Mitcher’s Small Batch Bourbon

Our Bourbon explorations continued with Mitcher’s Small Batch Bourbon.

We began sampling it completely blind, to share our impressions without any influences beyond what was in our glass, then had the reveal followed by a brilliant cocktail.

Here is what we found…

Mitcher’s Small Batch Bourbon L16F747 45.7% (91.4 proof)

  • Nose – We were welcomed by mandarin oranges, sweet vanilla, jasmine, Cointreau, chocolate, creamy, butter rice, toffee, caramel, Chinese sweet red bean buns, fresh bread
  • Palate – Ooh! Very nice spice. Well rounded, has more substance than the FEW bourbon, orange blossoms, cinnamon gum like a Big Red, very smooth, lots of dried fruits
  • Finish – Lovely sweet light clove student oranges… long finish

It was universally pronounced “delicious!” A clear favourite of the evening – bringing enough character to make us happy to keep enjoying.

This was followed by an exceedingly good Sazerac… so good that a few even had a repeat!

 

Something to note about Mitcher’s is their master distiller, Pam Heilmann, was the first woman since Prohibition to serve as Master Distiller at a Kentucky Distillers Association distillery and their Mast of Maturation & Exec VP, Andrea Wilson, was the first woman to ever serve as Chair of the Kentucky Distillers Association.

What do they say about their Small Batch Bourbon?

Michter’s US1 Kentucky Straight Bourbon is made from a carefully selected mashbill that features the highest quality American corn. It is then matured to the peak of perfection. Truly “small batch” each batch of our US1 Kentucky Straight Bourbon is batched in a holding tank sized to fit a maximum of twenty full barrels, leaving no margin for “blending out” imperfection and thus necessitating excellence from every barrel. Reflecting the spirit of the Bluegrass State, Michter’s US1 Kentucky Straight Bourbon is nuanced, mellow and earthy.

Michter’s tasting notes:

  • Rich caramel with balanced vanilla, stone fruit notes, smoky depth, with an oak finish.

Our Bourbon trio included:

  • FEW Bourbon 46.5% was the base for a rather delicious Manhattan
  • Mitcher’s Small Batch 45.7% morphed into a marvellous Sazerac
  • Cleveland Underground AP Bourbon Whiskey finished with Apple Wood, Batch 3, 45% frothed into a twist on an Old Fashioned

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Whisky Ladies Grain – Nikka Coffey Grain 45%

When our Whisky Ladies set out to explore grains, we just so happened to include one we had sampled before – the Nikka Coffey Grain.

Our earlier impression was of a sun soaked piña colada masquerading as a coconut fruity whisky.

So what did we think on our revisit? Juxtaposed next to other grain whiskies from Scotland and Japan?

Nikka Coffey Grain 45%

  • Nose – Quite aromatic and herbal! Has character, toffee, brown sugar, coconut, some vanilla, sweet corn and a hint of sweet lemon, pear
  • Palate – Sooooooo sweet, silky soft and gentle, loads of that toffee
  • Finish – Sweeter note

One exclaimed “Well this is a fun whisky to meet!” Another shared it certainly is one to satisfy a sweet tooth – like a dessert dram!

For those who had tried it in our earlier session remarked that while there certainly was some coconut, it did not have that delightful almost over enthusiastic tropical piña colada quality.

When we considered the grains sampled so far – Haig, Chita and now this Nikka – there was little doubt the Nikka had the most character.

What do the folks over at Nikka have to say?

Coffey Grain is predominantly made from corn and distilled in a Coffey Still. The complex, sweet and mellow flavors of this expression will help you re-discover the beauty of a grain whisky.
The Coffey Still is the world’s first patented continuous still invented by Mr. Aeneas Coffey in 1830. Masataka Taketsuru valued the feature of this type of still, which retains the flavors of ingredients and also creates a distinctive texture. Coffey Grain and Coffey Malt are Nikka’s signature grain whiskies which show the beauty of our Coffey Stills.

