July brings monsoon rains, vacations and often a slightly slower pace of life… and yet this month still had a rather admirable set of whisky tasting experiences. And even though technically only 1 of our 3 Mumbai whisky tasting groups “officially” met, somehow gatherings over a dram still happened… read on…
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!
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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…
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!