Shackleton 40%

Stories of antarctic explorations capture the imagination with the tale of Shackleton whisky are well known.

“I believe it is in our nature to explore, to reach out into the unknown.” – Ernest Shackleton

Our whisky tasting  groups have explored different versions of this whisky reconstruction with:

Along the way I had picked up this version where it quietly sat in my whisky cabinet, biding its time til it surfaced as part of a birthday celebration.

Shackleton 40%

  • Nose – Sweet apple cinnamon pie, toffee, vanilla
  • Palate – Easy drinking, fruity, sweet with malty cereals, dried fruits, hint of tart citrus
  • Finish – Carries on from the palate

I will admit these are more fleeting impressions than proper notes as it was a sociable occasion. However sometimes an enjoyable blend like this is “spot on” and appreciated by our crowd. By the end of the evening, there wasn’t a single drop remaining – voting through consuming is always a good sign!

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Whisky Tales – Mackinlay’s Shackleton “Crannog” 3 year

Some whiskies you try and you are just dying to share what you discovered. Others, like this one, are less about the whisky and more about the story… living expedition adventures vicariously through film, letters, maps and more.

And what did our Whisky Ladies think?

Shackleton “The Journey” 47.3%

  • Nose – Sweet and sour, paradoxically of both land with grassy notes and sea with the brine of ocean spray. There was a sharpness too. Vanilla biscuits… then became increasingly sour
  • Palate – Spice, a touch harsh initially, bitter
  • Finish – Not much, but does it need to be with this whisky style?
  • Water – Much punchier… from no where peat comes out, has much more character and yes, indeed that is a finish too!

As a whisky, it was interesting but nothing that made us go wow!

As a story, we delved deep into the memorabilia, sparking lively discussions and attempts to read scribbles of yore.

We particularly had a giggle at the Indian connect – Vijay Mallya – from back in the day when he was a billionaire claiming the title of the “King of good times” before his rather spectacular fall and fugitive avatar. Along with Whyte & Mackay, he acquired the surviving 3 bottles, flew them back in his private jet and set in motion the reconstruction which led to the whisky we enjoyed.

You can read more in an earlier tasting of this whisky here: Going on an expedition! Shackleton’s The Journey.

More whiskies with stories to tell:

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Whisky Tales – Gerston Vintage (2013) Batch 1, 46%

Before we dove into our journey of discovery, our Whisky Lady shared the tale of two distilleries… enthusiastically outlining their background, differences and styles.

Gerston One (1796-1882) – A small farm to house scale Swanson family owned distillery that produced small quantity but high quality spirit that appealed to customers from London to Brazil and – most interesting for us in Bombay – in India as well.

Gerston Two (1886-1914) – Couldn’t be more of a contrast! Industrial scale, 10 times the capacity of the original, innovative and modern yet never quite captured the success of its predecessor.

The folks over at Lost Distillery took it upon themselves to reconstruct as close as they could to the original style…

And what did our Whisky Ladies think?

Gerston Vintage (2013) Batch 1, 46% Bottle 0838/1000

  • Colour – Vivid
  • Nose – Wow! Quite pronounced… then it started to settle down… Lot of saline, moss, reminded us a bit of compost, apples, then the peat crept in, caramel, still quite vegetable, hot floral, herbal
  • Palate – Multi sweet peat, cinnamon, slightly fruity
  • Finish – Salty spicy tingle, mineral
  • Water – Makes it milder, dampens the nose, however remains strong on the palate

One to just relax and enjoy… Not so complicated but nonetheless interesting.

What do the folks over at Lost Distillery have to say?

  • Appearance: Pale amber.
  • Aroma: A relatively closed nose; clean and fresh, with traces of linen and herbal fabric freshener. Laura Ashley? After a while a light, spicy prickle emerges, topping a fruity/doughy note: apple dumpling, made with suet and dusted with nutmeg. 
    With a drop of water the paper note advances, joined by warm leatherette and a trace of steam.
  • Taste: Smooth texture, sweet taste and a surprising amount of smoke in the finish – more coal smoke/steam engine than peat smoke. An unusual, antique taste, which holds up well with a drop of water, although the smoky element is reduced.
  • Comment: Interesting and vaguely ‘old fashioned’, especially without water.

I scored this whisky for another Whisky Lady from Dubai’s Le Clos Whisky Store for AED 360. It was certainly interesting and a great addition to our trio of whiskies with stories to tell:

Lost Distillery whiskies:

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Compass Box – Whisky de Table 40%

We closed with a Compass Box blend created specifically for La Maison du Whisky – something to capture an easy drinking experience like having a chilled glass of white wine with dinner.

Naturally our host followed the serving suggested serving instructions to chill the bottle… first in the fridge and then a bit of time in the freezer to ensure the whisky was properly cooled before sampling.

And then we sampled blind before the reveal…

Whisky de Table 40%

  • Colour – More like a pale white wine than whisky
  • Nose – Intense bubblegum fruit, dates, raisins, strawberry confectionary, lots of musk melon… the after the 1st sip, rose, wine fruit and sweet
  • Palate – Wow! The peat was so pronounced! Then it settled into a lovely honey – a balance of peat and sweet in perfect harmony.
  • Finish – Pure peat

It was such a contrast between the aromas and palate. Yet still such a people pleaser – easy to settle back and quaff.

What do the folks at Compass Box have to say? We suspect we tried the 2017 Whisky de Table No. 2:

The second edition of our Scotch whisky made to be shared and enjoyed like a traditional Vin de Table. The effusive distillery characters leap from the glass, unobscured by the heavier effects of maturation, providing a drink that is full of energy, versatile and beguiling. Serve chilled straight from the fridge like you would a white wine. This batch was made for the French market and released exclusively through La Maison du Whisky.

I found it quite different than my experience with the 1st edition. In case you are curious? Here are notes from my earlier brushes with this whisky:

Before Whisky de Table we tried :

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Compass Box – The Double Single 46%

Consider what you get mixing together a single malt with a single of grain? Well… if you have the exceptional blending prowess of the team at Compass Box, you would bring to the world of whisky The Double Single.

We sampled completely blind… served from a freshly opened bottle at room temperature. What did we think?

The Double Single 40%

  • Nose – Quite a contrast – very fruity and nuts, red plums, red berries, star anise, sour berry pulao, starch, tangy, even a bit of lavender, leafy, something beyond grape but not yet a raisin… all before the 1st sip!
    • After 1st sip – sweet lime, slightly funky wood, grape kool-aid…
    • After more time shifted into stewed apples
  • Palate – A lovely chilli spice and more, cloves, peppers, quite robust with loads of personality and a citrus twist
  • Finish – Smoke and wood char, spice… long and lingering

While there was absolutely no need to add water… we did… simply curious. And…? The water did wonders! 

  • Nose – Fruit and vanilla cream, oranges, yum!
  • Palate – A lovely meetha paan, all flavours sharpen, cutting the spice a tad, enabling a whole kaleidoscope of flavours to emerge, particularly aniseed
  • Finish – Still long and lingering with a light spice, aniseed remains

Above all, we were impressed by the incredible balance between the different elements. 

For those of us who have had The Double Single before, it didn’t disappoint. For those who hadn’t, just another reminder that Compass Box knows their stuff.

Curious what the folks at Compass Box have to say? Just check out what we thought when sampled early 2018  The Double Single.

Our latest Compass Box trio evening also included:

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Compass Box – Hedonism Quindecimus 46%

Up first in our latest exploration of Compass Box was Hedonism… But no ordinary edition… this was Quindecimus – their 15th anniversary special limited edition. It has an absolutely lush gorgeous label that simply screams nuance, complexity with a vintage feminine vibe.

Our host did his homework and knew this blended grain would take some coaxing and time to unfold… so he poured our glasses a half hour before we sat to start tasting.

We sampled it completely blind… and what did we think?

Hedonism Quindecimus 5689 46%

  • Nose – Started with soft caramel, light butterscotch, lemon, a bit astringent, sticky glue, wet grass, touch of kumquat, vanilla, sandalwood, a medicinal hint…
    • After the 1st sip some hazelnut, sweet grass joined, honey came increasingly to the fore, bread pudding and custard, with loads of butterscotch
    • Even more time and it took on such a lovely desert with cream and that fabulous butterscotch again
  • Palate – Citrus sweet… on the next sip there was chilli joining the sweet
  • Finish – Oddly flat and a bitter
  • Water – A mixed response – found it made it even more flat and left a bit awkward finish, others thought it added more character, with sweet and sour on the palate and a strong coconut quality

We set it aside and moved on to the other whiskies of the evening….

When we returned to it it, it was pure butterscotch, coconut on the aromas… however the palate and finish simply didn’t live up to the promise of the aromas.

With the reveal our host admitted after so much effort to to track this down, have it shipped to the US then bring to India it was a bit of a disappointment. I’ll also admit to having mixed experience with Hedonism – certainly interesting but not also bang on the mark, for me at least.

What do the folks at Compass Box have to say?

Fifteenth Anniversary Limited Edition release of 5,689 bottles. Bottled in February 2015.

Flavour Descriptors The combination of grain whiskies from different distilleries and of varying ages has created extraordinary complexity and juxtapositions of flavour. Indulgent yet lively, unctuous yet light, you will find a deep, sweet caramel coconut succulence combining with exultant tropical fruits.

Recommendations Drink this whisky as any true Hedonist would – however you like it, whenever you feel like it and in whatever quantity you deem appropriate. We particularly enjoy Quindecimus paired with sweet desserts or Highland fudge.

The blended grains are a combination of North British, Port Dundas, Dumbarton and a mystery blend aged more than 32 years.

After Hedonism, we continued on with :

And just in case you are curious? Here are notes from the earlier brushes with a different version of Compass Box’s Hedonism:

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Compass Box Trilogy – Hedonism, Double Single, Whisky de Table

By now it is quite clear we are no stranger to Compass Box and the way they have transformed what the whisky world thinks of blends.

What was on the menu this evening?

We sampled completely blind with each carefully served to bring out the most of each unique whisky:

Just be patient over the next few days to learn more bout what we discovered!

Check out a few other Mumbai evenings devoted to exploring Compass Box:

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Hazelwood 21 year 40%

From the Glen Grant & Sons stable, this blend came out a few years ago in travel retail with its glitz bottle, harkening to Art Deco heydays in select cities around the world.

We sampled it completely blind, with no clue what we were trying… Here is what we discovered…

Hazelwood 21 year 40%

  • Nose – Hay, malt, bit sharp, citrus, candy shop, coconut oil, husk, meethi (fenugreek leaves), horseradish, a bit of cinnamon, tobacco, a bit of nuts, wood, acetone, lots of honey
  • Palate – Sweet and spice, more of that horseradish, straight, honey water, no development on the palate, spice remains, thin with no body
  • Finish – Piquant finish, flat, some wood

While it may sound like a nice range of aromas, they all played within a fairly narrow band… overall it came across as quite “watery”… inoffensive and bland. We wondered if it could make a good mixer?

Before the reveal, one speculated it might be a blend. Turns out he was right! More precisely a blend of Kininvie, Girvan, and others…

Curious to know more? Why not check out what I found in an earlier tasting of the Hazelwood 21 year 40%.

What else did we try?

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The Nector of the Daily Drams with Mario

It isn’t so often one has an opportunity to sample a dram or two with the person responsible for bringing it to your glass…

So what is The Nector of the Daily Drams?

It is the name of a range of whiskies bottled by The Nectar (Belgian whisky importer and distributor). They’ve been around since 2006 and are  primarily focused on the BeNeLux market. However, you can find them in other markets – specifically in Singapore – through La Maison du Whisky.

And who was with us in Singapore?

Mario Groteklaes, Marketing & Sales Director who also is primarily responsible for cask selection of their Daily Drams whisky series.

Now I must share, Mario thought my taking a few scribbled notes while tasting nonsense – quite clearly drams are to be enjoyed not dissected and detailed.

My companion and I selected two different whiskies each – sharing a few sips with each other. Then chose another two… again sharing – a most civilized approach!

Here is what we had at La Maison du Whisky before Whisky Live:

  • Ben Nevis 21 year (19967/2017) 48.7% – Not my tipple but a good example of a Ben Nevis style
  • Highland Park 24 year (1992/2016) 50% – Delightfully well-balanced and exactly why once upon a time this was a preferred distillery
  • Springbank 23 year (1994/2017) 50.6% – What one would more aptly associate with the Longrow brand – peaty and pleasurable!
  • The Anniversary Dram XO 45.4% – A rather successful effort to reconstruct an ‘old style’ Macallan

I then followed this quartet with the tiniest taste at the Whisky Live VIP room:

  • Deanston 19 year (1999/2018) 51% – Fruit, spice and rather nice!

Read on over the coming days to know more about what we discovered…

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Hyde No. 6 President’s Reserve 46%

Thanks to a mutual whisky aficionado, I was introduced in Mumbai many months ago to two of the merry men behind Ireland’s new whiskey brand – Hyde. Note the deliberate use of brand not distillery… as these folks are building a name for themselves as “bonders” working with existing distillers to craft a range of whiskies with ambitious plans to some day some way have a distillery of their own.

What did they send our way?

Well… A curious miss greeted the Hyde on its arrival… and then I waited an exceedingly long time to find the right evening to share this bottle… So what did we find?

Hyde No. 6 President’s Reserve (May 2017) 46% Bottle No 4780/5000

  • Nose – Bright lemon, a very light sherry perfume, talcum powder, hint of lavender, somehow quite astringent with the lemon the most obvious element – shifting from zest to liquid dishwashing soap, a synthetic lemon desert
  • Palate – One found sulfur, for most it was honey or sugar water, lightly fruity
  • Finish – An initial spice that then relatively quickly dissipated

As the gents knew the theme was some dimension of sherry, speculation turned to it certainly not being fully matured in an ex-sherry barrel but instead only finished and that too not a PX but perhaps Olorosso.

It was a pleasant beginning, simple, sweet with the nose probably the most interesting element.

What do we know about this whiskey?

First off, it is a blend an 18 Year Old Irish single malt and 8 Year Old Irish single grain. Both were first matured in bourbon casks before being finished together for 9 months in Oloroso sherry casks.

It was named in honour of Douglas Hyde, Ireland’s first president, who was inaugurated on 25th June 1938.

And here is what the Hyde folks have to say:

  • Nose – Delightfully floral notes of vanilla, sweet, honey, caramel, chocolate, and mixed fruit, infused with spices.
  • Taste – Wonderfully smooth yet complex, creamy yet fruity with notes of caramel, honey, apricot, and apple, with a silky rich texture.
  • Finish – Rich & Oaky. It lingers in the mouth with a rich long finish.

Here are the other whiskies explored in our Sherry Unusual evening:

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