And what would a bottle set you back? You can find it online in the UK for approx £55. We tasted it in September 2018 from an open bottle.

PS – Photo credit goes to our contributor Nikolina Berg.

What did the Whisky Ladies try in their Grain evening?

You can find more on a page dedicated just to Grains here.

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Whisky Lady – September 2018

In Mumbai, September is a season of transition… from the cooler monsoon slipping into the October heat of our 2nd summer. Which means the first part of the month is ideal whisky sipping weather by Indian standards and the later is when one tends to think more of a cool Gin & Tonic than straight up dram!

And yet, rain or shine, heat or not, our merry malters of Mumbai are always up for a wee nip or two!

For our Whisky Ladies, we shifted gears to grains. In the past, one would rarely find a grain featured solo, instead it would find favour in blends. And yet more and more one sees grain flying solo, so we decided it was time to explore!

  • Haig Club 40%
  • Suntory Chita 43%
  • Nikka Coffey Grain 45%
  • Cambus Single Grain 24 year (1991/2015) Cask 55891 51.9% (Signatory Vintage)

And our original club? We had a complete departure from our standard fare! We began our evening with a bourbon quiz, then teasingly small snifters of 3 different bourbons followed by carefully curated cocktails. Wow!

  • FEW Bourbon 46.5% morphed into a Manhattan
  • Mitcher’s Small Batch 45.7% slipped into an exquisite Sazerac
  • Cleveland Underground AP Bourbon Whiskey finished with Apple Wood, Batch 3, 45% opened into an original Old Fashioned

Whereas our Bombay Malt & Cigar gents were up for a more classic evening with whiskies aged 21 years:

  • Aberfeldy 21 year No 28750 40%
  • Highland Park 1991 40%
  • The Glenrothes 21 year Minister’s Reserve 43%

Given our Whisky Ladies 3rd year anniversary celebration was on the last day of August, tasting notes about our sociable evening of Irish drams, courtesy of our friends over at Pernod Ricard, were posted in September with:

Beyond this, there was a special chance to try Compass Box‘s new sherry influenced core offering – The Story of the Spaniard.

And I finally found scribbled notes from a November 2017 session where we explored   uncommon peat whiskies:

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

For many of our September sessions, tasting notes will come soon…

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Whisky Ladies Grain – The Chita 43%

Most would be familiar with Suntory’s popular Hibiki blend which brings together the Chita grain with Hakushu and Yamazaki. For many years, Suntory kept Chita nearly ‘secret’ in Japan – with no exports available.

I remember when I first picked up a bottle in Tokyo  (July 2014) – our tasting group in Mumbai were astounded by its exquisite, perfumed and nuanced character. Before featuring it in an article on Japanese whiskies, I reached out to the folks at Suntory to ask if they had any plans to market Chita outside of Japan. That was mid 2015 and the answer was “not yet” with plans clearly afoot to change that state sooner than later.

So when the NAS export version “The Chita” became available at Singapore duty-free a year later, I was excited to try it! Thanks to a “speed dating” sample sip at the airport, I had this chance, however didn’t discover much of what made our original experience so interesting.

Since then we’ve had more grains and know to calibrate expectations. And as always, the best thing about exploring whiskies with a tasting group – in this case the Whisky Ladies – is the different impressions which includes those who come with a fresh open approach not coloured by past experiences.

So what did we collectively think?

The Chita 43%

  • Nose – Light banana, vanilla, soft wood, almond, light perfume, honey
  • Palate – Lemon and pepper, sweet, pleasant, uncomplicated, more of that light perfume in the flavours and definitely more honey too
  • Finish – Simple, sweet yet satisfying

Overall we pronounced this one for the “easy drinking” category. Completely pleasant and one that could be brought out as an enjoyable uncomplicated option. One lady shared  she generally keeps a bottle of The Chita stocked and prefers it with ice and a splash of water for a simple refreshing wind-down drink.

What is interesting to note is that while the age is not stated, part of the character comes from the grain aging in a variety of casks – American White Oak, Spanish Oak and wine. This combination is given credit to producing a grain that is mild and smooth.

Suntory shares that they’ve produced grain as “dashi” or a broth base for their blends since 1972.  Yet only with the craze for Japanese whiskies globally and a growing interest in grain as a category on its own has The Chita become available since 2016.

And what do they have to say?

Shinji Fukuyo describes The Chita Single Grain Whisky as the “serenity of Japanese whisky.” Like the misty, calm seas of the Chita Peninsula on a day of elegant stillness, this airy whisky has a presence that is unmistakably serene.

“There is a quiet confidence and tenderness in our grain whiskies. These qualities allow them to be their own heroes, whether in a blend or featured as a single grain whisky.”

From the House of Suntory Whisky, a mild, smooth single grain whisky with unparalleled sophistication and a clean, clear finish.

  • Colour: Bright gold
  • Nose: Creme brûlée, cardamon, acacia honey, blossoming rose
  • Palate: Mild and smooth, hint of mint, deep honey
  • Finish: Clean and clear, spiced oak with subtle bittersweet notes

And what would a bottle of The Chita set you back? You can find it at Changi airport in Singapore for approx SGD 80 / USD 60 / INR 4,250. By Asian standards that is quite reasonable and more importantly, it is available in several airports in the region making it easy to pick up too. From that perspective, it is an easy buy for an easy drinking alternative.

PS – Photo credit goes to our whisky contributor Paula McGlynn

What else did the Whisky Ladies try in our Grain evening?

You can find more on a page dedicated just to Grains here.

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Grain Whiskies – Haig, Chita, Nikka, Cambus

Though the humble grain is mostly found in blends, the Whisky Ladies are no stranger to exploring grains…

Just a couple that come to mind include….

All of our earlier grain experiences were mingled with trying malts or blends, so when it came time to decide a theme anchored by Suntory’s grain whisky Chita, we decided to go all out with grains!

We put out the word and here is what turned up!

And here is a selection of other grain tasting experiences:

You can find more on a page dedicated just to Grains here.

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Bourbon Cocktail Hour with FEW, Mitcher’s, Underground Apple

Sometimes its good to shake things up! And that’s exactly what we experienced in our recent session. Literally shaking up some bourbon to make cocktails!

To get us in the mood, our evening began with a pop quiz on Bourbon, with fun factoids like a crash course into the confoundingly confusing mix of prohibition and restrictions (wet, dry, moist, wine, limited, golf…) to be found around alcohol consumption in the very state that boosts of bringing bourbon to the world – Kentucky!

Once our trivia round was finished, we dove into the Bourbons. We started with just a few sips of each… then the “main event” commenced…carefully crafted cocktails playing with the different elements of the drams.

So what did we enjoy?

  • FEW Bourbon 46.5% was the base for a rather delicious Manhattan
  • Mitcher’s Small Batch 45.7% morphed into a marvellous Sazerac
  • Cleveland Underground AP Bourbon Whiskey finished with Apple Wood, Batch 3, 45% frothed into a twist on an Old Fashioned

Read on over the coming days to find out more about our brush with Bourbons brought back to Bombay!

This wasn’t our 1st rodeo with American whiskies either… We’ve had some past adventures such as:

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Whisky Ladies Irish Celebration – Redbreast 12 year 40%

A few months ago at the soft launch of “The Quiet Man”, Michael Morris told the tale of how the Irish Distillers Ltd team, in their single minded focus to revive the industry and bring Jameson to the top, intended to drop Jameson Redbreast completely. However after hue and cry from Redbreast fans, decided to drop the “Jameson” preface instead to sit back and watch in amazement as Redbreast became so popular, it ensured pot still whiskies continue to have a special place on the world whisky map!

So it was entirely fitting that our Whisky Ladies Irish evening with Jameson Brand Ambassador Ciaran Hanton closed with the best known Irish pot still whiskey – Redbreast.

Rebreast 12 year 40%

  • Nose – Light caramel, quite sharp, a bit of spice like cloves, cinnamon, a big sherry influence, heady dry fruits, cream, toast
  • Palate – Very spice forward, nutmeg, there was a bit of a debate on whether it was balanced and complex or sharp and bitter or smooth and sweet. Take your pick! As we continued to sip, most of us finally settled on sweet meats and raisins.
  • Finish – Roasted spice, almost like a heartburn

With the Redbreast, Ciaran shared how it got its name from the friendly Robin. He also noted how, like Green Spot and Yellow Spot, it began as a bonded whiskey – meaning the stock was purchased by the merchant, in this case Gibeys – and further matured in their casks. As a wine importer, Gibeys had access to sherry casks which found new life maturing whiskies.

Since then much has changed however there is no question Redbreast became the worlds top selling Irish pot still whisky.

And what did we think? Truth be told, the Yellow Spot was a hard act to follow. There was no doubt the sherry influence and that this was a sharper spicier dram than the other pot still whiskies we tried that evening.

All in all, it was a merry night of good company, sociable drams with tales told to colour and spice up the experience even more!

What else did we have in our Irish night?

Our experience was courtesy of Pernod Ricard, tasted from a bottle opened in August 2018.

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Whisky Ladies Irish Celebration – Yellow Spot 12 years 46%

When I first tried Yellow Spot in 2013, it stood out for its approachable yet complex character. Over the years, I’ve kept my eye out for it, yet always found it in more sociable settings like a favourite bar in Singapore and not a proper “tasting” environment.

So when there was an opportunity to introduce Yellow Spot with Jameson’s Brand Ambassador Ciaran Hanton to our Whisky Ladies of Mumbai – it was an enthusiastic yes!

And what did we find?

Yellow Spot 12 year 46%

  • Nose – Brown sugar, fruity – again like the Green Spot we found pears, honey, vanilla, a nice crème brule, cinnamon spice, then apple pie
  • Palate – Love it! Denser than the Green Spot, peach pits, spicier, had that lovely oily silky roll around in your mouth, very tasty, shifting over time from white to red fruits
  • Finish – Light yet ginger spice – quite lovely! Perhaps even some candied apple at the end too with a sweet close

For many ladies, this was the “now we are talking” moment. Settling in to sip, savour and enjoy. Quite  few shared this was their favourite of our Irish evening.

Meantime our Irish whiskey education continued with Ciaran sharing that Yellow Spot is not a “finished” whiskey like those that say start in an ex-bourbon cask then are “finished” for a further time in say a sherry cask. Instead, Yellow Spot gains its character from whiskey that is matured in three separate casks – ex-Bourbon, ex-Sherry and ex-Spanish Malaga – then is blended together.

What is interesting is how the Sherry and Malaga, a sweet fortified wine made from Pedro Ximénez and Moscatel grapes, adds a subtle yet discernible elements. What matters most is they come together in harmony to make for an enjoyable dram.

What else did we have in our Irish night?

Our experience was courtesy of Pernod Ricard, tasted from a bottle opened in August 2018 with Jameson Brand Ambassador Ciaran Hanton.

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Whisky Ladies Irish Celebration – Green Spot 40%

A terrific way to kick off an exploration of Irish Pot Still whiskies is with Green Spot

Naturally there is a story to tell… Jameson’s Brand Ambassador Ciaran Hanton shared that the “Spots” began as a whiskey bonder brand. In this case, the Mitchell family used to mark their casks with a spot of colour – denoting different ages. The Blue dollop of paint was for the 7 year, Green for 10 year, Yellow for 12 year and Red for 15 year… of which both the Green and Yellow continue to be produced – just that now the Green Spot has no declared age. It also just happens to be the most popular “Spot” and is slowly becoming available in more places around the globe.

What matters most is what did we find?

Green Spot 40%

  • Nose – Honey suckle, sweet perfumes, literally dripping in honey, caramel desert, honeycomb, aromatic oils, tropical fruits, hay, green grass, apples and pears
  • Palate – Buttery, light sweet spices like cloves, green peppercorn. Had a much fuller flavour than expected – rich, oily, lots and lots of pear, very smooth with something more and a hint of spice
  • Finish – Light spice finish, a bit bitter

We found it quite “summery” – like honeyed sunshine in a bottle. The pears were particularly predominant and the longer we sipped, the more companionable it became. While not complex, its easy drinking character made it a terrific dram to return to…

What else did we have in our Irish night?

Our experience was courtesy of Pernod Ricard, tasted from a bottle opened in August 2018. While Green Spot isn’t yet available in India, one never knows, that may change!

For all the whiskies we sampled that evening except the Stout Edition, it was a happy revisit. If you are curious about my earlier experiences… read on…

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Whisky Ladies Irish Celebration – Jameson Caskmate Stout Edition 40%

Whisk(e)y and beer – separate beverages yet found as companions and occasionally as hybrid experiments.

In this case, the story goes

Like all the best conversations, the one between Jameson’s Head of Whiskey Science and the Head Brewer of a local craft beer brewery, started at the bar. A swapping of whiskey and beer barrels soon after, resulted in Jameson Caskmates Stout Edition – triple-distilled, blended Irish Whiskey that has been patiently finished in Irish craft beer-seasoned barrels.

And what did we find?

Jameson Caskmate Stout Edition 40%

  • Colour – Dark gold
  • Nose – Chocolate, butterscotch and flowers, very yheasty, dry cereals and a bit dusty, coconut, one even found Kahlua coffee liqueur, some hazelnut, cream
  • Palate – Very sweet, caramel, bitter orange and hay – some found it had a ‘hops’ influence, others didn’t discover any discernible stout element beyond the chocolate
  • Finish – Limited yet pleasant

Jameson’s brand ambassador Ciaran Hanlon shared that as Jameson is a mix of malted and approximately 10% unmalted barley, with the unmalted barley adding a creaminess and pepper spice. The thing was, though we could find the cream we didn’t find much spice – at least in this whiskey.

He went on to share that unlike some blended whiskies, Jameson is a single distiller blend and attributed the triple distill approach to producing a smoother style.

While there is no age statement, Ciaran noted typically Jameson has whiskies from 4-7 years, matured in ex-bourbon, ex-sherry and for this special expression, ex-stout barrels.

In this case, the whiskey barrels first go to the craft brewery Fransisco Well to give a little extra whisky “ooomph!” to the stout beer, then the same casks come back to Jameson to work their wonders for six months on the whisky.

There was a bit of a divide on this one – some enjoyed the chocolaty goodness, others prefer their Jameson “straight” without a twist.

Talk turned to many ladies sharing Jameson was their “gateway” dram into wider whisky explorations. It also is one most found can depend on in a bar to be at a reasonable price point for a reliably good sociable dram. And what’s not to like about that?

And the official tasting notes?

  • Nose – An initial aroma of freshly cut hay is complemented by a crisp orchard fruit character – green apples and pears, with a twist of lime zest. Mild pot still spices appear, deepening from green tea to hazelnut and milk chocolate.
  • Taste – The initial sweet mouth coating typical of the Irish pot still inclusion is quickly complemented by the subtle touch of hops and cocoa beans from the beer cask finish.
  • Finish – Long and sweet with milk chocolate and butterscotch.

After the Jameson Caskmate Stout Edition, we switched gears to pure Irish pot still drams:

Our Irish experience was courtesy of Pernod Ricard, tasted from a bottle opened in Aug 2018. For those curious to explore, Jameson Caskmate Stout Edition is available in India.

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