The Vault Biennale – Mumbai Feb 16 and 17, 2019

I’m so excited to be part of this weekend’s The Vault Biennale in Mumbai. For anyone who is in this part of the world – don’t miss!

And while there will be all sorts of interesting spirits to experience, discover and indulge… for those keen to listen and learn, I have the pleasure of helping weave together different Spirited Stories with a remarkable lined-up of industry experts on Saturday, Feb 16th, 2019.

Come find us in the Listen tent with:

1.00pm – 1.30pm – Spirit of Craftsmanship

  • Experts: Michael Vachon (Maverick Drinks, UK), Ewan Gunn (Global Whisky Ambassador), Keshav Prakash (The Vault)
  • Anchor: Tirthankar Dash (Story crafter, Singapore)

1.45pm – 2.15pm – The Curious World of Gins

  • Experts: Ginsmiths-Walter Riddell, Tarquin Leadbetter & Guillaume Drouin
  • Anchor – Shreya Soni (Delhi Secret Supper Club)

2.30pm – 3.00pm – The Rum Renaissance 

3.15pm – 3.45pm – Beyond Jugaad – The Indian Globalists

  • Experts: Spirit makers – Sakshi Saigal (Third Eye Distillers), Ashok Chockalingam (Amrut), Michael D’souza (Paul John)
  • Anchor – Rajeev Samant (Sula Vineyards)

4.15pm – 4.45pm – Vermouth – The Secret Soul of Cocktails

  • Experts: Grazia Di Franco (Vermouth specialist, Italy)
  • Anchor: Dimi Lezinska (Beverage Director, KOKO Mumbai)

5.00pm – 5.30pm – The Smoky Islay Tales

  • Expert: Anthony Wills (Distiller of Single Malt, Islay)
  • Anchor: Carissa Hickling (, Mumbai)

Alas I will be catching a flight to Munich that evening so miss the next day. But you shouldn’t!

From time to time, you can also find other whisky related updates and activities on:

That Boutique-y Whisky Company – Dualiane, Glenlossie, Strathmill, Fettercairn

One evening over a malty minis evening, my fellow whisky explorer and I did a little online shopping for our combined Whisky Ladies and Bombay Malt & Cigar club… the result was an exceptional collection from independent bottler North Star.

However we were also distracted by the Master of Malt dramples – wee little 3 cl sample bottles that enables you to explore “drinks by the dram.” Who could resist??

My tasting cohort and I selected a range from That Boutique-y Whisky Company which has made a name for itself with its quirky bottle designs that look more like graphic novels than whisky labels…  and for the quality of their small batch whiskies.

So what did we pick for our That Boutique-y Whisky Co explorations?

As these whiskies came out some time ago, you won’t find more details on the “That Boutique-Y Whisky Company” website.

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Whisky Lady – January 2019

What a great start to 2019! Kicked off in Dubai, then Mumbai, the US and today in my home town of Winnipeg, Canada!

I’m also hugely excited about the upcoming inaugural spirits Vault Biennale in Mumbai on Feb 16 – 17, 2019. If you are in Mumbai those days – don’t miss!! Limited tickets are available on Book My Show.

As for January tasting experiences, our original group paid tribute to Jim McEwan with a remarkable range bottled by That Boutique-y Whisky Co:

I continued to make folks jealous sharing tasting experiences from the Whisky Live Singapore 2018 with La Maison du Whisky Artist #8 sans Sherry

Our other tasting groups – BMC & Whisky Ladies – combined to explore a remarkable North Star 5 Region quintet from Cask Series 005 with guest posts coming soon!

  • Speyside – Glentauchers 11 year (Apr 2007/May 2018) 58.9% by Nikolina Berg
  • Campbeltown – Campbeltown 4 year (2014/2018) 57% by Paula McGlynn
  • Highland – MacDuff 11 year (2006/2018) 55.2% by Rekha Sharma
  • Island – Orkney 12 year (Mar 2006/May 2018) 57.8% by Shruti Sutwala
  • Islay – Caol Ila 12 year (Apr 2006/May 2018) 54.6% by Lina Sonne

The minis returned with That Boutique-y Whisky Co (TBWC) with Dailuaine 15 year 47.5%, Glenlossie 17 Year 48.4%, Strathmill 21 Year 47.7%, Fettercairn 21 Year 48.6%

And last but certainly not least, there was a very special evening of Dubai Dream Drams:

  • Midleton Very Rare (2011) No 042585 L121731255 40%
  • SMWS G10.10 “Busy buzzing bees” 38 years (23 Nov 1977) 49.6%
  • Old Pulteney 17 year 46%
  • Longmorn 25 year (1988/2014) Cask 14384 46% (Berry’s Bro)
  • Kilchoman Sherry (2007/2013) Cask 447/2007 59.5%
  • SMWS 29.229 “Harmonious balance” 19 year (1998) 55.2%

Loads of tasting notes from January will be coming soon… so stay tuned!

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Jim McEwan Tribute – Mackmyra, Bowmore, Bruichladdich, Octomore

We kicked off our new year with a rather clever range of whiskies from “That Boutique-y Whisky Company“.

Our original whisky group general taste blind, and initially on the reveal, you could be forgiven for thinking the theme was to feature whiskies from independent bottler.

However the theme taped into substance even more than style… paying tribute to whisky veteran Jim McEwan. With over 50 years of industry experience, he isn’t slowing down and after officially retiring from Bruichladdich is now involved with a new Scottish distillery – Ardnahoe.

Here is what we sampled…. with a bit of insight into the Jim McEwan connect…

Bowmore 27 year, Batch 5, 47.6% (TBWC)McEwan 1983 – 2000

Where Jim began his career at 15 in 1963 as an apprentice cooper, then warehousing, mashing and malting, becoming cellar master. He then moved to Glasgow to become a trainee Blender in 1976, then manager of The Tannochside Bonding Co (Bowmore facility) in 1978. He returned to Bowmore Distillery in 1986 as the manager and stayed for 12 years.

“It was during this time in Bowmore that I started travelling to various whisky events around the world, initially a few times per year but building up to acting as Ambassador and travelling globally about 30 plus weeks per year.” (excerpt from Jim McEwan’s biography).


Bruichladdich 13 year, Batch 11, 47.6% (TBWC) McEwan 2001 – 2015

In 2000, McEwan was approached by Gordon Wright who planned to purchase Bruichladdich Distillery together with Mark Reynier and Simon Coughlin. McEwan joined as Master Distiller and Production Director. The work then began to dismantle and reassemble the distillery, keeping much of the Victorian decor and equipment.

“The last 12 years with Bruichladdich have been a roller-coaster ride but to see the progress we have made and the friends we have gained, has been the most wonderful experience. To bring this old distillery back from the dead to become 3 times “Distillery of the Year”, 4 times Innovator of the Year plus a host of other awards from around the world has been incredible….  For Bruichladdich to become the cult figure it is, whilst employing so many good Islay people, is for me my greatest reward.” (excerpt from Jim McEwan’s biography).

Octomore B1.jpg

Octomore 6 year, Batch 1, 50.4% (TBWC) – McEwan 2001 – 2015

McEwan was the mastermind behind this super heavily peated Islay dram that defies convention. He began distilling Octomore in 2002 and his last (7.1) was released in 2017. With peat levels ranging from 80.5 ppm to 208 ppm, what makes Octomore remarkable – even with all its variation – is its multidimensional character. An Octomore is never merely a peat monster… in fact some of the expressions are outstanding and somehow magically come out the other side of peat to something incredibly silky smooth with no peat punch.

“Octomore is the wild card in the pack and without doubt the guy who drives you crazy but steals your heart every time. Sometimes the peating level is 167 ppm and sometimes it’s 200ppm, we just gave you whatever nature gave us and boy has the wild young islander delivered time after time.” (Interview with Whisky Tower)

Mackmyra B1.jpg

Mackmyra 3 year, Batch 1, 47.2% (TBWC) Personal connect

And the relationship with Mackmyra?

I have long been a fan of Mackmyra and I share a small cask with my good friend Angela who is their Chief Blender. We first met when I was the Manager at Bowmore so we we back a long way, she really has the knowledge and the passion that is required to bring the best to the table which she does consistently, so yes I enjoy their single malts very much and I look forward to trying my share our cask which I know will be very drinkable and not for sharing with those who know not the art of distillation.” (Interview with Whisky Tower)

It was a terrific theme and such a treat!

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Whisky Lady’s 2018 Highlights (and Lowlights)

Hello 2019! And farewell 2018… What a year it was!

For this Whisky Lady there was a fair amount of travel within India but surprisingly little international travel… until November 2018 which kicked off with Whisky Live Singapore, a work jaunt to Turkey, Germany and closed with New Years in Dubai!

What this also meant was that I was mostly home in Mumbai, so missed very few tasting session this year – yeah!!

Bombay Malt & Cigar Club

We tried a few different blends from Douglas Laing & Sansibar Blends  (combined with the Whisky Ladies), to a Compass Box Quartet to the Lost Distilleries archival reconstructions.

We also did some “virtual” travel to Canada, Europe and Japan for whisky, Columbian & Seychelles for rum. Plus some 21s, a Sherry Unusual eve… We even threw in a Bar Night for good measure!

  • Highlight – Really tough to chose as the gents have “upped” their game… we’ve had some remarkable whiskies, great themes however Compass Box’s Phenomenology is truly remarkable for how individual
  • Lowlight – This was easy… the Domaine Des Hautes Glace Organic Single Malt 42% from our European evening… whether it was “off” or just the opposite of what we seek in a whisky, absolutely NOT for us!

Whisky Ladies

We also had two rounds of our free wheeling contributor’s choice (Mar and Oct)“Bar Bottles”Smokey Night and even had an evening dedicated to exploring Grains.

As for our “virtual” travels, we had rather a lot of fun with our Irish jig, Islay AdventuresHighland Hijinks and “Trans Tasman Tour.”

  • Highlight – For it would be finally cracking open the Whisky Exchange’s Sukhinder Singh’s Cask Strength Trio, carefully selected for our ladies to be affordable yet fabulous!
  • Runners up – The Islay Adventures were a terrific variation on Laguvlin whereas purely for the inventive theme, Northern Lights with whiskies from Canada, Iceland and Sweden.

Our Original Club

Not to be outdone, our original club found a way to explore Repeats in new ways, including our very own Keshav & Anjan Prakash’s Vault Collection, a classic Scottish Trio,  Pedigree Malts, some standards plus different Sherry Expressions.

We also narrowed our focus to explore a Kavalan Solist Cask Night and Bruichladdich’s Port Charlotte 10 year MP5.  And fun with the packaging…

And other adventures?

Ooooh there were a few rather amusing nights with interesting whisky folks like Ireland’s Quiet Man with Michael Morris, Malt Maniac’s Krishna Nakula with some exceptional drams, IBHL’s master distiller Stuart Harvey, and The Vault’s Keshav Prakash. We had two minis evenings April and Aug, a special evening of just gins with the ladies.

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Whisky Lady – December 2018

Happy New Year!!! December was full of mischief in Mumbai, merriment in Munich and delightful New Year celebrations in Dubai.

Our Whisky Ladies enjoyed a Smokey Night of:

Plus notes from an earlier Whisky Ladies session with:

Our other two groups took a break for the holiday season providing a chance to share a few tasting experiences from my November Singapore trip starting with Nector of the Daily Drams:

  • Ben Nevis 21 year (19967/2017) 48.7% – Not my tipple but a good example of a Ben Nevis style
  • Highland Park 24 year (1992/2016) 50% – Delightfully well-balanced and exactly why once upon a time this was a preferred distillery
  • Springbank 23 year (1994/2017) 50.6% – What one would more aptly associate with the Longrow brand – peaty and pleasurable!
  • The Anniversary Dram XO 45.4% – A rather successful effort to reconstruct an ‘old style’ Macallan
  • Deanston 19 year (1999/2018) 51% – Fruit, spice and rather nice!

Then from Whisky Live Singapore with:

Plus a sampling of various Gordon & MacPhail offerings with:

Plus tasting notes from our Bombay Malt & Cigar Sherry Expressions eve:

Curious to know more? Check out recent Whisky Lady’s monthly missives:

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Whisky Lady – November 2018

November kicked off in the best possible way – a trip to Singapore and Whisky Live! It then carried on with a jaunt to Istanbul, Turkey for work and the balance all in Bombay.

Our original group had an evening of Sherry Expressions:

So too did our Bombay Malt & Cigar gents with slightly less traditional Sherry Expressions:

  • Hyde #6 President’s Reserve 8 year single grain + 18 year single malt 46% – With an Olorosso sherry finish
  • Paul John 7 Year (2009) Olorosso Sherry Cask Finish 57.4% – Paul John’s first foray into a rich Olorosso sherry matured dram – simply superb!
  • BenRiach 12 year (14 Oct 2005/2018) Cask No 5052 59.3% – A singular single cask, steeped in sherry – a true class act!
  • Kilchoman Loch Gorm (2016) 46% – Full sherry and peat

Whereas the Whisky Ladies chose to reach into our respective bars and pull out a bottle:

November also brought a few “miscellaneous” posts from tastings gone by such as:

Plus a catch up on tasting notes from the previous month…

Our Whisky Ladies Contributor’s Choice evening was a Sunday sundowner with:

And the last of our bourbon evening with:

Curious to know more? Check out recent Whisky Lady’s monthly missives:

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Whisky Live Singapore 2018

I will admit, I nearly didn’t go… Whisky tasting events can be great fun but making the trek from Mumbai to Singapore isn’t exactly like driving down the road for a wee nip.

While a trade pass was very kindly offered, I knew I couldn’t miss the VIP section – particularly as there was no Collector’s Room this year. So splurged both on flight and entry to indulge in a day of hopefully delights.

I was joined by fellow Singapore based enthusiasts and knew there was no point even attempting to “try” everything so was rather selective with where we spent our time.

Just to get into the “spirit” of things, I actually started my sampling before the official festival with an evening at La Maison du Whisky with Mario of the Nector of the Daily Drams. My friend and I tried the Ben Nevis, Highland Park, Springbank, Anniversary Dram. I followed this up with a Deanston at Whisky Live.

Then the Sunday arrived and our first whiskies were in the VIP room exploring the latest La Maison du Whisky Artist #8 – this time with both non-sherry and sherry expressions:

Plus a few more La Maison du Whisky exclusive bottles:

And another Edradour – this time combined with Ballechin 8 year (2009) 46%.

One of the more curious developments in the industry is “constructing” whiskies from existing distilleries to “craft” the potential profile of a new distillery… along with an artful story or two… enter Ardgowan’s Expedition 20 year which was retailing for an astounding SGD 1,200!

In the main floor, it was such a treat to meet Patrick Maguire of Sullivan’s Cove to sample:

Gordon & MacPhail is always  “must”… this year I checked an interesting range in the main floor and VIP room:

Yet not everything was about whisky. One of the highlights was a chance to catch up with Luca Gargano plus a special Jamaican Rum Masterclass. Between the two, we sampled rums from Caroni, Foursquare, Habitation Velier, Hampden, Long Pond and Worthy Park.

Phew! So that is my summary of our explorations… tasting notes coming over the next few months.

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The Vault Fine Spirits trio at KODE

Sometimes you have an opportunity to re-discover familiar drams in a completely different setting familiar friends…

That is exactly what happened one fine evening many months ago in Mumbai at KODE with Keshav Prakash featuring a trio from The Vault Fine Spirits Collection.

We began with a distinctly light then shifted gears completely to peat and closed with a sherry sweet. No serious tasting notes as this was purely an evening to quaff and enjoy with others who appreciate a good dram.

Other Vault whiskies normally found at KODE include:

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Whisky Lady – October 2018

Happy Hallowe’en! In Europe or North America, October is full on fall… the trees change colour, there is a cool nip in the air and winter is just around the corner. Perfect weather for whisky.

In India, specifically in Mumbai, it is our 2nd summer which can be even hotter, more humid that our 1st summer! Not so perfect weather for whisky… except when finding refuge in air condition comfort.

All three of our tasting groups met, clinked glasses and explored…

Bombay Malt & Cigar’s Canadian Club:

Our Whisky Ladies Contributor’s Choice evening was a Sunday sundowner with:

  • Ballentine’s 17 year Glentauchers 40%
  • Balvenie 14 year Caribbean Cask 43%
  • Talisker 18 year 45.8%
  • Glentauchers 20 year (That Boutique-y Whisky Company)

Our third whisky tasting group went traditional with a Scottish Trio:

My month also began with a quandary – do I go to Whisky Live Singapore in November or not? Clearly I decided YES as I’m already in Singapore now!

Plus tasting notes from the previous month…

For our Whisky Ladies, we shifted gears to grains with:

Our original club explored 3 different bourbons with carefully curated cocktails. Wow!

Whereas our Bombay Malt & Cigar gents went for a more classic 21 year evening:

Plus shared brief notes of a marvellous evening with an exceptional rare malt:

Curious to know more? Check out recent Whisky Lady’s monthly missives:

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