Whisky Lady – December 2019

What an end to an amazing year of change! It feels like only yesterday that my husband and I were celebrating New Years in Dubai?!

If someone told me in 1986 when I first went to Germany on a summer study exchange programme that  34 years later I would be moving there, I would have thought you crackers! However equally if you said that would be after spending nearly 20 years in India, I also would have marvelled at your imagination!

And yet life has a way of giving us exactly what we need. I feel so blessed at 50 to have the gift of travel, to have explored a few countries for work and play.

Equally, I so enjoy how the world of whisky forges bonds – those on a quest to discover a good dram or try something different are brilliant companions!

While life in Nurnberg is still very much in ‘set-up’ mode… I did crack open a couple of the Drinks by the Dram advent calendar… which finally DID (after three attempts) make it to my new abode! Notes to come soon…

However nothing made me happier than catching those planes home to Mumbai. While the last few days of 2019 were mostly filled with catching up with family and friends, I closed the year escaping the city to our wee country ‘cabana’.

As for tasting notes, it was a quiet month… Which made it a perfect time to reflect back on a few interesting experiences from 2019 such as:

Guess what? I finally found my scribbles for our Whisky Ladies June 2019 Highland Treat with:

Plus dug up a couple more previous Mumbai tasting experiences such as:

  • A nip of Shackleton at my big 5-0 birthday celebration
  • Beautiful dram dregs… with mostly Whisky Ladies and a few more, rising to the challenge of rescuing precious open bottles from languishing in less than optimal Mumbai storage conditions

PS – This is my 999 whisky post! Not bad for an avid amateur.

Curious to know more? Check out recent Whisky Lady’s monthly missives:

And if you don’t want to miss a post, why not follow Whisky Lady on:

Whisky Ladies visit Paul John Distillery

From our first Whisky Ladies Paul John evening, there was interest in making a trip to Goa to visit the distillery. Particularly after Paula’s visit and then mine, we knew it was only a matter of time.

After a few efforts to organize, we settled on August 2019. Flights were booked, an old Portuguese villa arranged for our stay… small group or large… we were determined to finally make it!

And it was COMPLETELY worth the trip. If you enjoy whisky and find yourself in Goa, DO NOT MISS!

Particularly as Paul John Distillery has a lovely visitor centre… That just invites you to  step up and explore…

Pankaj Poorvana greeted us with coffee and a quiz… Which is the world’s most popular whiskey by volume purchased? Apparently it comes from India and is a blend – Officer’s Choice!

With that, we were welcomed into a truly beautiful pavillion, with tiles and furniture lovingly restored.

It was like entering a whisky temple in the middle of a tropical paradise inspired by a Goan Portuguese villa…

Colourfully decorated with paintings by Bianca in the style of Mário João Carlos do Rosário de Brito Miranda, a popular Goan cartoonist and painter.Before the tour we were brought into a media room where we were shown a video about why Paul John felt ready to make single malt and more specifically in Goa, bringing the “soul of India” to world. The film shared how Paul John has won hundreds of awards with their core line of:

And then our tour began… stay tuned for details on our experience!

Paul John Visitor Centre, John Distilleries
Plot #M21A, Cuncolim Industrial Estate, Salcete, Goa – 403703. (Location available on Google Maps)

Days: Monday- Saturday (Sundays and Public Holidays closed)
Timings: 11:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m.

Visitor Center Contact: +91-74477 88979
Website: https://pauljohnwhisky.com Email: visitorcentre@jdl.in

Curious to catch more Whisky Lady adventures, why not follow on:

Drammers Club is in Mumbai!!!

Another malty memory from 2019 was my first Drammers Club tasting in April… which was a practical cornucopia of whiskies!

For those not familiar, the Drammers Club started in New York and has been opening chapters around the world. For Mumbai, co-president Charlie Prince teamed up with Rohan Mirchandani.

In the session I joined, Charlie shared the intent to anchor Mumbai sessions with an Indian whisky and American  plus other interesting bottles picked up around the world.

The focus for India was Paul John with Yash Bhamre, Brand Ambassador:

  • Brilliance & Edited– I’ll admit, seeing 10 odd whiskies, skipped this pair to focus on sampling those not yet tasted
  • Nirvana 40% – An opportunity to try even before its official launch! It was friendly, approachable, fruity, caramel, easy going
  • Select Cask Peated from Yash’s personal collection, while it didn’t have the pronounced ‘bacon‘ of some editions, it was still a great example of their cask strength peated avatar
  • SMWS 134.3 “Hello Flavour” 56.9% ex bourbon cask, 189 bottles, released 2017… had tropical fruits like mango, pineapple, intense flavours and a delightful finish

