Gin gin gin! Gin Mare, Queensborough, Few, Tanqueray

Our gin explorations continued… with gins from a jaunt around a few countries with:

  • From Spain… the Mediterranean Gin Mare
  • From the west coast of Canada,  the classic dry Queensborough
  • From south of the border in Illinois, USA a blind sample from FEW
  • And finally… a step back into familiar territory with the very British Tanqueray Ten

We sampled them on a lazy Sunday sundowner in South Bombay, anchored by a collection of a travelling friend, augmented by a few more offerings!

Here are our tasting impressions…

Gin Mare 42.7%

  • Very dry, olives, has the biggest nose of all sampled so far, yet less rosemary than expected, a bit of cardamon and mint, juniper there but supporting, basil, thyme
  • Green pepper, spice, olive, quite warm

One of our tasting companions has spent time with the Gin Mare team and shared how they distill 12 different gins – one for each element – then blend together. A painstaking and meticulous process. It is a bit different, not for everyone.

A  few remarked on a shift – previously finding it both more olive and rosemary forward yet now sweeter. For more info, check out their website Gin Mare.

Queensborough Small Batch Dry Gin 43% (BC, Canada)

  • Very classic, spruce tree, lots of juniper, nice clean citrus, lightly floral
  • Nice light spices, juniper and pine forest, direct, clean, lightly floral
  • Nice clean citrus after taste

This was my offering to the evening and one brought in by a friend who picked it up after researching the “best classic dry gin” from BC. It is produced by Central City Brewers + Distillers. It uses Juniper from the BC interior and Spruce Tips sourced from Vancouver Island.  (Central City)

Above all it can best be described as “classic and clean” with a nice fresh forest feel. No crazy experiments here just a solid dry gin.

Mystery gin 

  • Initially was surgical spirit, floral perfume, fruits like peaches or apricot?
  • Very anise or fennel on the palate, then finishes with a salty pear
  • Not something very appealing initially then adjusted and began to enjoy

One of tasting companions brought this carefully concealed gin to the party… just to see what we thought. To be honest it wasn’t for everyone but it grew on us too.

And what was it? While I can’t confirm the full details it was a barrel gin from FEW Spirits from Illinois, USA.

Tanqueray Ten 47.3%

  • Lower on the botanicals, spice dry
  • Citrus, sweet
  • An easy one to enjoy in a G&T… which is exactly why it was picked!

Which is exactly when our attentions shifted from comparing different gin profiles to pairing with different tonics. Which will be a topic for another day…

Other gin experiences:

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Gin gin gin! Rock Rose, Tarquin, Silent Pool

Once upon a time a lad discovered he had a penchant for gin… so he travelled far and wide, collecting a bottle here and there… Sparking an idea to have an evening or two or three to explore his booty properly.

It took a few aborted attempts till we finally managed to get calendars to align… it was a lovely Sunday sundowner in a sultry Mumbai…

And what did we check out? Our plan was to explore four “different” gins with a standard to contrast and settle down for G&Ts…. Somehow that morphed into seven gins.

What also was the most remarkable about our explorations was the different tonics! That will be a topic for another day…

For now… enjoy the first part of our foray into gin territory…

Rock Rose “Scottish Botanicals” 41.5% 2017, Batch 61, Bottle 452

  • Fresh clean, citrus, coriander, cardamon, green peppers, dry with lemon zest… and yes rose but of a wilder variety
  • Orange sweet (sea buckthorn?), more coriander finishing in… could it be fennel? Or something else?
  • Quite the contrast between the nose and palate

From Dunnet Bay Distilleries Ltd, based in Caithness, Dunnet Bay, is one of Britain’s most northerly mainland distilleries and established in 2014. Rock Rose is produced by a wife / husband duo – Claire and Martin Murray – using 18 botanicals, of which 5 are grown locally and distilled in their coper pot “Elizabeth.”

The name was inspired by the “Rhodiola rosea” which grows on the cliffs of Pentland Firth. According to Celtic folklore, the Vikings allegedly harvested wild, exposed cliffs to gather Rhodiola rosea with the thought that it would give them the extra strength to continue on their long arduous journeys. (Dunnet Bay Distillers)

Tarquin Gin 42% Batch 488

  • Sweet subtle perfume, lots of other botanicals, strong coriander, pink peppercorns, cardamon, mild, sweet violet
  • Cardamon, very sweet, orange, dry pine forest, paprika
  • Started soft then took on more spunk and character

From North to Southwest, Tarquin is made at Southwestern Distillery by the coast in North Cornwall. They use Devon violets fresh orange zest – both quite pronounced qualities… and it also had a distinctive pine forest dimension too. (Southwestern Distillery)

Silent Pool 43%

  • Surprisingly briney. very orange and forward,  some detected a bit of olives, brussel sprouts, vegetable cabbage, sea salt, sour kraut… how could that be?
  • Mandarin, sweet, soft, caramel, salt water taffey
  • Orange blossom, spice finish

Silent Pool Gin is produced on the Albury Estate in the Surrey Hills, next to the Silent Pool, a spring-fed lake.The gin features 24 botanicals, including kaffir lime, chamomile, local honey and lavender. (Silent Pool Distillers)

We found it a bit curious and the quite vegetal quality which came out originally wouldn’t be for everyone. But then it settled into a lovely orange sweet gin – with a distinctive character.

