Chorlton – Mackmyra 12 years 50.2%

I don’t know why, but I struggled to prepare this post… My tasting notes from a virtual tasting evening with our European chapter of the Whisky Ladies of Mumbai were weak. So it took sitting down for a solo tasting to tease out a bit more. If some of the impressions seem contradictory, this would be why!

First off – we are no strangers to Sweden’s Mackmyra distillery offerings.We’ve quite enjoyed a few over the years… and been disappointed too.

And now, without further ado… here is what we discovered!

Mackmyra 12 years 50.2% 278 bottles

  • Nose – Clean and fresh, cherry wood, sweet honey, one dimensional, caraway seed
  • Palate – Cork or wood, juniper?
  • Finish – Bitter cinnamon bark
  • Water – We had a bit of a debate on this – some thought it nicer with water, others thought it killed its character
  • Return – We set it aside and returned after some time… it opened up to reveal some lightly floral notes and balsam wood

Well this was a curious one… certainly not complex or flamboyant. Above all, it needed time to open up.

Did we like it? Let’s say there was a mixed response. In particular our Swedish lady was… underwhelmed by this Mackmyra.

And yet, when I came back to it a few weeks later, I found there was an inviting ‘freshness’ to its approach – clean, straight forward and quite pleasant. I found a subtle citrus fruitiness – more grapefruit than orange. With water, I also discovered tasty baked goods – more like lemon curd wickeltorte or poppyseed grapefruit gugelhupf.

It is distinctly different and while it wouldn’t be the 1st dram I would gravitate to relax and unwind, it was utterly delightful one evening when I came in from a brisk chilly walk. Clearly that is the right context for quite a cheerful dram.

What does David have to say?

My first foray into the world of whisky outside of Scotland is a rare chance to try a non-finished single cask from Sweden’s Mackmyra distillery.

The nose is super-clean and foresty (very Scandi!), with rye, caraway, lemon sponge and hints of apricot. The palate continues the theme with gingerbread, spiced cookies, juniper and a zingy orange/grapefruit fruitiness in the finish. Really interesting stuff, and a profile quite unlike any Scotch.

This bourbon barrel was fully matured in an abandoned mine under the Swedish forest.

I purchased this whisky directly from the Chorlton website for £70 plus shipping.

Here is are the other two in this Chorlton trio:

As for other brushes with Mackmyra? There have been many! With nearly all sampled together with our Swedish Whisky Lady:

If you don’t want to miss a post, why not follow Whisky Lady on:

Missing Canada…. Shelter Point’s new expressions

It is hard to believe, but I was last ‘home’ to Canada the summer of 2019 – a rushed trip triggered by needing a new passport pronto then race back to India to apply for both my German work visa and Indian long term visa. I was successful with the passport, also with the German visa but alas not the India visa – which remains elusive and further complicated by our tricky COVID times.

But I digress… While in our neighbourhood Liquor mart, I was thrilled to see that Shelter Point is now available in Manitoba. So naturally what I brought back from Canada was two bottles of Shelter Point‘s core single malt – one for my ‘new’ home in Germany and one for my ‘real’ home in India.

So in November 2020, when I saw online that Shelter Point had yet another really interesting looking limited edition expression, I was determined to not miss out!

A few clicks of a button later, an order was placed.

And what did I buy in anticipation of some very future trip to collect in Canada?

  • Shelter Point “The Collective” 4 year (2020) 46% – A blend of five casks chosen by Shelter Point’s five local staff to reflect the collective spirit and passion of their Shelter Point family. 
  • Shelter Point 7 year Single Cask #5 (2020) 43% – A blend of malted barley, unmalted barley and rye whisky, aged in an ex-bourbon cask, then finished in French oak. 
  • Montfort District Lot 151 Single Grain Whisky (2020) 46% – Montfort 151 is the lot in which the single-grain barley was grown. We’d tried the Montfort DL 141 before so was curious how the 151 contrasts and compares.

I truly have no idea when it will be possible to gather this bounty and bring it back to either Germany or India. However I know these beauties are waiting patiently with family. For now, that is enough… and I hope maybe by next summer?!?

Interested in receiving more Whisky Lady posts? Why not follow on:

American Minis – Whistle Pig Rye 50%

From New York to Texas, we found ourselves closing our American minis evening back on the East coast in Vermont.

WhistlePig Rye is a proud of its pig! Who is joined by a trio made up of two chemical engineers – Emily Harrison (lead distiller) and Meghan Ireland (maturation chemist) –  with Peter Lynch (master blender). Their focus is purely on rye – in all its various permutations and experimentations.

So what did we try? I’m reasonably certain it was this one…

Whistle Pig Straight Rye 50% 

  • Nose – Honey, fruity, bananas, pear, quince, sweet spices like mace, nutmeg, all spice… then orange peel, shifting into something earthier or herbal, even a little leafy?
  • Palate – Dry spice and surprisingly some sea salt, more of that earthy element with roots, a bit medicinal, herbal
  • Finish – Herbal to the point of being peculiar

Frankly it became a bit strange – we started to be reminded of gripe water or les racines de la grande gentiane… that bitter flowering herb that makes its way into Suze, Aperol and Underberg.

Speaking as someone who appreciates what bitter brings to the flavour palate, this dimension didn’t make it ‘off’. By contrast, it was what made this rye distinctive.

So what do we know?

I will admit I’m guessing a bit here as the information on our wee mini was limited. However I think we tried their standard WhistlePig 10 year Straight Rye – originally from Alberta with a 100 percent pure rye mash, further matured in Vermont in new and used bourbon oak barrels.

I flipped back in my tasting book to notes on the cask strength expression the Drinks by the Drams folks had in my other Advent calendar… That one was all sweetness, spice and  stroopwaffles warming over a hot tea. It was clear both are in the same ‘family’ but certainly not exactly the same either!

All in all, it was a good experience and a nice way to finish our American evening in London with folks hailing from Canada, France and India!

Here was our full American quartet:

With more from our 2019 Master of Malt Advent Calendar…

If you don’t want to miss a post, why not follow Whisky Lady on:

American Minis – Balcones Single Malt 53%

From Waco Texas, Balcones was ‘birthed’ as an idea in 2008 and started distilling a year later. They combine blue corn from New Mexico with Texas grown barley and have been putting out a range of whisky expressions from malts to bourbon to rye, with rum thrown into the mix as well.

Balcones Single Malt 53%

  • Nose – Rather than a clear bourbon stamp, we sensed something with – dare I say it? A sherry-like influence. A bit shy initially, as it opened up, we found nuts, raisins, more and more interesting with a decidedly fruity bent
  • Palate – First impression was ‘yummy’, while not complex, it was the kind of dram that grows on you, a nice warm toasty quality, rounding out quite happily with fruit
  • Finish – Didn’t register

Whereas the Hudson’s Baby Bourbon aromas were more interesting than the palate, we found the opposite here. The nose was interesting but the palate was its best feature. A good sipping whisky…

So what do the Balcones folks have to say about their Texas single malt?

  • Nose: ripe, buttered stone fruit, banana and pears; honey and rose water with delicate citrus accents
  • Taste: silky and full on the palate; lightly toasted bread with fresh butter and marmalade
  • Finish: long finish with lingering toast and burnt sugar notes morphing into rich malt and wood flavors with counterbalancing acidity

Here was our full American quartet:

With more from our 2019 Master of Malt Advent Calendar…

If you don’t want to miss a post, why not follow Whisky Lady on:

American Minis – TBWC 24 year Bourbon No 1 48%

Clearly That Boutique-y Whisky Company has featured prominently in our miniature explorations! However this was our first bourbon bottled by them… and a 24 year old one, no less? We were intrigued…

TBWC 24 year Bourbon No 1 48%

  • Nose – Mmmm coconut, lemon, toffee, apples, lots of over ripe fruit, then floral, shifting to sweet grass, then black vanilla being scraped from the pod, sweet leather, rich rum raisin, thick black treacle, molasses morphing into chocolate, then a honey liquor, apricot cream, burnt caramelized baked pineapple, cotton candy
  • Palate – Full of flavour too! Red berries, black berries, cherries… gorgeous! As the nose evolved, elements of it could be found swirling around with a great silky sipping sensation. Simply delicious.
  • Finish – Truthfully I don’t recall – I didn’t note anything for the finish… and think we were just so taken with the aromas then sipping that nothing else registered!

Can I just say – wow! We went from curious to incredibly impressed with the complexity and range we discovered. There was so much character on the nose which followed through on the palate. The more we sipped, the more we enjoyed.

So what do we know? It is their Batch 1, released in December 2018 with 8,376 bottles. In their quirky style, the folks at TBWC have this to say:

Now, now go about your business please – there’s nothing to see here. Don’t you know you’re in a restricted area? No unauthorised personnel allowed.

  • Nose: High notes of dried peel and vanilla, flaming Christmas pudding gives way to pear drops and a light dusting of cocoa powder
  • Taste: Insistent, buttery mouthfeel carrying a lorry load of vanilla, caramel and beurre noisette
  • Finish: Punchy, warm finish with great balance of the flavours

The recommended retail price on TBWC website is £199.95. All I can say is that I’m delighted it made it into our miniatures so we could sample one!

Here was our full American quartet:

With more from our 2019 Master of Malt Advent Calendar…

If you don’t want to miss a post, why not follow Whisky Lady on:

American Minis – Hudson Baby Bourbon 46%

I must admit up front that while I’d heard great things about Hudson’s Baby Bourbon, my one and only previous Hudson experience with their single malt years ago was… not great. In truth, it was a clear deterrent to prioritizing further explorations. For years I would see their squat half bottles in various airports and think… should I? And never did.

However when a dram lands in your lap, one must put aside past prejudice and enter into the exploration with an open mind. It particularly helps when sampling with others who had no such preconceived notions from past forays.

What did we find?

Hudson Baby Bourbon 46%

  • Nose – We were initially greeted with sweet corn, coffee, cherries, resin, a bit funky but in a fun way, red licorice
  • Palate – A bit rough – much more so than anticipated from the nose, not complex, woody and a bit medicinal
  • Finish – None to speak of…
  • Water – We gamely tried hoping it might coax out additional elements… don’t, just don’t

Overall it wasn’t a bad start. It certainly was promising on the nose but a disappointment on the palate. We were calibrated for brasher, younger more spirited American drams, however even keeping that in mind, this was potentially interesting but certainly not  brilliant.

We returned after sampling the other three American whiskies to see if the Baby Bourbon had evolved or changed over the hour or so…. The additional time didn’t do it any favours. What remained in the glass had soured, losing those sweet funky elements that made it promising.

So what do we know? Well, touted as the first legal pot-still whiskey to be produced in New York since prohibition, Tuthilltown distillery uses local corn, aged in small 2 gallon barrels… and then coax along the maturity with ‘sonic maturation’ from bass speakers that agitate the cask and the liquid. Hmmm… 

It seems I’m not alone in being ambivalent about Hudson – more than many other bourbon’s out there, you can find a wide range of reactions from absolute raving love to distain and derision!

I tried to find the official tasting notes, however it seems that the distillery has gone in a  different direction and no longer has this ‘Baby Bourbon’ option, shifting instead to a “Bright Lights, Big Bourbon” expression.

Here was our full American quartet:

 

With more from our 2019 Master of Malt Advent Calendar…

If you don’t want to miss a post, why not follow Whisky Lady on:

American Minis – Hudson, TBWC Bourbon, Balcones, Whistle Rye

As the months of the pandemic stretch on… our whisky tasting groups have clearly not been meeting in person. For the Bombay Malt & Cigar gents and I, we’d done a couple virtual evenings together – each nipping into what was on hand from our various locales around the globe.

With my UK trip, my host and fellow drammer and I could join together in London while the others tuned in from Belgium and two homes in Mumbai. We decided to add to the mix a merry lass from France known well to the gents from a memorable trip to Scotland years before.

So there we were… poised to pick from our 2019 Master of Malt Advent Calendar. What pray tell did we chose?

Of all the options, we decided to explore a quartet from America….

It turned out to be a rather good mix of styles… and good fun having (gasp!) three people tasting together in the same room. What a rarity these days!

If you don’t want to miss a post, why not follow Whisky Lady on:

Dunkerton Drams – Starward Nova 41%

Australia deserves its reputation for fabulous wines and – yes – whisky! So why not combine? While Tasmania dominates, Starward prove you can be in Melbourne and deliver something worthy of attention with distinction – by consistently maturing their whisky in wine barrels.

And while we’ve explored their Apera (sherry style) Solera, a spirited experiment under 3 years (New World Project), even their 10th Anniversary special…. somehow missed trying this Nova expression from their core range! Time to rectify that gap in our collective whisky explorations…

Starward Nova 41%

  • Nose – Plum, red cherries, black and red raspberries, strawberries, red liquorice, grapes, red wine, sweet yet also tangy, dried mango powder (aamchor), sweet basil
  • Palate – Light tannins, soft, bitter, great round fruits, had a nice fruity ‘fullness’
  • Finish – Moist mouth-watering finish, cherry cough syrup

Perhaps it was just us, however we could really find the red wine element in the equation – something bold and full bodied like a shiraz or a cab? And while only 41%, this whisky had full flavours in abundance. A most enjoyable way to close our evening, watching the sunset over green rolling pastures in Somerset.

What do the folks at Starward have to say about their Nova?

  • Beginning / A fruity, double distilled single malt made with Australian barley and craft brewers’ yeast for extra flavour.
  • Middle / Lightly charred or steamed barrels sourced from Australian wineries making great shiraz, cabernets and pinot noirs. Often filled fresh when the barrel is still wet with wine. Matured in Melbourne’s wildly varied climate for three years.
  • End / Exceptional length thanks to the red wine barrels. Bright aromatic notes of red berries, orchard fruits, vanilla, caramel and soft oak spice.
  • Future / Smooth and complex when sipped neat. Shines in classic cocktails. Works exceptionally well with food.

And their tasting notes:

  • Nose / Like we took bright flavours of red berries and orchard fruit and coated them in soft oak spice
  • Palate / Imagine a rich red berry pudding covered in vanilla, caramel and spice.
  • Finish / Balanced and long. The sweetness fades and the delicious flavour goes on.

What did we try in our 2nd Dunkerton evening?

And here are a few earlier explorations of Starward:

If you don’t want to miss a post, why not follow Whisky Lady on:

Dunkerton Drams – Lake Distillery Steel Bonnets

I was surprised to realize this is the 1st whisky from England that I’ve explored. While I’ve heard about The One series with Sherry, Port and Orange, never had a chance to try. However it turns out this particular expression is a deliberate blend of English and Scottish malt whiskies… so you could call this a transition from Scotland to England.

And what is with Steel Bonnets? These were the helmets worn when robing, raiding and riding… reminders of a time during the 13th to 17th century where the land between England and Scotland was a wild independent mix of kin over kingdom… neither British nor Scottish.

Started in 2011, Lakes Distillery calls home a 160-year-old Victorian farmstead on the north shore of Bassenthwaite Lake in England’s Lake District. There is a proud desi connect with Dhavall Gandhi its whisky master – financial analyst turned whisky scientist and artist.

Curious to discover more… we cracked open our sample and let the experience take us away…

Lakes Distillery Steel Bonnets 46.6%

  • Nose – Dried fruits, light sherry, woodsy even a bit ashy, stewed overripe fruits, wood shavings, manuka honey, sweetgrass smoke… after some time there was also some bitter chocoloate with nuts
  • Palate – Sweet peat, herbal, a nice oiliness underneath, lots of flavour and body, nice spice with substance with more of that sweet smoke
  • Finish – Finally a finish!

There was something so familiar about the aromas. My tasting companion dubbed it an “unblendy blend” as it was and wasn’t like a blend. Certainly one that needed a bit of time to breath and open up… on the palate it became even better after some time. Again with the finish, there was something so familiar. We never were quite able to place it, but certainly enjoyed the experience.

What do the folks at Lake Distillery have to say?

  • Nose: Notes of vanilla, sweet spice and woodsmoke
  • Palate: Creamy, slightly nutty and full-bodied. Vanilla, ginger, nutmeg and hints of dried fruit with a sweet layer of woodsmoke
  • Finish: Long and warming

Yup – we’d agree. And genuinely enjoyed this whisky… curious to explore more as and when opportunities arise.

What else did we try in our 2nd Dunkerton drams evening?

If you don’t want to miss a post, why not follow Whisky Lady on:

Dunkerton Drams – Nikka Days 40%

We wanted to mix things up our second evening, so our selection reflected a wee jaunt around the world from Japan to England to Australia to Scotland.

We decided to kick things off in the far east with a dram from Nikka. What do we know about Nikka Days? Just that it is a blend of Miyagikyo and Yoichi with grain… and not much more.

Nikka Days 40%

  • Nose – Honey, pickled seaweed in a Bento box, tobacco leaf, subtly fruity floral, sour dough, pastry, bit of apple and pear, apple pie then hint of citrus
  • Palate – Straight forward, light spice with a bit of smoke, warming… back to apple pie
  • Finish – Minimal

A clear appetizer dram… a nice way to get thing started with a curl of smoke to add a little something more. No complexity or nuance, just a relatively light bright beginning… a way to whet the appetite.

While not listed on the Nikka website, TWE share the producer tasting notes….

  • Nose: Apples, pears and strawberry liquorice. Perfumed notes of daiginjo sake and white melon. Grainy flavours develop, with freshly crushed barley and malting floor sweetness floating out of the glass. White chocolate and a sprinkling of lemon zest sit at the back.
  • Palate: Creamy and soft, with grapes and apples on top of toffee and candied lemon. Delicate white chocolate notes are joined by darker liquorice hints and a tiny touch of barrel char smokiness. Right at the back is a bowl of apples, freshly peeled and sliced.
  • Finish: Lemon zest and buttery biscuits. Barley sugar sweetness to leave grain and spice.

Delicate and fragrant at first, with more weight hiding behind. A great all-rounder with enough complexity to sip and enough oomph to shine in a mixed drink.

Reading the notes long after we sampled, I could certainly see some alignment with what we found. However complexity and oomph? Not so much…. But overall a nice starter!

Just to give a feel for pricing, I checked it out on Master of Malt – at the time of writing, it is  available for GBP 39. That’s exceedingly affordable these days for quite a drinkable blend!

What else did we try in our 2nd Dunkerton evening?

And other Nikka experiences? There’s been a few…

Don’t want to miss a post? Why not follow Whisky Lady on: