Whisky Lady – April 2021

Being based in Europe means we have the luxury of both a relatively regular supply of Scottish whiskies – at least from pre-Brexit stock! Plus access to an interesting and growing array of European whiskies.

I like mixing things up with tastings – exploring with different people, gaining insights from the folks making the whiskies – along with having some “steady” tasting companions, so we go on a journey together able to contrast and compare previous whiskies to deepen insight of the dram in front of us at the time. Naturally, these days this is all virtual and as its not much fun being on camera with folks all trying something different, extra effort is needed to coordinate a common beverage to quaff.

With our Whisky Ladies European Chapter we have cracked this conundrum! We’ve relatively easily managed to share between France and Germany – enough to have a few sessions lined up in advance even!

For our Euro Ladies April session, we dove into some French Fancies exploring:

My April posts include our session from last month – held late March. That evening we closed our Diageo Flora & Fauna explorations with a second trio of:

What else? I’ll confess to ordering a few more Scottish whiskies – with a bit of a Gordon & MacPhail slant, added the Forbidden plus Smoke and Oak to my Shelter Point collection stored in Canada.

While those ones may need to wait a while, for more immediate consumption, I picked up a trio from Bellevoye to enjoy with my tasting companions in Paris in the coming months. These bottles join a quintet generously sent by the folks at The Belgian Owl and the Whisky Warehouse No 8 “Regions” boxed set I had purchased earlier. Clearly we are working hard to ensure we have something interesting to distract us each month!

All of this purchasing activity led to being sent a bonus “mini” of the Speyburn 10 year 40%. It was nice to enjoy a revisit of an old familiar after several years.

My month of malty musings closed with a traipse down memory lane with The Scotch Malt Whisky Society...

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

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

Scotch Malt Whisky Society – Malty Musings

Once upon a time the Scotch Malt Whisky Society (SMWS) were in India… briefly in 2013… However thanks to convoluted rules, it became impossible hence SMWS drams come only personal import.

For me, the SMWS took on a near ‘mythic’ quality. I would delight in their titles and the sometimes hilarious tasting notes.

Now that I am living in Europe, I no longer have such limitations of Indian customs… True there are different ones, particularly with Brexit first making a mess of smooth shipments from Scotland followed by complete stop of direct imports from the UK, however there remain all sorts of options.

Somehow, SMWS just hasn’t made its way into the mix…

Today, I happened to be feeing a bit nostalgic so that to share a summary of SMWS drams past… Curious if others have tried and had other opinions??

Cragganmore

Glenrothes

Laphroaig

Mortlach

Strathclyde

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French Fancies – Rozelieures Tourbe 46%

Living in Europe means we have great access to an incredible range of European whiskies. Our latest venture was to France – with a duo from a small farm distillery in Lorraine – G Rozelieures.

After their rather delightful Subtil, we were curious what their peated expression would bring. And were not disappointed…

Rozelieures Tourbe 46%

  • Colour – Still light, but deeper gold than Subtil
  • Nose – Mmmm pine, sweet grass, caramelized smoked ham, getting smokier as it opened up, herbal, even fruity with a dash of cinamon
  • Palate – Initially the peat was quite subtle, shifting into pine, some warming spices of cinnamon and star anise, elegant and sophisticated,
  • Finish – Just carries through

Overall it was well balanced, with a nice continuity between what we enjoyed in the aromas, also in the palate and finish.

Happiness! We definitely will need to explore more from this distillery.

What do the folks at Rozelieures have to say?

This exceptional peated whisky is powerful and has a balanced structure. The Bourbon casks along with the French new oak casks from Lorraine bring fresh and delicate vegetal notes: a delightful taste.

  • Nose : flowered malted, spicy
  • Mouth : fruity, spicy, peated
  • Finish : smoked, spicy, pear

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French Fancies – Rozelieures Subtil 40%

Our first introduction to G.Rozelieures whiskies was a bit ‘disguised’ via the brilliant Maison Benjamin Kuentz (D’un) Verre printanier (2020) 46% and Fin de partie (2020) 46% – both of which we absolutely loved!

So we simply had to explore more! One of our lovely ladies took it upon herself to track down two to start – one without peat (Sbutil) and another with (Tourbe).

What do we know about these folks? It is family run, distilling for multi generations in the village Rozelieures in Lorraine, France. The barley is grown locally with whisky distilled on their farm. 

A quartet of minis made their way from Paris to Nurnberg and our Whisky Ladies Euro Chapter explored together one fine Friday evening. What did we try?

Rozelieures Subtil 40%

  • Colour – Light straw
  • Nose – Apple custard, sweet and slightly sour, some salty caramel, gooseberry, a bit tart, something we first described as ‘strong’ honeysuckle then settled on quince, cereals, vanilla… more and more a delightful pear came to the fore, some nutmeg, basil and mint, floral, fruity and increasingly sweet
  • Palate – A nice ‘easy drinker’ fruity – particularly quince… it also had a wine-like character
  • Finish – Apple sauce and light spice

Overall it was summary – fruity, a bit floral, some herbs and sweet cereals… delicious and dare I say refreshing on the palate? Yet it isn’t a push over, there is something quite compelling and interesting about this one – enough to bring you back again and again. 

Typically a whisky at 40% is a mass produced travel retail affair. Not this. It is boutique in the best sense – unique, intriguing and inviting. A perfect aperitif and well worth exploring.

So what do the folks at Rozelieures have to say?

This Whisky presents itself as the first unpeated single malt produced in Rozelieures. This vintage has been aged in old Bourbon, Cognac and new oak casks. This novelty keeps more than ever this fatty in the mouth, become characteristic feature of the farm-distillery. This Whisky is distinguished by its subtle and floral aromas.

What else did we try in our French focused evening?

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French Fancies – Glann Ar Mor 46%

If you had told me in 2015 when I first discovered a dram from this Bretagne distillery at Singapore’s Auld Alliance during a special blind world whisky flight, that a few years later I would be living in Europe and tasting an unpeated Glenn Ar Mor expression virtually with friends in Paris, I would have thought your completely crazy!

I was firmly based in Asia, more likely to move from Mumbai to Singapore than Nurnberg! However that evening was clearly responsible for a growing curiosity and appetite for European whiskies – and more specifically those from France.

That cask strength Kornog was remarkable – and kicked off a hunt to track down more so that whisky explorers in India could also experience its distinctive character.

Were we successful in finding a Kornog bottle? Yes! An intrepid lady managed to wrangle via the UK a different expression – the Kornog Taourac’h Trived 10 BC 46% – which certainly captured our attention!

On a roll, we plotted to acquire another. Full of high expectations, we eagerly cracked open the Kornog Taouarc’h Pempved 14 BC (2014) 46% – and were desperately disappointed.

So we were a wee bit wary about this Glann Ar Mor unpeated expression…with expectations tempered by a less than stellar last brush however remaining curious and overall optimistic. What did we think?

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Glann Ar Mor 46%

  • Nose – To be honest, it started off a bit peculiar – greeting us with white asparagus, slightly musty with a curious elusive spice, quite vegetal we also found mushrooms and saline, some apple cider or overripe mangos. It started to shift, more caramel, some rhubarb, perhaps even some herbal hints.
  • Palate – Young, wine-like, effervescent… the mushrooms we caught in the aromas were also there in the taste. There was even a kind of stone or granite flavour. Yet just like the nose, as our palates adjusted, we began to enjoy it more, discovering a tasty toffee
  • Finish – More of the same qualities from the palate, slipping into pine

It started off… well… a bit strangely… However as it opened up in the glass, we warmed up to it more and more.

In short – it was distinctly different. There was no doubt this was far from Scotland, with a unique personality. And yet, if we had to make a comparison it would be to Talisker – something about the seaside quality was at least “kissing cousins” in character.

We nearly set it aside to move on to the next French whisky, but stopped for a moment to read the bottle notes. It recommended adding water… really? So we did…

The transformation started slowly… morphing more and more as the minutes ticked by:

  • Nose – Sweeter, friendlier, fruitier… with the aromas becoming increasingly fragrant with a light perfume, vanilla
  • Palate – Much smoother, infinitely more accessible, the fruitiness on the nose follows through on the palate, accompanied by a slightly salty element
  • Finish – A nice bitter sweet almond joined the flavours with a light spice

Our conclusion? Definitely different however absolutely worth adding water! It made a huge impact… even more pronounced when we returned to compare the glass without water and the glass with water. We couldn’t help but wonder… is this really the same whisky…?

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I believe we had their standard Glann Ar Mor expression, matured in ex-Bourbon barrels, with only limited additional information on the distillery website sharing:

New bottling of the unpeatted single malt from GLANN AR MOR DISTILLERY matured in Bourbon cask. Nose floral and malted. Mouth : fresh, fruity with vanilla, and maritime. Finish : greedy and sophisticated.

This bottle was purchased in Paris with a sample generously sent to me in Germany by my tasting companions.

What else did we try in our French focused evening?

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French Fancies – Le Pertuis 5 year 42.6%

One of our tasting companions in Paris was gifted a membership with “Flaviar“. So when she decided to have a French themed tasting, she decided to leverage this new membership to discover something “different” and “new”. Which can lead to wonderful discoveries or complete duds!

Enter Le Pertuis – sounds quite French, oui? Mais no. Turns out this particular whisky was actually distilled in Scotland, then brought to France to finish in ex-Bourbon, Cognac, and Pineau des Charentes casks.

Le Pertuis 5 year 42.6%

  • Colour – Light gold
  • Nose – Sweet hay and honey, some ripe prunes, comes across as an uncomplicated easy drinking dram, lightly fruity, toffee sweet
  • Palate – Simple, bit of spice, very straight forward
  • Finish – Peppery

Overall it was innocuous, if a tad insipid – nothing unpleasant but equally nothing really stood out. We set it aside, hoping more would be revealed in the revisit.

Well….?

  • Nose – A bit more sweet n sour, slightly salty, hard toffee… with more time, the toffee became even more pronounced, joined by chocolate milk
  • Palate – Still simple yet peppery, faint cinnamon
  • Finish – Similar, just this time with a hint of anise

As an “appetizer” to get things going, fair enough. But would I run out to buy? Certainly not.

What more do we know about Le Pertuis and this whisky? Here’s what the Flaviar folks have to say

A “pure malt” Whisky from northwestern France that’s worth a dram.

Île de Ré is a a 90 square-mile barrier island just off the coast of northwestern France. Saint-Martin-de-Ré is a small commune — one of ten on the island — that fronts the Pertuis Strait. In short… this might be the last place you would expect to find a Whisky maker. But sure enough, this small, idyllic, French hamlet is where they make small batches of Le Pertuis Whisky using locally-grown grains and old-world craftsmanship.

Technically, Le Pertuis Whisky is a Pure Malt. This means that their base Spirits is 100% malted barley, but it might be distilled in more than one location. Seems that demand for their signature Spirit outstrips the capacity of the stills on site, so a bit is farmed out to other houses to keep up the supply. They age their Spirit for five years in new oak before finishing it in three different seasoned barrels — ex-Bourbon, Cognac, and Pineau des Charentes casks. The results of each are blended to taste. And it’s darn tasty too.

Tasting notes:

  • Appearance / Color – Mahogany 
  • Nose / Aroma / Smell – A cornucopia of fruit — tangy grapefruit, baked apples, and cocoa. 
  • Flavor / Taste / Palate – Complex with fruitcake, figs, cinnamon, chocolate, and dried apricot. 
  • Finish – Medium length and warm with sea-salt toffee.

However it is possible the details on the website for Le Pertuis differs than the bottle we tasted – which clearly and transparently indicated the whisky originated in Scotland. Hmm…

What else did we explore in our French focused evening?

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Speyburn 10 year 40%

Well in advance of “needing” a resupply of whisky for various virtual tastings, I found myself stumbling on Whic.de “accidentally on purpose”, giving into the temptation to order a few whiskies. Happily it led to a wee bonus 3cl dram – which to me is the perfect size to be introduced into a whisky.

When I opened my shipment, I was amused to see they sent a Speyburn 10 year – quite a familiar friendly Speyside previously explored in Mumbai on three occasions:

However that was years ago and I re-glanced to discover the ABV was different – 40% not the 43% I’d experienced earlier. And when to try?

I decided – what better than a virtual “bar night” with the Bombay Malt & Cigar lads – now scattered around the globe. One of our members had hosted an evening with Stuart Harvey with the Speyburn well known. As each pulled out an open bottle from our respective whisky cabinets, I cracked open this mini.

What did I find with my revisit?

Speyburn 10 year 40%
  • Nose – Sweet cereals, honey, a bit malty, some nutmeg and vanilla… as it opened up became increasingly fruity with banana, mosambi, then shifted from citrus to hint of raisins
  • Taste – Honey water, toffee, fresh tobacco leaf, some more malt a bit of spice
  • Finish – Carries through with a bit of sweet, spice, faintly bitter

Did it live up to memories of past tastings? Yes indeed. I feared that at 40% it would be too diluted, however it remained what I expected – an ‘easy drinking dram’. No complaints and that wee 30cl bottle was finished far too fast!

It came across as primarily ex-Bourbon cask with just a touch of ex-Sherry, which could entirely be true as the Speyburn is matured with a bit of both.

As I’ve featured before what the Speyburn folks have to say, thought to share how the German distributor positions it:

A malty-mild Speyside single malt with a great price-performance ratio. Order this tasty aperitif whiskey.
  • 10 years old: The 10 years of ripening ensure a pleasant fruity-malty bouquet.
  • Price-performance ratio fits: For its low price, you get a well-matured and tasty single malt whiskey with a solid indication of age.
  • Not smoky: In this classic Speyside whiskey, the malt is not kilned over a peat fire. Therefore this whiskey is not smoky. Ideal for beginners or as an aperitif.
  • Mild and tasty: If you’re looking for a mild and pleasant after-work whiskey, you’ve come to the right place. If you are looking for something deep and difficult, you should keep looking.
  • Great entry-level whiskey: With its light flavor profile and low alcohol content, this Speyburn is a great entry-level whiskey. Inexpensive and tasty.
I would completely agree! As for “inexpensive”, what does that mean? In Germany, it is a mere EUR 25, just over INR 2,000 – very much value for money. I’m not sure how distribution has been affected by these strange times we live in, however it was once available in the Indian market – naturally with all the customs duties and taxes added on top!

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French Fancies – Le Pertuis, Glann Ar Mor, Rozelieures

Spring is in the air (despite the occasional ‘relapse’ of snow) and time to turn our attentions to some French fancies… of the whisky variety!

A quartet of minis made their way from Paris to Nurnberg and our Whisky Ladies Euro Chapter explored together one fine Friday evening. What did we try?

We had clear favourites – both of the Rozelieures for different reasons! So much so that we are now even more impatient for COVID conditions to change so that we can plan a trip to the distillery in Lorraine, France.

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Flora and Fauna – Inchgower 14 year 43%

Last in our Flora and Fauna series was the Inchgower. Our ‘host’ admitted being rather partial to this from past tasting experiences… did it live up to expectations this time?

Inchgower 14 year 43%

  • Nose – A wine like quality, musty and mossy, mould and mushrooms, earthy, cork, some vanilla sweetness, nougat, Dasheri mango or cantaloupe, baked goods then shifted into something more oily
  • Palate – Pungent, very dry spice, has character and kick, like the way wasabi opens up your taste buds, increasingly pronounced ginger
  • Finish – A bit salty, more almonds?

This whisky got off to a curious start… earthy then shifted to fruity, lots of character, but did we like it? Hmm… it certainly is interesting and a bit unusual.

We gave it some time, returning to find it had gone back to the vegetal earthy element and got a bit of ‘smoke’?

With all of these Flora and Fauna whiskies, we were not tempted to add water… this was no exception.

What do the folks at Diageo have to say?

This 14-year-old single malt whisky is a conundrum, in which the aromatics, and even the flavour, change continually. This is a complex and interesting mix with a sweet palate and bitter finish.

  • Appearance – Deep amber.
  • Body – Medium bodied and mouth filling.
  • Nose – Rich and deep and a hint of toffee. After a while offers some short-crust pastry and fruit, like greengage tart or damson pie. Then it settles and becomes lighter and vaguely ‘gun-metal’ – a mix of metal, gun oil and cordite, but all very faint. With water, it freshens up but gives little away. For a time there is an unmistakable scent of horse chestnuts – green and nutty – but after a while, it becomes much sweeter and more floral, like acacia honey.
  • Palate – Sweet overall, but also curiously mouth-drying, with some salt and traces of oil.
  • Finish – A saccharine-bitter finish that leaves an aftertaste of almonds.

Would we agree? To a certain extent…

Curious how this experience compares with other Inchgower drams? Check out:

As for what else did we sample in our foray into Diageo’s Flora and Fauna range? Here you go:

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Flora and Fauna – Auchroisk 10 year 43%

Flora and Fauna is Diageo’s official bottling series for their distilleries that predominantly go into blends or are found in independent bottling. After the Linkwood, our Whisky Ladies Euro chapter cracked open an Auchroisk. What did we think?

Auchroisk 10 year 43%

  • Nose – Cherry wood, cooked cherries, caramelized toasted nuts, candy apple… as it opened up more such aromas were joined by coffee, some tannins, spicier with hints of mulberry
  • Palate – Ahh… it does indeed have good body, some cinnamon spice, a bit of cherry cola quality and again those tannins from the nose come are on the palate too
  • Finish – A slightly smokey aftertaste that lingers

Just from the aromas alone there was a sense of body and substance which fully came through on the palate. Of the three Flora and Fauna whiskies we sampled together, this was the favourite for its character and

We set it aside and revisited after sampling the Inchgower… any change?

If anything, even more interesting! This time we found strawberry sweet, some milk chocolate and salty caramel. Delicious.

What do the folks at Diageo have to say?

An apéritif malt whisky, pleasant and light, which opens sweet, fresh and balanced then dries to a short finish. Doughy and buttery on the palate. This textured single malt whisky displays hints of lemon and pineapple with a slight aniseed and smokey finish.

  • Appearance – Pale gold.
  • Body – Smooth, with a light to medium body.
  • Nose – A mild nose for its strength. Sweet and fresh. Ground almonds are immediately apparent, even dry marzipan. Acetone. Some dark chocolate behind (this develops towards milk chocolate). Becomes nuttier all the time. With water, opens up: fresh and estery. Acetone, cooked pears, solvent. A light oily-fatty note behind, possibly nut oil. Nuttiness still apparent. Also a very light char in the back. Becomes more cereal-like – soggy Shreddies – and more ‘boney.’ Not so clean.
  • Palate – Takes a fair amount of water. Light and fresh; pleasant mouthfeel. Sweetish start, some acidity. 
  • Finish – Surprisingly dry, fairly short – all well balanced.

Curious about other experiences with Auchriosk? Read on…

What else did we sample in our foray into Diageo’s Flora and Fauna range?

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