Girvan Patent Still 28 year 42%

One doesn’t often come across an aged grain. So it was such a surprise and treat to have this 28 year old Girvan close our tasting trio. We sampled blind from a freshly opened bottle, having no clue what we were sipping. Here is what we found…

Girvan 28 year 42% No 1 App KA269PT

  • Nose – Nail polish remover, paint, some fruit, furniture polish, reminded one of a Chemistry lab with a bio-chemistry sweet note, staying steady, not evolving beyond an oil and spice, then after tasting the nose transforms – revealing fruits, pudding, opening up in a beautiful way
  • Palate – Sweet honey water, Parsis toffee green mathai (sweet), then began to open up further to reveal a quality almost like an eclair, a bitter caramel rum ball
  • Finish – Initially a spicy fish then a sweet, walnut bitter, with a chocolate noughat, held and genuinely very nice
  • Water – Nope. Don’t. Just enjoy it neat.

There was something quite unique about this whisky. We began to speculate that perhaps it was finished in a white wine cask – perhaps muscatel or sauternes? Perhaps not a single malt at all? Some corn? With such a honey light colour it was hard to pin point. All we knew was it was quite unique with a very distinctive and interesting character.

And the reveal? An aged Lowland grain! Wow!

Girvan goes by the name The Girvan Patent Still referring to their continuous distillation method using Coffey Stills which they credit for creating “a delicious spirit full of a rich intensity.”

Here is what the folks over at Girvan have to say:

Filled to American White Oak our whisky’s soul is forged from wood & mellowed by time. Naturally golden amber in colour – this is Single Grain Whisky at its finest.

Notes of honey, toffee, vanilla & caramelised fruits. It is, quite simply, Deliciously Different single grain whisky. 

  • Rich & Complex
  • Vanilla
  • Toffee Apple
  • Cinnamon
  • Citrus/Chocolate Orange

Bottom line, did we enjoy? Absolutely! It was a unique experience – both distinctive and memorable.

Also from our evening:

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What a range! Rampur, Royal Lochnagar, Girvan 28 year

What a range! From Rampur, Uttar Pradesh to nearby Balmoral Castle to a unique aged grain Girvan, our original Mumbai tasting group had quite the June session.

Here is what we we explored:

Our main sampling was followed with a bonus…

Just click on the links above to read more…

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Birthday whisky – Auchentoshan 40 year 41.6%

After our untraditional ‘risky whisky?‘ trio of lesser known whiskies from France (Brenne & AWA Pinot Noire) and the US (Virgil Kaine), we turned to a very traditional Lowland… and no young thing either… a mature 40 year old Auchentoshan no less!

And why such a rare aged whisky magically appearing in our Whisky Ladies of Mumbai midst?

It was all thanks to a Whisky Ladies’ birthday… 40th birthday… from an uncle who knows nothing would be more appropriate than giving the birthday lass a venerable 40 year old whisky! And generous soul that she is, our birthday Whisky Lady both hosted the evening and shared her special gift!

Auchentoshan 40 year (4 Nov 1965/4 Aug 2006) Bourbon Cask 41.6% Bottle No 196/200

  • Nose – A sense of very mild old sherry, a light sharpness, fresh pears, hint of ginger with a slight citrus twist, light toasted nuts
  • Palate – Very clean, elegant and clearly a ‘proper whisky’, figs and prunes yet all with a light touch
  • Finish – Lasting mild-mannered finish, one where you can really take your time, mellow, mellow, mellow…

Such an easy drinking whisky… most of all the descriptions “elegant” and “mellow” are most apt!

In the Glencairn vs Norlan glass experience, the Norlan gave a totally different finish – very spicy and more ‘alcohol’. Definitely one to have in the Glencairn!

What is also interesting is this is apparently matured only in a bourbon cask yet had some of the soft sweetness one associates with sherry finish.

Sipping this whisky sparked a wee debate on whether such a price tag was merited… a figure of some $2,000 was mentioned that had most of us aghast. Seriously?? No… not worth that price, especially as we could have bought some 15 – 25 other interesting whiskies for such an amount! Yet… none of use regretted an opportunity to sample such an elegant mellow Lowland dram…

Here’s what the producer has to say:

Rich, old gold in colour, the nose is a delicious combination of sweet vanilla, delicate lemon and orange citrus notes, a touch of almonds and a light, leafy freshness.  The palate is clean and zesty but is beautifully complemented by hints of vanilla and a touch of raisins.  The finish is soft and mild.

What else did we sample that “risky whisky” evening?

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Whisky Ladies Risky Whisky

Our Whisky Ladies are generally an adventuresome set. Which is why our whisky explorations are not limited to your standard Scottish fare… not to say we don’t thoroughly enjoy a solid Scottish dram, just that our predilections lean to the off-beat rather than well trodden paths.

Which sometimes leads to some rather stellar flops! Most recently the AD Laws Triticum + Hordeum stand out as whiskies we would never ever chose to repeat. On the other end of the spectrum, that very night Canada‘s Shelter Point was an instant hit and another evening Finland‘s Teerenpeli 10 year was just yum!

We know when you take risks with your whisky choices there will be some delicious surprises mixed in with some unmitigated disasters!

When we began our evening, we had no idea how our selection would fare… just that we wanted to continue our whisky explorations to seek out new distilleries! Here is what we tried:

Then we added brilliant bonus drams… Our whisky lady host of the evening was celebrating her 40th birthday. What better way than with a 40 year old Auchentoshan!! And her whisky lady mother then decided we simply must have an extra desert treat of a rather bonus bourbon Willlett.

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Whisky Archives – Auchentoshan, AnCnoc, Deanston, Tomatin

Here’s another post from our archives, this time courtesy of another member from April 2012…

The evening was delightful with a very special malt selection comprising of Auchentoshan 12 year 40%, AnCnoc 40%, a not so common Deanston 46.3% and a Tomatin 21% received as a gift from the distiller.

Deanston sampling in KLWe liked the bitter chocolate in Deanston and the strong, spicy mint (like pudina chutney not altoids) in Tomatin (quite complex and a great Cigar paring we think).

One found the AnCnoc was almost like Compass Box’s Spice Tree with it’s spice burst. Another loves lowland whiskies so anything from there makes a good after dinner drink for him, whereas yet another chose the Tomatin as his repeat drink.

We also discovered the dramatic difference in the overall experience of tasting the same whisky in two different glasses – a regular tumbler styled glass and the recommended nosing glass by Glencairn.

Fast forward…

While I missed sampling with our merry group, I managed to taste them at a later point… most recently the Deanston in Kuala Lumpur.

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Ghosted Reserve 21 year (2nd edition) 48.2%

The Ghosted Reserve 21 year was the inspiration for the evening of blends and mystery malts. We tried the 2nd release which features spirits from three closed Lowland distilleries – Ladyburn, Inverleven and Dumbarton.

ghosted-reserve

Ghosted Reserve 21 year 42.8% Bottle No 89

  • Nose: Very pronounced coconut oil! Lots of bananas, pineapple, some beautiful floral notes, then fully back to the tropics then shifting to more citrus fruits. It reminded us of Malibu coconut rum and piña coladas!
  • Palate: Wow! We lost all the rum and instead found a light delightful desert drink, a wonderful oiliness, terrific mouthfeel, lots of dried desiccated sweet coconut, then hints of pepper peaking out, fruits still there – juicy and tropical
  • Finish: The most disappointing element as it was too subtle… after such a distinctive nose and quite delicious initial flavours it somehow drifted away

It actually reminded me a bit of the Nikka Coffey Grain or Compass Box Hedonism, with the grain elements quite pronounced – in a good way. Wonderfully tropical with coconut the consistent element. For one, this was his first encounter with such …

Here’s what the chaps over at Master of Malt have to say:

  • Nose: Orange and lime peels, with a hint of orchard blossom developing later on. Hints of toffee and raisins.
  • Palate: Another helping of orange peels on the palate, joined by banana and sharp tropical fruit. A touch of peppery malt.
  • Finish: Floral on the finish, with a slight nod towards milk chocolate buttons.

For those curious about the distilleries, here is a synopsis about the trio of lost Lowland distilleries.

Ladyburn (Lowland), William Grant and Sons (1966-1975)

  • Ladyburn distillery was actually two sets of stills in the same complex as Girvan, a grain distillery.
  • While intended to supply malt whisky for the Grant blends, it was operational for less than a decade.
  • One can find a few rare bottles of Ladyburn whisky bottled under the name Ayrshire, named after the area where Girvan is located.

Inverleven (Lowland) (1938 – 1991) & Dumbarton (Lowland) (1938-2002) William Grant & Sons

  • Located on the border between the Highlands and Lowlands, Inverleven and Dumbarton shared a distillery with a column still for production of grain whisky (Dumbarton) and two pot stills for malt (Inverleven).
  • Once upon a time, Dumbarton was Scotland’s largest grain distillery, drawing water from Loch Lomand (not to be confused with the Loch Lomand distillery) of which a Lomand still was introduced from 1959.
  • Inverleven was intended to provide whisky for blending, however blenders never took to the Lomond spirit.
  • While the Dumbarton complex was mothballed in 2002, the equipment from Inverleven has gained new life at the Lochindaal distillery opened by Bruichladdich at Port Charlotte.

In addition to the Ghosted Reserve, our mystery malts and vatted blends evening featured:

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Winnipeg’s Cabinet Rosebank 21 year (1990/2011) 53.8%

One tradition of the Winnipeg Whisky Cabinet is to offer the guest an opportunity to chose from the open bottles an ‘appetizer’ whisky to warm up the palate for the evening goodies.

Neatly written in alphabetical order by distillery, the list was impressive with a range of affordable familiar friends to one that made me go  ‘I can’t believe you have this!’

Clearly that was the one I selected…

The Cabinet Whisky List

Discontinued distilleries have a certain mystique about them. Even if not brilliant drams, the very fact that what you try today will be gone tomorrow and never to be replaced, adds a certain bittersweet element to the equation.

My past trysts with Rosebank have been mixed. However a softer, more delicate dram isn’t such a bad way to start an evening… particularly if we would be continuing with a peaty theme…

What were some of the impressions from our Cabinet evening?

Rosebank 21 year (1990 / 2011), Bottle 1789 53.8%

  • Nose – Sweet perfume, quite herbal, drizzle of honey, yet also salty with a clear alcohol chaser, a bit of malt started to push forward
  • Palate – Hot and sour then mellowed into a solid yet soft whisky
  • Finish – Lightly citrus with little else

Overall, it had a bit of a muted “burst of sunshine” quality. It may be relatively simple yet it is well crafted. I couldn’t help but wonder how it was when first opened…

Rosebank 21

What does the bottle have to say?

Light-bodied, this pale gold 21 year old comes from a last golden age at the distillery. Soft, fruity aromas on the nose give way to a delicate, even rose-scented, floral character. The palate is tongue-tingling, clean and fresh, becoming silky with a little water before a soft, flowery sweetness and lemony acidity lead to a round, drying finish.

Here is what the Cabinet lad’s shared:

Carissa selected the Rosebank 21 year old, a lowland whisky from a now shuttered distillery. This is a fiery cask strength whisky with the classic lightly herbal and floral lowland profile backed up by a solid malt core. It is not special in that is in no way complex or exciting, but it is special in that the distillery no longer exists. We drained the last few drops from the last bottle we will likely ever have. The sensation was somewhat akin to eating a baby northern white rhino.

Just curious, I took a peak at auction prices for this bottle… which are currently averaging around US$650. Far steeper than my whisky indulgence budget so am all the more grateful to have sampled a dram courtesy of the Cabinet.

Also quaffed at the Winnipeg “Cabinet” evening:

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Whisky Ladies Scottish Tour – Glenkinchie 12 year 43%

First up in our Scottish regions tour was a whisky from the Lowlands… a region that is the backbone of blends producing primarily grain whisky.

In terms of single malts, there are now only a few active distilleries in the region with Auchentoshan probably the most recognized, Alisa Bay the newest entrant and Glenkinchie, our feature whisky for the evening, part of the Diageo stable. Three new distilleries are joining the Lowland ranks – Daftmill, Eden Mill, and Kingsbarns.

Lowland whiskies are reputed to be light, grassy without peat, typically triple distilled to make for a more delicate whisky, earning the nickname “The Lowland Ladies.”

It seemed a good place to start our evening…

Glenkinchie 12

And what did our Whisky Ladies find?

Glenkinchie 12 year 43%

  • Nose – Apple cider, honey sweetness, quite fresh, then began to reveal an earthy moss, floral perfume and sweet cinnamon spice
  • Palate – Alcohol then spiced apple cider, plank of wood, bit oily, musty cardboard
  • Finish – Chocolate heat, some star anise
  • Water – Bit a debate whether it was needed – for some made it flat, others felt it opened it and made it even sweeter, smoothened it as it damped down

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

  • Nose – Aromatic and floral notes.
  • Palate – Sweet with a slight liquorice aftertaste
  • Finish – Dry finish

Did we agree? Sure about the nose but not so sure about the succulent, fleshy, juicy elements…

The Whisky Ladies of Mumbai’s Scottish Regional Tour continues…

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Whisky Ladies explore Scottish regions

The whisky map of Scotland tends to be divided into ‘regions’.

Traditionally there were four regions: Highlands, Lowlands, Islay and Campbeltown. The Scotch Whisky Association (SWA) then added a 5th region of Speyside – given its prodigious production this seems more than merited!

You may also often hear of an ‘Islands’ sub-region encompassing island distilleries excluding Islay…. Whereas the SWA considers these to be part of the Highlands.

Confused yet?

Glenkinchie, Clynelish, Jura, Cardhu, Ardbeg

When our Whisky Ladies decided to go on a Scottish whisky regional tour, we had to skip Campbeltown as weren’t able to source whiskies from Glen Scotia, Glengyle, and Springbank, however we did our able best to appropriately cover the other regions… including that sneaky little not quite sure if it could be considered a region… Islands!

Whisky Ladies Regional Tour sampled:

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Winnipeg’s The Cabinet “Peat” evening

Some folks know that I originally hail from Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada though long ago adopted Mumbai, Maharashtra, India as home.

During my June 2016 trip back to the ‘Peg, I had several whisky treats – not the least of which was a most enjoyable evening spent with the lads from “The Cabinet” – a venerable whisky tasting group based in Winnipeg.

During an earlier trip several years ago I had the distinct pleasure of joining a Cabinet session and was introduced to their constitution, traditions and lore. Since then these merry men (and yes they are ALL men!) have further evolved during their 9 odd years of gathering.

They update a chalk board that lists what currently resides inside “The Cabinet“,  which is unlocked precisely at the given hour and the session is called to order.

The Cabinet Whisky ListAs guest, I had the pick of the open bottles to whet our whistle before the real evening commenced. Purely as it is increasingly rare to come across a bottle, my eye spotted the Rosebank 21 year… What can I say? I’m a sucker for indulging in  discontinued distillery samples when the opportunity arises!

Post my selection, we had a decidedly peaty tour with the room scented with peaty smoke. Our host shared insights from his most recent Scottish whisky tour and even managed to acquire ‘peat pellets’ from Manitoba, wondering why oh why isn’t there a good peaty single malt made in Manitoba?

The Winnipeg “The Cabinet” evening featured:

The lads at The Cabinet maintain a most amusing blog and already have their post on the evening published! It is, quite simply, a ‘must read!’ and can be found here: “Peat”

Thank you again gentlemen and I look forward to our continued tasting adventures!

Whisky Cabinet

Fabled Winnipeg Whisky cabinet

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