Highland Hijinks – Aberfeldy 18 year 40%

Last in our “Highland Hijinks” trio was an 18 year old from Aberfeldy. For the most part, one has Aberfeldy in Dewars blends, less frequently in official bottles however they are now regularly having a  12 and 21 year bottling with the 18 year launched in 2014 for travel retail.

I often think of 18 years as being the “sweet spot” for many Scottish single malts that truly demonstrate the quality and character while still being almost affordable vs 21 years which tend to rise steeply in cost.

For many of this, we simply haven’t tried  much Aberfeldy and it is increasingly rare to have “adult” age statements, so we looked forward to sampling!

And what did the Whisky Ladies think?

Aberfeldy 18 year 40%

  • Nose – Spirity, brash, seemed younger, then with a little effort could start to discern some citrus orange, honey or caramel, followed by nutmeg, cinnamon, cardamon… with the nose becoming increasingly pleasant
  • Palate – Simple, sweet, easy on the palate, like sipping sugar or honey water with a slight injection of fruits, some spice
  • Finish – Where is the finish? Barely there

Overall we just had to admit it was a disappointment. One truly expects more from an 18 year old whisky. We found the nose had more promise then the palate was frankly… bland. Don’t get us wrong, we do appreciate a nice subtle nuanced dram, this one just didn’t have enough character to captivate our attention. Likely on its own, it may be easier to appreciate, but in a trio, it simply didn’t shine.

Talk turned to a rather crude hindi phrase which more politely could be explained as teasing but no real action. That about summed it up.

What did the Whisky Ladies sample in our night of “Highland Hijinks“?

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Highland Hijinks – Glenmorangie The Duthac 43%

Glenmorangie is known for taking its typical highland of sweet honey, citrus and floral to play with different casks, particularly finishes, to create a different profile. The Duthac is one such variant – using a combination ex PX Sherry and Virgin Oak. Originally launched for travel retail, it was named after St Duthac who ‘rests’ near the distillery.

And what did the Whisky Ladies think?

Glenmorangie The Duthac 43%

  • Nose – Grape, initially quite restrained then heavy caramel, some clove, sweet spices, vanilla.. after the 1st sip the aromas shifted to plum skin, apricots, butterscotch
  • Palate – One remarked how it “crackled on the tongue” with the 1st sip then settled into a “typical” Glenmorangie – sweet, lightly fruity, honey, sweet spices with mild candied ginger
  • Finish – Slightly bitter, sits there with a linear yet solid quality
  • Water – Did absolutely nothing significant initially then a remarkable thing happened – the finish took on a distinctive watered down “Thumbs Up” (desi cola) taste!

Overall it was pronounced a terrific party whisky. After time, it settled into a yummy pudding pie or creme brûlée. Nothing exceptionally distinctive yet nothing challenging or off-putting. Nice, easy dram for more sociable occasions.

What do the folks at Glenmorangie have to say?

  • Aroma: Seductive aromas of pear, toffee apple, Brazil nuts in toffee, with an underlying spicy note, some toasty oak. With a splash of water, some creamy vanilla fudge is encountered, along with the classic Sherry cask note of linseed oil.
  • Taste: Mouth-filling flavours of milk chocolate, toffee, Brazil nuts, leather and some aniseed. The spiciness is definite, but gentle, with hints of ginger and clove.
  • Finish: The aftertaste once again reminds drinkers that this is a Glenmorangie, with vanilla, apricots in cream and some almond marzipan.

What did the Whisky Ladies sample in our night of Highland Hijinks?

Other Glenmorangie  sampled over the years….

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Highland Hijinks – Old Pulteney 12 year 40%

Up first in our “Highland Hijinks” evening was Old Pulteney – for many this was a revisit of a familiar friend, for others it was an introduction.

Normally we taste only from closed bottles with the contributor taking the remaining home to enjoy with others.

However this was an exception – opened just a month earlier with IBHL’s Digital Marketing head Samantha Peter during her visit to India. As only a select set of Malty Mumbaikers could join that private evening, it seemed only fitting that the remaining whisky wander its way to the Whisky Ladies.

Which means both this bottle had oxidized a bit and was courtesy of our friends over at Old Pulteney.

And what did the Whisky Ladies think?

Old Pulteney 12 year 40%

  • Nose – A delicious mild apple cinnamon, a bit of zing and spice, peaches and apricots, a little wood, some brine, kept evolving shifting into a light refreshing perfume spray, lots of toffee
  • Palate – Sweet, restrained, honey with a bit of chillies too, citrus, coriander seeds, caramel, with the spice at the back
  • Finish – Lightly bitter, salted almonds, mild yet of surprising length
  • Water – No desire to add

Overall it was most satisfying. For many the aroma was the best part and they kept coming back to take a whiff and enjoy.

And when we finished trying our Highland trio, several came back to the Old Pulteney remarking how it really held its own – even at 40%.

What did the Whisky Ladies sample in our night of “Highland Hijinks“?

Other Old Pulteney tasting experiences:

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Whisky Ladies Highland Hijinks – Old Pulteney, Glenmorangie, Aberfeldy

When we have whisky tasting themes, it tends to be “anchored” by something our host has to share. Which is exactly what inspired  our Whisky Ladies June 2018 session…

It began with a bottle of Glenmorangie and was augmented by two more highlands…

What did the Whisky Ladies sample in our night of Highland Hijinks?

I simply couldn’t help throwing into the mix something that had nothing whatsoever to do with the Highlands… It is the kind of whisky you want to share with others, just to see what they discover!

Just check out the links above to read the full tasting experience…

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Revisiting the Glenmorangie 19 year 43%

The thing about proper whisky tasting evenings is there should be “left overs”…. which typically the contributor takes home. However from time to time, it is good to share “cleaning out” with others, particularly if it means a whisky others have not sampled.

That was exactly the case with this Glenmorangie 19 year. First opened in January 2018 with the Whisky Ladies, it made its way to an evening with the Bombay Malt & Cigar gents in June 2018.

And how did if fare oxidation for nearly 6 months?

Actually… rather well.

Glenmorangie 19 year 43%

  • Nose – Started with varnish but then quickly morphed into sweet, creamy, soft citrus, Swiss milky toffees, some lovely light florals – delicate white flowers
  • Palate – Most pleasant, no wow factor but still rather nice, lots of fruit, a dash of salt mixed in with the melons
  • Finish – Nuanced

In short, we found it had a classic Glenmorangie style. Nothing dramatic but exactly what you would expect from a properly matured highland dram.

Some memorable Glenmorangie experiences?

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Breaking open the bar – Westland, Glenmorangie, Balblair and DeCavo

We had another type of evening planned but with our original contributor unwell, decided to shift gears completely and crack open our respective bars to pull out an open bottle or two.

What did we decide to try / revisit?

  • Westland American Oak 46% – What once impressed…. now disappointed… just not what it used to be…
  • Glenmorangie 19 year 43% – First opened with the Whisky Ladies in January,  Soft citrus, fruity, light florals, lovely… classic Glenmorangie style
  • Balblair 05 46% – Opened as part of a recent evening with the folks from InterBev, it had a slightly sour element not previously found but still most drinkable
  • DeCavo NAS Batch 10 Cask 92 46% – Brought back as our favourite from a recent European exploration. Still lip smackingly good! We’d love to try more and a 375 ml bottle is perfect size for our tastings…

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An evening with Stuart Harvey – Balblair 99, 00, 05 + Speyburn 15

It was an evening of sheer enjoyment, no serious masterclass, just good company, good whisky and an exceedingly good evening. It was in a most convivial South Mumbai home with the amusing and knowledgeable Stuart Harvey, Master  Blender for IBHL gracing the occasion…

Photo: Courtesy Niko Berg

And what did we have the good fortune of enjoying? Some mighty fine whiskies – with no dissecting the drams in depth, only a few fleeting impressions remained…

Balblair 05 (2015) 46% 1st Release

  • Light, fresh, green apples, had a classic oak matured quality, honey, citrus sweet
  • A cheerful, happy whisky

Balblair 00 (2014) 46%

  • For many this was the most delicious! Baked apple pie, yum!
  • Sweet and creamy, fruity with chocolate, balanced and nuanced
  • In short, an exceedingly tasty dram

Balblair 99 (2014) 46% 1st Release

  • Could clearly tell there was a marriage of ex sherry with ex bourbon – all the sherry sweetness and beautiful vanilla honey bourbon, light fruits, just enough spice to give it a little pizzazz, rich toffee, overall a class act
  • Lovely long finish – just what one wants in a beautiful whisky!

The Speyburn 15 year

  • A complete change in pace! And in its new packaging too…
  • Had all the usual Speyburn characteristics – shifted to bolder, direct dram… no pretence it is what it is…
  • Everything one enjoys in the 10 years, just enhanced even more

Special shout out to Kavir and Vidhu with our host for putting together such a super fab evening.

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An evening with Krishna Nakula

Evenings with Krishna Nakula, India’s Malt Maniac are always a pleasure. This time we meandered through a malty mix.. with our evening featuring a duo from Amrut!

Added to the mix was an amiable amble through the contrasting:

Plus a sniff and swish through:

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Whisky Lady – May 2018

May had some terrific sessions! All three Mumbai based tasting groups met plus we had a few extras too! Plus I had a chance to catch-up on previous tasting sessions notes as well.  Read on…

All three tasting groups met, with most notes to follow next month…

The Whisky Ladies enjoyed a theme of “Northern Lights” exploring:

Whereas our original group tasted two Highland drams and an Irish pot still whiskey:

For our Bombay Malt & Cigar gents, I took them on a European Tour with:

In addition to our normal tasting evenings, we were fortunate to have a few industry extras in April and May with:

  • An evening with Caitlin Hill, Brand Ambassador for Bruichladdich and Botanist over a  quartet of cocktails and food pairing*
  • An evening with Stuart Harvey, Master Blender for IBHL with Balblair 05, 99, 00 and Speyburn 15 year*
  • An evening with Samantha Peters, Digital Marketing for IBHL with Speyburn 10 year 43%, Balblair 05 46%, Old Pultney 12 year 40%*

Which was augmented by a terrific evening at KODE with Keshav Prakash featuring a trio from the Vault Collection – Compass Box Asyla, Kilchoman Machir Bay and Edradour Caledonia.

In May, tasting notes were shared for our original club’s April session featuring The Vault Fine Spirits Collection, ably penned by our Guest Writer Nikkhil:

There was also a Minis evening playing around with finishes:

An informal evening with a few friends resulted in revisiting a few drams and sampling for the 1st time Shelter Point Cask Strength 2017 Winter Release 57.2% (Bottle 594/1088)

And for a final bit of “catchup”, back in March, the Whisky Ladies took a  remarkable “Trans Tasman Tour” to New Zealand and Tasmania, Australia:

Curious to know more? Check out recent Whisky Lady’s monthly missives:

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Blair Athol 12 year 43%

Blair Athol is a Diageo whisky that previously was found either in blends or independent bottles… our previous brushes with Blair Athol was the robust sherry cask strength Signatory 27 year and the Hunter Laing 16 year.

We sampled it blind….

Blair Athol 12 year 43%

  • Nose – Initially quite organic, sharp old cheese, fresh rain, slight salt behind the spice, cranberry sour not sweet, a bit acetone sharpness, narrow profile, edgy fume, nutmeg… After sipping, spice, yoghurt. Leave for some time and get caramel and fruits, then goes back to spice, then gulkand rose.
  • Palate – Very smooth, silk, sweet, fruity spice, buttery oily, liquorice, so easy and light, nice and enjoyable. Such spice, fruit and something else.
  • Finish – Grapey, coffee
  • Water – Absolutely no need

We found it had no off notes, quite a “happy” whisky. We thought it likely did not have natural coloured likely low alcohol.

And the reveal?

Not one we would have guessed but also only had limited past opportunities to sample whiskies from Blair Athol.

The official tasting notes share:

A rich, sweet malt best drunk with only a drop of water, when it holds its sweetness better.

  • Nose – Muscat grapes and Madeira wine, brimstone in the background, even tar. Dried apricots in the foreground, and treacle toffee.
  • Body – Medium to full bodied, but not cloying.
  • Palate – Rich and mouth-filling, with a good balance.
  • Finish – A curious sweetness is introduced at the end, after the acidity and dryish finish has passed.

What else did we sample that evening?

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