Amrut Port Pipe Peated 62.8% (LMdW)

It is time to admit I’ve gone from being skeptical about the Amrut’s available in India to being puzzled by experiments like Spectrum to becoming rather impressed with some of the expressions available outside of India.

After enjoying the Fever Club Con-Fusion whisky, our host shared the tale of when he 1st encountered this at Whisky Live in Paris. Shared how he was intent on other explorations but when passing by the Amrut booth sampled this and went “Woah!” So much so that of all the options, this is the one that stood out and made its way back to Mumbai for our sampling pleasure. Lucky us!

Amrut Port Pipe Peated 62.8% 

  • Nose – Spice, fruit, basil and mint, not just herbal… it is like a chutney, very sweet fruit, then shifts to dark rich bitter chocolate
  • Palate – “What the F@%k!” Exceptional. An elegant peat. Cinnamon spice. a light brine, very dry.
  • Finish – Long spice peat…
  • Water – Absolutely no temptation to add

There was absolutely nothing off… very well crafted, the kind of whisky that will make you stop and pay attention.

Here is what the folks at La Maison du Whisky has to say?

One of this Amrut’s undeniable charms (of which there are many) is the construction of its aromatic and gustatory palette. Like the peat that gradually tames an olfactory opening of rare power. After taking the upper hand, like an inspired sculptor, it tastefully chisels out a palate and finish with an almost sensually smooth texture. In this, it is every bit as good as the magnificent version also aged in a port cask which, in our 2017 Creation Catalogue, majestically marked La Maison du Whisky’s 60th anniversary.

Profile: the very powerful initial nose is hot, mineral and camphoric. Little by little, an oily, earthy peat envelops the aromatic palette. Equally as present on the attack, this peat gradually becomes sweeter (apricot tart). The finish is malty and full of freshness. Lightly tannic, the end of the palate is herbaceous and floral.

Single Cask no. 2713 – Port Pipe
Limited edition of 420 bottles
Exclusive to LMDW

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Amrut Fever Club Con-Fusion 46%

Fever Club is a collection of whisky ardent Amrut fans… With a passion that has even prompted special bottlings like this. The “Con-Fusion” expression seems to be a variation on the “Fusion” theme produced and bottled in India on sale only for the select few for Rs 3,000 (that’s just under $50).

We had the pleasure of sampling it together with India’s Malt Maniac – Krishna Nakula – on a warm March evening…

Amrut Fever Club Con-Fusion (2017) Release No 1, 46%

  • Nose – Fresh citrus, spice, some nuts, flirtatious, a bit of lactic acid, is there a hint of peat? A light puff of smoke
  • Palate – Light soft creamy, milky nougat, white chocolate, burnt almond, has a lovely balance
  • Finish – Not much then the 2nd sip it is there with a nice peat close

A rather enjoyable whisky – the kind you want to simply relax with and unwind. We understand it is matured in ex-Olorosso casks.

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An evening with Krishna Nakula

Evenings with Krishna Nakula, India’s Malt Maniac are always a pleasure. This time we meandered through a malty mix.. with our evening featuring a duo from Amrut!

Added to the mix was an amiable amble through the contrasting:

Plus a sniff and swish through:

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European Whisky – Italy’s Puni Nova Bourbon Cask 43%

I first sampled this whisky years ago at La Maison du Whisky together with two other Puni whiskies. At the  time I was hunting for something decidedly “different” for a fellow whisky aficionado and the more daring Puni Alba Marsala + Islay combination was very unique and fit perfectly into my friend’s East to West theme.

Yet I kept remembering how the bourbon, though initially dismissed, had an interesting quality that drew my sampling companion and I back… So when next I had an opportunity, snagged this bottle and impatiently waited for the right whiskies and setting to open it!

Finally in May 2018, with the Bombay Malt & Cigar gents, an evening of European Explorations fit the bill perfectly! And what did we think?

Puni Nova Bourbon Cask, Batch #2 (2015) 43%

  • Nose – Fresh, organic, honey, flowers, almond, was there light smoke like sacred ash? Then increasingly pure honey vanilla… shifting into sour coconut or palm feni
  • Palate – Feels good on the tongue then a bit of a burn, coats the mouth
  • Finish – Spice on the finish
  • Water – Sour and bitter on the palate, yet rounds it out a bit

There was something unfinished about it and after such superbly and surprisingly enjoyable offerings from Germany (DeCavo) and Switzerland (Swiss Highland), the gents were honestly disappointed.

It was not what I remembered from years ago… Perhaps the difference is an open oxidized bottle vs freshly opened? Perhaps I originally had batch 1 and there was variation? Perhaps it was merely the tasting order and comparison. Perhaps it simply needs to be set aside like the first time and revisited.

Here is what they have to say on the label:

Matured for three years in American & European oak casks natural colour & non chill-filtered

  • Honey, banana, vanilla

This whisky was purchased for SGD 135 at La Maison du Whisky.

My European Explorations with the Bombay Malt & Cigar gents included:

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European Explorations – Gouden Carolus Single Malt 46%

During our evening of European Explorations, a complete bonus whisky from Belgium was added.

Het Anker makes a well known dark Belgium beer – Gouden Carolus.  They have branched out into distilling whisky… using the mash of the Golden Carolus Tripel beer which is aged in 1st fill bourbon casks then ‘Anker’ casks.

So what did we think of it?

Gouden Carolus Single Malt 3 years 46%

  • Nose – Deep fried veggies, savoury and oily, caramel sweet, vanilla, flower pod, ripe fruit, after some time we found marshmallows roasted over a campfire
  • Palate – Flat and spice, top is bitter, some salt, a bit sour like amla
  • Finish – Salty finish like saline, frat beer
  • Water – Sour and salt

So… beer to whisky… and while our tasting notes sound a bit odd, it somehow works. It was certainly a far sight better than the only other Belgium whisky I’ve tried – the Belgium Owl.

Here is what they have to say on the label:

  • Rich and balanced with fruit, vanilla, creme brule 

This whisky was a gift to our host.

My European Explorations with the Bombay Malt & Cigar gents included:

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European Explorations – Switzerland’s Swiss Highland Forty Three 43%

From Rugen Distillery, who have been brewing beer on Rugen Mountain since 1892… they ventured into making whisky when the Swiss laws changed in 1999. Their 1st offering was “Mountain Highland” in 2003 and now regularly produce small batches, aged a minimum of three years in oak casks. The wort and distillation all take place on their distillery premises.

This particular whisky is originally named Forty Three for its alcohol content – 43%. We sampled it as part of a European Explorations evening, just after a rather delicious Duetsch dram from DeCavo.

So what did we think of the Swiss Highland?

Forty Three Swiss Highland Single Malt Whisky 43%

  • Nose – Initially quite dry, some sawdust, light balsa, sweet honey, bay leaf, a bit of a shy nose, salt sheen, restrained, hint of vanilla, cream
  • Palate – Soft – surprisingly soft, well rounded, hay, malty like marmite at the back, really grows on you, tasty
  • Finish – Quite long, warm… actually make that remarkably incredibly long

We had anticipated this would be a bit raw and harsh, to discover quite the opposite!  It was again far more accessible and enjoyable than we had anticipated.

Here is what they have to say on the label:

  • Colour – Deep golden amber
  • Body – Soft texture, lightly creamy
  • Nose – The fresh and fiery notes are surrounded by subtle honey and some floral aromas topped off with lovely vanilla notes
  • Palate – Slightly woody notes are combined with coffee and chocolate leading to a light smoothness. A slight maltiness is felt at the beginning, which then rises beautifully in caramel and fermented vanilla bean.
  • The fine balance between sweetness and strength give a special tension to the product, the soft creamy mouth feel creates an exclusive sustainability.

I purchased this bottle at Wien Laden in Munich in November 2017.

My European Explorations with the Bombay Malt & Cigar gents included:

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European Explorations – Germany’s DeCavo 46%

In my trip to Munich in November 2017, I happened upon a speciality spirit shop. As usual, a lively conversation about different whisky distilleries ensued. However I had a very specific quest – to try and find  something I could not buy anywhere else.

DeCavo fit the bill perfectly. Now the challenge is that the very thing that makes an unusual  whisky so interesting… also means further details can be elusive.

What I could find out is that DeCavo is from the Brandenburg specialty distillery based in Hagen with the name inspired by their practice of storing barrels in a cave (Dechenhöhle) for maturation… hence it is called “German cave whisky”…

That being said, it isn’t clear whether the bottle I acquired is a malt spirit or old enough to be called whisky. What can be misleading is you can have a “single malt” that is still a spirit i.e. under 3 years and hence not yet what those  in Scotland and Europe would call “whisky.”

Above all… what matters most to us is what did we think?

DeCavo Handcrafted Single Malt Batch 10, Cask 92 46%

  • Nose – Yum! Banana – to be more precise cooked and caramelized banana crepe, bubblegum, berries, banofee pie, cinnamon candy… after some time  unmistakable coconut like Malibu rum! Or that Hawaiian Tropic suntan lotion… Kept shifting into a bit of bay leaf, worm wood, vanilla… and even rum with Christmas pudding notes. Delicious nose!
  • Palate – Striped candy, toffee, wood, there was some substance here not just frothy sweet, almost like a quality liqueur, creamier on the palate with a lightly toasted element
  • Finish – Tight, hints of licorice
  • Water – Brings out the spice, reveals a musty slightly bitter finish

There was absolutely no doubt this was the surprise of the evening! And an absolute delight. I don’t think anyone imagined how much we would enjoy this German dram. It was truly exceedingly tasty and what an interesting inviting nose!

So I dug around to find out more and found out the following:

Jim Murray not only helped us fill the first barrel, but also tested our DeCavo Hand Crafted Single Malt and added it to the whiskey Bible. We are looking forward to an outstanding 91 out of 100 points. Together with an indication of the impressive quality of the distillate, which has already been ripened for several months, and the explanation that he can hardly wait to be able to rate it as whiskey in two years. He describes the taste of the DeCavo Hand Crafted Single Malt as a citrus-toning, attractive, oily, juicy, malty and “smacking delicious”. In addition, he points out that bottlings with such a high score fall into his personal category “brilliant”.

  • Color: light copper
  • Nose: milk chocolate, vanilla and caramel as with crème brûlée, nutty, dried fruit, some marzipan
  • Taste: Vanilla, caramel, nutty, dried apple, fresh pastries

This bottle was purchased at Wien Laden in Munich in November 2017.

My European Explorations with the Bombay Malt & Cigar gents included:

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Can spirits “spoil”? The mystery of Domaine Des Hautes Glace – Les Moissons Organic

It was supposed to be an interesting experiment – exploring the boundaries of malts – with an organic spirit that technically is not yet whisky.

Les Moissons Single Malt is made using organic barley grown and malted on-site at Domaine des Hautes Glaces in the alpine region of south-east France with harvests from 2010 to 2012. Matured in a combination of virgin oak casks and those which used to hold either Cognac or white wine.

Sounded interesting! And we were intrigued… Except there was a different kind of experiment at work – a bizarre swirl of something that started as a spot… then grew… and grew… from a few specs of dust into a fuzzy swirl of a dirty muddy sandy brown. Who knew such a thing is possible?

But we are intrepid souls, so decided to open it up and try it anyways… what did we find?

Domaine Des Hautes Glace Organic Single Malt 42%

  • Nose – Musty, mushroom, sharp, fungal, yeast, rotten fruit, penicillin, rancid, rough, one even went so far as to pronounce it “Horrible!”
  • Palate – Believe it or not, we took a sip! And were rewarded with rotten pickle.

After spitting it out and hoping no one would go blind, we were incredibly perplexed. How could a closed bottle of spirit go bad? And what exactly was this odd growth like substance inside the bottle? Is it really possible for a whisky to go off?!

Turns out such a strange dusty sedimentation tends to be found when E150a i.e. caramel is added to enhance colour. After a few years, it can settle – particularly when stored, even more likely if in warmer conditions or direct sunlight.

While I’m not completely sure when it was bottled, I bought it last year and it is pretty obvious that here  in Mumbai warmer conditions applies. As for direct sunlight? Nope.

Yet here is the challenge with the explanation in this case – the bottle specifically states no additives, not chill filtered and that it is natural colour. Hmm….

So what do the folks at Domaine des Hautes Glaces say? It is possible that what we found is actually what they intended?

  • Colour: Gold.
  • Nose: Powerful and refined, with hints of truffles, spices and white flowers, then we pass through fields of barley. The malt emerges hand in hand with aromas of candied fruit.
  • Mouth: Deep and silky. Notes of almond paste, citrus and vanilla. The pastry texture runs into herbs and fresh figs.
  • Finish: Firm and long-lasting. Its taste draws on underlying artichoke, dark chocolate and mint, with an aftertaste of apricot, lemon and earth.

Can I just repeat? Hmm… Fungal vs truffles? Rotten fruit vs candied fruit?

I guess we just chalk it up to an experience – yet another adventure in our explorations of the world if whisky and spirits!

I purchased this at La Maison du Whisky for SGD 105, who suggested the possible explanation and offered to help with my next purchase from them… very kind.

My European Explorations with the Bombay Malt & Cigar gents included:

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European Explorations – Domaine des Hautes Glace, DeCavo, Swiss Highland, Gouden Carolus, Puni

Over the last few years, I’ve had a few opportunities to explore European whiskies… so much so that I created a separate page devoted just for whiskies with European origins.

I will also admit that the novelty factor is often higher than the quality factor. Hence I knew I was taking a gamble with this particular quartet – acquired over a few years for the Bombay Malt & Cigar gentlemen.

What did we try?

And just because I happened to have an open bottle, I shared a snifter of Bretagne’s Buckwheat whisky Eddu Silver 40%. It was quickly quaffed, pronounced like calvados and we moved on to the main event!

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Whisky Lady – May 2018

May had some terrific sessions! All three Mumbai based tasting groups met plus we had a few extras too! Plus I had a chance to catch-up on previous tasting sessions notes as well.  Read on…

All three tasting groups met, with most notes to follow next month…

The Whisky Ladies enjoyed a theme of “Northern Lights” exploring:

Whereas our original group tasted two Highland drams and an Irish pot still whiskey:

For our Bombay Malt & Cigar gents, I took them on a European Tour with:

In addition to our normal tasting evenings, we were fortunate to have a few industry extras in April and May with:

  • An evening with Caitlin Hill, Brand Ambassador for Bruichladdich and Botanist over a  quartet of cocktails and food pairing*
  • An evening with Stuart Harvey, Master Blender for IBHL with Balblair 05, 99, 00 and Speyburn 15 year*
  • An evening with Samantha Peters, Digital Marketing for IBHL with Speyburn 10 year 43%, Balblair 05 46%, Old Pultney 12 year 40%*

Which was augmented by a terrific evening at KODE with Keshav Prakash featuring a trio from the Vault Collection – Compass Box Asyla, Kilchoman Machir Bay and Edradour Caledonia.

In May, tasting notes were shared for our original club’s April session featuring The Vault Fine Spirits Collection, ably penned by our Guest Writer Nikkhil:

There was also a Minis evening playing around with finishes:

An informal evening with a few friends resulted in revisiting a few drams and sampling for the 1st time Shelter Point Cask Strength 2017 Winter Release 57.2% (Bottle 594/1088)

And for a final bit of “catchup”, back in March, the Whisky Ladies took a  remarkable “Trans Tasman Tour” to New Zealand and Tasmania, Australia:

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

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