Paul John 7 year Oloroso (2009) 57.4%

I’ve been ever so patiently waiting to sample this whisky… wanting just the right opportunity to share it with one of my Mumbai based whisky tasting groups.

Finally… nearly 2 years after I acquired this lovely bottle, it graced an evening of Sherry explorations…

What did we find?

Paul John 7 year (2009) Oloroso Sherry Cask Finish 57.4%

  • Nose – Starts quite nutty – specifically walnut, some balsa wood, toast then starts to shift into sweet dry fruits and spices with an inviting warm cinnamon, mince pie, dates, fresh figs, orange citrus, a delicious drizzle of honey or perhaps maple syrup?
  • Palate – Full force and fabulous! There was a lovely spice, cherries, rich and full bodied while remaining nicely rounded. Some black pepper and cinnamon bark, complex and dry.
  • Finish – Long, strong, sweet and sumptuous, even a little hint of licorice at the tail
  • Water – Wow! Really opened it up… Much fruitier, dried apricot, still keeps the orange, rum raisins, even sweeter yet without losing the lovely “Ooomph!” and character…The nose then took on some vanilla, cream, think of a yummy egg nog with a generous dash of nutmeg

What a whisky! Even before  the 1st sip, we already heard comments like “Beautiful!” and “Remarkable!”

No question this was cask strength. And equally no doubt this was one exceptional whisky. Full flavoured and quite fabulous, it really came into its optimal character with a splash of water.

To put it in desi terms – we were “maha” impressed! Even more so when the reveal was Indian, provoking much national pride. Bravo Paul John!

And what the folks at Paul John have to say?

A limited edition of the Indian single malt from the sunny Goan coasts, Oloroso presents an aromatic tapestry of complex yet gorgeously weighted fragrances, from toasted honeycomb to figs and a touch of dry raisin. Matured for 3 years in American bourbon barrels and finished in sherry casks for 4 years, its creamy flavours offer a delectable blend of barley with grape. The intense sherry richness towards the end, gives this rare whisky its name. The finish is long and luxuriously spiced, with a cocoa tinged vanilla. It is a wholesome Goan experience, packed into every sip.

  • Nose – Complex and gorgeously weighted, Toasted honeycomb, dry resin, dates, figs and apricot, its almost an aromatic tapestry.
  • Palate – Magnificent mix of barley and grape, sweet and creamy, intense richness of sherry in the end.
  • Finish – Long and luxurious, with pulsing vanilla-cocoa mix and a build-up of spices.
  • Colour – Dark Amber
  • Pairing – This extremely complex whisky needs food that can complement it well. Tender, juicy steaks and blue cheese can help you unravel every nuance of this magnificent malt from Goa.

Paul John Whiskies:

Here are the whiskies explored in our Sherry Unusual evening:

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Hyde No. 6 President’s Reserve 46%

Thanks to a mutual whisky aficionado, I was introduced in Mumbai many months ago to two of the merry men behind Ireland’s new whiskey brand – Hyde. Note the deliberate use of brand not distillery… as these folks are building a name for themselves as “bonders” working with existing distillers to craft a range of whiskies with ambitious plans to some day some way have a distillery of their own.

What did they send our way?

Well… A curious miss greeted the Hyde on its arrival… and then I waited an exceedingly long time to find the right evening to share this bottle… So what did we find?

Hyde No. 6 President’s Reserve (May 2017) 46% Bottle No 4780/5000

  • Nose – Bright lemon, a very light sherry perfume, talcum powder, hint of lavender, somehow quite astringent with the lemon the most obvious element – shifting from zest to liquid dishwashing soap, a synthetic lemon desert
  • Palate – One found sulfur, for most it was honey or sugar water, lightly fruity
  • Finish – An initial spice that then relatively quickly dissipated

As the gents knew the theme was some dimension of sherry, speculation turned to it certainly not being fully matured in an ex-sherry barrel but instead only finished and that too not a PX but perhaps Olorosso.

It was a pleasant beginning, simple, sweet with the nose probably the most interesting element.

What do we know about this whiskey?

First off, it is a blend an 18 Year Old Irish single malt and 8 Year Old Irish single grain. Both were first matured in bourbon casks before being finished together for 9 months in Oloroso sherry casks.

It was named in honour of Douglas Hyde, Ireland’s first president, who was inaugurated on 25th June 1938.

And here is what the Hyde folks have to say:

  • Nose – Delightfully floral notes of vanilla, sweet, honey, caramel, chocolate, and mixed fruit, infused with spices.
  • Taste – Wonderfully smooth yet complex, creamy yet fruity with notes of caramel, honey, apricot, and apple, with a silky rich texture.
  • Finish – Rich & Oaky. It lingers in the mouth with a rich long finish.

Here are the other whiskies explored in our Sherry Unusual evening:

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Sherry Unusual – Hyde, Paul John, Kilchoman, BenRiach

Sherry’s effect on whisky can be a marvel. And I wanted to do something a bit different for our Bombay Malt & Cigar gents to push the boundaries beyond the known sherry drams like Aberlour, GlenDronach, Glenrothes, etc.

Normally we dive straight into whiskies, knowing what we are trying. However I wanted to have a bit of fun with a surprise…. So kept my fellow tasters “blind.”

Next, I introduced a “reference” pour.

I said nothing about it – merely to smell (not sip) with a request between each whisky to go back to the “reference” to recalibrate senses and compare.

It didn’t take long til they realized the “reference” wasn’t whisky at all but instead a sherry… with speculation it may be a “cream” or sweetened avatar rather than a dry fino or amontillado.

I later revealed that it was a Kingsgate Canadian sherry from KittlingRidge Ontario, Canada  described on the bottle as:

“A premium medium dry sherry, barrel aged in oak for extra smoothness.”

However this Kingsgate is now known as Apera with an explanation that it is medium dry Oloroso sherry “style” dessert wine. This 2013 nod from to EU regulations recognizes that a “true” Sherry can only come from the Spanish triangle.

Which tells you this funny little bottle, inherited from a friend who was leaving India, has been around for a few years…

As for what we tried? Not quite your usual fare…

Here is the progression we explored with our Sherry Unusual evening with whiskies from Ireland, India and Islay…. plus an extra special single cask:

Hyde #6 President’s Reserve 8 year single grain + 18 year single malt 46%

From Ireland, picked as an appetizer, the bottle stated it was finished in Sherry. What made it unusual is that it is a new brand, released to help promote the Hyde name before their Hibernia distillery in Cork is fully producing.

Paul John 7 Year (2009) Oloroso Sherry Cask Finish 57.4%

This was the biggest surprise – none imaged it could be from India! We were mighty impressed with what the folks from Paul John produced with four years in ex Bourbon then 3 years in ex Sherry casks. It also opened up beautifully with a bit of water.

BenRiach 12 year (2005/2018) Oloroso Sherry Cask No 5052 59.3%

A true class act. Selected just to be sure we had at least ONE proper single malt in our evening. Gorgeous and astounding how at 59.2%, not a drop of water was desired.

Kilchoman Loch Gorm (2010/2016) Sherry 46%

A pure peat monster tempered with 100% sherry from Islay. Not everyone’s tipple but certainly demonstrated how peat and sweet can combine!

Just click on the whisky links to find out even more about what we discovered!

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Exploring experiments in barley, wheats and more!

One fine evening, two gents and I decided to go on a journey of (re)-discovery… new for them, repeats for me… a series of whiskies deliberately chosen for their terriore, experiments in barley, wheats and more…

I warned my companions to not expect standard Scottish malts but instead calibrate their palates to more rustic, less sophisticated fare… and appreciate each for their unique qualities.

What did they think?

Worth exploring yet simply reinforced their preference for a traditional Scottish single malt!

PS – You can read tasting notes by clicking on the links above.

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Cleveland Underground Apple Bourbon Whiskey Sour

Ah… there are times when a chilled whisky sour just hits the spot! Which is exactly why our bourbon evening closed with a non-traditional take on this whiskey cocktail standard.

This isn’t quite what we tried but pretty close…

Underground Whiskey Sour
  • 1 ½ oz Underground Bourbon
  • 1 tsp lemon juice
  • ½ tsp sugar
  • 1 drunken cherry
  • Chickpea froth
DIRECTIONS
  1. In an old fashioned glass, add Underground Bourbon, lemon juice, and sugar
  2. Shake with ice and strain into chilled tulip glass
  3. Add the froth
  4. Garnish with a cherry

Often it is made with frothed egg white… in our case we had a less traditional “vegetarian” version made with the froth from boiling chickpeas – which works surprisingly well.

