskies  

Many of the Nordic whiskies came compliments of 

The Europe page is continuously updated as we explore more whiskies, so feel free to check back anytime to read of more!

PS – Anyone spot the ‘malted spirit’ rather than proper whisky??

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The elusive Longmorn 16 year 48%

Once upon a time, a fabulous Mumbai based gal pal and I would alternate picking up a bottle of Longmorn 15 year then the 16 year as a reasonably affordable duty free dram. We certainly had a few good evenings spent over this whisky.

So it was only logical to consider acquiring a bottle to share with the Whisky Ladies. However… we COULD NOT track down a Longmorn 16 year. It had simply disappeared. All our various ‘whisky mules’ in far flung corners of the world also had no luck!

Until one rainy afternoon in Singapore I was on a quest for a fellow Mumbaiker for something else and found myself at Century Cellars. My eye spied a single Longmorn amidst a wide range of whiskies. The store manager admitted she had actually ordered it by mistake and it was the last bottle.

I immediately messaged my friend “You want?” (Knowing full well she was in the process of wrapping up life in India to move to Canada). And the answer after a few seconds consideration was “You bet!”

The thing is, when we pulled this out after the rather delicious Bowmore White Sands with the Whisky Ladies, it was simply too rough and I’m afraid it missed its mark.

So the bottle went home to my friend and I kept  a wee sample to revisit.

As the evening I pulled it out was unpleasantly warm, I first put my mini bottle in the freezer. Then poured a chilled dram and gave myself over to the experience… would it come close to the memories of amusing conversations with my friend about life, the universe and everything?

Longmorn 16 year 48%

  • Nose – A bit woodsy, fresh spice, bourbon, as it opened but took on a lovely custard and lightly fruity minty quality
  • Palate – Initially comes on strong, with spice and an alcohol ‘oomph!’. Then starts to reveal light crisp fruits like apples and pears, cinnamon toast, alternating between sweet and a chewy bitterness almost edging on a hint of tobacco leaf or peat, some spice, it has substance, perhaps not entirely balanced but enough elements to make it interesting
  • Finish – Wood, a bit of bitter chocolate, dry…

Yes it initially comes across as a bit rough, but as you settle in giving it more time to open up, it becomes more and more enjoyable. I had enough in my sample to let it sit and found after 15 minutes or so it became much fruitier with oranges, capsicum, a curl of light leather and overall significantly more approachable.

And with a dash of water? Any roughness gone completely. Lots of fruits, even berries, from a dram that initially was a tad unbalanced, every element came together in harmony.

In short, if you rush it – you will completely miss what makes this actually more than just a decent dram. This is one to wait, give a bit of time… While there is nothing overly fancy, there is much more going on than at 1st appearance with the lovely chewy spicy fruity dimension that is most enjoyable.

Let’s be clear… this is the ‘old version’ not the ‘reinterpreted‘ version. From traditional brown to purple boxes… I was rather amused to walk into Singapore airport after feeling victorious in tracking down the elusive Longmorn 16 year to see its new avatar proudly displayed – with a significantly steeper price tag!

And the memories? Yes… this whisky will always be associated with my friend who is now happily in the process of getting settled in Canada. So it was worth saying a final whisky farewell with the Longmorn 16 year!

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Royal Brackla 16 year 40%

After our miniatures trio, we decided to change things a little… and moved our attention to a Royal Brackla 16 year – simply as it was open and I’d never tried. Reason enough!

Royal Brackla is better known as a component in Dewar’s or Johnnie Walker… however like many whiskies is now stepping out of the blend shadows to show off its single malt avatar to the world.

This was my 1st encounter… and what did we find?

Royal Brackla 16 year 40%

  • Nose – Balsa wood, a bit dry, then shifts into wet forest, mushrooms, whiff of being on an old boat with a bit salty mouldy moisture. After time takes on a light banana cream pie,
  • Palate – Smooth, ginger spice, almost like a tic tac freshness
  • Finish – Not much to speak of…

Overall? It was initially difficult to get past the ‘watered down’ sense that comes with many 40% whiskies. There also is certainly nothing particularly ‘regal’ about this whisky….

However when the tantalizing aromas of food wafted our way and we could resist no longer… we made a terrific discovery. This was a food whisky – something easy to drink that goes well with nibbles.

Our conclusion? Put it in the category of “bar and food whisky.”

And there is certainly space enough out there for such dramsl!

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