Gordon and Macphail’s Glenlivet 14 year 56.5%

At Whisky Live 2018 in Singapore, the Gordon & MacPhail booth is a great opportunity to sample fine whiskies.

This time, I sampled both in the main section and in the VIP room which featured whiskies like this one – bottled exclusively for La Maison du Whisky.  

Glenlivet “The Chronicles” 14 year (2003 / 20 June 2018) 56.5%

  • Nose – Greeted with lovely fruits – particularly apples and apricots, honey with a sweet light citrus
  • Palate – Spicy, very fruity and eminently drinkable
  • Finish – A slight spice, cream then sweet, like sucking on a delicious hard candy

Keep in mind this was a mere ‘teaser’ at Whisky Live Singapore so not a proper taste, however I was left with the impression of a lovely, most approachable whisky.

And what do we know? The Glenlivet was matured in refill bourbon barrels and bottled by Gordon & Macphail for La Maison du Whisky as part of their Connoisseurs Choice cask strength line.

And what would this set you back? At La Maison du Whisky in Singapore – SGD 299.

What do the folks at La Maison du Whisky have to say about this whisky?

Among the favorite single malts of Gordon & MacPhail, the most famous Scottish independent bottler, undeniably figure Glenlivet. What’s more natural when you know that this venerable house is based in Elgin, the capital of Speyside. Very representative, this version invites us to discover a complex aromatic and gustatory palette within which fruits, flowers, spices and aromatic plants intertwine to unveil the landscapes of the region where it was born.

Profile: concentrated, the first nose is marked by candied fruits (lemon), peppermint, acacia honey and vanilla. At aeration, it becomes floral (hyacinth) and grass (straw). Powerful, the attack on the palate is extremely fruity (pineapple, pear). The mid-palate is spicy and finely wooded. Affirmed, the finish is marked by notes of royal jelly, lavender honey and violet candy.

Other whiskies sampled at the Gordon & MacPhail booth, Whisky Live 2018:

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Gordon and MacPhail’s Miltonduff 10 year 43%

At Whisky Live 2018 in Singapore, the Gordon & MacPhail booth is a great opportunity to sample fine whiskies and then pic the select one that might just make it home to Mumbai.

This colourful case flags that the Miltonduff is part of Gordon & Macphail’s new Discovery range – intended to explore the distinctive styles of sherry, peat and bourbon. In this case – it is a sherry cask.

My first brush with Miltonduff was part of the Ballentine’s 17 year old special box set featuring different component distilleries. This was followed by a Single Cask 21 year old.

So it was a pleasure to have a chance to try a different avatar in a teasing fleeting taste…

Miltonduff 10 year (2018) 43%

  • Nose – A delightful dry sherry
  • Palate – Stewed raisins and fruit cake
  • Finish – A lovely citrus orange finish

I wish I’d had more time and opportunity to enjoy… However  that wee nip was enough to know I would welcome an opportunity to try it again in a proper setting…

And what would this set you back? At La Maison du Whisky in Singapore, SGD 150.

What do the folks at Gordon & Macphail have to say about this whisky?

  • Aroma – Chocolate and sticky orange marmalade transforms into juicy plump stewed raisins and sweet baked apple, freshly cut grass notes delicately balance the rich sherry influences.
  • Taste – Sweet and spicy: comforting butter candies weave with roasted hazelnut followed closely by orange zest, cinnamon, and mouth-warming pepper maturing into plum and fig jam. 
  • Finish – Long with highlights of chocolate and stewed fruit finishing with lingering winter spices.

Gordon & MacPhail at Whisky Live 2018

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

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The Nector of the Daily Drams – Deanston 19 year 51%

After an appetizer of four whiskies from The Nector of the Daily Drams at La Maison du Whisky, I topped it off with trying their Deanston at Whisky Live.

Here is what I thought in my very brief teasing tasting at the VIP room….

Deanston 19 year (1999/2018) 51%

  • Nose – Sourdough, fruits and cream
  • Palate – Some spice, dried fruits and other elements like toast and light coffee, malty with some creamy vanilla custard too
  • Finish – There but… subtle, toffee

Overall it had that lovely malty quality one expects from Deanston.

You can currently track this dram down online from Master of Malt for GBP 145.

And here is the quartet we tried earlier from The Nector of the Daily Drams:

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The Nector of the Daily Drams – Ben Nevis 21 year 48.7%

Our evening at La Maison du Whisky in Singapore continued with a whisky from Ben Nevis… here is what we thought…

Ben Nevis 21 year (19967/2017) 48.7%

  • Nose – Lots of fruits, vanilla, caramel, sweets, then a distinctive sourdough bread or biscuits, a bit milky too
  • Palate – Very rounded on the palate, fruit forward with melons and grapefruit yet balanced
  • Finish – Subtle close, very much in keeping with the palate
  • Water – Yes please! Works quite well with water

After the delightful Highland Park and peaty Springbank, this Ben Nevis didn’t quite hit the mark.

Don’t get me wrong, this is a more than a decent dram. However it all comes down to preferred styles of whiskies. For my companion, this simply wasn’t his tipple. And that is perfectly fine.

Truth be told Ben Nevis isn’t my “go to” style either… however I appreciate shaking things up and contrasting every once and a while.

If this is the kind of whisky that appeals to you, then you may still be able to snag a bottle via Master of Malt for $184.

Here are other whiskies we tried bottled by The Nector of the Daily Drams:

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The Nector of the Daily Drams – Highland Park 24 year 50%

At La Maison du Whisky in Singapore, we explored a quartet of whiskies bottled by The Nector of the Daily Drams.

While my companion started with a peaty Springbank, I went straight for a 24 year old Highland Park.

Highland Park 24 year (1992/2016) 50%

  • Nose – Started with caramel, then quite fruity from oranges to apricots to apples, sweet vanilla, then shifted into herbal, then more mineral and earthy qualities, almost a bit musty
  • Palate – The fruit came from the nose came though – with a shift between apple and pear side then citrus… There is also a touch of salt too. One of the best qualities on the palate was the subtle light hint of smoke
  • Finish – Long light spice

While the Springbank was sheer indulgence, the Highland Park was much more subtle and gentle. Certainly one I enjoyed immensely.

Just in case you were curious, as of November 2018, this bottle is still available at Master of Malt for nearly $400 – yikes!

Here are a few more whiskies tried from The Nector of the Daily Drams:

Curious about other Highland Park tasting experiences? Check out:

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The Nector of the Daily Drams – Springbank 23 year 50.6%

At La Maison du Whisky in Singapore, we settled down to explore whiskies from The Nector of the Daily Drams.

My companion has more of a peat bent so began with a peaty Springbank.

Springbank 23 year (1994/2017) 50.6%

  • Nose – A bit salty, almost a brine peat and sweet, then some lemon custard, minerals or an earthy element
  • Palate – Nice and rounded on the palate with a solid old school campfire peat, light tobacco with some stewed fruits subtly in the background
  • Finish – Really rather good – long and strong with a delicious light chocolate and almost herbal quality at the end

If you enjoy the peatier Campbeltown style, this one is certainly for you! It has a deceptive complexity that grows on you the more you sip… and yet it is also eminently approachable.

While it is from the “Springbank” distillery, in terms of style, it is what we today know as “Longrow” or the peat line from the Campbeltown distillery.

You won’t find this at a liquor store near you… instead it was last seen on Whisky Auctioneer with the winning bidder parting with £425. Gulp!

We tried it as part of a special evening with Mario of The Nector of the Daily Drams along with:

Curious to try other peaty whiskies from this distillery?

And Springbank’s unpeated avatars:

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BenRiach 12 year (2005/2018) Sherry Cask No 5052 59.3%

When planning my sherry unusual evening, I wanted there to be variety – hence Irish, Indian and Islay – yet also knew we needed at least one “proper” classic sherry dram.

Enter the BenRiach single cask, single malt bottled for World of Whisky, Heathrow Airport. Now lest you think this was standard travel retail fare, this cask was launched for World Whisky Day in May 2018 for a slightly pricey £120.

Matured in Olorosso Sherry, non-chill filtered with natural colour, we managed to nab bottle 292 of a mere 597… and discovered it was worth every single pound!

BenRiach 12 year (14 Oct 2005/2018) Cask No 5052 59.3% 

  • Nose – Milk caramel sweets, slight citrus hint, heavy toffee, rum raisins, chocolate eclairs…  started to shift into chocolate liquor, dark fruits, nuts… after quite some time there was almost a hint of blue cheese
  • Palate – Gorgeous! Simply a class act. Dark plums, black cherries, rich and simply outstanding. Lovely cinnamon, raisins, complex, so well balanced, every sip a reward.
  • Finish – Huge long flavour. Everything we loved about the palate simply carried through… for an incredibly long time… superb!

There was no doubt this was an exceptional single malt.

Not one of us were tempted to put even a single drop of water. Each sip we enjoyed more… and it kept evolving. By the 3rd we discovered cayenne, by the 4th chocolate, by the 5th the dark fruits again came to the fore… and the next dripping in honey… you get the picture!

This was one worthy whisky that invited you to slow down, take your time, savour each sip and be rewarded with the most marvellously long finish.

A brilliant reminder of what a quality sherry dram can and should be!

BenRiach tasting notes with the bottle:

  • Colour – Amber
  • Nose – Honeycomb, chocolate, honey covered dates
  • Taste – Rich dark chocolate and herbs, honey coated almonds and figs

Here are the whiskies explored in our Sherry Unusual evening:

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A delightful, delicious yet alas discontinued dram – Cambus 24 year grain 51.9%

Every once and a while there is a chance to sample a piece of whisky history. In this case from a Lowland grain distillery that shut its doors in 1993. Before that, Cambus produced grain from early 1800s, with a hiatus from 1913 to 1938 when a fire destroyed much of the original distillery before it was rebuilt.

Like most grains, it mostly went into blends and you won’t find any official bottles. However – if you are lucky – you may come across a few select independent bottles… such as the one from Signatory that I snagged in Singapore at Whisky Live.

Cambus Single Grain 24 year (1991/2015) Cask 55891 51.9% (Signatory Vintage), Bottle 22 of 447

  • Nose – Floral, tempting, subtly complex, honey lemon, shifting between a heady perfume and light ginger, cinnamon, butterscotch and rich vanilla cream
  • Palate – Spice, with a great mouthfeel, cream like Amarulla with a bit of a hazelnut too, fruity, there was depth and character yet with a soft touch
  • Finish – Lightly bitter, closing on more of that delicious vanilla
  • Water – Brings out even more vanilla and toffee, think of a butterscotch ice cream

Overall it was exceedingly tasty… and far far far too easy to drink! It was hard not to say things like “Really nice!” and other happy murmurings.

And that’s just the thing about this whisky – it is simply delicious! A happy companion for a pleasant evening. It doesn’t challenge you but it does have enough substance and spice to make it a sprightly delightful dram.

What else do we know? It quietly matured for 24 years in a single refill butt and was bottled at cask strength.

While I didn’t find any tasting notes from the bottlers, I did check out what the  chaps at Master of Malt had to say:

  • Nose: Yep, that’s yummy grain – thick vanilla, summer fruits boiled sweets and gentle oak spice.
  • Palate: Spicy and honeyed, more vanilla and red fruit, almond pastries and a touch of treacle.
  • Finish: Quite long with a fruity tang.
  • Overall: Mid-twenties grain with a little fruity cask influence.

This bottle was purchased at Singapore Whisky Live 2017 (La Maison du Whisky) after sampling it at the Signatory kiosk. While not readily available, I paid SGD 203 / USD 150 / INR 10,800 in November 2017 and we opened the bottle in September 2018.

Since then I will admit to taking another nip or two as it is simply a rather enjoyable whisky. I keep telling myself to stop and keep it for others to try a sip of history but it sits in my cabinet temptingly tasty. And did I write more tasting notes? No… it was simply too tasty a treat to do anything but enjoy.

What else did the Whisky Ladies try in their Grain evening?

You can find more on a page dedicated just to Grains here.

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Port Charlotte MP5 10 year Virgin Oak Cask #005 63.5%

Last in our Port Charlotte cask evening was one that stumped our entire group. We sampled it blind, with no clue beyond everyone knowing the whiskies sampled that evening were from the same distillery, similar age, barley, peat level yet matured in different casks.

What did we find?

Port Charlotte MP5 10 year (2005/2016) Virgin Oak Cask #005 63.5%

  • Colour – Dark amber
  • Nose – Dark chocolate, cinnamon spice, raisins, prunes, apricot, such fruity sweet, almost sweet wine-like, shifting from dark to white chocolate nougat, vanilla, cappuccino, marmalade, walnut, not a hint of peat… then after some time, became almost meaty with a subtle ash and… believe it or not… bubblegum! After even more time… was that lemon custard? Or coconut cream pie?
  • Palate – Spice, even more than the others this one was sooooooo sweet! Then a roaring spice behind the sweet which eased into a ginger spice, followed by salt, roasted coffee bean and a gentle peat, with wonderful oils
  • Finish – Lovely
  • Water – Needs a splash of water – then it becomes juicy, fruity and simply fabulous!

For some, this was the favourite or runner up of the night!

There was something so completely appealing about the complexity of the aromas and, once water was added, it was absolutely wonderful on the palate. There was a lovely balance between the fruits, chocolate and light peat… which initially had a ‘barely there’ quality but revealed itself after adding water.

And our cask speculation?

After tossing out possibilities from rum to muscatel to sherry PX, most settled on Port thanks to its rich sweet character. No one even came close to guessing French virgin oak.

With the reveal, everyone was stunned!

On two counts…

  • First, did it really get all these elements from virgin oak?
  • And second, while it really came into its own with water, how could it be 63.5% after 10 years!

For both… there was more to the story which can be found in the MP5 broadcast with Adam and Allan.

Let’s start with the alcohol strength…

63.5% seems nearly impossible for 10 years until you consider the approach taken at Bruichladdich. Unlike other distillers that first add water to their new make spirit to bring it to a uniform 63.5% before maturing, Bruichladdich puts it into the cask at the full force of a true cask strength which is closer to 70%.

And what about the cask?

They shared that after nearly 10 years in an ex-bourbon cask, it was finished for 6 months in a French virgin oak with a medium char from Seguin Moreau cooperage which held nothing before… they credited the virgin oak for providing the depth of colour to the whisky.

An interesting twist… all we know is that we really enjoyed the results!

What more do we know from the bottle?

  • Barley type: Optic
  • Distilled: 30.11.2005
  • Bottled: 2016 – Aged 10 years
  • Cask Type: Virgin Oak
  • Warehouse: P4. L8 – Dunnage

I purchased this set at The Single Cask in Singapore and we opened the bottles in August 2018 in Mumbai.

Port Charlotte MP5 Single Casks:

We also started our evening comparing casks with a Port Charlotte 8 year Cognac Cask 57.8%.

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Port Charlotte MP5 10 year Bourbon/Bordeaux Cask #0013 59.9%

One of the ‘traditions’ of our original whisky group is to taste blind… In this case, I gave a bit of a twist by openly sharing we were sampling whiskies from the same distillery, peated at the same level and nearly the same age with the only difference the cask.

My goal was to eliminate wild speculations to instead focus on the narrow range of variable – cask. With the reveal made only after we tasted each whisky separately and then compared them to each other, sharing thoughts on the possible cask(s) used.

We began with the Cognac cask – while not part of the MP5 series – I chose it to calibrate the palate. We then moved on to the Bourbon cask, then this one… which added a Bordeaux finish.

What did we think?

Port Charlotte MP5 10 year (2005/2016) Bourbon/Bordeaux Cask #0013 59.9%

  • Colour – A clear touch of red – which we later found clearly came from the Bordeaux cask finish
  • Nose – Initially greeted with curd and tobacco, quite strongly spirit driven, some sulfur – like we just set off some crackers ‘patakar!’, then settled down with less peat, revealing chocolate, and a range of aromas that went from wine to sweet and salty dried fruits, pistachios and raisins
  • Palate – Very spicy at first, with an interesting over brewed tea quality, like tannins from red wine, sweet with an interesting spice, shifting into raspberries and walnuts
  • Finish – A long finish with a strong peppery close
  • Water – Initially made it spicier then really opened up with many finding it quite fabulous once opened up with a splash of water

While we found this one a bit thin on the palate, lacking the body of the MP5 Bourbon, it had quite a distinctive and appealing quality. We also found it less salty than the 1st with almost negligible peat.

For one, he confessed that if he wasn’t already told this was a peaty Islay whisky, he never would have guessed. We wanted to know how that could possibly be the case – given similar ppm from other distilleries retain a much more pronounced peat.

The answer in part can be found in the Laddie MP5 broadcast in which the head distiller Adam Hannett speaks with Allen Logan, distillery manager.

Around the 20 min mark, they shared how their PC style is to always start at 40 phenolic parts per million (PPM). However the phenol content changes as it is mashed, malted and further softened through the slow distilling process. The shape of the still is another factor, which enables lighter flavours to come through. Then, as the spirit ages, it loses more phenols…

The result? You end up with considerably less ppm than you started with… And for Port Charlotte (PC) specifically, it means the whisky is surprisingly versatile with different cask types, particularly if it is aged for a longer period.

Yet without this insight or knowledge of the re-casting, what did our merry malters think?

After much speculation, most votes veered to sherry with one clear it could not be sherry as it had a wine quality. Clearly this taster was exceedingly close!

What Adam shared in the broadcast is this whisky began in an ex-Bourbon cask for 10 years then was finished for 9 months in the fresh Bordeaux cask from the town of Margeaux.

When asked why they recast the spirit, the answer was:

“We wanted to see what else we could explore, do and try new things.”

In part this was motivated by a recognition the whisky needed an extra ‘boost’ from re-casking.

And when the topic of the wine cask finish arose, Allen spoke of their early experiments with finishing 15 and 20 year stock using ex-Bordeaux casks, which turned the whisky pink after only a short period of time! What to do? Jim McEwan suggested releasing the whisky as a special edition for Valentine’s Day, what else?

As for this whisky? I revisited it the next evening and found the wine element unmistakable… and think we underestimated it in our first foray. Or perhaps with just a little oxidation, it revealed its balanced complex character. Superb!

What more do we know?

  • Barley type: Optic
  • Distilled: 29.11.2005
  • Bottled: 2016 – Aged 10 years
  • Cask Type: Bourbon / Bordeaux
  • Warehouse: WH5. L2 – Dunnage

I purchased this 200ml tasting set trio for an embarrassingly high amount from The Single Cask in Singapore.

Port Charlotte MP5 Single Casks:

Before we tasted the MP5 series, I opened a Port Charlotte 8 year Cognac Cask 57.8% to help calibrate our palate to the Port Charlotte style.
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