Whisky Lady – September 2021

What a month! September started in India and ended back in Germany. As for whisky writing, it brought a nice mix of recalling past whisky experiences, notes from very small in-person gatherings from August and a virtual session in September.

Keeping two aside for the Whisky Ladies of Mumbai, the Glentauchers and Balblair were joined by the Macallan Estate Reserve 45.7%…. a quality dram? To be sure… however it is remarkable as much for its marketing and price tag as liquid!

I then held a couple very small “malty memory mini-lane” wanderings… revisiting favourites like Lochside, Linkwood, Mosstowie, Laphroaig, Pine Barrens and more…

My India trip closed with a wee mini reunion led to being introduced to this unexpected trio:

  • Kamet 42.8% – A new, rather promising entrant into Indian single malts
  • James Eadie 2017 56.6% – An affordable quality blend from Scotland
  • Compass Box Enlightenment 46% – After a long time, we were “enlightened” by a Compass Box limited edition

I also caught up with tasting notes from Bavaria’s Ziegler Distillery… with their Aureum range of single malts covered over two postings:

What was most impressive was the clear commitment to ‘craft’ – and was the first of what I hope will be more German distillery visits.

It really felt like a “well-rounded” month of musings and more as we continue to explore the wonderful world of whiskies – from new to old, rare to revisits, from India to Germany, blends to single casks, affordable to crazy expensive!

Curious to know more? Check out a few more monthly 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:

Birthday Dram – Macallan Estate Reserve 45.7%

The Macallan is one of those venerable distilleries that has reached legendary status.

I was very kindly gifted this bottle for my 50th birthday – wow! It was carefully kept aside for nearly two years, waiting for the right occasion.

Finally back in Mumbai over the summer, I thought our Whisky Ladies 6th anniversary the perfect moment! I’m so proud this tasting group hasn’t fully fallen apart in the wake of COVID restrictions, limited travel and vastly changed circumstances for many.

We split the tasting into two parts:

  • One live in person with restricted numbers in an attempt to have a modicum of social distancing in our modest home
  • Another fully virtual with our Euro ladies in Paris and two in Mumbai on the waitlist plus myself back in Nuremberg

This meant I needed to open the bottle just prior to the session and to my horror – the cork crumbled!

To be honest, I’m surprised this doesn’t happen more with older bottles. In this case, with surgical care and precision, I eased out the biggest chunk, then went on a delicate fishing expedition for as much of the remaining bits as I could. Tip for others facing a similar challenge – a lobster fork is a great tool for such a scenario!

I was a bit trepidatious the whisky may have suffered… thankfully it seems to have survived what could have been a disaster!

The Macallan Estate Reserve 45.7%

  • Colour – Dark copper
  • Nose – A complete sherry bomb! Very rich and intense… amusingly we found cherry cola! Followed by prunes, wood, a hint smokey
  • Palate – Spice with attitude, rich dark woods, tannins, the kind of whisky that prompts you to ‘pucker up’, like a dry deep robust shiraz, black currents, followed by rich sweet spiced marmalade
  • Finish – Spicy raisins, cloves and ginger – delicious!

As we sipped, one of our lovely ladies recalled her time at the distillery – before COVID. She described its remarkable facilities and the whole curated “experience” – very professional and on a completely different scale. They know they are leading the pack of the “big leagues” and this exceptional bottle was no accident.

And what about our second session a month later? Each of us sipped from small samples that had been bottled up in August.

  • Nose – We found none of the earlier intensity, though clearly it had a strong sherry influence. Instead we found it slightly medicinal, sour cherry and salted banana commingling with prunes
  • Palate – Mild… one comment was “like it is trying to be elegant but isn’t quite there”, a bit herbal, metallic, opening up more to soft dark fruits, becoming a bit chocolaty
  • Finish – Initially it was a bit shy, then revealed coffee beans – like an espresso candy

There was a bit of division on this one – some liked, others were indifferent, more for the style than the whisky itself. It wasn’t one of those strident “pay attention” to me kind of whiskies. Instead there was an understated element… we also wondered if perhaps we erred having it follow the robust Glenrothes.

After our session, I had a break from our whiskies (German class!)… 1.5 hours later what did I find? Remember that “trying to be elegant” comment? It had indeed become elegant, perfectly poised and balanced. Leading me to conclude this is one best had where there is no distraction, simply a single focus on just this whisky.

Here’s what the folks over at Macallan have to say:

  • Colour – Dark Amber
  • Nose – Soft fruits, ginger, vanilla, fudge and citrus
  • Palate – Rich and fruity with intense oak wood and spiced orange
  • Finish – Long with sweet citrus and oak wood

If you also want to enjoy this remarkable dram, I found it is still available – at least on TWE for GBP 399. I was very blessed to have been gifted it in November 2019 and we opened it in August 2021.

What else did we enjoy in our Birthday / Anniversary celebrations?

Unbelievably, both evenings were anchored with GBP 400 whiskies?! For the Whisky Ladies, this gem and for the Gents, the TWE Speyside Blended 45 year.

Now, I’m very much the kind of whisky explorer who enjoys tracking down worthy yet affordable drams. Typically I won’t go above EUR 100 if I can help it! However it is such a treat to experience exceptional whiskies well beyond our normal budgets – so huge thank you to kind benefactor and combined purchasing power respectively!

From time to time, you can also find other whisky related updates and activities on:

Ziegler Distillery’s Aureum Whisky – Part 2

Wow! What a start with Ziegler’s 7 year, Aureum Classic 8 year, Chestnut 5 year and Cask Strength 8 year! It was such an indulgent treat to explore the range of offerings from Ziegler distillery.

We carried on with a truly special whisky “The First” celebrating 10 years of producing Aureum whisky. Of all the whiskies we tried, this was the one I thought would best commemorate our wonderful weekend together. So I bought a bottle which is patiently waiting for the right opportunity to open and share!

Aureum 1865 The First (2010) 10 year 55.5%

  • Nose – Wonderfully robust, sherry berry burst, raisins, caramel and spice, ripe fruits
  • Palate – Lovely nice spice, more of the rich raisins, tannins, malty
  • Finish – What a delightful contrast – bubble gum and marshmallows – then shifting from sweet to nutty

I set it aside for some time and returned after tasting the next few… it had marvellous “staying power”… retaining its character.

What more do they have to say about this whisky?

The first twelve months this whiskey matures in barrels from the local Spessart oak and German chestnut. He spends another nine years in used bourbon barrels with the traditional “alligator charring”. The climate around our barrel storage facility, right on the banks of the Main, gives it its distinctive maturity. The strong alcohol content impresses with its natural sweetness and, in addition to strong malt notes, ensures dominant biscuit and vanilla tones.

  • Sensory: malt sweets, honey, caramel. 
  • Powerful and muscular finish, sweet vanilla with oily chestnuts.


The Grave Digger range is known for being a bit ‘rock n roll’ with peat.

Aureum Grave Digger “The Bruce” Peat 8 year 43%

I have to admit that by this point, my tasting notes failed me completely! What we tried before and after were there but this one? Just remember it being quite interesting and certainly full of character!

So instead, will share what the folks at Ziegler have to say:

The lightly peated malt for THE Bruce comes from Inverness. After a 5-year aging period in ex-Bourbon barrels, the whiskey develops an inviting, malty note with peat smoke on the nose. The taste unfolds in a slightly sweet liquorice with chocolate and a smoky body. At the end you experience peat-smoky tannins, sweet and clear.


 

Aureum Port 8 year 68.5%

  • Nose – Oh my! Dark berries, black cherries, raisins and treacle, incredibly intense with that distinctive chestnut quality too
  • Palate – So so intense, incredibly dry – makes you “pucker up!” Chestnut wood and port collide in a sucker punch of flavours!
  • Finish – Follows through

Given the intensity, I thought to add some water… just a few drops, then a few more… then I DROWNED it! Yes – a VERY generous dollop and wow! This whisky can certainly take it. The chestnut wood remains the base but with water it opens up – bringing the port more to the fore, balancing the palate without losing the wonderful aromas.


Aureum PX Puncheon 8 year 67.5%

  • Nose – A sherry bomb, tannins, burnt caramel, hazelnuts
  • Palate – Very dry – another one that makes you “pucker up” however a bit less than the Port, dark wood, spice, honey, berry, sweet strong, very full
  • Finish – Long and strong
  • Water – After the experience with the Port, I was generous from the start with this one! Really helps – enables it fuller, fruitier, gorgeous, rich without being over powering

What a remarkable set of whiskies to sample… Whilst I caught on bits and pieces (thanks to very kind translations). It was a huge highlight of the year.

What did we try in Ziegler Distillery Part 1:

  • Ziegler 7 year Single Malt 40%
  • Aureum Classic 8 year Single Malt 43%
  • Aureum Chestnut Cask 5 year Single Malt 43%
  • Aureum Cask Strength 8 year 53.2%

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Ziegler Distillery’s Aureum Whisky – Part 1

About a year ago after an amazing month in the UK, I landed in Germany and went straight to Ziegler Distillery.

We were greeted by a refreshing and rather lovely Gin – what they call G=in3. Fabulous! We then went on a fascinating tour of their schnapps heritage, distillery before settling down to an indulgent and generous exploration of eight whiskies. I’ve decided to share my notes in two parts.

Ziegler Distillery Part 1:

  • Ziegler 7 year Single Malt 40%
  • Aureum Classic 8 year Single Malt 43%
  • Aureum Chestnut Cask 5 year Single Malt 43%
  • Aureum Cask Strength 8 year 53.2%

We also tried their schnapps – the William Pear was exquisite, on a completely different level than any schnapps I’ve tried before. It was elegant, subtle, superb how the aroma and flavour of the pear was distilled to a distinctive concentrated and purest form.

Ziegler 7 year Single Malt 40%

  • Nose – Banana cream, lovely caramel, so sweet yet also had a hint of spice, salty biscuits, marshmallows,
  • Palate – Chilli spice, more of the caramel sweetness, sociable with spice, tasty with character, surprisingly well rounded
  • Finish – Not so much, a bit bitter, light cinnamon and licorice

It was like a friendly bourbon… I found it had a style much like Glenmorangie.



Aureum Classic 8 year Single Malt 43%

  • Colour – Golden
  • Nose – Distinctive, nutty, light wood, started savoury but then became sweeter and sweeter, vanilla
  • Palate – Nice body, malty, light fruits, a bit more wood and a hint of bitterness
  • Finish – Chaser – less spice, but nice

Almost seemed like it was matured in an ex-wine cask… Quite enjoyable.

There was something almost lightly smoky too… I don’t know if I got mixed up with a different one which was matured in an ex laphroaig cask.

I would say the Chestnut and Oak base with ex-Bourbon is more pronounced than Sherry with this one.


 

Aureum Chestnut Cask 5 year 43%

  • Nose – Initially quite direct, the chestnut wood was quite distinctive and pronounced on the nose, light new wood – fresh and vibrant
  • Palate – Much sweeter on the palate than anticipated, followed by an explosion of flavour and character
  • Finish – Bitter cinnamon

After something so lively and distinctive initially, as I continued to sip, it grew on me more and more. Young, interesting and curiously compelling.

I made note that the 1st cask was Chestnut and then it was finished in an ex-bourbon cask.

What more do we know? Here’s what they have to say:

This single malt whiskey is 5 years old and was stored in chestnut barrels. This maturation characterizes the mild taste of this whiskey. The chestnut wood is also responsible for the intense golden hue. It is round and soft in the finish with a subtle sweetness and restrained tannic acid. A very aromatic product, not only for the whiskey lover. As a digestif and / or as a complement to an espresso or dessert.

They also share tasting notes:

  • Sensory: full-bodied and smooth, with spicy vanilla and creamy sweetness.
  •  Hints of chestnuts and orange blossom.

 

Aureum Cask Strength 8 year 53.2%

  • Nose – Curiously closed at first, it then unfurled with increasing intensity
  • Palate – Oh my! Quite peppery, like its 5 year cousin, it was sweeter on the palate than anticipated
  • Finish – The pepper continued

This whisky built on the 5 year, clearly in a similar vein just… more… I made note it also started maturing in Chestnut and then spent some time in a Sherry cask.

Up next, Ziegler Distillery Part 2:

  • Aureum Grave Digger “The Bruce” Peat 8 year 43%
  • Aureum The First 2010 Cask Strength 10 year 55.5%
  • Aureum Port 8 year 68.5%
  • Aureum PX 8 year 67.5%

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Mumbai Malty Memory Mini-Lane… Part 1

Years ago, I “cherry picked” special or unique whiskies from our tasting sessions to bottle up a mini. The idea was to have a bit remaining as a reference point to compare and contrast with other tasting experiences. However it didn’t take long to run out of empty 50 ml miniature bottles to store these samples. So whilst I stopped gathering “new” samples, the “old” ones sat neglected as one, two, three… five years passed!

Then on my most recent trip home, I pulled out one of my all-time favourites – Lochside (1981/2005) 43% G&MP. Remarkably it wasn’t a disaster!

Inspired by this, I pulled out all the old minis, dusted them off and dumped a few which obviously were bad. Who knew whisky could get clumpy, stain the insides of a glass bottle? Eeek!?

Experienced at revising past samples (aka operation clean house!), my tasting companions knew to have our spit bowl ready, primed to have a few awful ones amongst hopefully a few gems!

Overall it was tremendous fun and the minis hadn’t faired to badly. What did we try?

Curious how today vs yesterday compared? Skim below for our current impressions and check out the old post for what we found before!

I thought to ease us into our malty memories evening with a friendly Irish dram. I also just so happened to have two 30 ml samples set aside so more than enough for us to kick-off our evening with the same whisky.

Back in 2016 a couple gents from Hyde were in India scouting out the market, they hinted at possible plans for their own distillery. We met in a popular bar restaurant in Mumbai and spent an enjoyable evening.

Not long after their trip, they sent a gift from Ireland. Those were the days when it was still possible to send samples to India and get them through customs! Hyde still selects and blends Irish whisky, however any thoughts of setting up their own distillery are indefinitely on hold.

Don’t be duped by the deceptive pic photo bombed by our feline.. it was a full sized bottle.

Did it survive the test of time? Oh my! It did – if anything it was even better than we remembered!

We were greeted by lemons and cantaloups on the nose, green and black peppercorns – initially sharp then mellowed into a long finish with a warm heat. Quite a tasty appetizer!


We then continued with a tale of two mature Linkwoods:

What fun! Same distillery, similar years, different strength, year and Indi bottler… with some clear similarities and differences. Here are my notes for the 25 year:

  • Nose – Initially shy and subtle, calvados, stewed apples, then apple cider, generous honey, apple sauce with cinnamon – do I sense an “apple” theme here??
  • Palate – More spice than anticipated from the aromas, some tobacco leaf, slightly bitter and musty but still quite tasty
  • Finish – Long, really “sits” there and keeps you company

We also used different tasting glasses too – I finally tried my Glencairn “copita” vs our normal Glencairn glass (sorry no pic!). How did the experience compare?

  • Copita Nosing glass – Nose was sweeter, palate rounder and more balanced
  • Standard Glencairn glass – Initially enabled the aromas to come out more – with greater clarity and distinctiveness to each element, spicier on the palate

Those trying the cask strength found it much “sharper” however still displayed its character.


Diving further into the “vintage” stash, we next tackled what remained of a 35 year old from a very special evening with “Dream Drams” – those rare, aged and very unique whiskies one typically cannot afford and do not get the opportunity to try.

So how did our mini fare?

  • Nose – Pear, orange peel, hazelnuts, lightly floral, toast with butter and marmalade, vanilla, oak, hint of salt
  • Palate – Absolutely fabulous on the palate – orange chocolate, lovely mouth feel with that dash of salt just adding to the enjoyment
  • Finish – Long, lovely with a bit of beeswax, salt and don’t laugh – marmite

Wow! Incredible how much of the character remained – even after sitting in a mini for 4+ years. I checked out my old notes – it clearly did better with a bit of oxidation in the full bottle and even kept its ‘lustre’ when transferred into a mini. Yum!


Time to switch gears into something completely different!

From October 2016, we explored a rather interesting range of American drams. One lady purchased a ‘beer whisky’ which was remarkable for its unique character. She was absolutely delighted to spot the mini in the mix, having thought would never have a chance to try it again!

What did we discover in our revisit?

  • Aroma – From stout to sweet, pinesol to
  • Palate – Bittersweet, cloves, wintermint and yes – “beer-y”

It truly is a different kind of dram – most enjoyable as a kind of “hybrid” between a good beer and whisky. Far from “traditional” whisky it is worth checking out!


Whilst we sipped our beer whisky, our peaty lady opted for:

Her pronouncement? The mini had successfully survived being stored for years – yeah!

The Ileach came from a most enjoyable “Islay Iterations” evening dominated by Lagavulin and Laphroaig – including indie bottles like this one.


We thought Ghosted Reserve 21 year, No 2 42.8% would make a nice next step, however it didn’t stand the test of time… and practically “ghosted” us!

All we found was a bit of coconut oil and lemon on the nose, betel nut on the palate and not much else. Innocuous and a bit insipid. Pity. However we weren’t surprised that a couple languished after a few years.

1st strike…


One lady thought to give the Inchmurrin Madeira mini a go… Alas, what was once “OK” was – Nope! This one was abandoned and later dumped.

That made it ‘2 strikes’!


We decided to close our evening on what we hoped would be a ‘sure thing!’. This remarkable 21 year old Laphroaig was enjoyed over several evenings, years apart so I was relatively confident that the remaining mini would still be worth

It is both a Laphroaig at its best and a nod to an earlier avatar…. a more refined style which created an absolute stunner!

  • Nose – Fruity, lightly floral, fresh and green yet peaty too with that delightful ‘bacon’ we enjoy mixed with sweetness and a hint of salt
  • Palate – Delicious! Smooth as silk, elegant… we simply savoured and enjoyed

A marvellous malt and a worthy way to close an evening cracking open and revisiting past tastings together.

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Unexpected tasting trio – Kamet, James Eadie, Enlightenment

During my last week in India, I had a special whisky reunion where I had expected to be the host sharing the whiskies – those opened recently or a wander down malty memory lane with some minis.

Instead, my fellow whisky traveller surprised us by bringing not one, not two but three unique whiskies. The first we tried knowing it was a new Indian single malt, the other two followed our original format – tasting blind.

Tasting notes will come in due course, however it truly was such a wonderful reminder of our monthly gatherings… which started a decade ago! Most of the original group have moved to different locales – Singapore, Delhi, Goa or for me, Germany. However the spirit of camaraderie and keen interest in exploring the  world of whisky remains.

From time to time, you can also find other whisky related updates and activities on:

Whisky Lady – August 2021

Ahhh…… home sweet home!!! After a series of European adventures, it was such a delight to be home in India for month! Which yes… also included a tasting or two or three!

With our Bombay Malt & Cigar gents, we took a more ‘traditional’ Scottish bent with:

Keeping the Glentauchers and Balblair aside for the Whisky Ladies of Mumbai, it was joined by:

What to say about a GBP 400 dram? No doubt well crafted, but is it really worth the hype? Check out our tasting notes and decide…

Shifting gears completely, back in July, our Euro Whisky Ladies explored the Welsh Penderyn distillery‘s Dragon Range with notes published in August:

  • Myth (ex-Bourbon) 41% – A happy, lively summery dram, engaging on the nose, lovely on the palate… an easy enjoyable sipper
  • Legend (ex-Madeira) 41% Surprisingly our least favourite of the trio… whereas we’ve enjoyed the Madeira cask Penderyn in the past… pity
  • Celt (Peat) 43% – Apples and vanilla aromas, buttery, smokey, well rounded whisky

As we reflected on this horizontal flight, we appreciated that each had apples and vanilla on the nose and a nice bitterness on the palate which gave character. It was interesting to taste a trio like this together and we loved that they came in 200ml bottles (given our limited quantity consumption!). That shared, Penderyn remains quite affordable in the whisky world and worth picking up.

We also appreciate this is a distillery with a trio of women core to their success – with an all women distilling team – Laura Davies (Distillery Manager), Aista Jukneviciute (blender), Bethan Morgans (apprentice distiller)! We have kept a bit aside to revisit once the other set makes its way to Mumbai with plans to have a call with the distillery to learn more!

I’m still catching up on all my various travel notes, however shared our first distillery visit in Sweden – to the lovely isle of Hven / Veen – home to Spirit of Hven. One of these days I will get around to sharing further details of the distillery tour experience however in the interim, here is what we tasted from Spirit of Hven:

By contrast with Penderyn, the most memorable aspect of the distillery tour was being “mansplained” throughout! Sad but true, women as whisky appreciators remain perceived as a minority or oddity despite significant evidence of highly capable women in the industry, as consumers and commentators around the world.

Next we headed to Gavle, to visit Mackmyra Distillery. Again, I will share more insights about our tour experience later, however immediately posted thoughts about our fascinating two-part tasting starting with a trio from their “Elegant” style aka without peat:

Before you get too excited about the whiskies…. be forewarned that “Reserve” means you need to own the cask! Using smaller casks, Mackmyra seems to be doing a brisk business in Sweden selling casks to consumers.

Our journey through their “Elegant” expressions was followed by their “Smoky” trio with peat aka Rök:

Whilst the expressions clearly reflected the depth and range, we overall continue to find the clean “Scandi” character using mostly Swedish oak, only local peat and a ‘freshness’ influenced by juniper… our experience reconfirmed our enjoyment of what this distillery produces.

August was a prodigious month of malty posts! Joining my Swedish travels was insights into my Parisian June jaunt where we met up with Maison Benjamin Kuentz and sampled together:

I’ve updated the notes for Aux Particles Vines as I just received further details on the 1st Edition casks – really appreciate the craft and curiosity in bringing out creative fully “French” experiences and expressions.

Not such a bad range of whisky tastings and travels! With a couple weeks leave home in India, I finally had time to catch up on writing posts too!

Curious to know more? Check out a few more monthly 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: