Whisky Lady – March + April 2022

March slipped into April with a wonderful yet HOT journey home to Mumbai, India… then return to a warming Deutschland, where miserable grey rain shifted into welcome sunshine.

This India trip came at a time when many COVID restrictions were lifted and events starting again. What this meant was an opportunity to meet renowned Indian master distiller Surrinder Kumar who was the talent behind Amrut’s journey to global fame and India’s own Malt Maniac Krishna Nakula.

It kicked off with a tasting evening at home with the lads behind SMAC India and Krishna exploring a remarkable range:

Then was followed by the launch of a new Indian Single Malt – Indri.

Talisker, Kilchoman, Stauning

Next up was a curious trio of Rum, Tequila and Mezcal finishes from London’s Whisky Exchange with:

And finally, the ladies joined me in (re)exploring St Kilian Signature Edition:

Whilst April was a busy tasting month for me, March was largely devoted to catching up on prior tastings from my previous trip to India! You would think nothing happens in Europe – which is far from the case as I missed not one not two but three events in Deutschland whilst holidaying in India.

Early 2022, our Bombay Malt & Cigar gents held a fun-filled evening of one of my favorite distilleries – Lochranza – with a quartet of Arran expressions exploring cask finishes:

I also brought back to Deutschland samples kindly set aside from the Whisky Ladies December 2021 session which featured:

And finally, I shared another remarkable whisky tasting from last year’s Paris trip to Maison Benjamin Kuentz – Inouïe Mélodie!

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

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

Rum, Tequila and Mezcal Finishes from Talisker, Kilchoman and Stauning

Spirits like rum, tequila and mezcal are each in quite a different category than Whisky. However with the increasing shortage of casks and voracious appetite for something ‘new’ and ‘different’, there has been an explosion of experimentation all around.

Inspired by the Stauning “Bastard” bottle, our whisky host for the evening amusingly dubbed this trio “Cheap Bastard” as none were outrageously priced. (However, he did mention in dismay, the increase in average whisky prices at The Whisky Exchange in London – more than what can be found elsewhere in the UK.)

Talisker, Kilchoman, Stauning

So here goes an evening devoted to a curious trio of Rum, Tequila and Mezcal finishes with:

And considering our host called this a “Cheap Bastard” evening – his words, not mine – I took the liberty to add the current prices for each. Not exactly what I would consider “cheap” however I must admit to becoming spoilt with more accessible prices in Germany!

And whilst I likely wouldn’t have chosen these whiskies, that’s the brilliant part of tasting with others – each brings what tickles their fancy to the table – expanding your exposure and explorations well beyond what one person alone could ever hope to purchase!

Be a wee bit patient as detailed tasting notes will follow…

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Whisky Lady – February 2022

February can be a mixed month – in some parts of the world crazy cold, in others dreary and rainy and others… well… you can enjoy the sunshine and balmy breezes! So what about our whisky explorations?

Back in Deutschland, virtual tastings continued – this time with a set from Warehouse No 8 purchased the previous year set-up to explore Scottish regions:

Our Whisky Ladies of Mumbai explored a Swedish Trio with:

And our Bombay Malt & Cigar gents held a fun-filled evening of one of my favorite distilleries – Lochranza – with a quartet of Arran expressions exploring cask finishes:

I also posted notes from the previous month from a social evening with Gin featuring Portobello Road No 171 London Dry 42%, Drumshanbo Gunpowder Irish 43%, Brockmans 40%, Sacred  London Dry 43%.

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

Whisky Lady – January 2022

What a month!! I’ve been happily home in India and even better managed to fit in a couple tasting sessions – squeezed in a narrow window of days in-country and negative tests!

Winter in India is perfect for whisky and yet we also had some gin too.

On New Year’s Eve, I found myself surprisingly more in a gin than whisky mood, so decided to open a trio gifted by an American friend many years ago… much later I sat down and revisited, sharing a few impressions of these gins from California distillery St George here: St George Terroir, Botanivore, and Dry Rye 45%

Our Bombay Malt & Cigar gents managed to gather not once but thrice in rapid succession to explore two sets of whiskies and one set of gin. We started off with a Scottish Adjacent exploration of:

In a departure from our usual focus on Whisky, our host had long back collected for a social evening an assortment of Gins featuring Portobello Road No 171 London Dry 42%, Drumshanbo Gunpowder Irish 43%, Brockmans 40%, Sacred  London Dry 43%.

And we closed with a fun-filled evening of one of my favorite distilleries – Lochranza – with a quartet of Arran expressions exploring cask finishes – Sauternes, Amarone, The Bodega Sherry and Port with tasting notes to come soon!

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

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

Blind tasting The Famous Grouse 40%

Nothing like tasting blind to set aside preconceived notions… particularly when it comes to well-known blends…

A version of this blend has been around since 1896 with the “Famous Grouse” name remaining consistent since 1905. Considered a top-selling whisky brand in the UK, I have to confess that I don’t recall ever having tried The Famous Grouse before.

What did we think?

Famous Grouse 40% 

  • Colour – Bright gold
  • Nose – Raisins, sherry influence, oily and heavy, overripe fruits, wet mop and phenol, island influence, bit of brine, fermented bread, light iodine, wet leaves,
  • Palate – Smooth on the palate, gentle, watery softness, honey-sweet, nice mouthfeel, reminded a bit of mead
  • Finish – Soft white pepper, long, sherry element with juicy whisky soaked raisins

Nothing hugely distinctive or complex, but there were still some nice elements. However they were a bit curious – on the one hand, there was a briney Island style and on the other hand, a more traditional sherry dram.

We speculated this may be Scottish but beyond that? We had no clue!

Turns out this was the real “googly” in the mix for the evening. The other three were deliberately Scottish ‘adjacent’ whereas just for kicks, our whisky host decided to bring into our evening something we would not have expected!

With the reveal?

It all made sense – why there was a duality of character, why it came across as Scottish but not distinctively this or that. The Famous Grouse is known to use both Highland Park and Macallan – which certainly helped explain what we found!

As for the official notes?

  • Appearance: Full golden, clear and bright
  • Aromas: Candied fruits, buttery shortbread, citrus peel
  • Taste: Dried fruit, soft spices (cinnamon/ginger), hint of oak
  • Finish: Smooth, well balanced

Interesting to try and why I enjoy blind tastings! Here is what else we tried that evening:

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Scottish Single Malt “Adjacent” – The English, Famous Grouse, Cotswold, Penderyn Madeira

Once upon a time in Mumbai, a lass with four merry gents used to regularly gather together to explore whiskies, relax puffing cigars, exchanging witty remarks, tending to close the evening with most enjoyable repasts….

We are now scattered across four countries and in COVID conditions, the chances of meeting in person are slim. So we’ve made do with the rare combination of partly in-person and partly virtual…

Somehow at the start of 2022, we managed to kick off with nearly all of us together! Beginning with a set that our whisky host had saved and ready since 2019!

The theme was simple – explore English / Welsh whiskies – adjacent to Scotland…. but then he threw in a ‘googly’ with a well-known Scottish blend just to challenge us. All four whiskies were tasted blind before the reveal.

So…. what did we try?

This Scottish Single Malt ‘adjacent’ theme featured:

It was a good mix of introduction and re-introduction, wrapped up in a  blind package one fine January evening in Mumbai.

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Whisky Lady – Farewell 2021, Welcome 2022!

As flights around the world get cancelled, we are clearly not out of the woods yet with COVID. And yet 2021 brought a few glimmers of optomism and windows of freedom before further caution prevailed.

Whisky-wise that meant a couple grand adventures. No surprise, now being based in Europe there was a decidedly continental bent to whisky explorations…

France – starting with my Parisian whisky companions, we explored both in person and virtually an array of French whiskies:

Sweden – What better excuse to go to Sweden than an opportunity to catch up with a friend and explore a couple of distilleries!

Germany – Naturally there must be more than one “nod” to my new Work home…

In some cases, it was exploring virtually like St Kilian Signature Edition ‘One’‘Four’ ‘Six’ and Seven’Or recalling a rare in-person distillery tour of Ziegler Distillery with their range of Aureum whiskies that have – alas – since been discontinued!!! In others, it was a highly memorable weekend in Berlin with a triple pairing and “showstopper” at Union Jack! Yet not all explorations are brilliant – some were a surprising ‘hit’ (J. B.G. Münsterländer Grain whereas others a decided ‘miss’ (Black Forest Wild Whisky Peated ) and some like the St Kilian samples went from promising to perplexing.

Belgium – While I haven’t yet managed to make it to Belgium since moving to Europe, thanks to the kind folks at The Belgian Owl, we had the remarkable opportunity to try all five of their expressions: OrigineIdentitéPassionEvolutionIntense.

Were there other experiences? Certainly! And one hallmark of these continued strange COVID times is the creative ways we connect, exchange and explore… whether in person or virtually.

So I remain cautiously optimistic that 2022 will bring more momentum to movement, perhaps even a trip to visit family and friends in Canada and ideally more frequent trips home to India – not just twice a year!

Curious to know more? Check out one of the monthly summaries:

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

Whisky Lady – December 2021

Ohh… December… another year in COVID times with complicated inconvenient travel arrangements. However there is still much to be thankful for as I finally landed home in India after another four months away.

Highlight was a virtual Whisky Tasting put together by the folks at GlenAllachie and Whic.de where we wandered through a quintet of minis… which led to my picking up four!

And just before taking off for India, we raised the French flag with a Bellevoye Trio ?

Before that we cracked open another Maison Benjamin Kuentz creation – Le Guip. Think of Brittany – a cold salty sea spray! It is yet another example this “editeur” of whisky is worth paying attention to…

So there is a new kid on the block in India! I was fortunate during my last trip to Mumbai to check out Kamet – a new Indian single malt. Not bad, not bad at all!

Finally, I also had an opportunity to share my coveted Perry Road Peru Cocktail – Strangers & Sons gin with spiced guava – yum! And crack open the comforting indulgence Arran Gold cream liqueur. Whilst not my usual tipple, it was perfect for the season.

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

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

Whisky Lady – November 2021

I had high hopes that November would finally after two years bring a visit from my better half to Germany! We’ve always tried to celebrate our “birthday week” together… alas… this year wasn’t possible.

So I planned a few whisky distractions… which started at the end of October with an online multi-country tasting of Germany whiskies… continued with even more German whisky explorations… and some unfortunate news about Ziegler distillery!

So what did we try? I picked a set from St Kilian distillery:

I’ll admit I snuck in an additional one for just me and my Parisian companion:

  • Signature Edition ‘Seven’ (2017/2021) 51.75%

A weekend get away led to an experimental bent trying two German whiskies and an old familiar:

This was followed by the unfortunate news that Ziegler distillery has decided to radically change course and effectively abandon their Aureum whisky line. I managed to get my hands on their Classic 8 year, Chestnut Cask 5 year, Cask Strength 8 year, joining my earlier purchase of their 10 year Cask Strength whisky.  I won’t be opening these bottles anytime soon and still hope the decision to change direction will be changed again!

I also did a bit of “blog” housekeeping, ditching a dozen half written posts from years ago – all the way back to 2015! Only a few were ‘brushed off’ and posted as musings of tastings gone by…

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

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

Aureum is no more??

“Nooooo….. say it isn’t so?”

That was my reaction when I learned that Ziegler distillery’s new owners have cut both their very promising whisky line AND brilliant gins. Whhhhhaaat??

In a flash, over ten years of whisky craft, creativity and curiosity disappeared. In its place is a lone new Ziegler whisky “Freud“…. How can this be??

So I quickly scrounged the internet and managed to get my hands on:

  • Aureum Chestnut Cask 5 year 43% (EUR 46 + 19% tax for 700 ml)
  • Aureum Classic 8 year 43 %  (EUR 50 + 19% tax for 700 ml)
  • Aureum 8 year Cask Strength 53,2 % (EUR 48 + 19% tax for 700 ml)

These new arrivals joined my choice from my weekend at Ziegler a year ago:

  • Aureum The First 2010 Cask Strength 10 year 55.5%

I likely won’t open these anytime soon… however at least I know I have them when the time is right!

In the meantime, here are a few impressions from that remarkable weekend in November 2020:

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