Whisky Lady – February 2022

February can be a mixed month – in some parts of the world crazy cold, in others dreary and rainy and others… well… you can enjoy the sunshine and balmy breezes! So what about our whisky explorations?

Back in Deutschland, virtual tastings continued – this time with a set from Warehouse No 8 purchased the previous year set-up to explore Scottish regions:

Our Whisky Ladies of Mumbai explored a Swedish Trio with:

And our Bombay Malt & Cigar gents held a fun-filled evening of one of my favorite distilleries – Lochranza – with a quartet of Arran expressions exploring cask finishes:

I also posted notes from the previous month from a social evening with Gin featuring Portobello Road No 171 London Dry 42%, Drumshanbo Gunpowder Irish 43%, Brockmans 40%, Sacred  London Dry 43%.

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

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

Arran Cask Finishes – Amarone 50%

Oh the beautiful Arran Amarone Cask Finish… we fell in love with you back in September 2017 during a delightful Sunday sundowner… I had such fond memories I feared trying again and being disappointed.

Back in 2017, there was an announcement that the Amarone would be back soon…. it was… but then next it wasn’t, and currently, there is no update on if and when it will return… much like some of the other cask finishes like Sauternes.

However for that fine evening in early January 2022, here is what we thought of the Amarone…

Arran Amarone Cask Finish 50%

  • Colour – A lovely bright pink rose blush
  • Nose – Fresh and fruity! Raisins then red fruits… ripe raspberries and cream, sour plum and cherries… then shifted back to raspberries but this time Rogers raspberry cream soda! Then back to cherries again… and then the slightly tart cranberry…. back to raspberries… simply yum!
  • Palate – Silky smooth… tempting and teasing like Turkish delight, fruit and berry sweet, slightly gingery with a touch of pink peppercorns
  • Finish – Slightly spicy, rich, and satisfying
  • Water – Does it need it? Nope! But if you feel like adding a wee splash… it greedily marries it with the whisky to become even fruitier

Did it stand up to my romanticized notion of this whisky? It did indeed… It is like a decadent dessert, yet not cloyingly sweet. A perfect balance of its different elements, harmonious from its intoxicating aromas to captivating taste which carries through in a lingering finish.

What do the folks at Lochranza distillery have to say about their “Out of Stock” Amarone finish?

Our Arran Amarone Cask Finish is the perfect partnership of rich, red wine and our iconic Arran Single Malt taste.

After initially maturing in traditional oak casks over a number of years, The Arran Single Malt in this bottling was ‘finished’ in a selection of Amarone wine casks. The wine casks used in this bottling were sourced from an artisan producer of Amarone wine in the Veneto region of Italy.

A luxurious Italian wine meets a complex and vibrant Scottish character – there is a lot to love and appreciate about this Single Malt and you will enjoy every dram.

And the official tasting notes?

  • Nose – Cherry, turkish delight, chocolate
  • Taste – Poached pears, touch of cranberry and honey
  • Finish – Sweetness, Pears, Turkish Delight, Cherries, Dark chocolate

Would we agree? Yes indeed!

We explored this together with:

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Arran Cask Finishes – Sauternes 50%

Our host confessed this Sauternes finish Arran has become his everyday drinking dram… until he discovered that this affordable, fun and easy whisky was out of stock – eek! At the time, he lamented the scarcity of this expression…. However, recently I’ve discovered it can still be tracked down in Europe. Who knows? Perhaps it will also come back as a regular cask finish expression too!

So…. what did we think?

Arran Sauternes Cask Finish 50%

  • Nose – Lemony sweets, bananas, juicy fruit, green apple, grapes, honeysuckle, a hint of spice, soooo sweet… shifts into vanilla creme and slightly salty biscuits
  • Palate – What a surprise! Incredibly smooth yet much more substance than anticipated… this isn’t pure sweetness and light, there’s a bit of ginger and spice, a woody warmth… yet also doesn’t lose its fruity elements either
  • Finish – Subtle at first the carries on and on…. really rather nice
  • Water – To add or not to add? In the end, we did and it was also lovely… amped up the spice in the most delightful way

When I think of Sauternes, the assumption is it would add a subtle sweetness to a whisky. Is that what we found here? The sweetness – yes. However, on the palate, there was an unexpected “Oomph!” of character. Which frankly made me enjoy this whisky even more! Yum!

What do the folks at Lochranza distillery have to say about their Arran Sauternes?

