Wemyss Summer Breeze – Linkwood 20 year 46%

It was several years waiting to try this beauty! I knew it would be a delight… and was exactly right. So right that it was enjoyed at a couple farewells with such joy that only a lone dram remained… waiting until this fine evening in 2021…

Linkwood 20 year (1995/2015) Summer Breeze Cask #20877 (Wemyss) 46%

  • Nose – Initially greets with crisp green apples, joined by sweet cheese and a sprinkle of sweet spices, some ginger, more apple… perhaps a hint of sweet basil? Lovely fragrant vanilla
  • Palate – Has more substance than the nose would indicate… reminded me of honey banana oats or a soft oat and raisin cookie, with more of that lovely ginger, apple cider
  • Finish – Warm drizzle of honey with a nice spice chaser

It is like wandering through an orchard full of apple blossoms on a warm summers day,,,  Wemyss have rather aptly named this whisky “Summer Breeze’.

Here is what they have to say on the bottle label:

A delicate, fresh, fragrant Hogshead to take you to a summer’s day.

Would I concur? Yes indeed.

This is one of those whiskies you simply enjoy… no fuss, no complications, just happiness. Which is why you will simply have to forgive the limited tasting notes… and permit me to going back to enjoy my last sip!

I picked up this bottle in 2017 at Le Clos, Dubai for AED 380 (approx EUR 85). There were 374 bottles produced.

What other Linkwood‘s have we sampled?

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Vita Dulcis 4 – Scotland’s The Dalmore 12 year 40%

The Dalmore was the ONLY Scottish whisky in the Vita Dulcis 2020 International Whisk(e)y Advent Calendar… really!

I didn’t mind revisiting one of their core expressions. In this case – the 12 year.

Scotland – The Dalmore 12 year 40%

  • Colour – Golden caramel
  • Nose – Slightly doughy, once the yeasty element settled down, the cherry sherry quality, rum raisins, figs, plum cake,  sweet spices
  • Palate – A spicy bite to warm things up, clear sherry stamp, and is that marmalade? Yup!
  • Finish – Light but lingers, slightly bitter
  • Water? Honestly, didn’t even try

Overall, not a bad dram with a sherry flourish!

What do we know? It spent most of its 12 years maturing in ex-bourbon casks then finished in Oloroso sherry.

Distillery official tasting notes?

  • Nose : Citrus fruits, chocolate and aromatic spices
  • Taste : Seville oranges, dried fruits and hints of vanilla pod
  • Finish : Roasted coffee and dark chocolate

Would I agree? Overall, yes.

Obviously this wasn’t my 1st Dalmore! Here are a few other expressions that made it into tasting notes…

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Chorlton – Mannochmore 12 years 58.7%

All the Chorlton‘s I’ve tried so far are from the L’Ancien Régime series – with a gorgeous consistency to the labels.

However this Mannochmore comes from a different series – La Nouvelle Vague – with delightful period stylized labels. I couldn’t resist throwing a bouquet of flowers into the mix with my photo!

As for the whisky…. read on…

Mannochmore 12 years 58.7% 108 bottles

  • Nose – Yummy, a fruit basket in a glass! Generous cherries, vanilla sponge cake, amaretto, flowery, fresh, beeswax candle, herbal
  • Palate – Toffee, sweet spices, fruity… after some time – yup there is the pineapple and mango… the fruity fabulous quality fully comes through…
  • Finish – Stays… long, lingering, more of that toffee, sweet spices… mmmmm…..

There was a delightful summery quality to this whisky. I found a citrus twist whereas another lady did not. Which is completely normal – different conditions, different glasses, different palates and persuasions.

So whether we found spring, summer or fall in the character of this whisky, did we like it? Absolutely without a doubt!  We really appreciated the subtle contrast between aromas and palate – similar vein but sufficiently different to keep us fully engaged.

A beautifully well rounded whisky – the kind you are quite happy to curl up, sip, enjoy.

What did David have to say? As it isn’t on his website, I’ve copied from his email which prompted this purchase!

And next is a 12yo Mannochmore. This continues the summery theme with a very clean, citrussy and herbal nose. I get melon, bergamot, lemon posset, posh olive oil, vanilla cream and a bit of lavender.

The neat palate is quite intensely tart at first, then sweet – like lemon sherbet, or biting into a kumquat. Wakes up the ol’ taste buds! The development then is on mango jam, roasted pineapple and a touch of peanut brittle in the aftertaste. With water everything is much softer, adding some Bakewell tart, orange, and cream soda.

A good example of the distillery character, this, and great fun to play with adding water. We got just 108 bottles from this bourbon barrel at 58.7%, and they’re available for £57.50 each.

I am so glad I managed to grab this while it was still available!

Here is the full set of Chorlton‘s sampled:

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The Warehouse Collection Glencadam 8 year 61%

The Whisky Warehouse No. 8 was the only German independent bottler to make it into my Whisky Ladies in Europe collection… And I have to confess I’ve been rather impatient to open this after picking it up at Nurnberg’s “The Village” Whisky Festival early March 2020.

For our 2nd virtual tasting, we continued with sampling blind… not knowing what they were trying til the reveal.

Glencadam 8 year (23 Feb 2011/6 June 2019) Bourbon Barrel Cask W8 800125 61% (The Warehouse Collection) 1 of 240 bottles

  • Nose – First waft of sweet bubblegum and pears! Then shifted into red current, sweetened cranberry, apples, fresh and leafy, marshmallow, vanilla… then back to orchard fruits
  • Palate – Mmm…. nice, smooth, some of the wood also came through with a slightly bitter edge which brought out even more character, which started to mix with honey dew melon, silky smooth
  • Finish – Sweet spice with a nicely bitter edge, perhaps a hint of smoke?

In short – brilliant! We absolutely loved this one… It had a fresh springlike quality on the nose yet mellowed until late summer on the palate. Sweet orchard fruits combined with such substance when sipping… What a wonderful contrast!

And with water?

  • Nose – Unbelievable… but could this be even sweeter? Clear William Pear… chased by marzipan, then back to delicious pear… inviting one to keep coming back to sniff and enjoy
  • Palate – Initially it really kicked up the spice – peppery, then nutmeg… could that be betel leaf? Or tobacco leaf? Then it settled into a delightful mix of fruits, woods and gentle spice
  • Finish – Cinnamon bark

With the reveal there was complete surprise that this was 61%?! And only 8 years of age to have such nuanced character? It just goes to show that the right choice by an independent bottler can catch a gem!

Previous experiences with Glencadam official bottling were not so complementary, however this was clearly a winner!

Based on this experience combined with my quick zip through at The Warehouse stall at The Village whisky fest, I ordered a quartet sample set for some future tasting opportunity.

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Chorlton – Tomintoul 14 years 57.6%

Let’s just start by acknowledging that independent bottler Chorlton has the most gorgeous labels! There is no way these bottles are going into recycling… instead I’ve decided to start a ‘top shelf’ in my study with the empties.

But first, we need to finish them! Galloping to the rescue was our European Chapter of Whisky Ladies… nicely enabling me to package up generous tasting sets for our mutual malty pleasure.

Our second evening started off with this Speyside Tomintoul… Naturally at cask strength and sampled without initially revealing the distillery.

Tomintoul 14 years 57.6% 455 bottles

  • Nose – Mmmm cherry, jammy with lots of red fruits and berries, started to shift into melon, then marzipan, nuts, honey, cured prunes
  • Palate – A lovely nice sweet spice, more depth than expected from the aromas, honey, almost a ‘port’ style with a heavy sweetness, wood, full bodied yet gentle and nuanced… with a kind of almost buttery or creamy fullness
  • Finish – Long, strong, comforting finish

While there was absolutely nothing wrong with this one ‘as is’, we thought to also try with water and see if it added, detracted or made minimal difference.

  • Nose – Even fruitier – if that is possible! With more of the marzipan nutty element too, chased by creme brûlée
  • Palate – Also juicier, simply lip smacking!
  • Finish – Retained the sweetly spiced finish

In short, water works if you want to amp up the fruits even more, but also fine without.

Overall we found this to be a well-rounded, happily familiar feeling dram. The kind of cold weather whisky you want to come home to as the perfect anecdote to the bracing outdoors. Fabulous.

What does David have to say?

A fully sherry-matured single cask Speysider at an everyday price? Why ever not! This one has dark berry fruits, honey and toasted teacake on the nose. The palate is creamy, with lemon drops, caramelised pears and an earthy and toasty cardamom spiciness, leading into a hazelnut and dried fruit finish. An affable and quaffable dram, but by no means dull.

I purchased this whisky directly from the Chorlton website for £60 plus shipping.

Here is the full set of Chorlton‘s sampled:

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Chorlton – Blair Athol 12 years 56.6%

Next up in our Chorolton evening was another from the Diageo stable – Blair Athol. Over the years, there haven’t been as many Blair Athol experiences as one would expect… Just the Flora & Fauna official bottling 12 year 43%, and two from independent bottlers – Hunter Laing’s “Old Malt” collection 16 year (1997) 50% and Signatory’s 27 year (1988) 55.7%.

So what did we think of this one from Chorlton?

Blair Athol 12 years 56.6% 268 bottles

  • Nose – Chocolate, prunes, toffee, nutty, ginger bread, marmalade, marmite, pink peppercorn, berries, even a hint of apricot?
  • Palate – Delicious! Ginger snap, spice, toasted almonds, a nice oily fullness, fruity and well rounded, with that marmalade quality on the nose eventually coming through on the palate as well
  • Finish – Carries through the depth, character and sweetness

Amusingly we had quite a divergent opinion on this Blair Athol.

While two of us nattered on about its complexity, character and how with each sip, we enjoyed more and more. Our third lady got none of what we found – none.

A couple hours later? She came back with an exuberant – “I finally got it!!!”

What could account for the difference? Likely several factors – not the least of which is glassware. Usually when we taste together it is with glencairn glasses. In the past, I would bring to our tasting sessions in Mumbai. After my move to Germany, the Whisky Ladies of Mumbai invested in a couple sets which get passed from host to host so that consistency remains. We also were tuning in from our homes – from Scandinavia to Bretagne to Bavaria. Each likely having some lingering aromas of our every day indoor life.

What ever the reason – it was most amusing that, in the end, the Blair Athol came through!

What does David have to say?

A complex, earthy and waxy whisky this, in a very old-fashioned Highlands style. The nose has orange peel, malt extract, herbal pastilles and dark berry fruits. The palate has a long development that starts on honey and ginger beer, becomes more nutty, and ends with orange syrup, Blackjack sweets and a touch of salt. Blair Athol isn’t a big name, but this is a delicious and characterful whisky that rewards your attention.

I purchased this whisky directly from the Chorlton website for £62.50 plus shipping.

Here are the Chorlton‘s sampled with the Blair Athol:

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Chorlton – Miltonduff 11 years 62%

We kicked off our virtual tasting evening with a Chorlton trio! First up was cask strength 11 year old from Miltonduff.

Miltonduff 11 years 62% 176 bottles

  • Nose – It started off as a refreshing melange of pears, apples, apricot… fruity, then came the toffee and nuts, shifting back to the apple with a clear calvados stamp! Apple strudel
  • Palate – Spicy! With an itchy warming… then it eased into quite a bit character. Chocolate gingerbread, even a bit of coconut, then almond paste
  • Finish – Slightly bitter

Let’s be honest… first whiff was ‘woah!’ as it was going from zero to serious alcohol strength without any easing into it! And first sip? Yeah… maybe starting with 62% was a bit much!

However both as we adjusted and the dram opened up more, it was clear there was much going on. We quite enjoyed the contrast  between the fruity nose and the rich palate.

For me, at least, this one demands generous water… only then does the full character come through!

  • Nose – Yum! First it revealed a lovely fresh green apple, then herbal. Then clearly shifted into baked apple pie, vanilla… and dare I say marshmallow?
  • Palate – Given I’m in the heart of “lebkuchen” land, I couldn’t help but think of Nuremburger gingerbread! It also had a bit of orange marmalade ,

So it turns out that the 1st whisky of our evening turned out to be the one we enjoyed the most. It had a certain ‘oomph’ and character that compelled us to come back!

What does David have to say?

A rollicking joint bottling with my friends at The Rare Malt in Hong Kong! The nose is big and bourbon-forward, with marmalade, custard cream biscuits and plum jam. Underneath that you’ll find more subtle hints of dried flowers, cocoa powder and anise. The palate is also bold and rich, with mocha, chewy gingerbread, nutmeg and fudge, balanced by some zingy fruits. Water is transformative and makes everything more citrussy, clean and herbal.

I purchased this whisky directly from the Chorlton website for £62.50 plus shipping.

Here is the other Chorlton‘s sampled with the Miltonduff:

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North Star Series 8 – Glenturret 8 year 58.3%

The last North Star we sampled was from the Highlands – Glenturret to be precise.

I will admit when I selected this bottle, I was hugely influenced by how spectucular the LMdW Artist Glenturret 30 year was! This impression was further re-inforced by a positive experience with a port matured Glenturret 14 year mini.

When I first opened it went – woah!? This was no lucious peach confection. It was peat.  I paused… and then it clicked! I also had this style of Glenturret – better known as Ruadh Mhor – courtesy of a fabulous evening of Chorlton’s whiskies.

In the past, most Glenturret would go into Famous Grouse. You might come across the occasional independent bottles, however in 2018 it was sold to Glenturret Holding – a joint venture between Lalique Group and Swiss entrepreneur Hansjörg Wyss, from 2020 a new range of official bottling are now available.

I went back to filling up our sample bottles to send to Whisky ladies in Europe.

What about the Glenturret Distillery

Glenturret 8 year (Dec 2010 / Mar 2019) Refill Hogshead 58.3% (North Star 008), 1 of 330 bottles. Price Price with shipping/tax £65.49

  • Colour – Golden hay
  • Nose – Well hello peat! Barbecue pringles, salted cashew nuts, cured meats, burnt bacon drizzled in maple syrup, a bit of charcoal wood chips.
  • Palate – Mmmmm maple bacon… baked apples, chocolate… a nice ‘grown up’ complex sweet peat, oily, think caramelized onions and apple sauce with a nice light spice
  • Finish – Long… a subtle smoked bacon tail with a lingering sweetness
  • Water – Initially it seemed to dampen it too much, losing the lovely balance between spice, sweet and peat… however it did add another citrusy element – grapefruit.

While the aromas swirled about with cured smoked meats, the peat was more nuanced on the palate… a kind of civilized rounded peat. Just the kind of maple bacon that is hard to resist!

Talk turned to peat. One of our whisky ladies has a clear peat preference. Whereas I have to admit,  I have veered away from peat of the last few years. Until now. And I realized it is clearly linked to environment. Living in India in perpetual summer is entirely different than a chilly Germany in November! Whereas this kind of sweet smokey dram is perfection on a cold miserable rainy day.

And what does Ian have to say?

  • Nose – Sweet & salted monkey nuts
  • Palate – Fine virginia tobacco
  • Finish – Medicinal, lemon and burnt orange

What else was part of my North Star latest score?

As for other Glenturret experiences? By far the most outstanding was the LMdW, however the Chorlton was also a worthy whisky!

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North Star Series 8 – Auchroisk 13 year 51.2%

Next up in our meander through a few North Stars‘ is a cask strength dram from Auchroisk Distillery.

While we tasted blind, with the reveal, our ex-Diageo lady shared how once upon a time it was bottled as Singleton as it was felt Auchroisk (Oth-rusk) would be too difficult to pronounce. This was back in the mid-1980s which also happened to be an early example of finishing as their approach was to decant a 10 year old ex-Bourbon matured whisky into ex-Sherry casks for a further 2 years, before this became a hallmark technique of Glenmorangie.

Was it successful? As a single malt brand, not entirely. And by 2001, bottling under this label stopped with the name changed back to Auchroisk with release of a ‘Flora & Fauna’ official bottling. Followed later in 2008 with release of “The Singleton of Auchroisk.”

In the meantime, the name Singleton was revived as the Diageo ‘brand’ –  The Singleton – which has three distinctly different avatars (and distilleries) depending on the market –  The Singleton of Glen Ord for Asia (fruity), followed by Glendullan for North America (touted as smooth and approachable), and Dufftown for Europe (nutty marmalade).

Confused much?

Auchroisk 13 year (Feb 2006 / June 2019) Oloroso Sherry Hogshead 51.2% (North Star 008)

  • Nose – Wow! Fresh bubblegum, apples – quite a summery greeting. Flower, all sorts of jams, Victoria sponge cake, strawberries and cream, pavlova, marshmallows, cantaloupe… shifting into a touch of port or prunes or something in the darker sherry aromas, perhaps even a hint of sweet tobacco leaf? As it continued to open, just became more and more fabulous in the shifting range of fruity baked deserts with a touch of sweet spices
  • Palate – What a contrast! We hadn’t expected such character – spice, licorice, cheese rinds greeted us with the first sip. By the 2nd sip, the sherry influence was clear. Lots of blackberries, strawberries. Creamy, coating the palate.
  • Finish – Relatively short but satisfying.
  • Water – Definitely has an impact. On the aromas, adding water brought back the floral quality, added mandarin oranges. On the palate it was initially spicier – a lot spicier – with cinnamon, allspice. As it settled down, we thought of old fashioned Christmas oranges with cloves, with a nice dollop of vanilla infused cream!

Overall we were impressed. There was a pleasant complexity to this one.

We returned after sampling the peaty Glenturret 8 year… Sometimes having a sherry dram follow peat, can lead to disappointment. Absolutely not in this case! If anything, we appreciated this Auchroisk even more.

  • Revisit – Gorgeous! Vanilla, tobacco, sweet liquorice, lovely christmasy character without being too intensely sherry. Also had a nice nuttiness. And sipping? Simply delicious. In short – Yum! A delightful dessert-y whisky.

No doubt – we thoroughly enjoyed this dram! And would be interested in exploring more…

This Auchroisk was matured in a Oloroso sherry hogshead which produced 280 bottles. I paid approx GBP 67, ordered directly from the fabulous folks at North Star Spirits.

As for Iain Croucher‘s tasting notes? Here is what he had to say about this Auchroisk:

  • Nose – An oil-burning Rayburn baking an orange sponge pudding
  • Palate – Orangeade Spangles & freshly plundered brambles
  • Finish – Nutty caramel with a plum & vanilla compote

We admit, we had to look up “spangles” to discover they are a British sweet. Just like an oil-burning Rayburn! Once we had a better sense of the references, would agree!

What else was part of my North Star latest score?

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North Star Regions – Speyside 12 year 50%

North Star has a Millennial Series with whiskies from Scotland’s four main regions – Highland, Speyside, Islay and Island. I started with the Highland and have now cracked open the Speyside! Alas I haven’t been able to get my hands on either the Islay nor the Island, so this will conclude my exploration of this series.

The distillery isn’t directly stated, but the longitude and latitude provided on the bottle brings one to Aberlour distillery in X (N 57° 26’36.14″ by W 3° 14’17.04′). When I think of Aberlour, what comes to mind is a robust sherry bomb – particularly A’bunadh which was once upon a time regular duty free cask strength purchase.

So what about this one? Well… it was sampled over a few sessions – including with our Whisky Ladies of Europe!

The Speyside 12 year 50%

  • Colour – Dark copper
  • Nose – Rich, fruity with apricots, pineapple, heavy with honey or maple syrup, rum raisins, as it opened up some dark bitter chocolate (think 95%), more raisins which were joined by nuts – particularly walnut, dried figs, some cherries…
  • Palate – Very tasty! Pepper, sweet spices of cinnamon and cloves, dark berries, more of that apricot, perhaps a bit of melon? Nice creamy butter that coats the palate with oils, buttered toast
  • Finish – Quite long. There was an almost coffee-like quality or betel nut? A bit bitter, with some chilly spice.
  • Water – Dampens the aromas… however nuts became slightly more pronounced. Less spice, more sweetness, betel leaf and melons. In some cases adding water transforms a dram. In this case? It neither added dramatically nor detracted.

Overall it lived up to its promise of being a proper sherry dram – though not as overwhelming as some cask strength A’bunadh’s I’ve experienced! What was remarkable was the consistency – from 1st whiff to finish – it followed a common theme. I had jotted down a few notes from an earlier solo tasting months ago… to then see notes from the tasting with the ladies was practically identical!

The only shift was after we set it aside and returned after an hour. We immediately found it a bit sour or tart – crabapples with a bit of medicinal sweetness, orange peels and cloves. And yet – even this was all aligned to the overall character of the dram.

Rather than tasting notes, the North Star team share the following quote from Aedan Andrejus Burt:

Speyside is often considered Scotland’s sweetest and most approachable region. Wherever you go, they’ll introduce you to a dram, and probably something the locals call a ‘breakfast whisky’ soon enough. Home to around 50 distilleries, over a third of Scotland’s total, the area covers a 50-mile strip between Inverses and Aberdeen, around the River Spey. For that, most distilleries have their own water source, of which they are immensely proud. The honeyed and fruity character of Speyside whiskies make them highly sought after, and the banks of the Spey accommodate many of the country’s best known stills.

I purchased this bottle in May 2020 during our COVID ‘shut-in’ from Sansibar for EUR 37.82 plus 19% tax. There is zero doubt this is a value for money dram!

Curious about earlier Aberlour tasting experiences? Well… there have been a few…

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