Christening the new whisky cabinet with an Old Pulteney 12 year

With the move to Nurnberg comes re-building a new whisky collection and finding new tasting companions.

My first move was to find a new whisky cabinet… and stumbled across this rather interesting piece of furniture which has a subtle cork exterior and “jatak” interior with mirrors and glass.

My next move was to see what ‘standards’ could be easily acquired locally… My eye spotted this familiar favourite and I couldn’t resist.

To say it wasn’t my first tryst with Old Pulteney is an understatement… this romance kicked off more than a decade ago and hasn’t abated.

A few memorable experiences with this expression include:

So what could casual sipping late 2019 to 2020 add? To be honest, just a reminder why I enjoy this whisky so much.

Here’s to you Nurnberg and my new collection!

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Balvenie evening in Mumbai

Now I have to admit, this post is rather late… the event occurred many months ago in Mumbai at the St Regis – Aug 28, 2019 to be precise.

The occasion was sparked by the Mumbai visit of Gemma Paterson, Global Brand Ambassador for The Balvenie. We had visions of a very private evening with just a few tables, proper sit down tasting with interesting anecdotes and insights into The Balvenie distillery, its people, the whiskies. The usual masterclass format.

Nope! It was a complete jam of people, a mash up of inaudible stories and poetry, flute and was.. well… unexpected.

True – the cocktails flowed generously and one after another tasting glasses with different expressions of The Balvenie made their rounds but it was a far cry from being able to connect with someone close to the whisky makers, who is known for collecting stories or being able to truly focus on the whiskies.

Which is exactly why I have zero tasting notes, only a recollection we were partial to the 14 year…

Which is exactly why I dug up notes from some of our other Balvenie experiences as it would be a shame to miss insights into this distillery and its drams:

With such a crowd, the St Regis did a brilliant job with the food and keeping the throngs happy. But as a whisky event, I couldn’t even hear Gemma speak let alone meet and make some kind of connection. Which is ultimately for me what is terrific about the whisky fabric – the way different lives and experiences are woven together over exploring and enjoying a good dram.

On a more personal note, it was terrific to see so many familiar folks so close before my move to Germany. For that alone it was a good evening, so Slainthe!

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Advent Minis – Caol Ila 8 Year Old 46% – Provenance

After a rye, bourbon and highland, it was time to turn to something peaty – and what is a more classic expression than Caol Ila?

Caol Ila 8 Year Old – Provenance (Douglas Laing)

  • Nose – Pure peat, wood smoke, cured meats, bacon, maple
  • Palate – Full peat, cinnamon, a clear classic Caol Ila, nicely rolled around on the palate with a lovely peat
  • Finish – Nice finish, cinnamon spice

While I can’t guarantee it, I think this is cask #13077, which was aged in a refill hogshead from February 2011 to February 2019. After its maturation, it was bottled at 46% ABV with an outturn of 392 bottles.

Here is what the chaps over at Master of Malt have to say:

  • Nose: Toasty at first, becomes increasingly coastal. Sweetness of honeycomb in the background.
  • Palate: Flapjacks, oatcakes and plenty of smoky barley.
  • Finish: Meaty malt and black pepper spiciness.

Here are a few others we tried from my advent calendar minis:

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Advent Minis – Dalmore 14 Year Old 2003 57.8%

Dalmore is one of those Highland distilleries that you count on for a familiar flavour profile with a good dose of sherry.

A couple years ago the Whisky Ladies enjoyed the Dalmore standard 15 year… and at Whisky Live in Singapore, I had full plans to come back and spend time at their booth however somehow only managed to check out the 18 year in passing… The last Dalmore properly sampled was the slightly pricey King Alexander III which was a bit of a let down.

Beyond these, I’ve had a few quite enjoyable Dalmore’s over the years and had high expectations of this one… So what did we discover with this single cask edition bottled by the folks over at Master of Malt?

Dalmore 14 Year Old 2003 57.8% 

  • Nose – Lots of toffee, caramel, bannofee cream pie, it settled down quickly, shifting into something a bit sour, peach pits and cherry
  • Palate – Warm sweet spices, wood, dry, sits on the surface
  • Finish – Long finish, tingling and a bit tart
  • Water – Sour cherries, some spice but flat – honestly water did not do the malt any favour

I’m not sure if it was my anticipation of something “good” or how the Dalmore followed the Rye but I must admit, I found it a bit disappointing. It wasn’t bad, it just simply wasn’t exceptional. And that’s just the way it goes sometimes.

Here is what the chaps over at Master of Malt have to say :

It’s been a bit of a while since we independently bottled some Dalmore single malt, so we decided to fix that by bottling up a stunning 14 year old from the distillery as part of our Single Cask Series. This one was distilled in April 2003 and left to age in a bourbon cask until March 2018, when it was bottled at cask strength.

  • Nose: Sultana, dusty oak and new leather, hints of fresh pear drenched in honey.
  • Palate: Hugely chocolatey, though pear notes still shine through. A hint of hoppy bitterness.
  • Finish: Fizzy oak, foam bananas and greengages.

Here are a few others we tried from my advent calendar minis:

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Chorlton Single Casks – Ruadh Maor 8 year 62.5%

Last in the remarkable trio from Chorlton Whisky was a whisky distilled at Glenturret. Like the Miltonduff and Orkney, we sampled it blind before the reveal of all three together.

Here is what we discovered…

Ruadh Maor 8 year 62.5% 158 bottles

  • Colour – Light straw
  • Nose – Mmmm… maple glazed bacon, Life Buoy soap, chip shop oil, blue cheese, curdled milk, beach ground nuts in sand and salt, boiled peanuts… then started shifting and it revealed light perfume, lemons in brine, the lactic aroma more pronounced, green olives, pizza tomato sauce, umami, light soy, cinnamon, fried chaklis, like being next to a meat shop
  • Palate – Delicious sweet peat, butter then sweet spice… really quite amazing
  • Finish – What a finish! It simply did not stop

We couldn’t help it… after such interesting aromas and fabulous palate, we were greedy to see how it faired with water.

The verdict?

It did rather well with water. It enhanced the peat, bringing it out more on the nose, definitely on the palate and certainly following through on the finish. Comments like “Yum, yum, yum!” could be heard! Even those who initially resisted adding water succumbed and went “Fab!”

We then began to speculate about the peat. We found it hard to pin down. It wasn’t a typical Islay… we struggled to identify it. Some wondered if it could be from Campbeltown? With smoke more than peat. However the briney quality had us puzzled.

Like the others sampled blind, we set it aside for some time. When we returned the “Yum!” very much remained – the interplay is fabulous between the sweet, peat, cinnamon bitterness, an oily head, and bacon barbecue.

What a treat and what a surprise to be introduced to a peated Glenturret.

The Chaps over at Master of Malt have this to say:

A wonderfully Ruadh Maor single malt, which is the name Glenturret used for its peated whisky. Distilled in 2010, it was aged for eight years in a hogshead from Caol Ila, which yielded 158 bottles which were bottled in 2019 at 62.5% ABV by Chorlton Whisky. A very unique peated dram, this, with an equally unique label!

  • Nose: Powerful, earthy, oily and smoky, with roasted potatoes, paprika, very salted caramel and just a hint of honey.
  • Palate: Great big savoury flavours of barbecued meats, charred herbs, fresh coffee and a somewhat honeyed mouthfeel, with a drop of orange oil.
  • Finish: Toffee apple and a slight waxy note.

Alas, this Glenturret single cask is sold out – just like the others. When it was available, it could be purchased for the exceedingly reasonable amount of €62.25.

And PS – Turns out the chaps at Master of Malt didn’t quite get the cask detail right. My fellow Mumbai whisky explorer and host checked with the folks at Chorlton who clarified it was just a normal hogshead – not an ex Islay Caol Ila.

We also enjoyed these other Chorlton Single Cask whiskies:

As for other Glenturret experiences, I’m still at early stages having tried only two so far, neither of which had peat:

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Chorlton Single Casks – Orkney 9 year 63.1%

After such a brilliant start with the Chorlton Miltonduff, we were primed for something interesting. Our host then poured us this Orkney dram, which we sampled completely blind before the reveal.

Orkney 9 year 63.1%

  • Colour – Light straw
  • Nose – Wow! Began with acetone, medicine capsule, industrial metal – particularly copper, burnt ghee, then started to shift into caramel, suddenly heavy dry fruits, nuts – imagine a box of figs and nuts! Then curd – like those yoghurt covered raisins, shifting further into grape skin, a wine tannins, back to minerals, wet slab for sharpening a knife… all of this before even the 1st sip! Then a smoked honey ham, like a Chinese honey pork dish from Mumbai’s Golden Dragon
  • Palate – Superb! A lovely balance, silky, sweet, smooth, spice with a gentle smoke… a bit of wood char, salty caramel… a lovely honey sweet with a touch of salt yet no medicinal element
  • Finish – Lovely, long and continued to hold

The aromas kept evolving – particularly after the 1st sip.

And what about adding water? Yes please! We found it brought out the spice and honey even more. A dash of dry roasted cinnamon and other sweet spices. In some ways the peat was quite deceptive – hardly their on the 1st sip even with water and then quite pronounced in subsequent sips.

We concluded that water really helps open this whisky up beautifully. And yet we equally enjoyed it without water… one of those remarkable whiskies that is terrific both with and without, simply showed off different dimensions.

All  we could be certain is there was high quality wood, a classic approach with an ex-bourbon showing no signs of sherry or experimental wood finishes. Truth be told, it was mighty good to simply enjoy a traditional dram.

We set it aside to sample the 3rd whisky in our trio – each explored blind with only our speculation for company!

And then returned to this one… And found it a bit sour, salty on the nose, the peat clear and warming on the palate, a distinct personality with a nice chewy quality. Imagine a coconut lozenge… Delicious!

The Chaps over at Master of Malt have this to say:

9 year old single cask single malt from the isle of Orkney, drawn from a bourbon hogshead and independently bottled by Chorlton Whisky. With a very small number of whisky distilleries in Orkey, you might be able to figure out which one this whisky is from when tasting it. 191 bottles were produced.

  • Nose: Coffee bean, sea air and a touch of cookie dough.
  • Palate: A bit gristy, but with plenty of vanilla and salted caramel to back it up.
  • Finish: Lingering smoke and olive oil.

Alas with less than 200 bottles, it flew off the shelves at Master of Malt at the reasonable price of €62.49 – now completely sold out.

We also enjoyed these other Chorlton Single Cask whiskies:

And what about other Orkney (aka Highland Park) drams?

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Chorlton Single Casks – Miltonduff 9 year 58.3%

Better known for its part in Ballentine’s blend, Miltonduff Distillery in Speyside is starting to be found more readily as a single malt. Which is a rather fine thing as past experiences with a 10 year and 21 year were most positive.

This particularly one was sampled blind in November 2019 as part of a very special evening exploring Chorlton bottlings.

Miltonduff 9 year 58.3%, 137 bottles

  • Colour – Light straw
  • Nose – Greeted us with varnish then shifted quickly into a rich heavy cream, stewed fruit like apricot and apples, tart strawberries, one found key lime pie, then light floral, hint of lavender, an organic sweet not saccharine, lactic, bread pudding, baked custard, cinnamon, banana cream pie, settling into a nice harmonious aroma which held…
  • Palate – Initially reminded of a thick heavy cough syrup, it warmed the ‘cockles’, fig stew, rum raisins rolling around the tongue, a nice spice from behind comes in waves, bitter at the end, with such staying power, lots of toffee, shifting increasingly into a fresh green herbal quality
  • Finish – Initially a white pepper finish but sip after sip it shifted more into licorice, basil

Despite the powerful flavours, it had a medium to thin body – no complaints just a comment.

A few of us decided to try adding a bit of water to see how it

  • Nose – Oh my! Peppers, zesty, cinnamon spice, lemon or sweet lime, scented, sweet eraser, fruity and floral
  • Palate – Nicely tangy, the perfume also was pronounced on the palate – almost like sipping a perfumed nectar, lots of character and clearly from a good cask
  • Finish – The finish was delightfully extended

On the revisit, we found Brittania biscuits or Parle-G, so much coconut, condensed milk like chewing into a Bounty bar, sandalwood, ice cream, tangerine. Yum!

The Chaps over at Master of Malt have this to say:

This 9-year-old single malt Scotch from Miltonduff was aged in a first-fill bourbon barrel and bottled by Chorlton Whisky at natural cask strength of 58.3%, with no chill-filtering or added colouring. There was a total outturn of 137 bottles.

  • Nose: Banoffee pie with custard and lemon peel, with a slight floral undertone.
  • Palate: Creamy and rich, the palate has plenty of salted caramel, toasted barley and green apple. A touch of waxy grapefruit arrives with time.
  • Finish: A jammy red berry note remains.

We also enjoyed these other Chorlton whiskies:

And earlier Miltonduff tasting experiences?

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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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Highland Treat – Glen Garioch 15 year 53.7%

Waaaay back in the summer, our Whisky Ladies enjoyed a Highland Trio – starting with two whiskies from AnCnoc and closing with this Glen Garioch.

What did we think?

Glen Garioch 15 year Sherry Cask Matured 53.7%

  • Colour – A lovely dark ruby gold
  • Nose – Mmmm…. really good black coffee, honey, buttery, banana, caramel, treacle, banoffee pie, apricots… coming back loads of delicious sherry
  • Palate – Coffee candy, toffee, toasted raisin bread slathered in butter, raisin, dates, rolling around in heavy sherry with a great mouthfeel
  • Finish – A slow burn that tapers into sweet spice

This really was rather delicious! Generous sherry influence, quite satisfying in all ways.

The folks at Glen Garioch haven’t kept tasting notes on their website, however the folks over at Master of Malt have this to say:

Glen Garioch 15 Year Old has been aged in oloroso sherry casks and has a sweet and fruity character. The nose opens with dark berries and dried fruits, followed by sweet vanilla notes and a slight tartness. The palate is thick and full bodied, giving notes of dried fruits and cinnamon spice. A hint of heather honey appears before a long woody finish, with gentle spices throughout.

As of late 2019, you can still find this at The Whisky Exchange for approximately £125.

We also had these as part of our Highland Treat :

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Highland Treat – AnCnoc Rùdhan 46% 

From the honeyed sweetness of the Black Hill, we shifted into a peatier AnCnoc, with their Travel Retail edition Rùdhan. What did the Whisky Ladies think?

AnCnoc Rùdhan 46%

  • Nose – Strong and sweet, peat then settles down, bit of spice… a bit sharp… surprisingly we then found it shifted into vegetal aromas – distinctly carrot juice! Then shifted again to vanilla apple spice with cinnamon
  • Palate – First sip had a nice spice kick, lots of cinnamon, tobacco, like fireworks sparkling on the tongue, nicely buttery, honey
  • Finish – Peat yet also fruity with primarily apple just and a chaser of tart cranberry juice

It was quite provocative and perhaps a bit fickle minded. 

We set it aside and found it became even sweeter, the sharpness settled down and yet its character remained. Smoke and spice – subdued yet most enjoyable.

And what do the folks at AcCnoc have to say?

The highly anticipated Rùdhan is the latest travel retail expression to join the Peaty Collection. In keeping with anCnoc’s traditional style, the whisky takes its name from the peat harvesting process. The term ‘rùdhan’ [roo-an] refers to the final stage, in which the peat is stacked for several weeks to dry out ahead of burning to create the signature smokiness associated with the range.

  • Colour – Pale Straw
  • Nose – TA light fruitiness kicks off this elegant dram. Delicate floral notes play their part before bowing out to a burnt wood smokiness.
  • Taste – On the palate, it takes on a whole new character. Earthy peat smoke still prevalent, it is now accompanied by the more robust notes of spice and burnt sugar. 
  • Finish – The finish is smooth and warm.

Like the Black Hill, depending on where you travel, you may still be able to find a bottle for approximately €52.

We also had these as part of our Highland Treat :

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