This sweeter side of Arran Single Malt makes an ideal dessert dram with complementary notes of apricots, melon and honeysuckle.

To achieve this rich partnership, our traditional Arran Single Malt is matured in oak casks for eight years and is then ‘finished’ in a selection of Sauternes wine casks.

These Bordeaux sweet white wine casks are specifically selected by our Master Distiller from a talented small producer to ensure the notes from both wine and whisky make the perfect marriage. If you’re looking for something that shows off the sweeter side of Arran Single Malt, this is perfect choice for you. It pairs beautifully with a creamy toffee or fudge based pudding.

And the official tasting notes?

  • Nose – Honey sweetness and citrus
  • Palate – Richly honeyed and backed with a lifting zestiness that slides into spice and zingy salt. Once the dram opens out, vanilla and sultana stand out followed by notes of toasted oak.
  • Finish – Sweetness, Honey, Apricots, Melon, Honeysuckle.

Would we agree? Absolutely!

Here is what else we explored in our Arran quartet of:

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The Whisky Warehouse No. 8 – Braon Peat 57.5%

Last in our Whisky Warehouse No. 8 quartet was a contrast between Braon Peat and Inchfad! I’d hoped to try Braon Peat but alas after ordering was informed it was no longer available – sigh… so the Inchfad 14 year was sent instead. Whereas with the Miltonduff substitution – clearly the PX Sherry 14 year trumped the ex-Bourbon 11 year, it was the opposite here – Braon Peat had the Inchfad beat!

So…. what did my tasting companions think of their dram?

Braon Peat Batch 7 (15 April 2019) 57.5%

  • Nose – First whiff was smoked bacon, apples, sweet beef jerky then back to apples and pears
  • Palate – An explosion – very sweet, peat, “feel meal deal!”, meaty with a great mouthfeel
  • Finish – Smoke and spice and everything nice with a long finish

In short, they loved it! They particularly enjoyed how it was sweet peat, perfectly in balance.

What do the folks at Whisky Warehouse No 8 have to say about their Braon Peat?

The latest batch of Braon Peat lives up to its name ‘peat drop’ because ‘peat as peat can’ applies here! There aren’t many whiskies that showcase their peaty side with o much impact in the glass. This is mitigated with a little thinning, but then it’s not that much fun anymore. You’re really looking forward to the coming winter time with horiztonal sleet showers and cold feet. These will be the moments when you want the Braon Peat in your hip flask.

  • Odour: Warm smoke with some dry dust, oily-fleshy with sweet molasses notes, machine hall, slightly herbal like dried oregano.
  • Taste: The peat notes are in the foreground, the whiskey comes across as a bit meaty, while at the same time surprisingly herbal, as if the meat had been previously marinated in mallow leaves. Although one searches in vain for fruity notes, the whiskey has a slightly sweet taste. With dilution, some malty crispness is revealed and the peat notes are less meaty.
  • Finish: Oily, intensely peaty with some black pepper and long lasting.

As for the Inchfad? It was more or less what we found when tasting with an earlier set.

What more did we have in our WW8 Regions set?

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The Whisky Warehouse No. 8 – Miltonduff 11 year vs 14 years

A year ago I ordered two “Regions” sets from Whisky Warehouse No 8 with the intention to enjoy together at some point… then we decided to include another friend and I went to order a 3rd set… alas not all of the original whiskies were the same! We both had the Speyside region represented by Miltonduff however they couldn’t be more contrasting!

My friends sampled the Miltonduff 11 years (8 Feb 1995 – 30 Oct 2015) Bourbon Hogshead 59.5% 363 Bottles…

Whereas the new set included the Miltonduff 14 year (Jun 2007 – July 2021) WW8 76 1st Fill Px Sherry Octave 50.4% (76 bottles).

Gotta admit, I think I hit the jackpot on this one – the PX Sherry was fabulous whereas my friends were not quite so enthusiastic about their ex-Bourbon Hogshead. What did I find?

  • Colour – Dark amber
  • Nose – Stewed apples with cinnamon and brown sugar, ginger and toffee, roofsa (rose), sweetly sour.. incredibly inviting
  • Palate – Wow! What an intense burst of flavours! All you would expect from a great sherry matured whisky – full-bodied, dark fruits and berries, chocolate, salty toffee… ginger marmalade… all swirling around in an indulgent smooth dram
  • Finish – And what a finish! Fabulous… simply fabulous…

I thoroughly enjoyed this one. It had that satisfying “proper” classic whisky quality. This is the kind of dram you’d love to curl up with on a quiet evening after coming in from the cold.

What did my friends find with theirs?

Miltonduff 11 years (8 Feb 1995 – 30 Oct 2015) Bourbon Hogshead 59.5% 363 Bottles

  • Nose – Vegetal, wood varnish, seaside, yeast, raw sourdough, a hint of smoke
  • Palate – A bit spicy, malty, doughy,
  • Finish – Also a bit spicy

My friends found the aromas a bit underwhelming however enjoyed the palate more. As I read the Tasting Notes from WW8, they didn’t disagree.

Miltonduff 11 years (8 Feb 1995 – 30 Oct 2015) Bourbon Hogshead 59.5%

With this whiskey you probably look at the label and rub your eyes in amazement. Because from a Bourbon barrel maturation one normally expects a much leaner, less voluminous whiskey than this Miltonduff, which is not stingy with its charms. In a blind tasting, it would probably have passed as a wine-barrel-aged whiskey due to its fruity notes and the pastry / biscuit relationship.
  • Odor: Ripe fruity, almost creamy and a bit nutty, freshly baked sponge cake that still looks a bit doughy, grainy, and vanilla-like, there is even a trace of smoke in the background.
  • Taste: Again fruity and doughy biscuit, grainy. But now there are also spicy notes such as orange pepper, a little cardamom and a hint of sweet licorice, wood aromas from ripening are still cautious. With dilution, more nutty aromas appear again.
  • Aftertaste: It is mainly the spicy notes that come to the fore in the aftertaste and now there is also a maltiness that was previously hidden.

What else did we have in our WW8 Regions set:

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The Whisky Warehouse No. 8 – Port Dundas 10 year 47.9%

Port Dundas distillery closed in 2011, demolished by its owners Diageo two hundred years after its operations began. The folks at Whisky Warehouse No 8 selected this discontinued grain as the Lowland whisky for its regions set. And what a chance to taste something that will not be repeated!

So… what did we think?

Port Dundas 10 year (26 Oct 2009 – 31 Oct 2019) Refill Sherry Hogshead 47.9% (288 bottles)

  • Colour – Dark amber
  • Nose – Moss, seaweed, wet leaves, petrol… then began to shift into Port, prunes, cherry syrup, herbal with a medicinal edge…. then after the 1st sip delightful vanilla cream, rum raisins
  • Palate – Oh my! What a contrast! It reminded us of a dark single rum such as Criterion or Hampden…. super smooth, heavy and rich, molasses and wood elements… all of this in the 1st sip! As we went in for the 2nd sip, we
  • Finish – Consistent with the palate… rummy and long
  • Water – We didn’t add but instead took a nice swig of cold water between sips… brought out more of the dark fruits and berries, tempering the rum quality slightly

Wow! This was quite an interesting one! It was hard to believe it was a ‘mere’ grain, however, we’ve learned to not underestimate the liquid magic that makes a blend.

We found it had such a distinctive character with a huge difference between nose and palate. And whilst we knew it was a refill sherry cask, the intense rum flavours from just 10 years in a refill sherry hogshead was remarkable.

What more did we have in ourWW8 Regions set?

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The Whisky Warehouse No. 8 – Deanston 10 year 57.3%

It was a full year ago that I picked up this Whisky Warehouse No 8 Regions set. My virtual tasting companies from London and Paris suggested we start with the Highland Deanston – which turned out to be a capital idea!

So what did we think?

Deanston 10 year (Sep 2009 – Oct 2019) WW8 108 Bourbon Barrel 57.3%

  • Nose – Mmmmm…. apple pastry – like a sweet cinnamon baked apple crisp topped with brown sugar and oats, mellowed into apple sauce then shifted into something a bit more tart – reminded us more of crabapple or guava….
  • Palate – Equally yummy! More of that delicoius pastry, some toffee, super smooth with lovely body and depth, nice spice
  • Finish – Quite a decent finish – lingers with a bit of that light spice
  • Water – Didn’t even occur to us – surprising given this was our 1st dram of the evening at 57.3%!

What we concluded is that was a perfect start to our evening of tasting. We couldn’t imagine this was cask strength! Smooth and sweet, this whisky was an absolute delight. 

I couldn’t find any official tasting notes for this one.. however, it looks like it is still available – remarkable!

What more did we have in our WW8 Regions set:

What about prior explorations from Whisky Warehouse No. 8?

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Scandi Whiskies – High Coast Berg “Pedro Ximenez” 50%

Our Scandi evening had a lovely light summery dessert quality with both the delightful “appetizer” dram Isle of Lime Sangelstain from Gotland and the delicate yet entrancing High Coast Alv 46% river-inspired single malt.

For our last whisky of the evening, we turned from the river to the mountain with the “Berg” expression from the High Coast’s Origin Series. This made it the 3rd expression for me – having tried the sea-inspired High Coast Hav “Spiced Oak” and the 4th for the Whisky Ladies who also sampled their timber-inspired High Coast Timmer “Peat Smoke” two years earlier!

So what did we think of their Sherry expression?

High Coast Berg “PX” 50%

  • Colour – Bright copper
  • Nose – Sherry and how! All the butter rum raisins and nutmeg spice you would expect from a Sherry cask…. however it also had a strong almond paste aroma, toffee, Alpen Lebe cream candies
  • Palate – Spiced ginger, coffee candies (think Kopiko!), had some spunk and character, mellowed into bitter almond, as we continued to sip, rich sherry fruits emerged – raisins and dried fruits, perhaps even a hint of marmalade
  • Finish – Pink peppercorns

As delicate as the High Coast Alv expression was, this one had a wonderfully robust character that demanded attention – in a very good way! It was a terrific contrast – warming and envigorating. What we particularly appreciated is that it had some of the typical “Christmas” sherry elements but in a non-Christmasy way (ok you have to try to know what we mean!). It was somehow fresher, cleaner, and less cluttered or overwhelming the way a heavy sherry can sometimes be.

What do they have to say about High Coast Berg?

BERG – is a sherry matured whisky which has the same natural colour as the Nordingrå granite which can be seen protruding the dramatic landscape of the High Coast. The casks have previously held the flavoursome Pedro Ximénez sherry.

Origins is a series where we celebrate our heritage. We have embraced our location, history and geography and created four whiskies that reflect these aspects. The Origins quartet is released in selected Systembolaget stores as well as in the ordering range and in selected international markets. Berg is so far our most awarded whisky in international shows.

“Berg” is the swedish word for mountain, a tribute to the Nordingrå granite which can be seen protruding the dramatic landscape of the High Coast.

  • Nose: Raisins, butterscotch, orange chocolate
  • Palate: Rich vanilla sweetness, ripe pear, dried apricots, sultanas
  • Finish: Dried fruits

What more do we know? Lots! High Coast is generous in providing loads of details about their whiskies. A synopsis is that Berg is aged between 5.5 to 6.6 years, no peat, matured in first-fill Bourbon barrels and then finished in first-fill sherry casks – primarily PX – to produce 13,000 bottles, retails in Sweden for 499 SEK (approx EUR 48).

What else did we explore in our Scandi whisky evening?

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This tasting was part of the Mumbai Whisky Ladies club which you can separately follow here: Whisky Ladies of Mumbai

Scandi Whiskies – High Coast Älv “Delicate Vanilla” 46%

After the rather delicious Isle of Lime “Sangelstain” whisky, we continued our evening of Scndi whiskies with a duo from High Coast Distillery. It is part of their Origins expressions:

Origins is a series where we celebrate our heritage. We have embraced our location, history and geography and created four whiskies that reflect these aspects.

We started with Älv – the Swedish word for River.

High Coast Älv 46% (Bottles 8257)

  • Nose – Oh yum! Delicious ripe bananas, caramel, lemon poppyseed muffin, banoffee pie – in short, tropical sunshine and dessert! As it evolved, we found fresh wood, honey, even sweet Neem leaf… more of that dessert – sweet cakes
  • Palate – A delightful contrast – mild, subtle, and delicate.. one even thought of chamomile… with the 2nd sip we found some spice, lights cloves, buttery, becoming fruitier and that sweet vanilla too
  • Finish – Initially sweet followed by a bitter almond

The nose was exuberant and effusive, the palate more restrained and yet it had a lovely balance. In short – we were most impressed and really enjoyed trying this whisky!

What do the folks at High Coast have to say?

Outside our front door runs the beautiful river Ångermanälven, the heart of the High Coast region and essential to our distillery. We are able to make such elegant whisky thanks to the naturally cold, crystal clear water sourced from the river.
Älv — a well-balanced soft single malt with vanilla tones. Älv is our most elegant whisky.

The official tasting notes:

  • Aroma – Vanilla, coconut, sponge cake
  • Palate – Sweet vanilla, mature pear, apple
  • Finish – Long sweet vanilla notes

With further details on the recipe and casks used:

Älv consists of 100% unpeated whisky which has matured in first fill Bourbon barrels;

  • 68.51% – 24 barrels of 200 liters Quercus Alba delivered empty direct from Kentucky
  • 31.49% – 11 quarter casks of 130 liters repaired by Speyside Cooperage 

Until October 2014, our casks have matured in a damp warehouse, where they lost slightly more alcohol than expected. Since October 2014 until bottling, the casks have been maturing in a dry environment in warehouse number 3.

12/04/2019 35 Bourbon barrels containing 4670 kilos of whisky, with an average strength of 61,64% abv, were emptied into our blending tank. There we added, 1787 kilos of water to reach the desired strength of 46% abv.

In early 2022 this retailed in Sweden for 500 SEK (Euro 48). We were quite happy with this one and excited to try the sherry “Berg” expression next!

This wasn’t our only High Coast (Box) exploration:

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Scandi Whiskies – Isle of Lime Sangelstain 46.3%

Every once and a while, a completely unexpected treat joins our whisky tastings – the Sangelstain expression from Isle of Lime distillery was a perfect example!

You won’t find this in any duty-free or even in your reasonably well-stocked whisky store. So far, it is only available in Sweden’s Liquor stores – Systembolaget – and that too if you are lucky to catch a limited expression!

The Isle of Lime Distillery was established in 2012 in Gotland – an island on the far eastern part of Sweden. They use barley from local farms and produce five expressions -from unpeated (like the one we tried) to peated.

So what did we think?

Isle of Lime Sangelstain 46.3%

  • Nose – Delicious from the start! Really summery – warm and inviting. Fruity and fresh, amber perfume, vanilla sponge cake… as it opened up further the oak base became more prominent, topped by jasmine… over time it shifted with pine needles or spruce transporting us to a verdant forest
  • Palate – Fresh wood, spice…nice buttery mouthfeel, countered with green peppercorns, cinnamon, star anise, cloves with orange rind and marmalade… this may sound Christmasy yet was still summery
  • Finish – Carried on with similar elements – equally pleasing… at one point we thought it was a bit nutty, another a hint of anise

As we sipped, the nose remained joyful…. it was enchanting summer dram prompting us to think of wandering in a fresh forest peppered with flowers.

This was exactly the kind of whisky to get one in the “mood” for an enjoyable evening… light, refreshing, inviting and far too enjoyable!

I came back to it and enjoyed its mellow character – yet with enough substance on the palate to keep it interesting. I’d happily like to explore more from this distillery.

What do the folks at Isle of Lime have to say about this expression? Rather a lot!

On a remote field on the northern part of the limestone island Gotland, lies a hidden anomaly.
A large phonolite stone, transported by the hands of gods to this alien place far from its volcanic origin.
So this stone was worshipped for having extraordinary powers. And if you hit it with a stone, it sang. That’s how it got its name Sangelstain – Gotlandic for clinkstone. Pour this fifth edition of Isle of Lime, and listen to the clink of your glasses and let it resonate through your body as you toast a friend.
The sound of the Sangelstain belongs to this mild malt whisky, stored and matured in oak casks giving it a unique character.

For official tasting notes:

  • Colour – Deep Copper
  • Nose – Fruity, oily, prunes and thyme
  • Palate – Fresh jam, salty, lively with a little licorice
  • Finish – Medium long with a sweet, vinous and peppery mouthfeel

TYPE OF BARLEY: Propina Tipple ekologiskt odlat på Gotland
FARMS: Halner gård, Bro och Sigdes gård, Rone
MATLTING: Mältas på Sigdes gård i Rone, Gotland. Malten röks med torv under nio timmar
WATER: Gotlandic hard water
YEAST: Torr jäst för Maltwhisky. DistilaMax MW
CASKS: Bourbon barrel, American oak medium, American oak char. Sherry hogshead och Ungersk Ek
CASK SIZES: 96, 200 och 250 liters fat
BOTTLING: 2021 April

And if you are really a whisky geek? They even share the barrels used – Sangelstain!

Bottom line? We loved it and found it a perfect way to kick off our Scandi evening.

We continued with:

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