Berlin’s Union Jack Tasting Adventures

Back in the day when we blithely took travel for granted, I popped over to Berlin for a weekend. A highlight was an evening at The Union Jack Pub with a Sharing Angel – Germany’s whisky women network.

I was completely distracted by the thick menu of options – until I discovered the real menu was displayed in a captivating way all around the room and in the head of the very knowledgable staff. High up in one corner, I couldn’t help but spy a collection of North Star. Then a set of Spirit Shop bottles… peak around the corner and even more independent goodies. It was like being a kid in a candy store!

Where did we start?

With a very green Berliner Kindl Weisse beer… cold, slightly tart and extremely refreshing, at a low alcohol level with a hint of woodruff, it was a perfect way to kick off our evening.

After many many different suggestions, we settled on our 1st dram:

We had high expectations of the Speyside – My companion thought it may be an old Edrigdon which dipped a bit 40 and was topped up by Glenfarclas, marrying together to mature even longer. She had tried it (or something similar) before and found it quite fabulous!
However this bottle? The nose was initially shy, we still had hopes but even after giving time to open up, it simply didn’t deliver. Unfortunately it was also thin and flat on palate. We began to speculate that perhaps it oxidated too long? We set it aside and returned to a sour nose, a bit of spice on palate and not much more. Tragedy, I confess I didn’t even finish it…
By contrast my companion’s Royal Brackla was a delight! All sunshine and happiness apples and apricots loads of sweet fruits, that carried through beautifully on the palate. I enjoyed it so much that I later picked up a bottle to enjoy it properly!
He really tried… Last effort began with SMWS Bunnahabhain – no peat, light fruit but not quite there. Then brought out Glenmorangie Bacalta… And Mannochmore – choice was clear.

Mannochmore 25 year (1990/2015) Bottle 0251, 53.4% (Gordon & Macphail)

It was like coming home – full fruity, complex, rewarding in every way. No need of water. Simply marvelous and such a perfect way to close our evening!

It was wonderful meeting a fellow whisky explorer, connecting and discussing malty matters over a dram or two.

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American Minis – Hudson, TBWC Bourbon, Balcones, Whistle Rye

As the months of the pandemic stretch on… our whisky tasting groups have clearly not been meeting in person. For the Bombay Malt & Cigar gents and I, we’d done a couple virtual evenings together – each nipping into what was on hand from our various locales around the globe.

With my UK trip, my host and fellow drammer and I could join together in London while the others tuned in from Belgium and two homes in Mumbai. We decided to add to the mix a merry lass from France known well to the gents from a memorable trip to Scotland years before.

So there we were… poised to pick from our 2019 Master of Malt Advent Calendar. What pray tell did we chose?

Of all the options, we decided to explore a quartet from America….

It turned out to be a rather good mix of styles… and good fun having (gasp!) three people tasting together in the same room. What a rarity these days!

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Nurnberg “The Village” Fest Trio – Bruichladdich, Glencadam, St Kilian

It now seems so surreal… end of February large events were still happening in Germany – including The Village whisky festival here in Nurnberg.

I was quite conservative in my acquisitions assuming this was the start of a whisky festival season with plenty of upcoming opportunities. I also assumed could easily go to a specialty whisky store and gradually start collecting…

And our world changed.

As we enter into our 2nd wave of caution, I finally cracked open one from The Village festival to share with a couple Whisky Ladies also in Europe. I can’t wait to enjoy with others! As for the other two… will hang on for just the right occasion!

  • St Kilian One (2016/2019) 45% – Their first offering matured in 37% ex Bourbon, 37% ex Martinique Rum, 18% ex PX Sherry, 5% Chestnut, 3% ex Bourbon Quarter Casks… double distilled in copper pot stills, natural colour, non-chill filtered, master distiller Mario Rudolf
  • Bruchladdich 14 year 59.5% (The Single Cask for The Village 2020) 1of 250 100ml
  • Glencadam 8 year (23 Feb 2011/6 June 2019) Bourbon Barrel Cask W8 800125 61% (The Warehouse Collection) 1 of 240 bottles

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Whisky Lady – September + October 2020

Suddenly everything changed! From a whisky famine to a feast. From being in the same place morning, noon and night to traipsing from one country to another, different homes, even a couple of Scottish distilleries, an exceptional evening with The Whisky Exchange’s Sukhinder Singh, four different evenings of minis…. wow!

Then to top off my travels… arriving back in Germany to literally go straight to Ziegler Distillery to spend a weekend with the fabulous Sharing Angels.

And that wasn’t all… it was also time to reach out to our desi connects in Europe to virtually launch our European chapter of the Whisky Ladies. What better excuse to crack open all the whiskies I’ve managed to acquire in Germany so far!

It will take a while to share all the tasting notes and insights… however here is a summary of what’s in store!

Scotland Highlights

London and Bath Tastings

Germany’s Willkommen with a weekend trip to Ziegler Distillery with a tasting tour of Aureum Whiskies together with the German Sharing Angels

And last but certainly not least, preparations for the European chapter of the Whisky Ladies of Mumbai… and remembering our Whisky Ladies tasting at Paul John distillery.

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Whisky Ladies of Europe – Bienvenue, स्वागत हे, Välkommen, Willkommen

Welcome to what will hopefully be a new series within this Whisky Lady blog! A much needed intro to a small Whisky Ladies of Europe group – an offshoot of our beloved and terribly missed Whisky Ladies of Mumbai. Each of us are currently living in parts of Europe, having both a malty and Mumbai connect. And given that we are scattered between Sweden, Germany, and a couple locations in France, the only recourse is to go virtual!

I offered to get things started by cracking open bottles I’d acquired since moving to Germany. With great care, 12 small sample bottles for each lady was poured, packed up and shipped. Alas one box didn’t make its destination in Paris, so a 2nd set was sent with a determination to explore together a hopefully good dram or two!

What did I think would make for a good starting point? Evenings exclusively featuring cask strength whiskies from independent bottlers…

  • North Star which we’d collectively enjoyed a quintet nearly two years ago with another Mumbai based group – including a most memorable reading of Iain’s imaginative tasting notes
  • Chorlton which I’d experienced with a different Mumbai group– falling in love both with the labels and the quality of Dave’s choices
  • The Warehouse Collection which I had sampled at The Village whisky event in Nurnberg just before the shut down…

My plan is to start with the Chorlton quintet to sample over two occasions.

  1. Miltonduff 11 years 62% 1st fill bourbon, 1 of 176 bottles (MD 11)
  2. Tomintoul 14 year 57.6% Sherry butt, undiluted, uncoloured, unchill filtered, 1 of 455 bottles (TM 14)
  3. Mackmyra 12 years 50.2% bourbon barrel, undiluted, uncoloured, unchill filtered, 1 of 278 bottles (MC 12)
  4. Mannochmore 12 year 58.7% bourbon barrel, distilled 10 Sept 2008, cask strength, natural colour, unchill filtered, 1 of 108 bottles (MN 12)
  5. Blair Athol 12 years 56.6% hogshead undiluted, uncoloured, unchill filtered, 1 of 268 bottles (BA 12)

Augmenting the 2nd Chorlton session with a whisky from a German independent bottler The Whisky Warehouse No 8 under their label The Warehouse Collection:

  • Glencadam 8 year 61% (23 Feb 2011/6 June 2019) Bourbon Barrel Cask W8 800125

I closed with two sessions meandering through the North Star Spirits, of which the initial three – Royal Brackla, Fettercairn and Inchgower – I’d also sampled and shared earlier  my personal tasting notes.

While not the same as tasting together in person, virtual tasting with the right companions is better than no tasting!

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Dunkerton Drams – Nikka, Fettercairn, Lakes, Starward

One of the highlights this fall was a weekend in Dunkerton, Somerset, which also included a most enjoyable meander through some minis from the 2019 Master of Malt Advent Calendar.

We wanted to mix things up our second evening, so our selection reflected a wee jaunt around the world from Japan to England to Australia to Scotland.

It was so beautiful outside that we decided to sip and savour outdoors, looking out at the Dunkerton Parish Church. What an enchanting view, great company and interesting drams to discover!

What did we try?

What a terrific weekend get away with huge thanks to our fabulous hosts for welcoming us into their lovely home. And even more – such terrific tasting adventures – call it icing on a delicious cake!

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European Trio – Brenne, Mackmyra Äppleblom + Vinterglöd plus Longmorn 10

We found ourselves in a late summer evening in Dunkerton, Somerset, relaxing in the sitting room with an abundance of minis from the 2019 Master of Malt Advent Calendar.

We were in a light, summery mood….

My eye spotted a trio of European whiskies – one I knew would be delightful desert dram influenced by maturation in a Cognac cask (Brenne), another I anticipated would be equally cheerful with a Calvados cask finish (Mackmyra Äppelblom) and the last was something of a departure with a combination of PX and Swedish Mulled Wine (Vinterglöd). That was to be it, but I was curious about the That Boutique-y Whisky Company Longmorn…. so a trio became a quartet! (sneaky Longmorn!)

What did we try?

This was part of a much larger set of minis – the 2019 Master of Malt Advent Calendar to be precise – chock full of whiskies from around the world. So stay tuned for even more mini sessions! While we didn’t manage to get through all 24, we did a respectable job trying 12 whiskies in three different sessions… this was the 1st evening with a most enjoyable kick off!

PS I don’t normally show either myself or tasting companion however this was truly such a memorable trip and I just have to say a huge thank you to our amazing hosts and friends!

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That Boutique-y Whisky Company Chinese New Year Minis Tasting Set

The minis are back!! With an interesting set brought to us by That Boutique-y Whisky Company in celebration of Chinese New Year. Who cares if we actually cracked it open in September 2020 – these are strange times and one makes the most of any opportunity!

I absolutely loved the packaging – it instantly transported me to marvellous times spent celebrating Chinese New Years in various parts of Asia… with an extra bonus of whisky! Felt like my birthday, Christmas and all sorts of other occasions came early!

As for the goodies this lovely pack contained? Feast your eyes on this range:

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Whisky Lady – June to August 2020

I could say time flies when you are having fun… but in my case, like many others around the world, its been a bit rough. Newly relocated to Germany, I was not permitted to return home to India for a visit and for nearly nine months, was kept apart from my (much!) better half!

The enthusiasm to crack open a dram all alone in Nurnberg dwindled and waned – hence this wee blog has been much neglected.

Late August, as I made plans to join my husband in Scotland, I wondered whether any whisky explorations would be possible? As feelers went out, it was quickly apparent that things remain far from normal with distillery visits – the tours of yore are no more, tastings requiring advance booking with limited spots, and overall both care and caution.

Stay tuned for my rather limited adventures in September! In the meantime, here is a wee amble through a few posts over the last couple of months…

I finally got around to sharing tasting notes from our Whisky Ladies & BMC Japanese Blends – Old and New with Suntory Excellence vs Old 40% and Nikka Super Rare Old 43%. While they weren’t the BEST whiskies we’ve ever tried, it was such a rare experience to sample from the same distillery the same or similar expressions bottled some 30-40 years apart!

Months without tasting sessions has left me rather bereft! However the expanding North Star collection was most tempting… so I took the liberty of cracking open a few whiskies!

A bit of an anomaly, I also grew to enjoy more and more Taiwan’s Nantou Distillery – Yushan Blended Malt 40% – particularly with a splash of cold water which didn’t dampen the pineapple and biscuits. Yum!

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North Star Line-up

Don’t laugh… but I seem to be developing a wee obsession… And I completely blame the folks at North Star for bottling such tempting drams!

Since moving to Germany a whole world of possibilities opened up to order whisky! The initial challenge with deliveries were I was always at work so never home. Then our world changed and I was always home, available to accept… Definitely a silver lining in these strange times… So what have I picked up so far?

North Star German Collection….

Don’t expect a full set of tasting notes anytime soon… however as opportunities present, I look forward to sharing impressions.

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