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!

Bavarian Bounty – Slyrs, SILD, Aureum, Finch

Normally you would only hear about a whisky from me AFTER it has been tasted. However  with my recent jaunts to Munich, I’ve gathered a few German whiskies yet confess I know very little about the industry there…

What surprised me most in this recent Munich visit was just how many German brands putting out “single malts”. Even more remarkable to learn there are approx 23 distilleries producing some variation of “whisky”… No wonder I saw distilleries like “Stork”, St Kilian, Höhler, Hammerschmiede with The Glen Els as just a few vying for space with Slyrs.

So decided to do a little “Pre-Cursor” post to explore a bit more about the whiskies I did pick up… call it an appetizer before the tastings to come…

Slyrs is the best known Bavarian single malt. While the first whisky was distilled using stills from the traditional Lantenhammer distillery in 1999, by 2007 Slyrs whisky had a new home at a newly erected distillery in Neuhaus. From there I have sitting in my cupboard 3 whiskies:

What else did I pick up?

  • From Ziegler distillery, I picked the “basic” Aureum Single Malt 43% rather than their experiments maturing in Chestnut barrels, guitar wood in barrels, ex plum brandy or cognac barrels.
  • And from Finch, their Finch Classic 40% which is matured for 5-6 years in ex Bourbon then  wine casks.

We’ve had quite a few European whiskies over the years, here are a few German ones we’ve managed to sample:

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Starward 10th Anniversary 52%

In the grand scheme of things, 10 years may not seem like a long time. However in the context of a young Australian upstart which challenged conventional thinking about maturing whiskies, casks and more, all with a goal of creating something accessible and affordable, well…. then it is something to celebrate indeed!

Starward 10th Anniversary 52%

  • Colour – A beautiful deep dark ruby
  • Nose – Strong black cherry, intense and concentrated, prunes, old dark wood, cherry brandy, peppery – mostly black peppercorn, rich burnt cake, toffee, dark chocolate, burnt orange, cinnamon, dark purple grapes
  • Palate – Sugar sweet, tart, had a definite kick, while a bit odd initially and took some time to adjust to its concentrated quality, the wood, dark cherry, berries, figs, toasted oak, creamy vanilla, rummy raisins
  • Finish – A lovely black pepper spice that sweetens

Above all, for me this whisky was a heavy rich tapestry of intense flavours.

We decided to add a generous dollop of water to see if it tamed it. What did we discover?

  • Nose – Brought out loads of fruits, while retaining the richness
  • Palate – Absolutely gorgeous! Turned down the volume on the intensity without diminishing the character or complexity
  • Finish – Retained the lovely spice

When we returned, it was distinctly flat coca-cola! Then shifted into a very tasty creme brûlée,

There was no doubt this was quite a whisky. It reminded me of the richness of some Kavalan Solist Sherry Cask or Paul John’s Kanya. What they both have in common is accelerated absorption of the barrel’s interaction with the new make spirit thanks to the respective climates in Australia, Taiwan and India.

So what is the story behind this dram?

Apparently it is a vatted blend of 28 casks of various ages and 8 different types used throughout Starward’s 10 years, of which most are first fill Apera, Pedro Ximenez and red wine barrels.

What would it set you back? If you bought it at the Whisky Exchange, as this one was, then £79.95.

Here are a few other Starward‘s explored:

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Starward Solera 43%

Solera is the process of transferring part of maturing liquid from one barrel to another in a continuous rotation, typically used in making Sherry. In Australia, this method can be found in the making of Australia’s equivalent of Sherry – Apera – and now also in Starward’s “Solera” whisky which uses this system to bring consistency to each batch from their Apera barrels. As they put it, it also

means that every Apera barrel we have ever emptied is in every bottle of STARWARD Solera.” 

