Chorlton – Croftengea 13 year 53.9%

So there we were, one fine evening in Paris with two beautiful bottles from Chorlton‘s  La Nouvelle Vague series…  We began with the superb Orkney that surprised us with its lush complex character. We then turned to the Croftnegea…

If you aren’t immediately familiar with Croftnegea, perhaps you have heard for Loch Lomond? Just in this case it is the brand for their heavily peated version… much like Glenturret is also known as Ruadh Maor

It was with this heavy peat expectation that I had thought to try this after the Highland Park “Orkney”. However what we discovered was quite the opposite!

As for the whisky…. read on…

Croftengea 13 years 53.9% 231 bottles

  • Colour – Bright gold
  • Nose – Pear, ripe bananas, caramel, a bit of spice, cough syrup, malty, after the 1st sip, the aromas shifted to a delightful lemon meringue pie, strawberries, subtle spice and honey
  • Palate – Buttery sweet brioche, then citrusy with light peat at the end
  • Finish – Lingers, wonderful
  • Water – Made it even more accessible and very yummy, more fresh sweet bread, lemon curd

There was such a contrast between the aromas and palate, quite dynamic on the nose and subtle yet lovely on the palate.

We set it aside and revisited comparing the glass without water which had become perfumed and sweet, citrus and sugar. The one with the water was fruitier with the peat a bit more pronounced, cinnamon mini donut, Christmas market!

What did David have to say?

Peated single malt from Captain Haddock’s favourite distillery! This one starts on a sweet note, with banana milkshake, Milky Bars and a funky sort of fruitiness on the nose. The palate starts with fudgy chocolate, soft ginger and mango, before the peat makes itself felt with light smoke and a hit of black olive saltiness. This is a hugely fun whisky, and enjoyably weird around the edges.

I purchased this in December 2020 for £62.50 plus tax and courier charges. And I am sooooooo glad I managed to grab this while it was still available!

Here is are two more from La Nouvelle Vague series:

Here is the full set of Chorlton‘s sampled til date from the L’Ancien Régime series:

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Chorlton – Orkney 15 year 57.1%

This is my 2nd Chorlton from the La Nouvelle Vague series… I’ll admit that I had high expectations however this one blew us away!

While the distillery is not explicitly named, considering there are only two distilleries on Orkney Island with quite different characters, and David mentions it is the more famous of the two, it will clearly be Highland Park rather than Scapa.

As for the whisky…. read on…

Orkney 15 years 57.1% 121 bottles

  • Colour – Deep copper
  • Nose – Smoked pork? Wow! What an active aroma – jumping all over the place in an amazingly powerful way the sweet smoke was initially predominant but not alone. From strawberries to cherries, hibiscus with a bouquet of flowers, citrus then shifted to red berries or French sweet red currents, a gorgeous dessert, underlaid with old wood, dark bitter chocolate, nutty, treacle and ham
  • Palate – Fabulous! Sweet, peat, generous berries, bitter coffee, absolutely flavour packed with so many layers, complex… all on the 1st sip. As we went in for our second sip, it was meaty, spicy, some french toast drowning in maple syrup, buttered brioche, caramelized banana, honeyed ham
  • Finish – Long and strong, phenomenal, with a rich mocha coffee initially which then also morphed from coffee and chocolate to cherry
  • Water – Needed? No. However is it also brilliant with water too? Yes. We found it was even more chocolatey

Even before opening, we started speculating about the cask given its incredibly dark hue and a mere 121 bottles from a hogshead barrel which typically would produce more than double!  And then we cracked it open and were amazed at the promise shown just from the cork alone – strawberries and bubblegum!

Then to have the caleidoscope of aromas then richly complex palate and stellar finish? We were floored. Our experience went well beyond any expectation and was decidedly different than recent brushes with Highand Park.

When we set it aside and revisited it was equally enjoyable. This time with a new briney seaside quality we missed in our earlier exploration. It is clearly a whisky to savour and enjoy – over and over!What did David have to say?

This whisky (from the more famous of the two Orkney distilleries) has been matured in a very active cask, giving it the sort of hue you might expect from first-fill bourbon. The nose has waxy citrus, sea water and sticky cherry-flavour cough syrup alongside a lightly fragrant peat smoke. The palate is oily and chewy, with stewed red berries, smouldering wood, rose petals, herbal pastilles and a long coastal finish.

I purchased this in December 2020 for £75 plus tax and courier charges, back when it was still possible to get whiskies directly from the UK.

Here are two more from the La Nouvelle Vague series:

Plus the Chorlton‘s sampled til date from the L’Ancien Régime series:

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Arran Quarter Cask The Bothy Cask Strength 56.2%

Nearly a year ago I was in Scotland and one of the few distilleries I had the pleasure of visiting was Lochranza on Isle of Arran. It was a fabulous day trip with friends and well worth doing.

One whisky I tried there was their no age statement Quarter Cask – and absolutely loved it! However as I could only walk away with one bottle for Mumbai, chose one that was only available at the distillery – the gorgeous rich and intense 23 year old cask strength.

A few months later, I bought the Quarter Cask online in Germany with plans to bring it to India during my summer trip as a way to ’round out’ a no-age-statement trio – joining bottles of the Lochranza Estate and Port Finish already patiently waiting for a tasting session in my Mumbai whisky cabinet.

And then summer came with no chance of a trip home in sight, I decided to open this bottle and simply enjoy! Naturally sharing samples with my Whisky Ladies in Paris.

Whilst we had minis of the Arran vertical 14, 18, and 23-year-olds plus the Port finish, I chose to dive into this one as an appetizer before the mighty Chorlton cask strength Orkney and Loch Lomond.

So what did we think?

Arran Quarter Cask The Bothy Cask Strength 56.2%

  • Nose – Mmmm….. vanilla, sweet sponge cake, Barbados rum, fruity, honey caramelized nuts which then flipped through a combination of blanched white almonds, hazelnuts, Brazil nuts, coconut, back to honey, vanilla, pineapple upside-down cake, milk chocolate
  • Palate – A wonderful warming spice, nicely well-rounded, a much more “solid” character than anticipated from the dessert-like aromas, approachable yet with substance, oily, a touch of dark bitter chocolate, nutmeg – rich without being heavy, lightly fruity
  • Finish – Lingers with pineapple and honey, lovely and long
  • Water – While we didn’t think it needed, decided to try – and you should! It brought out buttery sweet brioche on the nose, reduced the nuttiness, amping up the fruitness, bringing out on the palate a citrus twist and orange marmalade without compromising the delicious finish

We loved it! The nose was so inviting and delicious, the palate is marvellously well balanced and the finish long and rewarding. What isn’t there to enjoy?

We set it aside for a revisit and was greeted by a delightful perfume on the nose, fabulous flavours on the palate – which much more citrus than we initially found. Loved it!

What do the folks at Arran have to say?

Our Quarter Cask expression is a complex, rich and intensely fruity Single Malt, a cask strength delight and the perfect partner to our Sherry Cask Single Malt!

The Arran Single Malt selected for this cask strength expression was initially matured in first-fill ex-Bourbon barrels for 7 years before being transferred for secondary maturation into smaller Quarter casks also made of the finest American oak for a further 2 years. The process of transferring our whisky into the smaller 125 litre sized casks for their final 2 years of maturation produces far greater contact between the whisky & oak and a faster, more intense maturation.

The end result is a full-bodied expression of Arran Single Malt combining power and finesse full of rich vanilla sweetness and bold peppery spice. Bottling at natural Cask Strength without chill-filtration or artificial colouring of any sort presents this whisky in its purest form. Small casks would have been a common feature of the Arran whisky trade in the eighteenth & nineteenth centuries as they were easier to handle and transport around the island. With our much-loved Quarter Cask expression we proudly bring this tradition back to life.

Official distillery tasting notes:

  • Nose – Apple tart, pineapple brioche
  • Palate – The citrus hallmarks of Arran welcome you, and the sweet spice of cinnamon and vanilla promises a memorable dram.
  • Finish – Sweetness, Honey, Pineapple, Vanilla, Coconut.

To be honest, we didn’t read the official tasting notes however clearly we would completely agree!

This expression is available from the distillery for GBP 50 and I bought it in Germany for EUR 53.56.

Ad arran quarter cask bottle box product detail rebrand

What else have we recently tried from Arran?

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Chorlton’s La Nouvelle Vague picking up from L’Ancien Régime

Ah… Chorlton… it has fast become a favourite independent bottler with their beautiful whiskies with even more beautiful labels.

In 2020, David came out with a new series – La Nouvelle Vague – and I simply could not resist! While I haven’t acquired all, I am a proud owner of this trio! So far we’ve only sampled the first… and I couldn’t wait to crack open the next two… bringing the full bottles with me on a trip to Paris to share!

Alas since I got my hands on the Croftnegea and Orkney, Brexit has complicated things considerably and I suspect future Chorlton acquisitions may be quite challenging.

Here are all the Chorlton‘s sampled till date from the L’Ancien Régime series… both with the Whisky Ladies European chapter and earlier in Mumbai with our original tasting group…

  • Miltonduff 9 year 58.3% – Creamy dessert with fruits, breakfast cereals… in short delicious!
  • Orkney 9 year 63.1% – Copper, minerals, salted caramel, and smoke, all beautifully balanced
  • Ruadh Maor 8 year 62.5% (aka Glenturret) – Seasoned meats and fried snacks…. a chameleon quality that evolved differently in each glass

Each one has been unique and interesting in its own way… Slainte!

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Arran Duo – Quarter Cask and Port Finish

Back at the start of 2021 I was in Mumbai, rebottling whiskies into miniatures for tasting in India and to bring some back to Europe. The Campbeltown and Arran sets were dutifully dispatched early February to Paris and we dove into the Campbeltown ones almost right away!

As for the Arran trio? Let’s just say we got distracted with all the other whiskies we had accumulated or had wandered their way to us!

So when I decided to “pop” over to Paris, I decided to augment the trio already with my fellow “Euro Whisky Ladies” with another duo…. this time bringing the additional drams by hand.

So what was in the original Lochranza vertical?

And what did I add to augment it?

Tasting notes for The Bothy are from this summer however the Port is from a few years ago. We haven’t yet revisited it, though no doubt will soon enough. It may be some time before we slowly but surely work our way through a few sets before the Arran drams. Ahh… a problem of plenty is not really a problem at all!

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Gordon + MacPhail – Coming treats!

It has been far too long since I enjoyed whiskies bottled by Gordon & MacPhail. So as I was doing a wee online whisky “window shopping”, I found myself giving into temptation…

What did I pick? One distillery label dram with Glenburgie… and two from their Discovery range. I’d first tried their “intro” range in Singapore at Whisky Live in 2018... including this Miltonduff – enough to know I wanted to try it again!

  • Glenburgie 21 year 43% – EUR 109 (in photo) and Glenburgie (2004/2019) 43% – EUR 62
  • Miltonduff 10 year 43% (G&M Discovery) – EUR 50
  • Glenrothes 11 year 43% (G&M Discovery) – EUR 49

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Glenburgie is one of the distilleries that has granted Gordon & Macphail the right to use “Distillery Label” on their bottles. It is also a distillery that I generally find delightful with its lighter, elegant character… Hence why I bought two – approx 15 years and 21 year to join a 3rd 200 ml bottle picked up in Glasgow last year.

I may search for another Gordon & MacPhail Discovery dram to split into two sessions: Gordon & MacPhail Discovery and Glenburgie. Recommendations welcome!!

For now… these whiskies will patiently wait for the right opportunity and company.

All bottles were purchased from an online distributor in Germany – Whic – at full price. Which lead to a wee ‘bonus’ dram of Speyburn 10 year 40%.

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Additionally, there are the two ‘off-shoots’ with:

Speyburn 10 year 40%

Well in advance of “needing” a resupply of whisky for various virtual tastings, I found myself stumbling on Whic.de “accidentally on purpose”, giving into the temptation to order a few whiskies. Happily it led to a wee bonus 3cl dram – which to me is the perfect size to be introduced into a whisky.

When I opened my shipment, I was amused to see they sent a Speyburn 10 year – quite a familiar friendly Speyside previously explored in Mumbai on three occasions:

However that was years ago and I re-glanced to discover the ABV was different – 40% not the 43% I’d experienced earlier. And when to try?

I decided – what better than a virtual “bar night” with the Bombay Malt & Cigar lads – now scattered around the globe. One of our members had hosted an evening with Stuart Harvey with the Speyburn well known. As each pulled out an open bottle from our respective whisky cabinets, I cracked open this mini.

What did I find with my revisit?

Speyburn 10 year 40%
  • Nose – Sweet cereals, honey, a bit malty, some nutmeg and vanilla… as it opened up became increasingly fruity with banana, mosambi, then shifted from citrus to hint of raisins
  • Taste – Honey water, toffee, fresh tobacco leaf, some more malt a bit of spice
  • Finish – Carries through with a bit of sweet, spice, faintly bitter

Did it live up to memories of past tastings? Yes indeed. I feared that at 40% it would be too diluted, however it remained what I expected – an ‘easy drinking dram’. No complaints and that wee 30cl bottle was finished far too fast!

It came across as primarily ex-Bourbon cask with just a touch of ex-Sherry, which could entirely be true as the Speyburn is matured with a bit of both.

As I’ve featured before what the Speyburn folks have to say, thought to share how the German distributor positions it:

A malty-mild Speyside single malt with a great price-performance ratio. Order this tasty aperitif whiskey.
  • 10 years old: The 10 years of ripening ensure a pleasant fruity-malty bouquet.
  • Price-performance ratio fits: For its low price, you get a well-matured and tasty single malt whiskey with a solid indication of age.
  • Not smoky: In this classic Speyside whiskey, the malt is not kilned over a peat fire. Therefore this whiskey is not smoky. Ideal for beginners or as an aperitif.
  • Mild and tasty: If you’re looking for a mild and pleasant after-work whiskey, you’ve come to the right place. If you are looking for something deep and difficult, you should keep looking.
  • Great entry-level whiskey: With its light flavor profile and low alcohol content, this Speyburn is a great entry-level whiskey. Inexpensive and tasty.
I would completely agree! As for “inexpensive”, what does that mean? In Germany, it is a mere EUR 25, just over INR 2,000 – very much value for money. I’m not sure how distribution has been affected by these strange times we live in, however it was once available in the Indian market – naturally with all the customs duties and taxes added on top!

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Flora and Fauna – Inchgower 14 year 43%

Last in our Flora and Fauna series was the Inchgower. Our ‘host’ admitted being rather partial to this from past tasting experiences… did it live up to expectations this time?

Inchgower 14 year 43%

  • Nose – A wine like quality, musty and mossy, mould and mushrooms, earthy, cork, some vanilla sweetness, nougat, Dasheri mango or cantaloupe, baked goods then shifted into something more oily
  • Palate – Pungent, very dry spice, has character and kick, like the way wasabi opens up your taste buds, increasingly pronounced ginger
  • Finish – A bit salty, more almonds?

This whisky got off to a curious start… earthy then shifted to fruity, lots of character, but did we like it? Hmm… it certainly is interesting and a bit unusual.

We gave it some time, returning to find it had gone back to the vegetal earthy element and got a bit of ‘smoke’?

With all of these Flora and Fauna whiskies, we were not tempted to add water… this was no exception.

What do the folks at Diageo have to say?

This 14-year-old single malt whisky is a conundrum, in which the aromatics, and even the flavour, change continually. This is a complex and interesting mix with a sweet palate and bitter finish.

  • Appearance – Deep amber.
  • Body – Medium bodied and mouth filling.
  • Nose – Rich and deep and a hint of toffee. After a while offers some short-crust pastry and fruit, like greengage tart or damson pie. Then it settles and becomes lighter and vaguely ‘gun-metal’ – a mix of metal, gun oil and cordite, but all very faint. With water, it freshens up but gives little away. For a time there is an unmistakable scent of horse chestnuts – green and nutty – but after a while, it becomes much sweeter and more floral, like acacia honey.
  • Palate – Sweet overall, but also curiously mouth-drying, with some salt and traces of oil.
  • Finish – A saccharine-bitter finish that leaves an aftertaste of almonds.

Would we agree? To a certain extent…

Curious how this experience compares with other Inchgower drams? Check out:

As for what else did we sample in our foray into Diageo’s Flora and Fauna range? Here you go:

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Flora and Fauna – Auchroisk 10 year 43%

Flora and Fauna is Diageo’s official bottling series for their distilleries that predominantly go into blends or are found in independent bottling. After the Linkwood, our Whisky Ladies Euro chapter cracked open an Auchroisk. What did we think?

Auchroisk 10 year 43%

  • Nose – Cherry wood, cooked cherries, caramelized toasted nuts, candy apple… as it opened up more such aromas were joined by coffee, some tannins, spicier with hints of mulberry
  • Palate – Ahh… it does indeed have good body, some cinnamon spice, a bit of cherry cola quality and again those tannins from the nose come are on the palate too
  • Finish – A slightly smokey aftertaste that lingers

Just from the aromas alone there was a sense of body and substance which fully came through on the palate. Of the three Flora and Fauna whiskies we sampled together, this was the favourite for its character and

We set it aside and revisited after sampling the Inchgower… any change?

If anything, even more interesting! This time we found strawberry sweet, some milk chocolate and salty caramel. Delicious.

What do the folks at Diageo have to say?

An apéritif malt whisky, pleasant and light, which opens sweet, fresh and balanced then dries to a short finish. Doughy and buttery on the palate. This textured single malt whisky displays hints of lemon and pineapple with a slight aniseed and smokey finish.

  • Appearance – Pale gold.
  • Body – Smooth, with a light to medium body.
  • Nose – A mild nose for its strength. Sweet and fresh. Ground almonds are immediately apparent, even dry marzipan. Acetone. Some dark chocolate behind (this develops towards milk chocolate). Becomes nuttier all the time. With water, opens up: fresh and estery. Acetone, cooked pears, solvent. A light oily-fatty note behind, possibly nut oil. Nuttiness still apparent. Also a very light char in the back. Becomes more cereal-like – soggy Shreddies – and more ‘boney.’ Not so clean.
  • Palate – Takes a fair amount of water. Light and fresh; pleasant mouthfeel. Sweetish start, some acidity. 
  • Finish – Surprisingly dry, fairly short – all well balanced.

Curious about other experiences with Auchriosk? Read on…

What else did we sample in our foray into Diageo’s Flora and Fauna range?

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Flora and Fauna – Linkwood 12 year 43%

With even tighter ‘lock-downs’ happening around the world, our wee Whisky Ladies European Chapter carried on our virtual merry malty explorations. This time with the final trio from Diageo’s Flora and Fauna range….

The most natural place to begin was with the Linkwood – a distillery we’ve all tried before and have overall enjoyed for its light yet tasty and refreshing fruity sometimes floral character. So what about this official bottling?

Linkwood 12 year 43%

  • Nose – For me it started off with bubblegum, for my tasting companions one found prunes and another almonds… overall we found it fruity, with a good dash of vanilla, light and honeyed… however as it opened up, the effervescent fruity quality subsided  and it settled into a honey hay
  • Palate – A clear easy drinking dram, pleasant yet unsophisticated, creamy, with a bit of wood, light spice with some clove and tea
  • Finish – Not so long but with a hint of raw faintly bitter almond

We concluded this is a perfect late afternoon early evening sipping dram. Something the cheerfully enjoy, taking your time… and while obviously of a more ‘commercial’ bent than some of the cask strength independent bottler vintages we’ve sampled over the years, its a nice one to have around.

We set it aside and returned after trying the Auchroisk and Inchgower… had it changed?

That delightful bubblegum was back – and how! Joined by some apple sauce, very sweet… still easy drinking with a hint of floral and one even thought of champagne!

Was it the best Linkwood we’ve had? No…. however if you want an entry point into this distillery, it isn’t a bad choice.

Our whisky host for the evening read notes from the bottle… which said a lot of marketing blah blah about water but not so much about the whisky. So I checked online to see what the folks at Diageo have to say?

A whole garden of fruit and flower scents in a smooth, long, complex yet wholly integrated Speyside of utter distinction. This 12-year-old single malt whisky has a rich and oily mouthfeel with nutty, cereal notes and an aromatic and dry finish.

  • Appearance – Old gold.
  • Body – Mouth-filling, smooth and medium-bodied.
  • Nose – The first impression is of fresh soft-fruits (but indistinguishable), with a hint of vanilla in the background. Then light cigar-box notes are perceptible, and a faint hint of expensive ladies’ perfume. The whole effect is civilized, complex and tightly integrated. With water, it opens into carnations and lavender, with a whiff of perfumed smoke. There are traces of juicy green sticks, then cedar-wood, with undercurrents of pomander or dried orange peel.
  • Palate – Mouth-filling and smooth. Sweet, overall. Viscous, but fresh and clean: a pleasant acidity helps to maintain this.
  • Finish – Cedar notes emerge in the finish, which is long.

Curious about other explorations of Linkwood? There have been quite a few!

What else did we sample in our foray into Diageo’s Flora and Fauna range?

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