Chorlton Single Casks – Miltonduff, Orkney, Ruadh Maor

One of the best things about being in a whisky tasting group is when a member discovers and shares something truly special. The evening with a trio of whiskies from independent bottler Chorlton was one such occasion.

We sampled each blind and it was clear from the first whiff of the first dram this was no ordinary tasting.

Chorlton Single Casks

  • Miltonduff 9 year 58.3% – Creamy desert with fruits, breakfast cereals… in short delicious!
  • Orkney 9 year 63.1% – Copper, minerals, salted caramel and smoke, all beautifully balanced
  • Glenturret Ruadh Maor 8 year 62.5% – Seasoned meats and fried snacks…. a chameleon quality that evolved differently in each glass

We were struck by the quality of each –  “pedigree” whiskies which held well not just with our initial tasting but when we revisited too. Each had a distinct personality, and while entirely different characters, there was a clear common thread. Solid drams, no sherry influence or other finishes, just premium picks at incredibly reasonable prices.

With the reveal, we were struck by the gorgeous labels and astounded by our host sharing he paid a mere GBP 50 a bottle?! Could this even be possible in a time of ever increasing costs with mixed quality?

It was a special evening for more than just the whisky – it was held at Savor‘s tasting room with a meal designed to complement our whisky wanderings. A very memorable night!

Curious to know more?

My tasting notes are coming soon but you must check out WhiskyFlu’s post about how he discovered Chorlton, David’s approach to bottling quality drams for a reasonable price, tasting notes from our evening.

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Whisky Lady’s Top 10 Events

Welcome to a little nostalgia for a few exceptional evenings gone by… a light tripping through a malty memory lane… with a focus on events that expanded understanding, industry connects and some pretty great malts too!


2011

Let’s start by re-winding the clock to the year our original Mumbai tasting group formed. It was February, our inaugural evening was hosted at BlueFrog’s private alcove above the recording studio. We were

#1Glenfarclas Mumbai Special 12 year, 105, 21 and 40 year

Later that year we were invited to attend a tasting led by the family own distillery’s George S Grant – a remarkable evening that closed with the Glenfarclas 40 year!

It cemented an appreciation for not only for the whisky but the stories that go with its making – without a doubt it was the stand-out experience of the year!


2012 – 2013

As a tasting group, we began to find our grove with monthly sessions and it became clear who would remain as regular members. We shifted from random contributions to themes hosted in homes as increasing effort and creativity went into sourcing something interesting to share with other members.

This was also the period I went from occassionally jotting down impressions to regularly crafting tasting notes which I posted on my other blog Everyday Asia.

#2Jameson Original, 12, Gold Reserve, 18 yearGreen Spot + Redbreast

As for memorable event? I will always have a soft spot for the Jameson lads (and hopefully lasses to come too!) who make their way as brand ambassadors to India. In large part this is due to the convivial evening held at one of our members homes in 2013 where they shared insights into the Irish whisky industry, tall tales and good dram or two, augmented by a few more we added to round out the evening.

Jameson lads with their set-up


2014-15

This was a stand-out year for more than one reason! It would be impossible to limit to a single event. When I look back, I realise this was the pivotal year that opened the most doors to industry insights and introductions. By late 2014, it was clear I was ‘hooked’ on exploring and sharing such experiences, with the birth of this blog the outcome!

#3 – Amrut with Jim Murray (compliments Amrut)

Beyond our regular tasting sessions, I experienced the massive “show” that is a Jim Murray event – in this case sponsored by Amrut. It was memorable but not necessarily for the right reasons!

#4 – Glenmorangie (with Bill Lumsden)

In complete contrast, I was invited to attend an event in Delhi and interview Bill Lumsden for Man’s World. The event? Glenmorangie’s celebration of their prestige line with Glenmorangie’s 18 year, 25 year and Signet expressions. Each was perfectly paired and a true class act.

Glenmorangie evening at The Oberoi, Delhi

#5 – Balblair 03Old Pulteney 12 yearSpeyburn 10 year

This was followed a few months later by a master class with Stuart Harvey. Again – full of stories, insights, good company and a most enjoyable dram or two, three with a bonus!

Old Pulteney 12 year (Inver House)

#6 – Whisky Ladies with Karen Walker – Caorunn ginBalblair 03Old Pulteney 12 yearSpeyburn 10 yearAnCnoc 12 + 22 year

Then an evening with Karen Walker, when she was Global Marketing Head for Invers House for the newly formed Whisky Ladies of Mumbai.

Some of Whisky Ladies of Mumbai

#7 – Mumbai Malt Maniacs Rare Malts – Auchentoshan 40% (1980s)Port Ellen 26 year 1982 50%Lagavulin 16 year 43% (1980s)

Each experience added a layer and being introduced to India’s Malt Maniac Krishna Nakula was and remains a true gift. His 20th anniversary celebration of Malt Maniacs in Mumbai with Rare Malts from the 1980s was an eye opener to a different ‘style’. Krishna’s knowledge and passion is immense, his ability to discern such nuances and details from a few good whiffs and just a sip is astounding!

1980s whiskies


2016

By 2016, I was part of 3 tasting groups who regularly ‘fed’ my habit! We had several stand-out evenings and I was consistently impressed with the growing quality and variety of themes. I was also invited to ‘crash’ a private whisky tasting in my home town Winnipeg’s “The Cabinet”.

Some are surprised it took so long, but 2016 was the 1st time I went on a distillery tour. Clearly I’ve not taken a ‘typical’ path as it wasn’t Scotland… nope! Instead it was Gimli, Manitoba, Canada at Crowne Royal’s plant.

#8 – Whisky Live Survival Guide Collector’s Room –BenromachBruichladdichKavalanNikkaOld PulteneyPort AskaigTeelingRum + Whisky Masterclass with Luca Gargano + Dave Broom

As for a remarkable event? Without a doubt it was my 1st Whisky Live Singapore experience. I loved everything about it – from the Collector’s Room to masterclasses to engaged conversations with industry experts on the tasting floor. None of the subsequent WhiskyLive’s lived up to this one.


2017

The year started with a trip to Goa, India with a Michael personally giving a tour of Paul John distillery, showing plans for their visitor centre, insights into upcoming expressions, etc.

Mid-year on our way back from our wedding in Canada, a whisky club member arranged a special evening in London with Sukhinder Singh, co-founder of The Whisky Exchange. Following our dinner, he took us to their office, giving a tour of his personal collection in their board room, the rare malts section, warehouse and private bar where he ‘started us’ with something simple – a mere 30+ year Caol Ila! What Sukhinder and his brother have done for the world of whisky is unmatched.

My friend wondered why I never wrote about this experience or took copious photos like I do during our normal tastings together. My response? It was like entering a “whisky temple” and I wanted nothing to distract from fully being there in the moment of that exceptional experience. It was a year later before the Cask Strength Trio selected by Sukhinder that day for the Whisky Ladies was opened.

There were also several events (Glenmorangie Bacalta Launch, DISCUS American bourbon, rye and cocktails, Whisky Live Singapore), however what really stood out was 2 days, 3 tasting experiences featuring 15 whiskies from 3 to 60 years!

All were held with Krishna Nakula and Keshav Prakash and each experience added a richness to a whisky appreciation repertoire, making this my #9 Expert Event:


2018 – 2019

The next two years were full of so many tasting experiences – introductions to new independent bottlers like North Star and Chorlton, whiskies from new distilleries, another trip to Paul John’s Distillery – this time with the Whisky Ladies.

I have watched with immense pride as our original tasting club members Keshav and Anjan Prakash translated their passions into professions – leading to the creation of The Vault Fine Spirits – a beacon of quality, imbued with their generous spirits.

#10 – The 1st Vault Biennale

Their inaugural spirits festival “The Vault Biennale” brought remarkable spirits and spirit makers to Mumbai in a two day event anchored by spirited stories that personalized and contextualized the passion applied to bringing unique, quality expressions to the world. It was a truly special experience and I hope it will be back next year!

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Whisky Lady’s Top 5 Popular Posts (that may surprise you!)

As part of reflecting back on the last five years and 1,000 whisky posts, I’m amused by the top 5 whisky posts… that may perplex for their popularity.

The all time favourite Whisky Lady post are… drum roll please…


#1 Party Whisky – Amrut’s MaQintosh

Yup… for a whisky that I’ve purchased only once and had a few times at parties.

However it definately falls into the “populist” category of accessible, affordable Indian blends.

It has a really crappy photo – which may be contributing to its popularity as it seems a ‘wine shop’ in India has co-opted the image!

On my next trip back to India I may buy a bottle just to take better pictures and bring it back to Germany for the novelty factor.

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MaQintosh (WhiskyLady.co)


#2 Glen Deveron 20 year 

Another whisky you won’t see my running out to buy anytime soon! Why does it stand out? I suspect it is the combination of being 20 years, available at most duty free for a cheaper price and our completely panning it a few years ago when we tasted it side-by-side a 3 year old Japanese whisky.

Glen Deveron 20


#3 Irish Eyes – Green Spot, Yellow Spot, Redbreast

I suspect this rides on the back of increasing interest in Irish whiskies… and for some reason it “peaked” in popularity in 2018!

Green Spot


#4 The Quandary of the KinInvie 17 – Batch 1

No tasting notes, just putting out to the blogosphere my quandary – to open a bottle purchased in 2014…

Thanks to Ronald Ding of Whiskyrific, I did get a chance to try a sample! And concluded it probably wasn’t worth hanging on to… Fast forward a few years and it seems I have company in that final conclusion as the popularity of this whisky waned and auction prices are flat. I probably paid more at Singapore duty free than you could get it today in the UK.

I haven’t yet opened the KinInvie only as had planned a session with the Whisky Ladies to deconstruct a popular vatted malt – Monkey Shoulder. At the time, Monkey Shoulder was a vatted malt bringing together Balvenie, Glenfiddich and Kininvie. Unfortunately the recipe has now changed and all my old Monkey Shoulder bottles were long since consumed in past parties.

Hence the KinInvie still lies waiting for the right opportunity to open!

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Kininvie 17 year (WhiskyLady.co)


#5 Ichiro’s Malt Chichibu ‘The Floor Malted’ 3 year 50.5%

Remember #2 where a 20 year old was outclassed by a mere 3 year old toddler? This was the young upstart. No surprise it seems to be more the ‘battle’ between young and old than the reviews themselves that stand out.

20141016_Chichibu The Floor Malted

Chichibu (WhiskyLady.co)

As these are “All time” popular posts since starting this blog in October 2014… They pretty much all have crappy photos. And if the lense is shifted to look at only in the last year, except for the MaQintosh, different posts sparked attention.

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Whisky Lady’s Top 10 most memorable malts (you won’t find anywhere)

As I browsed through the thousand odd whiskies sampled over the last few years, some simply stood out as exceptional. Unfortunately you can’t find them easily – except perhaps if you are very lucky via a private collection or auction!

So at the risk of evoking much envy and frustration, I bring to you my Top 10 Most Memorable Malts! In alphabetical order as I simply couldn’t rank them…

Balblair 38 year (1966/2004) 44%

From the Highlands, one of the most memorable whiskies for two reasons: it brought together our Bombay Malt & Cigar group and it was an absolutely perfect balance of sherry elements softened by maturity into a deep, complex, exquisite dram. And come on, when are next going to stumble across a 38 year old Balblair?

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Bruchladdich 15 year “Royal Wedding H.R.H. Prince Charles” (1965/1980) 52%

The marriage of Charles and Di may not have lasted, however this exceptional dram did. Elegant spice, with light peat… it reminded me of an operatic aria – with achingly beautiful high notes from the 1st soprano, joined by rich contralto harmonies and then tenor counter point. What can I say? I grew up with a mother who sang opera!

I tasted it at Whisky Live 2016 where they shared to always check ceramic bottles weight – as they are prone to lose their precious cargo.

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Cambus Single Grain 24 year (1991/2015) Cask 55891 51.9% (Signatory Vintage) 

While technically not a malt, this grain simply had to find join this list as it remains my all time grain favourite for its floral, tempting, subtly complex nose with butterscotch ice cream, great mouthfeel with depth of character – overall simply delicious!

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Glendronach 42 year 1971 Cask 1246 (Master of Malt)

Glendronach 39 – 42 year 1972/2011, 1971/2011/2012/2013 

This was actually four small samples carefully collected by India’s own Malt Maniac Krishna Nakula. Each was singularly decadent and indulgent, no luxury spared….  Imagine a lush velvet boudoir, deep leather chair with a crackling fire, your every whim fulfilled… and when your hand reaches out for a sip of something rich, robust yet refined… one of these fills your glass!

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Photo: The Whisky Barrel

Glen Grant 64 year (24 Nov 1949/6 Jun 2014) First Fill Sherry Cask 2200 + 3185 40% (Gordon and MacPhail)

Let me start off by saying – no that is NOT a typo! This whisky really was laid down in 1949 and aged for a remarkable 64 years. Just let that sink in for a moment.

I sampled it blind and found it was a mystery – Delicate and unique. Surprisingly tangy yet sweet too. Complex yet not heavy. Clearly old yet had fresh elements also. A kaleidoscope of contradictions… that somehow worked together in weird and wonderful ways.

I kept aside just a few drops to revisit and was rewarded with an exceptional bouquet of fruits, flowers then pine. The last drop drained, returned an hour later to the empty glass to discover the most glorious perfume! Simply wafting out from the glass. Beautiful.

To then find out how truly remarkable and historic it was – wow!

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Glenturret 30 year (1987/2018) Hogshead Cask #371 55.3% (LMdW Artist #8)

At Whisky Live Singapore 2018, this particular La Maison du Whisky Artist #8 series stood out for its balance and beauty with bounteous orchard fruits and zesty fruits. I found it utterly delightful and it completely hit my whisky “happy place.”

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Ichiro’s Houou-uhi (Phoenix) 46.5%

What can be more mythical than a Phoenix rising from the ashes of not one but two closed Japanese distilleries? At least I believe it is a blend of Hanyu Distillery (12 & 20 year) and single grain whiskies from Kawasaki (30, 32 and 35 year)… It had a nuanced complexity bringing together seaweed, jasmin, cognac, pepper spices in a distinctly ‘Asian’ avatar with a refined finish. Exceptional. Even the final drop stored for nearly 4 years retained unique qualities.

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Image from Scotch Whisky Auction

Karuizawa 39 year (1973/2013) Cask No 1607 67.7%

Karuizawa is a closed Japanese distillery much coveted for its rarity. Limited remaining stock is held either with Number One Drinks (like the one I tried) or The Whisky Exchange. I personally found it hard to put into words something that just wraps you up in so many layers of richness… It was a bit overwhelming to sample such a mature, complex and yet still eminently enjoyable dram. Age and rarity doesn’t necessarily mean quality, but in this case it did!

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Laphroaig 16 year (1987) Silver Seal 16 year 46% vs Laphroaig 21 year (2008) 53.4%, bottle 18 of 750 (Heathrow T5)

I simply couldn’t decide between these two Laphroaig – each is special for different reasons… The 16 year from 1987 was memorable for its delightfully floral quality, subtle, silky, sweet herbs and honey relaxing into a light smoky peat. And the T5 21 year shone with its elegance, mellow smoothness, soft spices balancing perfectly with peat, a gorgeous harmony between all its different elements. For me, both are a very different league of Laphroaig than you typically find.

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Lochside 1981 51.2% Gordon and Macphail

As whisky flight experiences, what my companion and I shared at The Auld Alliance in Singapore remains unmatched. And this Lochside from a closed distillery was a complete show stopper with a singular finish. When asked a year later my ultimate dream dram – without hesitation I said “Lochside 1981”. Unbelievably, one of our whisky club members tracked down another Lochside 1981 46% – which was also remarkable!

While I doubt I will have another Lochside experience anytime soon, there was a tempting open collection in Swan Song, Singapore available for tasting and years ago I had the privilege of being astounded by the incredible array Sukhinder Singh (aka The Whisky Exchange) has collected. Somehow it is comforting to know that out there in the world such whiskies exist.

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So there you have it – a short list of a few memorable malts from a lengthening list of whisky explorations!

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Celebrating 1000 Whisky Lady posts!

When I started exploring the world of whiskies, I had no idea where that journey would lead. I certainly never could have anticipated that my scribbles would result in 1,000 posts over 5 years!

Firmly anchored by life in Mumbai while traversing the globe for work and play, my observations on various whiskies were made richer by being shared experiences with much laughter, learning and naturally libations!

Starting with one, then two, then three regular whisky tasting groups, it has been a brilliant adventure. These regular gatherings where each member sources something to explore together were augmented by Masterclasses, an event or two, kind samples shared, even “mini” tastings!

However change is the only constant and my journey took a different trajectory to Germany late 2019 for work. While India remains ‘home’ and our tasting groups remain strong, I’m now a visitor when possible rather than regular participant. Where things will go from here will evolve.

For now, I’d like to raise a toast to thank all those part of this journey – whether it be sharing a dram or connecting to the whisky fabric by reading these malty missives – this milestone of 1,000 posts would not have happened without you!

And bear with me as I indulge in a little look back with some highlights of the last few years together!

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Whisky Lady – December 2019

What an end to an amazing year of change! It feels like only yesterday that my husband and I were celebrating New Years in Dubai?!

If someone told me in 1986 when I first went to Germany on a summer study exchange programme that  34 years later I would be moving there, I would have thought you crackers! However equally if you said that would be after spending nearly 20 years in India, I also would have marvelled at your imagination!

And yet life has a way of giving us exactly what we need. I feel so blessed at 50 to have the gift of travel, to have explored a few countries for work and play.

Equally, I so enjoy how the world of whisky forges bonds – those on a quest to discover a good dram or try something different are brilliant companions!

While life in Nurnberg is still very much in ‘set-up’ mode… I did crack open a couple of the Drinks by the Dram advent calendar… which finally DID (after three attempts) make it to my new abode! Notes to come soon…

However nothing made me happier than catching those planes home to Mumbai. While the last few days of 2019 were mostly filled with catching up with family and friends, I closed the year escaping the city to our wee country ‘cabana’.

As for tasting notes, it was a quiet month… Which made it a perfect time to reflect back on a few interesting experiences from 2019 such as:

Guess what? I finally found my scribbles for our Whisky Ladies June 2019 Highland Treat with:

Plus dug up a couple more previous Mumbai tasting experiences such as:

  • A nip of Shackleton at my big 5-0 birthday celebration
  • Beautiful dram dregs… with mostly Whisky Ladies and a few more, rising to the challenge of rescuing precious open bottles from languishing in less than optimal Mumbai storage conditions

PS – This is my 999 whisky post! Not bad for an avid amateur.

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Drammers Club is in Mumbai!!!

Another malty memory from 2019 was my first Drammers Club tasting in April… which was a practical cornucopia of whiskies!

For those not familiar, the Drammers Club started in New York and has been opening chapters around the world. For Mumbai, co-president Charlie Prince teamed up with Rohan Mirchandani.

In the session I joined, Charlie shared the intent to anchor Mumbai sessions with an Indian whisky and American  plus other interesting bottles picked up around the world.

The focus for India was Paul John with Yash Bhamre, Brand Ambassador:

  • Brilliance & Edited– I’ll admit, seeing 10 odd whiskies, skipped this pair to focus on sampling those not yet tasted
  • Nirvana 40% – An opportunity to try even before its official launch! It was friendly, approachable, fruity, caramel, easy going
  • Select Cask Peated from Yash’s personal collection, while it didn’t have the pronounced ‘bacon‘ of some editions, it was still a great example of their cask strength peated avatar
  • SMWS 134.3 “Hello Flavour” 56.9% ex bourbon cask, 189 bottles, released 2017… had tropical fruits like mango, pineapple, intense flavours and a delightful finish

And for the American side of the equation?
  • Barterhouse 20 year 45.1% – Easy going creamy and one I’d love to try again in more optimal tasting circumstances
  • Old Commonwealth Postage Stamps of Ireland – A very unique dram that deserves specific attention. I hurriedly jotted down a few tasting notes – Tight black currents and dark berries, black vanilla pods, rich creamy caramel coffee on the nose… Smooth flavorful tea leaf on the palate, a bit queer with the finish initially but harkened back to the nose
  • Heaven Hill Marsala Hogshead Finish (2001/2017) Cask 17074, 46.5% Bottle 13 or 199 bottles – I wasn’t sure about this one, it started off as very musty, nail polish, definitely different funky. However it tasted much better – smooth and sweet, wet fall leaves, berries with spice, finishing with tannin merlot

To round things out, we also explored from Japan:

  • Ichiro’s Double Distillery 46% – Not bad with lots of cantaloupe, honey dew melon, musk melon
  • Ichiro’s Single Grain – I skipped this one – too much of a good thing is, well… too much!

Now I will admit both my pics and tasting notes are rubbish. A crowded noisy bar – no matter how fabulous it is for sociable occasions – just isn’t my way of savouring a single malt. So you will have to forgive my scant impressions. It also cemented my preference for humble low key tasting evenings with a small group of friends over a trio or at most 4 whiskies not over 10!

Don’t get me wrong – I’m delights Mumbai has a chapter and wish the team all the best. Charlie and the gang are definitely bringing greater variety of whiskies to a larger audience – and that surely is a good thing!

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Berlin’s Whisky Connect

As 2019 winds to a close, I’ve been reflecting on the ways the world whisky fabric weaves us together!

In June, I went to Germany to attend a work conference… at the time airfares between Mumbai and Munich were stupidly expensive thanks to the combination of India’s Jet Airline going under and no fly zone over Pakistan lengthening flights. I managed to find a ticket via Istanbul that was marginally cheaper yet had a 20 hour stop over. So I thought why not close off a project in Turkey by going to office on the Monday to meet with the team rather than have Sunday in Istanbul.

Why mention all of this? Well I finally had a weekend in Germany to do with as I wished. And what I wished was to go to Berlin.

When I first went to Germany in 1986, the country was still divided between East and West Germany with Berlin’s Checkpoint Charlie the focal point for travel between. The cold war was our reality, Gorbachev recently in power on the one hand and Reagan on the other.

Do you need a history lesson? Not really, but it sets the stage for my first trip to Berlin in 2019 where I fell in love with the pulse, grit and spirit of the city. Some places around the world have a “live wire” feel… Berlin is one of them.

And a highlight of my 1st trip to Berlin was an evening at The Union Jack Pub with a member of The Sharing Angels – Germany’s whisky women network.

At the time, a move to Germany wasn’t on the cards and I had no clue just a few months later I would be dividing my life between my home, husband, friends and felines in Mumbai with my work and new life in Nurnberg, Germany.

Instead, I embraced meeting a fellow whisky explorer where we enjoyed discussing malty matters over a dram or two… a most memorable evening.

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Whisky Lady – November 2019

Wow! My first month in my new country of residence – Germany – zipped past in a blink of an eye!

October had just a lone post about anticipating an Advent Calendar… which due its change in delivery date and my hectic schedule never reached me! It wandered its way back to the UK then was resent (with additional fees!) to Germany mid-November and never actually turned up as expected so am now awaiting the 3rd attempt from the UK. Let’s hope three times a charm and I can open it in my new flat early December and maybe even try some before I hop on a plane back to India December 20th!

So while my ‘kick start’ to German tasting adventures was a fiasco, November’s quick trip back to Mumbai was much more successful and I managed to sneak in not one but two whisky tasting sessions.

The 1st tasting session was with the Bombay Malt & Cigar gents where we explored an Irish Method & Madness Quartet of:

The 2nd with our original club was quite an exceptional evening – our host generously shared his birthday celebration with us, held the evening at Savor‘s unique tasting room and introduced us to another fabulous independent bottler – Chorlton Single Casks with:

  • Miltonduff 9 year 58.3%
  • Orkney 9 year 63.1%
  • Glenturret Ruadh Maor 8 year 62.5%

I also found the time (and tasting notes!) from the Mumbai original club’s September session which featured:

There will likely be even more disruptions over the next few months as I settle into the new job and life in Europe. Plus can’t wait to get home to Mumbai for a few weeks end December!!

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Original Club – Caol Ila, Jura, Springbank, Scapa

In September, I’d planned to be off on a Scottish whisky tour… however the visa powers that be had other ideas and I found myself cancelling that trip and remaining grounded in Mumbai.

The silver lining was being able to join one more whisky tasting session with our original Mumbai group.

What did we explore?

Our host decided the order by age and yet after we finished the tasting, we thought how a reverse order may have brought out the elements of each whisky more fully.

Which led to the alternate whisky our host had originally thought to include – the Scapa 40% instead of Springbank 10 which is normally a favourite.

It was an interesting evening and one I was delighted to be able to join.

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