The Nector of the Daily Drams – Deanston 19 year 51%

After an appetizer of four whiskies from The Nector of the Daily Drams at La Maison du Whisky, I topped it off with trying their Deanston at Whisky Live.

Here is what I thought in my very brief teasing tasting at the VIP room….

Deanston 19 year (1999/2018) 51%

  • Nose – Sourdough, fruits and cream
  • Palate – Some spice, dried fruits and other elements like toast and light coffee, malty with some creamy vanilla custard too
  • Finish – There but… subtle, toffee

Overall it had that lovely malty quality one expects from Deanston.

You can currently track this dram down online from Master of Malt for GBP 145.

And here is the quartet we tried earlier from The Nector of the Daily Drams:

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The Nector of the Daily Drams – Ben Nevis 21 year 48.7%

Our evening at La Maison du Whisky in Singapore continued with a whisky from Ben Nevis… here is what we thought…

Ben Nevis 21 year (19967/2017) 48.7%

  • Nose – Lots of fruits, vanilla, caramel, sweets, then a distinctive sourdough bread or biscuits, a bit milky too
  • Palate – Very rounded on the palate, fruit forward with melons and grapefruit yet balanced
  • Finish – Subtle close, very much in keeping with the palate
  • Water – Yes please! Works quite well with water

After the delightful Highland Park and peaty Springbank, this Ben Nevis didn’t quite hit the mark.

Don’t get me wrong, this is a more than a decent dram. However it all comes down to preferred styles of whiskies. For my companion, this simply wasn’t his tipple. And that is perfectly fine.

Truth be told Ben Nevis isn’t my “go to” style either… however I appreciate shaking things up and contrasting every once and a while.

If this is the kind of whisky that appeals to you, then you may still be able to snag a bottle via Master of Malt for $184.

Here are other whiskies we tried bottled by The Nector of the Daily Drams:

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The Nector of the Daily Drams – Highland Park 24 year 50%

At La Maison du Whisky in Singapore, we explored a quartet of whiskies bottled by The Nector of the Daily Drams.

While my companion started with a peaty Springbank, I went straight for a 24 year old Highland Park.

Highland Park 24 year (1992/2016) 50%

  • Nose – Started with caramel, then quite fruity from oranges to apricots to apples, sweet vanilla, then shifted into herbal, then more mineral and earthy qualities, almost a bit musty
  • Palate – The fruit came from the nose came though – with a shift between apple and pear side then citrus… There is also a touch of salt too. One of the best qualities on the palate was the subtle light hint of smoke
  • Finish – Long light spice

While the Springbank was sheer indulgence, the Highland Park was much more subtle and gentle. Certainly one I enjoyed immensely.

Just in case you were curious, as of November 2018, this bottle is still available at Master of Malt for nearly $400 – yikes!

Here are a few more whiskies tried from The Nector of the Daily Drams:

Curious about other Highland Park tasting experiences? Check out:

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Whisky Live 2018 – Edradour Ballechin

Edradour has been known as the smallest traditional distillery, up in Pitlochry, Perthshire part of the Highlands region.

Currently owned by Pernod Ricard, the Edradour distillery produces a range of different single malts under both the Edradour (unpeated) and Ballechin (peated) brands with a dizzying array of wine cask finished experiments as well!

And what did we try at Whisky Live Singapore in the VIP room? Two distinctly different drams…

Edradour Ballechin 8 year (2009) 46%

  • Nose – Had a lovely nutty quality – veering towards hazelnut and almond – with a clear influence of both the sherry dried fruits and a puff of smoke
  • Palate – Beautifully balanced between peat and sherry sweet, fruity, smooth and a light chilli spice, honey
  • Finish – Sweet sherry fruits and spice – delicious!

The gent who encouraged us to try was a merry Scottish fellow but completely mixed up the contents and context!

It is a marriage of Edradour’s un-peated ex-Sherry cask # 69 and the peated Ballechin ex-bourbon casks # 279, 280 and 281.

It was rather good and I was exceedingly surprised to discover how affordable it was in the UK at GBP 50… alas in Singapore it is a pricy SGD 198 (ie more than double at GBP 115).

Edradour Vintage 10 year (2008/2018) FF Sherry Cask No 8, Bottle 515 57.9% (LMdW)

  • Nose – Juicy berries, red fruits, clear robust sherry
  • Palate – Follows through on the palate with the nose, light sweet spice, black raspberries, dry
  • Finish – Full finish, with dry sweet spices of cinnamon bark and clove

No doubt this was some quality sherry and the bottle noted it was a first fill sherry cask.

If you are curious, in Singapore, this bottle goes for SGD 258 and was specially selected for La Maison du Whisky.

What about other Edradour’s sampled by our Mumbai based tasting clubs over the years?

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Highland Peat – Ardmore Triple Wood Peated 46%

We closed our tasting evening with the Ardmore…

Our contributor confessed that while she was excited to try, was initially disappointed when she opened the bottle… finding it a bit too dry and somehow lacking a certain something.

Undeterred we merrily poured our glasses, keeping our minds, olfactory senses and taste buds open to the experience….

Here is what we found…

Ardmore Triple Wood Peated 46%

  • Nose – Caramel and peat! It almost reminded of caramel popcorn just slightly overdone… not in bad way though. There was also some light spice, fruit, sweet… one remarked how it smelt like cooked caramelized banana
  • Palate – Light peppery spice, a bit of toast, herbal and aromatic
  • Finish – Some vanilla, dry and again all with a lighter touch
  • Water – None of us were tempted

Overall we found that while yes it was dry, it wasn’t terribly so. The peat also was much more subtle than anticipated – in a nice way.

Why triple wood? It refers to the three different type of casks used to make this whisky – American Barrel, Quarter Cask and Puncheon.

What do the Ardmore folks have to say?

  • Colour – Golden straw, natural honey.
  • Nose – Biscuity cereal notes and the scent of banana underlie the initial nose of ginger, burnt sugar, cherries and honey. A drop of water intensifies the ginger snap biscuit notes with a hint of cinnamon, and soft highland peat smoke.
  • Palate – Light caramelised sugar, toasted barley, and warming, light peat smoke are followed by sweet vanilla custard. Water releases notes of pink peppercorn, and dried fruit flavours (raisin and candid orange peel).
  • Finish – Light with soft peat smoke, lingering pepper and toasted almonds with a well-balanced dry mouth feel.

We didn’t read the tasting notes at the time but they seem rather apt… and suspect we should have tried it once with a bit of water.

What else did we try that evening?

What about other Ardmore’s sampled?

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Highland Salt – Old Pulteney Dunnet Head 46%

We continued with the Old Pulteney… And I have to admit this is one I’d had in my cupboard since the summer of 2017.

I remember picking up the Old Pulteney at Heathrow airport. It was a morning flight and yet I did my “due diligence” sampling different drams at the World of Whiskies. What I won’t do for our Mumbai tasting groups!

The whisky is part of their Lighthouse series named for the Dunnet Head lighthouse built in 1831 by Robert Stevenson (Grandfather of the author Robert Louis Stevenson).

And what did our Whisky Ladies think?

Old Pulteney Dunnet Head 46%

  • Nose – Bright oranges, a bit musty initially, then revealed a lovely sea salt, some vanilla, more citrus and even a hint of cocoa
  • Palate – Yummy!! Has real substance and amazingly well-balanced with sweet spices, fruit – especially pear, lightly smokey with that caramel salt too.
  • Finish – Nice, long and lingering

There was no doubt this whisky was a hit with our Whisky Ladies. Many remarked on how it was sooooo tasty!

Here’s what the folks over at Old Pulteney have to say:

  • Appearance – Old Brass.
  • Nose – Warming and sweet, with notes of spices, bitter chocolate and a whiff of a freshly varnished deck. Lemon and creamy vanilla overtones offer balance and brightness.
  • Taste – Rich fruit cake, sultanas and salted caramel give way to a touch of leather and fragrant floral top note; a long smooth finish.

Other Old Pulteney’s sampled include:

What else did we try that evening?

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Highland Sweet – Glenmorangie Dornoch 43%

We started our evening with the Highland Glenmorangie… The Dornoch is part of their travel retail range.

Glenmorangie Dornoch 43%

  • Nose – It began with very “classic” Glenmorangie notes of heather, honey, lightly floral, juicy oranges… quite summery in its style… then started to evolve revealing a cognac quality, raspberries and dare I say it? A whiff of very light smoke…
  • Palate – A rather yummy way to start off the evening… The smoke is certainly there, yet a delicate touch, so smooth, soft and again that cognac almost white wine like quality… certainly sweet, light fruit, swish it around more and some stewed apple pie with a dash of cinnamon and cloves emerged
  • Finish – Really rather nice and surprisingly long, ending on the orange citrus

Overall we found this one simply delivered. Nothing pushy about it – just pleasant and enjoyable.

And what do the Glenmorangie folks have to say?

  • Aroma: A classic Glenmorangie spirit matured in ex-bourbon American white oak then transferred to ex-Amontillado casks.
  • Taste: The swirling of under-current of peat adds an unexpected dimension of sweet smoky apples, complemented by vibrant sweet nutty flavours layered upon the rich, warm toffee and dried fruits.
  • Finish: After tasting you are left with added layers of distinctive floral notes, the softness of vanilla with hints of citrus.

While it was the same combination of ex-Bourbon then Amontillado Sherry finish, thankfully it was far superior to The Tayne recently sampled. The touch of smoke added a certain something and substance.

Mind you, we also need to know when this Travel Retail was purchased… back in 2016 from Changi Airport in Singapore. Much has happened with the distiller since then… Just saying…

What else did we try that evening?

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Whisky Ladies “Bar Bottle” – Glenmorangie, Old Pulteney, Compass Box, Ardmore

We had different plans for this evening – a much anticipated combined night with our Bombay Malt & Cigar gents… However it was not do be so what to do instead?

We thought why not reach into our bars and see what was available to share…

Here is what we unearthed:

It turned out every bottle could be purchased (at one time) at duty-free and yet each was certainly a cut above the standard travel retail fare.

It also just so happened that each had a touch of smoke… from a mere hint with the Old Pulteney and Glenmorangie to a more pronounced puff of peat with the Compass Box Great King Street Glasgow Blend and Armore Triple Wood Peat.

In an unplanned twist, all three single malts were also from Highland distilleries… with the delightful Compass Box blend a terrific foil with some highland whiskies too.

Overall it proved to be a most enjoyable quartet and a good reminder to not dismiss what you may find when perusing airport wares – at least in some select airports around the world!

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Glenmorangie The Tayne’s Amontillado Spanish Sherry “Finish”

Next up was a single malt our host selected for its Amontillado Spanish Sherry finish. Again a duty free purchase, part of Glenmorangie’s moderately priced Legends range that has been around since early 2016.

We sampled it blind before our host revealed the whisky. Here is what we found…

Glenmorangie The Tayne 43%

  • Colour – Bright gold
  • Nose – Narrow, subdued and almost industrial, some sulfur, a metallic copper but not varnish, faint tobacco leaves, a bit earthy and mildly nutty. After some time revealed some muskmelon, marshmallows and oranges, sweet
  • Palate – Much more bitter than expected, then sweet and green, a bit khatta sour, some spice, more of those leaves, dry with a rather thin body overall
  • Finish – Strangely flat, not much happening and didn’t remain either
  • Water – For most, there was no temptation to add water. For the few that did, there was a mixed response – one thought it toned the bitterness down whereas another thought it merely upped the spice. Either way, water didn’t dramatically change any impressions

While it was a freshly opened bottle, poured and served immediately, it had oddly muted aromas – we really had to work at teasing out what was there.

It was tough to pinpoint this one. It somehow reminded of an American single malt from Westland – not the ones we earlier tried and loved, but instead a more recent version that disappointed.

Was it even Scottish? If so, perhaps Highland, but there wasn’t anything to distinguish it as coming from a particular distillery or cask approach.

We were stumped.

And the reveal?

Again a surprise. Glenmorangie?!

I personally could not believe this was the same whisky I’d sampled with the Whisky Ladies when it was first released. I read out the Tayne tasting notes from that session to my companions – how could our experience differ so much? Where was nose bursting with character with marvellous sherry Christmasy notes, the yummy coffee, chocolate, orange complexity??

Naturally setting and mood, even  tasting order makes a huge difference. But to miss nearly all of the elements that made The Tayne the favourite of the evening for our Whisky Ladies and the opposite for our Original group?

As the bottle was recently purchased, it was unlikely (but not impossible) that storage conditions had an impact.

Could it be that standards have slipped? If so, then it is truly terribly disappointing. If not, what can explain such a radically different experience?

PS – If curious what this could set you back, it can typically be found for around $85 in duty free.

Here is what we explored with our Sherry expressions evening:

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Sherry Expressions – Seasoned, Finished or Matured…

Sherry’s influence on single malts is significant. At one of the spectrum could be a full on sherry “bomb” matured for years exclusively in first re-fill casks and at the other a mere hint with a “touch” of sherry finish for a mere month.

Our host for the evening cleverly selected from duty-free three different variants of Sherry expressions. Each explored a different approach to bringing a sherry influence to the whisky.

Here is what we explored with our Sherry expressions evening:

Read on over the next few days for insights into our impressions, speculations and interpretation of what the distillery shares about the way in which the sherry element influenced each single malt.

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