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:

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

Northern Lights – Crown Royal Northern Harvest Rye 40%

This wasn’t the 1st, 2nd or even my 3rd time sampling this particular whisky.  However it was an exceedingly apt way to kick start our Whisky Ladies evening exploring whiskies with a Northern Lights connect.

As soon as the bottle came out, a fellow Canadian couldn’t help but recall her youthful follies with a quintessential Canadian drink – Rye and Ginger aka ginger ale.

Crown Royal Northern Harvest Rye 40%

  • Nose – Maple, very sweet, light rye yet accessible, sparkling cider, juicy fruit gum
  • Palate – Ginger, sweet, bit spicy then  back to sweet
  • Finish – Short, sweet, light wood

It made us think of making a terrific Old Fashioned or Manhattan.

Whisky Ladies Northern Lights:

You can read about other tasting adventures with the Northern Harvest Rye here:

You can also find Whisky Lady in India on:

Northern Lights – Crown Royal, Flóki, Mack

It can be a lot of fun playing around with a whisky theme. With the right combination, you can discover something different even in a familiar dram, or appreciate nuances in a spirit you may otherwise dismiss.

It was one of those kinds of sessions, held together by a distinctly “northern” theme. So while it it was swelteringly hot outdoors, we retreated to the cool ac of indoors and enjoyed our Northern Lights evening of:

While none would be considered outstanding, yet each was unique and as a set, enabled us to appreciate their different dimensions.

Talk turned to affordability… these days in the quest for something special, prices can become daunting. This was a terrific reminder that in the right company, context and frame of mind, there is no need to spend a “bomb” to obtain something quite enjoyable.

Case in point, when we looked up prices discovered:

  • Northern Harvest Rye $32
  • Mack $42
  • Flóki $52

From our perspective, these are all eminently affordable for quite affable drams.

What was even better was the tales of how each made it from their respective locales to Mumbai… details coming over the next few days!

You can also find Whisky Lady in India on:

Shelter Point 2017 Winter Release 57.2%

My love affair with Shelter Point from Vancouver Island continues… courtesy of a fellow Canadian from British Columbia who picked this bottle up on a recent jaunt from Vancouver to Mumbai.

Here is what we thought…

Photo: Paula McGlynn

Shelter Point Cask Strength 2017 Winter Release 57.2% (Bottle 594/1088)

  • Nose – Lots of sweet cereals, heavy honey, toasted nuts, a bit of spicy chilli, honey comb, started to take on quite a fruity dimension – warm, ripe summer fruits, honey drizzled oats or barley, lightly floral shifting back into warm freshly baked pie
  • Palate – Sooooooo good! A happy whisky with a nice kick… one that we were simply too busy enjoying to dissect the different elements of the palate… all I can recall is the lovely baked goods, light cinnamon, apples continued…
  • Finish – Very long, a bit ‘tingly’ with a hint of sweet grass
  • Water – You can, makes it even more “happy” yet it also isn’t needed either

It reminded us of a Canadian summer night – after the heat of the day, a slight drop in temperature, a light breeze, the smell of sunshine fading into sunset with warm grasses, fruits and a hint of honeyed flowers.

What I loved most is it had that “Let me wrap you up in a warm welcoming blanket” quality – just more pronounced with more kick and character than the standard Single Malt at 46%.

As always, the biggest problem with Shelter Point is it is simply far too inviting and has a dangerously bad habit of “disappearing” quickly in happy consumption!

I was curious to know more so wrote to the folks over at Shelter Point. Here is what distiller Leon Webb had to say:

Cask Strength 2017:

  • Nose: An enticing aroma of candied sweets and creamy treats, lattice apple pie with vanilla custard and homemade ice cream, candy floss, praline chocolates, hazelnut and a hint of white pepper
  • Palate: Sweet and juicy fruits, honey, pecan pie, brown sugar and cinnamon
  • Finish: Rum raisins and sweet tobacco 

Shelter Point Cask Strength Whisky 2017 Facts:

  • Base: Two-row barley and rye
  • Distillation: Small-batch, 2x distilled and non-chilled filtered
  • Alcohol Content: Bottled at 57.2% Alc.Vol
  • Bottle Size: 750ml
  • Batch Size: 1088 bottles
  • Packaging: Classic Tennessee-style bottle features Vinolok glass closure and original engraving of Shelter Point Farm created by renowned illustrator Steve Noble

Here are a few other Shelter Point’s sampled til date:

You can also find Whisky Lady in India on:

Minis – Shelter Point Double Barrelled 50%

Ever since a whisky sampling companion picked up this Shelter Point mini in BC, I’ve been ridiculously impatient to try it. My previous experience with Shelter Point has been very positive – there is something just so enjoyable about their single malt that is simply comforting – the exact dram you want to settle down and relax with.

And this one? Just like our other minis, it plays with a finish… in this case quite unique – after maturing in French oak casks, it was finished in a blackberry wine from Coastal Black Estate Winery near Mount Washington in the Comox valley on Vancouver Island. I was last in the area for a cousin’s wedding and can attest to it being a truly beautiful part of Canada.

And while I’ve never had their blackberry wine, I couldn’t wait to try what it did to this Shelter Point whisky.

Shelter Point Double Barrelled 50%

  • Nose – Wow! Blackberry compote, black wine gummy, light spice, a cassis kir, nice dark berry, almost like a rich port, with a bit of sourness too. Very interesting, juicy fruity without being overly sweet with a very natural quality, jammy, fermented barley sugars, a bit dusty like a granary, creamy, salted caramel banana, peanut brittle, vanilla
  • Palate – Spice cinnamon bark, while has character it was quite linear from palate to finish, some light sweet fruit
  • Finish – A simple yet nice black raspberry finish that just gentle rides off into the sunset
  • Water – While there is a more character without water, it is good to try with… the water dampens down the nose. As it settled the berries came out even more… just needed a bit of coaxing. Really quite nice, softer and  revealing that wonderful “enveloping you like a comfortable blanket” quality which makes Shelter Point so enjoyable

We set it aside and returned to chocolate chips, a wonderful mandarin or clementine perfumed orange.

And what do the folks at Shelter Point have to say?

Our first Double Barreled Whisky is a special collaboration with Vancouver Island’s Coastal Black Estate Winery. We hand-selected two of our best Single Malt Whisky casks and finished them in two French Oak wine barrels, previously home to Coastal Black’s Blackberry Wine. Aged in our American Oak for six years, and then finished for 1126 hours in the flavourful French Oak, Shelter Point Double Barreled Whisky is a sensational marriage of spirits.

  • A nose of brandied bananas, sweet toffee and caramel, with a marvelous hint of lemon sherbet and tobacco leaf.
  • Salted caramel continues to the palate alongside golden treacle and a dash of white pepper.
  • With water you can find youth in Jolly Rancher sweets, cola, and a creamy vanilla finish.

Our fabulous finishes minis eve included:

You can also find Whisky Lady in India on:

Minis with fabulous finishes – Glen Scotia, Nomad, Shelter Point

Believe it or not, we had a problem of plenty… lots of different minis to potentially explore picked up our several trips.

A tasting companion neatly organized into different possible sets and the one we elected to try was whiskies with finishes… we initially planned to sample four but in the end we were content with just these three:

You can also find Whisky Lady in India on:

“O Canada!” Barrel of Sunshine Liqueur 30%

During my last trip to Canada, the kind folks from Shelter Point not only sent a bottle of their rather enjoyable single malt…. they also sent along this gem too.

However I was in a quandary… how to bring back when I was already over my allowance with the Shelter Point Single Malt, G&W and No 99 Red Cask?

Galloping to the rescue was a dear friend, more like a brother… who is also originally from Winnipeg… who’s mother just happened to be coming to Mumbai before the close of 2017. Shameless about getting interesting drams into India, she was asked… my folks dropped off this with a few other small goodies from Canada and this bottle made its way to Mumbai, India in time for our “O Canada!” celebration of Canadian whiskies.

Now I’m not normally a sweet liqueur kind of person… however one can always make an exception! And it seemed fitting to have a little treat with our desert after sampling our whiskies, quaffing our meal… to relax a bit longer…

So what did we think?

Barrell of Sunshine Liqueur 30%

  • Nose – Christmas in a bottle! Chock full of warm marmalade, sweet spices, curling maple candy
  • Palate – Sweet yet not cloyingly so, lovely to slowly sip
  • Finish – A light lovely dancing sweet spice remains

In short, we loved it! Overall there is a whimsical, lyrical quality to this liqueur. And it is an absolutely perfect sipping accompaniment to a rich chocolaty desert or Christmas pudding.

For those unfamiliar, Shelter Point makes artisanal spirits on the west coast of Canada… more specifically near Oyster River on Vancouver Island.  They either grow their own barley or source from other local farmers, passionate about creating quality something authentically local.

Here is what the folks over at Shelter Point have to say:

Perhaps if you saw the sunlight dance on the ocean waves near our farm, you’d wonder too: if you could bottle sunshine, what would it taste like? We thought about it and were determined to find out. Our answer: Sunshine Liqueur. Created in 2016, Sunshine is a small-batch, specialty blend of Canadian spirits and pure Canadian maple syrup coupled with a selection of natural extracts bursting with flavour. We call our signature blend, Orange Spice Maple.

Tasting Notes

Orange Spice Maple: This rich, copper liqueur combines the aromas of fresh oranges, sweet vanilla mandarin and honey maple. Its palate is smooth and sweet, with zesty citrus undertones and a warm finish.

What else did we have in our “O Canada” 150th Celebration?

You can also find Whisky Lady in India on:

“O Canada!” Shelter Point Single Malt

I’m utterly shameless when it comes to Shelter Point. I thoroughly enjoyed their 1st Batch – finding it exactly right for an easy drinking yet interesting dram. Remarkable patience was clearly taken to not jump the gun, putting it out when it was actually ready to be consumed, unlike many new distilleries who pump out product before it is truly ready.

Having shared the 1st bottle with the Whisky Ladies, it was time to give the folks in our original club a try… one member had even sampled it in Amsterdam and was thrilled to revisit.

So what did we think?

Shelter Point Single Malt 46%

  • Nose – Initially a bit of curdled milk, slightly medicinal, then shifted into  green apple – like a crisp Granny Smith apple, fresh cut grass, then began to mellow into a hazelnut creamer, almost buttery like, one even found it had a Viognier white wine quality – fruity and complex…. exceedingly inviting and approachable
  • Palate – Classic smooth single malt, chocolate, enough spice to make it interesting, malty, a bit bitter but in a good way, had great balance
  • Finish – Stays… subtle yet goes on and on and on

Finally a proper single malt!! We sighed in pleasure… delighted to be in our whisky ‘happy place’ with such a beautiful dram.

Their tagline “Sunshine and sea air: unofficial ingredients in every bottle” has a rather apt homespun charm about it. We don’t disagree.

For those interested in the ‘facts’ here’s what the folks over at Shelter Point have to say:

  • Still: Custom-designed copper still
  • Base: Two-row barley (That’s it. Nothing else.)
  • Distillation: Small-batch, 2x distilled and non-chilled filtered
  • Alcohol Content: Bottled at 46% Alc.Vol
  • Bottle Size: 750ml
  • Packaging: Classic Tennessee-style bottle features Vinolok glass closure and original engraving of Shelter Point Farm created by renowned illustrator Steve Noble

This bottle was provided courtesy of the distillery… sent from British Columbia to my folks in Manitoba as it still isn’t available in that province yet. It is presumably from their 2nd batch as their 1st ran out last year! All I can say is – I’m a fan. Period.

I’ve also been keenly watching some of their cask strength experiments and looking forward to another opportunity to try what they next create!

If you happen to be in BC and happen to be lucky enough to locate a bottle – grab it and enjoy it.

What else did we have in our “O Canada” 150th Celebration?

You can also find Whisky Lady in India on:

“O Canada!” Wayne Gretzky No 99 Red Cask 40%

“The Great One”

That’s what I grew up hearing Canada’s Hockey legend Wayne Gretzky being called.

Since retirement, he went into creating a wine estate and has now branched into whisky. Yes whisky.

When I first saw a bottle, thought “Could it really be any good?”

I’ll be honest… I had rather… ahem… modest expectations. Particularly after Sula’s rather unimpressive experiment with shifting from making wine to whisky with Eclipse.

However the Canadian nostalgic pride won me over and it made it into the quartet imported to India to share with friends as part of a wee celebration of Canada’s 150 years!

So what did we think?

Wayne Gretzky No 99 Red Cask 40%

  • Nose – Fresh, a bit shy, woodsy, vanilla, faint chocolate, sweet wild flowers, a sugary dusting like on cake, camomile tea
  • Palate – Very pronounced camomile tea, with an echo of a dry red wine… as you roll it about your mouth, the tannins are even more apparent and a fruity citrus orange flavour then emerges
  • Finish – Sweet then bitter then actually a bit spicy

To be honest, we couldn’t quite make up our minds about this one. There is something a bit peculiar about it. Definitely different. Not bad but not something you would go “Oh gosh I wish I had more of that!” However it is unique and it isn’t a disaster so am glad it made its way from Canada to India.

It was revisited and again, once you adjusted to its slightly different character, it makes a reasonable sociable companion to the evening… almost distracting as it doesn’t quite ‘fit’ the standard whisky categories…. and every sip or two it reminds you of this.

Here is what the folks at Ontario’s LCBO have to say:

A remarkable blend produced from locally sourced grains and finished in red wine casks from the winery which impart a pale amber colour. Expect a smooth and refined flavour profile that includes notes of marzipan, light citrus, vanilla, oak and spice; the finish is long, warming and balanced.

It was released October 13, 2016, made in Ontario, Canada by Andrew Peller Limited with a style described as “Medium & Fruity.”  It is a blend of rye, malty rye and corn with the current  stock from an unspecified Ontario distillery, with plans to distill their own blend coming in the future.

The folks over at the the wine estate and distillery recommend serving No 99 Red Cask in a cocktail – the Great Old Fashioned and Top Shelf look like a rather apt combination!

I bought this at the 55 Bloor Street LCBO at Ron’s recommendation for CND $39.95. And at that exceedingly reasonable price point (by our standards this side of the globe), it fits the bill for pulling off something ‘different’ at an affordability you are happy to experiment! So not bad at all folks.

What else did we have in our “O Canada” 150th Celebration?

You can also find Whisky Lady in India on:

“O Canada!” Gooderham + Worts Four Grains Canadian Whisky 44.4%

When I was in Toronto in September 2017, I happened to pass by the old Gooderham  + Worts distillery from 1837, right in old downtown Toronto. While the original facility is no longer operational, Corby’s distillery has picked up the mantle to produce the blended whisky under the guidance of master blender Dr. Don Livermore.

Naturally that meant a bottle had to make its way back to India for an all Canadian whisky evening.

So what did we think?

Gooderham + Worts Four Grains Canadian Whisky 44.4% 

  • Nose – Quite closed, muted, powder, lemon, grains, dry dusty cereals
  • Palate – Sweet then bitter, oddly ‘flat’
  • Finish – Bitter
  • Water – Made it quite palatable, very sweet and revealed cinnamon candy

Hmm… we tried… we really tried… but this whisky just wasn’t talking to us.

What did I do? Offered it at a social occasion and it was a complete hit. Add a splash of chilled water, ice and voila! It was such a favourite I barely snatched it away before the last drop was drained…

So the verdict is? A good blend for social occasions.

What else did we have in our “O Canada” 150th Celebration?

You can also find Whisky Lady in India on: