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:

  • Benrinnes 20 year (1995/2018) Hogshead Cask #9063 49.4% (279 bottles)
  • Glenrothes 20 year (1995/2018) Sherry Butt Cask #909700 52.8% (530 bottles)
  • Glenturret 30 year (1987/2018) Hogshead Cask #371 55.3% (214 bottles)
  • Ben Nevis 25 year (1991/2018) Sherry Cask #2375 55.3% (561 bottles)
  • Bruichladdich 25 year (1993/2018) Hogshead Cask #1640 46.9%
  • Caol Ila 15 year (2003/2018) Hogshead Cask #302465 54.2% (282 bottles)
  • Bowmore 15 year (2001/2018) Sherry Cask #108 55.3% (679 bottles)
  • Ardmore 10 year (2008/2018) Cask #800168 60.3% (233 bottles)
  • Glenlivet 10 year (2007/2018) 1st Fill Sherry Cask#900214 Batch #2 64.1% (308 bottles)
  • Bunnahabhain 35 year (1979/2018) Sherry Cask#9521 47.9% (472 bottles)

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:

  • Double Barrel (12 Dec 2007/24 Jan 2018) Double Cask No DC098 Barrel No 45%
  • American Oak Single Cask (9 Jun 2006/20 Aug 2018) Barrel No TD0108 47.5%

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

  • Caol Ila 33 year (1989/2018) 52.8%
  • Glenlivet 14 year (2003/2018) 56.5%
  • Inchgower 13 year (2005/2018) 55.1%
  • Mannochmore 18 year (1999/2018) 46%
  • Miltonduff 10 year (2008/2018) 43%

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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Whisky Live Singapore – go no go?

I need to make a decision… To go or not to go… that is the question.

It would seem obvious that a whisky lover would take advantage of every opportunity to explore. And with Whisky Live in Singapore convenient to us Mumbaikers, in a city that I’ve often called my “alternate home“, it seems a no brainer.

My first Whisky Live Singapore experience in 2016 was brilliant!

But here is where the challenge comes…. my 2nd experience in 2017…. wasn’t. I sincerely WANTED to enjoy it as much or even more than the previous year however…

What changed? In my exceedingly biased opinion…

  • Range – Less… far less…. mostly repeats… fewer “wow!” options. Granted I was a year further into my whisky explorations but surely the same distilleries would bring different expressions a year later? Not nearly as much as I had hoped…
  • Industry connect – Also far far FAR less… most booths were populated by local bartenders not folks actually directly associated with the distilleries or brands. Surface level schpeels which added little value to those keen to go beneath the marketing. There were a few with direct representation and some enthusiastic exceptions from the local team, but there is something completely different to chatting with someone actually FROM where the whisky is produced that makes all the difference. For me, that is the real advantage of such events… travelling to one place instead of many…
  • Crowds – Don’t get me wrong… there were crowds the previous year too however there was simply more room to wander around, to find a quiet corner to relax before heading back into the fray
  • Viva la venue? I really like the Robertson Quay area… once upon a time it was practically my home away from home… yet the venues alternated between sweaty outdoors and sweaty indoors as the A/C couldn’t keep up with crowd capacity then empty stretches of ‘gallery’ where you could neither sit and relax nor be more sociable… just stand… alone… and stare… at nearly blank walls
  • Cocktails king – Loads of opportunities to try different cocktails… which is certainly an industry trend. However call me a purest, I’m there to sniff, swish and savour my way through discovering the original dram not disguise it in a cocktail, however creatively that may be.
  • Drunken debauchery – You would think this is simply what to expect at a liquor event… however the emphasis and attendees seemed to care less about discovery and more about just drinking to get drunk. Not my cup of tea (so to speak). Clearly few followed a Whisky Live “Survival Guide” approach!
  • Collectors room – The separate seemingly rarified atmosphere of the 2016 collectors room contrasted completely with a sweaty bar just outside a raucous VIP room. And the collection seemed much smaller and pricier too. Dare I speculate the robbery that hit La Maison du Whisky in Paris not long before Whisky Live Singapore impacted the bottles on offer?

