TBWC Cotswolds 3 year 50.4% – Happiness in a glass!

At the London Whisky Show, two things stood out – a most enjoyable start to our explorations at the Cotswolds booth and the fabulous 10th Anniversary celebrations with That Boutique-y Whisky Co.

So what better idea than to combine the two by acquiring That Boutique-y Whisky Co’s Cotswolds’ Batch 1 for our April evening for the Whisky Ladies of Mumbai.

What did we think?

Cotswolds 3 year Batch 1, 50.4% (TBWC, Home Nations Series) 1,785 bottles

  • Nose – Honey, floral, very soft and sweet, some ripe cantaloupe, then a little prickly herbal quality – like fresh mint, mid-summer, cucumber, apricot – pulpy and inviting, and was there the tiniest hint of peat or perhaps smoked almonds? Shifting back and forth between tropical then citrus fruits
  • Palate – Had a surprising spice burst of mixed peppercorns and red chilies to start, then mellowed into Big Red chewing gum with that cinnamon sweetness, and finally settled into a fruity compote with drizzled honey or caramel
  • Finish – With the 1st sip there was a quick burn, but once we calibrated to the cask strength – realized it had a lovely finish with some spice and vanilla bean
  • Water – We didn’t even try – this whisky was perfect exactly “as is”
We absolutely loved this whisky. At only 3 years it was a delight with a wonderful nose, rewarding palate, and satisfying finish. Perfect for mid-summer sipping… what a delicious dram!
We set it aside to try the other whiskies in our That Boutique-y WHisky Company evening, and returned to such a joyful, happy dram – simply fabulous!! And for many, this was the favourite of the evening!
So, what do the folks over at That Boutique-y Whisky Co have to say?

The distillery is the brainchild of Daniel Szor who acquired an estate with two stone buildings and proceeded to convert them into a distillery and visitor centre.

The distillery was set up with guidance from renowned industry legends Harry Cockburn, former Distillery Manager at Bowmore, and Dr Jim Swan, fondly known as ‘the Einstein of whisky’ for his formidable knowledge of the science of distillation and maturation.

The distillery is committed to using only local barley. All the barley will have been grown in the Cotswolds. The distillery uses Britain’s oldest working maltings at Warminster. 100% of the malt they use is traditionally floor-malted.

The malt is milled and mashed at the distillery, and two strains of dried yeast are used for fermentation. Long fermentation of just over 90 hours to allow fruity flavour compounds called esters to form. This was one of Dr Jim Swan’s masterstrokes. It gives the spirit a fantastic fruity complexity.

And here are their official tasting notes for this 1st batch:

  • Nose: Sweet and rich on the nose – there’s caramelized almonds, sweet pineapple and cherries with a hint of vanilla too.
  • Palate: The sweetness continues, but citrusy warmth interjects – there’s lemon, orange and grapefruit.

I purchased this bottle online in Germany from Whic.de for Eur 52 (on sale)  and opened it in Mumbai for a Whisky Ladies‘ session in April 2023 together with:

As for our other Cotswolds whisky-tasting experiences? Check these out:

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TBWC English Whisky 12 year 63.1% – A poetic nose with a dragon fire palate!

Whilst Scotland is considered by many the true “home” of whisky, go a little south and you will find the English are also getting into the game! To celebrate this, That Boutique-y Whisky Co started a “Home Nations” series… My original aim was to get an English trio however despite some efforts, couldn’t track down in Germany the Adnans, Circumstance wheat spirit, Oxford grain, or White Peak Single Malt Spirit.

So instead, brought two fine English single malts to an April evening for the Whisky Ladies of Mumbai – this English 12 year and Cotswolds 3 year.

It was fitting to close our evening with the oldest new English distillery – named ‘St George’s’ but bottled under the label “The English Whisky Company” (perhaps so as not to be confused with their American St George cousin?). Regardless of the name, it was the 1st English distillery to produce whisky after 100 years, with its inaugural bottle released in 2009. Which I believe makes this 12 year the oldest English whisky available!

What did we think?

English Whisky Company 12 year Batch 3, 63.4% (TBWC Home Nations Series) Bottle 146 of 299

  • Colour – Burnished copper
  • Nose – Vanilla custard and biscuits, butterscotch, a hint of rum raisin, and hiding behind the dessert elements, a whiff of blossoms
  • Palate – Deceptively soft and fruity and sweet at first and then wildfire, settling down into a Canadian butter tart
  • Finish – Quite a bit of masala spice, gentling into marmalade with cloves
  • Water – A must!!! It absolutely transforms this whisky from something promising but a bit imbalanced into something stunning. The hints of rum raisin on the nose and palate blossom into a rich single rum, charred pineapple, simply delicious.
This whisky was described as being quite romantic and poetic on the nose, Then like dragon fire on the palate… or akin to the first time you smoke a cigar! Of all the three single malts we tasted that evening, this one is best with water. Beautiful!
And what do the folks over at That Boutique-y Whisky Co have to say? Let’s start with their amusing take on describing the distillery:
The English Whisky Company distill English single malt whisky at the aptly named St. George’s distillery with their own logo featuring St. George and the dragon he’s said to have so bravely vanquished. Well, we weren’t going to turn down the chance to have a scrap with a dragon on one of our labels were we? Our dragon, potentially a connoisseur, appears to have some gorgeous golden Boutique-y whisky amongst his hoard of treasure.

Then move on to their tasting notes for Batch 3:

  • Nose: Delightfully delicate, with butterscotch, light honey, floral – spring blossom, backed up with the oak spices,
  • Taste: Gently warming with creamy custard cream biscuits, spicy oak, vanilla essence, clove, and a long satisfying finish.

I purchased this bottle online in Germany from Whic.de for Eur 76 and opened it in Mumbai for a Whisky Ladies‘ session in April 2023 together with:

Curious about other English drams? Read on:

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TBWC Macduff 10 year 52%

Now I will admit to having a mixed experience with Macduff Distillery. Whilst normally Bacardi uses Macduff in blends, you can also find Macduff under the label Glen Deveron or just The Deveron – named after the nearby Devon River. Specifically under the brand Glen Deveron, they are known to have more affordable age statements. However, every time someone says “Oh wow a 20-year-old whisky for only xyz?!” I remind them of the old adage – typically you get what you pay for!
That shared, I trust the folks at That Boutique-y Whisky Company, so when this bottle was on sale from Whic.de, thought why not try?? Especially as 50 cl bottles means you can bring 3-4 bottles into India instead of just 2!

Macduff 10 year Batch 10, 52% (TBWC – Single Malt Scotch Whisky) Bottle108 of 1024, 50ml

  • Colour – Bright golden straw
  • Nose – Initially quite sour, then reminded a bit of Grappa, quite vegetal, some agave or Mescale, capsicum… is that also a whiff of sulfur??
  • Palate – Was that pudina (mint)? It coats the tongue with a texture a bit like ghee, was it like eating sourdough starter, barley, or something a bit bitter?
  • Finish – Licorice bark, a bit malty
  • Water – Reminded one lady of sniffing oregano oil
You can tell the nose was described as anything but a typical whisky. Remarks such as ‚heatburn, acid reflux, etc were bantered about. The palate was also filled more with questions than answers…
Which is part of why we enjoy tasting together. It is such fun to experience the unexpected and have both very pleasant surprises along with a few duds. You can tell which category this one fell into!
There is also something to be said for the whisky-tasting order. I struggled a bit with this set as initially thought to begin with the Macduff before the Cotswold and English. However in the end decided to go with a simple age progression. Which didn’t do the Macduff any favours…
Let’s just say after the remarkably good Cotswolds, we were again reminded age does not necessarily make it better… In this case, a mere 3-year-old clearly outclassed a 10-year!

What more do the good folks at That Boutique-y Whisky Co have to say? A few words about the distillery but alas not this particular batch!

The Macduff distillery was founded in the 1960s and is kitted out with five stills, four of which have lyne arms that are rather oddly arranged, with one of the wash stills’ lyne arms being U-shaped too, just so they’ll all fit in the still room! They don’t release whisky themselves under their own name – they release it under the name The Deveron. This is why the name Macduff might be more familiar to you from Shakespeare’s play, ‘Macbeth’. We’ve even put one of the deleted scenes from the play on the label of our Macduff bottling. Press the stopper down to hear the director’s commentary from Shakespeare himself (probably a lie).

I picked up this bottle in Germany from Whic.de for Eur 51 during a whisky sale – yes these do exist!

We tried it together in Mumbai with the Whisky Ladies in April 2023 together with more bottlings from That Boutique-y Whisky Co:

Curious about other Macduff whisky experiences? Read on:

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TBWC World Whisky Blend 41.6% – Summery treat neat or in a cocktail!

In the world of whisky, what do Scotland, Canada, Ireland, Sweden, USA, Switzerland, Netherlands, Taiwan, India, Italy, Germany (Bavaria), France, Japan, and Finland have in common? A fabulous new World Whisky Blend from That Boutique-y Whisky Co (TBWC)!

In April 2023, our Whisky Ladies of Mumbai got together to explore a collection from TBWC. I was hosting, and as it was our first evening entertaining in our new Mumbai flat, I wanted to kick things off with a “welcome” drink – something refreshing, and summery – a whisky cocktail to both enjoy and calibrate our palate for the tastings to come!

There is a reason an “Old Fashioned” remains a familiar standard in the world of whisky cocktails. In our case, we played around with the regular recipe (maple syrup instead of simple syrup, adding a dash of fresh orange juice) until we got something that suited the blend and our mood.

World Whisky Blend Batch 1, 41.6%

  • Colour: Light gold
  • Nose: Citrus at first, then a lovely nutty element, back to freshly squeezed orange, sweet, mild and friendly, inviting and gentle, vanilla, apricots, peaches, and cream
  • Palate: Super smooth and nutty
  • Finish: Easy, sweet, and long with pink peppercorns adding a nice addition to the peaches, a hint of bitterness at the end gives it a wee bit of character
This was such an enjoyable blend. A versatile dram to be had as you want. Whilst it was a bit on the milder side, it was so incredibly balanced with harmonious elements, that it could be forgiven for not having more “oomph”.
So what was the collective Whisky Ladies verdict? We loved this one! It is exactly what you want in a summery blend – most enjoyable to sip neat, equally fabulous in a sprightly cocktail. In other words – simply perfect for our Mumbai climate and mood that evening.

Here’s what the folks at TBWC have to say:

Snap up our first non-limited edition bottling, that can be enjoyed all year round!

World Whisky Blend has been designed with the world in mind. A harmonious blend of whiskies from across the breadth of planet earth, to achieve a truly global flavour.

While beautiful neat, this blend has been designed to be mixed seven different ways, to celebrate the way the WORLD really drinks whisky.

Double bonus, this blend is quite affordable – the only challenge is being in a part of the world where you can buy TBWC whiskies! In my case, I bought it online in Germany from Whic.de for Eur 29 (700ml, larger than the usual TBWC bottles). So… if you can, it is well worth keeping on hand for a nice summery everyday dram!

Here’s what other That Boutique-y Whisky Co bottles we tried together with the World Whisky Blend:

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That Boutique-y Whisky Company – World Blend, Cotswolds, Macduff, English

After such fabulous fun in Paris and London celebrating That Boutique-y Whisky Co‘s 10th anniversary, I simply had to bring back some for the lasses in Mumbai.

It turned out to be a bit of a slightly random assortment… My initial plan was to do an English whisky theme however could only find two TBWC bottles from merry old England. Then I spotted the World Whisky Blend and couldn’t resist, followed by another TBWC on sale, so thought, what the heck!

So, here is what we tried from That Boutique-y Whisky Co:

We opened them in April 2023, as part of inaugurating our new Mumbai flat. It was a typical sweltering April evening, which is exactly why I wanted to start with a “welcome cocktail” using the World Whisky Blend! A couple of friends came early and we played around with variations on an Old Fashioned with different elements and proportions until we got it “just right”!

So what was our recipe?

And the steps?

  1. Bring together the maple syrup, bitters, orange juice, and whisky in a mixing glass – stir til well mixed
  2. Add the ice, and then stir until well-chilled
  3. Strain into a rocks glass over a large ice cube (or several small ice cubes if you don’t have a mega cube – which was the case for us that evening!)
  4. Express the oil of an orange twist over the glass, then drop into the glass to garnish

And if you want a wee bit of fizz, throw in a splash of soda. And voila! Refreshing and fun!

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West Cork Distiller’s Black Cask Irish Whiskey 40%

We were about to head out to an evening of surprises – a four-course meal in pitch blackness, learning how to navigate and rely on other senses. Before walking over to the restaurant, we decided we should crack open a small ‘mini’ whisky as a pre-appetizer. We had quite an array to choose from, however, we selected an Irish blend that neither of us had tried.

So who are these folks at West Cork? Started by three friends in 2003, they produce whiskey, gin, and vodka. Obviously… I had a wee mini whiskey! What did we think?

Black Cask Irish Whiskey 40%

  • Nose – Light, fruity and amiable, green orchard fruits like pear and granny smith apples, a touch of honey, spirited, camomile tea, a hint of vanilla
  • Palate – Light spice, malty and mineral, a bit bitter
  • Finish – Limited

There was no doubt this was a fairly young, raw whisky, yet equally pleasant and a good way to begin our evening! So perfect for our purpose.

What do the folks at West Cork have to say about their Black Cask expression?

A fine blend of grain (66%) and malt (34%) whiskey aged in first fill bourbon casks for three years, and polish matured for a further year in heavily charred bourbon casks. The result is a beautifully balanced whiskey with a vanilla and lingering sweetness.

If you are curious about more Irish whiskies, I have a whole section dedicated to Ireland, including 10 evenings focused just on exploring drams from the Emerald Isles!

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

Jameson Quartet

It has been a while since we’ve had an evening of Jameson here in Mumbai! And fitting that this time it would be with the Bombay Malt & Cigar lads, given the previous rounds were with the Whisky Ladies in 2018 and before that our original tasting group in 2015!

What did we try?

  • Jameson Distillery Edition 40%
  • Jameson Crested 40%
  • Jameson Black Barrel 40%
  • Jameson Caskmate Stout Edition 40%

No stranger to some of these expressions, it was still fun to revisit with the lads over a sociable evening of merry malts and cigars.

We kicked things off with the Distillery edition….

Jameson Distillery 40%

  • Nose – Started off with a gentle sweet citrus, then creamy vanilla, opening into a floral bouquet, heavy on the tuberose, over time the perfume was joined by caramel
  • Palate – Smooth, mildly malty, and woody, with a bit of coca-cola
  • Finish – A hint of spice

Overall we found this expression an amiable start to our evening. Our whisky host wondered if there was much difference between this expression and the standard Jameson blend. Not having the original on hand to compare, clearly, it was part of the distillery edition and was part of the Jameson stable.

What do the folks at Jameson have to say about their Distillery Edition?

Our Distillery Edition has been bottled exclusively for our home here in Midleton, Co. Cork, and now you can order it for your home or for that of your friend. It is a whiskey of exceptional depth, balancing pot still warmth with sherry wood to reveal notes of ripe fruit and fig with subtle vanilla and charred oak characteristics.

In this case, it was purchased in Cork, along with the other 3 bottles for under GBP 200…

We then moved on to the Crested, which none of us had tried (except our host at the Jameson visitor centre!).

Jameson Crested 40%

  • Nose – Orange peel, slightly roasted, creamy vanilla, sweet spices, particularly ginger, some prune and dates competing with honey, and above all – Cadbury Orange Chocolate!
  • Palate – Very smooth, fruity, warming into spice
  • Finish – Here is where there was a spiced edge – quite peppery

Though we enjoy good orange chocolate, this one didn’t stand out. It was also a wee bit unbalanced. Still smooth on the palate and easy to drink, but with a bit of a ‘spike’ that didn’t have sufficient character to pull through.

And what more do we know about the Jameson Crested?

Previously known as Crested Ten, the name was changed as it was a wee bit confusing – given it isn’t aged for 10 years. With its new look, it remains a blend with older aged Jameson with a “high measure” of pot-still whiskey, a “fair proportion” of which has been aged in sherry casks.

We then moved on to the Black Barrel – described as an effort to take tired old barrels and charr some new life!

Jameson Black Barrel 40%

  • Nose – Started with vanilla spice, charring does come through, fleshy fruit like custard apple, a bit of fudge
  • Palate – Was there slight smoke from the charring? Overall quite fruity with a dash of salt…. smooth as silk on the palate, more of that creamy vanilla
  • Finish – There with a hint of toasted nuts

Overall this one was a clear favourite… the most interesting of the quartet.

Like most Jameson, this is a blend of Single Malt and Grain. Whilst there is no age statement, they “flip” the typical age spiel to say it could be upto 16 years (and obviously over 3 years else it wouldn’t be whiskey!)

And what do the folks at Jameson have to say about their Black Barrel expression?

Double charring the wood fires up the barrels and gives them new life. Untold richness and complexity awaits in every drop of Jameson Black Barrel. It’s perfect on its own or on the rocks, but it’s also commonly known as the best whiskey for an Old Fashioned. Don’t trust us? Taste it. So, care to meet our beloved Black Barrel whiskey?

We closed with the Stout – aka finished in an ex-stout beer cask. We had a bit of a debate with this one… had we sampled blind, would anyone even discern a stout influence? Hmm…

Jameson Caskmate Stout Edition 40%

  • Nose – Subtle, shy, yeasty, some dry cereals, then gently revealed a little chocolate, some cream
  • Palate – Malty, yeasty bread, some caramel, a hint of chocolate
  • Finish – Coffee liqueur (at least this is what I found, most of the lads disagreed!)

This wasn’t my first time trying the Stout Edition. The Whisky Ladies had an evening with a Jameson Ambassador years ago…. If you are curious, you can read more about our experience here.

And the Jameson Stout official tasting notes?

  • Nose – An initial aroma of freshly cut hay is complemented by a crisp orchard fruit character – green apples and pears, with a twist of lime zest. Mild pot still spices appear, deepening from green tea to hazelnut and milk chocolate.
  • Taste – The initial sweet mouth coating typical of the Irish pot still inclusion is quickly complemented by the subtle touch of hops and cocoa beans from the beer cask finish.
  • Finish – Long and sweet with milk chocolate and butterscotch.

An interesting experience to revisit and discover variations on a Jameson blended theme… No matter what, you should find affordable amiable drams, happy to keep you company whilst you spin a yarn or two! Particularly if transformed into an Old Fashioned….

And if this isn’t enough Jameson for you, read on:

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Lindores Abbey Masterclass

Years ago in Dubai, I had the opportunity to try a new make spirit – enthusiastically shared by a whisky fan. Interesting but filed it away in the category of many upcoming distilleries which need time to develop their whisky ways. Fast forward to 2023 The Village whisky festival in Nurnberg, and Lindores Abbey was the one and only Masterclass I was able to attend.

Elliott Higgins was our Masterclass host – sharing up front that his style is focused more on storytelling, enjoying the whiskies along the way rather than dissecting and diving deep into every technical detail. Suited us just fine!

He shared how the family was unaware of the history of the Lindores Abbey ruins in their backyard til one rainy night in the 1990s Michael Jackson came calling… prompted by finding documentation of whisky distilling by the monks in 1494. Fast forward many years, and they created a distillery next to the ruins, just on the edge of the Lowlands. You can read more about their story here.

So what about the whiskies? Read on…

Lindores Abbey MCDXCIV (1494) 46%

  • Nose – Fruity, initially a touch acidic, then vanilla cream honey, warming into a soft buttery caramel, at the end was that a touch of sweet peat or grass? Goes back to warm vanilla sponge cake, which is then smothered in a red berry compote
  • Palate – Sweet, elegant creamy with dry fruits with a spicy woody undertone, quite a mouthfeel for its early age – oily and a bit waxy
  • Finish – The spicy wood undertone lingers

Elliott shared how their blender Lorena Baez Subiabre was part of crafting something to bring back a Lowland “style” of spirit that is balanced and elegant. Their 1494 is aged for 3.5 years with a blend of three casks: ex-Old Forrester bourbon, Red wine STR, and Olorosso Sherry. We sampled their 1st release from 2021.

I really enjoyed this one – particularly the nose. This was a perfect “starter” whisky, approachable, enjoyable and one I would like to return to enjoy again. I didn’t finish my entire sample all at once…. instead set it aside to return to juicy red gummy bears on the nose, red apples with a dash of cinnamon spice on the palate, carrying through in the finish.

What more do they have to say?

  • Colour: Golden
  • Nose: Elegant, soft, mellow vanilla, caramel notes playing with orchard fruits and sweet pear drops. Reminiscent of toffee apples!
  • Palate: Smooth with a creamy texture and a perfect balance of mellow vanilla, dried fruits, citrus touches with a hint of spice.
  • Finish: Medium length, delicate but lingering finish.

This expression retails in the UK for GBP 41.

We then moved on to the 2nd expression, which was also their 2nd release. Elliott shared it is part of a “cask deconstruction” series of limited editions, showing off the different dimensions of the three different casks that go into their 1494 expression. In this case, a vatting of old Forrester casks.

  • Lindores Abbey – The Casks of Lindores Bourbon 49.4%
  • Nose – Very clean, lots of hay, then a bit of lemon, followed by apples and a bit of vanilla marshmallow
  • Palate – Smooth and waxy, red apples with quite a decent spice kick!
  • Finish – A spicier finish than I had expected

Not quite as balanced as Lindores’ 1494 expression, however, it was still a satisfying dram. I recall my tasting companions at the Masterclass were also rather pleased with this one.

What more do they have to say?

The first “Casks of Lindores” bottling featured exclusively bourbon barrels, one of the three core cask types used at Lindores, and was limited to 11,000 bottles. We believe that the Lindores spirit goes extremely well with bourbon casks and helps showcase its early maturing characteristic. The very long wash fermentation period in our Douglas fir washbacks, coupled with our “Sister Spirit stills distillation” helps create a spirit that matures early but we also believe will continue to develop over time.

And their official tasting notes are:

  • Colour – Pale gold
  • Nose – Mellow vanilla, fruity, vibrant and buttery with citrus touches and a hint of pepper from the wood
  • Palate – Vanilla mixed with orchard fruits like green apples, then peppercorns, lingering with a long finish.

We then moved on to their 2nd Casks of Lindores expression, with an STR Red Wine Barrique. In case you’ve missed a major trend in the whisky world – there are two clear camps: Those who are fans of “Shaved, Toasted, Recharred” red wine barrels as an alternative to Sherry cask scarcity and those who are purists, eschewing such novelties. I’m a little in the 2nd camp only as I’ve found the results mixed. However, I keep an open mind and am always open to try so… what did I find with Lindores?

Lindores Abbey – The Casks of Lindores STR Wine Barrique 49.4%

  • Nose – Melons, appricots, caramel, butter brioche, vanilla pudding
  • Palate – There were a lot of juicy red berries, and plums, chased by a gentle spice
  • Finish – The spice carried through with woody cinnamon bark with a drizzle of honey

Now, I gotta admit when I was sniffing in Nurnberg, this was my least favorite. However, when I brought it home to properly taste, I was surprised by how much I enjoyed the palate – quite a sipping dram. I was also amused at how close my tasting note scribbles were to their official tasting notes.

PS with a pairing tip – this whisky goes fabulously with milk chocolate.

Here’s what they have to say:

The second “Casks of Lindores” bottling features exclusively STR Wine Barriques. Matured exclusively in Shaved, Toasted and Recharred Red Wine Barriques from Spain.

And their official Tasting Notes:

  • Colour – Dark Chestnut
  • Nose – Mellow fruity apricot jam, toffee notes and a hint of cinnamon combined with butter and custard
  • Palate – Sweet and spices. Mellow plums and red berries, treacle, cinnamon spice and a pleasant woody smoky note. Very smooth, silky texture
  • Finish – Medium to long with spices, honey and caramel notes

Clearly getting into a rhythm here, I expected the last whisky to be the 3rd “Casks of Lindores” expression with Olorosse Sherry. Nope! Instead, we were treated to a surprise Germany-exclusive single-cask, cask-strength whisky, aged for 3.5 years,… and yes it was from an ex-Sherry cask!

Lindores Abbey Single Cask 59.1%

  • Colour – Rich dark red oak wood
  • Nose – Sweet, coppery, espresso coffee, earthy undertone, rich plum, and dark fruits
  • Palate – Spicy, intense dark fruity flavours, then creamy
  • Finish – Nice creamy finish with a dash of spice for good measure

Well, this was one powerful dram – full-force, don’t be mistaken, sherry! I particularly enjoyed the plummy quality and must admit a few drops of water opened this up in a lovely way. My only complaint was my sample was too small! However, this is also a “less is more” kinda dram where a little goes a long way.

We also were teasingly told about the Friar John Cor Cask Strength Congregation Chapter 1… my friends checked it out at their booth and instantly fell in love, purchasing a bottle!

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Germany’s Fading Hill Rye and Peat

At The Village whisky festival in Nurnberg, there was a dizzying array of interesting offerings – with particular attention paid to Germany-based distilleries. For those not familiar, there is an incredibly robust range of whisky-producing distilleries now in Deutschland – many having shifted into Whisky only recently.

In the case of Birkenhof Brennerie, they just celebrated 175 years of making spirits with eight generations of a family-run business!  Based in the northern Rhineland-Palatinate, they’ve also reached a milestone of 20 years of making whisky under the brand “Fading Hill‘.

Whilst they had their own booth at the festival, these particular expressions – two of their core three – came from a special German Whisky club at a booth devoted to a range of member German distillers. As I couldn’t sample that day, I packed the duo up to journey with me to India to check out one fine sweltering evening in April!

Fading Hill Rye 6 Year (2015/ Feb 2022) Cask No 23 and 128, 45%

  • Nose – Yes, this is indeed rye, with generous chocolate
  • Palate – Spicy, some mixed tropical fruit, cream
  • Finish – More of that pepper chased by some fruits

There is nothing shy about this rye! It was like biting into a spicy raisin and dried fruit chocolate bar. Powerful full flavours, it was akin to a rye on sherry steroids. The more I sipped it, the more it grew on me. What fun to have a chance to explore this expression!

I set it aside to try its Peat sibling… returning to find the chocolate raisins even more pronounced if that is even possible! Including on the palate… yup! It was totally like having a spicy Cadbury Fruit & Nut bar!

Here’s what the folks at Birkenhof Brennerei have to say about their Rye expression?

The Classic Rye: matured in a single sherry cask. Our classic – a tribute to the first Fading Hill distilled in 2002. An intense single rye whisky, composed of a double-distilled rye mash that is fermented in a way that preserves the aroma. Matured for years in exceptional sherry casks.

My sample came complimentary however this whisky retails for a quite reasonable Eur €56.50.

Fading Hill Peated 4 years (2018 / March 2022) 4th Edition, Cask No 751, 752, 753 (PX Sherry, Bourbon, Islay Quarter Cask Finish) 46%

  • Nose – Yheasty, a bit of faint seaweed, cinnamon bark – a lovely salty sweetness, as it opened up, smelt like malty biscuits
  • Palate – Silky smooth with sour cherries and a peaty chaser
  • Finish – Herbal, like the after-taste of an intense flavour-packed herbal liqueur

Well… when I started my journey in Nurnberg, I had quite a generous sample… however by the time I unpacked in Mumbai, there were just a few wee drops remaining. So if my notes are minimal, trust you will understand!

And what about their Peated expression?

Handcrafted and extraordinary: matured in exquisite ex-bourbon casks. Distilled from a wort explicitly peated according to our specifications, our Peated Edition Single Malts have a distinctive character. Baroque and concise, with an extraordinary play of aromas.

Like its Rye expression, this was complimentary… however if you are curious, check it out for Eur €59.50 in Deutschland.

Both whiskies are bold and unmistakable. I’d be curious to also try their classic single malt expression – maybe at the next whisky festival, I will be able to explore properly on-site!

PS – Many thanks again to the good folks with the Schottlandforum!

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Nurnberg “The Village” Whisky Festival 2023

Imagine being a kid in a giant candy store, one of the biggest in the land, and then being told you can only look, not eat!

That was my experience at the remarkable “The Village” Whisky Festival. I had been looking forward to it for a long time, had my entry and Masterclass tickets purchased, and a whole fun weekend with friends planned… But then the universe had other ideas…

Ever had a  cracked tooth? Followed by 3-hour emergency dental surgery? Then a tooth extraction? Which got infected? To discover you have a bizarre never before experienced reaction to antibiotics – not just one but two? Oh, and did I mention unrelenting pain for weeks?!

So there I was with a “chipmunk cheek”, barely able to talk with the foul taste of antibiotics in my mouth, generally feeling miserable for myself… yet determined to not miss completely!

I missed the Sharing Angels reunion, barely made it through our Masterclass with Lindores Abbey (with whiskies sniffed and tucked away in sample bottles for a later date), a meeting by the German Distillers Association (Verband deutscher Whiskybrenner) stand with a duo from Fading Hill (their Rye and Peat expressions), a pitstop at the Elch booth, before heading home to crash! Not fun at all…

However, it reminded me how lucky we are in Europe to have such exhibitions. It was an impressive array of distilleries from around the world. And just like the France section at Paris Whisky Live, the German distiller’s section at The Village is impressive.

Even more so, had I been in any shape to make some purchases, there were certainly more than a few gems! For prices that would be the envy of anyone in Asia, given the friendly tax treatment of spirits in Deutschland.

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