About Carissa Hickling

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

Minis – Glenlossie 8 year (2010) 56.8%

My earlier brushes with Glenlossie were quite positive – both from That Boutique-y Whisky Co and then later in Berlin with a fabulous Sharing Angel. I was completely pre-disposed to enjoy, hoping to discover something interesting. It was fitting my tasting companion for the evening was the same Angel I shared the earlier Glenlossie in Berlin.

We opened this wee dram in February 2020… and what did we find??

Glenlossie 8 year (Oct 2010 / Apr 2009) Cask 8645 56.8% (Hannah Whisky Merchants – Lady of the Glen)

  • Colour – A hint of rose in the gold
  • Nose – Forest honey, sour fruit, a bit heavy, toast, incredibly sweet
  • Palate – Warm, the honey carries through… it was also a bit woodsy, a kid of course texture, mace, garden lovage
  • Finish – Nothing remarkable

We joked that it was a bit like a Winnie the Pooh honeypot – super sweet and not what we expected from Glenlossie. We speculated what could bring about this result? Clearly an ex-bourbon cask but there was something else going on…. certainly not sherry, a wine cask finish perhaps? We then tracked down the Mast of Malt notes – the Port cask finish was clearly the answer we sought!

Months later I decided to polish off the last few drops… what did I find? Surprisingly it was chock full of red berries and red cherries, candy sweet… on the palate it was a bit peculiar but better than I remembered. Interesting? Somewhat… but not one I would run out to try and repeat.

What more do we know? The folks at Master of Malt have this to say:

A wonderful amber-coloured indie bottling of Glenlossie. The single malt was distilled on 8 October 2000, and matured in a single bourbon hogshead. It was then treated to a finish in a first-fill ruby Port cask for around six months, sourced from a family-owned bodega near Porto in Portugal. The liquid was then bottled on 10 April 2019 by Hannah Whisky Merchants for the Lady of the Glen range, with the cask yielding 287 bottles at cask strength.

  • Nose: Toasted oats, berry compote and honey, floral malt and baking spice.
  • Palate: Caramelised nuts, vanilla fudge, lots of dried fruit, fresh red berries, liquorice and butterscotch.
  • Finish: Toasted walnut and buttered brown bread with blackberry jam.

So the dates don’t jibe – the bottle says 2010 whereas you might have spotted the above says distilled in 2000.. suspect this was a typo.

And what would it set you back? Hannah Merchant have it listed for GBP 100. Before this sample, I hadn’t tried anything from Hannah Whisky Merchants with their “Lady of the Glen” line.

Here are a few others I tried from my advent calendar minis:

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Minis – Cambus 24 year 52.7%

I will admit I had high hopes for this one – both as it is from North Star and also my last Cambus stood out as my favourite grain yet!

Cambus 24 year (May 1993/Sep 2027) 52.7% (North Star – Series 003)

  • Colour – Light gold
  • Nose – Big old dusty cupboard, fruity yet also sour, some leather reminiscent of a tannery, earthy, dry old leaves – that distinctive neem leaf in particular, sweet dry flowers… started to shift into vanilla toffee, caramel cream
  • Palate – Light yet slightly sharp, a bit piquant, sour fruits, curiously “slim”
  • Finish – Negligible
  • Water – Softens the grain on the tongue, making it milder… settled into cured leather with toffee cream, a bit of an odd combination

We set it aside for a bit and returned to find the sulfur of matchsticks with sweet cinnamon! It wasn’t bad but it didn’t exactly rock our boat.

Though we originally tasted the Cambus in February 2020, there was a bit remaining which I revisited in May. What did I find? The sour fruits were quite pronounced on the nose, however the sharpness we found earlier was gone, replaced with sweetness that became quite tasty on the palate. Not a bad way to finish the last few drops!

What do the folks at North Star have to say?

  • Nose: Cinnamon & warmed cloves
  • Palate: Buttered toffee and shortbread
  • Finish: Sweet rum & raisin

What more do we know? Only that it was bottled from a refill Pedro Ximenez sherry butt.

Here are a few others I tried from my advent calendar minis:

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Return of the Minis – Cambus, Glenlossie, Glenturret, Dualaine

Well lads and lasses! It is time to surface from work hibernation and re-start whisky explorations.

Up first is a quartet from my advent calendar minis!

The first two were cracked open with a fabulous Sharing Angel late February when we had the pleasure of enjoying one of the last whisky festivals in Germany pre-COVID.