I could go on but you get the gist… it simply wasn’t for me… much as I would have wanted it to be.

Don’t get me wrong. I get that so much sincere intentions, work and sweat goes into pulling an event off like this. And am a huge fan of what La Maison du Whisky continues to contribute to the world of whisky – particularly through their Singapore store anchoring Asia.

However on a personal level, I still need to decide.. should I go to the 2018 event just a month away???

Time for a little website homework…

  • Hotel = A/C YEAH!!
  • Brands much the same but I’ve calibrated expectations and remain optimistic there will be some new and/or unique expressions not previously featured…
  • Introduction of a new 10 coupon limit… hmmmm…. While I would never over the course of a wander through the whiskies ever actually consume 10 drams, I’ve always enjoyed the lack of limit. You can find me shamelessly sampling some 20+ exceedingly small pours… speed “tasting” through a sniff, swish and spit of a few precious drops. I do appreciate needing some mechanism to reduce consumption to more reasonable levels… however it is a significant change to think of making a nodding acquaintance with a mere 10 options.
  • No collector’s room on the venue map…. surely that can’t be right?
  • And the master classes? While I’d welcome a chance to enjoy Old Pulteney, Bruichladdich & Octomore again, the one that caught my attention was the “Rare Malts” for a mere $250! (yikes!)

Decisions, decisions, decisions…. Hop on a plane in a month… “Should I stay or should I go now??” 

You can read more about my different Whisky Live Singapore adventures…

Whisky Live Survival Guide (2016) vs Whisky Live Singapore 2017

You can also find Whisky Lady in India on:

Whisky Lady – September 2018

In Mumbai, September is a season of transition… from the cooler monsoon slipping into the October heat of our 2nd summer. Which means the first part of the month is ideal whisky sipping weather by Indian standards and the later is when one tends to think more of a cool Gin & Tonic than straight up dram!

And yet, rain or shine, heat or not, our merry malters of Mumbai are always up for a wee nip or two!

For our Whisky Ladies, we shifted gears to grains. In the past, one would rarely find a grain featured solo, instead it would find favour in blends. And yet more and more one sees grain flying solo, so we decided it was time to explore!

  • Haig Club 40%
  • Suntory Chita 43%
  • Nikka Coffey Grain 45%
  • Cambus Single Grain 24 year (1991/2015) Cask 55891 51.9% (Signatory Vintage)

And our original club? We had a complete departure from our standard fare! We began our evening with a bourbon quiz, then teasingly small snifters of 3 different bourbons followed by carefully curated cocktails. Wow!

  • FEW Bourbon 46.5% morphed into a Manhattan
  • Mitcher’s Small Batch 45.7% slipped into an exquisite Sazerac
  • Cleveland Underground AP Bourbon Whiskey finished with Apple Wood, Batch 3, 45% opened into an original Old Fashioned

Whereas our Bombay Malt & Cigar gents were up for a more classic evening with whiskies aged 21 years:

  • Aberfeldy 21 year No 28750 40%
  • Highland Park 1991 40%
  • The Glenrothes 21 year Minister’s Reserve 43%

Given our Whisky Ladies 3rd year anniversary celebration was on the last day of August, tasting notes about our sociable evening of Irish drams, courtesy of our friends over at Pernod Ricard, were posted in September with:

Beyond this, there was a special chance to try Compass Box‘s new sherry influenced core offering – The Story of the Spaniard.

And I finally found scribbled notes from a November 2017 session where we explored   uncommon peat whiskies:

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

For many of our September sessions, tasting notes will come soon…

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Whisky Lady – August 2018

This August brought more monsoon rain and yes – some malts too! All three Mumbai whisky tasting groups met up and a bonus minis session.

For our Bombay Malt & Cigar gents, we took a rather significant detour from our usual whisky fare to explore rums from Columbian & The Seychelles:

For our original group, I had a special session planned for well over a year… to  explore different dimensions of Bruichladdich’s Port Charlotte with their Micro-Provenance 5 series:

Before we dove into the MP5, we calibrated our palate with:

For the Whisky Ladies, it was our 3rd anniversary with a sociable evening of Irish drams, courtesy of our friends over at Pernod Ricard who kindly shared:

  • Jameson Caskmate Stout Edition 40%
  • Green Spot 40%
  • Yellow Spot 12 year 46% and
  • Redbreast 12 year 40%

Plus we had a terrific minis session – Campbeltown style – comparing whiskies from Glen Scotia and Springbank… laugh if you will but we found…

There were a few other explorations…

I also posted notes from July’s remarkable new independent bottler – North Star with a terrific trio of:

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

You can also find even more Whisky bits ‘n bobs on:

Aroma kit flirting…

All three of our whisky tasting groups in Mumbai have WhatsAp groups to informally exchange updates, insights, ideas, teasing and more.

A few years back, an image of a whisky aroma kit made its appearance… with a query “Should we try and buy one of these?”

If the hype is to be believed… using one of these kits will train you to “nose like an expert!!”

Now I don’t know about you, but I have no ambitions of being an expert. Neither do I want to spout “cookie cutter” impressions of a whisky.

What I enjoy most about tasting solo and with others is the journey of discovery. How an aroma reminds us of something else, evoking a memory, another context, another experience.

My nosing and tasting references also fluctuate wildly from early days in Canada to a long term sustained relationship with India, with a few dash of many other countries influences too.

My first introduction to a kit was in Winnipeg at the Whisky Bar where I was too engrossed in my whisky to want to mess it up sniffing a sample of ‘decay’.

My next opportunity was at a fellow whisky adventurers home, which began with a guessing game – sniffing “blind” to see if we could figure what it was supposed to be.

Since then, has that same kit been pulled out, used to hone our skills at recognizing different aromas?

No, We’ve just gone back to our original style of simply sniffing and discussing without referring to an aroma kit. So much for using it to train us into experts!

Here’s what others have to say:

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Whisky Lady – July 2018

July brings monsoon rains, vacations and often a slightly slower pace of life… and yet this month still had a rather admirable set of whisky tasting experiences. And even though technically only 1 of our 3 Mumbai whisky tasting groups “officially” met, somehow gatherings over a dram still happened… read on…

Whisky Ladies Sukhinder Singh’s Cask Strength Trio from The Whisky Exchange in London:

Pedigree malts from around the world:

Our original group were introduced to a remarkable new independent bottler – North Star with a terrific trio of:

I also finally got around to sharing tasting notes from an evenings with Krishna Nakula, India’s Malt Maniac always push the boundaries… The last three remarkable whiskies sampled were…

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

You can also find even more Whisky bits ‘n bobs on:

Context is everything… Discovering your Daily Dram

I must admit that normally, I drink whisky only during tasting sessions… where my palate preferences are pre-primed for a range of sensations and kinds of whiskies. I can fully get behind a peaty punch same as a rich sherry bomb or a full-on cask strength dram. Curve balls are welcome. Even something that isn’t ‘good’ but pushes the boundaries or introduces a new experience is given a chance.

But a funny little thing has started to happen.

As we worked at emptying the various ‘nearly done’ bottles as part of the whisky ‘house cleaning‘, I realized that for simple enjoyment, my preference has turned to primarily ex-bourbon, more nuanced and dare I say it? Accessible drams.

When did that occur??

It seems for me at least, context is everything. And when the context isn’t a tasting session – structured and formal, or impromptu and casual – I’ve veered away from inviting those crazy outliers and gravitated instead towards something simpler.

Perfectly hitting that “preferred style” dram was Shelter Point’s Single Malt – 1st Batch from 2016. Which repeated a year later with the next batch. Awaiting a chance to grab the next to meet this “sweet spot”!

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