Our Bourbon trio included:

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Cleveland Underground AP Bourbon Whiskey 45%

One of the great things about our Mumbai whisky tasting groups is their adventuresome bent. When opportunity arises to grab something distinctly different, we do!

This was one such experiment from Cleveland Underground closed our bourbon evening.

We sampled it blind and here is what we found…

Cleveland Underground AP Bourbon Whiskey finished with Apple Wood Batch 3 Bottle 1638 90 Proof 45%

  • Colour – We just had to observe this was bright almost reddish with jewel tones
  • Nose – Fresh mash, medicine capsule, wet oats, uncooked porridge, atta flour for making chapatis, sour dough yeast
  • Palate – Frankly a bit weird, tricky on the palate, very untypical, some unboiled peanuts or groundnuts, quite curious
  • Finish – Bitter end

To be honest, we weren’t terribly impressed. There was something rather peculiar about this one which was certainly different but not necessarily in a good way.

With the reveal it was shared this bourbon has taken an experimental approach to maturation – starting with wood barrels, the whisky matures this way for approx 6 months. Then it is transferred to stainless steel tanks where the wood staves from the barrels are added then alternate pressure cycles and temperate to accelerate the maturation process.

The whole raison d’etre of Cleveland Underground whiskies is to push the boundaries. Their bourbon’s include whiskies finished not only with Apple, but also Sugar Maple Wood,  Black Cherry Wood, Honey Locust Wood, and Hickory Wood.

And while it is terrific to experiment, not all experiments are successful with all audiences. With our tasting group, this particular approach didn’t hit the mark in Mumbai.

What do the Cleveland folks have to say about their Apple Wood?

Light and airy body. A tender sweetness with notes of baking spice backstopped by an almost tart finish.

Hmm… don’t think we would agree but still wish the Cleveland Underground team well for their endeavours to do something different.

Our Bourbon trio included:

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Tragedy Struck! Gordon + MacPhail’s Linkwood 1998 46%

Once upon a time there was a Linkwood that was poured into a bottle in 2012… to make its way from Scotland to a World of Whisky store to a home in Mumbai, India. And then find its way into our glasses in October 2018…

We sampled it blind and here is what we found…

Linkwood 13 year (8 Dec1998 / Jan 2010) Cask No 5014 Refill Sherry Hogshead 46% for World of Whiskies

  • Colour – Very yellow
  • Nose – When first opened it was so fruity – particularly jackfruit, cashew fruit then red fruits… then as strong as it came on, the basket of fruits slipped away… Particularly after the first sip. Instead there was biscuits, cereal notes with hay, grass… more and more it became dusty, musty, woody… after even more time there was a light coconut and even some marshmallow but… something wasn’t quite right….
  • Palate – Sharp, initially fruity, then musty, sour, earthy, bitter, very woody, some spice, quite thin with little body, wet fallen leaves
  • Finish – Very short finish
  • Water – Some found it horrible, bitter vs others finding it became tart with lemons then sweet, the fruit came back with some spice yet was still very musty with dry coconut husks

We struggled with this one… it seemed oddly incomplete or off… something or other wasn’t quite right. Over and over we kept remarking on the peculiar musty element.

With the reveal we were all surprised.

Linkwood.

Gordon & Macphail.

Really?? The character wasn’t in keeping with our past experience with Linkwood whiskies and certainly not Gordon & Macphail bottles.

And that is when our host revealed that the reason he served this single malt from a lovely decanter was the cork had crumbled completely. He further shared he had purchased this years ago – likely not long after it was released in 2012.

It seemed that tragedy had struck. What could have once been a fine dram was given no favours by being stored in a Mumbai cupboard for years. There actually have been studies on the impact of storage conditions on whisky bottles. Mumbai’s heat isn’t kind to bottles… and this seems to have happened in this case. Sigh….

What about other Linkwood experiences?

Our original tasting group continued in our “classic” evening with two other Scottish single malts:

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Bombay Canadian Club – Lohin McKinnon Single Malt Lot 0001 43%

From blends to a single grain to a single malt, our Bombay Canadian evening had a rather civilized progression ending on this new single malt from Central City Brewing. The whisky’s name is a combination of Gary Lohin, Brewmaster and Stuart McKinnon, Head Distiller. Started as a brewpub in Surrey, British Columbia, Central City Brewing then grew to build a full fledged craft brewery and distillery – continuing to make beer, adding cigar, gins, rum and now whisky.

Lohin McKinnon Single Malt Lot 0001 43%

  • Nose – Going bananas big time! Initially sour overripe bananas it then shifted to more ripe fruits like apricots and pineapples, lots of barley, then a delicious banana cake, very fruit forward
  • Palate – You that banana cake on the nose? It was banana bread on the palate with cinnamon, still oodles of fruit with peach, apricot like that 5 fruit Tropicana juice
  • Finish – Simple yet long, light and satisfying

For most this was the favourite of our Canadian quartet – the banana cake quality was simply lip smacking! It also paired rather well with the cigars of choice for the evening too.

And here’s what the folks over at the LCBO have to say:

The brewing talent of Gary Lohin of Central City Brewing Co. and the distilling artistry of Stuart McKinnon culminate in this smooth craft whisky. Bourbon barrel ageing gives complexity to this malt that is layered with hints of cherry, vanilla, and wood smoke on a medium weight/creamy palate, finishing with gentle spice.

While still only available through your provincial LCBO, this new single malt from BC is a bit harder to track down and may require going to a “specialty” store, finding the folks with the key to the locked cabinet. However the price remains most reasonable – currently C$60.40. This 1st edition was released in July 2017.

Check out what else our Bombay “Canadian” evening covered:

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Bombay Canadian Club – Gibson’s Finest Venerable 18 year 40%

When you think of a Canadian whisky, one typically assumes a 3 year old, normally a blend or a rye… not an 18 year old whiskey.

This time from Gibson’s Finest – a distillery that started in Pennsylvania then with prohibition relocated to Quebec, where they have been producing whiskey every since.

Gibson’s Finest Venerable 18 year 40%

  • Nose – Sweet lemon, clean and simple, a touch of butterscotch
  • Palate – Very soft on the front, boiled sweets at the back then bread, sweet lemon cake, settling into a cream and biscuits with a hint of maple
  • Finish – Very light, warm

Overall we found it to be the epitome of spring, fresh and light, just skipping around ones palate. It is a day whisky, easy going, with a gentle single note. Not one harsh element and while one would ideally want a bit more complexity in an 18 year old, it was enjoyable in a innocuous and pleasant way.

As we tried this in one of Bombay Malt & Cigar evenings, the next step was to consider that combination. With this Gibson’s a cigar simply overpowers… best to enjoy each separately!

In Canada, you can find this through your provincial LCBO – currently for C$89.95.

Check out what else our Bombay “Canadian” evening covered:

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Bombay Canadian Club – G+W, Gibson’s, JP Wiser’s, Lohin McKinnon

The funny thing about Canadians is we pop up all over the globe. It just so happens that one of our Bombay Malt and Cigar members is married to a fellow Canadian… and happened to have a trip back there recently… and just so happened to pick up a few bottles of Canadian whisky.

Which meant this month, our Bombay Malt and Cigar group was temporarily dubbed the “Bombay Canadian Club” with a chance to check out some offerings from my home and native land Canada!

Here is what we sampled, standing politely in a row:

Read on in the coming days for more details and impressions about our tasting experiences.

I had barely recovered from a rousing Canadian Thanksgiving feast the previous week with friends in Mumbai when our host followed up our whiskies and cigars with Canadian cuisine of tourtiere meat pie, poutine and nanaimo bars! After such an evening, we practically stood up to sing “O Canada!” (But were too polite to do such a thing.)

What was clear across the board is that these were all quite approachable and easy to enjoy whiskies. Not a single one was priced above CND 100, with most around (or even below) the C$50 mark. Making them equally approachable on the financial front as well.

However in terms of availability, some may need an extra check to see which local Canadian LCB (Liquor Control Board) has stock… as not all are “standard” fare. Case in point, our host really did try to track down other single malts such as Shelter Point… alas not a drop to be found where he went in the East or West!

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