Getting started – Royal Brackla vs Tamdhu

It felt a bit like putting on ‘training wheels’… getting back into the spirit of tasting spirits with a small selection from a Drinks by the Drams Single Cask Whisky Advent Calendar.

We chose our first ‘double header’ with two single casks from independent bottlers:

  • Royal Brackla 11 year (2006) cask 310864 60.9% (The Single Cask)
  • Tamdhu 11 year (2007) cask 6833 61.9% (Lady of the Glen – Hannah Whisky Merchants)

Royal Brackla 11 year (2006) cask 310864 60.9% (The Single Cask) 285 bottles

  • Nose – Apple core, pear, loads of orchard fruits, Johannisbeer (red currents) or sour cherries… then it started to evolve from fresh fruits to dry fruits with raisins
  • Palate – Initially quite a shock to the system – hot and quite a punch of alcohol! Then we started to adjust… with the spice comes some of the fruit promises on the nose, however still masked by the cask strength
  • Finish – Nice! A bit bitter, some tobacco leaf with a lovely teasing spice

This was my 1st pick of the evening. In retrospect, we perhaps should have ‘eased’ into tasting with a ‘palate calibrating’ lighter 43 – 46% whisky. However, instead, we plunged into the ‘deep end’ going straight to full cask strength at 60.9%!

This is why we quickly switched to adding a few drops of water – transformative!

  • Nose – So delightfully aromatic! From fruits to toffee, a hint of wood then a green leaf, fresh and fabulous! Then back to fruity desserts with a generous dollop of rich cream
  • Palate – Delicious! So much fuller, bursting with fruits and cream, indulgent and just a wee bit voluptuous, sweeter, brighter

Definitely have this one with water – it opens it up beautifully! With a splash, the whisky revealed its classic character, well constructed with all elements in harmony. We concluded this is a lovely summer dram

What more do we know? It is an ex-bourbon American oak single cask bottle by The Single Cask. I’m not sure if you can still snag a bottle however once upon a time, it was available for  GBP 85 and here is what they have to say:

  • Nose: Fruit and barley springs from your glass, followed by musty oak green ferns dusted with white pepper.
  • Palate: A soothing balm of oak and spice that’s both rich and sweet with rock sugar, green tea and white wine.
  • Finish: A mellow and long finish where that rock sugar and white wine lingers alongside some dusky oak. 

We then shifted gears to something completely different with the Tamdhu.

Tamdhu 11 year (2007) cask 6833 61.9% (Lady of the Glen – Hannah Whisky Merchants) 60 bottles

  • Nose – Oh my! Very metallic, stainless steel, wet granite, then quite vegetal, cabbage, then began to open up more – with some sweetness seeming into the mix. Primary notes remained metallic and mineral joined also by light saline… as it continued to air, became chocolaty with salted pralines, some nuts
  • Palate– Quite thick, wood and leather, tobacco leaf, mild sweetness, solid character of chocolaty toffee
  • Finish – Very mild, a hint of bitter
  • Water – DON’T! We found it needs the full cask strength to better show off its character, particularly loses out on the palate with water – just became harsh with spice and little else

What a contrast to the Royal Brackla! While our first was a summer dram, the Tamdhu was pure autumn. We found it very smooth and not at all sharp – deceptive at such a high cask strength. There is also an almost marine quality –  unexpected for a landlocked distillery like Knockando.

Along with it being more of a fall dram, we also thought it better suited to ‘bad weather’ dram – something to enjoy coming in from miserable wet, cool conditions. While not something exceptional, it was a whisky we put in the category of: ‘interesting to try once, not one to run out and buy’.

What more do we know? The folks at Lady of the Glen kindly keep an archive of older bottles here and have this to say:

This single malt whisky was distilled on the 24th of September 2007 and bottled on the 10th of April 2019. 50 litres were taken from Bourbon Hogshead cask #6833 to be finished in an intense Pedro Ximenez sherry octave #6833A for 3 months. This is the second and final batch of this particular release. A unique whisky, as only 60 bottles were yielded from this octave.

Our Pedro Ximenez octaves are sourced from a family-owned bodgega near Porto in Portugal. Pedro Ximenez is a very intense sweet, dark sherry. Octaves are small 50 litre oak casks that provide great levels of oak to spirit contact.

On the palate, expect flavours of hazelnut, dark toffee and butterscotch.

What an interesting start to our tasting evening. We took a break for a terrific dinner at Estragon… and returned to check out two pairs of grains and Islay drams.

If you don’t want to miss a post, why not follow Whisky Lady on:

Bonus Glentauchers 2005 43%

Ding dong! Delivery time! This time a trio of Chorlton’s from the Netherland’s Whisky.base… as I unpacked the box, this little mini came tumbling out…

Now a bonus miniature is a kind gesture… however when it is from the fabulously reliable Gordon & Macphail indie bottler and just so happens to be a distillery – Glentauchers – that tends to produce balanced, lightly fruity drams in a “classic” Speyside style…. well this is indeed a welcome gift!

What exactly did they send?

Glentauchers 13/14 year (2005 / 13 Mar 2019) 43% (Gordon & Macphail)

  • Colour – Pale straw
  • Nose – Syrupy, fruity, a bit of caramel, vanilla… then it opened into a fruit basket – ripe pears, a hint of fresh mint, a squirt of citrus
  • Palate – Hmmm….. kumquats, then is that a hint of smoke? It has a nice bitter quality, woodsy spice, and oily, with some of the fruits on the nose adding just a dash of sweetness on the palate
  • Finish – Dry, a bit bitter, more of that curious smoke, surprisingly has a mineral element too

Overall it was a pleasant dram – my description doesn’t really do it justice – in part as I’m still a bit hampered by the post-COVID impact on my sense of smell.

This 2005 Glentauchers was quite reasonably priced at Eur 62.50 – at least here in Europe.

Curious about other brushes with Glentauchers? Check out a few of our tasting experiences over the years:

If you don’t want to miss a post, why not follow Whisky Lady on:

Chorlton’s marvelous Mannochmore 13 years 59%

There we were, one fine summer evening… back from a day of catching great music at Nurnberg’s Bardentreffen festival. As the sun set, it was still clearly a gin & tonic kind of evening… however as my companions are also fellow whisky aficionados we simply could not call it a night without a wee nip! Nicely poised on the “top shelf’, this beautiful Mannochmore beckoned… simply too enticing to resist.

This is the 2nd Mannochmore I’ve tried from the Chorlton La Nouvelle Vague series. I missed being able to purchase it when first released in the UK and was exceedingly thankful a few eventually made their way to The Netherland’s Whisky.Base, enabling me to have it directly to Deutschland.

As for the whisky…. read on…

Mannochmore 13 year 59% 162 bottles

  • Nose – Mmmmm fruits! pears, plums shifting into dried fruit… like trail mix with coconut flakes, raisins, nuts and more… then shifted further into banoffee, vanilla, creamy… then a tropical delight with pineapple, caramel, raisins – think a rich pineapple upside down cake… further evolved into lemon curd, waxy, shortbread, honey sweetness… with a hint of amaretto…
  • Palate – Oh my! Very clear its higher proof, intense and flavourful with a nice spice kick, think banana bread that is generous with nuts, toffee
  • Finish – The slightly bitter nutty element carries through – almond or roasted hazelnuts – or perhaps something more like chikki – a kind of Indian peanut brittle

I expected another delightful summery dram… it delivered that and more! It is one of those fruity sunshine whiskies… however, at full cask strength, it is intense and powerful on the palate. But wow! That nose – so delicious and intoxicating! Just makes you come back over and over and over for a blissful whiff!

Curious, we added a few drops of water…. on the nose it simply made it sweeter and fruitier with a citrus twist – made me think of lemon meringue pie. While on the palate, it smoothed out the intensity while retaining the voluptuous fruity element chased by sweet spices. And with that yummy sweet and salty nutty finish? Put simply, this is a summer dram that invites you to simply slow down, savor and enjoy.

Above all – that nose! Better than perfume… even after the last sip, the aromas in the glass were so sweetly fragrant. Such a treat!

What did David have to say? Here is what he shared in his release email:

So, the first new bottling is this 13-year-old Mannochmore. The cask yield for this was a bit of a disaster (about 100 fewer bottles than I’d expected, probably due to a slow undetected leak…).

On the nose: lemon syrup, limoncello, lemongrass (there’s a theme emerging!) plus orange barley sugar and a little honey. I also find some spearmint chews, and a touch of minerality and something a little bit beery (or maybe pet nat yeastiness for the hipster crowd!).

The palate has a rich, almost syrupy/waxy texture, with tons of clean, sweet lemon, menthol, and balanced by some butterscotch and millionaire’s shortbread. The finish is clean, citrussy (surprise!), slightly salty and honeyed. I wrote “awesome” in my tasting notes which is not something I am typically wont to do.

This is an impeccable whisky for the spring/summer. Wonderfully textured spirit given a good dollop of sweetness from an active cask. I think we’ll all be talking more about Mannochmore in the future.

I purchased it in June 2022 from Whisky.base for EUR 96 plus shipping. (originally £78.50).

Here are a few more from La Nouvelle Vague series:

Here is the full set of Chorlton‘s sampled til date from the L’Ancien Régime series:

With more coming up soon (I hope!)….

If you don’t want to miss a post, why not follow Whisky Lady on:

When anticipation and experience differ – Glenburgie 8 year 46%

You know when you are highly anticipating a treat? And then the experience falls short?

I’ve been partial to Glenburgie, appreciating the classic quality, the pears, yum! Like many distilleries making whisky primarily for blends, you can primarily find it from independent bottlers – particularly Gordon & Macphail.

So when I spotted this young Glenburgie in Edinburgh from Hunter Laing Hepburn’s Choice in August 2020, it was an easy decision to pick up this 200ml bottle – even if it was rather pricey. I wasn’t worried 8 years would be too young, reinforced by the most enjoyable TBWC 8 year! Then it sat quietly for a couple years.

Fast forward to May 2022 with visits from a few fellow whisky aficionados and it seemed the right moment. So out came this wee bottle, ready to be explored!

It took very little time to determine this was quite different from what I’d thought to find…

Glenburgie 8 year (2007) 46% (Hepburn’s Choice)

  • Colour – Light straw
  • Nose – Freshly opened it had an almost rubber element, almost like cod liver oil, sour, apple mash, young, hay or straw, cardamon….
  • Palate – Initially a bit rough… Then became a bit nutty – mostly hazelnuts, curious, waxy, a bit of a burn, but was growing on us

Not the elegant sophisticated Glenburgies I’ve come to expect… If anything, it reminded me a bit of Talisker…

Until we added water… what a difference!

At 46%, it was a bit harsh and imbalanced. Nothing like previous whiskies from Glenburgie. With water, I could finally find some elements I’d come to associate with the distillery, yet still quite different too.

  • Nose – Watermelon, cherries, raspberry, fruity, scones, honey
  • Palate – Don’t laugh – it reminds me a bit of creamed corn! Mellower and malty

I could see it working well with others but as a single cask on its own? Didn’t even come close to meeting expectations though with water was quite a decent dram.

So what about these earlier experiences with Glenburgie I keep mentioning? Well here are a few:

I still have 2 more Glenburgie bottles ready for another opportunity!

  • 14 year (2004/2019) 43% (G&MP Discovery)
  • 21 year 43% (G&M)

If you don’t want to miss a post, why not follow Whisky Lady on:

Additionally, there are two ‘off-shoots’ with:

The Whisky Warehouse No. 8 – Miltonduff 11 year vs 14 years

A year ago I ordered two “Regions” sets from Whisky Warehouse No 8 with the intention to enjoy together at some point… then we decided to include another friend and I went to order a 3rd set… alas not all of the original whiskies were the same! We both had the Speyside region represented by Miltonduff however they couldn’t be more contrasting!

My friends sampled the Miltonduff 11 years (8 Feb 1995 – 30 Oct 2015) Bourbon Hogshead 59.5% 363 Bottles…

Whereas the new set included the Miltonduff 14 year (Jun 2007 – July 2021) WW8 76 1st Fill Px Sherry Octave 50.4% (76 bottles).

Gotta admit, I think I hit the jackpot on this one – the PX Sherry was fabulous whereas my friends were not quite so enthusiastic about their ex-Bourbon Hogshead. What did I find?

  • Colour – Dark amber
  • Nose – Stewed apples with cinnamon and brown sugar, ginger and toffee, roofsa (rose), sweetly sour.. incredibly inviting
  • Palate – Wow! What an intense burst of flavours! All you would expect from a great sherry matured whisky – full-bodied, dark fruits and berries, chocolate, salty toffee… ginger marmalade… all swirling around in an indulgent smooth dram
  • Finish – And what a finish! Fabulous… simply fabulous…

I thoroughly enjoyed this one. It had that satisfying “proper” classic whisky quality. This is the kind of dram you’d love to curl up with on a quiet evening after coming in from the cold.

What did my friends find with theirs?

Miltonduff 11 years (8 Feb 1995 – 30 Oct 2015) Bourbon Hogshead 59.5% 363 Bottles

  • Nose – Vegetal, wood varnish, seaside, yeast, raw sourdough, a hint of smoke
  • Palate – A bit spicy, malty, doughy,
  • Finish – Also a bit spicy

My friends found the aromas a bit underwhelming however enjoyed the palate more. As I read the Tasting Notes from WW8, they didn’t disagree.

Miltonduff 11 years (8 Feb 1995 – 30 Oct 2015) Bourbon Hogshead 59.5%

With this whiskey you probably look at the label and rub your eyes in amazement. Because from a Bourbon barrel maturation one normally expects a much leaner, less voluminous whiskey than this Miltonduff, which is not stingy with its charms. In a blind tasting, it would probably have passed as a wine-barrel-aged whiskey due to its fruity notes and the pastry / biscuit relationship.
  • Odor: Ripe fruity, almost creamy and a bit nutty, freshly baked sponge cake that still looks a bit doughy, grainy, and vanilla-like, there is even a trace of smoke in the background.
  • Taste: Again fruity and doughy biscuit, grainy. But now there are also spicy notes such as orange pepper, a little cardamom and a hint of sweet licorice, wood aromas from ripening are still cautious. With dilution, more nutty aromas appear again.
  • Aftertaste: It is mainly the spicy notes that come to the fore in the aftertaste and now there is also a maltiness that was previously hidden.

What else did we have in our WW8 Regions set:

If you don’t want to miss a post, why not follow Whisky Lady on:

GlenAllachie Whisky Tasting with Juliette and Richard

There it was… a slightly dull grey December day in Nurnberg… a busy working week that was happily interrupted by a small commitment – an online tasting with many other Germany based enthusiasts with a breath of “virtual” Scottish air with Richard Beattie, Operation Director and Juliette Buchan of GlenAllachie.

The quintet was all lined up – including one specially bottled for Germany:

  • GlenAllachie 12 year 46%
  • GlenAllachie 15 year 46%
  • GlenAllachie 11 year Madeira Barrique Cask bottled for whic.de 60.7%
  • GlenAllachie 12 year French Virgin Oak 48%
  • GlenAllachie 12 year Marsala Wood Finish 48%

Richard kicked off our evening with two from their core range… deliberately postponing the French Oak until Juliette could join – delayed slightly by COVID travel complications.

So we poured our first glass and our tasting began…

GlenAllachie 12 year 46%

  • Colour – Deep mahogany
  • Nose – Butterscotch, honey raisin, really heavy mocha, nutty – mostly almonds,
  • Palate – Vanilla chocolate, fruits and caramel, heavy with dark chocolate and orange
  • Finish – Carried through
  • Water – Lightened and brightened the dram – brought out some delightful notes and the palate softened into an indulgent chocolate christmasy ginger snap treat

Overall I found the 12 year really quite rich and robust – with an intensity that mellowed slightly with a generous dash of water.

As we tasted, Richard regaled us with tales of Billy Walker taking over the distillery from Pernod Ricard in 2017. His desire to slow things down, approach to “listening” to what the casks say to him before deciding what to do next… often moving the golden liquid around 3 or 4 times to achieve the desired effect.


GlenAllachie 15 year 46%

  • Colour – Also mahogany, just a hint lighter than the 12 year
  • Nose – A lovely light caramel and sweet toffee, subtle spices, ripe raisins, chocolate milk and brownies, fruits – particularly cherries and plums
  • Palate – Much more powerful than anticipated from the aromas. Full bodied and fabulous! Tropical fruits, mocha and orange peel…. Toffifee with butterscotch, noughat and hazelnuts, silky smooth
  • Finish – Gorgeous finish with vanilla oak
  • Water – Narry a temptation to add even one drop!

Much more subtle and elegant than the 12 year. Less fire more warmth… simply a delight on the nose and far too easy to sip.

We set it aside and when I came back to revisit – Wow! This really is a lovely dram… something to slow down and simply enjoy.


After such a class act, our hosts shifted gears significantly and plunged straight into a full cask strength Madeira finish. This was selected by the Whic.de folks after an earlier Madeira cask experience… what did we discover with this one?

GlenAllachie 11 year (2009/2021) Madeira Barrique Cask No. 7654 60.7%, bottled for whic.de 

  • Nose – Curious… and most certainly a significant shift from the 15 year, the Madeira influence was quite clear
  • Palate – Peppery spice, robust with rich wine influence, punchy, heavy and not in the least bit shy
  • Finish Noughat with a hint of fruit
  • Water – For me, an absolute must with this whisky. I found it really opened up the dram, with juicy fruits coming forward

It was described as a hot vacation in a glass – bringing the southern European island character to the fore. Not at all subtle with really strong influence of the Madeira but once you made the adjustment, quite something.

As a sign of the times, distillery tours aren’t possible so the good folks at GlenAllachie put together quite a terrific video which gives a real sense of the team behind the whiskies and their approach.


We continued on with one of GlenAllachie’s “Virgin Oak” expressions – in this case as a nod to Juliette’s French origins, we tasted the French Oak.

GlenAllachie 12 year French Virgin Oak 48%

  • Nose – Fresh cut wood, generous heaps of honey, organ blossoms, peach jam
  • Palate – Juicy, generous honey, butterscotch, hints of mocha and cinnamon with a citrus twist with sweet wood, complex and delicious
  • Finish – Long, with a nice woody bitterness chase by red chilli that added quite a nice element
  • Water – No need

Compared with the standard 12 year, the French Oak was considerably more nuanced, all the more entrancing for its restraint. We found it most enjoyable and the honeyed sweetness kept drawing me back.

Juliette shared this whisky first matured in ex-bourbon casks before spending approx 18 months in “Chinkapin” Quercus Robur hogsheads sourced from the Haute-Garonne region close to the Pyrenees.

Juliette explained the other two – Spanish and American virgin oak casks – were quite representative of the character of the different countries from which the virgin oak barrels were sourced.


Our final dram was one of their wood finish series – with a 12 year (rather than 13) which is available exclusively in Germany.

GlenAllachie 12 year Marsala Wood Finish 48%

  • Nose – Subtle honey, stewed apples, cinnamon and cream
  • Palate – Simply fabulous on the palate, very juicy, bursting with orchard fruits like pears and apples chased by more honey
  • Finish – Light yet lovely and long
  • Water – Again, no need

I will fully admit, I fell for the experience – hook, line and sinker! Ordering immediately a quartet for an indeterminate future date…Who knows when that will be! However I might shift the tasting order a wee bit… Perhaps starting with the elegant French Oak, then play with the Marsala Wood finish followed by the refined 15 year and powerful 12 year.

Overall, it was a terrific distraction and I was most grateful the tasting was held in English so that I could partake!

You can also find Whisky Lady in India on:

Dynamic Duo 3 – SMWS Glenlossie 21 year vs Glenfarclas 21 year

For our last “pairing”, our guide selected two from the Scotch Malt Whisky Society – both 21 year and both cask strength. The idea this time was to play with different finishes – red wine vs PX sherry. Without further adieu – what did we think?

Scotch Malt Whisky Society 46.74 “Orchard perambulations” 21 year (18 September 1997) 54.4%

  • Nose – Mmm…. red currents and strawberries, a nice jammy mash, sour citrus cherries, wood, cinnamon, light liquorice, fresh cut bamboo, coconut and sweet hay
  • Palate – Intense flavours, tart enough to prompt puckering up, spice and berry burst, peat, very dry… as the aromas opened up the palate did too… revealing milky chocolate, creamy caramel… simply beautiful rolling around in your mouth
  • Finish – Long, subtle and really quite fabulous

Quite interesting, particularly as it opened up. One that is well worth trying with none of the tannins one sometimes finds with slightly ‘off notes’ in red wine cask matured whiskies. Instead just sit back, relax and enjoy the rather marvellous malty experience.

As for the folks at SMWS, what do they have to say?

Sweet warm fruits and creamy textures give way to darker fruit compotes, spices, nectars and wood resins. Previously in a bourbon hogshead.

What more do we know? As the label shares, it was matured in a 1st fill barrique / ex red wine with 245 bottles. Unlike some red wine matured whiskies… this one worked!

As for the distillery, it is an open secret that 46 = Glenlossie, in east Speyside. You won’t find official bottlings aside from a Diageo “Flora and Fauna” offering. In truth, it is actually two distilleries – Glenlossie and Mannochmore – a distillery we’ve increasingly started to appreciate more and more.

Scotch Malt Whisky Society 1.208 “Long Conversations by the crackling log fire” 21 year (5 March 1997) 54.3%

  • Nose – Mmmm… a lovely classic dry Sherry, robust, sweet, intense, a dash of spice with a nice nuttiness… fabulous
  • Palate – Just no comparison. Again – quite a marvel, sweet, tart, spice with a full burst of rich Sherry flavours – a proper sherry bomb! Well-rounded, rich, delicious, joined by orange marmalade with sweet spices of cloves, cinnamon
  • Finish – A peppery finish – specifically red cayenne or fresh paprika

The label shares that this whisky was matured in 1st fill hogshead / ex PX with 234 bottles.

What do the SMWS have to say?

Salted plums and cherry chilli liquorice, whilst diluted: tobacco and spiced oven dried orange cloves. previously in an ex-bourbon hogshead.

As for the distillery? Again it is relatively well known that the 1st SMWS distillery offering is none other than the family owned Glenfarclas.

This was the last of our “pairings” from our evening at The Union Jack before a complete indulgence!

If you don’t want to miss a post, why not follow Whisky Lady on:

Birthday Dram – Macallan Estate Reserve 45.7%

The Macallan is one of those venerable distilleries that has reached legendary status.

I was very kindly gifted this bottle for my 50th birthday – wow! It was carefully kept aside for nearly two years, waiting for the right occasion.

Finally back in Mumbai over the summer, I thought our Whisky Ladies 6th anniversary the perfect moment! I’m so proud this tasting group hasn’t fully fallen apart in the wake of COVID restrictions, limited travel and vastly changed circumstances for many.

We split the tasting into two parts:

  • One live in person with restricted numbers in an attempt to have a modicum of social distancing in our modest home
  • Another fully virtual with our Euro ladies in Paris and two in Mumbai on the waitlist plus myself back in Nuremberg

This meant I needed to open the bottle just prior to the session and to my horror – the cork crumbled!

To be honest, I’m surprised this doesn’t happen more with older bottles. In this case, with surgical care and precision, I eased out the biggest chunk, then went on a delicate fishing expedition for as much of the remaining bits as I could. Tip for others facing a similar challenge – a lobster fork is a great tool for such a scenario!

I was a bit trepidatious the whisky may have suffered… thankfully it seems to have survived what could have been a disaster!

The Macallan Estate Reserve 45.7%

  • Colour – Dark copper
  • Nose – A complete sherry bomb! Very rich and intense… amusingly we found cherry cola! Followed by prunes, wood, a hint smokey
  • Palate – Spice with attitude, rich dark woods, tannins, the kind of whisky that prompts you to ‘pucker up’, like a dry deep robust shiraz, black currents, followed by rich sweet spiced marmalade
  • Finish – Spicy raisins, cloves and ginger – delicious!

As we sipped, one of our lovely ladies recalled her time at the distillery – before COVID. She described its remarkable facilities and the whole curated “experience” – very professional and on a completely different scale. They know they are leading the pack of the “big leagues” and this exceptional bottle was no accident.

And what about our second session a month later? Each of us sipped from small samples that had been bottled up in August.

  • Nose – We found none of the earlier intensity, though clearly it had a strong sherry influence. Instead we found it slightly medicinal, sour cherry and salted banana commingling with prunes
  • Palate – Mild… one comment was “like it is trying to be elegant but isn’t quite there”, a bit herbal, metallic, opening up more to soft dark fruits, becoming a bit chocolaty
  • Finish – Initially it was a bit shy, then revealed coffee beans – like an espresso candy

There was a bit of division on this one – some liked, others were indifferent, more for the style than the whisky itself. It wasn’t one of those strident “pay attention” to me kind of whiskies. Instead there was an understated element… we also wondered if perhaps we erred having it follow the robust Glenrothes.

After our session, I had a break from our whiskies (German class!)… 1.5 hours later what did I find? Remember that “trying to be elegant” comment? It had indeed become elegant, perfectly poised and balanced. Leading me to conclude this is one best had where there is no distraction, simply a single focus on just this whisky.

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

  • Colour – Dark Amber
  • Nose – Soft fruits, ginger, vanilla, fudge and citrus
  • Palate – Rich and fruity with intense oak wood and spiced orange
  • Finish – Long with sweet citrus and oak wood

If you also want to enjoy this remarkable dram, I found it is still available – at least on TWE for GBP 399. I was very blessed to have been gifted it in November 2019 and we opened it in August 2021.

What else did we enjoy in our Birthday / Anniversary celebrations?

Unbelievably, both evenings were anchored with GBP 400 whiskies?! For the Whisky Ladies, this gem and for the Gents, the TWE Speyside Blended 45 year.

Now, I’m very much the kind of whisky explorer who enjoys tracking down worthy yet affordable drams. Typically I won’t go above EUR 100 if I can help it! However it is such a treat to experience exceptional whiskies well beyond our normal budgets – so huge thank you to kind benefactor and combined purchasing power respectively!

From time to time, you can also find other whisky related updates and activities on:

Birthday Dram – Speyside 45 year 45.1%

Our “Birthday Dram” evenings were primarily prompted by this bottle… Which a fellow whisky aficionado and I were lucky enough to sample in London last year with Sukhinder Singh.

Released at Whisky Show 2019 by The Whisky Exchange, it was matured in a single sherry butt for 45 years before being bottled in 2019 with a dash of another Speyside distillery so it could be released as a blend of 549 bottles.

At the time, we were struck by how it was both fruity and rich without being heavy. We found it simply delicious! An autumnal dram, the kind of mature, classic, complex whisky you imagine slowly sipping and savouring while sitting in a leather armchair of an old family library, full of dusty books, a thick carpet, relaxing in warmth from the fireplace…

We thought it worthy of our friend and whisky expert who has been brand ambassador in India to top Scottish distilleries.

TWE’s Speyside 45 year (1973 / 2019) Sherry Cask 45.1%

  • Colour – Rich amber
  • Nose – Treacle, sweet wood, generous maple syrup, boiled sweets… quite a kaleidoscope of aromas, from dried fruits to cherries, sweet spices of cinnamon to oak and something hinting of the forest
  • Palate – At first quite unusual – green leaves, sap, a hint of acetone, young wood, then it was like pushing through a top layer to discover something quite meaty and remarkable below… tobacco leaf, toast, raisin butter tart
  • Finish – Quite sweet

Overall we found this whisky is quite complex. However it wasn’t ‘classic’ in style, instead it had a unique combination of elements we don’t often find. Certainly we didn’t see this as a typical Glenfarclas or the unnamed other Speyside in the blend.

However as it kept shifting and evolving in our glass, I strongly suspect this is the kind of whisky that won’t be harmed by a bit of oxidation. In fact may actually be even more interesting as time passes – hence the perfect gift for our friend who can slowly, carefully, share with select folks a special dram or two!

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

Aromas of brown sugar and fruitcake open on the nose, followed by brown bread with butter, maraschino cherries, raisins, cinnamon-baked apples, dried mango and rich, earthy aromas. The palate offers notes of toasted oak, baked apples, sultanas, bitter char, soft spice and light fruitcake.

Billy Abbott from The Whisky Exchange has this to add:

  • Nose: Brown sugar and light fruitcake lead: Mr Kipling’s Country Slices with a side-order of brown bread and butter. Darker, savoury notes slowly build, with char and singed raisins balanced by rich earthiness and old-Cognac rancio. Fruit sits at the core: maraschino cherries, plump raisins, baked apples, wine-poached pears and a hint of dried mango.
  • Palate: Venerable but fresh – old oak is poised against sweet baked apples; sultanans balance bitter char. Soft spice builds across the palate: brown sugar and nutmeg lead to the fruit from the nose. The fruitcake is back and remains light, sprinkled with crunchy crystals of sugar. Thick damp oak and fragrant riverbank earthiness provide a backbone.
  • Finish: Brown sugar lingers, accompanied by char and a parade of fruit: apples, sultanas and, finally, sticky raisins.

Now this is one that would set you back a pretty penny or two or three! Obviously we purchased it through The Whisky Exchange – currently available for GBP 425. This bottle was opened in August 2021 in Mumbai on a special belated birthday evening for a fellow whisky traveller’s 60th birthday.

What else did we try in our Birthday drams evening?

From time to time, you can also find other whisky related updates and activities on:

Birthday Drams – The Glenrothes Elders’ Reserve 18 year 43%

Many years ago I sampled a bottle of Glenrothes. I found it a rich, robust, heavy sherry whisky… not a daily dram but something for a special evening. Think oversized leather chairs, dusty library, glass in one hand with a cigar in the other accompanied by a roaring fire.

So when wandering through Singapore airport duty free in 2016, I spotted this Elders’ Reserve and picked it up… For years it quietly and patiently waited in the back of my whisky cabinet for the right occasion. In the meantime, our Mumbai tasting groups tried both of the other travel retail Glenrothes Reserve expressions from this set:

Recently I decided enough was enough – it was high time to revisit something from this distillery. What better excuse to open than an evening of belated birthday celebration with our Bombay Cigar & Malt gents! So what did we think?

The Elders’ Reserve 18 year 43% (official bottling)

  • Colour – Golden amber
  • Nose – Oh my! It comes across more like a robust ruby port than whisky! Followed by Christmas pudding, dates – more tart than sweet. Then it shifts into sweeter and sweeter notes with marmalade and ginger spice
  • Palate – Even more port-like… though now more a tawny port style, lots of tannins that cause one to pucker up, raisins, prunes, quite dry… as in incredibly dry on the palate! Coffee and wood, black pepper
  • Finish – The dryness carries though fully into the finish, chewy almost like tobacco leaf

Whilst we kept thinking of port, it wasn’t matured in a Port cask – instead American and Spanish oak casks – presumably ex-bourbon and ex-sherry respectively.

All in all, it has a ‘vintage’ feel like something that is a throwback to another time. Again, not an every day dram… instead this is a deep rich dram for an occasional indulgence. For some, it may even be “too much”… it all depends on palate and preference.

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

The Elders of the Kirk are the pillars of society. Highly respected and elected to represent the community, they are looked up to for their knowledge.

Spicy with notes of coffee, wood and polish, this expression shows levels of  complexity that can only be achieved by extended maturation. Matured for a minimum of 18 years in equal proportions of American Oak and Spanish Oak casks, it reflects the wisdom of the Elders of the community of Rothes.

  • Bouquet: Ripe, tropical mango, vanilla pods ginger and toffee apple
  • Palate: Sweet, creamy vanilla ice cream dusted with nutmeg, mixed dried citrus
  • Finish: Sweet vanilla and lingering oakiness

Tasting Elders’ Reserve is like waking to a dawn chorus but instead of a cacophony of bird song it offers flavours and lots of them. The first wave is followed by another and another. These collectively herald the complexity of this delicious dram. The overall result is a pleasing collection of wonderfully mature flavours apparently justifiably proud to be upholding the great name.

This bottle was opened in Mumbai, August 2021. As for where and how this bottle was acquired? It was from back in the days when I regularly commuted back and forth between Mumbai and Singapore… purchased in June 2016 from Changi Airport duty free for SGD 160.

The Whisky Ladies in Mumbai didn’t get a chance to try this one as it remained with our host. However I kept aside samples for our ladies in Paris and then pulled out an old North Star Glenrothes 20 year for the two Mumbai ladies who plan to join us remotely. That tasting experience awaits a date much later in September!

From time to time, you can also find other whisky related updates and activities on: