Sherry Element – Kilkerran 10 year WIP #6 Sherry Wood 46%

Last in our Sherry Elements evening was a Kilkerran from Campbeltown.  As it was our original club, we tasted strictly blind… leaving the reveal until all three whiskies were sampled.

Kilkerran 10 year “Work in Progress” Batch #6 Sherry Wood 46%

  • Nose – Peat,  medicinal capsule, stern, burnt wood, forest, a coal steam engine, then started to shift into lemon, licorice, coca cola, BBQ Sauce yet still some of that camphor peeping back, then shifted to candy floss super sweetness, what was so terrific was the way it kept evolving, even revealing brine
  • Palate – Sweet, thin, honey water, then as we kept sipping, it took on more character, yet very sweet – almost too sweet… then with more time the sweetness began to drop and it became much more balanced
  • Finish – After taste had peat, bitter and very long… then just as the nose… began to evolve and over time had a marvellous balance of sweet sherry and nuts
  • Water? Must admit none of us were tempted…

This time, our speculation on colour was that it seemed natural. We also thought it had a lower strength alcohol – somewhere between 43 – 46%…

Our conclusion was that this is a whisky that stands on its own, growing, taking its time to reveal more… one that needs you to wait… wait for it… wait for it… and be rewarded.

And the reveal? Bright cheerful pink packaging accompanied the Kilkerran sherry dram. For most this was a 1st experience with Kilkerran though we are certainly familiar with other Campbeltown drams with Springbank, Hazelburn, Longrow

Opened in March 2004, Kilkerran, is the first distillery to open in Campbeltown in over 125 years, and the first new distillery in Scotland this millennium.

And what do they say about their Work in Progress #6 Sherry?

  • Released in 2014. Only 9000 bottles available worldwide.
  • Nose: Bold and Beautiful. Clear, but subtle, European red oak notes, a real sherry matured star.
  • Palate: The sherry notes goes deeper on the palate. Dark chocolate, dates, prunes, hard toffee, molasses and gingerbread syrup. Honey-BBQ coated ribs without any of the smoke.
  • Finish: This Whisky holds a great poise, almost ballerina like. There is a true harmonious balance between all the components in this dram. It has a seamless, resonant finish, echoing in a deep, loving, sherry tone.

What did we sample in our “Sherry Elements” evening?

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Sherry Elements – Oban, Amrut, Kilkerran

As a whisky tasting group, we’ve sampled many a sherry matured cask over the years.. however we have not had an evening dedicated to different elements of sherry… until one fine evening in November 2017.

What did we sample?

And what made each of these distinctive?

1st off the Oban was not your standard familiar friend – the 14 year – no siree! It was instead a 15 year limited edition initially matured in an ex-bourcon cask then a Montilla Fino Cask.

Next up was an Amrut Intermediate Sherry purchased some 7 odd years ago and carefully kept. Again a combination of bourbon and sherry… with quite a complex and different character than the Oban.

And the Kilkerran? The Campbeltown offering was again Sherry wood… with a peaty element too.

None were full force sherry, each had a unique dimension, making our evening a most enjoyable exploration. All had been carefully collected over years by our host… none can be readily obtained today… of if you do, likely not quite the same as what we sampled.

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Peaty Mini – Longrow Peated NAS 46%

Up next up in our peaty miniatures sampling was an opportunity to revisit Longrow from Campbeltown.

I will admit to a certain fondness for the lone Campbeltown distillery with their trio of styles:

  • Springbank – Most enjoyable dram… including a remarkable 1996 sample
  • Hazelburn – Their un-peated range. Had a most enjoyable evening with a Hazelburn 12 year. Still regret missing an opportunity to purchase their 8 year 1st bottling!
  • Longrow – Their peatier range, once upon a time made an appearance in my whisky cabinet…

The miniature offered an opportunity to sample the NAS avatar simply called ‘Longrow Peated’.

Longrow Peated NAS 46%

LongrowHere’s what we found:

  • Nose – Peaty wet rag or wet dog, organic, earthy, spice. After tasting, the nose took on a slightly tart or sour dimension to the peat.
  • Palate – A lovely tingly peat, viscous, spice peat, pepper, a quite mineral element, very tasty
  • Finish – Peppery peat, delightful

Overall, we found it refreshing to side step sweet to just enjoy a nice peaty dram.

We also sampled it in the Norlan glass – fabulous! It brought out a lovely woodsy quality on the palate and really brought out the best of Longrow on the palate.

Here’s what the Springbank folks have to say:

Longrow Peated offers those who enjoy a heavily peated whisky the chance to enjoy a lingering smoky taste that travels through the senses like the smoke billows from a kiln.

  • Nose: Very creamy, vanilla custard. The smoke develops and toasted marshmallows, herbs and rich fruits appear over time.
  • Palate: Incredibly well balanced – rich and creamy with a slight medicinal hint. The smoke is always present and washes over the palate in waves.
  • Finish: The gentle smoke lingers and lingers.

We sampled from a closed miniature in October 2017… a full bottle would set you back around $60.

And what else did we sample in our merry mini malts evening?

And here’s more malt miniatures from my The Whisky Exchange:

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Springbank 12 year cask strength 54.2%

While I was off gallivanting around North America and UAE, my fellow Mumbaikers were exploring whiskies… This is a guest post by Nikkhil Shirodkar, a member of our original Mumbai whisky club.

  • Nose: This time smoky. Think cured meats, bacon and ham. Lovely notes of orange rind and rose petals. Now some ginger, toffee and leather. Superbly balanced.
  • Palate: Beautiful heather notes with vanilla and menthol. Almost reminded me of the old Highland Park 18. The meaty notes turn into gentle vegetal peat. ​Old books/library​ with leather seating. It kept evolving with lovely sherry notes, roasted apricots and that menthol note again.
  • Finish: Long and warming. A touch of lime, dark chocolate and peat interplay in a magical way! A clear winner.
  • Water: With water the peat smoke gets amplified with pepper notes. Some Pastis? Lovely! Despite the strength, no burn or rough edges. Good mouthfeel.

Reveal: The host teasingly gave away the location to be Campbeltown. From there it was a no-brainer! We were left unimpressed with the Burgundy finish. Maybe as a stand alone whisky it would be a perfectly nice dram but not if it is followed by the vastly superior Springbank 12 year. The host however was of the opinion that the 10 year old – which was the official standard – is superior than the current 12 year old version. It would be interesting to do a comparative tasting.

Official notes:

  • Nose: It’s reminiscent of walking in an autumn forest full of pine and chestnut trees, before returning home to the iodine of a Campbeltown malt and ending with a delicate hint of peat.
  • Palate: A gorgeous richness on the palate which is balanced between citrus marmalade on toast and caramelised toasted marshmallows, not forgetting flavours of vanilla and pepper. It’s a lip licking meaty dram.
  • Finish: A delicious, viscous, smooth liquid with a salty edge. It brings back memories of a ham joint which has been marinated in a rich honey sauce and slow baked in the oven.

This whisky was sampled blind, opened in September 2017 in Mumbai for this tasting. With Springbank, it releases its cask strength avatars by editions which tend to sell out quickly. This edition was released in January 2017 and is no longer available.

PS – You can get Springbank 10 year and 18 year in India! Check out The Vault Fine Spirits.

Whiskies sampled in September 2017 by our original club included:

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Springbank 12 year Burgundy 53.5%

While I was off jaunting around North America and UAE, my fellow Mumbaikers were exploring whiskies… This is a guest post by Nikkhil Shirodkar, a member of our original Mumbai whisky club.

  • Nose: Immediately medicinal, iodine but in a gentle way. Soft peat with an underlay of honey and stewed fruits. Some ash and liquorice notes now replace the medicinal ones. Some raisins and red fruits. It was an interesting nose and evidently non-islay.
  • Palate: Vanilla, gentle peat, sweet lime. The development was not in tandem with the nose. We felt it was rather thin in its mouthfeel. A little musty with damp wood notes. Some chocolate and tannic notes.
  • ​Finish: ​Medium and fades with a slightly bitter aftertaste.
  • Water: With water it becomes sweet with caramel, pineapple and roasted pine nut notes.
​Reveal: The host decided to reveal the 2nd & 3rd bottle together. But he did confirm that it was a non-islay whisky… So check out the next post on the Springbank 12 year for further observations comparing the two expressions.
  • Nose: Bold and rich with mineral and dunnage warehouse notes combining with maple syrup, pancetta, cranberry and red currants.
  • Palate: A soft velvet like texture with buttered brown toast and chocolate shortbread complementing light herb & oak notes.
  • Finish: A medium dry finish gives up liquorice and mint accompanied woody tannins.

Springbank whiskies are from Campbeltown, established in 1828 and remains family owned – now on its 5th generation. The distillery produces whiskies under three brands – Springbank (lightly peated), Longrow (heavily peated) and Hazelburn (unpeated). It also boasts adherence to traditions and proudly and stubbornly keeping every step of the process in-house and on-site.

This whisky was sampled blind, opened in September 2017 in Mumbai for this tasting. It is a limited edition introduced in June 2016 and not readily available, however on its release was retailed for around £60. As the name states, after initial maturation, it was finished in fresh ex-Burgundy casks.

PS – Believe it or not, Springbank 10 year and 18 year are available in India! Check out The Vault Fine Spirits.

Whiskies sampled in September 2017 by our original club included:

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September Samplings – Writers Tears, Springbank Burgundy + 12 year Cask Strength

It has been a long time since I missed one of our original club’s whisky tasting evenings. It is because of this dedicated group that I even started writing about whisky – initially just to chronicle our monthly tastings. However it simply could not be helped…

Stepping into the breech was a newer member who volunteered to document the impressions and discussions. So, without further ado, let me introduce you to Nikkhil Shirodkar.

Nikkhil heads Broadcast Technology & Operations at 9X Media – India’s largest music network.

His passion for whisky is infectious and his quest to know more impressive. Nikkhil’s whisky preferences lean towards the well balanced and nuanced styles. He is a big fan of Compass Box, Highland Park and old style whiskies like Mortlach and Lochside. On the Irish side he is a big fan of Midleton and Redbreast.

He also just so happens to be the 1st man to write a guest post for Whisky Lady in India… with tasting notes about all three whiskies sampled in September by our original club:

Check out the links above to read what Nikkhil has to say!

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Whisky Exchange – Mini malts…

My June 2016 trip to London meant I brought back not only the delightful Finnish Teerenpeli… I also acquired an array of miscellaneous malt miniatures from The Whisky Exchange in Covent Garden, London.

Miniatures

What caught my fancy?

  • The Arran 14 year 46% – To contrast with a Port matured expression waiting to sample in a set of non-standard casks (i.e. not bourbon / sherry)
  • Auchroisk 1996/2014 46% (Gordon & MacPhail) – Tried a 20 year old last year however a G&MP bottling is always a good sign…
  • Glencadam 15 year 46% – Purely as have yet to try one from this distillery… later the Whisky Ladies also tried it
  • Glen Keith 1993/2011 46% (Gordon & MacPhail) – Ditto… haven’t tried so curious
  • Longrow Peated NAS 46% – Loved what I had years ago… couldn’t spare the space for a full bottle yet couldn’t resist a mini!
  • Wemyss Peat Chimney 12 year 40% – Again… simply curious… and know there are more from this range to explore…

Tune in over the coming weeks as some of these wee beauties will be revealed…

Thanks to my London whisky shopping companion, we’ve also dipped into a few other minis too:

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Whisky Archives – Food Pairing with Cragganmore, Talisker, Lagavulin, Springbank 18 year

Another from our archives, this time a special pairing of food and whisky from Dec 2013.

For the last tasting of 2013, we celebrated with a special whisky-food pairing. Tasting notes were provided to the chef in advance and he was given full license to indulge his creative culinary talents to craft morsels to be complimented by the selected whiskies.

Our approach was to first sniff, swill and sample the whisky then to sip further with food. The idea was to savour both together and distil the flavours. Only after we ate and drank our fill of each course was the whisky revealed. The key was – could the whisky both stand ‘on its own’ and did it enhance the flavours of the food?

Good to the last dram! (Photo: Carissa Hickling)

1st whisky – Cragganmore 12 year, 40%

  • Nose – It was like sniffing an entire fruit basket, banana, citrus, caramel – unmistakably bourbon cask
  • Taste – Leathery with distinct woodiness, slightly smoky
  • Finish – Smooth, warm, mild

Paired with a beetroot crêpe roll filed with two cheeses, a peppery surprise and sprig of parsley.

  • Pairing pronouncement? Complimented fabulously! The chef shared that the tasting notes he received made the whisky sound rather insipid. So he opted for softer flavours with just a bit of pepper kick.
  • Whisky verdict? Young dude, with a bit of fuzz not yet manly stubble…

Cragganmore 12 year (Photo: Carissa Hickling)

1ST WHISKY: CRAGGANMORE 12 YEAR

1st pairing with beetroot crepe roll filled with cheese, pepper & a sprig of parsley (Photo: Carissa Hickling)

2nd whisky – Talisker 10 year 45.5%

  • Nose – Peat, smoked bacon, heather, moss… one member was reminded of the glycerine of life boy soap
  • Taste – Spice, little harsh
  • Finish – Nothing to write home about

Paired with two options:

  • Non-Veg – Peppered chicken with fresh pineapple chunks in a reduced pineapple juice and coriander salsa
  • Veg – Bruschetta with tomato, parsley, emmenthal cheese

Pairing pronouncement? Not so much complimenting as finishing. We admitted to the chef, this was not an entirely successful pairing. Some preferred chicken, some preferred veg.

Whisky verdict? Huskier, gruff guy… a bit rough around the edges but not a bad sort.

2nd whisky - Talisker 10 year (Photo: Carissa Hickling)

2ND WHISKY – TALISKER 10 YEAR

2nd course: Chicken chunks with pineapple salsa (Photo: Carissa Hickling)

3rd whisky – Lagavulin 16 year, 46%

  • Notes – Oily, brine, smoke, early morning jasmine… bacon again but saltier, wet earth smell
  • Taste – Wood, leather, strongly peated, not harsh unless breathe it in
  • Finish – Long smoky

Paired with a deconstructed vegetarian lasagne with pasta rounds made fresh that day and filled with a mix of vegetables, cheese added on top. Mix in the pesto – perfection!! We also declared that complimenting with pepper was very much a “now we are talking” kind of combination with whisky.

  • Pairing pronouncement? Yum! Cheesy, peppery, add the pesto and voilà! A perfect match with the smoky whisky.
  • Whisky verdict? Universal surprise. Lagavulin’s 16 year is a familiar favourite however we found the character quite different when paired with food.

3rd whisky: Lagavulin 16 year (Photo: Carissa Hickling)

3RD WHISKY: LAGAVULIN 16 YEAR

3rd course: Deconstructed vegetarian lasagne (Photo: Carissa Hickling)

4th whisky – Springbank 18 year 46%

  • Nose – Sweet, citrus, a light peat, reduced orange peel, for me – an instant flashback to my father’s chemistry lab and others also discovered a medicinal whiff or two
  • Taste – Woody, bitter sourness, chewy, oil, rubber
  • Finish – Long, hint of sea salt, citrusy orange

Paired with chocolate orange mud cake followed by a sampling of Pierre Marcolini’s chocolates with the ‘saveurs du monde’ collection.

  • Pairing pronouncement? Brilliant – the orange burst from both the Springbank and cake – delightful! And the chocolates? An utterly sinful and blissful combination!
  • Whisky verdict? A bit of a loner, has seen life, strong character and opinionated. One member joked it is a bit like the distillery which is staunchly independent, take weeks to reply to communications, slightly cantankerous but worth persisting to check out!

4th whisky: Springbank 18 year (Photo: Carissa Hickling)

4TH WHISKY: SPRINGBANK 18 YEAR

4th pairing's extra special treat - Pierre Marcolini's journey around the world in chocolate! (Photo: Carissa Hickling)

4TH PAIRING’S EXTRA SPECIAL TREAT

Mmmmm...... (Photo: Carissa Hickling)

MMMMM……

A few learnings for us included:

  • Just because you’ve had the whisky before, doesn’t mean the next time you’ll have the same experience – our tasting with food brought a fresh new set of insights.
  • Food very much influences the palate and experience.  As one member put it:

“What a rich robust red wine does for beef, peaty whisky does for peppery lasagna.”

  • Courses also have an impact – as another member put it:

“One cannot assume if the third course is with Ardbeg or Lagavulin, it is going to be very peaty and therefore plan the food to compliment the smokiness. We need to understand that the palette is already coated with the first two courses, and therefore there is going to be less peat on the palette, and so the food needs to compliment this and not the Lagavulin we have from our memory.”

  • We were reminded that cheese and chocolate are known to combine well with most whiskies. Our discovery was that cracked black pepper does too – at least with the whiskies we sampled.
  • Our next challenge is to try a pairing with flavours that have no cheese or chocolate – perhaps a four course Indian meal?

Have you ever paired whisky with food? What is your favourite combination?

PS – Apologies for the poor photo quality – camera settings went wonky and replacement phone’s camera isn’t ideal with the flash going on over-drive in the otherwise perfect mood and lighting of our evening. Clearly I’m NOT a photographer!

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Singapore Saturday Sipping… Crown Royal, Bruichladdich, Springbank + Kilchoman

It was one of those sociable Saturday evenings in Singapore…

It also happened to be the home of a fellow malt aficionado and ex Mumbai tasting group member. On my last trip we took on an eight dram marathon at The Auld Alliance. This trip we swapped such revelries for a family and friends affair with great company, delicious food and… yes… a whisky or two or three!

I will openly admit, it was a fully social setting so it wasn’t like I jotted down tasting notes until the last… when we decided to have a little impromptu ‘tasting’ experience to close the night.

Crown-Royal-Northern-Harvest-Rye

Official CrownRoyal website

However, formal tasting notes or not… we still covered four rather distinctive whiskies in one evening!

Shortly after I arrived, a mystery glass was brought out as a teaser. What did I find?

  • Nose – A sparkling quality like having a whiff of proseco or sparkling apple cider
  • Palate – Some spice yet overall smooth, vanilla – clearly not Scottish, not bourbon, not having the sophistication one associates with Japan…
  • Finish – Sweet spice wood then fades away

The ‘punch line’ was that this particular bottle just so happens to be from Gimli, Manitoba… my home province in Canada. And – you guessed it – was Crown Royal’s Northern Harvest Rye which has literally flown off the shelves globally thanks to Jim Murray’s recent recognition of it as 2016 World’s Best Whisky.

The bottle was snagged in the US by a friend’s brother and brought to Singapore… part of the stash that will be coming into India soon. Gotta love globe-trotting whisky!

Overall what did I think? Honestly – it is not bad for a Rye and really quite excellent for $30 whisk(e)y but… come on… world’s best whisky? Seriously?

The Organic Scottish Barley (Whisky Lady)

The Organic Scottish Barley (Whisky Lady)

With this start to our evening, our host then pulled out the Bruichladdich The Organic 50%:

  • Nose – That overripe fruit to the point of being rotten
  • Palate – Young, a bit of spice, sourness
  • Finish – Still a bit ‘queer’

Just not aligning with my mood for the evening… I simply could not wrap my palate around the extra over-ripe quality.

So our host took pity on my pickiness and out came a reliable dram – Springbank 10 year 46%.

  • Nose – Pear, a hint of peat
  • Palate – Yum – cinnamon and nutmeg, rich oak, a bit nutty
  • Finish – Dry, sweet, salty

Khanna (food) then became the focus… was happily consumed and our evening was winding its way to a close. As the deserts and tea came out… so too did a bunch of glasses for a semi ‘proper’ tasting session. What did we sample?

Kilchoman (Whisky Lady)

Kilchoman (Whisky Lady)

Kilchoman Machir Bay 46%

  • Nose – Honey, cough syrup, leather, medicine and surgical wipes, fruity like peach and grape, very light not a hint of peat, vanilla, sweet, like an apple orchard, quite youthful
  • Palate – Peaty, sharp, black pepper, young, woody, bitter cinnamon bark, a little oily, star anise
  • Finish – Dry wine, a rawness
  • Overall – While not mature and still a bit raw it is also like a procosious youngster – lots of promise, worth checking out and quite remarkable for such a young whisky.

Our host shared tales of his visit to Kilchoman’s distillery and shared how it ‘transformed’ expectations of a young whisky. I was again reminded that for me at least, the Kilchoman Coull Point stands out.

What fun to revisit a few whiskies… and a perfect close to a most enjoyable trip to Singapore.

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Springbank Vintage 1996 55.8% Cask No 269

Springbank is a family owned distillery in Campbeltown. So far, I’ve had good experiences with whiskies from these folks.

  • A few years ago we sampled the delightful Springbank 18 year, paired with desert.
  • And long before I even imagined recording tasting notes, a Longrow had a most enjoyable peaty time in my whisky cabinet til the last drop was polished off!
  • During my last trip to Singapore, I enjoyed their Hazelburn 12 year and was sorely tempted to pick up the Hazelburn 8 year 1st bottling.

So when a Springbank was part of Canadian stash from my aunt and uncle? Let’s just say, I was looking forward…

Springbank Vintage 1996

Springbank Vintage 1996

Springbank Vintage 1996 55.8% Cask No 269

  • Colour – Amber
  • Nose – Rich, slightly medicinal, honeycomb, ripe plum, vanilla, toffee
  • Taste – Plums burst into chewy raisins, cereal, oily, a bit spicy, there is strength here, a toughness of character that is earthy, lots of dried fruits and a hint of cinnamon bark, meaty
  • Finish – Very different kind of bitter chocolate, burnt quality, leather… think dark chocolate covered raisins with a dusting of cinnamon, much longer than anticipated…
  • Water – Punches up the sweet quotient in the most delicious way! As expected, kicks up the spice too but then the chewy bark-like quality on the palate mellowed and gained a toffee element to cover the yummy dried fruits and berries
  • Overall – Bold and beautiful! This is no light spring dance or sunny summer romp, instead this whisky is bursting with the golden hues and blazing fire of autumn. In short – I want more!

Unfortunately I do not know what year this was bottled, however there enough going on here to warrant paying attention, regardless of age.

There also were no official tasting notes available, however I did find a few other folks with their observations about other 1996 vintages:

Can’t wait to dig in to the next one from the Canadian sampling stash…

Canadian stash

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