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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Whisky Live 2018 – Gordon and Macphail

At Whisky Live 2018 in Singapore, one booth I simply couldn’t miss was Gordon & Macphail – both on the main floor and the VIP room.

While I didn’t sample everything, I did manage to have a “speed date” with a few remarkable drams…

Gordon & MacPhail at Whisky Live 2018

While the Caol Ila was an absolute stunner, it was clearly well beyond my price range!

Of the balance, the one that both was in my price range and sufficiently different to prioritize for bringing its way back from Singapore to Mumbai was the Inchgower.

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BenRiach 12 year (2005/2018) Sherry Cask No 5052 59.3%

When planning my sherry unusual evening, I wanted there to be variety – hence Irish, Indian and Islay – yet also knew we needed at least one “proper” classic sherry dram.

Enter the BenRiach single cask, single malt bottled for World of Whisky, Heathrow Airport. Now lest you think this was standard travel retail fare, this cask was launched for World Whisky Day in May 2018 for a slightly pricey £120.

Matured in Olorosso Sherry, non-chill filtered with natural colour, we managed to nab bottle 292 of a mere 597… and discovered it was worth every single pound!

BenRiach 12 year (14 Oct 2005/2018) Cask No 5052 59.3% 

  • Nose – Milk caramel sweets, slight citrus hint, heavy toffee, rum raisins, chocolate eclairs…  started to shift into chocolate liquor, dark fruits, nuts… after quite some time there was almost a hint of blue cheese
  • Palate – Gorgeous! Simply a class act. Dark plums, black cherries, rich and simply outstanding. Lovely cinnamon, raisins, complex, so well balanced, every sip a reward.
  • Finish – Huge long flavour. Everything we loved about the palate simply carried through… for an incredibly long time… superb!

There was no doubt this was an exceptional single malt.

Not one of us were tempted to put even a single drop of water. Each sip we enjoyed more… and it kept evolving. By the 3rd we discovered cayenne, by the 4th chocolate, by the 5th the dark fruits again came to the fore… and the next dripping in honey… you get the picture!

This was one worthy whisky that invited you to slow down, take your time, savour each sip and be rewarded with the most marvellously long finish.

A brilliant reminder of what a quality sherry dram can and should be!

BenRiach tasting notes with the bottle:

  • Colour – Amber
  • Nose – Honeycomb, chocolate, honey covered dates
  • Taste – Rich dark chocolate and herbs, honey coated almonds and figs

Here are the whiskies explored in our Sherry Unusual evening:

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Sherry Unusual – Hyde, Paul John, Kilchoman, BenRiach

Sherry’s effect on whisky can be a marvel. And I wanted to do something a bit different for our Bombay Malt & Cigar gents to push the boundaries beyond the known sherry drams like Aberlour, GlenDronach, Glenrothes, etc.

Normally we dive straight into whiskies, knowing what we are trying. However I wanted to have a bit of fun with a surprise…. So kept my fellow tasters “blind.”

Next, I introduced a “reference” pour.

I said nothing about it – merely to smell (not sip) with a request between each whisky to go back to the “reference” to recalibrate senses and compare.

It didn’t take long til they realized the “reference” wasn’t whisky at all but instead a sherry… with speculation it may be a “cream” or sweetened avatar rather than a dry fino or amontillado.

I later revealed that it was a Kingsgate Canadian sherry from KittlingRidge Ontario, Canada  described on the bottle as:

“A premium medium dry sherry, barrel aged in oak for extra smoothness.”

However this Kingsgate is now known as Apera with an explanation that it is medium dry Oloroso sherry “style” dessert wine. This 2013 nod from to EU regulations recognizes that a “true” Sherry can only come from the Spanish triangle.

Which tells you this funny little bottle, inherited from a friend who was leaving India, has been around for a few years…

As for what we tried? Not quite your usual fare…

Here is the progression we explored with our Sherry Unusual evening with whiskies from Ireland, India and Islay…. plus an extra special single cask:

Hyde #6 President’s Reserve 8 year single grain + 18 year single malt 46%

From Ireland, picked as an appetizer, the bottle stated it was finished in Sherry. What made it unusual is that it is a new brand, released to help promote the Hyde name before their Hibernia distillery in Cork is fully producing.

Paul John 7 Year (2009) Oloroso Sherry Cask Finish 57.4%

This was the biggest surprise – none imaged it could be from India! We were mighty impressed with what the folks from Paul John produced with four years in ex Bourbon then 3 years in ex Sherry casks. It also opened up beautifully with a bit of water.

BenRiach 12 year (2005/2018) Oloroso Sherry Cask No 5052 59.3%

A true class act. Selected just to be sure we had at least ONE proper single malt in our evening. Gorgeous and astounding how at 59.2%, not a drop of water was desired.

Kilchoman Loch Gorm (2010/2016) Sherry 46%

A pure peat monster tempered with 100% sherry from Islay. Not everyone’s tipple but certainly demonstrated how peat and sweet can combine!

Just click on the whisky links to find out even more about what we discovered!

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Glen Deveron 20 year 40% matured in Sherry Oak

Last in our Sherry expressions evening was 20 year old whisky from Macduff distillery matured in Sherry Oak.

We first sampled it blind then our host revealed the whisky. Here is what we found…

Glen Deveron 20 year 40%

  • Nose – Initially whiff was pure jackfruit, then sour, lots of sulfur, a bit musty then it started to settle down revealing lots of tropical fruits – particularly pineapple, a bit more sourness in the background, but largely a sweet slightly overripe fruit basket, as it opened up further, it began evolving into a sourdough, almost plasticine element, then bubble gum and sugary cola
  • Palate – So soft and mild, like a vanilla sponge cake or pineapple upside down cake, lemon custard, quite lovely with a light bitterness creeping too as it eased into its finish
  • Finish – Very nutty – particularly hazelnut and part of what made the whisky interesting
  • Water – None were tempted – no need to add even a drop

Though it clearly was low alcohol and hence for many it was a bit too watered down, like sipping sugar water, it was beautiful in its way. Some really appreciated its subtle and nuanced character, even if it was not massively complex.

Key was giving it time to let the initial sulfur dissipate so the fruit sweetness came to the fore. Particularly the palate was pleasing – one even remarked “outstanding.”

And the reveal?

Again a surprise. None would have expected a 20 year old.

Which triggered a reminder of our earlier encounter with this specific single malt – an evening back in October 2014 – remembered as the night a 3 year old Japanese whisky (Chichibu ‘The Floor Malted’ 3 year) outclassed a 20 year old!

This time around, the Glen Deveron got a favourable response from a few who thought it quite pleasant and enjoyed the soft sponge cake flavours on the palate.

Yet it brought us back to our discussion on the critical role played by the cask – both its quality and the number of times it was used and how.

While it says Sherry Oak Casks, this doesn’t actually tell you much. Had it been 1st fill sherry casks, one normally sees this proudly declared. We thought it is much more likely to be a combination of oak (logically American given its affordability) and a 2nd or 3rd fill sherry cask. While pure speculation on our part, it struck us as the right combination to produce the results we found.

Such an approach could be called “Sherry Oak” – as yes there is some “Sherry” – just how much and what fill is indeterminate and equally there is “Oak” – whether it is is ex-bourbon 1st or 2nd or 3rd fill or simply straight American Oak or something else – it is still legitimately Oak.

Not so long ago, this duty free dram could be found for $75. However more recently it made an appearance at Mumbai’s duty free for $125. That shared, you may not find this Macduff’s offering as easily today as you once could as the expression has been discontinued.

Here is what we explored with our Sherry expressions evening:

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Macallan Terra 42.8% with a Sherry “Seasoning” of Spanish + American Oak…

Our host for the evening had a clear plan – explore different dimensions of sherry influences. He started our evening with one that had a subtle yet unmistakable sherry element… with a twist!

We sampled it blind then the whisky was revealed. Here is what we discovered…

Macallan Terra 42.8%

  • Colour – Dark burnished copper
  • Nose – Spice fruit, lemon, raisins, sour plums, figs, quite sharp with some lactone acidity, wood… then it started to mellow, the dry fruits remained as did the sweetness… After even more time, the nose held a distinctive prune and plum element that also had a gentle sweet lemon curd too, perhaps even some cake-like elements too
  • Palate – First sip was full of honey, caramelized sugars with no burn initially then from behind the spice came out – direct, full of red pepper spice. It was oaky, dry, with a khatta meetha (sour sweet) quality, medium body….
  • Finish – No mistaking the sherry element on the finish yet it also retained that lovely spice tail, long, slightly bitter too
  • Water – Some tried, some did not. For this who did, water initially kicked up the spice then mellowed it

We spent a long time speculating about this one before our host revealed the bottle.

There was something familiar – the nose clearly had a sherry influence, and yet on the palate we thought of the spice from a French oak cask or at least a European one. Talk turned to the French Oak Chichibu and discussions of how much more expensive European oak is over American… and then Japanese Mizunara oak even more so!

In terms of palate profile, it most closely reminded us of Compass Box’s Spice Tree yet the aromas clearly meant there was a sherry dimension at work too. What was interesting is the nose made us expect something quite different from we discovered on the palate – less complex than anticipated yet the sweet then spice really grew on all of us.

In terms of age, many of thought it may be young, still playing around with its different elements, yet was well crafted. Above all, we appreciated the quality and balance of this whisky.

And the reveal?

Unbelievable!  A Macallan?

Even more so, a careful interpretation of the wood wording helped clarify what we had puzzled over in our speculations…

The whisky was aged in first fill sherry “seasoned” American and Spanish oak casks – with “seasoned” being the key element. Somehow the Macallan team managed to ‘crack’ having sherry in the casks just long enough to bring a lovely sherry touch to the nose yet not so long that it impacted the new oak quality on the palate.

We were impressed and concluded this was one classy whisky where the quality of wood and care in approach produced a rather enjoyable dram – one that harkened back to the days when one could count on Macallan producing a mighty fine malt.

And what do the folks over at Macallan have to say?

A complex, yet balanced single malt, with a distinctive character of toffee, sweet dried fruit and rich wood spices.

  • Colour – Sunset Orange
  • Nose – Dried fruits are tempered by lemon zest, toffee and light ginger. Aged oak rises.
  • Palate – Sweet dried fruits, subtle tones of ripening apple. Heavy and fresh on the palate.
  • Finish – Medium length. Dried fruit and wood spices.

Terra was released late 2017 for travel retail, part of The Macallan’s Quest Collection. In this case, the aim was to explore the balance between the spice of first-fill oak with the sherry influence of sweet dried fruit. Clearly we found this quest a success!

And while it is duty-free, that doesn’t necessarily mean cheap. Master of Malt had it listed as $171… before it sold out!

Here is what we explored with our Sherry expressions evening:

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Sherry Expressions – Seasoned, Finished or Matured…

Sherry’s influence on single malts is significant. At one of the spectrum could be a full on sherry “bomb” matured for years exclusively in first re-fill casks and at the other a mere hint with a “touch” of sherry finish for a mere month.

Our host for the evening cleverly selected from duty-free three different variants of Sherry expressions. Each explored a different approach to bringing a sherry influence to the whisky.

Here is what we explored with our Sherry expressions evening:

Read on over the next few days for insights into our impressions, speculations and interpretation of what the distillery shares about the way in which the sherry element influenced each single malt.

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