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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Nordic Explorers – What a journey!

Over the past few months, a fellow whisky lady and I have slowly been working our way through a delightful dozen 20 ml bottles representing five Nordic countries and seven distilleries.

There were some highlights and lowlights and it was a fascinating tasting travel. For those who missed the individual posts, I thought I would share a short synopsis of our Nordic journey…

Sweden - Smogen + Box

Denmark

Finland

Iceland

Norway

Sweden

Nordic Whisky Set

*** Thank you again 

Now… to fill these bottles back up and return the favour. What shall we chose for Thomas to try??

PS These are not the only Nordic whiskies we’ve sampled… Check out the Europe page.

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Ladies Choice – Mackmyra Vinterdröm 46.1%

Our Ladies Choice evening moved on to the cooler climes of Sweden with Mackmyra’s limited edition Vinterdröm – an experiment partnering with Plantation Rum for a Caribbean rum cask finish.

Susan Dias returns as our next Whisky Ladies of Mumbai guest whisky reviewer…

(Susan's LInkedIn profile)
(Susan’s LinkedIn profile)

What does a Chartered Accountant with a fierce pride in Indian traditions and keen interest in local spirits do? Naturally start a venture, Native Brews, with a dream of celebrating traditional artisanal Indian spirits in a contemporary context.  

After completing extensive exploration and research into remote corners of India, Susan has been working hard experimenting with the distillation of Mahua, a flowering tree found in central India.

More recently, her distillation adventures have lead to the creation of a unique set of Indian gins that should be available soon…

Susan consistently displays a keen nose and wry wit in her whisky tasting approach! 

mackmyra-vinterdrom

Here is what Susan has to say about the Mackmyra Vinterdröm 46.1%

Tasting Notes:

  • Colour: Pale gold
  • Nose: Clean, spices – cinnamon and cloves, caramelised fruit, demerara sugar
  • Palate: Sharp hit of spices, salty caramel, fresh clean wood, toast
  • Finish: Long, lingering spices, bitter dry
  • Water: Water opens the spices on the nose and palate

Vinterdrom is Mackmyra Distillery’s newest offering in its limited edition ‘Seasons’ range. Each whisky in this range has received a different finish and for Vinterdrom, Mackmyra used oak casks which previously held rum from Bardabos and Jamaica.

The Caribbean influence is amply evident. The whisky is sweet and spicy and has a warmth that would make it ideal for a winter evening. Whisky purists might find it hard to shake off the ‘rum’ness of the liquid but given what Mackmyra set out to do, Vinterdrom is an interesting experiment of a seasoned whisky with a Caribbean twist.

This whisky would make for great company on a chilly evening paired with some dense chocolate dessert.

Here is what the folks from Mackmyra have to say:

Mackmyra Vinterdröm is a fruity and slightly spicy Swedish single malt whisky, made in limited edition. The whisky is a collaboration with rum producer Plantation Rum and has a finish from casks that previously stored Barbados and Jamaican Rum. The result is a soft oaky whisky with notes of orange, vanilla and demerara sugar – a Carribbean love affair.

  • Nose – Spicy and fruity, slightly oily with notes of anises, dried fruits and molasses and a soft light oakiness. Some spiciness and notes of tobacco leaves.
  • Taste – Fruity, spicy and oily. Well balanced with anise, tobacco leave, a saltiness and some raisins and vanilla.

What else did we sample in our “Ladies Choice” evening for the BMC gentlemen?

For more related updates and activities, check out:

Whisky Ladies Choice – Treating the BMC Gentlemen…

Last year, the gentlemen from the Bombay Malt & Cigar club took it upon themselves to treat the Whisky Ladies of Mumbai to an evening of Irish whiskies and cigars.

This year, it was our turn to return the favour.

We debated a range of different approaches and finally decided on a theme of “Ladies Choice.” And what pray tell did that mean to us?

We wanted to share with the gentlemen some of the most memorable whiskies we sampled together as a tasting group. They may not be the world’s best whiskies but they would be our “Choice” – ones that stood out in some kind of way.

We went about it in a democratic manner and voted, tallied up the responses to create a “short-list”, then began the efforts to source these whiskies.

Our approach was a bit flexible, in some cases we knew it would be impossible to source the EXACT same whisky. What worked was finding something from the same distillery or similar category.

The whiskies were literally sourced from around the world involving travel, friends of friends and even last minute acquisitions…

What made it into our final “Ladies Choice” list?

JapanAkashi Red Blended Whisky 40%

  • In truth we had several Japanese whiskies in mind however the Akashi was accessible and a refreshing departure from the expensive exclusive impossible to find Japanese single malts, so figured why not!
  • It also made for a perfect ‘appetizer’ whisky to get the evening going…

Sweden – Mackmyra Vinterdröm 46.1%

  • The most enjoyable peaty Mackmyra Svensk Rok 46.1% captured our attention with its clean, minimalist yet smoky qualities.
  • So when our Swedish whisky lady went on the hunt over Christmas for something distinctly different from the distillery, this limited edition “Caribbean love affair” avatar was her pick!

IndiaPaul John Single Cask #1844 60.5%

  • The Paul John Select Cask Peated Batch 1 “OMG bacon!” made many Whisky Ladies swoon for more during our Paul John evening… we definitely wanted to include a Goan single malt, preferably a Select Cask or Single Cask…
  • Thankfully Michael from Paul John distilleries was able to oblige our interest – literally hand delivering this single cask a mere two days before our evening!

France – Kornog Taouarc’h Pempved 14 BC 46%

  • Kornog’s whisky from Bretagne will forever be known in our group for the comment “How did you go from being a perfect gentlemen to getting my bra off like that?” (WL on Kornog Taourac’h Trived 10 BC 46%)
  • Alas the Trived 10 BC was no longer available so we took a gamble on the newer Pempved 14 BC

TaiwanKavalan Solist Sherry Cask S090102020 57.1%

  • There was no doubt a Kavalan was going to make the cut…
  • By a very wide margin, the Solist Sherry Cask topped the charts with the most votes from all our Whisky Ladies tasting experiences. So… it simply HAD to be our ‘showstopper’ of the evening!

Somehow not one Scottish whisky made it into the list. Not a single one. It wasn’t deliberate. It was simply how the votes panned out.

But that says something about how the whisky world is going…

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Nordic Explorer #7 – Sweden’s Mackmyra 3 Year Bachair Private Cask

Our Nordic exploration followed with a 3rd whisky from Mackmyra distillery.

After the first drop (De Första Dropparna), the 8 year old Dram Good Whisky, our attentions turned to Bachair Private Cask. Now, we tried to find out more about this whisky – to no avail!

We suspected in this case ‘private cask’ literally means it is indeed a private cask and not available on the open market. Lucky us!

Nordic Whisky Set

Mackmyra 3 year “Bachair” Private Cask

  • Nose – Varnish, smoked pine, sweet grass, peat like the embers of a dampened campfire. As it aired more, it became increasingly sweet, windy woods
  • Palate – Smooth then opened into wildfire, outdoorsy, bit of warm alcohol burn
  • Finish – Like it was reminded one “Still here mate!”

Very different than the other two… this had a very ‘back to nature’ kind of vibe. Distinct and quite unforgettable. Hence our curiosity to learn more…

I turned to our whisky benefactor ( this is indeed a real live actual private cask.

He shared that many Nordic Nordic distilleries will allow individuals or groups of individuals to purchase a cask of their choice (typically bourbon or sherry) and have it filled with their choice of new make (typically peated or unpeated), then one waits for a minimum of three years and decide when to bottle it. 

And this particular one? It was purchased by friends of our whisky benefactor… who came up with the name ‘Bachair’ one late night. With a whisky like this, certainly can’t have come from listening to Bach’s Air in G string at the time?? 

*** Whiskies courtesy of 

For more information on Mackmyra whiskies, do read Thomas’ posts on Whisky Saga. Specifically:

Other Nordic whisky experiences include:

Other Nordic whiskies sampled together:

You can also find Whisky Lady in India on:

Nordic Explorer #6 – Sweden’s Mackmyra 8 year Dram Good Whisky

Our Nordic exploration continued with another whisky from Mackmyra distillery.

After the first drop (De Första Dropparna), we moved on to an 8 year old Mackmyra.

Now it wasn’t directly released by Mackmyra… nothing so simple as that! Instead Dram Good Whisky is a collection of friends who banded together to buy barrels of whisky. You won’t find this cheeky label on a retail shelf anywhere.

Which made our having an opportunity to try a sample all the most appealing. Our inner whisky geek was getting rather tickled at the opportunity to try something a wee bit obscure!

Mackmyra 8 year Dram Good Whisky No 3, 54.4%

  • Nose – Much more subtle than the 1st drop, fruits, juniper, apricot, stewed fruits, minerals, vanilla
  • Palate – A touch harsh, mineral, more juniper, wood, resin, pine, lively
  • Finish – Bitter wood, herbal

Overall it was quite pleasant. While still in the territory of being a bit ‘raw,’ it managed to achieve the state of becoming a drinkable dram that made us wish we had just a few drops more.

Once again, what a treat to try something we would otherwise have never been able to acquire!

*** Whiskies courtesy of 

For more information on Mackmyra whiskies, do read Thomas’ posts on Whisky Saga. Specifically:

Next up in our Nordic whisky experiences:

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Nordic Explorer #5 – Sweden’s Mackmyra Preludium 01 – The First Drops 3 year 55.6%

Our Nordic exploration continued with whiskies from Mackmyra distillery.

This was not our first encounter with this Swedish distillery. Years ago I sampled Svensk Ek in Singapore and then our whisky ladies enjoyed the peatier Svensk Rök.

1st up? The first drop (De Första Dropparna) brings together the first drops from their pilot distillery (1999-2002) and the first casks from their first real distillery – Mackmyra Bruk. It was released in March 2006 and the sample comes from our Nordic explorers collection, courtesy of Thomas at Whisky Saga.

Macmyra website

Macmyra website

Mackmyra Preludium:01 – De Första Dropparna, 3 year 55.6%

  • Nose – First whisky harshness, the vanilla, berries, perfume, apples, cinnamon, soft fruits, caramel, apricot, a bit of wood
  • Palate – A bit raw, alcohol. However the ‘hooch boom’ dashed off. While clearly young, it was sweet, raw wood, itchy nose
  • Finish – Limited

While clearly young and on the brash side, it takes a certain panache to stand up and say “Here is where we started!” Given that we have enjoyed where they have gone since, it was indeed interesting to see where the journey began.

World best whisky? Nope.

Fantastic to see the early stages? Absolutely!

*** Whiskies courtesy of 

For more information on Mackmyra whiskies, do read Thomas’ posts on Whisky Saga. Specifically:

More Nordic whisky experiences coming soon!

You can also find Whisky Lady in India on:

Spirit of Hven Tycho’s Star 41.8%

Just what is up with these distinctive delicious whiskies from Sweden?

From Sweden, Spirit of Hven is a family owned distillery on the island of Hven, on the straight between Denmark and Sweden.  Tycho’s Star is named as a tribute to a famous Hven islander –  astronomer Tycho Brahe (1546-1601).

spirit-of-hven-tychos-star

Spirit of Hven Tycho’s Star 41.8%

  • Nose – Wow! Hickory bacon, leather, really nice on the nose, spice, apples, hickory wood, smoke, juniper, honey, vanilla, milk chocolate and mocha
  • Palate – Great very full mouthfeel, chewy yet not in the least bit harsh, some rich dark fruit, pepper, sweet cinnamon, toffee, nuts, delicious!
  • Finish – Bacony sweet, walnut bitter, with a soft herbal hickory tail on a revisit found chocolate orange zest

It was a pleasure to try this whisky. These days, we tend to find whiskies below 43% watery yet the ‘full’ character of Tycho’s Star gave the impression of a higher strength without the additional alcohol. That shared, none of us were tempted to add even a drop of water.

Comments included “This is like a full meal deal – big mac with fries!” and “I want to have this with steak” clearly reflecting its ‘meaty’ character and yet “It is somehow light in its heaviness.”

We also found it surprisingly well balanced and avoided the obvious ‘this is too young’ type whisky edges.

Don’t let the rich colour fool you into thinking there is caramel. Tycho’s Star is organic certified without carbon- or chill filtering, no colouring or additives.

Apparently this particular whisky is made from a mash bill of chocolate malt, heavy peated malt and pale ale – bringing together caramel chocolate, leather and grassy base notes.

And the casks? The casks are 58.20% heavy char Quercus Muehlenbergii from Missouri, 33.44% heavy toast Quercus Petraea from Allier and 8.36% medium toast Quercus Robur from Bourgogne. Pretty precise details from the distillery!

While our whisky lady contributor did not bring the case, there was mention of leather straps and we loved the dark wax drips down the beaker style bottle. So certainly got ‘thumbs up’ for packaging too!

While considered ‘entry level’ and absolutely in the affordable category (approx $55 for 50cl), this one certainly left us wanting to explore more!

What they have to say:

The whisky has dark, almost mystical notes of leather and liquorice, embraced by a round scent of ripe plums. All this is elevated and refreshed by fragrances of apple and elderflowers. Newly harvested hay and honeydew meadows give a soft finish.

What others have to say:

We are seriously starting to have a Swedish whisky fan club starting here in Mumbai! It helps that we have one Swedish whisky lady who can periodically feed our growing interest… can’t wait to see what she brings back from her latest trip.

Other whiskies sampled in September’s Whisky Ladies session included:

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Whisky Ladies like variety! Akashi, Spirit of Hven + Linkwood

Variety is the spice of life! And why not with whiskies too?

This Whisky Ladies session with a few ladies gallivanting around the globe, those remaining in Mumbai decided to merrily abandon the idea of a co-ordinated theme.

Instead we decided to mix up whiskies from three different countries and styles.

Whisky Ladies, Sept 2016

Whisky Ladies, Sept 2016

The Linkwood was a gift from our Bombay Malt & Cigar session, so I had sampled it earlier, however for everyone else joining, it was a 1st for them! Pronounced a rather lovely drinking dram, it kicked off our evening’s tasting session.

The Akashi is one of the few whiskies blended in Japan available at Mumbai duty free. The Akashi is an example of a ‘ji-whisky’ and has an apple cider quality. It works well as a ‘starter’ whisky for those who like something simple, smooth and unchallenging… and was meant to be our ‘appetizer’ except our poor Whisky Lady got stuck in nearly 2 hours of traffic to reach! (that’s dedication!)

The Spirit of Hven was acquired by a new whisky lady on her recent trip to Sweden. Much bolder with fabulous packaging, the Tycho’s Star swaggered into our senses and was much enjoyed. The irony was our Swedish whisky lady happened to be… well… in Sweden so missed the session however this was clearly one she would enjoy!

PS With desert, we decided to share a few drops of the Blair Athol 27 year with it full cask sherry burst – yum!

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

Nordic Explorer #4 – Sweden’s Box The Festival 2015 54.5%

Our Nordic exploration continued with a special whisky created for The Box Whisky Festival 2015… available ONLY to attendees at the festival! (or those kindly given a sample from one such coveted bottles).

Box Whisky The Festival 2015 54.5%

  • Nose – Quite organic, fresh, sweet caramel, bananas, pear, hint of cinnamon, woodsy
  • Palate – Oily, deeper elements, spice at the back of the throat, while not complex, quite solid like firm planks of wood providing the foundation, chilli chocolate spice, swirling smoke
  • Finish – Long, caramel chocolate
  • Water – Super sweet aroma and spice on the palate, though would not recommend as it dampened the more unique qualities

I had kept aside just a smidge in the wee 20ml bottle and revisited the next day… so glad that I did! Much of what I enjoyed came from the 2nd round which was sublime.

Overall it had an understated quality despite its initial boldness, with a harmony between nose, palate and finish. This is a whisky that requires you to sit, sip and savour. It cannot be ‘speed dated‘… it needs time to get to know you a little before it reveals its nature as quite an interesting dram.

Box Distilleri is very  distillery has to say:

For the Box Whisky Festival in 2014, we presented the world with our first festival whisky. This year’s edition is similar to its predecessor, with a distinct peat flavour and evident character of charred oak. One huge difference, however, is that all the casks are sized between 100 and 130 litres and that the age is somewhat higher – on an average four years. Two out of five casks are made from Swedish oak.

Recipe

61% of the whisky is made from peated malt (31–45ppm).

The bottling consists of whisky from five casks made from new American and Swedish oak.

The Festival 2015 is neither chill-filtered nor coloured.

*** Whiskies courtesy of 

For more information on BOX distillery whiskies, do read Thomas’ posts on Whisky Saga. Specifically:

More Nordic whisky experiences coming soon!

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