We had great expectations… but alas were not entirely satisfied:

Whereas the balance were tasted in the virtual company of two different Mumbai whisky groups and each were enjoyable in their way:

For 3cl bottles, you may be surprised to learn all of them had a bit remaining, so before finalizing my notes, I had a chance to try them again…  curious to know more? Check out my tasting notes over the next few days.

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Gorgeous Chorlton Trio – Miltonduff, Blair Athol, Macmyra

Many months ago we were introduced to the independent bottler – Chorlton during a quick trip home to Mumbai. The Chorlton tasting was conducted completely blind and we were floored by the pedigreed character of each whisky – Miltonduff 9 yearOrkney 9 year, Glenturret Ruadh Maor 8 year.

With the reveal, we also fell in love with the gorgeous labels!

I knew I wanted to explore more, however was in the midst of my move to Germany, finding a place to live, getting up to speed in a my new job with – shocker – whisky a low priority in my juggling act!

Fast forward to early 2020 and the COVID crises changed our world completely. During the initial phase of working from home, I decided to start selectively planning for future sessions – a mythical time  where I could either re-unite with much missed tasting groups in Mumbai, join something existing in Nurnberg or create a new community of fellow whisky explorers.

And this is where Chorlton came in… knowing their stock is in limited supply, I still took a chance to see if anything was available directly from this fabulous independent bottler and was in luck! This delightful trio was possible to order online and, even better, make its way from the UK to Germany.

Here is what I chose:

  • Miltonduff 11 years, 1st fill bourbon, 62% 1 of 176 bottles
  • Blair Athol 12 years, Hogshead undiluted, uncoloured, unchill filtered, 56.6% 1 of 268 bottles
  • Mackmyra 12 years, bourbon barrel, undiluted, uncoloured, unchill filtered 50.2% 1 of 278 bottles

While they don’t say when they were bottled, presumably it would have been 2019/2020.

To say I was excited on their arrival was an understatement! However when I will actually crack them open remains to be seen. I’m much more of a social imbiber – what I enjoy most is the exchange and range of impressions an interesting bottle can evoke from a small group tasting together.

As such an activity seems very far away, I will simply leave you with this visual teaser and hope you are healthy and happy where ever you are in the world!

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Whisky Lady – February 2020

Back in Germany, we have Whisk(e)y-Messe Nürnberg THE VILLAGE happening this weekend! I can’t wait to share impressions, experiences and more! It will be my first foray into whisky events in Europe since moving here.

While I’m still getting set-up in Europe, you can imagine something every whisky explorer wants a whisky cabinet! Though I haven’t started a new collection, I did both acquire a cabinet (of sorts) and even an old favourite whisky – Old Pulteney 12 year – to grace its glass shelves.

In Nurnberg, I finally cracked open my Drinks by the Dram advent calendar to sample with a friend. What did we try?

And on this blog, I continued to traipse down desi memory lane with:

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

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Gin O’Clock in Goa

So there we were, kicking back and relaxing in Goa… in a beautiful old Portuguese villa… just a couple of Whisky Ladies and I. Our plan was to have a small get away and finally make a trek together to Paul John Distillery in South Goa.

But before that, before the sun slipped away and we headed out to dinner, out came a few  gin minis… well timed for “Gin O’Clock“.

  • Da Mhile – From Wales, I purchased this pair years ago in Winnipeg…
    • Botanical Gin 42% – it was light, refreshing, floral and really quite delightful
    • Seaweed Gin 42% – I wondered if the seaweed would be too pronounced, instead it was a slightly salty hint
  • The Duke Munich Dry Gin 45% – From one of many trips to Germany, a terrific standard made even better partnered with a quality tonic
  • Whobertus Dry Gin 43% – A favourite from Munich that needs no tonic – just a small cube of ice and voila – perfection!

What a treat and ideal way to unwind…

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Christening the new whisky cabinet with an Old Pulteney 12 year

With the move to Nurnberg comes re-building a new whisky collection and finding new tasting companions.

My first move was to find a new whisky cabinet… and stumbled across this rather interesting piece of furniture which has a subtle cork exterior and “jatak” interior with mirrors and glass.

My next move was to see what ‘standards’ could be easily acquired locally… My eye spotted this familiar favourite and I couldn’t resist.

To say it wasn’t my first tryst with Old Pulteney is an understatement… this romance kicked off more than a decade ago and hasn’t abated.

A few memorable experiences with this expression include:

So what could casual sipping late 2019 to 2020 add? To be honest, just a reminder why I enjoy this whisky so much.

Here’s to you Nurnberg and my new collection!

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Balvenie evening in Mumbai

Now I have to admit, this post is rather late… the event occurred many months ago in Mumbai at the St Regis – Aug 28, 2019 to be precise.

The occasion was sparked by the Mumbai visit of Gemma Paterson, Global Brand Ambassador for The Balvenie. We had visions of a very private evening with just a few tables, proper sit down tasting with interesting anecdotes and insights into The Balvenie distillery, its people, the whiskies. The usual masterclass format.

Nope! It was a complete jam of people, a mash up of inaudible stories and poetry, flute and was.. well… unexpected.

True – the cocktails flowed generously and one after another tasting glasses with different expressions of The Balvenie made their rounds but it was a far cry from being able to connect with someone close to the whisky makers, who is known for collecting stories or being able to truly focus on the whiskies.

Which is exactly why I have zero tasting notes, only a recollection we were partial to the 14 year…

Which is exactly why I dug up notes from some of our other Balvenie experiences as it would be a shame to miss insights into this distillery and its drams:

With such a crowd, the St Regis did a brilliant job with the food and keeping the throngs happy. But as a whisky event, I couldn’t even hear Gemma speak let alone meet and make some kind of connection. Which is ultimately for me what is terrific about the whisky fabric – the way different lives and experiences are woven together over exploring and enjoying a good dram.

On a more personal note, it was terrific to see so many familiar folks so close before my move to Germany. For that alone it was a good evening, so Slainthe!

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Advent Minis – Caol Ila 8 Year Old 46% – Provenance

After a rye, bourbon and highland, it was time to turn to something peaty – and what is a more classic expression than Caol Ila?

Caol Ila 8 Year Old – Provenance (Douglas Laing)

  • Nose – Pure peat, wood smoke, cured meats, bacon, maple
  • Palate – Full peat, cinnamon, a clear classic Caol Ila, nicely rolled around on the palate with a lovely peat
  • Finish – Nice finish, cinnamon spice

While I can’t guarantee it, I think this is cask #13077, which was aged in a refill hogshead from February 2011 to February 2019. After its maturation, it was bottled at 46% ABV with an outturn of 392 bottles.

Here is what the chaps over at Master of Malt have to say:

  • Nose: Toasty at first, becomes increasingly coastal. Sweetness of honeycomb in the background.
  • Palate: Flapjacks, oatcakes and plenty of smoky barley.
  • Finish: Meaty malt and black pepper spiciness.

Here are a few others we tried from my advent calendar minis:

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Advent Minis – Heaven Hill 8 Year Old 2009 63.5%

While Heaven Hill hasn’t directly featured in prior tasting experiences, we’re no stranger to their brands like Pikesville and Elijah Craig from their distillery stable.

This particular sample was originally bottled by The Higginbottom, which traces its whisky roots to the late 1800s, when Henry Albert Higginbottom supplied whisky for British troops. The brand was recently revived by Higginbottom’s great great grandson Leo Scott-Francis.

It was part of a cool relaxed evening in Nurnberg sampling minis from my advent calendar. What did we think?

Heaven Hill 8 Year Old 2009 (May 2009 / November 2017) Cask 152736 63.5% – The Higgbottom Revival 

  • Nose – Bourbon banana caramel with a sharpness, honey oats, a granary, wheat husks, unripe
  • Palate – Whoosh! What spice! Dry but with a nice depth
  • Finish – Full spice
  • Water – Now this one cried out for some water. And wow – how fabulous with it. Suddenly out came a cornucopia of fruits with banana, pineapple, green apple, throw in a generous dash of Demerara sugar, the flavours were fuller, colourful with an exceedingly nice after taste

This was definitely an example of a dram that grew on you… the more we sniffed and sipped – particularly after water was added – the more we enjoyed it. We clearly wished there was more than the wee 3cl!

Particularly for my companion, there was a clear new world over old world vibe – she loved the Rye and also this Bourbon vs the Dalmore or Caol Ila. Which is part of the magic of such minis – an opportunity to discover tastes and preferences with a wee nip rather than investing in a full bottle.

What do the chaps at Master of Malt have to say about this Heaven Hill?

  • Nose: Honeyed fruit and fresh florals. Spicy cedar and nutmeg.
  • Palate: Quite punchy at full strength, with clove, menthol and black pepper. A drop of water helps to bring buttered corn and sponge cake notes forward.
  • Finish: Coffee bean, dark chocolate and oak.

Here are a few others we tried from my advent calendar minis:

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