A few years ago, the Whisky Ladies were introduced to Starward with an early Solera version… and it was such a pleasure to try its newer avatar as part of a Starward trio…

Courtesy Anish Trivedi

Starward Solera 43%

  • Nose – Lemon, fruity, varnish, wet bread, burgundy, even some pear drop buried beneath the top notes, more of that wood, vanilla… then lemon curd
  • Palate – Much more going on than the nose would suggest – has a “graph” to how the palate evolves from soft to strength and substance, even a hint of brine
  • Finish – Strong… with some liquorice

We found it much more enjoyable than the “project”, easily accessible..

We weren’t sure whether water should or should not be divided.

After some time, we returned to be greeted by a delightful “cotton candy” aroma, still initially light but retained the substance. Delicious!

And what do the folks over at Starward have to say?

The original STARWARD is solely matured in Australian fortified wine barrels, which are hand selected, re-coopered, re-toasted and re-sized specifically for aging our spirit.

These barrels have formerly contained Apera, which is an Australian take on Spanish sherry. These barrels are 40-50 years old and have rich and complex flavours of dried fruit, spice and sweetness.

Here are a few other Starward’s explored:

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Starward Wine Cask Project (2018) 41%

Starward’s New World Project series is deliberately intended to “buck” whisky convention. In truth, what is bottled is not “whisky” at all by the traditional guide of requiring a minimum of 3 years maturation. Instead it is a malted barley spirit, playing around with different wine casks – either fortified or table wine – in this case an undisclosed red wine.

And what better way to kick of our evening exploring Starward than with one of their experimental wine cask projects!

Starward New World Project Wine Cask 2.25 yr malted barley spirit batch 170721-A (8 Aug 2017) 41%

  • Nose – Pear drops, autumn leaves, wood, fresh sap, bourbon, very sweet, raw molasses then shifted into a lighter caramel, orange concentrate
  • Palate – Smooth yet youthful and a bit raw, a tinge salty, marzipan, fruits
  • Finish – Sits there with a slight nuttiness

Overall the aromas were much more interesting than the palate – one even described it as “palate stripping!”

It was certainly interesting… we wondered what it would be like with water. For those who added, it lost the delightful pear on the aroma and didn’t gain much on the palate or finish.

And when we returned after some time… was quite sour on the nose, became quite tart on the palate – think the inside of a kumquat.

My strong recommendation with this one is enjoy it but don’t linger too long. Or perhaps try it one of the many cocktails the folks at Starward recommend.

As for its cost? This bottle was purchased at The Whisky Exchange, London and currently retails for £50.25.

Here are a few other Starward‘s explored:

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Starward Flight – Wine Project, Solera, 10th Anniversary

What would happen if you matured whisky fully in a red wine barrel rather than merely finish?

And what if the temperature swings of Melbourne’s climate was used as an asset rather than adversity?

Even more, what if your goal was to go against the trend of ever increasingly expensive whiskies to craft something affordable, approachable and distinctly Australian?

Well if you were the folks over at Starward distillery in Melbourne, Australia this would be exactly the questions you are dedicated to answer!

Here is the trio we explored:

What a treat to sample each side by side in Mumbai early March 2018.

Interested in exploring other Australian whiskies? Check out:

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Whisky Lady – February 2019

2019 continued with a brilliant February. It began in a rather chilly Canada warmed with a terrific weekend with family and friends in Winnipeg where I picked up a lovely quartet of whiskies from our friends over at Shelter Point.

Then back to Mumbai for the Vault Biennale where I had the pleasure to be part of the Story Telling tent, including anchoring a discussion with Anthony Willis on “Smokey Islay Tales.” Then time to hop back on a plane to Munich, Germany where I managed to add to the German whisky collection.

As for tastings? Read on…

Our other tasting groups – BMC & Whisky Ladies – combined to explore a remarkable North Star 5 Region quintet from Cask Series 005 with guest posts coming soon!

The minis returned with That Boutique-y Whisky Co (TBWC) with:

I also caught up on tasting notes from Whisky Live Singapore 2018 – specifically La Maison du Whisky Artist #8 with Sherry

While I was away in North America a few of the Whisky Ladies got together to catch up with a visiting former member. She kindly left behind an Aultamore 12 year and one fine evening I pulled it out in tribute.

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

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North Star Spirits Series 5, Regions 5, Bottles 5

Once a year, two of our Mumbai whisky groups come together to celebrate our mutual passion for a fine dram. This time, I selected the whiskies – ordered online and brought in by another member for our sampling pleasure. I was inspired by an earlier introduction to North Star Spirits and honed in on their series 5, tending towards the more affordable options available with a nice cross-section from different regions.

While the Whisky Ladies sponsored the whiskies, the gents hosted our evening in a gorgeous South Mumbai home with a most civilized sit down tasting followed by a brilliantly paired dinner. To put it mildly, the bar was set high!

And did the whiskies deliver? Read on to discover…

Our 5 Region North Star Spirits cask strength quintet from Cask Series 005 included:

Each was distinctive, unique and completely worth trying!

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North Star’s Caol Ila 12 year (2006/2018) 54.6%

Our final North Star Series 5 whisky was from the Islay region with a Caol Ila whisky. While it was the last, it was an entirely appropriate tasting order with this peaty robust dram coming after some lighter, flirtatious whiskies.

Here is what we discovered with the North Star Cask Series 005 Caol Ila…

Caol Ila 12 year (April 2006/May 2018) 54.6%

  • Nose – Hello peat! Sweaty, yheasty, medicinal… quite ‘wintry’, pine nuts, spirit of “peat fun”, some salt, kept evolving with the peat much less pronounced, giving way to other aromas, green asparagus, young potato starch, burnt maple bacon, sweet citrus, lightly smoky sweet grass, burnt sugar, sour cherry
  • Palate – Proper peat, some spice and everything nice. Crêpe Suzette with cherry liquor flambé, perhaps with a touch of citrus too
  • Finish – Green chilli and wasabi, sweet grapes

For those of a peatier persuasion, quite enjoyed this one. The bottle shared a few more details – noting the Caol Ila was bottled from a refill hogshead, un-chill filtered and natural colour.

As for what Iain Croucher had to say about it in his North Star’s tasting notes?

  • Nose: An Oligarch’s humidor… a big dusty one
  • Palate: A peated Sherbet Lemon, doubled-dunted with a peated Soor Ploom
  • Finish: Reminds me of well-seasoned hardwood burning near a new carpet… all subjective of course

Now I must share, we had the most hilarious response and commentary on this one – thoroughly enjoying the reading of the tasting notes… including having to look up what exactly is a “Soor Ploom.”

In case you are curious, a “Soor Ploom” according to Wikipedia is

a sharp flavoured, round, green boiled sweet originally associated with GalashielsScotland.

A “childhood favourite,”[3] they are pale green and “slightly acid in flavour”.[2]

Overall it was terrific having a chance to try such distinctive drams – well worth exploring.

For those curious about cost, this whisky was purchased online in July 2018 from Master of Malt for £76.36 / USD 100 / INR 7,215 and was opened in November 2018.

Don’t miss the other Whisky Ladies guest reviews of North Star Series 005 whiskies covering 5 Scottish regions:

Or check out the Original Group’s North Star Discovery:

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North Star’s Orkney 12 year (2006/2018) 57.8%

Our 5 region tour of North Star’s series 5 continued with a whisky from the Islands.

(www.tripfolk.com)
http://www.tripfolk.com

This time our Whisky Ladies of Mumbai guest reviewer is Shruti Sutwala… 

A marketer by profession, Shruti brings her passion to travel across through her travel blog MeWanderlost. She divides time between creating brands, travelling to distant corners of the world & inspiring many to experience the world. 

Given that Shruti travels extensively (plus has a partner who shares her whisky explorations), she has blessed us with equally adventurous  whiskies from AustraliaBhutan, FranceIceland, Japan and US.

Here is what she has to say about the North Star Cask Series 005 Islands offering…

North Star Orkney 12 year (March 2006/May 2018) 57.8% is a great example of the trend of “secret bottling” by an independent bottler.

It’s secret because all we know about it is that it comes from Orkney and that it’s bottled from a refilled bourbon hogshead. Well, the Orkney is so small that the secret is really not a big one, it has to be one of the two big ones on the island!

It’s rare because independent bottling is all about small batch production – we tasted the Cask Series 005, 1 of 362 bottles, and yes, the same one will not be available in the market anymore.

And of course its experimental if the official tasting notes are any indication. Here it goes – on the palate it’s supposed to be ‘Melted Normandy salted butter poured over popcorn’ & on the finish Clover-honey on yer toast”. That’s experimental for sure!

  • Nose: The nose definitely connects to the island origin of this dram – it has strong sea salt & sea weed notes followed with some fruitiness. It feels quite young in the beginning, however develops subtle smokiness & butter notes, a perfect invitation to sip it along.
  • Palate: The peat on the nose doesn’t disappoint as you sip it along as it develops a nice caramel toffee sweetness. What stood out for me was a nice buttery coating on my palate which reminded me of the butter whisky I had in Scotland. Notes of burnt caramel, pipe tobacco, vanilla & a touch of spice with the subtle smokiness is just lovely!
  • Finish: After the mélange of notes on the palate, the finish was a little flat for me. Some comments around the table were “flat ginger ale” and “bitter”.

Adding a few drops of water made it more approachable for a few, however for me it lost the nice chewy and buttery character with the water.

Summing it up, it’s a solid dram which is nicely matured & balanced & at the same time not so serious. With the Orkney, the bottlers have clearly made a statement that whisky can be fun & experimental, yet well rounded. It would be a great addition to any collection, pity, there are so few of them in the market. A clear vote winner, this one was polished off in the post tasting session!

For those curious about cost, this whisky was purchased online in July 2018 from Master of Malt for £53.76 / USD 70 / INR 5,080 and was opened in November 2018.

Don’t miss the other Whisky Ladies guest reviews of North Star Series 005 whiskies covering 5 Scottish regions:

Original Group’s North Star Discovery

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North Star’s Macduff 11 year (2006/2018) 55.2%

From the Highland region, our next North Star Series 5 exploring 5 regions in Scotland was from the Mac Duff distillery, best known for their Glen Deveron brand.

Our guest reviewer Rekha Sharma has been part of the Whisky Ladies of Mumbai from the start.

Having lived a fairly nomadic existence since a young age, Rekha gained over two decades of varied corporate & entrepreneurial experience.

From cable media industry in Hongkong with Disney Challen then Turner Networks (CNN), she then moved to New York where she founded & managed a retail business in Manhattan, combining an Asian antique store with an art gallery & a cafe/bar.

Now living in India, Rekha manages a serviced apartments business in Bombay,  being a part of a rapidly changing economic & social landscape that is India today.

Above all, Rekha enjoys the arts, cooking, interior design, travelling & good whiskey!

Here is what she has to say…

Macduff 11 year (Nov 2006/May 2018) 55.2%

  • Nose – Dish water soap, very light, flowers, flirting with us by running away then gently re-appearing, red delicious apple, balsa wood and some lovely ripe bananas
  • Palate – Peach, apricots, metallic, almost eggy, liquorice
  • Finish – Bitter walnut, big red chewing gum
  • Water – Much better! Really brings out more with this one and gave it a somewhat sweet, creamy finish

It was a friendly easy drinking dram and hard to imagine it was cask strength!

The North Star Macduff was bottled from a refill bourbon hogshead, un-chill filtered, natural colour with only 240  bottles.

North Star’s tasting notes:

  • Nose: Red apple & that smell you get when rain hits hot tar macadam
  • Palate: Instantly creamy & sweet, like my mum’s custard
  • Finish: The crispy topping on a creme brûlée 

This whisky was purchased online from Master of Malt in August 2018 for £53.76 / USD 70 / INR 5,080 and was opened in November 2018.

Don’t miss the other Whisky Ladies guest reviews of North Star Series 005 whiskies covering 5 Scottish regions:

Original Group’s North Star Discovery:

Want even more Whisky Lady posts? Follow this blog on: