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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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 – 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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Royal Brackla 16 year 40%

After our miniatures trio, we decided to change things a little… and moved our attention to a Royal Brackla 16 year – simply as it was open and I’d never tried. Reason enough!

Royal Brackla is better known as a component in Dewar’s or Johnnie Walker… however like many whiskies is now stepping out of the blend shadows to show off its single malt avatar to the world.

This was my 1st encounter… and what did we find?

Royal Brackla 16 year 40%

  • Nose – Balsa wood, a bit dry, then shifts into wet forest, mushrooms, whiff of being on an old boat with a bit salty mouldy moisture. After time takes on a light banana cream pie,
  • Palate – Smooth, ginger spice, almost like a tic tac freshness
  • Finish – Not much to speak of…

Overall? It was initially difficult to get past the ‘watered down’ sense that comes with many 40% whiskies. There also is certainly nothing particularly ‘regal’ about this whisky….

However when the tantalizing aromas of food wafted our way and we could resist no longer… we made a terrific discovery. This was a food whisky – something easy to drink that goes well with nibbles.

Our conclusion? Put it in the category of “bar and food whisky.”

And there is certainly space enough out there for such dramsl!

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Ben Nevis 19 year (1996/2016) Cask No 871 45.1%

After two teasing whisky flights of 20 ml each at The Single Cask in Singapore, it was time to have a full and proper dram.

To narrow the choices, I by-passed “smoky” or “sweet” to settle on “salty”… as a contrast to the mostly lighter drams we’d just sampled…

And the choice? A whisky from Ben Nevis distillery bottled by The Single Cask. This distillery joins the lot which were opened then closed and re-opened again – in Ben Nevis case – re-opened in 1991 under the new owners – Nikka.

Ben Nevis 19 year (09.07.1996/16.06.2016) Cask No 871 45.1% Bottle 6 of 68

  • Nose – Salty – not sea breeze but more leather with salty caramel, as it opened up took on a sour curd quality
  • Palate – More chewy, soft spice, character
  • Finish – Bit of smoke and spice, with a nice milk chocolate at the end

A few drops of water brought out the spice and a much longer finish with sweet cinnamon.

Apparently this whisky came from a leaky cask, hence why there were only 68 bottles.

What also makes this out of the ordinary for Ben Nevis is that it was matured in bourbon not sherry casks.

And the best part? It was paired in a truly spectacular fashion with a salty caramel chocolate – locally hand crafted and absolutely the perfect accompaniment!

My earlier whisky flight experiences can be found here:

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Minis – Glenglassaugh Evolution + Torfa, Inchmurrin

After a few months hiatus, our miniatures sessions are back!

This time we decided to explore a revived discontinued distillery (Glenglassaugh) and a whisky my cohort couldn’t resist… having grown up with Tintin tales of Loch Lomond whisky (Inchmurrin)…

For my part, I was keen to revisit a freshly opened bottle of the Torfa, having had a rather negative 1st experience a few years ago at Quaich in Singapore. And was equally curious what else Glenglassaugh had to offer. As for Inchmurrin? I had no pre-conceived notions… however found our tryst with Pendryn’s Madeira sufficiently interesting to be curious to compare.

The minis were followed by Royal Brackla 16 year 40%… just because it was already open and I hadn’t tried it yet… a most acceptable justification! Turned out to be a great food accompaniment.

Other miniatures sessions:

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Deanston 15 years (1997/2013) Cask No 1958 45.8%

There are some whiskies that if you simply sniff, swish and move on, you may not catch what makes them enjoyable. This Deanston is one of those which initially had quite an unassuming character, yet if you didn’t give it a proper chance, would miss out on a rather companionable dram… it also just so happened to kick of our 2nd Whisky flight with a “lighter touch” at Singapore’s The Single Cask.

Deanston 15 years (1997/2013) Cask No 1958 45.8%

Here is what we found:

  • Nose – A nice honey sweetness, light touch of flowers, vanilla and a ‘green’ grass fresh quality
  • Palate – Initially the impression is of citrus sweetness, then with a bit of cheekiness, it starts to reveal much more character with a bit of light spice, raspberries and vanilla wood
  • Finish – Short, simple and slightly sweet

Overall it is simply a lovely easy drinking whisky. Not complicated, not a show-stopper but one you wouldn’t mind coming back to…

Even when revisited after sampling the other whiskies, there was something simply ‘comfortable’ and ‘comforting’ about this one… and I found myself coming back to it for a final sniff, sip and sigh of happiness.

And here is what the folks over at the Single Cask have to say:

  • Nose: This is a very natural whisky that is added to, but not burdened, by wood influence. We have just enough vanilla pod and bruleed banana that complements the spirit’s masses of estery green fruit. It is on the whole light and exuberant, showing the freshness of green apple peels but is also anchored by malt notes and linseed oil.
  • Palate: The wood has more to say here, with a growing hot spiciness and black pepper. But look past that and find tart berries, pollen and – surprise – lots of lilies.
  • Finish: Vanilla and more charred spiciness linger on.

I certainly didn’t catch any oil or lillies but overall wouldn’t disagree… except for the finish lingering… not in what we experienced but you can also see there wasn’t much left in the bottle! Particularly with lighter whiskies, I find oxidation can be a factor in shifting some elements.

Other Deanston sampling experiences:

This Deanston was sampled as part of a whisky flight at The Single Cask together with:

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