Whisky Lady – Oct to Dec 2022

Happy New Year! It is so good to be home celebrating with family and friends. And reflecting on how busy the last few months have been!

Unexpected tastings, sharing special drams with fabulous folks, birthday celebrations, and to top it all off – two whisky festival weekends in a row!! Wow wow wow!!! Paris Whisky Live and London’s Whisky Show – let me repeat – WOW!!

Let’s start with birthday drams….

We also had the Chorlton birthday drams – with the gift that kept on giving! So far we have held 4 tastings just from this quartet… Two in London and two in Mumbai where one session brought together two birthday ladies! (including yours truly)

Paris Whisky Live was divided between Day 1, which was devoted to the VIP area:

Day 2 was meandering around the main section with a penchant for French whiskies, a smattering of Scottish, and one Indian thrown in for good measure!

Then the following weekend was London’s Whisky Show with:

Masterclass: The Unbelievable Truth About Whisky with Gregg Glass, James Saxon, Alex Bruce, Sam Simmonds, Phil & Simon Thompson… like stepping into a private gathering of old friends, catching up telling tall tales over a fine dram or two.

What a wonderful peak into some quite marvelous malts and more at two fabulous whisky fests!

And then back in India at the close of the year, our Swedish Whisky Lady treated us to a trio from a new distillery – Agitator where we explored:

Obviously, the links above mean you can learn more by checking out a specific post…. whereas, for the balance, you will just have to be a wee bit patient as I slowly enjoy putting the virtual pen to virtual paper and then post!

Happy New Year!

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London Whisky Show – Disappointing Diageo’s Den

Once you have been to a whisky festival or two, you start to have a way of navigating their offerings…. making a good connection or two with the lads and lasses at the various booths, and then move on to give others a chance to experience, hopefully learning a thing or two along the way. At London’s The Whisky Show, we had a grand old time and thoroughly enjoyed our day! With one or two teeny tiny exceptions…

Along with our “dream dram” and meal tokens, we also had a Diageo chocolate and whisky pairing ticket too. The meal was really quite terrific for a mass event like The Whisky Show. However every time we would glance over at the Diageo area, it was so crazy crowded around the bar, that we would skip over and continue to other options.

As the afternoon waned, we decided better go before it was too late! At first, it was nearly impossible to get anyone’s attention and when we finally did, enquiring about the pairing, were informed they ran out. He clearly was overwhelmed and not interested in offering anything or having a chat…

However, we persisted and spotted the Clynelish Cask Strength 54.9% was handy. So insisted on a small pour. This wasn’t our 1st Clynelish and found it was fruity and floral as expected.

We thought to try something more but, frankly, gave up. We enjoy the conversations, learning something new, however, for us at least, this clearly wasn’t going to happen at the Diageo den.

So yes, they are the biggest boys in the industry and I’m quite sure they had an impressive array of whiskies available at The Whisky Show – estimated to be above 75 – however we clearly were not pushy enough or important enough to get much ‘love’ from their side. Oh well… you win some and you miss some!

Lucky for us, we had some absolutely STELLAR drams at Gordon & Macphail, That Boutique-y Whisky Company, the TWE festival area and so much more! That this wee uninspiring experience didn’t deter us from a marvelous mostly malty day!!

As for other Clynelish tasting experiences? Read on…

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London Whisky Show – TBWC Intro

I absolutely love how That Boutique-y Whisky Co’s approach at the London Whisky Show. was to feature some fabulous non-Scottish whiskies to balance out some Scottish malts and great grains.

The celebratory energy of 10 years was infectious!

Where did we start? Most came from the North-West Euro Express and some goodies for the 10th anniversary. Dave guided us through a rather interesting set of whiskies:

We came back later to try some of their remarkable blends on offer:

It wasn’t all whisky though, we also tried Christian Drouin’s 21 year Calvados and an extra special flask offering:

So once again, Happy Birthday TBWC!! Can’t wait to see how the next decade unfolds for you and the team!!

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Paris Whisky Live 2022

Years ago, a dear Whisky aficionado shared his favourite Whisky festival in the world is Paris Whisky Live. He had traveled the world for years to find the best of the best, unique quality distillers, best mixologists, and those memorable experiences that linger in the best possible way. I managed to get to La Maison du Whisky’s Whisky Live in Singapore several times (2018, 2017, 2016), however despite a few attempts, never managed to make it to Paris… until 2022!!

Day 1 was devoted to the VIP area:

And closed with a Masterclass with Arran focused on Lagg distilleries.

Day 2 was meandering around the main section with a penchant for French whiskies with a smattering of Scottish and one Indian thrown in for good measure!

There will be no rush on sharing further tasting notes and impressions… because it was one of those festivals you want to slowly explore… like a lovely multi-course meal… no need to rush from course to course!

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London Whisky Show 2022

London is one of my favourite cities! Whisky tasting and exploring a favourite activity! Add to the combination a fabulous companion and you have a dream mix.

Our approach with London’s The Whisky Show 2022 was “less is more”… fewer stops, fewer drams, more time spent with most of them. A full day of slowly meandering between booths, chatting, listening and learning, sniffing, swishing, and (mostly!) spitting our way through some wonderful whiskies – from standards to sublime rare treats!

Ground floor whisky wanderings:

First Floor forays:

Masterclass: The Unbelievable Truth About Whisky with Gregg Glass, James Saxon, Alex Bruce, Sam Simmonds, Phil & Simon Thompson… like stepping into a private gathering of old friends, catching up telling tall tales over a fine dram or two.

Just like savouring some of our special dram experiences, I plan to take time to share tasting notes over the coming month or so. So sit back, relax and in due course, you will be able to vicariously enjoy the show!

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Whisky Lady – July to Sep 2022

As I post this, I’m getting ready to make the most of the London Whisky Show – yeah!!! Around the world, we are slowly but surely getting back to spirits festivals – bringing together industry experts with interested consumers.

After a bout with COVID kaiboshed my June London whisky plans, I eased back into Whisky tastings with a low-key festival just outside of Heidelberg at Schloss Schwetzingen Whisky Festival.

This was followed by another weekend with whisky friends, where we cracked open the Chorlton’s Mannochmore (a marvelous malt) and the delicious daily dram Arran Barrel Reserve 43%.

Inspired by our gentle easing back into the tasting, I decided to get more serious about getting the old “olfactory” senses back into shape post-COVID! So I challenged myself by “training” with a few minis:

Which then lead to building on my solo efforts with an evening with friends. We compared three pairings… with each, we had a clear “favourite” that stood out against its partner. Yet all were great to try!

Finally, in anticipation of weekends of whiskies, I also cleared out from the ‘archives’ an old masterclass of years gone by:

What’s next? A much anticipated few days with a fellow whisky aficionado in London!

Curious to know more? Check out a few more monthly summaries:

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

Getting back into tasting! With miniatures…

One of my favourite ways to taste whiskies is at home, with a friend or two, focused on some interesting whiskies. Even better if they feature miniatures that we would likely never buy – either as they are too rare or too expensive! Back in 2019, pre-Brexit, I bought myself a treat of Drinks by the Drams Single Cask Whisky Advent Calendar, sampled a few but then set aside for when could share the experience with one or two fellow whisky aficionados.

Fast forward to a fine 2022 September evening in Nurnberg with friends. We had dinner plans however a wee whisky tasting was also on our evening agenda. Out came the miniatures and we each picked whiskies we were curious to try.

We decided to pair up our choices – two before dinner as an “appetizer”, then two additional pairs post dinner.

What did we start with?

And then our next set? Here we shifted gears completely and selected two grains:

Our final set was a further contrast – switching to peated Islay drams with:

It was a lovely evening and good fun to contrast and compare without distraction.

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Whisky Lady – May + June 2022

Trips tend to trigger whisky experiences for me! Whilst May was all in Germany, June brought a wedding in Cape Town (fabulous fun!) and every hope of a special whisky weekend in London…. dashed by a rather ill-timed bout with that cursed Covid.

So whilst I was laid flat on my back with complete loss of smell and taste (a true tragedy for a whisky aficionado!), a very special evening took place in London Sukhinder Singh (aka The Whisky Exchange) where our gents cracked open some seriously coveted Chorlton bottles:

  • Glen Elgin 12 year (21 April 2009 / summer 2021) refill hogshead 56.6%
  • Tormore 28 year (16 Nov 1992 / summer 2021) refill hogshead 42.4%
  • Orkney 22 year (9 Jun 1999 / February 2022) bourbon hogshead 53.4% (aka Highland Park) – A true treat!
  • Bunnahabhain 18 year (28 Feb 2002 / Dec 2021) sherry butt 53.4%

Samples were set aside for me to try another day…. in the meantime, I managed to catch two more sets of Chorlton’s:

  • From the May 2022 releases, I managed to snag all three! Now waiting patiently in London…  Teaninich 12 year 54.2%, Benrinnes 14 year 55%Faemussach 21 year 56%
  • And another trio from the Chorlton’s finally available in Europe! Mannochmore 13 year 59% Caol Ila 11 year 60.4% from the April 2022 releases and Staoisha (Bunnahabhain ) 8 year 59.9% from Dec 2021

However before being knocked out of commission, I had a chance to catch up on a few tasting notes…

Whilst I’m still only in India a few times a year (once in 2020, twice in 2021, and aiming for thrice in 2022!) our lovely Whisky Ladies of Mumbai have been very kind to set aside samples of some of their tasting sessions. Though I’d much prefer to join in person, at least this way I can (almost) feel like I’m keeping up with their remarkable whisky journey.

This is how I sampled the whiskies tried during the Whisky Ladies of Mumbai’s March 2022 session. It had a decidedly Canadian theme, courtesy of a fellow Canadian’s trip back in late 2021:

I also explored an assortment of different drams such as:

  • Compass Box Orchard House 46% – Whilst not sunshine and ripe fruits, for an affordable blend, can grow on you….
  • Hunter Laing Hepburn’s Choice Glenburgie 8 year (2007) 46% – Another one where anticipation from reality differed – had to recalibrate expectations from fruit orchard to tobacco leaf… must add water to this one!
  • Plus a return to a favourite distillery – Lochranza – to explore their exceedingly affordable ‘entry level’ Arran Barrel Reserve 43%

So my tasting adventures these months have been rather limited… however with a whisky festival coming up in Heidelberg in July, another in Hamburg I’m considering, plus both Paris and London in September, my hope is to get things back on track!

Curious to know more? Check out a few more monthly summaries:

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

Coveting Chorlton… Delayed pleasures

We’ve been on a bit of a “Chorlton” journey… I’ve become a complete fan of David’s cask choices, his gorgeous labels and so over the last few years I’ve done my best to snag a nice set or two with plans of having a few special tastings.

Last week I was supposed to be enjoying these beauties… carefully collected as a special 60th birthday celebration which was postponed a few times as we struggled to organize a gathering across countries. Finally the night was planned in London, flights booked and the bottles ready and waiting to be opened! And then along came a rather unpleasant bout with COVID…. sigh… So whilst I missed the evening, considerable enjoyment was reported along these lines:

  • Glen Elgin 12 year 56.6%A lovely appetizer dram
  • Tormore 28 year 42.4% One of those rare remarkable whiskies
  • Bunnahabhain 18 year 53.4%Really stood out
  • Plus a bonus bottle purchased by our birthday boy – the Orkney 22 year 53.4% (aka Highland Park) which also made quite the impression!

Hopefully, in a few months, there will be an opportunity to get to London and quite possibly snag a wee sample to experience myself!

Thanks to shipments finally making it to Europe, I have these lovelies with me in Nuremberg;

  • From April 2022 releases: Mannochmore 13 year 59%Caol Ila 11 year 60.4%
  • From December 2021 releases: Staoisha 8 year 59.9% (aka Bunnahabhain)

Whereas I’m not sure when I will be united with these waiting for me in London or Paris:

  • From December 2021 releases: Ledaig 12 year 55.5%Speyside (Glenrothes) 13 year 64.6%
  • From the May 2022 releases: Faemussach 21 year 56%Teaninich 12 year 54.2%Benrinnes 14 year 55%

However, I won’t be sampling these anytime soon! Not being very patient, I’m left with memories of previous tastings…

However rather than long for what I can’t try, here is a quick summary of those from Chorlton’s La Nouvelle Vague series I have had the pleasure of trying:

And from Chorlton‘s earlier L’Ancien Régime series:

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Compass Box Orchard House 46%

I will admit this was an impulse purchase! I was picking up something else and my eye spotted this new expression from Compass Box. So I took a deeper look and went – yup! Sounds like this just might be a blend up my alley!

I had notions of sweetness and light, a burst of orchard fruits… reflecting in the glass what was inspired by the bottle…. and?

Compass Box Orchard House 46%

  • Nose – Fresh pineapple, tobacco leaf, almond paste, much shyer than expected, bit of candle wax… after more time a hint of vanilla
  • Palate – Tobacco and tea, malt and spice, ginger and biscuits, smoke alongside fruit
  • Finish – An echo of the palate, white pepper

Well, this isn’t just sweetness and light… there is more at play here. I was anticipating something much fruitier, juicy, and full… however there is something ‘rougher’ and a bit ‘tougher’ involved. Perhaps it is the influence of that tiny bit of Caol Ila (read more below) or something else… Once I set aside the preconceived idea of a frothy fruity dessert-like concoction, I could settle down to experience it for what it is.

Reading through the blend elements, the different dimensions play their role.

What do the folks at Compass Box have to say?

Fruit-forward & spirit-driven

What is more universally delicious than ripe fruit? Even the greatest chefs have been known to serve a simple dish of strawberries or a single, perfect peach as a dessert.

Orchard House gathers together some of the fruitiest malts Scotland has to offer, including whiskies from the Linkwood and Clynelish distilleries; what’s more, we have sourced many of these whiskies as new spirit and laid them down in our own oak casks. This, our monument to fresh fruitiness in Scotch whisky, has been many years in the making.

As for the official tasting notes, Compass Box share this:

  • Aromas of apple and pear dominate, with hints of pineapple, lemon and lime zest, and Earl Grey tea.
  • Take a sip and note the malty and gingery flavours. These are soon joined by honey, wild strawberries and vanilla shortbread.

What more do we know?

The good folks at Compass Box revealed what they can with these insights into the blending composition:

  • 39% – The Linkwood Distillery Single Malt, First Fill Bourbon Barrel – Apple Blossom, Vanilla
  • 29% – The Clynelish Distillery Single Malt, First Fill Bourbon Barrel – Apple, Wax, Honey
  • 20% – The Benrinnes Distillery Single Malt, First Fill Bourbon Barrel Single Malt – Fudge, Apples, Malt
  • 8% – Distillery near the town of Aberlour, Single Malt, Revatted Oloroso Sherry-Seasoned Butt – Red Apple, Sultana, Malt
  • 2% – Highland Malt Blend, Custom French Oak Barrel – Heavy Toast Blended Malt – Chocolate, Cinnamon, Ginger
  • 2% – The Caol Ila Distillery Single Malt, First Fill Bourbon Barrel – Smoke, Almond, Vanilla

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