About Carissa Hickling

Originally from Winnipeg, Canada, has called India home since 2003, working in Asia Pacific and traveling all over! She's also a bit of a 'Whisky Lady' too!

Minis – BenRiach 22 year Moscatel 46% (SMSW)

BenRiach is one of those distilleries that rose, fell and rose again… and one that we’ve quite enjoyed during our various explorations. However this was a first with a Moscatel finish.

What did we think?

BenRiach 22 year Moscatel 46% (Single Malt Scotch Whisky)

  • Colour – Burnished copper
  • Nose – Fruit bursting forth, nuts, chocolats, juicy sultanas, sweet dry wood, amazing nose, cinnamon, nutmeg, like a pie or a tart, black peppercorn, keeps shifting between sweet and tart and spice… all before the 1st sip!
  • Palate – Wow! Soft then explodes, rich, sweet, dry tannins.. such a wonderful balance. with sweet spices, oranges
  • Finish – Spice – long and lingers wonderfully, loads happening, so sweet and delicious
  • Water – In one glass we added water whereas in the other we did not.The one with water was beautifully balanced. And yet we equally enjoyed it absolutely neat.

This whisky simply enveloped us in a great big whisky hug… yet shifting and changing, retaining brilliant balance between the different elements.

Like the others, we set it aside and revisited it after sampling the full quintet of minis. What did we find in the revisit?

Absolutely fabulous! Fruity with an outstanding finish.

What they have to say

This whisky was originally matured in American bourbon barrels before being finished in Moscatel wine casks from Portugal and Spain. During this second period of maturation, the spirit subtly interacts with the oak wood and takes on new flavours and aromas from the Moscatel wine cask. The 22 year old is non chill filtered, natural in colour and bottled at 46% abv.

Our Sales Director Alistair Walker said: “Moscatel is a sweet fortified wine, hailing from Portugal and Spain, which adds a buttery-soft, spicy and fruity dimension to the whisky. The result is a superlative malt in the classic BenRiach style. It is lusciously rich, velvety and full-flavoured, delivering superb dried fruit and honeyed sweetness, like a good apple crumble.”

  • Colour – Rich gold mahogany.
  • Nose – A full, sumptuous nose consisting of dark orange marmalade, rich fig syrup and sweet dates. A dusting of cocoa and cinnamon followed by a gentle hint of garden mint adds a luxurious character.
  • Palate – Rich, velvety dark chocolate fondant topped with glazed maraschino cherries develops to plum cordial and spiced honey. The long finish is rounded with a gentle, earthy balance of nutmeg, stewed barley and old vintage leather.
  • Finish – A rich body laden with dark Mediterranean fruits and a complementary balance of warm spices and delicate oak characters.

What else did we try in our minis evening?

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Minis – Glenrothes (1992) Lustau Sherry 55.3%

We all have certain distilleries we know and love. And others that past experiences influence perceptions – understandably. For my tasting companion, Glenrothes has been more of a disappointment than reward. Whereas for me – I’ve had more positives than negatives.

Glenrothes (1992/2016) Cask 1 Lustau Sherry Finish 55.3%

  • Colour – Gold
  • Nose – Sour, sweet, sweet leather, fibrous, malt mash, tarter, rubharbh.. After 1st sip, musty, talcum… the 2nd sip salty sour plums…
  • Palate – Full flavoured, we loved the tartness, chewy, evolving salt and sour, sherry yum
  • Finish – Dry, tart, then a flat burn
  • Water – Brushfire then spice and plums, less sour, more orange oils, with a spicy fruit finish

We initially thought this is a great early evening dram! Most enjoyable and a good contrast to the Edradours and BenRiachs we earlier sampled.

So we set it aside, returning to find it slightly pungent, shifting between sweet, sour, chaat masala with delicious mixed berries.

What do the folks at Master of Malt have to say?

A delicious release from the Glenrothes Wine Merchant’s Collection range (each of which has been finished in different types of cask from top producers). This whisky was finished in a cask that was previously home to tasty Lustau Sherry! A release of 648 bottles.

Tasting Note by The Chaps at Master of Malt

  • Nose: Sticky toffee pudding, raisins and plums.
  • Palate: Citrus begins to develop on the palate (perhaps lemon drizzle cake). Soon joined by dark chocolate.
  • Finish: White grapes, orange peels.

While it is now sold out, it went for approximately $200.

We also sampled these four more drams in our minis evening?

Curious about other Glenrothes experiences?

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Minis – BenRiach 12 year 43%

Next up in our minis evening was a discontinued BenRiach

BenRiach 12 year 43%

  • Nose – Freshly chopped wood, sap… bit of varnish? Wood shavings – predominantly pine, fresh balsa wood, very dry… then honey starts to seep in, shifts to crisp granny smith apples, cured hide, tart, bamboo sawdust. After the 1st sip the aromas shifted – became much sweeter, fruits, flowers even a perfume, red velvet cupcake, orange and clove oil, Christmas pudding
  • Palate – Honey water, spice and smoke, tobacco leaf, the apple from the nose was baked into a pie with a dash of spice
  • Finish – Short to medium, starts sharp, sweet, creamy and tapers off… into a feeling of a finish

We enjoyed this one more and more as it opened up. While it was sweet, the bite of piquant elements adds a certain something. It somehow reminded us of adding a bit of black salt on guava to bring out the sweet.

We set it aside to continue exploring other minis then returned after some time. We continued to enjoy its sweet wood and bamboo shoots aromas. And on the palate? Lovely… like tender palm, then apples and pears with spice.

While now archived, the BenRiach folks have this to say about this 12 year old:

This SMOOTH single malt has an elegant full taste and aroma that captures FRUITY, floral and OAK WOOD NOTES, with fascinating overtones of honey, vanilla and SPICE.

  • Colour – Mid-amber, hints of gold.
  • Nose – Honey, vanilla, floral, fruity with well balanced wood overtones.
  • Taste – Rounded medium to full bodied, rich honey, vanilla with hints of cream, spice and chocolate.

So what else did we try in our minis evening?

Not enough BenRiach? Check out some of these:

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Minis – Edradour 17 year (1999) Bordeaux Cask Finish 55.2%

I gotta admit, I’ve had hit and miss experiences with wine finishes but generally like most Edradour whiskies so was very curious to see what they did with a Bordeaux finish.

Edradour 17 year (1999) Bordeaux Cask Finish 55.2%

  • Nose – Started with a peculiar rubber, plastic… then citrus, sour, tannins, ripe dark plum, a sharpness, spice at the back, grapes. After the 1st sip, big nose, bursting with fruits, oats, wet hay, porridge, brown sugar and raisins, stewed apple peels
  • Palate – Dry wood, lots of flavour, prunes and plums, dark cherries, solid body, touch of leather
  • Finish – Stays, a subtle spice that holds…  extremely long with a fruity tale
  • Water – Explosion of sweet, much more round, white peach… fabulous

The danger of storing things in hot humid Mumbai is it isn’t kind on plastic or rubber. We speculated if a bit of the initial queer aromas on opening was linked to a terrible storage mishap.

But after some time, we got past the that to – Wow! Power packed. After time, the nose settled down yet also took on a musty quality, the flavours remained big and bold.

So we set it aside to continue our explorations of the other minis. We returned and found again that slightly peculiar plastic then got past it to again wow! Compelling… it was like a completely different whisky…

  • Nose – A potpourri of aromas, rose petals, perfumes, soaped, changed again to plastic then back to fruits and berries
  • Palate – Lemon pie, eve a sweet and tart key lime pie… nope… maybe kumkuat? Mangosteens? Custard apple? Starfruit? Jackfruit?! You get it – a kaleidoscope of fruits!
  • Finish – Spice, sweet and just yum!

So what do the folks over at Master of Malts have to say?

The Edradour distillery is well known for finishing their Highland single malts in wine casks – and they get wonderfully specific with it sometimes. For example, this is a 17 year old expression, distilled in October 1999 and finished in a trio of Bordeaux hogsheads for 46 months before being bottled at cask strength in May 2017! A release of 911 bottles.

Tasting Note by The Chaps at Master of Malt

  • Nose: Rich notes of stewed red berries and dark chocolate, with underlying menthol and parsley.
  • Palate: Oak-y spiciness begins to take shape on the palate with plenty of cinnamon, pink pepeprcorn and fresh cedar. Remains deliciously jammy with raspberries and cranberries.
  • Finish: Lasting sweetness of red liquorice.

As for what it would set you back? Approx $180.

So what did we try in our minis evening?

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Minis – Edradour Fairy Flag 15 year 46%

When this mini was picked up a few years ago, you could find Edradour’s tribute to the film “The Fairy Flag” on a few shelves around the world.

The story of The Fairy Flag is the union of the Clan Chief of the Macleod’s and Titania, a fairy maiden, with her flag said to be endowed with supernatural power, protecting the MacLeod’s… a flag that can be seen on display at Dunvegan Castle.

As mysterious as the maiden is whether the feature film was ever released!  Rory Mhor Nicoll and Peter Columbia, it doesn’t seem to have been officially released. Instead Rory’s association with Edradour led to a film about Edradour and a documentary about the making of the film.

Edradour Fairy Flag 15 year 46%

  • Nose – A heavy sherry pudding, dried fruits, yummy custard, caramel chocolate, coffee, cream cheese icing, citrus fruits
  • Palate – A wonderful spice – specifically dry spices, dry fruits, a puff of smoke
  • Finish – Had a terrific substance

We joked this was no flighty fairy, more like a gnome. And frankly delivered everything you would want in a whisky. It was also a terrific way to kick off our sampling evening.

We set it aside to revisit after sampling the others… We found it absolutely kept its character. If anything, it evolved into a sprightly dance – exceedingly tasty.

We enjoyed it so much wondered if it is still available – alas it is not… pity.

What do the folks over at Edradour have to say?

Following initial maturation in ex Bourbon casks for 8 years, this whisky has been matured for a further 7 years in fresh Oloroso Sherry casks. Mahogany in colour, this Single Malt is characterized by rich fruits, chocolate and a robust long warming finish.

  • Nose: Dried fruits like raisins and plums, vanilla.
  • Palate: Delicious rich Christmas cake with caramel and chocolate. Typical mouth feel coming from the old copper farm stills.
  • Finish: Sweet and spicy, lingering and warming.

Unchillfiltered • Natural Colour • Distilled, Matured and Bottled at Edradour.

So what did we try in our minis evening?

Interested in catching more? Why not follow Whisky Lady on:

Minis Return – Edradour, BenRiach, Glenrothes

Our last minis session featured That Boutique-y Whisky Co (TBWC) exploring a few distilleries we don’t often find on retail shelves like  Dailuaine, Glenlossie, Strathmill, Fettercairn.

And this time? We decided that we wanted to compare our “Drinks by the Drams” with a couple of minis picked up in an earlier jaunt to London’s The Whisky Exchange.

So what did we try in our minis evening?

Definitely all were worth trying!

Miniatures or small ‘dramples’ are a great way to explore… when shared with another person, you still have plenty to get a real feel for the whisky. If anything, small samples helps you slow down, really pay attention, even see what can be understood from just ‘whetting’ the tongue with a few drops. Intersperse that with a few proper sips and you have a full experience.

In the case of the “drinks by the dram” approach, it is a terrific way to try something that is otherwise far to expensive or limited release.

Or in our case, given the time lapse between acquiring and opening, it turns out that none of the minis we sampled are currently available! Which is a pity as they were all quite terrific in their unique ways.

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Whisky Lady – May 2019

May brings even more heat to Mumbai but in our universe, it brought some interesting single malts too!

Our Whisky Ladies decided to experiment with Unusual Finishes:

Whereas our Bombay Malt & Cigar gents explored a quartet of merry Irish whiskies:

And our original club? Our evening reminded us that sometimes our preferences are contrary to price!

I also had a chance to catch up on tasting notes from April where the Whisky Ladies explored Highland Peaty Drams:

And Mumbai’s newest tasting group – The Drammers Club – held its 2nd session with an insane exuberant overabundance of whiskies for one night!

Curious to know more? Check out recent Whisky Lady’s monthly missives:

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Glenglassaugh Revival 46%

The best thing about sampling blind is being saved from your own prejudices.

I will have to admit my first brush with Glenglassaugh was in 2015 with an open bottle of Torfa at Quaich in Singapore. To put it mildly, I wasn’t impressed and my strongest memory was that of solvent. Fast forward two years and I had an opportunity to compare minis of both Evolution and Torfa – better, definitely better. Late 2018, I was introduced to their Peated Port Wood – certainly moving in a much better direction. And now, in May 2019 I found a Glenglassaugh that clearly hit its mark.

Yet I knew none of this when I picked up that Glencairn glass and began to sniff, swish and sip my way…

Glenglassaugh Revival 46%

  • Nose – Sour curd, spice, prunes, raising, chocolatey custard, black pepper spice which then shifted into red chillies, oily, orange cloves and Christmas pudding, tobacco, dusty
  • Palate – Greeted with a bit of spice, tobacco, prunes, medium body with a good mouthfeel, wood smoke, chestnut, caramelized apples, some oak, honey malt
  • Finish – A great chewy cherry finish, more of the prunes carried through, had staying power

Of the three whiskies sampled that evening, it was by far the most robust and complex. The character also kept changing. Most remarkable was when it was revisited there was a delightful perfume!

While I couldn’t find anything specific on the bottle which indicated which batch, our host thought it was from their first release.

What do the folks at Glenglassaugh have to say?

The Revival is the first expression released from Glenglassaugh distillery after being mothballed for more than 20 years. The Glenglassaugh Revival has been matured in a balanced mix of ex-red wine and fresh bourbon casks, vatted and re-racked for double maturation in rich sherry casks. Bottled at 46%, non chill filtered and of natural colour, Revival is a stunning Highland single malt with a coastal charm.

  • Colour: Copper
  • Nose: Sweet caramel and toffee with notes of nutty sherry, milk chocolate and honey. Ripe plums, red berries and oranges. Caramelised sugar and earthy, charred oak.
  • Palate: Sweet, rounded and creamy. Oranges, plums, cherry and walnuts, chocolate, honey-mead, sherry and soft, spiced oak.
  • Finish: Medium with warming mulled-wine spices, sherry and caramel.

While not sure where our host sourced this whisky, it is available at Master of Malt for approx $40.

What else did we try?

What about other Glenglassaugh experiences? Read on…

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The Dalmore King Alexander III 40%

What do we know about this Dalmore? That it was matured in not one or two casks but seven! Aside from the standard ex-bourbon (Kentucky) and Sherry, it also spent time in wine (unspecified), Madeira, Marsala and Port casks. The goal was to produce a unique rich, fruity Highland single malt.

However we knew none of this when we sampled it… blind…

Dalmore King Alexander III 40%

  • Colour – Deep dark burgundy
  • Nose – Dark fruits, cherries, nuts, cheap chocolate bar with nuts and raisins, curdled milk, liquorice, an oddly artificial aroma
  • Palate – A light teasing spice, a bit of mango pickle?
  • Finish – Lingers – a bit bitter then gets spicier with a fruity close… yet still a medium finish that runs away

The colour was a dead give away that something else was going on… which we later discovered with the reveal is augmented with caramel. Hmm…

Overall it was a bit disappointing nothing exceptional and there were a few odd elements that didn’t quite work.

Our host shared he received this whisky as a gift. There was no doubt the person gifting had the absolute best of intentions. And it certainly isn’t cheap – typically retailing for approx $200.

However in our humble opinion, there was more hype and high price than quality. Which is a pity.

What do the Dalmore folks have to say about the King Alexander III?

  • Aroma – Red berry fruits and hints of passion fruit
  • Palate – Citrus zest, vanilla pod, crème caramel and crushed almonds
  • Finish – Cinnamon, nutmeg and ginger

What else did we try?

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Hazelwood 21 year 40%

From the Glen Grant & Sons stable, this blend came out a few years ago in travel retail with its glitz bottle, harkening to Art Deco heydays in select cities around the world.

We sampled it completely blind, with no clue what we were trying… Here is what we discovered…

Hazelwood 21 year 40%

  • Nose – Hay, malt, bit sharp, citrus, candy shop, coconut oil, husk, meethi (fenugreek leaves), horseradish, a bit of cinnamon, tobacco, a bit of nuts, wood, acetone, lots of honey
  • Palate – Sweet and spice, more of that horseradish, straight, honey water, no development on the palate, spice remains, thin with no body
  • Finish – Piquant finish, flat, some wood

While it may sound like a nice range of aromas, they all played within a fairly narrow band… overall it came across as quite “watery”… inoffensive and bland. We wondered if it could make a good mixer?

Before the reveal, one speculated it might be a blend. Turns out he was right! More precisely a blend of Kininvie, Girvan, and others…

Curious to know more? Why not check out what I found in an earlier tasting of the Hazelwood 21 year 40%.

What else did we try?

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