Minis Return – Edradour, BenRiach, Glenrothes

Our last minis session featured That Boutique-y Whisky Co (TBWC) exploring a few distilleries we don’t often find on retail shelves like  Dailuaine, Glenlossie, Strathmill, Fettercairn.

And this time? We decided that we wanted to compare our “Drinks by the Drams” with a couple of minis picked up in an earlier jaunt to London’s The Whisky Exchange.

So what did we try in our minis evening?

Definitely all were worth trying!

Miniatures or small ‘dramples’ are a great way to explore… when shared with another person, you still have plenty to get a real feel for the whisky. If anything, small samples helps you slow down, really pay attention, even see what can be understood from just ‘whetting’ the tongue with a few drops. Intersperse that with a few proper sips and you have a full experience.

In the case of the “drinks by the dram” approach, it is a terrific way to try something that is otherwise far to expensive or limited release.

Or in our case, given the time lapse between acquiring and opening, it turns out that none of the minis we sampled are currently available! Which is a pity as they were all quite terrific in their unique ways.

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Whisky Lady – May 2019

May brings even more heat to Mumbai but in our universe, it brought some interesting single malts too!

Our Whisky Ladies decided to experiment with Unusual Finishes:

Whereas our Bombay Malt & Cigar gents explored a quartet of merry Irish whiskies:

And our original club? Our evening reminded us that sometimes our preferences are contrary to price!

I also had a chance to catch up on tasting notes from April where the Whisky Ladies explored Highland Peaty Drams:

And Mumbai’s newest tasting group – The Drammers Club – held its 2nd session with an insane exuberant overabundance of whiskies for one night!

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Preference vs Price – Hazelwood, Dalmore, Glenglassaugh

Sometimes it is good to have a reminder that money doesn’t always mean you will encounter a marvellous malt! And that on our journey of discovering, hype doesn’t necessarily equate to a worthy exploration. This is one of the best reasons to taste blind – free from any preconceived notions or perceptions.

What did we try?

Alas I was late that eve, arriving just in time for the 3rd dram… which meant I began with the Hazelwood. Then continued in reverse order with the Dalmore, closing with the Glenglassaugh. Whereas my fellow malt explorers started with what was clearly the most robust (Glenglassaugh) then proceeded with lighter (Dalmore) and lightest (Hazelwood) profiles.

It was also an evening where we were reminded that price doesn’t necessarily mean quality – or at least our palate preference.

If we were rank by our blind-taste preferences we would have certainly put the cheapest first – the Glenglassaugh (approx $40), followed by the Dalmore (approx $200, but not worth that price!) and finally the Hazelwood (approx $100).

Curious if others have any different opinions?

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IPA, Madeira, Port Finishes

Once upon a time ex-Bourbon casks and ex-Sherry casks reigned supreme. However the world of whisky has been shifting for some time… It is relatively common now to find whiskies finished in Port Pipes, Rum and even Cognac.

Our Whisky Ladies are no strangers to this development. We’ve discovered some we’ve loved like Arran’s Amarone Cask and Brenne’s Cognac Cask, others less successful like Hellyer’s Road Pinot Noir, with a few in between such as Glenglassaugh Port Peated, Jameson Stout.

So we decided to dedicate an evening to finishes other than Sherry… we put out the call and here is what we brought together:

  • Glenfiddich IPA 43% – Part of the Glenfiddich Experimental Series, The Speyside Craft Brewery created a beer which was aged in ex-Glenfiddich casks for a month before they were returned to the distillery and filled with whisky for a three-month finishing period. It has been available since 2016 and can readily be found in most duty free.
  • From Wales, Penderyn Madeira 46% – Launched in 2004, I tried Penderyn’s Madeira before and was delighted to share it with the Whisky Ladies… While not found everywhere, it isn’t impossible to track down and once upon a time could even be spotted in some duty frees.
  • Tomatin 14 year Port Wood finish 46% – This expression joined the Highland Tomatin core range in 2014. The finish in Port Pipes is for around a year to round off 13 years in ex-Bourbon barrels. You won’t find this one in travel retail but its still possible to track down.
  • From India, Amrut Port Pipe Peated 48% – By contrast, there are only 100 bottles released India as part of The Vault Bianelle festival edition. This single cask whisky combined 3 year Virgin Oak and ex-Bourbon matured peated malts then finished in a 30 year old Port Pipe from Portugal for 2.5 years.

Curious to know more? Just click on the whisky links above to read our tasting notes and more about what we explored!

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Whisky Ladies Peaty Highlanders – Aird Mhor, Inchmoan, Ballechin

When you think peat, typically Islay distilleries come to mind – with their range of peats from sweet grass to medicinal to ash tray.

However on this particular evening, we explored peat from Highland… and what a trio!

Whisky Ladies Peaty Highland drams:

What an interesting exploration of peat… and hope you enjoy too!

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Whisky Lady – April 2019

April brings heat to Mumbai – not exactly whisky tasting weather – however where there is a will, there is a way!

Sweaty conditions did not deter the Whisky Ladies from exploring unique food pairings with Highland Peaty Drams:

We also welcomed a new Mumbai tasting group to the mix – The Drammers Club – imported from New York.

Our original group and Bombay Malt & Cigar gents took a small break but will be back with more sessions soon!

And the balance? All catching up with posting tasting notes from earlier evenings…

Our original group explored in March ‘red’ cask finishes with:

Both our Whisky Ladies late February and Original club in March explored the 2018 Canadian Shelter Point editions:

Rounding up March was an evening of Bourbon‘s with the Bombay Malt & Cigar gents:

The Swan Song

I also caught up with a couple posts from my last Singapore trip:

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BMC Bourbon – Bib + Tucker 10 year 66.6%

Can I admit sometimes I find the American whiskey industry just a tad confusing? Rather than distinct distilleries, we stumble across brands which may (or may not) be from a particular state and/or distillery or possibly a blend of several, made from barley or corn or rye or wheat a mix of many grains. Throw change in ownership or associations into the mix and it becomes even more confounding.

Such is the case with Bib & Tucker... Is it American? Yes… It was originally the brainchild of California’s 3 Badge Beverage Corp (previously 35 Maple Street with a Canadian connect), initially reputed to be bourbon from an undisclosed distillery in Tennessee… or was it Kentucky?

Fast forward to 2017 and you will see it is part of a Connecticut based Deutsch Family Wine & Spirits. As for where the golden liquid is actually from and how was it made and from what? I found both TN and KY on the bottle in small print but beyond that… tough to tell…

A different cask bottled at 64% was reputed to be from Kentucky Springs Distilling Co with a mash of 70% corn, 26% rye and 4% malted barley. The grains were distilled twice – through a column still and an old-fashioned copper pot still – then matured in No. 1 charred American white oak barrels… in other words charred for the least amount of time ie approx 15 seconds.

Whereas the one we tried clocked in at whopping 66.6% and I certainly couldn’t track it down… which isn’t so surprising given there are only 159 bottles of this particular expression in existence!

Setting aside my clearly inadequate detective skills, what matters most to us is what did we think? (as I can practically here the gents chaff with “Would you stop your blathering lassie so we can get on with the tasting??”)

Bib & Tucker 10 year Cask C130712 133.2 Proof 66.6%, Bottle 017 / 159

  • Colour – Burnished copper orange
  • Nose – Burnt caramel, tea leaves, toasted grain, dates and prunes, sweet spices particularly cinnamon, apricot salt tart, plum liqueur, a Chinese sour cherry, a bit of leather… as it opened, it became increasingly sour, cinnamon, almost camomile, then sweet with vanilla cream custard
  • Palate – Wow! There was no mistaking the 1st hit of alcohol and power behind this bourbon! If you had any taste buds remaining after the 1st singe, the embers continued to burn… however just as the nose evolved and opened up, so too did the palate… after time it even took on a lovely apricot too
  • Finish – A slightly bitter nutty edge came out after the spice dampened down
  • Water – A few much preferred it with water finding it brought out the tart sourness
  • Ice – Whereas others found it best with a nice chunk of ice

Overall? We thought it has quite an interesting nose that evolved as it opened up. And what a reaction to the 1st sip! The first gent to dive in had taken a good swig – burst out with “Woah!” and looked like he had been kicked by a mule. I kid you not. But slow down and take a wee sip? And be rewarded with a lovely flavourful rolling spice fire in your mouth.

