About Carissa Hickling

Originally from Canada, then India for 20 years, now working in Germany... and quite a 'Whisky Lady' too!

Mumbai Malty Evenings – Claichag Glencoe 43%

Earlier in the year, we had a bit of an impromptu gathering over an odder assortment of drams. One was a complete mystery! It came from a Scottish Inn known for great bars with extensive whisky collection and hosting of whisky tasting sessions. We had no clue what we were drinking beyond it being from the Highlands and bottled at 43%.

Claichag Glencoe 10 year Highland 43%

  • Nose – Apples, raspberries with vanilla
  • Palate – Chocolate with a peaty palate – what a surprise!
  • Finish – Very ashy finish

At first, we thought it had more of a “Speyside” than “Highland” character… what I found the most interesting is how it was sweetness and light initially on the nose, then more powerful on the palate with a clear peaty stamp veering even further in the peat spectrum with an ashy finish. Going back for the next whiff and sip, we discovered that the more time it spent in the glass, the sweeter and lighter it became with the peat fading further and further into the background.

There was quite a bit of speculation and guessing about this one with no specific conclusion. Pity we didn’t know more, but that’s half the fun – responding to our immediate experience with limited further context!

We tried this together with a new Swedish distillery’s spirits at a very early pre-whisky stage that still showed great promise. Such promise that we were delighted to try an Agitator trio of their “proper” whiskies in Dec 2022, courtesy of a Swedish Whisky Lady – what fun!

We didn’t stop here… we continued on to explore

What fun having an amiable evening wandering through a few interesting blends, single malts, and this mystery dram.

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

Paris Whisky Live – Mortlach 16 year

Next in our Paris Whisky Live wanderings was a brief brush with Mortlach… There were other whiskies on offer however ours was a brief “pitstop” before continuing on to other explorations…

Mortlach 16 year 43.4%

  • Nose – Heavy sherry, plums, Christmas cake drenched in whisky, robust
  • Palate – Rich and intense, more plums, raisins, heavy sherry, sweet spices
  • Finish – A long strong finish
  • Water – More balanced and a bit creamy

We found this was a “turbo-charged” sherry bomb. Nothing subtle or nuanced about this one!

As for other experiences with Mortlach? Read on…

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

Paris Whisky Live – Craigellachie 13 and 31 year

Several whisky stands at Paris Whisky Live had special drams they made available with some fan fair! Such was the case with Craigellachie which had at a certain time one bottle of Craigellachie 31 year available to taste. Who could resist?

Of course, before going straight to the “rare stuff”, we chose to “warm up” with the Craigellachie 13…

Craigellachie 13 year 46% (approx Eur 61)

  • Nose – Tropical fruits – especially pineapples, some savoury sweet ham, sweet spices
  • Palate – Loads of character! Full-flaoured with both sweet fruits and tangy
  • Finish – Deeper and meatier than expected

At first, I thought – what a classic styled Speyside! And then realised this was far from the case as this Craigellachie was robust and savoury.

What do the Craigellachie folks have to say about their 13 year?

Craigellachie 13 Year Old evokes Bonfire Night: aromas of oozing toasted marshmallows, fire-roasted pineapples and baked apples studded with cloves, with the tang of cordite lingering in the background.

It was initially matured in a mix of ex-Bourbon and ex-Sherry casks, then the blend was split to be finished with half in 1st fill Sherry casks and the balance in 1st fill Bourbon casks.

Craigellachie 31 year 52.2% (approx Eur 2,330)

  • Nose – Loads of honey, some oak, fruity and sweet
  • Palate – Juicy warm peaches, some “top” spice, hot chocolate though a touch imbalanced – a bit “too much” of the different elements
  • Finish – Follows through with fruits, spice, and more sweetness
  • Water – Some lovely herbal quality came to the fore, and rounded out the palate nicely too!

It was like being enveloped in a warm wool sweater or blanket. At cask strength it is remarkable… with water it is beautiful. Well worth trying if you have a chance – though it is with a rather steep price tag!

When introduced, there was mention of a combination of both first fill and refill casks…  I think it was also, like the 13 year a combination of ex-bourbon and ex-sherry however don’t quote me on this! 🙂

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

Paris Whisky Live – Fettercairn 18 + 22 years

Next in our Paris Whisky Live wanderings was a rather rewarding stop at the Fettercairn booth. So what did we think of our Fettercairn 16, 18, and 22 year vintages?

Fettercairn 18 year 46.8% 700 bottles, to launch “soon” ie post Sept 2022 (approx Eur 200)

  • Nose – Soft, nuanced, fruity, vanilla, puff pastry, some coffee?
  • Palate – Nice, spicy, nutty, chocolate raspberry, black cherry, sweet spices, apple strudel
  • Finish – Follows through…

When we tasted this in September 2022, our guide shared that it was about to be released. It is matured with a combination of 1st fill and refill ex-bourbon American white oak casks and finished in Scottish oak casks.

Fettercairn 22 year 47% (approx Eur 233)

  • Nose – A beautiful burst of tropical fruits, citrus, raisins
  • Palate – Spicy, full-flavoured, fruity and fab
  • Finish – Quite unusual and distinct – I struggled to put my finger (aka “nose”) on it – there was liquorice and marmalade, and something else that I never was able to properly identify

What more do we know? It is from first-fill ex-bourbon casks with no other finishes.

As for the 16 year? I decided to combine my tasting notes from Paris with those from London which you can check out here! Same with our sniff and swish of Warehouse No. 2.

Curious about other Fettercairn expressions? Read on….

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

Paris Whisky Live – Royal Brackla 12, 18, 21 year

After checking out the GlennAllachie range at Paris Whisky Live, we moved on to Royal Brackla. Overall we’ve had “happy” experiences with whiskies from this distillery. I was particularly pleased to see the range on offer was all at 46% – typically considered the “connoisseurs” strength as fro most whiskies it provides a nice “feel” for the whisky character without being “watered down” too much!

So what did we think of this trio of Royal Brackla 12, 18, and 21 year vintages?

Royal Brackla 12 year Oloroso 46% (approx Eur 67)

  • Nose – Fresh, with some citrus acidity, sherry Christmasy notes, a bit buttery
  • Palate – Full, fruity, some cherries or raisins
  • Finish – Honey followed by hay

I will admit I had fewer notes for this one than the balance… however I think checked the official tasting notes and would overall concur:

The full bodied spice of Oloroso and the bright summer breeze of Royal Brackla elegantly combine as a smooth and inviting dram – ripe peaches, black cherries, chocolate covered almonds and muscovado sugar.

Royal Brackla 18 year Palo Cortado 46% (approx Eur 148)

  • Nose – Started off a bit salty and spicy, dare I say like a nice aged cheddar, it was initially shy to reveal further notes but when it did – lovely!
  • Palate – Soft, delicious, juicy peaches, wonderful balance
  • Finish – Really quite fabulous – creamy, tangy, and lightly bitter with spice

Overall this was a luscious juicy indulgence – I didn’t note any cocoa powder however it was a mere “sniff and swish” as happens in such settings…

And where is the cocoa? Why in the official tasting notes:

Rich spices, creamy vanilla, big, succulent soft fruits and cocoa powder, brightened with a zing of citrus.

Royal Brackla 21 year Oloroso, Palo Cortado, PX 46% (approx Eur 250)

  • Nose – Caramel, toffee, rich vanilla ice cream, berries
  • Palate – Victoria sponge cake with jammy creamy icing and cake layers
  • Finish – Gorgeous! Long, strong, sherry

Overall we found this simply beautiful! A special treat… certainly not something for every day but a very special occasion.

As for the official tasting note? Would we agree? Most certainly!

Syrupy toffee notes, with richly fragrant summer berries warmed by the sun and dusted in cinnamon and muscovado sugar.

Curious about other Royal Brackla expressions? Check out:

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

Paris Whisky Live – GlenAllachie 8 and 10 year

After being blown away by the offerings at the Gordon & MacPhail booth – both discovery & Connoisseurs Choice – we needed a wee “bread, butter & cheese” break at Paris Whisky Live. Apparently, this is a “must” to serve booze – something to soak up a bit of the alcohol. Naturally, as this was Paris everything was insanely delicious!

Fortified and ready to head back into the fray, I thought what better way to continue than GlenAllachie! Why? Aside from their producing some damn fine drams, it was also the “lure’ of briefly catching up with Juliette Buchan – who I had first met in Singapore at Whisky Live when she was with Gordon & Macphail see? Fitting.

We last met in person at Nurnberg’s The Village Whisky festival in early 2020 before everything locked down. It was such a contrast from the usual male-dominated whisky experiences to join the fabulous Sharing Angels – a diverse group of dram dames that meet up at various whisky events around Germany!

After that, things were rather quiet so I was thrilled to catch a virtual tasting of GlenAlachie whiskies with Juliette & Richard in Dec 2021 and promptly acquired a quartet which are patiently waiting for the right tasting opportunity.

On offer in Paris was a rather nice quartet:

  • GlenAllachie 8 year 46% (approx Eur 47)
  • GlenAllachie 10 year Batch 7, 56.8% (approx Eur 58)
  • GlenAllachie 12 year 46%GlenAllachie 15 year 46% – Both of which I skipped as had sampled in the virtual tasting plus have closed bottles waiting at home in Deutschland

At Juliette’s suggestion, I went straight to the 10-year cask strength which she shared was first matured in Virgin Oak before being finished in red wine casks.

  • Colour – So deep, it veered on walnut wood!
  • Nose – Forest feeling, leafy, nutty, honey-sweet, heavy dry fruits
  • Palate – Rich chocolate, flavourful, juicy, ginger – yum!
  • Finish – Sweet finish
  • Water – Opens up beautifully – fab!

There was no ignoring this dram! Full-bodied, and bursting with flavour, it was a concentrated dose of yummy goodness.

I then moved on to the 8 year which was matured in Pedro Ximénez and Oloroso sherry puncheons along with a small quantity of Virgin Oak casks and red wine barriques:

  • Colour – Dark bronze
  • Nose – Punchier than the 10 year, however also fresh, fruity, young and lighter
  • Palate – Soft at first then builds – think of creamy butterscotch ice cream with flecks of nuts and candied ginger
  • Finish – Here is where the sherry and wine influence is most pronounced

This one is deceptive. Particularly after the powerful 10 year cask strength, you might be tempted to consider it too “light”, however, it clearly holds its own. Great to have a chance to try it!

Curious about other GlenAllachie tasting experiences? Check out:

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

Gordon + Macphail Connoisseurs Choice – Glendullan, Glenburgie, Caol Ila

We continued our whisky explorations at the Gordon & Macphail stand at Paris Whisky Live, switching gears from their DIscover to Connoisseur Choice range with:

  • Glendullan 12 year (2009 / 2022) 45% (approx Eur 100)
  • Glenburgie 26 year (1995/2022) 1st fill Sherry Puncheon #6349, 56.8% (approx Eur 250)
  • Caol Ila 25 year (1996/2022) 1st fill Sherry Butt #16074, 59.2% (approx Eur 350)

Glendullan 12 year (2009 / 2022) 45% 3245 Bottles.

  • Nose – A burst of berries – sweet and inviting
  • Palate – Strong berry flavours – mostly raspberries with some cassis
  • Finish – Nice sweet and sour cherry plus berry finish

What more do we know? The bottle states that this whisky had its initial maturation in a refilled bourbon barrel, finished in Cote Rotie cask for 3 years. It must be the red wine that brought such distinctive berry flavours to the fore – my tasting notes are merely variations on a berry theme! Their official tasting notes share a bit more with:

Dried strawberry aromas give way to roasted peanuts and crystallised violet. Rasperry compote flavours combine with liquorice and red apple. A medium-bodied finish with citrus and red berries.

Glenburgie 26 year (1995/2022) 1st fill Sherry Puncheon # 6349, 56.8% 564 Bottles.

  • Nose – Beautiful elegant pear, lovely sherry elements, some marmalade
  • Palate – Gorgeous! Lovely balanced palate, complex, nuanced, fruity, yet at the same time “heavy” and nutty
  • Finish – Again – stunning! Full fruit flavours, long, strong with hint of spice

I’m already partial to this Speyside distillery – with Glenburgie fixed in my mind as the “Downton Abbey” of whiskies – something that harkens back to an earlier era, still with some character and spunk but overlaid with a summery elegance. Everything that I love about Glenburgie was evident here – its age merely augmenting all the elements I’ve grown to love.

What more do we know? The label indicates this was a single cask 1st fill Sherry Puncheon – clearly responsible for the full flavours found in this impressive whisky. Their official tasting notes state:

Sweet raisin aromas combine with orange peel and fruitcake. Sultana flavours emerge alongside pepper and toasted hazelnuts. A full finish with spice.

Caol Ila 25 year (1996/2022) 1st fill Sherry Butt #16074, 59.2% 555 bottles

  • Nose – Cured meat, bacon, bonfire, sweet, heavy maple
  • Palate – A proper “campfire” dram – all those meaty aromas and sweet maple combine
  • Finish – An incredibly sweet peat feat! Some chilli chased by sweet cinnamon
  • Water – Whilst I only had a small sample, I added a drop. Wow! Brings such balance to every element – fabulous!

I was careful in my tasting order – sampling all the non-peated whiskies before turning first to the Discovery Range Caol Ila then this Connoisseurs Choice single cask. It made for a nice progression with this 25 year old being absolutely spectacular. Well worth sampling if you have the chance.

The official tasting notes are a great reflection of what to expect:

Raspberry compote aromas give way to festive spices and smoke. Cured meat flavours complement summer fruit and orange peel. A full finish with black pepper and bonfire embers.

Well done Gordon & Macphail with all three! None of the Connoisseurs Choice expressions disappointed and I appreciated that they kept two vintage single casks for the “main floor”, not just featuring such rare whiskies in the VIP section.

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

Paris Whisky Live – Gordon + Macphail Discovery Tomatin, Miltonduff+ Caol Ila

In early 2021, I decided to start acquiring some bottles for future tasting sessions and thought it was past time to pick up a few of Gordon & Macphail’s Discovery range of affordable “entry” drams. I picked a Glenrothes & Miltonduff. They have waited patiently in Germany for the right opportunity – either to taste with others there or bring home to India.

However, naturally, I’ve been rather curious and so was happy to have a chance to try one of them at Paris Whisky Live! On my 2nd day, we whetted our tasting appetite with a few French drams then made our way to the Gordon & Macphail stand and kicked off our explorations with this trio…

As shared with the London Whisky Show, the Discovery line was created for a place to begin your discovery of whisky at a reasonable price point, with colour-coded expressions to help guide the approach… In Paris we tried:

  • Green for ex-bourbon casks – Tomatin (2009/2021) 43% (approx Eur 44)
  • Purple for ex-sherry casks – Miltonduff 10 year 43% (approx Eur 55)
  • Grey/off-white for smokey/peaty – Caol Ila 13 year 43% (approx Eur 55)

We followed the suggested order: ex-bourbon, ex-sherry and then peaty….

Tomatin (2009/2021) 43%

  • Nose – Light and classic ex-bourbon style, fresh green apple, pears, vanilla cream
  • Palate – Keeps on the same light, fruity and happy vein, oaky, more vanilla
  • Finish – Gentle – fruity, floral, honey

A rather nice example of ex-bourbon…. call it a perfect aperitif.

What about the sherry expression? We sampled the Miltonduff 10 year 43%

  • Nose – Fruity, orange, woodsy, citrus
  • Palate – Medium-bodied, tasty buttery caramel, marmalade, cinnamon
  • Finish – More of that yummy marmalade

A nice Speyside and I will very much enjoy revisiting it and discovering more when eventually the Gordon & Macphail Discovery range is opened up at home!

Curious to know more? Check out what Gordon & Macphail have to say here.

As for the peaty, they chose a classic Caol Ila 13 year 43%:

  • Nose – Fab peat, banana, sweet grass, maple bacon, cured sweetmeats
  • Palate – Soft, completely peaty, fruity
  • Finish – Long sweet and smoky

Now, this is a “proper” Caol Ila – what fun! You can also find out more about this expression from Gordon & Macphail’s whisky archive here.

What a nice way to whet our appetite for Gordon & Macphail’s Connoisseurs Choice range – which was our next stop!

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

Paris Whisky Live 2022 – Armorik

An obvious focus at Paris Whisky Live are the whiskies produced, “published” or put together (bottled) in France. On our 2nd day, we decided to begin with a visit to Breton – checking out the latest new offerings from Warenghem distillery which bottles their whisky under the Armorik brand. Being familiar with their original core expressions, we chose to try their two age statements and new limited edition “innovations”.

Armorik 10 year (2022) 46% 3000 bottles. Approx Eur 63

  • Nose – Fruity (think peach cobbler), maritime, and mineral… perhaps a bit nutty and sherry too?
  • Palate – Lightly smoky, marmalade 
  • Finish – Soft and lingers, at first honey-sweet, then a bit more of that maritime quality with a touch of cracked black pepper

Though only 10 ppm, there was no doubt of the peat influence here. It is a blend of ex-bourbon and Oloroso sherry casks and was the 1st of their limited edition “aged” expressions.  If you are curious to know more check out what do the good folks at Armorik have to say about this limited-edition expression here.



Armorik 15 year (2022) 46% 2nd edition 730 bottles. Approx Eur 70

  • Nose – Shy at first, then opens up, fruity, old wood, sweet
  • Palate – Honey sweet, well-rounded, full and fruity, sweet spices
  • Finish – Warm honey, a hint of smoke?

What more do we know? This 15-year-old began in ex-bourbon casks for 9 years followed by 6 years in Sherry Oloroso casks. This is their 2nd edition of this vintage expression. It also is lightly peaty to 10 ppm, though hardly showed this element in my quick sniff and swish!

What more do we know? Here are the official notes:

“Armorik 15 years old has acquired with age a sort of elegant, aromatic fullness, while retaining the fruity freshness characteristic of our distillate.”


We then transitioned into two new expressions from Armorik under the label “Yeun Elez” for their peat innovations with various casks. We were directed to try the Joric Tourbe (peaty) whisky first then moved on to the cask strength single cask one. 

Armorik Yeun Elez Jobic 46% approx Eur 63

  • Colour – Very pale
  • Nose – Light, fresh, fruity, sour cream
  • Palate – Surprisingly soft and gentle, then the smoke starts to subtly grow, like the nose it is also quite “fresh”, with a hint of mosambi (sweet lime) and the tiniest pinch of salt 
  • Finish – Continues in the same vein as the palate gradually tapering away

What more do we know? They use Scottish 50 ppm peated malted barley. It is also worth noting the very light colour – our guide shared how this whisky was 1st matured for 4 years in what she described as an “almost over-used” ex-Bourbon cask before being transferred to a Pineau des Charentes cask – I jotted “2” but missed noting if that was years or months! (I suspect its years).

What I do remember clearly is her pairing suggestion – Oysters! – which I could completely see fitting together rather well with its very subtle peat and saline with soft sweetness too. 


Armorik Yeun Elez 5 year Single Cask 8289 (Oct 2016/Jun 2022) 58.7% 666 bottles

  • Nose – Clearly maritime in character! Seaweed, quite a few “mineral” aromas, as it start to open up became increasingly fruity, shifting from medicinal to cream puffs and peaches, then became a bit deeper with some woodsy elements
  • Palate – Quite “sharp” initially – the 1st sip was almost jarring at cask strength after the gentle Jobic expression…. it then started to settle down to reveal sweet fruitiness (more peach than tropical) and that lovely sweet peat cinnamon we often find… the more we sipped the more amazingly sweeter and sweeter it was  
  • Finish – A nice cinnamon sweet close

We learned that this whisky was matured for an initial 3 years in a Bourbon Refill cask before being transferred to a Pineau des Charentes Cask from Rémi Landier cognac house for an additional 2 years. It was released just 2 weeks before Paris Whisky Live 2022!

This was quite an interesting whisky – one I wouldn’t mind returning to again to sample outside of the festival environment! Curious to learn more? Here is what they have to say.

And there you have it – a teasing taste of four newish expressions from the Warenghem distillery from Bretagne.

What about other Armorik experiences? Check out:

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

Paris Whisky Live 2022 – Nationale 10

It is no surprise that Paris Whisky Live has quite an extensive section devoted purely to French whisky!

In a few cases, the lines are a bit blurred – Scottish spirits matured in French barrels. So what is the story with Nationale 10? Jean Boyer started in 1965 as an importer of Scotch whisky into France. After 20+ years importing, he then decided to turn his hand to independent bottling – first with Scottish whisky and then also with French whisky. In the meantime, the company ownership changed hands in 2015 to Dominique Ribereau-Gayon. 

As for the name “Nationale 10” – what is the story there? It is linked to where Jean Boyer settled – in the Landes forest on the edge of National Road 10 in Saint Geours de Maremne.

We started with the “French Oak” from Rozelieures distillery.

Nationale 10 Chênes de France 43% (approx Eur 52)

  • Colour – Bright copper
  • Nose – Fresh, easy aromas, fruity – particularly fresh plums, some cereals, yogurt, comes across as young and vibrant
  • Palate – As promised on the nose – quite easy to drink… starts soft then becomes spicier, still has that sweetness of honey and light fruits
  • Finish – A hint of bitter

It reminded me a bit of breakfast muesli – cereals, fruits, and yogurt. Which meant it was a perfect way to kick off our 1st stop of a day of whisky tasting!

As for the next one? We moved on to the peaty expression, I believe also from Rozelieures.

Nationale 10 Tourbé 43% (approx Eur 56)

  • Colour – Straw gold
  • Nose – Lightly peated like a puff of smoke, mineral
  • Palate – Clean, sharp, vegetal
  • Finish – Light spice

Curious as I was somehow expecting more sweet fruits and peat based on the Chênes de France than veering into mineral and vegetal elements. However, it worked. When I read up more after tasting, learned that it is peated to 30 – 35 ppm, so it is certainly a more subtle approach than some peat monsters!

Both were a good way to start off our day of whisky-tasting adventures!

If you are interested in learning more about Nationale 10, check out their website.

Curious about more French Whisky tasting experiences? Check out some adventures:

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