Chorlton Single Casks – Orkney 9 year 63.1%

After such a brilliant start with the Chorlton Miltonduff, we were primed for something interesting. Our host then poured us this Orkney dram, which we sampled completely blind before the reveal.

Orkney 9 year 63.1%

  • Colour – Light straw
  • Nose – Wow! Began with acetone, medicine capsule, industrial metal – particularly copper, burnt ghee, then started to shift into caramel, suddenly heavy dry fruits, nuts – imagine a box of figs and nuts! Then curd – like those yoghurt covered raisins, shifting further into grape skin, a wine tannins, back to minerals, wet slab for sharpening a knife… all of this before even the 1st sip! Then a smoked honey ham, like a Chinese honey pork dish from Mumbai’s Golden Dragon
  • Palate – Superb! A lovely balance, silky, sweet, smooth, spice with a gentle smoke… a bit of wood char, salty caramel… a lovely honey sweet with a touch of salt yet no medicinal element
  • Finish – Lovely, long and continued to hold

The aromas kept evolving – particularly after the 1st sip.

And what about adding water? Yes please! We found it brought out the spice and honey even more. A dash of dry roasted cinnamon and other sweet spices. In some ways the peat was quite deceptive – hardly their on the 1st sip even with water and then quite pronounced in subsequent sips.

We concluded that water really helps open this whisky up beautifully. And yet we equally enjoyed it without water… one of those remarkable whiskies that is terrific both with and without, simply showed off different dimensions.

All  we could be certain is there was high quality wood, a classic approach with an ex-bourbon showing no signs of sherry or experimental wood finishes. Truth be told, it was mighty good to simply enjoy a traditional dram.

We set it aside to sample the 3rd whisky in our trio – each explored blind with only our speculation for company!

And then returned to this one… And found it a bit sour, salty on the nose, the peat clear and warming on the palate, a distinct personality with a nice chewy quality. Imagine a coconut lozenge… Delicious!

The Chaps over at Master of Malt have this to say:

9 year old single cask single malt from the isle of Orkney, drawn from a bourbon hogshead and independently bottled by Chorlton Whisky. With a very small number of whisky distilleries in Orkey, you might be able to figure out which one this whisky is from when tasting it. 191 bottles were produced.

  • Nose: Coffee bean, sea air and a touch of cookie dough.
  • Palate: A bit gristy, but with plenty of vanilla and salted caramel to back it up.
  • Finish: Lingering smoke and olive oil.

Alas with less than 200 bottles, it flew off the shelves at Master of Malt at the reasonable price of €62.49 – now completely sold out.

We also enjoyed these other Chorlton Single Cask whiskies:

And what about other Orkney (aka Highland Park) drams?

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Chorlton Single Casks – Miltonduff 9 year 58.3%

Better known for its part in Ballentine’s blend, Miltonduff Distillery in Speyside is starting to be found more readily as a single malt. Which is a rather fine thing as past experiences with a 10 year and 21 year were most positive.

This particularly one was sampled blind in November 2019 as part of a very special evening exploring Chorlton bottlings.

Miltonduff 9 year 58.3%, 137 bottles

  • Colour – Light straw
  • Nose – Greeted us with varnish then shifted quickly into a rich heavy cream, stewed fruit like apricot and apples, tart strawberries, one found key lime pie, then light floral, hint of lavender, an organic sweet not saccharine, lactic, bread pudding, baked custard, cinnamon, banana cream pie, settling into a nice harmonious aroma which held…
  • Palate – Initially reminded of a thick heavy cough syrup, it warmed the ‘cockles’, fig stew, rum raisins rolling around the tongue, a nice spice from behind comes in waves, bitter at the end, with such staying power, lots of toffee, shifting increasingly into a fresh green herbal quality
  • Finish – Initially a white pepper finish but sip after sip it shifted more into licorice, basil

Despite the powerful flavours, it had a medium to thin body – no complaints just a comment.

A few of us decided to try adding a bit of water to see how it

  • Nose – Oh my! Peppers, zesty, cinnamon spice, lemon or sweet lime, scented, sweet eraser, fruity and floral
  • Palate – Nicely tangy, the perfume also was pronounced on the palate – almost like sipping a perfumed nectar, lots of character and clearly from a good cask
  • Finish – The finish was delightfully extended

On the revisit, we found Brittania biscuits or Parle-G, so much coconut, condensed milk like chewing into a Bounty bar, sandalwood, ice cream, tangerine. Yum!

The Chaps over at Master of Malt have this to say:

This 9-year-old single malt Scotch from Miltonduff was aged in a first-fill bourbon barrel and bottled by Chorlton Whisky at natural cask strength of 58.3%, with no chill-filtering or added colouring. There was a total outturn of 137 bottles.

  • Nose: Banoffee pie with custard and lemon peel, with a slight floral undertone.
  • Palate: Creamy and rich, the palate has plenty of salted caramel, toasted barley and green apple. A touch of waxy grapefruit arrives with time.
  • Finish: A jammy red berry note remains.

We also enjoyed these other Chorlton whiskies:

And earlier Miltonduff tasting experiences?

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Shackleton 40%

Stories of antarctic explorations capture the imagination with the tale of Shackleton whisky are well known.

“I believe it is in our nature to explore, to reach out into the unknown.” – Ernest Shackleton

Our whisky tasting  groups have explored different versions of this whisky reconstruction with:

Along the way I had picked up this version where it quietly sat in my whisky cabinet, biding its time til it surfaced as part of a birthday celebration.

Shackleton 40%

  • Nose – Sweet apple cinnamon pie, toffee, vanilla
  • Palate – Easy drinking, fruity, sweet with malty cereals, dried fruits, hint of tart citrus
  • Finish – Carries on from the palate

I will admit these are more fleeting impressions than proper notes as it was a sociable occasion. However sometimes an enjoyable blend like this is “spot on” and appreciated by our crowd. By the end of the evening, there wasn’t a single drop remaining – voting through consuming is always a good sign!

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Highland Treat – Glen Garioch 15 year 53.7%

Waaaay back in the summer, our Whisky Ladies enjoyed a Highland Trio – starting with two whiskies from AnCnoc and closing with this Glen Garioch.

What did we think?

Glen Garioch 15 year Sherry Cask Matured 53.7%

  • Colour – A lovely dark ruby gold
  • Nose – Mmmm…. really good black coffee, honey, buttery, banana, caramel, treacle, banoffee pie, apricots… coming back loads of delicious sherry
  • Palate – Coffee candy, toffee, toasted raisin bread slathered in butter, raisin, dates, rolling around in heavy sherry with a great mouthfeel
  • Finish – A slow burn that tapers into sweet spice

This really was rather delicious! Generous sherry influence, quite satisfying in all ways.

The folks at Glen Garioch haven’t kept tasting notes on their website, however the folks over at Master of Malt have this to say:

Glen Garioch 15 Year Old has been aged in oloroso sherry casks and has a sweet and fruity character. The nose opens with dark berries and dried fruits, followed by sweet vanilla notes and a slight tartness. The palate is thick and full bodied, giving notes of dried fruits and cinnamon spice. A hint of heather honey appears before a long woody finish, with gentle spices throughout.

As of late 2019, you can still find this at The Whisky Exchange for approximately £125.

We also had these as part of our Highland Treat :

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Highland Treat – AnCnoc Rùdhan 46% 

From the honeyed sweetness of the Black Hill, we shifted into a peatier AnCnoc, with their Travel Retail edition Rùdhan. What did the Whisky Ladies think?

AnCnoc Rùdhan 46%

  • Nose – Strong and sweet, peat then settles down, bit of spice… a bit sharp… surprisingly we then found it shifted into vegetal aromas – distinctly carrot juice! Then shifted again to vanilla apple spice with cinnamon
  • Palate – First sip had a nice spice kick, lots of cinnamon, tobacco, like fireworks sparkling on the tongue, nicely buttery, honey
  • Finish – Peat yet also fruity with primarily apple just and a chaser of tart cranberry juice

It was quite provocative and perhaps a bit fickle minded. 

We set it aside and found it became even sweeter, the sharpness settled down and yet its character remained. Smoke and spice – subdued yet most enjoyable.

And what do the folks at AcCnoc have to say?

The highly anticipated Rùdhan is the latest travel retail expression to join the Peaty Collection. In keeping with anCnoc’s traditional style, the whisky takes its name from the peat harvesting process. The term ‘rùdhan’ [roo-an] refers to the final stage, in which the peat is stacked for several weeks to dry out ahead of burning to create the signature smokiness associated with the range.

  • Colour – Pale Straw
  • Nose – TA light fruitiness kicks off this elegant dram. Delicate floral notes play their part before bowing out to a burnt wood smokiness.
  • Taste – On the palate, it takes on a whole new character. Earthy peat smoke still prevalent, it is now accompanied by the more robust notes of spice and burnt sugar. 
  • Finish – The finish is smooth and warm.

Like the Black Hill, depending on where you travel, you may still be able to find a bottle for approximately €52.

We also had these as part of our Highland Treat :

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Highland Treat – AnCnoc Black Hill Reserve 46%

So back in July, our Whisky Ladies had an evening featuring a trio of highland drams. It was a lovely evening where the tasting progression was spot on! And then I somehow managed to lose my tasting notes – for months!

Finally recovered, hope you enjoy our impressions…

AnCnoc Black Hill Reserve 46%

  • Nose – First whiff was full fruity, a bit spicy, a little rustic, some hay, lovely honeyed sweetness, like a fresh fragrant meadow, rewarding us with a delightful perfume. After the 1st sip, grapefruit citrus twist, vanilla, desert custard, heather
  • Palate – Lovely, floral, lots of honey, orange, gets more and more flavourful, spice
  • Finish – Heather with leather, long and satisfying

We really enjoyed this one and found it both very well balanced and frankly, just well done! That light, bright sunshine kind of whisky that is a perfect way to start…

We set it aside to try the next two and then revisited to find honeydew melon, honey… quite pleasant.

And what do the folks at AcCnoc have to say?

Knockdhu Distillery’s enduring charisma echoes the timeless allure of the nearby Knock Hill, known to the locals as the Black Hill. It is the source of the springs which bring our whisky to life and in whose shadow the Distillery has flourished since 1894. Gaelic for Black Hill, Knockdhu remains rooted in traditional production methods, yet the refreshingly modern personality of anCnoc Highland Single Malt Scotch Whisky conveys its contemporary outlook. An outstanding addition to our range of whiskies, Black Hill Reserve is testimony to the finest qualities of anCnoc. Matured exclusively in first fill American oak ex-bourbon casks, it is a whisky every bit as captivating as the historic corner of Scotland from which it comes.

  • Colour – Bright Gold.
  • Nose – The bright and crisp notes of citrus, green apples and coconut are complemented by honey sweetness and layers of fresh vanilla. Satisfying and refreshing.
  • Taste – Full bodied and bursting with rich flavour, it brings to mind ground spices, pear drops, candied orange peel and sharp toffee sweetness underpinned by just a hint of old leather.
  • Finish – The finish is long and intense.

Did we agree? Absolutely!

Depending on where you travel, you may be lucky enough to find this in travel retail for around £52.

What else did we try in our Highland Treat?

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Original Club – Springbank 10 year 46%

Representing Campbeltown, our host selected this classic Springbank 10 year as part of our tasting trio.

We sampled it blind following and were completely taken aback – it wasn’t at all like what we have come to expect from Springbank. Read on and discover why…

Springbank 10 year 46%

  • Nose – Jackfruit, cream, old fruit, was there a hint of smoke or peat? Mandarin orange, marshmallow, then solvent? Huh? Which shifted into paan or betel leaf, vanilla, very sweet, grass
  • Palate – Surprisingly soft, orange marmalade, then peat, sweet and even more peat and sweet
  • Finish – There but not much, sweet lemon rind

This one didn’t quite sit right with us… there was a flat tone, one even called it insipid? We certainly thought it had a lower alcohol content than the one before… and we were stumped, we simply couldn’t place it.

The reveal was a shocker. Several of us – myself included – are quite fond of Campbeltown whiskies with this Springbank 10 year a standard.

How then did it not have any of the elements we normally expect? Where was the pear, yummy rich nutty oak, vanilla, pinch of cinnamon and nutmeg, a sweet dry yet satisfying finish??

And that’s where we realised without a doubt the impact of the tasting order. Starting off with the powerful peaty Caol Ila, the more delicate Springbank wasn’t able to reveal its true character. Setting them all aside and then coming back after the Scapa made such a difference.

What else did we explore?

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Original Club – Jura 11 year 58.6%

Our host had a clear theme in mind – to feature different Islands around Scotland. We’ve not explored many whiskies from the Isle of Jura – just Superstition and Turas-Mara. We sampled this whisky blind, without any inkling of what we were trying.

Distiller’s Art with Jura 11 year (2006/2018) 58.6%, Refill Hogshead, bottle 229 of 270

  • Colour – Quite light straw
  • Nose – Sour kumquat, drunken fruit, solvent, volatile, rose petals, country liquor, limoncello, lalima rose, vitamin B complex, santosh sandalwood, unusual and atypical
  • Palate – Tangy, spice and sweet, a narrow palate profile, not evolving, no 2nd or tertiary flavour, peculiar and odd
  • Finish – Burn slightly bitter
  • Water – Made the sweetness very prominent, much more spice, prickly on the mouth and palate

This was a puzzle – it initially came off as almost not like a whisky at all! One speculated it may even be a grain? We overall concluded it likely was not Scottish, maybe one of these experimental whiskies… quite curious.

With the reveal we were surprised. Not at all what we had expected. Which just goes to show that it is good to explore without brand bias or pre-conceived notions.

What else did we explore?

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Original Club – Caol Ila 8 year 59.2%

Our original tasting club in Mumbai has a tradition of sampling blind. We also try to explore something new – which sometimes leads to amazing new discoveries and sometimes disappointments.

What this means is trying familiar distilleries but in new avatars. In this case, we explored an old favourite Caol Ila from Hunter Laing’s newer Distiller’s Art bottling line of Single Casks. Then to add an even further special twist, these particular bottles were picked up from a particular store at cask strength.

Caol Ila 8 year (2009 / 2018) 59.2%, Sherry Hogshead, Bottle 173 of 180

  • Nose – Varnish, sharp, astringent, light banana, honey and caramel, vanilla, overall quite young
  • Palate – A bit harsh, raw, salty, spice kick, very piquant, hint of bitter coffee, chocolate
  • Finish – A warm burn, jaggery, spice, salty butter lingers… long and tingling

We suspected it was likely an ex-bourbon cask and definitely was high alcohol with an ‘in your face’ quality. Powerful and unbalanced… so we added water – a generous dollop. What a difference water made!

  • On the nose, it brightened it up, revealing lemon, floral honey.
  • Then on the palate, rounded it out, smoothing it into buttery leather, old wood and had much more depth
  • Suddenly it had an insane long finish!

While there were clear hints of peat before adding water, there were just too many forward elements competing for attention. With the water, it was truly a different dram.

What else did we explore?

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Drinks by the Drams – The Scotch Whisky Advent Calendar 2018

Now I must admit, for a few years I have coveted advent calendars… imagining exploring a bounteous array of unique whiskies.

As luck would have it, one of our Whisky Ladies of Mumbai was gifted a box – enthusiastically ordered from England for her sampling pleasure in India. A lovely thought… except those giving the generous gift had absolutely no clue the customs conundrum that would ensue… requiring all sorts of hoops and hassles with the recipient of the gift having to shell out more cash than the gift itself!

Perseverance and sheer stubbornness prevailed and this lovely box did indeed make its way into her hands.

After all the effort, what happened next?

Our lovely Whisky Lady decided to move to London! And gift her whisky women friends of Mumbai her advent calendar to enjoy, remembering our eventful evenings together!

Now given each ‘dram’ is a mere 3 cl each, our normal format where we all share and discuss the same whisky simply isn’t possible. Instead I had plans to pair up ladies to sample sets of four whiskies, jotting down tasting notes and leaving just a hint of their ‘top’ choice for others to sniff!

And then what happened?

You may have already guessed it! I’ve taken up a job in Germany. So this gift to the Whisky Ladies of Mumbai has now been handed over….

So while I will no longer have a chance to explore and enjoy, I’m completely confident it will be a brilliant experience.

Drinks by the Dram – The Scotch Whisky Advent Calendar 2018

What will the Whisky Ladies of Mumbai have an opportunity to try?

Mostly Blends

  1. Fettercairn 12 Year Old 40% – Launched in 2018, an earlier brush with a cask strength TBWC version was very positive!
  2. Scallywag 46%Douglas Laing‘s Speyside vatted malt blend of Mortlach, Macallan and Glenrothes.
  3. Johnnie Walker Green Label 15 Year Old 43% – Those in the know appreciate this is a vatted malt (or blended malt) rather than a standard blend… which translates into no grain. It is one I’ve previously sampled
  4. The Naked Grouse 40% – Part of the Famous Grouse range, it is a blend of whisky from Highland Park and Macallan, aged in first fill sherry casks

Islay and Peaty

  1. Bunnahabhain 11 Year, Batch 9 49.5% – Another from That Boutique-y Whisky Company
  2. Caol Ila (2004/2016) Moscatel Cask Finish 43% – Another Distiller’s Edition, experimenting with sweet Moscatel
  3. Balvenie Peat Week 14 Year (2003 Vintage) 48.3% – From a week dedicated to peat, their 2nd edition
  4. Kilchoman 2012 Wine Finish (Cask 405) 56.9% – Bottled exclusively for Drinks by the Drams

Mystery distilleries

  1. Crabbie 8 Year Old 46% – Before John Crabbie revive their distillery, they have released 8 and 30 year ‘mystery malts’
  2. The Exceptional Blend 1st Edition 43% – A first fill Oloroso finished blended whisky from Sutcliffe & Son with North British, Strathclyde, Cameronbridge, Glenfarclas, Ben Nevis, Allt-á-Bhainne, Auchroisk, Glenallachie, Westport, Speyside, Macallan and more. Previously sampled.
  3. Lost Distilleries Blend Batch 11 52.3% – Imagine blending together near mythical closed distilleries? That’s what the folks at The Blended Whisky Company did bringing together drops of Caperdonich, Rosebank, Imperial, Mosstowie, Glen Mhor, Glenisla, Glenlochy, Craigduff, Port Ellen and Brora, along with grain whisky from Port Dundas
  4. The XL Blend, Batch 1 46.2% – We know next to nothing about this except that The Blended Whisky Company produced it and the XL refers to 40 ie it is a blend of 40 year + whiskies. Originally retailing at £457.46, it is currently sold out

The Glens

  1. Glenfiddich 15 Year Old Solera 40% – Not so simple process first matured in American bourbon, Portuguese sherry and virgin oak, then married in a Solera vat.
  2. Glengoyne 12 Year Old 43% – Distinctive for its complete lack of peat
  3. Glen Scotia Double Cask 46% – I’ve been increasingly drawn to Campbeltown drams, and quite enjoyed a previous sample which features PX Sherry and Bourbon casks
  4. Glenfarclas 12 Year Old 58.7% – Bottled exclusively for Drinks By The Dram

“D” Distillery Drams

  1. Dewar’s 12 Year Old – The Ancestor 40% – Called ‘Double Aged’ as it follows its initial maturation and blending with another 6 months ‘marrying’ together further maturing in oak casks
  2. Dalwhinnie (2002/2017) Oloroso Cask Finish 43% – Distiller’s Edition, likely 15 year
  3. Dailuaine 15 Year Old Batch 2 47.5% – From That Boutique-y Whisky Company, previously sampled
  4. Dailuaine 4 Year (2012/2017) 46% – Bottled by Càrn Mòr for their Strictly Limited range, matured in two ex-bourbon casks

A mix of regions, styles and strengths!

  1. Loch Lomond 12 Year Old 46% – Inchmurrin, Inchmoan or Loch Lomond, this distillery has a range of styles… some peaty, some not… in this case using a trio of bourbon casks, refill casks and recharged casks.
  2. Bruichladdich Scottish Barley – The Classic Laddie 50% – It remains a classic, official bottle, year not specified
  3. Isle Of Jura Seven Wood 42% – Just as the name says, this whisky was matured in seven woods – American white oak, limousin, tronçais, allier, vosges, bertranges and jupilles
  4. Tamdhu Batch Strength (Batch 3) 58.3% – Matured in sherry casks

    PS – If someone was to now try and import such a box into India, there is next to no chance of success as the rules have changed yet again.

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