Up next Sunday we continue with:

  • Gin Mare 42.7%
  • Queensborough Small Batch Dry Gin 43% (BC, Canada)
  • FEW Gin
  • Tanqueray Ten 47.3%

Other gin experiences:

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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 Trip” to New Zealand and Tasmania, Australia with:

  • Willowbank 10 year Doublewood 40%*
  • Willowbank 22 year (1989) Barrel No 58 52.8%*
  • Hellyer’s Road Pinot Noire 46.2%*
  • Sullivan’s Cove Double Cask (2008/2015) 40%*
  • Crazy Uncle Moonshine 43%*
  • Plus a bonus birthday dram of Bowmore 1989 “BBQ Mango Salsa” 46% (Wymess)*

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

  • Hibiki Japanese Harmony “Master’s Select” NAS 43%*
  • Nikka All Malt 40%*
  • Miyagikyo NAS 45%*
  • Hakushu “Distiller’s Reserve” NAS 43%*

Our original club did a revisit with:

  • Johnnie Walker Green Label 15 year 43%
  • Kavalan Solist Sherry S090608029A 58.6%
  • Kilchoman Machir Bay Cask Strength 60%
  • Plus a bonus of Amrut’s Fever Club Con-Fusion 46%

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:

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Whisky Lady – February 2018

Time for the monthly round-up of malty adventures and more! February was a quieter month with just two whisky tasting sessions, providing an opportunity to share impressions from WhiskyLive Singapore.

Photo: Rashmi Dhawani

As the Whisky Ladies had joined the gents for a round of independent blends, we decided to have a completely random evening of “Contributor’s Choice” at the close of January:

This was followed by our original club being overwhelmed by the inventive packaging while being undwhelmed by the whisky:

Our Bombay Malt & Cigar gents are becoming rather regular in their sessions – no mean feat consider most members can be more easily be found loitering in London, Dubai, Munich, Singapore and various US and other airports. What did we explore? A Compass Box Quartet!

Photo: Keshav Prakash

What a remarkable trio! As I could not make it to the session, the samples reached home to enable us to compare our guest writer Nikkhil Shirodkar’s notes with the group with my independent impressions of our Kavalan Solist Cask Night:

I also kicked off the first batch of a series sharing fleeting impressions from Whisky Live Singapore 2017:

Photo: Nikoulina Berg

Beyond the tasting group meetings, there was an impromptu gin evening with a few friends

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Impromptu Gin Delights

So here we were… a couple of gal pals finding ourselves with a free evening. What to do? Why get together of course!

And what would accompany our merriment? Wine? Whisky? Or…. gin? Yes indeed we shifted to an impromptu  evening sampling and then settling down with a few gins…

We couldn’t decide which gin, so out came assorted bottles… and wee shot glasses to taste, compare and decide which would be our evening companion.

What all did was wander through?

Photo: Nikoulina Berg

Whobertus Dry Gin 43% – Munich, Germany

  • This gin was a discovery from Munich. And I LOVE it!
  • There is something so pure, almost delicate or tender about it, beautiful and silky smooth. There is no distracting dimensions, just delightful!
  • Fresh thyme, coriander, light sweet citrus, juniper
  • This is no peppery gin, there is straightforward but lovely quality
  • While generally sweet gin isn’t my thing, this has just the right touch of sweet
  • My favourite way to enjoy? Ice.. that’s it, nothing else required

Caorunn’s Gin 41.8% revisited – Balmenach Distillery, Speyside, Scotland

Most of us were no stranger to Caorunn gin…

  • Light sprightly and delightful, fresh like springtime
  • Perfect with a few cubes of ice, splash of tonic and topped with a slice of apple

Sipsmith’s London Dry 41.6% – London, UK

Equally, for many Sipsimith is a ‘go to’ gin for G&Ts

  • Heavier than the Caorunn, shifting seasons from spring to summertime!
  • Classic London Dry style with citrus, juniper with a hint of spice

The Botanist Gin 46%  – Bruichladdich Distillery, Islay, Scotland

Bruichladdich is a fav whisky distillery yet its gin sales have soared in recent years.

  • Multi-layered, multilevelled, there is a lot going on with The Botanist from floral aromas to a slightly spicy finish
  • Berries, barks, seeds and peels, this is no light gin however it is full of flavours just begging to be sipped and enjoyed

Monkey 47 Schwarzwald Dry Gin 47% – Black Forest Distillers, Schwarzwald, Germany

Monkey 47 has recently entered the Indian market with launch parties and more! From Germany’s black forest, it is named for its 47 botanicals and strength of 47%.

  • Complex, an intense range of aromas and flavours
  • There is a lot going on – more wood, spice and more than some of the other gins sampled, bursting with robust character
  • Those that reached for the Monkey 47 also tended towards tonic with either a slice of apple or twist of citrus

Siegfried Rheinland Dry Gin 41% -Rheinland Distillers, Germany

  • Lots of pink peppercorns – almost too much…
  • There is some ‘oomph’ here – bold juniper, light spice, ginger, bitter orange
  • It is also a bit bitter and while it can be had neat, we found the best to have is with lots of ice and a splash of tonic, with a citrus twist!
  • If I was to be honest, the Whobertus is just such a class act that having the Siegried next required a real switch in expectations

Ki No Bi Kyoto Dry Gin 45.7% – Kyoto Distillery, Kyoto, Japan

Distinctly different, Ki No Bi is made from rice spirit with botanicals from Japan like yellow yuzu, hinoki, sangho pepper, bamboo leaf, gykouro tea.

  • We found it had more pepper and kick than some of the others, a strong ginger, pronounced citrus
  • The tea adds a different dimension as well
  • We found it worked best with tonic water and ice with a twist of lemon

It was a refreshing departure from our usual structured whisky tasting evenings. The range of botanicals used, profiles and personal preferences made the discussions animated and most enjoyable.

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Barbados Rum – FourSquare Criterion 10 year 56%

When my fellow spirits adventurer and I first sampled this rum with Sukhinder Singh in London – we were blown away. We both bought bottles from The Whisky Exchange and were rather impatient to engineer the right opportunity to try again.

It came out at the close of a rather ambitious tasting evening that started with a set of whisky minis of a peaty persuasion – Peat Chimney 12 year 40%Big Peat 46%Longrow 46%BenRiach Peated Quarter Cask 46%Ledaig 10 year 46.3%…

Followed by rum Quintet of Diplomatico 40%, Zacapa 23 Solera 40% vs XO 40%, El Dorado 12 year 40%…. then this Criterion… added as a ‘reward’ for our extensive tasting adventures!

Foursquare Criterion 10 year (April 2017) Ex Bourbon / Ex Madiera 56%

  • Nose – Chocolate, berries, lemon grass, nutmeg, tropical fruits
  • Palate – Lovely rich spices, creamy, rich and dry, multiple elements at play
  • Finish – Yes we had a finish with this rum, initially a bit sharp, it mellowed beautifully

This Barbados rum is matured in ex-bourbon & Madeira casks, uncoloured with no additives.

Tasting notes by Billy Abbot, The Whisky Exchange:

  • Nose: Intense brown sugar and roasted tropical fruit to start – pineapples and bananas. Salted caramel and baking spices follow, with nutmeg, allspice and cinnamon joined by a hint of sweet butter. Underneath are sharper notes of candied lemon, and sweet and sour toffee apples.
  • Palate: A burst of Crunchie bars is balanced by touches of barrel char. Caramel runs through the middle with singed sultanas and apples leading the way to medicinal touches that quickly fade under a Portuguese custard tart onslaught. Oaky tannins dry out the sides of the mouth while sweet fruit builds in the middle: more toffee apple and banana.
  • Finish: Mouth-watering, with dark chocolate, treacle toffee and Crunchie bars sat alongside stewed apple and barrel-char bitterness.
  • Comment: Intense, with sweetness balanced by hints of char. The cask influences really make themselves known, with the dual attack of toffee and custard tarts harking back to their previous occupants.

What else did we sample in our rummy evening?

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Guyana Rum – El Dorado 12 year 40%

After the Diplomatico and Zacapa duo in our rum sampling evening, was  El Dorado. My 1st brush with El Dorado was the 15 year version at the close of a whisky tasting session, paired with a delicious desert.

El Dorado 12 year 40%

  • Nose – Raisins, very sugary, strong caramel
  • Palate – Alcohol to the extent of being more cognac like than rum

By this point you could tell we’d had enough… Truly there is much more going on with this rum and I certainly recalled quite enjoying it with a previous tasting experience as a ‘finish’ to a delightful evening of whiskies.

El Dorado is from Guyana and here’s what the folks over at El Dorado have to say:

Lush tropical fruit and spice nose with hints of honey and dark sugar. Round, mellow, full bodied palate with rich flavours of fruit and spice. The finish is delightful, elegant and dry.

“Hedonistic and well balanced”

What else did we sample in our rummy evening?

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Guatemalan Rum – Zacapa 23 Solero 40% vs XO 40%

Next in our rum sampling was a head-to-head of two Zacapas – the 23 Solero and the XO… Zacapa rum is from Guatemala.

Before proceeding, there is a caveat… we are primarily whisky aficionados… and this rum distraction followed a rather marvellous round of peaty whisky minis. So I do hope our scant notes can be forgiven and instead just sit back, relax and enjoy our light meanderings into the realm of rum…

Zacapa 23 Solero 40%

  • Nose – Sweet, woody, prunes, cream, almost like port, then shifts into a Malbec, rum raisins
  • Palate – The port like quality is even more pronounced on the palate, more raisins, rich and robust, lots of the deep sherry spice and dark fruits

Here is what the folks over at Zacapa have to say:

Combining a blend of rums from 6 to 23 years old.

  • Keynote – Wonderfully intricate with honeyed butterscotch, spice oak and raising fruit, showcasing the complexity of the sistema solar aging process.
  • Nose – A soft start which develops complexity in the glass; sweet aromas of caramel, vanilla, cacao and butterscotch, combining with layers of flavour indicative of the different barrels in the solera process; sherried notes of caramelised, roasted brazil nuts and toasted hazelnut, and the characteristic rounded toffeed banana and dried pineapple of ex-American whiskey casks.
  • Palate – Wonderfully complex, generous and full-bodied, with a sweet honeyed viscosity atypical of an aged spirit; a great depth of raisined fruit and apricot preserves, building to an intense heart of savoury oak, nutmeg, leather and tobacco with notes of coffee and delicately sweet vanilla, balanced with a spicy touch of cinnamon and ginger on the pleasantly astringent finish; truly a rum for the discerning palate.

Zacapa XO 40%

  • Nose – Honey, dry wood
  • Palate – Lighter, bitter, dry, woody

Here is what the folks over at Zacapa have to say:

Combining a blend of rums from 6 to 25 years old.

  • Keynote – A perfectly balanced combination of sweetness, spice, fruit and spirit, a connoisseur’s delight and the ultimate expression of the Master Blender’s art.
  • Nose – A very open nose with a wealth of aromas that seem to evolve each time you nose the glass; a great balance of mature toasted oak, burnt caramel, dry-roasted nuts, marzipan and orange peel; a delicate floral note of honeysuckle in the background.
  • Palate – A wonderfully complex and satisfying balance of sweetness, fruit, spice and spirit, all tempered by the extra ageing stage in ex-cognac French oak barrels; long, smooth and sweet with a weight of dark cherry chocolate and flavours of intense dried fruits like sultana, date and prune; sweet oak spices of clove, vanilla and cinnamon, and lighter notes of dried mango and raspberry, with a subtle hint of ginger to finish. A connoisseur’s delight and the ultimate expression of the Master Blender’s art.

We found the XO much more restrained on the palate than the 23 Solero. We also tried it in the Norlan glass to find it much smoother, revealing more rum like qualities with brown sugar soaked raisins.

What else did we sample in our rummy explorations?

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Venezuelan Rum – Diplomatico 40%

The first in our rum minis evening was Diplomatico… which I first avoided at the 2016 Whisky Live Singapore – doing my best not to get my feminist hackles up over their dominatrix styled models wandering about to pique male interest in the rum.

However marketing faux pas aside (from my perspective at least), the chance to share a mini with a merry bunch seemed the best opportunity to get over my prejudice.

Diplomatico Reserva Exclusiva 40%

  • Nose – Toast with butter and marmalade, then a bit of marmite, burnt sugar like a crème brulee, spiced rum raisins, caramel custard, a German Stollen or marzipan
  • Palate – Very sweet, lighter than anticipated

In short, this could be described as “sweet and delicious” like desert in a glass.

Diplomatico origins are Venezuelan and can be found in 60 odd countries.

What do the folks over at Diplomatico have to say?

  • Nose: Complex and characterful, with notes of maple syrup, orange peel, brown sugar and liquorice.
  • Mouth: Sweet toffee fudge and a seductive and elegant finish.

What else did we sample in our rummy evening?

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Rum Quintet – Diplomatico, Zacapa 23 vs XO, El Dorado, Criterion

After our peaty minis session, talk turned to the emerging quality of unique single rums… in part sparked by a few rum miniatures peaking amongst the whiskies and in part sparked by the availability of a few rums to run a few comparisons.

What did we settle on?

This wasn’t my first brush with exploring rums… aside from the occasional opportunity to taste a single rum here and there, there was a rather memorable session at Whisky Live SingaporeIs Single Rum the new Single Malt? Masterclass with Luca Gargano and Dave Broom.

Other remarkable rums….

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