Dream Drams – Mosstowie 35 year (1979) 48.1%

Our Dream Drams evening in Mumbai with Malt Maniac’s Krishna Nakula, continued with this Mosstowie 35 year from Signatory Vintage‘s mature cask strength series.

Krishna shared the distinctive feature of this whisky is it was produced using Lomond stills.

Founded in 1964, it was “closed” in 1981 with the Lomond stills removed from the Miltonduff Distillery. These stills were built in the 1960s with the idea of using the 3 adjustable rectifier plates to play around with “the position and temperature of the plates the reflux of the ‘boiling’ whisky could be controlled. The angle of the ‘lyne arm’ at the top of the still could be modified as well to influence the character of the whisky further.” (Malt Madness) The thinking was this would produce exactly what blenders needed and hence would be in demand.

However this innovation fell into disfavour as the maintenance and cleaning was very labour intensive. And more importantly, the demand from blenders did not come close to expectations… Hence while the distillery Miltonduff remains, you won’t find much Mosstowie single malt these days.

What did we find?

Mosstowie 35 year (30 November 1979/15 May 2015), Bourbon Barrel Cask Mo 25756, 48.1% (Signatory Vintage Cask Strength) 171 Bottles

  • Nose – We were greeted initially with sweet varnish, then as that subsided, citrus creamy spice took over, some star anise, lots of oriental spices, sour cherry, cork, fermented sour dough starter, desiccated coconut, kopra, nuts… there was a ‘bourbonesque’ quality, with old wood furniture… one even suggested smelly socks!
  • Palate – Lovely coating, wonderful mouth feel, a dash of salt and almost too much honey, yet settled into something both enjoyable and sufficiently complex to be interesting
  • Finish – Dry, again a bit salty, very sweet, a bit of beeswax, muted but very much there
  • Water – We found it dampened the nose, sweetened it even more, made it less multi-dimensional, only advantage was it gave the finish a nice spicy pick-up

We concluded this whisky had a very interesting complexity. A wee sample bottle of this made it home and was revisited a few weeks later. If anything, it was even more exceptional.

Tasting notes by the chaps at Master of Malt:

  • Nose: Oily toffee, marmalade, vanilla, ginger and cocoa.
  • Palate: Smoky wood spices and honeycomb with touches of menthol and kumquat.
  • Finish: Malty and warming.

This bottle was purchased at The Whisky Exchange in London in 2016 and is no longer available through them. However it was last seen on WhiskyBase.com for € 429.50.

What else did we sample?

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Dream Drams – Lochside 1981 43% (Gordon + MacPhail)

Years ago I tried in Singapore at The Auld Alliance a Gordon + MacPhail bottling of Lochside 1981 at cask strength 51.2%.

To say it was superb was an understatement. Til date it remains in my mind as the singularly longest finish I’ve experienced.

When asked by folks to share one whisky I’m dying to try again… this came top of the list.

Unbelievably, during the last London jaunt, a slightly different avatar of this beauty was tracked down at The Whisky Exchange, now reduced in strength to 43%.

Trusting the gents over at Gordon + MacPhail that they know what they are doing and haven’t ruined this lovely dram watering it down, my whisky sampling companion took the plunge and made the huge sacrifice to his wallet to acquire the bottle.

It was saved for a very special evening – Dream Drams – held with Krishna Nakula with the balance carefully preserved to share with the Whisky Ladies.

Lochside 1981

Lochside 24 year 1981 (bottled 2005) 43% (Gordon + MacPhail Rare Old)

  • Nose – Lovely old furniture, stewed fruits, amarula fruity Bailey’s, fresh eucalyptus, bitter almond, fish oil, old leather, fresh brioche or french toast with a sprinkle of powdered sugar, maple syrup, light citrus spice, milk chocolate, beeswax, truffles, salted caramel, zesty citrus, and behind cinnamon spice… it all keeps evolving
  • Palate – An absolute show stopper! Spices dancing, unctuous, simply delicious, honey sweet, spice and bitter, causes mouth watering salivation
  • Finish – A fantastic long finish with incredible staying power. Herbal, bitter almond, puff of smoke that still lingers

In short, this whisky is completely stellar. It is very complex, pronounced by Krishna Nakula as an “old style whisky”, with a gift of aromas, flavours and finish that keeps on giving.

After sitting with it for some time, it continued to evolve… coming back, it was like sniffing a fruit salad of pear, apples, nestled in custard creme… such a beautiful whisky with a delightful sweet spice.

The Whisky Ladies concurred with the original assessment and added a few of their thoughts:

  • Nose – Lovely with so many elements. Soft, sweet to piquant and herbal, nutmeg, cotton candy, slight salt
  • Palate – Warm spice, light leather, so smooth, yet also tingles then back to just silky smooth. Truly beautiful with such complexity and nuance, a fully body experience of delight!
  • Finish – What a finish! It keeps changing, starts with a warm spice, then dark raisins, sweet spices of clove and cinnamon, then fruits, simply stays and stays and stays

In short. A complete stunner.

Here is what the folks over at Gordon + MacPhail have to say:

Without water:

  • Nose – Sweet, oily and herbal aromas. Some dry grass, with cereal notes.
  • Taste – Sweet, rich fruits flavours and a touch of green grass/leafy flavours. Spices and a hint of plain chocolate.

With water:

  • Nose – Some fruit, oiled wood, earthy and sweet toffee aromas all present. Hints of smoke on the edge.
  • Taste – Sherry wood with sweet, nutty flavours. A touch of smokiness.

If you are curious to know more about the Lochside Distillery, Gordon & MacPhail has this to say:

Lochside Distillery began life as a brewery in the 1890s. After closing in the 1950s the site was bought by Joseph Hobbs, who also ran the Ben Nevis Distillery and converted it into Lochside Distillery. The new distillery contained 4 pot stills and a 21 metre high Coffey Still. Lochside Distillery was one of a few distilleries which produced both malt and grain whisky. Following the death of Joseph Hobbs, his son, also Joe, ran the distillery until it was acquired by Destilerias y Crianza, of Madrid, in 1973. The main purpose for the distillery was to produce Scotch Malt to blend with their own Spanish spirit. After years of industrious production Lochside Distillery fell victim to the drinks industry over-production problems of the early 1990s.

PS This whisky was purchased in 2016 at the Whisky Exchange in London for an unmentionable price. A different bottling recently sold for £450.00. This one can no longer be found…

Other whiskies savoured in our “Dream Drams” evening:

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Douglas Laing’s Old Particular – Invergordon 28 year Single Grain 56.5%

After the Girvan 8 year and Strathclyde 25 year, the last of our Single Grain Trio was from Invergordon from the Highland region – at the ripe age of 28 years.

Invergordon 28 year (Aug 1987/Nov 2015) DL 11004 56.5% Douglas Laing’s Old Particular, 490 bottles

And what did we find?

  • Nose – Muted varnish, honey vanilla, more wood with a sharp element too, lemon, herbs, quite musty, one even described it as a ‘dirty dish rag’
  • Palate – Burnt toast like marmite, very salty, like sea water, some cinnamon and spice
  • Finish – Dry roasted spicy salty peanuts, very dry
  • Water – Brought out even more spice with a hint of liquorice

On 1st sip one remarked “makes an impact”… that sharp element on the nose came through as a bit harsh on the palate initially. It was exceptionally dry and it was certainly the saltiest finish I’ve ever come across. One even said “It’s like gargling salt water.”

Was it our style of whisky? No. Was it worth trying? Absolutely.

Here is what the folks over at Douglas Laing have to say:

  • Nose: Opens with a spiced toffee character, with polished oak and a sweet home baked quality
  • Palate: Mouth coating and sweetly spiced, with caramel butter cream and a treacle character
  • Finish: A spicy, sweet and pleasantly long finish, showing late oak

For another perspective, here is what the chaps at Master of Malt have to say:

  • Nose: Cinnamon and rich toffees, vanilla, resin and oak.
  • Palate: Soft fudge, dates, brioche, molasses and a hint of pot pourri.
  • Finish: Spicy oak.
  • Overall: A rich and dignified single cask grain.

What else did we sample in our Single Grain Trio with Indian Whiskies Duo evening?

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R+B Distillers – Borders + Raasay

There are a dizzying array of new distilleries popping up all over the world. And yet setting up a new distillery – nay two – is no small feat.

The team at Raasay & Borders Distillers (R&B Distillers) recognize that “Building distilleries takes time though, so we are satisfying our impatience by working with a Highland distillery to very deliberately craft the styles of whisky representative of what’s to come.”

As part of our Monsoon Malts & More evening, we dove into two wee samples…

Borders Single Grain 51.7%

Here’s what we found:

  • Nose – While clearly a grain, it is soft not pushy, old flowers like chrysanthemums, slight sulfur, fruits and acetone, sweet the sour then sweet again
  • Palate – Sweet spices, lots of character, creamy, slightly astringent yet not unpleasant, hints of coffee
  • Finish – Staying power

Not in the least bit harsh and as we continued sipping, thought more and more of Koffee Toffee… and pronounced it as “rather a good grain!”

What do we know about it? It is distilled in the highlands, non-chill filtered and natural colour.

Here’s what they have to say:

  • Aroma: Prominent sherry notes on the nose, hints of sugar-coated nuts.
  • Taste: Surprisingly dry on the palate with the sherry influences dominating. Walnuts balanced with vanilla, herbaceous and floral notes coming through towards the end, and just a touch of warm spice.
  • Finish: Lingering, dry and complex.
  • Food Pairing: Pairs well with Cocoa Black dark praline chocolates.

What more do we know about it? It has 50% wheat & 50% malted barley, finished in Oloroso Sherry casks. In their words:

Our Borders highland single grain whisky is a testament to our 19th century heritage and a nod to our future. Our Co-founder Alasdair Day’s great-grandfather blended whisky in the Coldstream – marked by the golden dot on this bottle.

The River Tweed is iconic to this uncommon provenance. It is integral in our R&B story and in forming part of the border between Scotland and England. The soft rolling landscape that surrounds it is reflected in character through the light, sweet notes of this lowland-style whisky.

We then shifted gears to their second offering – Raasaay.

Raasay “While We Wait” 46%

Here’s what we found:

  • Nose – Iodine, light leather, oils
  • Palate – Sharp and initially an off quality, a bit rancid, olive oil, sour, peat, chewy and bitter then sweet
  • Finish – Sweet

You would think from the notes this would be a rather unpleasant whisky. But here is the thing, as we sipped it began to grow on us more and more.

For two of us, it reminded us of a Ledaig from Tobermoray, particularly when we added a few drops of water.

Here’s what they have to say:

  • Nose: Chocolate, pear, raisin. Blackcurrant, chocolate cake, slight kirsch brandy note, red wine note.
  • Palate: Cherry at the front palate, smoke, more chocolate notes, orangey notes, slight burnt oak note. Vanilla and oaky notes. Dash of orange and raspberry.
  • Finish: Slightly floral. More oak. Cookies.

What more do we know about it?  In their words:

While waiting for the Isle of Raasay Distillery to rise beneath Dùn Caan, we’ve crafted a single malt demonstrating our whisky making skills to offer a tantalising taster of what’s to come.

We achieved this by blending two expressions from one distillery; one peated, one unpeated. The whisky then finished in French oak Tuscan wine casks from three vineyards that produce Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc.

Naturally, one turns so speculate, which Highland distillery produces both grain and malt whisky? Could it be Loch Lamond…?

Other whiskies sampled in our Mumbai monsoon malts evening included:

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Speed Tasting – Mystery Malt Blend…

Last month, we had a remarkable experience “Speed Tasting” and rating five different drams in the space of just a few minutes, quickly assessing and determining a score based on nose, palate, finish, character and complexity.

With three down and just two to go… the clock was ticking!

What were my hasty impressions of Dram “D”?

Mystery malt aka “House blend”

  • Nose – Tight berries, clear sherry stamp, then resin, mocha, and waves of peat, campfires
  • Palate – Very accessible… perhaps a low alcohol strength? Yet high in flavours. Peat, sweet grass and more… again those rich berries, more chocolate
  • Finish – Lovely, not over powering with a sweet peat that holds
  • Character & Complexity – Delicious, great interplay between sherry and peat

For quite a few – including me – this was the highest rated dram of the evening.

What exactly was it?

It was Keshav Prakash’s own home blend… with leftover Glendronach 15 year and 4-5 Islay malts. A bold blend that somehow worked!

Photo: Keshav Prakash

What were the other whiskies “Speed Tasted“?

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Glen Garioch 17 year (1996-2016) Cask No 3730 55.7%

After the absolutely stunning Glen Grant 60 year, dangerously drinkable Bowmore 12 distilled in the 1970s, the peculiar The Prestonfield Vintage 1972 Bowmore 16, we shifted gears to a meatier sherry style whisky from Adelphi‘s single cask bottling of Glen Garioch.

Adelphi Glen Garioch 1993 (note image from different year)

Glen Garioch 17 year (1996-2016) Cask No 3730 55.7% (Adelphi) 152 bottles

  • Nose – Top note of varnish, orange cream cookies or that fanta fizz, citrus zest, sweet honey, clove, a teasing nose that later revealed a musty quality – in a good way
  • Palate – Spicy, old style wood, sweet spice orange like clove studded oranges at Christmas, an almost brandy-like quality, red and green stewed apples, a dash of cocoa, continued to evolve taking on a meaty quality like a quality wagyu steak
  • Finish – Lovely chewy dates

There was a nicely mature quality to this dram, exceedingly smooth and no sense of it being full strength at 55.7%. A lovely sherry quality, more in keeping with what we normally expect – and that’s a mighty fine thing indeed!

What else did we sample in our Krishna Collection from July 2017?

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Krishna Collection – Enjoying a few drams with a Malt Maniac

India’s Malt Maniac Krishna Nakula is a rather fine fellow to dram with… So when we thought July would be a slow whisky month, a few of us decided it would be an absolutely brilliant idea to see if Krishna would be free for a short visit to Mumbai. Lucky us – he was!

And he didn’t come empty-handed… Nope. He brought along an assortment of miniatures that we had the pleasure of enjoying a wee nip… quick glimpses all concentrated in a brief but memorable one hour of discovery.

What did we sample?

Links to more detailed tasting notes are provided above. Some were truly quite an eye-opener, so be sure to check out what we discovered!

Other evenings with Krishna Nakula include:

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Dream Drams – Mortlach 1976, Lochside 1981, Mosstowie 1979, Aultmore 2007

There are tasting experiences that collectively push the bar to a completely different level.

On this particular monsoon evening in Mumbai with Malt Maniac’s Krishna Nakula, none were standard distillery drams. All but one would qualify as ‘adult‘ whiskies, representative of an older style… From Gordon & MacPhail‘s rare old collection  of closed distilleries to Signatory Vintage‘s mature cask strength set to a unique Master of Malt single cask series, these were no ordinary single malts.

These were the drams that dreams are made of… prompting a few of us wonder… are we truly worthy?

What did we sample?

You will simply need to be patient over the coming weeks as I catch up with all the marvellous malts enjoyed. Trust me… it will be worth the wait.

And a HUUUUGE thank you to our host, whisky contributors who made such an exceptional evening possible! You know who you are.

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Monsoon malts and more…

I love this part of monsoon – the temperature dips, the rains have a wildness and for a bit of time, we have just the right conditions to curl up indoors and enjoy a good dram.

So one fine Friday night, I and two whisky afficianados found ourselves free to explore a few interesting whiskies… just because.

What all did we sample?

Oh yeah, and an absolutely undrinkable chilli rice-whiskey from Laos… Plus an impromptu chilled cocktail playing around with the Eddu’s unique qualities.

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Glenmorangie Bacalta 46%

Finally, after tasting The Original and Lasanta, attention turned to the main purpose of the Glenmorangie event… the revelation of the 2017 private edition – Bacalta.

Dr Bill Lumsden with Brendan McCarron shared the thinking and process behind the Bacalta – which means baked in Gaelic.

Bill shared the inspiration was a discontinued Madeira finished whisky that was replaced by Nector D’Or.

Knowing it would not be possible to simply acquire ‘ready made’ casks, a partnership was struck with a Malmsey Madeira maker, casks specifically created, heavily toasted before then holding the ‘sacrificial wines’ i.e. seasoned by the Malmsey Madeira, baked the traditional way. Bill shared that he found Malmsey Madeira had the “lively refreshing character, high acidity that reacted well to the toasted wood.”

Once ready, the wine was discarded and the 10 year aged Glenmorangie transferred gain its unique finish through maturing in the ex-Madeira casks.

Glenmorangie Bacalta 46%

  • Nose – Initially sharp blue cheese – rancio, then chocolate, aged balsamic, while one could discern the ‘house’ characteristics of The Original, it had layered on top ripe peaches, apricots like a thick smear of marmalade on toast, baked citrus  becoming caramelized
  • Palate – First sip had a gorgeous spice, then brioche, revealing a mineralogy and savoury almost smoky element, followed again by spicy textures, a big mouthful of pepper, so incredibly sweet like sucking on fruit lozenges
  • Finish – Chased by menthol mouthwash that slipped into paan, then lemon pepper and back to that hint of aged balsamic

The Bacalta was like a rich baked fruit syrup with almost a smoky quality… delicious but one where less is more.

Talk turned to pairing the Bacalta with grouse, pheasant – in short any gamy bit with a fruity sauce. This was no light sprightly pairing but one to take advantage of Bacalta’s unique qualities.

And what do the Glenmorangie formal tasting notes have to say?

The eighth release in our multi-award-winning and always intriguing Private Edition, Glenmorangie Bacalta brings new heights of complexity to a rare wood finish. Inspired by the long, balmy days on the island of Madeira, Glenmorangie Bacalta (Scots Gaelic for “baked”) is a sun-soaked single malt which delivers wonderfully warm layers of sweetness, brimming with baked fruits and honeyed tones.

It has been created from Glenmorangie first matured in former bourbon casks, then extra-matured in bespoke casks baked under the sun which once contained Malmsey Madeira – the sweetest and most prized of the Madeira wines.

  • Aroma: Fragrant, honeyed and sweet. Some ripe apricots, mead-like, and a curious flinty note, followed by sweet white chocolate.
  • Taste: An initial burst of mint toffee, with baked fruits such as caramelised oranges, honeycomb, almonds and dates.
  • Finish: A rich, syrupy aftertaste, with more caramelised citrus and pears, creamy fudge, and an intriguing mentholic sensation in the background.

In short, it was a classy experience – start to finish – as one would expect from the Luis Vitton Moet Hennessy brand.

Other Glenmorangie experiences:

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