Whisky Lady – March 2021

How is it that time seems to be both slow and slip past in a blink at the same time? That’s what March felt like… However we did manage to keep up with a few whisky explorations!

Whisky wise we certainly got creative with holding a couple sessions to explore a Campbeltown Trio

Our European Chapter of the Whisky Ladies also had fun with our 2nd quartet from Whisky Warehouse No. 8 this time featuring:

  • Glenturret 8 year (Dec 2020 – Apr 2019) Bourbon Hogshead 57.5% – Be a wee bit patient with this one…. to be rewarded with light peat and sweet
  • Ardmore 16 year (May 2000 / Feb 2017) Bourbon Barrel 52.3% – A more traditional style, something for Après ski!
  • Bunnahabhain 14 year (24 Oct 2002 / 31 Oct 2016) Bourbon Hogshead 3048, 56.7% – One of the best Bunna’s I’ve had in a long time!
  • Inchfad (Loch Lomond) 15 year (Feb 2005 – April 2019) Bourbon Hogshead 55.5% – Also give it time to reveal a bit of fruity ginger, honey spice

Just to keep the creative tasting buds working, I had fun with a wee solo exploration of some minis from Old Particular :

After a long-distance ‘teaser’ in February with the founder and master distiller from The Belgian Owl and his Whisky Ambassador, five 50 cl – yes cl not ml – whiskies made their way to Paris and Nurnberg… impatiently waiting their turn to be tasted together with another set making its way from Brussels to Bombay!

The month closed with another trio from Diageo’s Flora and Fauna range, however will save tasting notes for April!

Curious to know more? Check out a few other ’round-up’ summaries:

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

Additionally, there are the two ‘off-shoots’ with:

The Belgian Owl

Sometimes one thing leads to another… What was originally intended to be a Bombay ‘bar night’ with various whiskies lying around turned (thanks to the wonders of modern technology and curious connects) into a special feature on The Belgian Owl together with the founder and master distiller – Etienne Bouillon – and brand ambassador – Frédéric Senet.

Alas I was already back in Germany so could only experience Identité ‘vicariously’ via the descriptions of the others – which were incredibly positive! Even from one who was a bit skeptical from his earlier brush almost a decade ago – however distilleries and palates evolve and the sincerity of the enthusiasm was clear.

How did this evening come about? Well, one of our Bombay Malt & Cigar gents currently splits his time between Belgium (where his wife lives and works) and Mumbai (where he lives and works).

On a recent trip to Mumbai, he was contacted via a consulate connect asking “Don’t you do whisky tastings? The folks from The Belgian Owl are interested in getting some feedback from an Indian perspective…” Which is a bit amusing considering the gent in question is actually British! However, like myself, has lived for decades in India, adopting Mumbai as home so not so strange after all.

He was so impressed with the bottle shared in Mumbai that our intrepid introducer made the trek to the distillery on his next trip to Belgium, determined to bring the full range to Mumbai.

As for myself? Courtesy of the fine folks we virtually met, I now have this very tempting quintet to explore….

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

Additionally, there are the two ‘off-shoots’ with:

The Whisky Warehouse No. 8 – Inchfad (Loch Lomond) 14 year 55.5%

Loch Lomond goes by many names… From Loch Lomond to Inchmurrin to Inchmoan to Croftnegea – including Inchfad like this one. We speculated that this is all a marketing ploy – different brand names for slightly different expressions to tease the curious to select. Do we fall for it? Of course!

However above all, what matters is what we discover when explore… so for the last in our The Warehouse Collection quartet, we dove into this cask strength Loch Lomond dram!

Inchfad (Loch Lomond) 14 year (Feb 2005 – April 2019) Bourbon Hogshead Cask W8 438 55.5%, 300 Bottles

  • Nose – Oh my! Is that Pringles BBQ chips? However a curious thing happened, we went from hello peat to huh? Was there peat? Porridge, wet leaves, a bit metallic
  • Palate – Light peat was back, a bit spicy, coppery, a herbal medicinal quality
  • Finish – Limited
  • Water – To be honest, don’t think we even tried!

Our first thought was – better than the Glenturret (this was before the revisit) – has some “oomph!” and character, however… was it something that really stood out for us? Not really.

However like all the whiskies we sampled that evening, we set it aside and revisited. Interesting! After some time there was fruit, a dash of ginger, a bit of honey spice. It certainly improved after some time to open up… becoming an enjoyable drinking dram.

Curious about other Loch Lomond experiences?

What else did I try in the Whisky Warehouse No. 8 “Last Chance” set?

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

The Whisky Warehouse No. 8 – Bunnahabhain 14 year 56.7%

Long back, a very talented multi instrumental, multi country music buddy encouraged “Bunna” explorations as his kind of Islay – not really peaty but having substance and character to spare. Over the years, I’ve had mixed experiences – some excellent, some so so and some that didn’t quite do it for me.

Bunnahabhain 14 year (24 Oct 2002 / 31 Oct 2016) Bourbon Hogshead No. 3048, 56.7% 307 Bottles

  • Nose – Initially greeted us with quite a distinctive coconut oil… which settled down into salt water taffy, candied guava, fresh bread, orange comfy or cointreau, even a bit of coffee candy, swirling about with a hint of smoke too – more like an echo or subtle embers than a live burn…overall leaving an impression of fruity
  • Palate – Silky smooth… some salted caramel, spicy desert, herbal, buttery… with a wee bit of even peanut butter, richly rolling around nicely on the tongue
  • Finish – Lovely and long, delicious
  • Water – No need… truly

I have to confess that this is without a doubt the best Bunnahabhain I’ve had in a long time. Even better as it sits in the glass, opening up more and more. While a different character, there was an element of the lightly salted ‘buttery’ quality that made us think of the insanely delicious Aveux Gourmands.

As for the folks at Whisky Warehouse No. 8? I’ve taken the liberty to ‘google translate’ my way through Julia’s terrific tasting notes:
Whiskeys from Bunnahabhain are always good for a surprise and this single barrel is no exception. Anyone who wants to deduce the taste from the nose impressions of this bottling will be amazed at how different the whiskey ultimately behaves on the palate. At least one can rely on the well-known attributes of most Bunnahabhain bottlings: hardly any wood, a little salt and a good balance of all aromas.
  • Nose: Soft and fully ripe fruit notes such as cherries, star fruit and lychees. Underneath there is a layer of salty peat that has a slightly medicinal effect, but also a damp campfire that was already burning the day before.
  • Taste: Spicy like in a hay barn, herbal notes like dried thyme and thistles, slightly nutty and almond-like, the fruit notes linger in the background, but they now appear much fresher and crisper. The peat and smoke notes also remain surprisingly restrained.
  • Finish: It is especially the herbal notes that stay on the palate for a long time and become dry towards the end. Very late, a pinch of fleur de sel tickles the taste buds.

What about other Bunnahabhain explorations?

My “Last Chance” set also contained:

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

The Whisky Warehouse No. 8 – Ardmore 16 year

When I think of Ardmore, I tend to think of a lightly peated Highland dram… In many cases, I’ve had only fleeting sips rather than proper tasting… or it has been on offer at a social gathering, leaving a generally pleasant impression. So was looking forward to sitting down and giving an Ardmore some proper focus and attention… Even better, to have company with tasting cohorts joining virtually from Paris on a fine Friday evening in March 2021.

Here’s what we discovered….

Ardmore 16 year (May 2000 / Feb 2017) Bourbon Barrel Cask W80226, 52.3% 159 Bottles

  • Nose – Apricots, walnuts, pineapple and banana, vanilla flambe, some black current or black rasperry, a mix of fresh herbs like myrtle, black old fashioned licorice…
  • Palate – Oh yum! Fabulous on the tongue, cinnamon spice, butter brioche, nuts
  • Finish – A lovely finish – long, strong and very tasty
  • Water – The nose again became fruitier, tobacco leaf, hint of ajwain

Overall there was quite a ‘traditional’ style, with aromas that are less sweet, more savoury in a satisfying way. The kind of dram you would enjoy coming in from the cold like Après ski!

We set it aside and carried on tasting the others in our miniature set… and returned to find it was less fruity but still fabulous, with a nice juniper hint joining the buttery cinnamon spice. It was interesting enough to prompt checking availability of a full bottle – alas it seems out of stock – and like most of these single cask independent bottles, once you missed your chance, that is it!

Curious about other Ardmore experiences?

My Whisky Warehouse “Last Chance” set also contained:

What about prior explorations from Whisky Warehouse No. 8? Here’s our growing list:

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

The Whisky Warehouse No. 8 – Glenturret 8 year 57.5%

This would be my 3rd Glenturret 8 year from an independent bottler! We were rather impressed by the North Star’s Glenturret – which was distilled the same month as this Warehouse cask and bottled within a month of each other. I’d also had the pleasure of trying Chorlton’s Ruadh Maor aka peated Glenturret.

So what about this one from The Whisky Warehouse No. 8?

Glenturret 8 year (Dec 2010 / Apr 2019) Bourbon Hogshead Cask No. W8 181, 57.5% 330 Bottles

  • Nose – Even before putting in the glass, we had a whiff of our wee bottle and went – Mmmm….sweet smoked bacon! And then into the glass it went and… huh? Where did the delicious aroma go? Instead we found a brine, hay… predominantly cereals like hot (slightly boring) porridge, wet fall leaves, rubber gum… is that gym shoe? Curious
  • Palate – Ah.. now here is the light peat smoke, bay leaves, cinnamon spice, a bit of ginger bread… not a heavy peat, more like peat ‘adjacent’
  • Finish – It does last…

Let’s be honest, we were a tad disappointed. I happened to have the North Star Glenturret bottle handy and pulled it out to compare, making my virtual tasting companions a wee bit jealous. Yup! There were all the fabulous elements we enjoyed about the Glenturret – a nuanced peat, tasty cereals, maple bacon… We dismissed the Glenturret and moved on to our other minis..

However a funny thing happened along the way… as it patiently sat there… an amazing alchemy with air took place. We returned for a revisit and we delighted to discover much that we enjoyed in the North Star was now present! Where had all those lovely qualities been hiding?

  • Nose – Gingerbread joined the light puff of smoke,
  • Palate – Some cheese, smoked meats chased by cinnamon spice
  • Finish – Remained dry and long

Even on the first go, we enjoyed the palate more than nose alone… however with the revisit it was clear this had all the makings of a rather enjoyable dram. Certainly one to wait for it…. wait for it… as it just might be “Legend… wait for it…. dary!

Curious about other Glenturret experiences?

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

Glen Scotia 1832 Campbeltown 46%

Last in our Campbeltown trio was a no-age statement (NAS) Travel Retail offering from Glen Scotia. While one may be tempted to have an NAS before age statement whiskies, in this case, I knew this expression was both more peated than a standard Glen Scotia, plus experimentation with a PX sherry cask finish, so it ‘felt’ intuitively like the one to close with… even though the least expensive of the bunch!

That’s part of the magic with tasting order – when trying whiskies side by side, selecting the right progression of profiles is critical. Try something really intense up front and you can overwhelm the senses to miss completely the nuances of a subtler dram. It seems self-evident, but can be tricky when you’ve never tried that particular expression and have to go by a ‘gut’ feel basis what you do know of the distillery, potential impact of the wood, particularly as described peat levels can be notoriously unreliable – both by ppm and the ‘eye’ (palate) of the beholder!

In this case, my blind-tasting companions from the first session confirmed the appropriateness of starting with the Springbank 10 year, followed by the Glen Scotia 16 year and this expression. So I followed the same approach for the Whisky Ladies virtual session held a few weeks later!

Whereas the small group of ladies began with this NAS followed by the Springbank 10 and Glen Scotia 16. We had quite similar impressions of all three whiskies – so with this Campbeltown trio, the tasting order made little difference!

Glen Scotia 1832 Campbeltown 46%

  • Nose
    • Mixed group – Started with Williams pear or dishrag (depending on who you ask!), walnut, caramel or toffee, bacon, dates, the gulkand that goes into paan, hints of vanilla, one also got kerosene or motor oil, sour leather… after some time – don’t laugh – but I got gummy bears!
    • Virtual ladies – For us, it started with overripe almost spoilt fruits, quite pungent, oily, shifting from sweet overripe black grapes to bananas, then figs to nuts, with rum raisin.. shifted again to dahi… after even more time the overripe fruit dimension was replaced by other elements like cardamon kheer, a touch of smoke
    • During our share and compare, the other group of ladies added their sense of honey lemon, comforting.. with a vanilla perfume
  • Palate
    • Mixed group – A clean peat with cinnamon, salt, and smoke, pepper fry, sweet stewed fruits, nice and round
    • Virtual ladies – The 1st sip was a bit of a shock of bitter spice, but after the initial ‘punch’, the 2nd sip was smooth, still having spice but chased with subtle sweet peat, and resin, with that tasty bitterness lingering… there was also a herbal green element we couldn’t quite place which the other group of ladies nailed – green capsicum
  • Finish
    • Mixed group – Salt and pepper spice, dry
    • Virtual ladies – The bit of bitterness remained, dry with black pepper licorice spice

In our mixed group, we initially found it a bit unbalanced… there was a curious quality for some time until it settled down. Once that “motor oil” quality finally dispersed and it began to grow on us. When we compared this Glen Scotia 1832 with the others, we found all three had dry finishes with this one a bit spicier than the others. Certainly, the peat was more pronounced too, though clearly not a typical Islay style.

As for our ladies? For us, it was all the contrasts that made us slow down and really explore this one.  As interesting as the nose was to begin with, after a few sips, it lost a bit of its pungency. However, by contrast, the palate grew on us more and more. This whisky challenged us – in a good way, reminding us why it is so fun to explore different dimensions with others. The other group also enjoyed it – sharing the warm and tingly combined with a perfume finish.

Bottom line – it was a ‘yes’ from all.

What do the folks at Glen Scotia have to say?

The higher peat content gives a more sweet and smoky character and a beautiful rounded finish.

  • Nose – Peat smoke on a salty sea breeze with background notes of crème caramel and vanilla
  • Palate – Golden syrup (light treacle), spiced apple and vanilla. Light medicinal peat notes bring balance to the mid-palate
  • Finish – Long, lingering peat with dried fruit notes adding sweetness

I purchased this whisky late Oct 2019 from Munich airport for EUR 62 on my way back home to Mumbai…. ahhh…. those were the days when we could freely fly back and forth!

And with that, we finished our wee journey to the Campbeltown region with Springbank and Glen Scotia!

Interested in other Glen Scotia experiences? Check out:

Curious to know more? Why not follow Whisky Lady on:

Campbeltown – Glen Scotia 16 year 46%

Today part of the Loch Lomond Group, Campbeltown’s Glen Scotia traces its history to 1832, however certainly had a few ‘silent’ periods. The first halt in 1930 was due to the dramatic fall of distilling in the Campbeltown region triggered by the depression, temperance movement, and rising distribution costs. Originally known as “Scotia”, the distillery re-opened a few years later as “Glen Scotia” when bought by the Bloch Brothers. Fast forward to the next major decline in the whisky industry – and no surprise – they again shut production from 1984 to 1989, starting up again when bought by the Gibson group.

With our history lesson now over, what about the whisky? Well… it has both lightly peated and non-peated variants, playing around with American oak / ex-bourbon, oloroso, and PX sherry casks.

As for our collective tasting experience? I’d explored a few minis from Glen Scotia with a regular tasting companion. We found the entry expression – Double Cask 46% – was quite a good indicator of what is to come, noting the 15 year took a bit of time to ‘warm’ up, whereas the Victoriana 51.5% was a clear ‘crowd-pleaser’ from the start.

So then… what about this 16-year old?

Glen Scotia 16 year 46%

  • Colour – Copper and gold
  • Nose
    • Mixed group – Musty cupboard, sour fruits, a bit like a fruity brandy, lots of honey, oak, floral talcum, rose peppermints, coffee sweets, chicory, lightly salted, dry spice, more light wood, grass, celery, cherry blossoms
    • Virtual Ladies – A nice bourbon, fruits and nuts with cocoa, changes so much in a gentle way… toffee, berries shifting to cherries… sweet but not too sweet… our IRL ladies also found beeswax
  • Palate
    • Mixed group – Spiced Christmas oranges with cloves, dry salt, cigar leaf, gooseberries, apple-like calvados, sour plum, almonds, dry sherry, peppery spice, a hint of peat
    • Virtual ladies – Simply delicious! Incredibly silky with a great well-rounded mouth feel. We tasted figs with dates, with a gentle roasted quality…  our IRL ladies agreed – noting what really stood out was the velvety smoothness with a hint of mint at the back
  • Finish
    • Mixed group – Salty dry
    • Virtual ladies – Sweet milk chocolate, after lingering for some time slowly eases out with a dry black licorice
  • Water – A few drops didn’t hurt… but why dilute something so fine? Truly not needed

For the mixed group, we concluded overall that it had quite a friendly nose – more interesting and complex than the palate. Even after the glass was empty, the aromas were most appealing. For a few in our cross-country virtual tasting (from London to scattered locations around Europe to Mumbai) this was the favourite.

As for our ladies? We agreed! We found it had a fabulous harmony, making its presence felt in a gentle enticing way. The kind of dram you want some ‘alone time’ with…. slow down and simply enjoy.

What more do we know? Just that it was matured in ex-bourbon and American oak (presumably virgin?) for a minimum of 16 years and released for Travel Retail. While the distillery notes do not indicate it was matured or finished in sherry casks, both their tasting notes and our experience would indicate a hint.

What do the folks at Glen Scotia have to say about their 16 year?

  • Nose – Fresh sea spray and floral notes give way to softer caramel and vanilla
  • Palate – Rich sherry flavours, toffee, raisins and roasted hazelnut. Apricot and orange add more subtle fruit notes
  • Finish – Long dry finish with touches of peat combining with nutty elements and coastal, salty notes

I picked it up in Singapore’s Changi Airport in November 2018 for SGP 167 (approx EUR 105 / INR 9,100). A bit pricey, but then that is also Singapore…

What did we explore in our Campbeltown evening aside from the Glen Scotia 16-year?

Don’t want to miss Whisky Lady posts? Follow this blog on:

Campbeltown – Springbank 10 year 46%

This isn’t my first Campbeltown trio… Even more so, we are no stranger to Springbank distillery – I counted over a dozen different tasting experiences from the last few years! I’ve even tried this 10 year expression – back in 2015 and again 2019. Overall the experiences have been positive, so I was curious to see what we find this time around!

This whisky was sampled on two occasions – once by a mixed group from London to Paris to Nurnberg and Mumbai and the 2nd as a combination of Whisky Ladies connecting virtual and a very small group in real life, culminating in a comparison of our experiences.

Springbank 10 year 46%

  • Nose
    • Mixed group – Fruity, honey, fresh wood, tropical fruit – particularly pink guava, pineapple, toffee and vanilla cream, cake frosting and pastry…
    • Ladies virtual  – Started off quite tropical, spice, apricot, opening up to increasing sweetness, cream… over time some maple honey emerged with cereals
  • Palate
    • Mixed Group – Subtle peat, smoky, salty, a nice woodiness… after the 2nd sip, sweet spice of nutmeg, allspice, dry cherry
    • Ladies virtual – The first sip was a bit harsh – burning down the throat to the finish. After the initial spice kick, further sips were easier but still lots of black pepper and nutmeg
  • Finish
    • Mixed Group – Lighter touch, like a dry wine finish, a bit bitter and peppery
    • Ladies virtual – Very peppery finish, quite dry
  • Water – Lots of overripe fruit, spicier, sour fruit (tried only by the mixed group)

Our mixed group was a bit more charitable in our overall assessment We found that while initially there was no hint of peat on the nose, it came through on the palate. While it wasn’t a crowd pleaser, we found it settled into a mellow sweet peat.

The Ladies were all pretty clear that this one did not impress. Several had otherwise good Springbank experiences – including a venerable Springbank 37 year! Those who joined “In Real Life”, found it bitter, and oily, with some cilantro. Especially when we revisited it after trying the others, it was flat to the nose and palate. Disappointing, I’m afraid.

What about the Springbank official tasting notes?

Our 10-year-old offers whisky drinkers the perfect introduction to the Springbank range. Matured in a combination of bourbon and sherry casks, it is perfectly balanced from the first sip through to the full, rich finish.

  • Nose: Orchard fruit (pear) with a hint of peat, vanilla and malt.
  • Palate: Malt, oak, spice, nutmeg and cinnamon, vanilla essence.
  • Finish: Sweet, with a lingering salty tingle.

Would we agree? Alas not really…

What else did we explore in our Campbeltown evening?

Don’t want to miss Whisky Lady posts? Follow this blog on:

Campbeltown Trio – Glen Scotia, Springbank

There may be limited distilleries in the Campbeltown region, however while it doesn’t have the range of other regions like the compact but prodigious Speyside, sprawling yet plentiful Highlands or the Islay character, it quietly yet firmly refuses to give up.

While once there were 30 distilleries, today stand 3 – Glen Scotia, Glengyle (Kilkerran) and Springbank – and I thought it past time we slow down to explore at least a small sample from Campbeltown.

While my original plan was to have representation from each of the three distilleries, in the end, I satisfied myself with 3 contrasting expressions from 2 distilleries.

What did we explore in our Campbeltown evening?

All of the whiskies were opened in January 2021 and redistributed to interested partakers. In an interesting twist – this trio had multiple dimensions to its tasting experience:

  • Combination of Whisky Ladies in Europe and a couple guys from Bombay Malt & Cigar brought together virtually, sipping from London to Paris, south of France to Nurnberg and of course Mumbai… with samples that were better traveled than some people!
  • Virtual Whisky Ladies in India – mostly Mumbai with one in Delhi and remaining bottles making their way to a very small (socially distanced!) gathering in Bandra “IRL”… after about 45 mins of tasting separately, the virtual and ‘real’ groups joined together to compare notes

It followed an earlier session exploring an Arran vertical. This just goes to show – we refuse to be daunted by limited travel, and limited sourcing means – where there is a will, there is a way!

Don’t want to miss Whisky Lady posts? Follow this blog on: