Whisky Lady – June 2018

June was quite full with all three tasting groups holding their regular sessions plus a few interesting visitors with:

With our Bombay Malt & Cigar gents, we shifted gears to have an evening dedicated to open bottles – a complete mixed bag of what was lying around. Which in our case meant a merry trip through:

For the Whisky Ladies, it was a night of Highland Hijinks!

And our original group? We were introduced to a remarkable new independent bottler – North Star with a terrific trio of:

  • North Star’s Cask Series 001 – Glenrothes 20 year (Oct 1996/Oct 2016) 54.6% 1 of 252 bottles*
  • North Star’s Cask Series 001 – Ardmore Peat 8 year (June 2008 / Oct 2016) 57.1% 1 of 198 bottles*
  • North Star’s Cask Series 002 – Caol Ila 8 year (June 2008 / May 2017) 58.3% 1 of 230 bottles*

Last month, I took our Bombay Malt & Cigar gents on a European Exploration and caught up with all the tasting notes which had a clear divide between ones we quite enjoyed…. and those we decidedly did not!

The thumbs “down” category included:

And in the thumbs “up” category?

In addition to our normal tasting evenings, we were fortunate to have not one but two IBHL sessions in April and May respectively with:

Evenings with Krishna Nakula, India’s Malt Maniac are always a pleasure. This time we ambled through a rather remarkable range of whiskies…

*Tasting notes coming soon…

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

You can also find even more Whisky bits ‘n bobs on:

Westland Whiskey – From “Wow” to maybe “Not Now”!

Three years ago I was introduced to Westland and went from curious and cautiously impressed, to “This really is very good”, to wow and fan status. Til now…

Westland Cask No 395 54.6% – June 2015

We found the hand filled Cask No 395 to be “very creative, complex, insanely interesting.” Since then I’ve kept an eye out for Westland, encouraging others to check it out too.

Westland Sherry 46% – Oct 2016

This positive perspective continued when our Bombay Malt & Cigar gents tried the Sherry Wood blind. For many this was the 1st truly impressive American single malt they sampled. They generously shared the the bottle with the Whisky Ladies who were equally impressed.

Westland Single Malt 46% – Jan 2017

Now on the hunt for Westland, the Whisky Ladies managed to acquire the standard Single Malt and cracked it open early 2017. We loved it!  Rapturous moans of pleasure… marmalade, praline, buttery, creamy, bursting with different elements. it was a complete hit!

Westland Trio – July 2017

This enthusiasm picked up pace even more when the Bombay Malt & Cigar group blind tasted a trio of Peated 46%American Oak 46%, Sherry Wood 46%. While the Sherry and American Oak came out on top, they were all terrific and firmly cemented a fan club.

A bottle came home with me and was my “go to” dram during a stressful project with a small nip once and a while, which guaranteed to bring both relaxation and a smile.

Westland American Oak – June 2018

Fast forward nearly a year and this positive trajectory took an abupt about turn… with a bottle that completely “flopped”…

What did we find?

  • Nose – Caramel, honey, vanilla, sour, sharp, wood, after time a bit of sweet clove, more new oak
  • Palate – An odd edge, starts with spice on the tip of the tongue with a drop in the middle, not terribly satisfying
  • Finish – Very bitter… long but not enjoyable
  • Water – Helps… brought out a bit of mulled wine, orange syrup, sticky toffee and pudding on the nose, maybe marginally helped the palate, but not much

The best aspect was the aroma which at least went through some shifts but it overall it was a complete disappointment. It wasn’t “bad” but it also wasn’t “good” and it didn’t have any of the elements we found so enjoyable previously.

I started flipping through the pages of my tasting notebook, reading out past passages…

  • “Delicious aroma, easy drinking character” and “Dangerously drinkable” – Aroma was ok but dangerously drinkable? No way!
  • “Too caught up simply enjoying” and “Relax my love, drink me now…” – Huh?

This was simply not the same quality and character. And lest you think this was an anomaly, I had another bottle purchased around the same time. Same thing. Huge disappointment, needs water and can be disguised in cocktails. It isn’t disastrously bad, but it definitely isn’t amazingly good. More harsh, raw and curiously unsatisfying.

One wonders, after Westland was acquired by Remy Cointreau in Dec 2016, could this be a sign of things to come?

Or a “blip” in what was earlier an award winning upstart that put American single malt on the world whisky map?

Only time will tell….

From time to time, you can also find other whisky related updates and activities on:

Breaking open the bar – Westland, Glenmorangie, Balblair and DeCavo

We had another type of evening planned but with our original contributor unwell, decided to shift gears completely and crack open our respective bars to pull out an open bottle or two.

What did we decide to try / revisit?

  • Westland American Oak 46% – What once impressed…. now disappointed… just not what it used to be…
  • Glenmorangie 19 year 43% – First opened with the Whisky Ladies in January,  Soft citrus, fruity, light florals, lovely… classic Glenmorangie style
  • Balblair 05 46% – Opened as part of a recent evening with the folks from InterBev, it had a slightly sour element not previously found but still most drinkable
  • DeCavo NAS Batch 10 Cask 92 46% – Brought back as our favourite from a recent European exploration. Still lip smackingly good! We’d love to try more and a 375 ml bottle is perfect size for our tastings…

You can also find Whisky Lady in India on:

Whisky Lady – April 2018

Another marvellous malty month! Where all three tasting groups met… and I unforgivably missed one! However made up with more whisky adventures.

So what all mischief did we get up to in April?

Photo: The Whisky Barrel

The absolute highlight was a once in a lifetime opportunity to try a 64 year old whisky!

Our Bombay Malt & Cigar group explore Lost Distilleries Trio from the Classic range:

  • Towiemore 43% The evening favourite – think apple crumble meets malt!
  • Gerston 43% Seaside brine, bitter sweet, peat and spice
  • Stratheden 43% Humid, citrus, chocolate… long finish

Whereas our Whisky Ladies Islay Adventures

Plus a few interesting evenings:

Plus a set of no less than seven Gin gin gins!

The balance of the month’s posts were all catching up on earlier tasting sessions…

Our Bombay Malt & Cigar gents explored whiskies from Japan:

Our original club’s revisited:

And the last fleeting impression from Whisky Live Singapore 2017:

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

You can also find even more Whisky bits ‘n bobs on:

Random whisky tasting at KODE

When we started our different whisky tasting clubs in Mumbai it was at a time where the offerings readily available beyond whiskies personally brought into the country were rather limited. Fast forward and today it is possible to have a respectable flight… right here in the city… for a price.

That shared, we likely won’t see many single casks entering anytime soon… in part because to import requires donating a “sample” for testing purposes. When a product has only say 100 bottles in the world and to sell at best a handful in a particular state, it becomes impossible to justify such a “donation”.

So while the more unusual limited edition specimens likely won’t show up anytime soon,  the overall range is sufficient for those curious to be inducted into the world of single malts and whiskies in general.

Which is exactly what we sat down to accomplish one fine evening at KODE in Mumbai early April.

My sampling companions and I warned the waiter that we would be requesting different bottles, sniffing then selecting so to be patient with us. And they were.

We began with a clear progression from light to distinctive profiles…

I’d initially thought to start with Compass Box Hedonism as it is such an unusual yet light whisky. They were just out of stock, so shifted instead to a readily accessible “appetizer”:

Our palates now acclimated, our real journey began with:

I then wanted to shift gears to start to discern more subtle complex flavours… It was wishful thinking to hope Glendronach 18 year might be available however did have a choice between the 12, 15 and 21 year... We went with:

  • Scotland – Glendronach – Glendronach 15 year “Revival” 46%*

Then split into the following to cater to the emerging different palate preferences of my sampling companions:

As conversation veered towards talk of casks and the difference between a Scottish single malt and Bourbon, I thought it would be good to do a wee detour to the US to contrast what we sampled so far with Bourbon & Rye:

Then proceeded to compare the nuances between very similar whiskies from Glenmorangie that have different finishes:

  • Scotland – Highland – Glenorangie Lasanta 12 year 46% – Olorosso & PX Sherrry finish
  • Scotland – Highland – Glenmorangie Quinta Ruban 12 year 46% – Port finish

And finally we closed with a split between revisiting whiskies that “stood” out for my companions:

*Just in case you were wondering what all the “asterisk” mean… each of these bottles were brought into India thanks to Keshav Prakash with The Vault Fine Spirits. I’m incredibly proud of what Keshav and his team have achieved and have made a huge impact on the range now available in Mumbai. Thank you!

KODE – Freestyle Bar and Kitchen

Ground Floor – 11, Oasis City, Kamala Mills – Entrance #2, Lower Parel,, Mumbai, Lower Parel, Mumbai, Mumbai, Maharashtra 400013. Tel: 077188 82924

PS It may seem like an insane quantity of whisky but keep in mind we were splitting 30 ml singles – focusing more on sniffing, swishing and savouring.

You can also find Whisky Lady in India on:

Whisky Lady – March 2018

It is time for a malty monthly round-up! Where all the sessions marched in order, one after the other wish a special bonus evening with Malt Maniac Krishna Nakula.

So where did we begin?

The Whisky Ladies took a  “Trans Tasman Tour” to New Zealand and Tasmania, Australia:

Followed the very next evening by the Bombay Malt & Cigar gents exploring whiskies from Japan:

Our original club did a revisit with:

Evenings with Krishna Nakula, India’s Malt Maniac are always a pleasure. This time we ambled through…

March also was a month to catch-up on a few earlier tasting experiences… beginning with our Bombay Malt & Cigar gents  Compass Box Quartet!

And more fleeting impressions from Whisky Live Singapore 2017:

*Tasting notes coming soon…

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

You can also find even more Whisky bits ‘n bobs on:

Bourbons in Bombay – The mighty Stagg Jr 64.75%

Last of our explorations of American drams was another bourbon from Buffalo Trace… from Blanton’s we turned our attention to the mighty Stagg Jr.

What did we think?

Stagg Jr 129.5 proof / 64.75%

  • Nose – Fresh wood, sawdust, cherry, pepper spice, raisins, buttery, vanilla ice cream fruit cake, then back to cayenne, a citrus twist, strong sherry like qualities
  • Palate – Whoo boya! A full on bourbon, very sugary, nice mouthfeel, quite concentrated, a big boy bourbon
  • Finish – Long finish

First swig and one exclaimed “Me on the horse I rode in…” It was full on cowboy action.

We thought it might go rather well with ice… so out came the big balls. It did indeed work well, taming that bad boy to something rather drinkable with the citrus quality coming out even more.

And what do the folks over at Buffalo Trace have to say?

George T. Stagg built the most dominant American distillery of the 19th century, during a time known as the Gilded Age of Bourbon. Uncut and unfiltered, this robust bourbon whiskey ages for nearly a decade and boasts the bold character that is reminiscent of the man himself.

Rich, sweet, chocolate and brown sugar flavors mingle in perfect balance with the bold rye spiciness. The boundless finish lingers with hints of cherries, cloves and smokiness.

What all did we sample in our American whiskey night?

You can also find Whisky Lady in India on:

Bourbons in Bombay – Back to our old friend Blanton’s 46.5%

We shifted from single malt back to Bourbon with the reliable Blanton’s… it was by no means most of our first brush with Blanton’s… a few shared when in doubt, it is always safe to reach out for this bourbon. From Buffalo Trace, Blanton’s is a traditional bourbon made of corn, rye and barley… from warehouse H.

What did we think?

Blanton’s Single Barrel Bourbon 93 Proof Dumped 5-25-17, Barrel No 424, Ruch No 47

  • Nose – Lemon tart, honey sweet, a hint of tobacco or sweet grass, light leather
  • Palate – Lovely sweetness, new American oak, caramel with a bit of orange marmalade
  • Finish – Soft subtle finish, walnut bitterness

Such an enjoyable easy drinking bourbon. The 1st hit wakes you up but is not even the least bit harsh. This was an easy pick to settle down for the night with a cigar…

And what do the folks over at Buffalo Trace have to say?

  • Nose – A deep, satisfying nose of nutmeg and spices.
  • Palate – Powerful dry vanilla notes in harmony with hints of honey amid strong caramel and corn.
  • Finish – A medium finish composed of returning corn and nutmeg flavors.

What all did we sample in our mostly Bourbon night?

You can also find Whisky Lady in India on:

American Night – St. George Lot No 16 43%

We continued our explorations of American drams with a hard to find single malt – St. George. None of us had tried it before so it was a pleasure to discover together!

Which is in many ways surprising as St. George is not new to artisan spirits – founded in 1982 – however isn’t as they are newer to our favourite spirit – whisky. While their website does not specify when exactly they started to produce single malts, there is mention Lot 12 (from 2012) and so forth. With the latest Single Malt Lot 17, in honour of their 35th year of operations… if you can find it.

What they do say about their approach is compelling:

We’re passionate about distillation in all its forms, but we don’t release a spirit unless we feel we have something new and valid to contribute to the conversation. We want to be able to pick our spirits out of a lineup on smell and taste alone because they’re exceptional.

For us, all that matters is the whiskey…. so on to our experience.

St. George Lot No SM016 43%

  • Nose – Oily, almost like smelling baklava, rose, distinctly different, quite herbaceous, cherry, lemon pine sol, sugar coated saunf (fennel seed)
  • Palate – It tastes exceedingly… er… rather pronounced… er… hemp like quality… a potpourri of after mint like you get in packages on Jet Airways flights, once past the herbal dimension, there is an creamy malty almost chocolaty element
  • Finish – Quite a decent finish, more of that fennel, a bit of bitter almond

I can’t help it… there is no other way to say it… this could be a gateway single malt for (ahem) medical marijuana smokers…

Setting that aside, it is unusual, fresh, and frankly really quite enjoyable and well worth trying.

We set it aside for some time and with the revisit found:

  • Nose – Sour varnish, nuts, surf, packaged flowers
  • Palate – Sweet flowers, still very herbal but with enough substance to enjoy
  • Finish – Less bitter and continued the herbal theme

And what do the folks over at St. George have to say about this dram on the label?

For the better part of two decades, we’ve been handcrafting single malt in 65-gallon pot stills here in California out of love for what whiskey can be. The result is an uncommonly smooth and ethereal single malt with notes of cocoa, roasted hazelnut, and hardwood smoke.

Would we agree? Yes.

Our whisky host admitted this was the most expensive bottle of the evening array… hard to find and likely to set you back $150. We concluded that while for such a price point, you can have a superior single malt from Scotland, yet we had no regrets having an opportunity to try the St. George… and for those curious to see what the American’s can do whisky wise, it is worthy of tracking down.

What else did we sample in our mostly Bourbon night?

You can also find Whisky Lady in India on:

Bourbons in Bombay – Jefferson’s Very Small Batch 41.15%

We kicked off our explorations of American drams with a Kentucky Straight Bourbon… In truth, Jefferson’s is a bourbon brand rather than a distillery per se… though the parent company Castle Brands did acquire a stake in the Kentucky Artisan Distillery.

But let’s not get hung up on details and pedigree… What did we think?

Jefferson’s Very Small Batch Bourbon 41.15%

  • Nose – Clear stamp of bourbon, then sour, citrus, lots of new wood, caramel, pine, varnish, musty, dry, paint thinner, acetone… then mellows into a light custard
  • Palate – Soft, a bit watery, and while not complex has some character, a bit bitter… as it sits starts to shift more into a light citrus honey
  • Finish – Soft after taste remains but not something you could describe as a finish

One remarked it could be described as a ‘ladies bourbon’… Speaking as a lady, not sure this would be my style of whisky at all! But I digress…

We set it aside for some time and revisit… it was like gripe water! Sweet and sour, cereals, ripe bananas, sour green apples and pears, then a nutty bitter close, softening into sweetness again. Not brilliant but not bad either.

And what do the folks over at Jefferson’s have to say?

Jefferson’s Bourbon is made in very small batches. Actually, ridiculously small batches. We take up to four different Kentucky straight bourbon whiskies of different ages and marry them together. Doing this, we get a lot of complexity and balance while maintaining the consistency needed in a bourbon (one of the blends comprising of at least 55% of the total). We wanted to make it big enough for the connoisseur, yet approachable for people just getting into the premium bourbon field.

Would we agree? It certainly is approachable…

While I can’t confirm, I suspect this bottle was purchased in the US of A… generally available for around $30. Which makes it mighty good value for money.

What all did we sample in our mostly Bourbons night?

You can also find Whisky Lady in India on: