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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Minis – BenRiach 22 year Moscatel 46% (SMSW)

BenRiach is one of those distilleries that rose, fell and rose again… and one that we’ve quite enjoyed during our various explorations. However this was a first with a Moscatel finish.

What did we think?

BenRiach 22 year Moscatel 46% (Single Malt Scotch Whisky)

  • Colour – Burnished copper
  • Nose – Fruit bursting forth, nuts, chocolats, juicy sultanas, sweet dry wood, amazing nose, cinnamon, nutmeg, like a pie or a tart, black peppercorn, keeps shifting between sweet and tart and spice… all before the 1st sip!
  • Palate – Wow! Soft then explodes, rich, sweet, dry tannins.. such a wonderful balance. with sweet spices, oranges
  • Finish – Spice – long and lingers wonderfully, loads happening, so sweet and delicious
  • Water – In one glass we added water whereas in the other we did not.The one with water was beautifully balanced. And yet we equally enjoyed it absolutely neat.

This whisky simply enveloped us in a great big whisky hug… yet shifting and changing, retaining brilliant balance between the different elements.

Like the others, we set it aside and revisited it after sampling the full quintet of minis. What did we find in the revisit?

Absolutely fabulous! Fruity with an outstanding finish.

What they have to say

This whisky was originally matured in American bourbon barrels before being finished in Moscatel wine casks from Portugal and Spain. During this second period of maturation, the spirit subtly interacts with the oak wood and takes on new flavours and aromas from the Moscatel wine cask. The 22 year old is non chill filtered, natural in colour and bottled at 46% abv.

Our Sales Director Alistair Walker said: “Moscatel is a sweet fortified wine, hailing from Portugal and Spain, which adds a buttery-soft, spicy and fruity dimension to the whisky. The result is a superlative malt in the classic BenRiach style. It is lusciously rich, velvety and full-flavoured, delivering superb dried fruit and honeyed sweetness, like a good apple crumble.”

  • Colour – Rich gold mahogany.
  • Nose – A full, sumptuous nose consisting of dark orange marmalade, rich fig syrup and sweet dates. A dusting of cocoa and cinnamon followed by a gentle hint of garden mint adds a luxurious character.
  • Palate – Rich, velvety dark chocolate fondant topped with glazed maraschino cherries develops to plum cordial and spiced honey. The long finish is rounded with a gentle, earthy balance of nutmeg, stewed barley and old vintage leather.
  • Finish – A rich body laden with dark Mediterranean fruits and a complementary balance of warm spices and delicate oak characters.

What else did we try in our minis evening?

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Minis – Glenrothes (1992) Lustau Sherry 55.3%

We all have certain distilleries we know and love. And others that past experiences influence perceptions – understandably. For my tasting companion, Glenrothes has been more of a disappointment than reward. Whereas for me – I’ve had more positives than negatives.

Glenrothes (1992/2016) Cask 1 Lustau Sherry Finish 55.3%

  • Colour – Gold
  • Nose – Sour, sweet, sweet leather, fibrous, malt mash, tarter, rubharbh.. After 1st sip, musty, talcum… the 2nd sip salty sour plums…
  • Palate – Full flavoured, we loved the tartness, chewy, evolving salt and sour, sherry yum
  • Finish – Dry, tart, then a flat burn
  • Water – Brushfire then spice and plums, less sour, more orange oils, with a spicy fruit finish

We initially thought this is a great early evening dram! Most enjoyable and a good contrast to the Edradours and BenRiachs we earlier sampled.

So we set it aside, returning to find it slightly pungent, shifting between sweet, sour, chaat masala with delicious mixed berries.

What do the folks at Master of Malt have to say?

A delicious release from the Glenrothes Wine Merchant’s Collection range (each of which has been finished in different types of cask from top producers). This whisky was finished in a cask that was previously home to tasty Lustau Sherry! A release of 648 bottles.

Tasting Note by The Chaps at Master of Malt

  • Nose: Sticky toffee pudding, raisins and plums.
  • Palate: Citrus begins to develop on the palate (perhaps lemon drizzle cake). Soon joined by dark chocolate.
  • Finish: White grapes, orange peels.

While it is now sold out, it went for approximately $200.

We also sampled these four more drams in our minis evening?

Curious about other Glenrothes experiences?

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Minis – BenRiach 12 year 43%

Next up in our minis evening was a discontinued BenRiach

BenRiach 12 year 43%

  • Nose – Freshly chopped wood, sap… bit of varnish? Wood shavings – predominantly pine, fresh balsa wood, very dry… then honey starts to seep in, shifts to crisp granny smith apples, cured hide, tart, bamboo sawdust. After the 1st sip the aromas shifted – became much sweeter, fruits, flowers even a perfume, red velvet cupcake, orange and clove oil, Christmas pudding
  • Palate – Honey water, spice and smoke, tobacco leaf, the apple from the nose was baked into a pie with a dash of spice
  • Finish – Short to medium, starts sharp, sweet, creamy and tapers off… into a feeling of a finish

We enjoyed this one more and more as it opened up. While it was sweet, the bite of piquant elements adds a certain something. It somehow reminded us of adding a bit of black salt on guava to bring out the sweet.

We set it aside to continue exploring other minis then returned after some time. We continued to enjoy its sweet wood and bamboo shoots aromas. And on the palate? Lovely… like tender palm, then apples and pears with spice.

While now archived, the BenRiach folks have this to say about this 12 year old:

This SMOOTH single malt has an elegant full taste and aroma that captures FRUITY, floral and OAK WOOD NOTES, with fascinating overtones of honey, vanilla and SPICE.

  • Colour – Mid-amber, hints of gold.
  • Nose – Honey, vanilla, floral, fruity with well balanced wood overtones.
  • Taste – Rounded medium to full bodied, rich honey, vanilla with hints of cream, spice and chocolate.

So what else did we try in our minis evening?

Not enough BenRiach? Check out some of these:

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Minis – Edradour 17 year (1999) Bordeaux Cask Finish 55.2%

I gotta admit, I’ve had hit and miss experiences with wine finishes but generally like most Edradour whiskies so was very curious to see what they did with a Bordeaux finish.

Edradour 17 year (1999) Bordeaux Cask Finish 55.2%

  • Nose – Started with a peculiar rubber, plastic… then citrus, sour, tannins, ripe dark plum, a sharpness, spice at the back, grapes. After the 1st sip, big nose, bursting with fruits, oats, wet hay, porridge, brown sugar and raisins, stewed apple peels
  • Palate – Dry wood, lots of flavour, prunes and plums, dark cherries, solid body, touch of leather
  • Finish – Stays, a subtle spice that holds…  extremely long with a fruity tale
  • Water – Explosion of sweet, much more round, white peach… fabulous

The danger of storing things in hot humid Mumbai is it isn’t kind on plastic or rubber. We speculated if a bit of the initial queer aromas on opening was linked to a terrible storage mishap.

But after some time, we got past the that to – Wow! Power packed. After time, the nose settled down yet also took on a musty quality, the flavours remained big and bold.

So we set it aside to continue our explorations of the other minis. We returned and found again that slightly peculiar plastic then got past it to again wow! Compelling… it was like a completely different whisky…

  • Nose – A potpourri of aromas, rose petals, perfumes, soaped, changed again to plastic then back to fruits and berries
  • Palate – Lemon pie, eve a sweet and tart key lime pie… nope… maybe kumkuat? Mangosteens? Custard apple? Starfruit? Jackfruit?! You get it – a kaleidoscope of fruits!
  • Finish – Spice, sweet and just yum!

So what do the folks over at Master of Malts have to say?

The Edradour distillery is well known for finishing their Highland single malts in wine casks – and they get wonderfully specific with it sometimes. For example, this is a 17 year old expression, distilled in October 1999 and finished in a trio of Bordeaux hogsheads for 46 months before being bottled at cask strength in May 2017! A release of 911 bottles.

Tasting Note by The Chaps at Master of Malt

  • Nose: Rich notes of stewed red berries and dark chocolate, with underlying menthol and parsley.
  • Palate: Oak-y spiciness begins to take shape on the palate with plenty of cinnamon, pink pepeprcorn and fresh cedar. Remains deliciously jammy with raspberries and cranberries.
  • Finish: Lasting sweetness of red liquorice.

As for what it would set you back? Approx $180.

So what did we try in our minis evening?

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Minis – Edradour Fairy Flag 15 year 46%

When this mini was picked up a few years ago, you could find Edradour’s tribute to the film “The Fairy Flag” on a few shelves around the world.

The story of The Fairy Flag is the union of the Clan Chief of the Macleod’s and Titania, a fairy maiden, with her flag said to be endowed with supernatural power, protecting the MacLeod’s… a flag that can be seen on display at Dunvegan Castle.

As mysterious as the maiden is whether the feature film was ever released!  Rory Mhor Nicoll and Peter Columbia, it doesn’t seem to have been officially released. Instead Rory’s association with Edradour led to a film about Edradour and a documentary about the making of the film.

Edradour Fairy Flag 15 year 46%

  • Nose – A heavy sherry pudding, dried fruits, yummy custard, caramel chocolate, coffee, cream cheese icing, citrus fruits
  • Palate – A wonderful spice – specifically dry spices, dry fruits, a puff of smoke
  • Finish – Had a terrific substance

We joked this was no flighty fairy, more like a gnome. And frankly delivered everything you would want in a whisky. It was also a terrific way to kick off our sampling evening.

We set it aside to revisit after sampling the others… We found it absolutely kept its character. If anything, it evolved into a sprightly dance – exceedingly tasty.

We enjoyed it so much wondered if it is still available – alas it is not… pity.

What do the folks over at Edradour have to say?

Following initial maturation in ex Bourbon casks for 8 years, this whisky has been matured for a further 7 years in fresh Oloroso Sherry casks. Mahogany in colour, this Single Malt is characterized by rich fruits, chocolate and a robust long warming finish.

  • Nose: Dried fruits like raisins and plums, vanilla.
  • Palate: Delicious rich Christmas cake with caramel and chocolate. Typical mouth feel coming from the old copper farm stills.
  • Finish: Sweet and spicy, lingering and warming.

Unchillfiltered • Natural Colour • Distilled, Matured and Bottled at Edradour.

So what did we try in our minis evening?

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