Ardmore Peat 8 year (June 2008 / Oct 2016) 58.7% 1 of 198 bottles
Nose – PEAT, oily, sulfer, soapy, capsules… like walking into a doctor’s or chemist shop, iodine, steam engine, musty… then started to shift character revealing waves and waves of cinnamon, plums, mosambi juice, dark juicy fruits, black cherry, cinnamon apple juice, sour cherries…. kept evolving shifting from fruits to a slightly oily soot, like sacred ash, then a bit lactic, old flowers like malas after a day or so… then dark chocolate… and yet another element revealing such a delicious BBQ honey bacon, lots of smoked meats, light tar… followed by coffee, creamy yoghurt… an absolutely unbelievable nose
Palate – Sweet roaring spice, lots of sweet peat, stewed chewy fruits, then sweet meats and BBQ. Has good body, lots of character, oodles of spice yet still beautifully balanced between all the elements.
Finish – Chocolate cinnamon with a slight orange zest with a “hold” that really stays… dry
Water – Brilliant with! Becomes so sweet, lovely honey bacon with a mandarin perfume twist on the nose, silky smooth with a lovely rolling cinnamon sweet on the palate and fantastic finish.
We began to speculate, while it clearly had peat, we thought it wasn’t an obvious Islay dram, yet still likely Scottish. It has a gentle peat quality, pronounced, firmly there but with a subtle hand.
Thinking about the cask, we wondered about french oak? Something that gives a good kick like the way the virgin oak does for Spice Tree.
Again we guessed cask strength and absolutely loved the way water gave it even more “something.”
One remarked that it was a bit “naughty” in the nicest possible way…
Could any of us pick out that it was Ardmore! Not a chance… and that too from a new independent bottler? Impossible.
This was an evening of discovery… starting with tasting completely blind a mystery malt… which turned out to be a 20 year Glenrothes from North Star’s Cask Series 001…
Glenrothes 20 year (Oct 1996/Oct 2016) 54.6% 1 of 198 bottles, Refill sherry
Colour – Yellow gold
Nose – Light varnish, heavy honey, citrus lemon, then marmalade, apricot, like breakfast cereal, sense of being very “full”, dry fruits, creme rum and raisin, sense of high alcohol, creamy toffee, chocolate chips, shifting into a curl of tobacco, black ‘bara’ elichi. After time it shifted into molasses and powdered icing sugar with sweet spices
Palate – An explosion of flavour. Salty caramel, completely matches the nose with force… sharp then diffuses into fruity deliciousness. The 2nd sip was much spicier with a creamy quality. And the 3rd revealed tobacco, tannic and dry… then shifted into a sweet perfume palate. Simply “yum!”
Finish – Bitter with a ‘khatta‘ sourness like tart apples, initially seemed short, then we realized it is quite the opposite – a lovely long finish with hazelnut pepper and red fruits
Water – Kicked up the spice – particularly on the finish, changed and holds. Normally we find water can initially notch up the spice, then mellows. In this case, it remains – lots of peppers, really holds its own with water, reveals a lovely mocha coffee
We joked that it “Tastes delicious on the nose!” like walking into a cookie store! It really teases, from sweetness to bitter with a beautiful balance. Another thought it would make a great “cigar” malt….
We speculated it must have a high alcohol content – likely cask strength, definitely Scottish, well constructed though we thought perhaps it may not be very old – perhaps 8 – 12 years? We really appreciated its fabulously long finish.
We also observed it had a terrific synch between its aromas and palate – both delicious and mirroring their notes.
The reveal was such a surprise. None of us would have guessed it could be 20 years. Some remarked their mixed experience with Glenrothes, finding it sometimes over-priced for what it delivers.
July brings monsoon rains, vacations and often a slightly slower pace of life… and yet this month still had a rather admirable set of whisky tasting experiences. And even though technically only 1 of our 3 Mumbai whisky tasting groups “officially” met, somehow gatherings over a dram still happened… read on…
To kick off our trio personally selected by The Whisky Exchange’s owner Sukhinder Singh for our Whisky Ladies of Mumbai as affordable, quality whiskies, each representative of their distillery’s style.
Glen Moray is not on most of our merry Mumbai malters top hits list… in part as they tend towards affordable NAS whiskies with finishes… It also isn’t so often you will come across a cask strength avatar either… so we were primed to dive in and discover!
And were rewarded by a rather marvellous most enjoyable malt.
Glen Moray 8 years 57.8% 251 Bottles
What did the ladies think?
Nose – Is that bubblegum? Loads of pear, even that hybrid apple snow pear, the perfume of flowers, vanilla, lavender, crisp and crunchy apples, then shifts into baked apple pie and ice cream
Palate – 1st sip at cask strength was fire and heat. The it shifted into cinnamon and chilli… with water it was transformed into a yummy baked delight, pure desert
Finish – A delicious fresh fennel or pastise element, then lightly bitter with a citrus twist
Water – An absolute must for this dram. All the spice morphs into a very tasty, fruity, honeyed whisky, soft and gentle, smooth and inviting with just the right balance of fruit, flowers, a light touch of sweet spices
Overall we loved it. With water it took us to our “happy place”, nice and relaxing. Something to sit, sip, enjoy with friends or solo. An eminently approachable and enjoyable whisky.
Here is what Billy Abbott at The Whisky Exchange had to say:
Nose: Candied lemon peel and lemon jelly are backed up by biscuity grain, soft spice and vanilla cream.
Palate: Lemon zest, vanilla toffee and butterscotch to start, with citrus building on the tongue. Lemon sherbet sparkles before darker notes of chocolate and liquorice roll in, along with clove and dark spice notes.
Finish: Dark and spicy, slowly lifting to reveal dried lemon peel and freshly milled malt.
Comment: Youthful and zesty, with an excellent balance of spirit and cask character.
Did we agree? Overall yes. What we unanimously agreed is this was one fine dram, most enjoyable.
So what made this session distinctive? This time our selection had a decidedly independent bent, all purchased through The Whisky Exchange in June 2017, personally recommended by Sukhinder Singh as affordable quality drams:
Glen Moray 8 year 57.8% 251 Bottles (SMSW)
Arran 14 year (16 Dec 2000/7 Aug 2015) Barrel 2000/1106 Bottle 185/197 55.5% (TWE)
Ledaig 12 year (5 Feb 2004/29 Aug 2016) Cask 1030, 327 Bottles 58.1% (SMSW)
What did the ladies think? Read on over the next few days…
There is something so fabulous about being truly surprised.
Which is why our original Mumbai tasting group keeps to its habit of tasting blind. Sometimes we reveal each whisky immediately after tasting, other times we wait until we have sampled all three whiskies.
In this case, it was after tasting all three drams and what a reveal! Why?
As it introduced North Star Spirits, a new independent bottler based in Glasgow. Starting in just 2016, we understand it is a “one man” operation by Iain Croucher, earlier part of A.D. Ratraay group.
Interestingly, he has a distribution relationship in Germany with Sansibar – which is another independent bottler that caught my attention recently for its ability to spot good casks for relatively reasonable rates.
My photos do not do justice to their packaging which is …
What did we sample?
North Star’s Cask Series 001 – Glenrothes 20 year (Oct 1996/Oct 2016) 54.6% 1 of 252 bottles
North Star’s Cask Series 001 – Ardmore Peat 8 year (June 2008 / Oct 2016) 57.1% 1 of 198 bottles
North Star’s Cask Series 002 – Islay 8 year (June 2008 / May 2017) 58.3% 1 of 230 bottles
Unfortunately North Star bottles have already captivated attention that it is best to pre-order online as they seem to be snapped up quickly!
You can also find even more Whisky bits ‘n bobs on:
There are an increasing number of independent bottlers putting out single malts with the distilleries kept deliberately undisclosed. In this case, the bottle was part of Chieftain’s Choice, from Ian Macleod, which tend towards rare whiskies – be it the distillery such as ones that are now closed, age or something specific that makes it unique.
Chieftain’s Choice 22 years (1993/2015) 1st Fill Sherry Cask No 3612 52.7%, 579 Bottles
Colour – Bright ruby
Nose – Pure sherry bomb – in every way. Press hard and the different dimensions of prunes, raisins, bitter, rum soaked tart, stewed brandied fruit, then even sweet almond milk is revealed.
Palate – Honey sweet with spice then pure sweet with some tannic woods – again perfect sherry balance
Finish – Exceedingly sweet
We pronounced it “Pure desert!” And while it reminded us a bit of a Glendronach, that is pure speculation and we could be off completely.
What do we know for certain beyond it being matured in a 1st fill sherry cask? Only that it is from Speyside… and it is an exceptionally good example of an unadulterated sherry cask.
If ever anyone is able to share more, we would be most curious to know!