Smokey Night – Glenglassaugh Peated Port Wood Finish 46%

We started our Smokey Night on a lighter note… with something from the Highlands…

Long back our Mumbai original group tried some new make spirit from Glengassagh. I then had a chance to try the Torfa – ugh. I then revisited it as a mini together with the Evolution… better. I reminded myself to keep an open mind and see what we discovered with this bottle.

Glenglassaugh Peated Port Wood Finish 46%

  • Colour – Bright ruby red
  • Nose – Began with a bit of tar, smoke yet very mild, a bit rubbery, butter crème, spice, raisin, ginger…
  • Palate – Spice, steamed plums, brandy cherries, raisins, very peppery, wood, some mystery pulpy fruits, however pleasantly rolled around the palate
  • Finish – Then sweet

It was pronounced a good daily whisky. While not terribly distinctive, it was easy to enjoy.

As for me? I was happy to try a Glenglassaugh that I enjoyed!

Here’s what the Glenglassaugh folks have to say about their Peated Port Wood Finish:

Glenglassaugh’s waves of fruit and smoke are amplified in Peated Port Wood Finish. Whilst finishing in ruby Port pipes, the open structure of the oak brings waves of velvet tannins and peppered dark fruit, reminiscent of Winter berries by an open fire, kissed by the sea.

  • Colour: Rose gold
  • Nose: Heather honey drizzled over a medley of fresh red fruits, all backed by intriguing waves of sweet peat smoke
  • Palate: Delicious wild red berry compote and clotted cream balanced by a hint of cracked black pepper, surrounded by a fantastic sweet campfire peat note.

Would we agree? Not sure we would call the light smoke “waves” or describe as campfire peat… but overall, the notes weren’t far off.

Our Smokey Night with the Whisky Ladies also included:

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Smokey Winter Nights – Glenglassaugh, Kilchoman, Bunnahabhain

Delhi in winter has a smokey quality from the stubble in fields surrounding the city being burned to little roadside fires to keep warm.

While it has been years since I lived through a Delhi winter, I was reminded of those chilled evenings with smoke in the air during our recent Whisky Ladies evening which featured Smokey Whiskies!

What did we try?

So let’s talk a bit about peat with its PPM or Peaty “Phenol Parts Per Million”….

Once upon a time, peat was the norm to dry malted barley. Then enter this new fangled alternative called coal… or more precisely coke… made readily accessible by the 1960s via rail. Coke burns more evenly, more consistently and with less smoke than peat. The Lowlands and Speyside regions jumped on the unpeated bandwagon early.

Yet most of Islay kept to using peat. As do other distilleries – some craft both unpeated and peated variants – occasionally under different brand names.

Glenglassaugh, for example, have two versions of their port wood finish – the peated one we tried and one without peat.

Whereas Bunnahabhain from Islay, once known for eschewing peat,  has more recently been flirting more openly with peat. Today approx 25% of their whisky has varying degrees of peat.

Kilchoman, by contrast, has from the start kept peat as part of its consistent style, playing instead with the casks with a gradation from none to full sherry.

And PPM? It is measured at the point of the dried barley… typically using UV spectroscopy or High Performance Liquid Chromatography (HPLC). However where the PPM level starts is NOT where it finishes.

Throughout the whisky making process, phenols are lost. How much depends on a range of different factors from what is left behind in the draft at the end of mashing to how they are changed during fermentation with the type of still changing the character and intensity and most importantly how it is impacted during the second distillation.

So while Kilchoman may consistently START at 50 PPM, where it end up may differ significantly… Just check out what we found with the Port Charlotte 10 year MP5 series!

There are those that suggest that given PPM can bear such little relation to actual “smoke” strength, why not drop using PPM completely and instead define the peat as light, medium or heavily peated?

Want to know more? Don’t listen to me, check out an expert like Dave Broom on Whisky.com.

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Whisky Live 2018 La Maison du Whisky Exclusives – Clynelish + Glenburgie

At Whisky Live Singapore 2018 there were many La Maison du Whisky exclusive bottles…. No surprise given who organized the event!

I tried the Clynelish and Glenburgie side-by-side in the VIP room…

The Glenburgie was selected by Florian Were for the 50th anniversary of La Maison du Whisky which was started on 20 rue d’Anjou, part of their Whisky Chronicles series.

Glenburgie (1995/2018) Cask #6542 55.6% (LMdW 20 rue d’Anjou) Limited 221 Bottles

  • Nose – Light and bright, some lovely fruits – particularly peaches and apples
  • Palate – Warm and comforting, tropical fruits and a hint of leafy tobacco
  • Finish – Beautiful and long with a lovely spice and hint of cocoa

Even though I only had a wee nip, it was utterly delightful and certainly a style I appreciate. I would have loved an opportunity to come back for more of this…

Clynelish (1997/2017) Cask #6922 55.8% (LMdW)

  • Nose – Lovely light crisp fruits like apples and pears, nicely fresh
  • Palate – The aromas follow through on the palate, dripping with honey and fruits
  • Finish – A bit of spice, more than expected given how initially delicate and light it was on the palate

Again, easy and accessible with enough character to make you pay attention. Incredibly balanced and deceptive as didn’t come across as cask strength.

What an enjoyable pair… both were simply unique bottles to sample and not available for purchase. Clocking in around 23 and 20 year for single casks at cask strength, this was clearly a case of trying  “once” not more…. however if you do come across either and enjoy lighter more nuanced styles, take advantage of the opportunity!

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La Maison du Whisky exclusives at Whisky Live Singapore 2018

Beautiful bottles seemed to be the theme with many of the La Maison du Whisky exclusives featured at Whisky Live 2018 in Singapore.

The most obvious example of that is the Artist Series – now on its 8th edition with a change in approach. This time, they split the series into non-sherry and sherry whiskies, with two different artists.

La Maison du Whisky Artist #8 sans Sherry

For the non-sherry whiskies, the artist selected was French photographer Jérémie Lenoir. As they share “Immerse yourself in an ode to the purity of the elements and the natural graphics of the earth’s surface through the five labels of this new range.”

  • Benrinnes 20 year (1995/2018) Hogshead Cask #9063 49.4% (279 bottles)
  • Glenturret 30 year (1987/2018) Hogshead Cask #371 55.3% (214 bottles)
  • Bruichladdich 25 year (1993/2018) Hogshead Cask #1640 46.9%
  • Caol Ila 15 year (2003/2018) Hogshead Cask #302465 54.2% (282 bottles)
  • Ardmore 10 year (2008/2018) Cask #800168 60.3% (233 bottles)

La Maison du Whisky Artist #8 with Sherry

Whereas for the Sherry whiskies, Japanese artist Takehiko Sugawara was selected and crafted remarkable labels – truly photographs do not do justice and these are indeed works of art.

  • Glenrothes 20 year (1995/2018) Sherry Butt Cask #909700 52.8% (530 bottles)
  • Ben Nevis 25 year (1991/2018) Sherry Cask #2375 55.3% (561 bottles)
  • Bowmore 15? year (2001/2018) Sherry Cask #108 55.3% (679 bottles)
  • Glenlivet 10 year (2007/2018) 1st Fill Sherry Cask#900214 Batch #2 64.1% (308 bottles)
  • Bunnahabhain 35 year (1979/2018) Sherry Cask#9521 47.9% (472 bottles)

Two other whiskies of note bottled exclusively for La Maison du Whisky include:

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Whisky Live 2018 – Ardgowan’s Expedition 46%

Just as we were leaving the main area at Whisky Live Singapore, we stopped by the Ardgowan stand.

One of the more curious developments in the industry is “constructing” whiskies from existing distilleries to “craft” the potential profile of a new distillery…

The team was passionate about their project and the story of polar explorer Robert Swan and his son Barney’s trip to the South Pole using only renewable energy.

Our Ardgowan man shared that before getting into whisky, he was an engineer – involved in renewable energy. So when asked to develop a zero-carbon snow melter that would be lightweight, robust and inexpensive, they came up with creating the Ardgowan “snow melter.” The simple kit worked and Robert and team used them in their expedition.

In return, the Ardgowan team asked Robert to take a bottle of an aged single malt to the South Pole – which now forms part of the Ardgowan Expedition commemorative blend of malts. Plus, naturally, a small sample to toast their trip!

From this single bottle, the team blended it further to package 600 hundred bottles for the 600 miles the original bottle traversed.

And as he regaled us with the tale, we had a wee nip. My impression was of something initially quite grassy on the nose, fresh and happy, then honeyed citrus and stewed fruits on the palate. It was friendly and approachable… really quite nice.

And what do they have to say about their whisky?

  • Colour – Antique brass
  • Nose – Initially pink peppercorns and raspberries with cream and honey. Icing sugar
    combined with hints of saw dust and tree bark. Then dried pink grapefruit peels and zesty blood oranges. Crème brûlée and freshly ground coffee beans appear later.
  • Palate – A pop of citrus, peppery spice and honeyed sweetness comes first. Followed by a hint of beeswax on old furniture. Then more citrus fruits with honeysuckle and freshly cut flowers. Very well balanced with a luxuriously unctuous and coating mouthfeel.
  • Finish – A very long finish that truly lingers with a brilliant balance of citrus, spice and
    sweetness.
  • Overall – A delicious and very well balanced whisky with wonderful layers of citrus, spice and sweetness. A fantastic mouthfeel that will have you chewing and savouring each drop. An incredibly long and nuanced finish will have you coming back for more.

Did you spot that price tag? SGD 1,200! However, much like Raasay While We Wait, there are plans for more affordable whiskies to be sold as Ardgowan in the “style” of what they anticipate making… many years from now when the idea of a distillery becomes a reality.

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Gordon and Macphail’s Caol Ila 33 year 52.8%

At Whisky Live Singapore 2018, there were a few choice Gordon & MacPhail whiskies available in the VIP section. It provided a great opportunity to sample fine whiskies – particularly aged drams one could ordinarily not afford.

We spotted this when we first perused what was available and knew we must try it. We were fortunate there were still a few drops left!

Caol Ila 33 year (1989/ 3 July 2018) Cask 181062 52.8% 216 bottles

  • Nose – Smoke and fire and yet with beautiful balance, nutty, salted toffee, smoked meats, light herbal sweet grass and tobacco
  • Palate – Buttery, apricot plum, pastry, remarkably well-balanced peat, vanilla
  • Finish – Long and smoky

It is such a treat to try something aged and beautifully peated. While it was only a small snifter, it was more than enough to know we were lucky to have such an opportunity.

And what would this set you back? While the 33 year was not on sale, the 34 year old was retailing for SGD 1,100. Yikes!

Other whiskies sampled at the Gordon & MacPhail booth, Whisky Live 2018:

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Gordon and Macphail’s Mannochmore 18 year 46%

At Whisky Live 2018 in Singapore, the Gordon & MacPhail booth is a great opportunity to sample fine whiskies and then possibly select one that might make it home to Mumbai for others to try.

The Mannochmore was very much in the running given our Mumbai tasting group’s haven’t yet sampled a whisky from this distillery.

This whisky is part of their Connoisseurs Choice range and I had only a small “speed date” style sniff and swish to discover a feel for the dram.

Mannochmore 18 year (23 August 1999 / 16 July 2018) 46% Refill Sherry Butt 10686, 670 Bottles

  • Nose – An overt Sherry, loads of raisins, noughat
  • Palate – Oak, dry, sweet spices with a citrus twist
  • Finish – A nice spice, more wood and something else

There was no doubt it was matured in a sherry cask… It certainly was interesting. But was it one to bring back to Mumbai?

I had only a wee nip for a passing impression – enough to know would like to revisit yet also sufficient to prefer to pick up in a less pricey market. At La Maison du Whisky in Singapore, it would set you back SGD 299.

What do the folks at Gordon & Macphail have to say about this whisky?

  • Nose – Full and fruity; aromas of stewed raisins soaked in Sherry, reminiscent of light fruitcake. Sweet marzipan notes complemented with creamy chocolate orange undertones. 
  • Taste – Full-bodied and warming; winter spices mingle with indulgent dark chocolate and clove studded orange flavours. Hints of rich plum jam and dark brown sugar lead into candied cherries.
  • Finish – Hints of tobacco and liquorice linger, fading into oak.

Other whiskies sampled at the Gordon & MacPhail booth, Whisky Live 2018:

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Gordon and Macphail’s Glenlivet 14 year 56.5%

At Whisky Live 2018 in Singapore, the Gordon & MacPhail booth is a great opportunity to sample fine whiskies.

This time, I sampled both in the main section and in the VIP room which featured whiskies like this one – bottled exclusively for La Maison du Whisky.  

Glenlivet “The Chronicles” 14 year (2003 / 20 June 2018) 56.5%

  • Nose – Greeted with lovely fruits – particularly apples and apricots, honey with a sweet light citrus
  • Palate – Spicy, very fruity and eminently drinkable
  • Finish – A slight spice, cream then sweet, like sucking on a delicious hard candy

Keep in mind this was a mere ‘teaser’ at Whisky Live Singapore so not a proper taste, however I was left with the impression of a lovely, most approachable whisky.

And what do we know? The Glenlivet was matured in refill bourbon barrels and bottled by Gordon & Macphail for La Maison du Whisky as part of their Connoisseurs Choice cask strength line.

And what would this set you back? At La Maison du Whisky in Singapore – SGD 299.

What do the folks at La Maison du Whisky have to say about this whisky?

Among the favorite single malts of Gordon & MacPhail, the most famous Scottish independent bottler, undeniably figure Glenlivet. What’s more natural when you know that this venerable house is based in Elgin, the capital of Speyside. Very representative, this version invites us to discover a complex aromatic and gustatory palette within which fruits, flowers, spices and aromatic plants intertwine to unveil the landscapes of the region where it was born.

  • Profile: concentrated, the first nose is marked by candied fruits (lemon), peppermint, acacia honey and vanilla.
  • At aeration, it becomes floral (hyacinth) and grass (straw). Powerful, the attack on the palate is extremely fruity (pineapple, pear).
  • The mid-palate is spicy and finely wooded.
  • Affirmed, the finish is marked by notes of royal jelly, lavender honey and violet candy.

Other whiskies sampled at the Gordon & MacPhail booth, Whisky Live 2018:

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Gordon and Macphail’s Inchgower 13 year 55.1%

At Whisky Live 2018 in Singapore, I stopped by the Gordon & MacPhail booth with a simple goal – taste a few and decide if one made sense to bring it back home to Mumbai.

Of each, I had only a wee nip – mostly a sniff, swish and move on…

Inchgower 13 year (2005/2018) 55.1%

  • Nose – Coffee beans, toast and toffee, berries
  • Palate – Oak, a bit of spice, fruity jam and then the most fabulous toast, butter and kaya
  • Finish – Had a nice kick, salted nuts, creamy and delicious

Don’t laugh but I couldn’t help but define this whisky in my mind as a particularly yummy kaya toast – crisp perfectly dark golden toast, slathered in butter with that distinctive kaya coconut milk eggs and sugar combined to make an exceedingly tasty jam.

My sampling companion may be Singapore based but it seems this favourite SE Asian breakfast hasn’t made it into his culinary repertoire. Whereas for the young lady serving the whiskies? She immediately got the reference and completely agreed.

That is half the fun of sampling in Asia. Palate parallels are completely apt yet entirely different than what would find in Scotland.

As for this whisky, all through the next masterclass, I kept think of kaya toast whisky with a lovely nutty nougat finish…. so much so that I found myself at the whisky store, perusing the shelves to see if they still had a bottle remaining.

This whisky is part of their Connoisseurs Choice range matured in refill sherry hogshead. As for what it would set you back? At La Maison du Whisky in Singapore, that would be SGD 200.

And obviously, you can tell, this is the whisky that has made its way back to Bombay.

What do the folks at Gordon & Macphail have to say about this whisky?

  • Nose – Delicate Sherry aromas accompanied by floral violets and zesty Seville orange. Undertones of toasted malt evolve with subtle hints of butter candies and toffee. 
  • Taste – Honeyed summer berries made into a tangy strawberry and raspberry jam develop into a slightly drying oak. With time, flavours of creamy hazelnuts and silky dark chocolate emerge. 
  • Finish – Long and lingering fruit and nut chocolate.

Other whiskies sampled at the Gordon & MacPhail booth, Whisky Live 2018:

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Gordon and MacPhail’s Miltonduff 10 year 43%

At Whisky Live 2018 in Singapore, the Gordon & MacPhail booth is a great opportunity to sample fine whiskies and then pic the select one that might just make it home to Mumbai.

This colourful case flags that the Miltonduff is part of Gordon & Macphail’s new Discovery range – intended to explore the distinctive styles of sherry, peat and bourbon. In this case – it is a sherry cask.

My first brush with Miltonduff was part of the Ballentine’s 17 year old special box set featuring different component distilleries. This was followed by a Single Cask 21 year old.

So it was a pleasure to have a chance to try a different avatar in a teasing fleeting taste…

Miltonduff 10 year (2018) 43%

  • Nose – A delightful dry sherry
  • Palate – Stewed raisins and fruit cake
  • Finish – A lovely citrus orange finish

I wish I’d had more time and opportunity to enjoy… However that wee nip was enough to know I would welcome an opportunity to try it again in a proper setting…

And what would this set you back? At La Maison du Whisky in Singapore, SGD 150.

What do the folks at Gordon & Macphail have to say about this whisky?

  • Aroma – Chocolate and sticky orange marmalade transforms into juicy plump stewed raisins and sweet baked apple, freshly cut grass notes delicately balance the rich sherry influences.
  • Taste – Sweet and spicy: comforting butter candies weave with roasted hazelnut followed closely by orange zest, cinnamon, and mouth-warming pepper maturing into plum and fig jam. 
  • Finish – Long with highlights of chocolate and stewed fruit finishing with lingering winter spices.

Gordon & MacPhail at Whisky Live 2018

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