And for the American side of the equation?
  • Barterhouse 20 year 45.1% – Easy going creamy and one I’d love to try again in more optimal tasting circumstances
  • Old Commonwealth Postage Stamps of Ireland – A very unique dram that deserves specific attention. I hurriedly jotted down a few tasting notes – Tight black currents and dark berries, black vanilla pods, rich creamy caramel coffee on the nose… Smooth flavorful tea leaf on the palate, a bit queer with the finish initially but harkened back to the nose
  • Heaven Hill Marsala Hogshead Finish (2001/2017) Cask 17074, 46.5% Bottle 13 or 199 bottles – I wasn’t sure about this one, it started off as very musty, nail polish, definitely different funky. However it tasted much better – smooth and sweet, wet fall leaves, berries with spice, finishing with tannin merlot

To round things out, we also explored from Japan:

  • Ichiro’s Double Distillery 46% – Not bad with lots of cantaloupe, honey dew melon, musk melon
  • Ichiro’s Single Grain – I skipped this one – too much of a good thing is, well… too much!

Now I will admit both my pics and tasting notes are rubbish. A crowded noisy bar – no matter how fabulous it is for sociable occasions – just isn’t my way of savouring a single malt. So you will have to forgive my scant impressions. It also cemented my preference for humble low key tasting evenings with a small group of friends over a trio or at most quartet of whiskies not over 10!

Don’t get me wrong – I’m delighted Mumbai has a Drammers Club chapter and wish the team all the best. Charlie and the gang are definitely bringing greater variety of whiskies to a larger audience – and that surely is a good thing!

Don’t want to miss Whisky Lady tasting notes? Why not follow:

Berlin’s Whisky Connect

As 2019 winds to a close, I’ve been reflecting on the ways the world whisky fabric weaves us together!

In June, I went to Germany to attend a work conference… at the time airfares between Mumbai and Munich were stupidly expensive thanks to the combination of India’s Jet Airline going under and no fly zone over Pakistan lengthening flights. I managed to find a ticket via Istanbul that was marginally cheaper yet had a 20 hour stop over. So I thought why not close off a project in Turkey by going to office on the Monday to meet with the team rather than have Sunday in Istanbul.

Why mention all of this? Well I finally had a weekend in Germany to do with as I wished. And what I wished was to go to Berlin.

When I first went to Germany in 1986, the country was still divided between East and West Germany with Berlin’s Checkpoint Charlie the focal point for travel between. The cold war was our reality, Gorbachev recently in power on the one hand and Reagan on the other.

Do you need a history lesson? Not really, but it sets the stage for my first trip to Berlin in 2019 where I fell in love with the pulse, grit and spirit of the city. Some places around the world have a “live wire” feel… Berlin is one of them.

And a highlight of my 1st trip to Berlin was an evening at The Union Jack Pub with a member of The Sharing Angels – Germany’s whisky women network.

At the time, a move to Germany wasn’t on the cards and I had no clue just a few months later I would be dividing my life between my home, husband, friends and felines in Mumbai with my work and new life in Nurnberg, Germany.

Instead, I embraced meeting a fellow whisky explorer where we enjoyed discussing malty matters over a dram or two… a most memorable evening.

Don’t want to miss Whisky Lady tasting notes? Why not follow:

Shackleton 40%

Stories of antarctic explorations capture the imagination with the tale of Shackleton whisky are well known.

“I believe it is in our nature to explore, to reach out into the unknown.” – Ernest Shackleton

Our whisky tasting  groups have explored different versions of this whisky reconstruction with:

Along the way I had picked up this version where it quietly sat in my whisky cabinet, biding its time til it surfaced as part of a birthday celebration.

Shackleton 40%

  • Nose – Sweet apple cinnamon pie, toffee, vanilla
  • Palate – Easy drinking, fruity, sweet with malty cereals, dried fruits, hint of tart citrus
  • Finish – Carries on from the palate

I will admit these are more fleeting impressions than proper notes as it was a sociable occasion. However sometimes an enjoyable blend like this is “spot on” and appreciated by our crowd. By the end of the evening, there wasn’t a single drop remaining – voting through consuming is always a good sign!

You can also find Whisky Lady in India on:

Highland Treat – Glen Garioch 15 year 53.7%

Waaaay back in the summer, our Whisky Ladies enjoyed a Highland Trio – starting with two whiskies from AnCnoc and closing with this Glen Garioch.

What did we think?

Glen Garioch 15 year Sherry Cask Matured 53.7%

  • Colour – A lovely dark ruby gold
  • Nose – Mmmm…. really good black coffee, honey, buttery, banana, caramel, treacle, banoffee pie, apricots… coming back loads of delicious sherry
  • Palate – Coffee candy, toffee, toasted raisin bread slathered in butter, raisin, dates, rolling around in heavy sherry with a great mouthfeel
  • Finish – A slow burn that tapers into sweet spice

This really was rather delicious! Generous sherry influence, quite satisfying in all ways.

The folks at Glen Garioch haven’t kept tasting notes on their website, however the folks over at Master of Malt have this to say:

Glen Garioch 15 Year Old has been aged in oloroso sherry casks and has a sweet and fruity character. The nose opens with dark berries and dried fruits, followed by sweet vanilla notes and a slight tartness. The palate is thick and full bodied, giving notes of dried fruits and cinnamon spice. A hint of heather honey appears before a long woody finish, with gentle spices throughout.

As of late 2019, you can still find this at The Whisky Exchange for approximately £125.

We also had these as part of our Highland Treat :

Interested in receiving more Whisky Lady posts? Why not follow on:

Highland Treat – AnCnoc Rùdhan 46% 

From the honeyed sweetness of the Black Hill, we shifted into a peatier AnCnoc, with their Travel Retail edition Rùdhan. What did the Whisky Ladies think?

AnCnoc Rùdhan 46%

  • Nose – Strong and sweet, peat then settles down, bit of spice… a bit sharp… surprisingly we then found it shifted into vegetal aromas – distinctly carrot juice! Then shifted again to vanilla apple spice with cinnamon
  • Palate – First sip had a nice spice kick, lots of cinnamon, tobacco, like fireworks sparkling on the tongue, nicely buttery, honey
  • Finish – Peat yet also fruity with primarily apple just and a chaser of tart cranberry juice

It was quite provocative and perhaps a bit fickle minded. 

We set it aside and found it became even sweeter, the sharpness settled down and yet its character remained. Smoke and spice – subdued yet most enjoyable.

And what do the folks at AcCnoc have to say?

The highly anticipated Rùdhan is the latest travel retail expression to join the Peaty Collection. In keeping with anCnoc’s traditional style, the whisky takes its name from the peat harvesting process. The term ‘rùdhan’ [roo-an] refers to the final stage, in which the peat is stacked for several weeks to dry out ahead of burning to create the signature smokiness associated with the range.

  • Colour – Pale Straw
  • Nose – TA light fruitiness kicks off this elegant dram. Delicate floral notes play their part before bowing out to a burnt wood smokiness.
  • Taste – On the palate, it takes on a whole new character. Earthy peat smoke still prevalent, it is now accompanied by the more robust notes of spice and burnt sugar. 
  • Finish – The finish is smooth and warm.

Like the Black Hill, depending on where you travel, you may still be able to find a bottle for approximately €52.

We also had these as part of our Highland Treat :

Interested in receiving more Whisky Lady posts? Why not follow on:

Highland Treat – AnCnoc Black Hill Reserve 46%

So back in July, our Whisky Ladies had an evening featuring a trio of highland drams. It was a lovely evening where the tasting progression was spot on! And then I somehow managed to lose my tasting notes – for months!

Finally recovered, hope you enjoy our impressions…

AnCnoc Black Hill Reserve 46%

  • Nose – First whiff was full fruity, a bit spicy, a little rustic, some hay, lovely honeyed sweetness, like a fresh fragrant meadow, rewarding us with a delightful perfume. After the 1st sip, grapefruit citrus twist, vanilla, desert custard, heather
  • Palate – Lovely, floral, lots of honey, orange, gets more and more flavourful, spice
  • Finish – Heather with leather, long and satisfying

We really enjoyed this one and found it both very well balanced and frankly, just well done! That light, bright sunshine kind of whisky that is a perfect way to start…

We set it aside to try the next two and then revisited to find honeydew melon, honey… quite pleasant.

And what do the folks at AcCnoc have to say?

Knockdhu Distillery’s enduring charisma echoes the timeless allure of the nearby Knock Hill, known to the locals as the Black Hill. It is the source of the springs which bring our whisky to life and in whose shadow the Distillery has flourished since 1894. Gaelic for Black Hill, Knockdhu remains rooted in traditional production methods, yet the refreshingly modern personality of anCnoc Highland Single Malt Scotch Whisky conveys its contemporary outlook. An outstanding addition to our range of whiskies, Black Hill Reserve is testimony to the finest qualities of anCnoc. Matured exclusively in first fill American oak ex-bourbon casks, it is a whisky every bit as captivating as the historic corner of Scotland from which it comes.

  • Colour – Bright Gold.
  • Nose – The bright and crisp notes of citrus, green apples and coconut are complemented by honey sweetness and layers of fresh vanilla. Satisfying and refreshing.
  • Taste – Full bodied and bursting with rich flavour, it brings to mind ground spices, pear drops, candied orange peel and sharp toffee sweetness underpinned by just a hint of old leather.
  • Finish – The finish is long and intense.

Did we agree? Absolutely!

Depending on where you travel, you may be lucky enough to find this in travel retail for around £52.

What else did we try in our Highland Treat?

Interested in receiving more Whisky Lady posts? Why not follow on: