Whisky Lady – March to May 2020

How our world has changed…

It was already clear when we wandered around Whisk(e)y-Messe Nürnberg THE VILLAGE late February that this was likely the last such whisky festival for quite some time. How dramatic and comprehensive the impending ‘shut-down’ would be globally was still unthinkable.

That weekend now seems a distant but fabulous memory, augmented by the company of a lovely fellow whisky lady. In addition to what we sampled at the festival, we also cracked open a couple minis:

My minis continued to come in handy! I’ve so desperately missed our Mumbai whisky tasting groups. Thanks to everyone being shut in, we used technology to catch up online and taste different whiskies together. For me, this meant I could virtually join from Nurnberg where I tried the following:

What else? Not knowing when it would be possible to start tasting with others, I began to carefully collect a few interesting whiskies from independent bottlers… waiting in the wings for the right opportunity. What has made it into my wee German collection so far?

Let’s see how things evolve… for now I wish you all health and happiness where ever you may be in the world!

Curious to know more? Check out more semi-monthly summaries:

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

North Star Series 8 – Inchgower 11 year 52.5%

The minis can’t have all the fun in virtual tastings! It was time to also crack open one of the big boys! And that is exactly what happened one fine eve with the Bombay Malt &Cigar gentlemen. What did they have? It was a revisit of standard bar fare with Bowmore 12 year, Caol Ila 12 year with a Mortlach thrown in for good measure.

As for me? I let them decide… and here is what they picked!

Inchgower 11 year (July 2007 / Mar 2019) Refill Hogshead 52.5% (North Star 008)

  • Nose – It started with light peat, caramel and spice, leaves
  • Palate – First sip was bursting with lots of pepper, spice and fire… then it opened up to reveal treacle and maple syrup
  • Finish – The finish was like chomping down on a cigar with a leather chaser

Something about this one clearly called for some water… and no careful 2-3 drops but a generous dollop. What did this do? Transformed the Inchgower!

  • Nose – That caramel cola quality came through even more, sponge cake
  • Palate – Lots of cinnamon spice…. with a bit of tart kumquat
  • Finish – Retained the sweet spice

This was no easy drinking dram but one that demanded attention… a bit of an unruly beast… tamed slightly by diluting.

What else do we know? It was matured in a refill hogshead which produced 321 bottles. With shipping and tax, it came to approx GBP 60. Which frankly is quite reasonable for a  cask strength original!

As for Iain Croucher and his delightful tasting notes? Here is what he has to say:

  • Nose – Kola Cubes & pancakes with maple syrup
  • Palate – White pepper & caramel shavings
  • Finish – Tobacco (Montecristo not Marlboro)

Prior to this, my only brushes with Inchgower were 13 year olds bottled by G&MP from their Connoiseurs Choice range – one at cask strength and the other not.

Don’t want to miss any posts? Why not follow Whisky Lady on:

North Star – Auchroisk, Glenturret, Inchgower, Fettercairn, Caol Ila

I used to think folks who would write about the whiskies they added to their collection without tasting were a bit daft. After all, for me it is the journey – discovering something more about a whisky through experiencing it – preferably with others.

Then along came my experience ordering North Star… My brand new Nurnberg Whisky Cabinet was practically empty (save my Old Pulteney 12 year) and it was time to start to build a wee collection, in anticipation of finding or creating a new tasting group in Europe.

What better way than something from the fabulous independent bottler North Star!?

So there I was placing an online order – selecting their reasonably priced options from £56 to £70… I was in no rush for the bottles to reach as had in mind a future experience to be held in some indeterminate evening.

These lovelies were successfully ordered and the wait began…

Then a remarkable thing happened, things got a wee bit delayed at North Star and these amazing folks decided to add a little bonus:

Plus a great bag and brilliant cap which is now my favourite sunshine companion for walks in the Bavarian forest. Huge thanks to Iain and team…. the problem now is finding the right opportunity to crack open these beauties!

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

Minis – Dailuaine 10 year 46%

Deprived of whisky festivals and tasting events, online versions aplenty have sprouted up all over the place!

As for our three whisky tasting groups based in Mumbai? We’ve also switched to catching up virtually… which enables me sitting here in Nurnberg to have an opportunity connect too.

Truth be told, our Bombay Malt & Cigar group is a rather international lot. As things started to shut down, one member was in his UK home, another in Belgium, of course I’m here in Germany, leaving only two anchoring our Mumbai presence. With the booze shops in India firmly shut, supplies dwindled.

So what did our gents chose to accompany their cigars? We had a Glenlivet 12 year, Glenfiddich 18 year and Bowmore 100 proof… and me? What did I select? In our last gathering I cracked open a big bottle so this time was more sensible and went for a mini…

Dailuaine 10 year 46% (Douglas Laing’s Provenance) 

  • Colour – Like a pale white wine, almost without any colour
  • Nose – Mmmm apple sauce, then a bit salty, sweet, reminded me of sesame snaps, then revealed a copper quality, a bit vegetal, sweet hay, then saline and leafy, increasingly woodsy, even a bit toast, sour mash then back to butterscotch cream
  • Palate – Cooked fruit and cream, malty, barley… it continued to evolve, nice and oily,  shifting between sweet and a hint of bitter, chased by light pipe tobacco
  • Finish – A nice spicy zing, ginger, cloves and cinnamon with a bit of bitter bark and more of that slightly metallic twang with a touch of minerals too

There was enough going on here for it to be interesting yet was somehow personable too.

I tried to find out more – checking the options on Master of Malt to see what might be a likely candidate for inclusion in the advent calendar.

I can’t say for sure, but think what I tried may be from Cask 11618… If correct, the folks at Master of Malt have this to say:

A single cask bottling of Dailuaine single malt, independently bottled by those ever-wonderful Douglas Laing folks. This whisky was distilled by Dailuaine back in January 2007 and left to age in a refill hogshead for 10 years. In February 2017, it was bottled as part of the Provenance range with an outturn of 357 bottles.

  • Nose: Oily malt balanced by gristy sweetness, followed by a touch of heather honey.
  • Palate: Buttered bread, fresh ginger, sliced apple and a subtle hint of toasted barley smokiness.
  • Finish: Mineral hints linger on the finish.

The other option could be Cask 11777 (Mar 2007 / May 2017) however the tasting notes don’t jibe and specifically miss the clear mineral qualities found in the one I sampled.

Either way, you can find a cousin of this bottle in Europe for around EUR 45. Quite reasonable for a decent dram….

Here are a few others I tried from my advent calendar minis:

Curious to check out more? Why not follow Whisky Lady on:

Minis – Glenturret 14 year 54%

Our Whisky Ladies of Mumbai, like many tasting groups around the world, are lying low waiting out this COVID storm. However our connect remains strong and the bonus of going virtual is that I could even join one evening!

We each chose a preferred dram from home supplies to quaff together. What did I select? I was in the mood for something summery – a day-time dram in keeping with sipping on a sunny late afternoon in Europe. I also didn’t want to crack open a full bottle so turned my attention to my box of advent calendar minis.

My eye spied the Glenturret and thought – that looks about right! My last brush with Glenterret was the stunningly delicious 30 year from La Maison du Whisky‘s Artist range.

What did I discover?

Glenturret 14 year (2001) 54% (Highland Laird – Bartels Whisky)

  • Colour – Bright golden
  • Nose – Initially quite vegetal, lots of barley, hay, then shifted into delicious honey, strawberries, sweet spices…
  • Palate – Wow! Light spice, cereals, a twist of citrus, becomes fruitier… is that apricot? Or peach? Delightful with just enough depth to keep interest up!
  • Finish – Ginger sweet and fruit forward
  • Water – Fabulous! Even better… delicious

It was distractingly good – right up my alley in terms of taste profile. Whilst not complex, it was sunshine in a glass. Slowly sipping it was like having a fabulous blend of breakfast and desert – cream, fruits, cereals with a drizzle of honey topped with fresh grated cinnamon and cloves…

What more do we know about this whisky? It was matured in a port pipes and sold under Bartels Whisky’s Highland Laird range – which is focused on bottling single casks at cask strength.

And what do the folks at Bartels Whisky have to say?

We bottled this Glenturret in 2017, it has always been one of our more unusual malts having been aged in an ex port pipe.  The natural colour reflects this well.  It has gone down really well at events and shows we have attended.

Nose: Cooking spices, sultanas, anise and a touch of damp wood.
Palate: Oak spice shows off very well in this Glenturret, with black pepper, ginger and clove. Layers of orange keep it from getting far too spicy.  A slight sweetness coming through from the port pipe.
Finish: Drying and long.

Now I will admit my math was a bit perplexed at a 14 year being maturing from 2011 and bottled in 2017, but what the heck! It is just a terrific dram no matter the age.

As for what it would set you back? Bartels Whisky have it listed as GBP 58 – which is a complete bargain!

Here are a few others I tried from my advent calendar minis:

Curious to check out more? Why not follow Whisky Lady on:

Minis – Glenlossie 8 year (2010) 56.8%

My earlier brushes with Glenlossie were quite positive – both from That Boutique-y Whisky Co and then later in Berlin with a fabulous Sharing Angel. I was completely pre-disposed to enjoy, hoping to discover something interesting. It was fitting my tasting companion for the evening was the same Angel I shared the earlier Glenlossie in Berlin.

We opened this wee dram in February 2020… and what did we find??

Glenlossie 8 year (Oct 2010 / Apr 2009) Cask 8645 56.8% (Hannah Whisky Merchants – Lady of the Glen)

  • Colour – A hint of rose in the gold
  • Nose – Forest honey, sour fruit, a bit heavy, toast, incredibly sweet
  • Palate – Warm, the honey carries through… it was also a bit woodsy, a kid of course texture, mace, garden lovage
  • Finish – Nothing remarkable

We joked that it was a bit like a Winnie the Pooh honeypot – super sweet and not what we expected from Glenlossie. We speculated what could bring about this result? Clearly an ex-bourbon cask but there was something else going on…. certainly not sherry, a wine cask finish perhaps? We then tracked down the Mast of Malt notes – the Port cask finish was clearly the answer we sought!

Months later I decided to polish off the last few drops… what did I find? Surprisingly it was chock full of red berries and red cherries, candy sweet… on the palate it was a bit peculiar but better than I remembered. Interesting? Somewhat… but not one I would run out to try and repeat.

What more do we know? The folks at Master of Malt have this to say:

A wonderful amber-coloured indie bottling of Glenlossie. The single malt was distilled on 8 October 2000, and matured in a single bourbon hogshead. It was then treated to a finish in a first-fill ruby Port cask for around six months, sourced from a family-owned bodega near Porto in Portugal. The liquid was then bottled on 10 April 2019 by Hannah Whisky Merchants for the Lady of the Glen range, with the cask yielding 287 bottles at cask strength.

  • Nose: Toasted oats, berry compote and honey, floral malt and baking spice.
  • Palate: Caramelised nuts, vanilla fudge, lots of dried fruit, fresh red berries, liquorice and butterscotch.
  • Finish: Toasted walnut and buttered brown bread with blackberry jam.

So the dates don’t jibe – the bottle says 2010 whereas you might have spotted the above says distilled in 2000.. suspect this was a typo.

And what would it set you back? Hannah Merchant have it listed for GBP 100. Before this sample, I hadn’t tried anything from Hannah Whisky Merchants with their “Lady of the Glen” line.

Here are a few others I tried from my advent calendar minis:

Why not follow Whisky Lady on:

Minis – Cambus 24 year 52.7%

I will admit I had high hopes for this one – both as it is from North Star and also my last Cambus stood out as my favourite grain yet!

Cambus 24 year (May 1993/Sep 2027) 52.7% (North Star – Series 003)

  • Colour – Light gold
  • Nose – Big old dusty cupboard, fruity yet also sour, some leather reminiscent of a tannery, earthy, dry old leaves – that distinctive neem leaf in particular, sweet dry flowers… started to shift into vanilla toffee, caramel cream
  • Palate – Light yet slightly sharp, a bit piquant, sour fruits, curiously “slim”
  • Finish – Negligible
  • Water – Softens the grain on the tongue, making it milder… settled into cured leather with toffee cream, a bit of an odd combination

We set it aside for a bit and returned to find the sulfur of matchsticks with sweet cinnamon! It wasn’t bad but it didn’t exactly rock our boat.

Though we originally tasted the Cambus in February 2020, there was a bit remaining which I revisited in May. What did I find? The sour fruits were quite pronounced on the nose, however the sharpness we found earlier was gone, replaced with sweetness that became quite tasty on the palate. Not a bad way to finish the last few drops!

What do the folks at North Star have to say?

  • Nose: Cinnamon & warmed cloves
  • Palate: Buttered toffee and shortbread
  • Finish: Sweet rum & raisin

What more do we know? Only that it was bottled from a refill Pedro Ximenez sherry butt.

Here are a few others I tried from my advent calendar minis:

Why not follow Whisky Lady on:

Return of the Minis – Cambus, Glenlossie, Glenturret, Dualaine

Well lads and lasses! It is time to surface from work hibernation and re-start whisky explorations.

Up first is a quartet from my advent calendar minis!

The first two were cracked open with a fabulous Sharing Angel late February when we had the pleasure of enjoying one of the last whisky festivals in Germany pre-COVID.

We had great expectations… but alas were not entirely satisfied:

Whereas the balance were tasted in the virtual company of two different Mumbai whisky groups and each were enjoyable in their way:

For 3cl bottles, you may be surprised to learn all of them had a bit remaining, so before finalizing my notes, I had a chance to try them again…  curious to know more? Check out my tasting notes over the next few days.

Why not follow Whisky Lady on:

Gorgeous Chorlton Trio – Miltonduff, Blair Athol, Macmyra

Many months ago we were introduced to the independent bottler – Chorlton during a quick trip home to Mumbai. The Chorlton tasting was conducted completely blind and we were floored by the pedigreed character of each whisky – Miltonduff 9 yearOrkney 9 year, Glenturret Ruadh Maor 8 year.

With the reveal, we also fell in love with the gorgeous labels!

I knew I wanted to explore more, however was in the midst of my move to Germany, finding a place to live, getting up to speed in a my new job with – shocker – whisky a low priority in my juggling act!

Fast forward to early 2020 and the COVID crises changed our world completely. During the initial phase of working from home, I decided to start selectively planning for future sessions – a mythical time  where I could either re-unite with much missed tasting groups in Mumbai, join something existing in Nurnberg or create a new community of fellow whisky explorers.

And this is where Chorlton came in… knowing their stock is in limited supply, I still took a chance to see if anything was available directly from this fabulous independent bottler and was in luck! This delightful trio was possible to order online and, even better, make its way from the UK to Germany.

Here is what I chose:

  • Miltonduff 11 years, 1st fill bourbon, 62% 1 of 176 bottles
  • Blair Athol 12 years, Hogshead undiluted, uncoloured, unchill filtered, 56.6% 1 of 268 bottles
  • Mackmyra 12 years, bourbon barrel, undiluted, uncoloured, unchill filtered 50.2% 1 of 278 bottles

While they don’t say when they were bottled, presumably it would have been 2019/2020.

To say I was excited on their arrival was an understatement! However when I will actually crack them open remains to be seen. I’m much more of a social imbiber – what I enjoy most is the exchange and range of impressions an interesting bottle can evoke from a small group tasting together.

As such an activity seems very far away, I will simply leave you with this visual teaser and hope you are healthy and happy where ever you are in the world!

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