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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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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Celebrating 30+ European whiskies!

In the grand scheme of things, trying 30 whiskies is no big deal.

But when you live in India and those happen to be European whiskies… it is an accomplishment!

Let’s face it, exploring the world of whiskies behind a crazy custom’s “curtain” that restricts access not just bringing into India but state by state… means relying on individuals making an effort to source directly from far-flung lands rather than simply strolling over to a corner liquor store.

Hence it is indeed a celebration – with thanks – to share a summary of European samples! Now… just providing a list alone isn’t fun.. so with each, I’ve shared a fleeting impression so you can see what might peak your interest to read more…

European Whiskies  

Many of the Nordic whiskies came compliments of 

The Europe page is continuously updated as we explore more whiskies, so feel free to check back anytime to read of more!

PS – Anyone spot the ‘malted spirit’ rather than proper whisky??

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European Tour – Slyrs 51 NAS 51%

Last in our Whisky Ladies European tour was a surprise bonus whisky from Germany!

The genesis of Slyrs distillery was apparently a bet for a crate of Bavarian wheat beer. After more than a few whiskies shared somewhere in the Speyside region of Scotland, Florian Stetter (former Master Distiller of Lantenhammer Distillery) bet that he would create a Bavarian whisky. Distilling since 1999, the 1st whisky was launched in 2002 and remains in full production in Neuhaus, now under the management of Florian’s brother Anton Stetter.

The name “Slyrs 51” literally refers to the alcohol strength of this expression – bottled at 51%. Launched in October 2015, Slyrs 51 is considered as the “big brother” of their single malts.

This bottle was sourced by a new Whisky Ladies of Mumbai member from her trip to Bavaria and may be difficult to obtain outside of Germany.

And what did we think? Read on…

2016-06-28 Slyrs 51

Slyrs 51 NAS (Lot 3453) 51%

  • Colour – Rich amber
  • Nose – Musty, quite bold yet oddly soft, sweet, sense of being quite syrupy, a bit of banana, hint of spicy chocolate
  • Palate – Much more powerful than nose indicated.. initially quite intense, sweet and bitter both with the bitterness taking on increasingly a nutty quality, some spices, then begins to settle in and becomes buttery
  • Finish – Banana walnut bitter
  • Water – Cries out for a generous dollop of water… No delicate drops will do here! And with water? Out came a yummy caramel aroma and once the spice settled, enveloped our Whisky Ladies with a warm sweetly bitter dram.

Of all the four European whiskies, this was the most direct and ‘in your face’. The very literal approach to the name was a fairly good indication that there would be few flourishes and flounces, just a solid linear whisky with strength.

Slyrs 51 is apparently made from malt from northern Bavaria, using a longer fermentation process, casking at a lower strength and matured in a mix of new American oak and ex sherry port and sauternes casks.

Here’s what the folks over at Slyrs have to say about their whisky (roughly translated).

  • Colour: Golden brown
  • Odour: Strong dark wood and malted barley
  • Taste: Full-bodied, malty-aromatic, complex aromas reminiscent of vanilla and hay
  • Finish: Long and intense, spicy notes

For more information, check out this article in WhiskyConnosr: Slyrs – Whisky’s best kept secret by Dominic Roskrow

There is also a interesting review by Benedikt Luening on Whisky.com: Slyrs 51.

Other whiskies sampled during our European tour included:

Overall we closed the evening feeling rather privileged to enjoy four such distinctive European whiskies during a Mumbai monsoon!

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Whisky Ladies European Tour – Teerenpeli, Danica, Kornog + Slyrs

In the wake of the Brexit vote, the Whisky Ladies of Mumbai decided to go on a European whisky tour featuring:

2016-06-28 European Tour

The Teerenpeli Finnish whisky was a recent acquisition from my trip to London – recommended by the folks over at the Whisky Exchange and a rather fine addition to our evening.

The Brauntstein Danica‘s was snagged as the only Danish whisky available at Copenhagen airport!

The Kornog from France has been eagerly awaited! Special request ordered by one of our whisky lady’s prompted by my curiosity after sampling a cask strength version.

A complete bonus on announcing June’s theme was the addition of a 4th European whisky from Bavaria, Germany. I mean, who else in Mumbai other than a “Whisky Lady” just so happens to have a bottle of Slyrs 51 sitting in their whisky cabinet??

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