Girvan Patent Still 28 year 42%

One doesn’t often come across an aged grain. So it was such a surprise and treat to have this 28 year old Girvan close our tasting trio. We sampled blind from a freshly opened bottle, having no clue what we were sipping. Here is what we found…

Girvan 28 year 42% No 1 App KA269PT

  • Nose – Nail polish remover, paint, some fruit, furniture polish, reminded one of a Chemistry lab with a bio-chemistry sweet note, staying steady, not evolving beyond an oil and spice, then after tasting the nose transforms – revealing fruits, pudding, opening up in a beautiful way
  • Palate – Sweet honey water, Parsis toffee green mathai (sweet), then began to open up further to reveal a quality almost like an eclair, a bitter caramel rum ball
  • Finish – Initially a spicy fish then a sweet, walnut bitter, with a chocolate noughat, held and genuinely very nice
  • Water – Nope. Don’t. Just enjoy it neat.

There was something quite unique about this whisky. We began to speculate that perhaps it was finished in a white wine cask – perhaps muscatel or sauternes? Perhaps not a single malt at all? Some corn? With such a honey light colour it was hard to pin point. All we knew was it was quite unique with a very distinctive and interesting character.

And the reveal? An aged Lowland grain! Wow!

Girvan goes by the name The Girvan Patent Still referring to their continuous distillation method using Coffey Stills which they credit for creating “a delicious spirit full of a rich intensity.”

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

Filled to American White Oak our whisky’s soul is forged from wood & mellowed by time. Naturally golden amber in colour – this is Single Grain Whisky at its finest.

Notes of honey, toffee, vanilla & caramelised fruits. It is, quite simply, Deliciously Different single grain whisky. 

  • Rich & Complex
  • Vanilla
  • Toffee Apple
  • Cinnamon
  • Citrus/Chocolate Orange

Bottom line, did we enjoy? Absolutely! It was a unique experience – both distinctive and memorable.

Also from our evening:

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Royal Lochnagar 12 year 40%

After the original Rampur 43%, we were primed for something different… We sampled blind from a freshly opened bottle, having no clue what we were sipping.

Royal Lochnagar 12 year 40%

  • Nose – Varnish, oily, sweet, a bit like a saag sabzi (spinach veggie dish), bitter, old fruits, cold pressed coconut oil, a little lemon zest, some light liquorice, sense of being heavy
  • Palate – Sharp, hot, spice, then as we grew accustomed to it, appreciated its chewy quality with a good mouthfeel, one even mentioned ‘oil cake’, very smooth but fairly standard in character
  • Finish – Green pepper oil, bitter
  • Water – The oiliness comes on more sweetly. Some shared with water, it simply joined the territory of “Just a good a drinkable whisky”

As we sipped and discussed, we appreciated how it retains its aromas, a nice pleasant finish with many enjoying the finish more than the initial taste on the palate, but in all not a terribly complex whisky. As for age, it was hard to judge but seemed in the NAS category. In short, we found it a decent dram, enjoyable in its way but somehow quite ordinary.

With the reveal some surprise – none would have thought the whisky had matured for 12 years.

Royal Lochnagar is located near Balmoral Castle and has been producing whisky since 1845. Once upon a time, you would not find an official bottling easily however with Diageo’s “Classic Malts Selection“, it joins the ranks of travel retail popping up all over the globe.

It is described as “a fragrant Highland Single Malt Scotch Whisky with a delightful balance of fruit and spices.” with official tasting notes of:

  • Nose – Planed wood, light toffee, boat varnish. After a while, coffee with brown sugar. A relatively closed nose. Linseed oil behind, even putty, and later a lychee-like acidity. With water the acidity comes up (acid drops), and the nose sweetens. Still a pleasant fresh woodiness or leatheriness, the varnish now supported by artists turpentine. Warm sand. After a while, coffee dregs with brown sugar. Not an obvious nose, however.
  • Taste – Pleasant; an initial sweetness is quickly overtaken by acidity. 
  • Finish – Dry; medium-length, with an attractive lingering sandalwood aftertaste.

Hmm… at least they haven’t over-inflated various elements and admit to the varnish, acidity, and yes – sandalwood isn’t a bad way of describing the finish.

But overall… nothing to prompt rushing out to explore more from this distillery. Simply one to enjoy for what it is.

Also from our evening:

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Rampur, Royal Lochnagar, Girvan 28 year

What a range! From Rampur, Uttar Pradesh to nearby Balmoral Castle to a unique aged grain Girvan, our original Mumbai tasting group had quite the June session.

Also from our evening:

Our main sampling was followed with a bonus…

  • Suntory Toki 43%

Tune in over the next few days for tasting notes..

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A Night with Glen – Glenmorangie The Tayne 43%

The Whisky LadiesA Night with Glen” closed with the Glenmorangie The Tayne.

Glenmorangie The Tayne 43%

  • Nose – Wah! A welcome nose bursting with character. Initially figs, prunes, Christmas pudding with dried dark fruits, burnt sugar, walnut and coffee…. Glorious rich coffee! Edging into mocha… it kept evolving, added to the aromas was almonds, toffee, noughat, caramel, then after more time it circled back to the dates and prunes
  • Palate – Bitter dark chocolate, slightly woody, very smooth, with a little mandarin, butterscotch, dash of ginger, and a delicious espresso
  • Finish – For all the complexity in the nose and follow through on the palate, the only element left a bit wanting was the finish which had a nice holiday sherry character, just didn’t stick around as long as one would want

What made this distinct from Olorosso sherry bombs was a more restrained sherry quality. Not overly sweet, retaining the tiramisu coffee quality interplaying with shades of sherry. There was not a single harsh element. Pronounced a ‘winter’ whisky…

The key element making this whisky burst with character appears to be the Amontillado Sherry Cask Finish.

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

The resulting single malt, Glenmorangie Tayne, is a rich mahogany whisky showcasing a unique harmony of deep, spicy Sherry cask notes, and unusually fragrant, floral topknots of rose petals and east chestnuts, with a warming texture leading into rich, sweet flavours of toffee, Muscovado sugar, and tropical fruits – peaches, mango and orange, finishing with a long gentle nuttiness, like Brazil nuts embedded in toffee. 

Other whiskies sampled during A Night with Glen:

Related posts:

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A Night with Glen – Glenmorangie The Original 40%

Our “A Night with Glen” moved on from Glencadam and Glenlivet to Glemorangie…  With the Whisky Ladies starting with the base or standard 10 year “The Original“.

Here’s what we found:

  • Nose – Honey, spice, a nice woody note, apple cinnamon, black pepper, then some citrus fruits, vanilla
  • Palate – Smooth, rounded, creamy with enough spice to make it interesting
  • Finish – Spice, nice and lingers

We found it much more dynamic than the Glencadam or Glenlivet, with a much more interesting character.

Then we contrasted sipping it in the Norland vs Glencairn, we found in the Norlan it was even juicier and more defined, some found that they liked it even more.

And that’s just it, you know what you are going to get with Glenmorangie with The Original the base from which all expressions stem… there is a consistency to the quality. Yet it is mass produced, entry level but it is still more than just a decent dram.

Several shared The Original is a usual fixture in their homes… even confessing they have been known to have it on the rocks – shocker but with the heat all such admissions come out!

Here’s what the folks from Glenmorangie have to say (via The Whisky Exchange as the Glenmorangie website is currently restricted).

  • Aroma: Imagine yourself in an Italian garden surrounded with mandarin, lemon, apple, pear and peach trees, their fruit ripening in the sun. Add to this the scent of vanilla ice cream, then enjoy the herbal aromas of geranium and wild mint growing nearby.
    • Add water to The Original and you wander into a flower garden with lemony bergamot, apricot and mandarin. Floral notes of geranium, sweet honeysuckle and piquant narcissus mix with mint and the herbal essence of eucalyptus, nutmeg and ginger.
  • Taste: Savour the fruits of the Italian garden as creamy vanilla slips like liquid silk over the tongue as peaches and cream, mandarins and lemons effervesce in the mouth.
  • Aromatic essences of fennel and nutmeg tantalise with crumbly almond and coconut that gives way to a nectar that envelops all the fruit, spice and nut flavours in a honeyed caress.
  • Finish: The charming sweetness of delicious juices is left on the tongue.

Also from our Night With Glen:

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A Night with Glen – Glenlivet Master Distiller’s Reserve 40%

A few months back, our host and I had an opportunity to share a slice of insight into ‘our’ Bombay with a delightful film crew from Australia and Columbia. As thanks, the team thought a couple whisky women deserved a whisky and picked this bottle up from duty free.

Now both of us were touched by the gesture but admitted an NAS dram from Glenlivet’s travel retail line probably wouldn’t have been our 1st choice.

Don’t get me wrong… There are plenty of fabulous NAS whiskies out there and many available through travel retail too! Case in point – nearly all of our Bruichladdich Peat Progression bottles came straight from duty free!

And it is good to visit the mass market standards sometimes just to have a ‘baseline’ from where whiskies with nuance and character shine… a foil if you will.

So our “A Night with Glen” seemed the perfect opportunity to test this theory. And see what the Whisky Ladies thought…

Glenlivet Master Distiller’s Reserve 40%

Here’s what we found:

  • Nose – Fresh from the bottle varnish! Then a dampness, caramel, early maple, became increasingly more and more yeasty yoghurt, even the phrase ‘baby puke’ was used, honey, after some time a little orange zest, aside from the predominant yoghurt quality, overall easy on the nose
  • Palate – Mild, flat, shockingly astringent for only 40%, then settled into a simple, inoffensive, bland whisky with just a bit of almonds, hint of figs and plums or a generic fruit
  • Finish – Sweet and simple, slight hint of cinnamon

We decided to be kind… So we came up with phrases like “not offensive” and “much nicer than the 1st” (Glencadam 15 year)… to be countered by the opinion of a novice who admitted “while it is easier to drink, the Glencadam was a bit more interesting.”

So talk turned to the heat… and how for a climate like Mumbai, we should be considering what whiskies work best for our environment. Why having with a cube of ice considered ‘verboten’ in most whisky afficianados is the standard approach here in India.

And more importantly, concluded this might be the kind of ‘drinkable whisky’ to sip, with ice, and not be distracted or horrified at shocking the character and quality of the dram with a cube or two.

Much like the Glencadam, this wasn’t my first tryst with this particular Glenlivet. Our original Mumbai tasting group sampled it blind… and it didn’t meet muster with that malty lot either.

Also from our Night With Glen:

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A Night with Glen – Glencadam 15 year 46%

Our Whisky Ladies host found this whisky in New York… her quest was to find something we collectively hadn’t tried… from a lesser known or less accessible distillery.

And its true – you won’t find Glencadam in every local or duty free store… the distillery even halted production – closed in 2000 then re-opened in 2003 by its new owner – Angus Dundee, who just so happen to also own Tomintoul. 

So one must assume this official bottle comes from stock prior to closure. Else it is a puzzle… Hmm… let’s check my math? 2003 + 15 = 2018 yet here we are in 2017. So is it actually 2000 + 15 = 2015 but bottled…? What is clear is they are seem to be tapping into older stock as Glencadam has released not only this 15 year but also a 17 (Portwood), 18, 19 (Olorosso finish), 21 and 25 year… while new stock takes its time maturing.

But enough on age… What did the Whisky Ladies think?

Glencadam 15 year 46%

Here’s what we found:

  • Nose – Citrus, flowers, vanilla, burnt sugar, grassy meadow, honey, raw wood
  • Palate – An initial sharp ‘hit’ of alcohol, then it calms down, green capsicum, black pepper
  • Finish – Cinnamon spice, a bit bitter

It simply wasn’t hitting the spot for us… we added water and found it made it much sweeter, some malty hay, a bit of caramel but still… didn’t quite work.

We speculated perhaps this is a whisky best had chilled. After all we were sipping in a sweltering Mumbai summer – even if in an air conditioned living room – not exactly ideal conditions for whisky sampling.

So the bottle went to be chilled and we carried on with our other Glen whiskies…

At the end of the evening, the Glencadam came back out – this time sipped chilled from a Norlan glass. And our reaction?

  • Better… much better, no harshness
  • Some heather, even sweeter
  • Makes it more interesting
  • Now it is ‘quite nice’

But still nothing to grab our attention. Talk turned to chilled cocktails… yet of a more delicate variety that wouldn’t lose completely the light highland quality.

Truth be told, I wasn’t surprised… in an earlier mini sample, the final assessment was ‘swipe left’… in other words… move on…

Alas this revisit didn’t change my opinion. Nothing distinctly wrong… but nothing exceptional right either. Or perhaps best put as – not my style of whisky. But that’s OK and all a part of exploring the world of whiskies!

Also from our Night With Glen:

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Whisky Ladies “A Night with Glen”

For the Whisky Ladies June session, we decided to spend “A Night with Glen”… or more precisely:

Now, the Whisky Ladies tend to be a discerning bunch with adventuresome tastes, so this was a departure from our more off-beat explorations.

The evening was sparked by the acquisition of the lesser known Glencadam, followed by a gift of the Glenlivet, a reminder that we had earlier intended to do a Glenmorangie night so had the start of a collection… and voila! A theme was born.

Tune in over the next few days to see what we thought of our night with these Glens.

Earlier tasting experiences with some “Glens” include:

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Undisclosed Distilleries – Again!

A few months back I shared a trio of whiskies with our original tasting group – each did not disclose the distillery.

My original intention was to immediately share the same whiskies with our Bombay Malt & Cigar group… we had a wait a few extra months and by the time the evening arrived, I managed to add a 4th undisclosed distillery bottle to the mix – what fun!

And challenged the gentlemen to attempt to guess the possible distillery…

Wilson & Morgan “Highland Heart” Sherry (2006/2015) 43%

We began with the delicious sherry delight…

  • Nose – Sherry, berries, bannoffee cream pie, lots of cherries, delicious orange marmalade, prune, dark chocolate
  • Palate – Malty, biscuits, Ghanna bitter chocolate
  • Finish – Beautiful, long, round finish
  • Water – Opens up more but not required

We found it warm, fruity, luxurious and utterly delicious… there is a rich robustness to this whisky which belies its mere 43%.

And the guesses? From Glenrothes, to Glendronach to Aberlour… none suspected Macallan.

Sansibar Islay 8 year (2007/2015) 52.2%

We moved on to Islay…

  • Nose – Sea breeze Islay, sweeter honey notes, some iodine, peat and then peppermint
  • Palate – Cinnamon spice, chewy, velvet and smoke
  • Finish – A lovely finish, peat, bitter cinnamon that ends on sweet
  • Water – Had a bit of a debate – yes or no – with a complete divide on whether we preferred with or without water. Some found it made it sharp and sour whereas others thought it tamed it into sweet submission.

Interestingly, while the Wilson & Morgan seemed stronger and richer than 43% the Sansibar didn’t give a hint of being cask strength.

And the guesses? It was more a process of elimination… everything it was not and only a ‘maybe’ Ardbeg… firmly in the ‘Well it isn’t…’ category was Lagavulin. Oops!

Port Askaig 19 year 50.4%

  • Nose – Wow! Sweet stewed fruits, pears, with a restrained peat, wet rag, white sugar cane as it opened revealed hazelnuts and cream
  • Palate – Oily resin, smooth as silk with a subtle smoke
  • Finish – Sour bitter sweet
  • Water – With a few drops simply made is spicier. With a generous dollop brought out a perfume smoke. Again – opinions were divided between preferring with water and those who thought it best absolutely without a drop

It has a simple yet interesting nose, a complex palate, with a sweet finish.

And the guessing game? Perhaps Bunnahabain, Bruichladdich… certainly not Caol Ila!

Finlaggan Cask Strength 58% 

  • Nose – Pudding, overripe bannoffee pie, coconut, Jamaican sugar cane, lemon curd, nutmeg, spice, dry leaves and hay, vegetable
  • Palate – Peppery peat,
  • Finish – Smokey bitter ash chased by cinnamon sweet
  • Water – It softened the whisky considerably, bringing out juicy fruits – particularly peaches

Final guesses? After an initial speculation may perhaps be Caol Ila, Bowmore… settled on Laphroaig.

If you are curious, check out what I found originally:

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Bruichladdich Octomore 07.1_208 5 years 59.5%

For the Whisky Ladies, our Bruichladdich Peat Progression evening closed with a second mighty Octomore expression! In this case, the Octomore 7.1… released in 2015 before the 7.2 travel edition and one of the last Jim McEwan expressions.

What did the Whisky Ladies think?

Bruichladdich Octomore 07.1_208 5 years PPM 208 Scottish Barley 59.5%

  • Nose – Leather, eucalyptus, pine cleaner, sweet cinnamon and a dash of pepper
  • Palate – Chewy tobacco, bitter chocolate, still has that trademark power peat with no harshness and surprising balance unique to Octomore given the whopping 208 PPM, however more like bitter kerela than fruity sweet, a bit of baked goods, toffee
  • Finish – It does indeed last, with a chaser that is almost like bitter tea and basil

As it followed the 7.2, it was hard not to compare… we found it did not have quite as many elements, and curiously more academic than the artistic flourish of the 7.2, certainly not as complex and yet though it had a little less polish it was still a compellingly good dram.

I suspect if sampled solo, we would have thought it quite fabulous however the combination of polished peat and silky sweet in the 7.2 was a hard act to follow.

I would consider the 7.1 like autumn following the sunshine summer of the 7.2. Both unique in their way.

What do the folks over at Bruichladdich have to say?

  • Character – Sweet and gentle belying an awesome power and hidden depths
  • Colour – Summer sun on Hebridean sand
  • Nose – Initially the nose is sea spray and caramel, lemon balm and pipe tobacco. Slowly, the peat smoke rises from the glass, gentle but strong lifting vanilla, mint, toffee, golden syrup and almond. Peach follows with pear syrup and buttercup. A symphony, a delight to experience.
  • Palate – Wow! Smoothness, sweetness and then smoke. A texture like no other, satin soft and devilishly warming. The American oak influence is in perfect tune with the smoke and soft fruits delicately, skilfully coaxed from the still during exceptionally slow distillation. Vanilla, honey, citrus rise up to be met with sea spray and leather, smoked mussels mix with autumn bracken and crème brûlée.
  • Finish – As the sweetness from the oak fades the salt comes to the fore one last time while the gentle peat smoke steady and true grows and outlasts all else.
  • Mood – The feeling is that of long summer nights turning cooler and shorter as autumn approaches. Watch the sun set over the sea and breathe the peat smoke hanging in the air.

Our Bruichladdich Peat Progression evenings also featured:

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