This one certainly grew on us… and after the cigar was part-way through, most switched to the Bib & Tucker to pair and puff away the balance of our evening.

And what do the Bib & Tucker folks have to say? Well… this particular 10 year expression doesn’t seem to have on-line tasting notes however the 6 year is described as:

  • aroma  BIB & TUCKER leads with a strong vanilla scent along with fresh cut sweet grass, wet stone and old leatherbound books.
  • taste  With a smooth entry, the bourbon is nicely balanced with a hint of sweetness. It fulfills the promise of its nose before evolving into a warm, lightly crisp,spicy sensation.
  • finish  BIB & TUCKER lingers in the mouth with a complex, yet balanced chestnutty taste.

While not the same expression, can certainly see some similarity in profile between the standard 6 year vs the 10 year one we tried.

BMC’s Bourbon Night

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BMC Bourbon – Breaker Bourbon Port Barrel Finish 45%

When I tried to find out more about this bourbon, it turns out it is more a brand than a specific new distillery entering the fray.

The folks over at Ascendant are quiet about the origins and details on their website. While the company is based in California, according to Distiller.com, the bourbon has a mash bill of corn, rye and malted barley which is sourced from  Indiana where it is distilled and aged for a minimum of five years, then blended and bottled in California.

Breaker Bourbon Port Barrel Finish Batch No 5 45% Bottle 727

  • Colour – Burnished ruby
  • Nose – Sweet and sour, yhesty, herbal, basil, dry spices of cardamon and cloves, black peppercorn… increasingly sweet then sour mash
  • Palate – Yhesty malt on the palate, dry, milder than expected, even a bit bitter
  • Finish – Hmm… there but… what exactly?
  • Water – Evens it out a bit

This was a strange one. There was no discernible influence from the Port finish – none of the stewed fruits or dark berries or even grapes of any kind. We simply weren’t sure about it so we set it aside.

And when we returned? No… just no… seriously no.

Let’s see what the folks over at Ascendant have to say:

This special edition Breaker Bourbon starts with fully matured bourbon and is finished in port wine barrels. It boasts a distinct hue and complex flavors of vanilla, cereal grains, oak, spice, and rich stewed fruit leading to a dry finish. Citrus and spice linger on the palate with baked apple notes beneath.

We certainly didn’t find much in common with the tasting notes. Pity.

BMC’s Bourbon Night

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BMC Bourbon – Clyde May’s Straight Bourbon 46%

Clyde May’s takes inspiration from the story of Clyde May’s moonshine days in Alabama with their Conecuh Ridge style spirit which was essentially corn moonshine matured for a year in charred oak barrels with dried apples.

As for its modern avatar?  Kentucky Bourbon Distillers stepped in to produce the bourbon, though the branding retained a nod to Alabama. Why? Simply put prior to 2013, it was illegal to distill spirits in Alabama! However once the laws changed, rumour has it plans were hatched to build a distillery in Troy Alabama with developments at “an advanced stage.”

But what about the bourbon?

Clyde May’s Straight Bourbon Batch CM0791 Recipe No 2 92 Proof 46%

  • Colour – Caramel red gold
  • Nose – Musty granary then mellows out, mild wood, ripe banana but not the typical bold bananas of a rough bourbon but instead a soft nuanced banana loaf, peaches, then brewed tea chilled to make ice tea with lemon slices, then the wood comes back on top, followed by apples… almost like a honey sweet apple brandy
  • Palate – Back of the tongue banana, sweet, so much more interesting on the palate than we hand anticipated, honey and fruits, simply beautiful, mild and easy sipping
  • Finish – Oolong tea, truly lovely finish
  • Water – For those who gadded, found it became even sweeter, the fruits came out to the fore even more, burnt sugar with a nice peppery finish

The longer is sat in the glass, the more enjoyable the aromas. Particularly with the revisit, we found this a clear desert dram.

And with ice? Banana cream and baked apple pie, simply fabulous! Then shifts to orange blossoms and vanilla cream. However don’t let it get watered down… overly diluted it becomes sugar water and insipid. Instead, keep it topped up and enjoy!

As for paired with our bourbon soaked Gurkha? First half of the cigar was equally sweet and the Clyde May’s was a perfect complement. However by the time we got to the heavier spicier part of the cigar, this was no longer quite the right fit… instead we shifted to Bib & Tucker 10 year bourbon.

And what do the Clyde May’s folks have to say?

Aged 4 to 5 years in new 53 gallon oak barrels and is non-chill filtered. You get dried orchard fruits on the nose and spice on the palate. A full and smooth choice, best either on the rocks or in a May’s Manhattan.

  • Appearance: Rich crimson.
  • Nose: Soft and sweet on the nose with aromas of brown sugar, baked apricot, wild strawberry, and nutmeg.
  • Palate: Wonderfully soft with complex aromas of barrel spice, fruit, and oiled leather.
  • Finishes long and delicious.

When I reached out to what I could find for a contact of Clyde May’s, John Soden,
International Sales Director of Belfast Distillery Company Ltd/Conecuh Brands kindly stepped in to further share details about the bourbon:

  • Mash Bill is 78% Corn, 12% Rye and 10% Malted Barley
  • Char #4 barrels, non-chill filtered, aged for 4-5 years

While the Alabama element is adding apples, this can’t done with the straight bourbon we sampled for it to qualify as bourbon. They also clarified that while they have plans to build their own distillery, currently the whiskey is sourced with a “very strict set of criteria with regard to age/quality, production methods and ingredients.”

Bottom line, did we like it? Why yes we did!

BMC’s Bourbon Night

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BMC Bourbon – Four Roses Small Batch 45%

This Kentucky small batch bourbon wasn’t originally part of the trio, however our host received it as a rather timely gift and decided to bring it along as an “appetizer” to our main “meal.”

As we poured, we compared notes on our preferred standard bourbons… names that came to mind included Blanton’s, Elijah Craig and yes – Four Roses… ideally with a nice large chunk of ice.

However, true to our tasting traditions… we sampled each first neat, then some added water, then each bourbon was set aside until all were tasted for a revisit… followed by closing which whisk(e)y we thought could best partner our cigar.

Four Roses Small Batch 45%

  • Colour – Bright yellow straw
  • Nose – Musty sweet mash, wood, bit of citrus, pear drops, oily orange, sweet tobacco leaf or sweet grass, loads of sour mash, hay…
  • Palate – Very smooth and a bit peppery
  • Finish – Orange zest with some thinking perhaps a chaser of anise
  • Water – Makes it spicier initially then once it settles down simply dilutes
  • Revisit – Coming back for a revisit after sampling the others – wow! Pear with sweet white flowers, certainly very easy going

Overall? We were reminded of why this bourbon came to mind in our collective short list. Truth be told, most of us are not typically bourbon drinkers unless it happens to be cocktail hour! In which case, having a base with more power is preferred.

As for what the folks over at Four Roses have to say?

  • Nose – Mellow spice, rich fruit, hints of sweet oak & caramel.
  • Palate – Mellow, ripened red berries, dried spice, well-balanced, rich.
  • Finish – Soft, smooth & pleasantly long.

We tried it from a closed bottle in Mumbai on March 2019.

As for what this would set you back? It remains quite affordable… currently selling on Master of Malt for approx $30.

BMC’s Bourbon Night

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