TBWC – Auchroisk 12 year 47.9% (CNY Tasting Set)

Auchroisk is the last mini in our That Boutique-y Whisky Company Chinese New Year tasting set. Auchroisk isn’t one of those “we have history stretching back hundreds of years” kind of distillery. Nope. It is a more modern entry into the whisky fabric, built in 1974 for blending – think J&B Rare.

What did we discover with this particular cask strength single malt?

Auchroisk 12 year 47.9%, Batch 7 with 2,400 bottles. GBP 23.95

  • Nose – Dried leaves, herbal sweet, sweet grass, lemon, sweet spice, caramel, malty, wet cloth, all sweet smoke, think chestnuts roasting
  • Palate – Sweet then smoke, restrained yet spicy, herbal – think Underberg
  • Finish – Very dry, more of that nutty slightly sweet element

I honestly wasn’t sure I would like this one… nothing against the distillery but with the lovely summer weather I wasn’t keen on even a lightly smoky dram. Whereas this one so gently curled that element into the mix and was so smooth and easy to sip that any misgiving dissipated! Instead, it became more and more enjoyable… it was completely lip smacking in a delightfully autumnal way.

What do the folks over at Master of Malt have to say?

The zombie apocalypse has returned in the form of the seventh batch of this delicious indie Auchroisk! This one was matured for 12 wonderful years before the folks at That Boutique-y Whisky Company bottled it up at 47.9% ABV. If you look very carefully at the blood-curdling label, you’ll see that, amidst the chaos of finding people to recruit to the undead, one of the zombies has found the time to get his hair dyed. Self care, and all that.

Tasting Note by The Chaps at Master of Malt

  • Nose: Through dry smoke there’s fresh malt, lemon peel and dark berry syrup, with plenty of toffee, coconut husk and brittle.
  • Palate: Warming baking spice adds an initial burst of spice. Lime peel, caramel and orchard fruit bring sweetness. A little salinity and smoke develop underneath.
  • Finish: Delicately sweet with some prickles from ginger root.

TBWC – Linkwood 10 year 48.2% (CNY Tasting Set)

I really enjoy the fun graphic art labels that That Boutique-y Whisky Company create – often with a quirky story to go with it!

In the case of Linkwood, their choice of a fellow fixing a broom is quite apt… and here is why:

The Linkwood distillery was founded in 1821 in Speyside. It distilled tasty single malts and top whiskies for blends until 1971, which is where it gets a little confusing. In 1971, Linkwood was expanded with two more stills, although these stills actually belonged to a new distillery, which would be called Linkwood B. In 1985, Linkwood A (the original Linkwood) was closed down, making Linkwood B just Linkwood. It’s a different distillery, but it’s still Linkwood. Right? It’s a bit like that chap with the ship and had all its wood replaced. It’s the same ship, even though everything has been replaced. Right? The chap on the label is fixing a broom – the owner has had the same broom 20 years just with different heads and handles. It’s still the same broom, though. Right?

And so we dove into the Linkwood B.. I mean Linkwood distillery… you get the picture! What did we think?

Linkwood 10 year 48.2%, Batch 7 

  • Nose – Mmm… lemon grass, a dash of pink Himalayan salt, green peppers, wax, lots of character, lemony spice
  • Palate – Fresh green chillies, black peppercorns, touch of garam masala, dry red chillies… yes this sounds spicy but actually an interesting yet light melange of different peppers, peaking out from underneath these was a lovely fruit bouquet, a bit thin on the palate but quite tasty
  • Finish – Bitter almond, light liquorice root

While not the most amazing Linkwood I’ve ever had, it was interesting. The citrus, spice and light salt made for a curious combo that somehow worked quite well.

What do the folks over at Master of Malt have to say?

  • Nose: Saline, lemony nose, with spicy black pepper and lemongrass
  • Palate: More spice; black pepper and chilli, then citrus fruits, oranges, limes and lemon rind
  • Finish: Even more peppery spice and some hazelnut

TBWC – Speyside #3 8 year 50.7% (CNY Tasting Set)

The weather in London while we’ve been here has been absolutely stunning – glorious sunshine, warm breeze… in short it feels like full blown summer instead of being mid September.

So it is somehow fitting that our Chinese New Year tasting set had a few more summery drams – with this Speyside clearly very much in keeping with our environment.

Speyside #3 8 year 50.7%, Batch 1 

  • Nose – Started with a bit of resin, restrained orchard fruits – mostly pears, hint of ginger… in short delicious! Fresh and juicy, then stewed fruits… light liquorice, then shifting back into fresh pear then stewed apricot – wonderful!
  • Palate – Peppercorns, fruity with a lovely nice mouthfeel, pears and apple crumble then shifting into melons, then a lightly bitter edge
  • Finish – Lovely long finish – fantastic! Imagine apricot leather – yum!

Like all the whiskies in this particular tasting set, we didn’t even think of adding water. However I did wonder later if that might bright out even more juicy fruits. This was my favourite of the evening, followed by the Glenburgie.

And here are the tasting notes included with our Drinks by the Dram package:

  • Nose – Lots of new make character, fruity cherry and peach notes with grassy vegetal flavours
  • Palate – Fiery alcohol, very peppery, but tempered by some sweet notes, green banana, and a creamy texture
  • Finish – More spice, lingering taste of Thai green curry

We didn’t find it was so ‘fiery’ and also didn’t discover any Thai green curry, however the apricot leather finish could also be described as green mango. Interesting.

TBWC – Glenburgie 8 year 55.2% (CNY Tasting Set)

The minis are back!! And even better – this is no solo session but instead reunited with my regular minis tasting companion – the only difference is that we met in London rather than Mumbai…

I must admit, seeing a Glenburgie in the list was part of why this tasting set made the cut! I’m quite open about being partial towards this distillery since my first encounter where I dubbed it the “Downtown Abbey” of drams. I’ve had many a lovely whisky from them – tending to find elegant, fruity summery sipping malts – sunshine in a bottle.

So what did we discover in this one?

Glenburgie 8 year 55.2%, Batch 5 with 1,891 bottles. GBP 33.95.

  • Nose – Peaches and cream, sunshine and summer breeze, peach pit, caramel, light pecan… after some time sweet cream, lemon curd or rasagola, a touch of floral
  • Palate – Peach cobler, flat white peach, toffee, peach eau de vivre, light spice
  • Finish – Light spice, almond slivers, hint of thyme, slightly bitter

Joyful summer dram… and yes various versions of peach featured quite prominently in our impression… we simply couldn’t help ourselves as it was the best way to explain various summery elements that we encountered.

My friend is often amused at my sometimes prosaic descriptions and so came up with this: “This whisky is like a girl in a field with flowers in her hair and a smile on her face.”

Fanciful? Yes… but enjoyable all the same!

What do the folks over at Master of Malt have to say?

A big hello to the fifth batch of Glenburgie single malt bottled by That Boutique-y Whisky Company! This one is 8 years old, and the label still features a forgetful giant searching for his giant’s helmet. Probably needs it to protect his noggin because he keeps bashing it on door frames. Because he is very tall. Because he is a giant.

Tasting Note by The Chaps at Master of Malt

  • Nose: Melon and strawberry, with a hint of vanilla-y grist underneath.
  • Palate: Slightly peppery as it opens, but soon enough you’re treated to notes of orange flesh, green apple, buttered bread and fresh flowers.
  • Finish: Lasting fruit sweetness and a hint of thyme.

TBWC – Teaninich 11 year 47.9% (CNY Tasting Set)

Teaninich isn’t a distillery you readily find single malts at your corner whisky shop or travel retail. While part of the Diageo stable, it finds its way mainly into Johnnie Walker with limited official bottling – just part of the Flora and Fauna series.

Like many distilleries, it had a checkered past – founded in 1817 – even having an India connection with its original owner. It was sold several times and mothballed a few too, getting a complete revamp in 2013 with 16 new stills beside the old distillery which was demolished in 1999. It also is distinctive for using a filter press rather than mash tun to extract sugars.

As with everything… proof is in the pudding… or tasting in this case! What did we discover?

Teaninich 11 year 47.9%, Batch 2 with 1,987 bottles. GBP 32.95.

  • Nose – Yeasty, lemon, grassy, soda bread, dough, a bit sour in the fermenting vein,
  • Palate – Stone or chalk, yoghurt, floral, a bit sour
  • Finish – Limited with a hint of citrus and oak

Not exactly my favourite style and not sure this is the best example of the distillery either… it was a tricky style that for me at least didn’t quite work.

What do the folks over at Master of Malt have to say?

It’s the second batch of indie Teaninich from That Boutique-y Whisky Compnay! This single malt was matured for 11 years, until it was independently bottled at 47.9% ABV. The label recounts the saga of Teaninich founder Captain Hugh Munro, who lost his eye and consequently wasn’t allowed to marry the woman who he was betrothed to. Sounds like something out of a movie, doesn’t it?

Tasting Note by The Chaps at Master of Malt

  • Nose: There’s a lovely ripe grain element here that moves into fresh soda bread. Supple lemon citrus notes then develop among dry grass and vanilla.
  • Palate: Candied fruit and baking spice initially, before sugared almond, green apple and golden syrup emerge.
  • Finish: Toffee and lingering citrus notes.

North Star – Fettercairn 12 year 57.4%

Back in 1829, Fettercairn Distillery was one of the 1st newly licensed distillery in the Highland thanks to Sir Alexander Ramsay. It was sold within the year to the Gladstone family who carried on making whisky along with getting into politics – including William Gladstone who became Prime Minister. Whyte & Mackay acquired the distillery in 1973 with several official bottling and, no surprise, it also became a core part of their blends.

My earlier experience with Fettercairn was a 21 year old bottled by That Boutique-y Whisky Company. It impressed us with its character and complexity so I was most curious to see what this much younger one bottled by North Star would bring!

Fettercairn 12 year (Oct 2006 / Feb 2019) Refill Barrel 57.4% (North Star 007)

  • Nose – Mash-melon, herbal tea, berries and cream, sweet spice, lemon cream, apples, light and fruity
  • Palate – Spice, betal leaf, citrus, more burn than expected from the nose, cinnamon spice and tobacco leaf, almost heavy and a little bit nutty
  • Finish – There with cinnamon spice

And with water?

  • Nose – Very nice! Apple crumble, cream, drizzle of honey, toffee ice cream, apple blossoms, the berries are back – a bit tart and sweet
  • Palate – Smooth out the burn but also loses a bit of its edge and substance
  • Finish – Back to cinnamon spice

Overall it was a character! I really enjoyed what water did to the aromas and once it settled in, was also an enjoyable way to sip and savour.

What do we know about this dram? It was matured in a refill barrel, un chill filtered, and was 1 of 180 bottles from North Star’s Series 007. I ordered it online directly from the wonderful folks at North Star which made its way from the UK to Nurnberg, Germany. With shipping and tax, it came to approx GBP 74.

And what did Iain Croucher have to say about this Fettercairn? Here are his official tasting notes:

  • Nose – Black tea & gooseberries
  • Palate – Crushed bobal grapes & barley sugars
  • Finish – Hints of disco & funk

What can I say? Another hit from North Star!

What else was part of my North Star latest score?

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North Star Series 8 – Inchgower 11 year 52.5%

The minis can’t have all the fun in virtual tastings! It was time to also crack open one of the big boys! And that is exactly what happened one fine eve with the Bombay Malt &Cigar gentlemen. What did they have? It was a revisit of standard bar fare with Bowmore 12 year, Caol Ila 12 year with a Mortlach thrown in for good measure.

As for me? I let them decide… and here is what they picked!

Inchgower 11 year (July 2007 / Mar 2019) Refill Hogshead 52.5% (North Star 008)

  • Nose – It started with light peat, caramel and spice, leaves
  • Palate – First sip was bursting with lots of pepper, spice and fire… then it opened up to reveal treacle and maple syrup
  • Finish – The finish was like chomping down on a cigar with a leather chaser

Something about this one clearly called for some water… and no careful 2-3 drops but a generous dollop. What did this do? Transformed the Inchgower!

  • Nose – That caramel cola quality came through even more, sponge cake
  • Palate – Lots of cinnamon spice…. with a bit of tart kumquat
  • Finish – Retained the sweet spice

This was no easy drinking dram but one that demanded attention… a bit of an unruly beast… tamed slightly by diluting.

What else do we know? It was matured in a refill hogshead which produced 321 bottles. With shipping and tax, it came to approx GBP 60. Which frankly is quite reasonable for a  cask strength original!

As for Iain Croucher and his delightful tasting notes? Here is what he has to say:

  • Nose – Kola Cubes & pancakes with maple syrup
  • Palate – White pepper & caramel shavings
  • Finish – Tobacco (Montecristo not Marlboro)

Prior to this, my only brushes with Inchgower were 13 year olds bottled by G&MP from their Connoiseurs Choice range – one at cask strength and the other not.

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Minis – Glenturret 14 year 54%

Our Whisky Ladies of Mumbai, like many tasting groups around the world, are lying low waiting out this COVID storm. However our connect remains strong and the bonus of going virtual is that I could even join one evening!

We each chose a preferred dram from home supplies to quaff together. What did I select? I was in the mood for something summery – a day-time dram in keeping with sipping on a sunny late afternoon in Europe. I also didn’t want to crack open a full bottle so turned my attention to my box of advent calendar minis.

My eye spied the Glenturret and thought – that looks about right! My last brush with Glenterret was the stunningly delicious 30 year from La Maison du Whisky‘s Artist range.

What did I discover?

Glenturret 14 year (2001) 54% (Highland Laird – Bartels Whisky)

  • Colour – Bright golden
  • Nose – Initially quite vegetal, lots of barley, hay, then shifted into delicious honey, strawberries, sweet spices…
  • Palate – Wow! Light spice, cereals, a twist of citrus, becomes fruitier… is that apricot? Or peach? Delightful with just enough depth to keep interest up!
  • Finish – Ginger sweet and fruit forward
  • Water – Fabulous! Even better… delicious

It was distractingly good – right up my alley in terms of taste profile. Whilst not complex, it was sunshine in a glass. Slowly sipping it was like having a fabulous blend of breakfast and desert – cream, fruits, cereals with a drizzle of honey topped with fresh grated cinnamon and cloves…

What more do we know about this whisky? It was matured in a port pipes and sold under Bartels Whisky’s Highland Laird range – which is focused on bottling single casks at cask strength.

And what do the folks at Bartels Whisky have to say?

We bottled this Glenturret in 2017, it has always been one of our more unusual malts having been aged in an ex port pipe.  The natural colour reflects this well.  It has gone down really well at events and shows we have attended.

Nose: Cooking spices, sultanas, anise and a touch of damp wood.
Palate: Oak spice shows off very well in this Glenturret, with black pepper, ginger and clove. Layers of orange keep it from getting far too spicy.  A slight sweetness coming through from the port pipe.
Finish: Drying and long.

Now I will admit my math was a bit perplexed at a 14 year being maturing from 2011 and bottled in 2017, but what the heck! It is just a terrific dram no matter the age.

As for what it would set you back? Bartels Whisky have it listed as GBP 58 – which is a complete bargain!

Here are a few others I tried from my advent calendar minis:

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Advent Minis – Caol Ila 8 Year Old 46% – Provenance

After a rye, bourbon and highland, it was time to turn to something peaty – and what is a more classic expression than Caol Ila?

Caol Ila 8 Year Old – Provenance (Douglas Laing)

  • Nose – Pure peat, wood smoke, cured meats, bacon, maple
  • Palate – Full peat, cinnamon, a clear classic Caol Ila, nicely rolled around on the palate with a lovely peat
  • Finish – Nice finish, cinnamon spice

While I can’t guarantee it, I think this is cask #13077, which was aged in a refill hogshead from February 2011 to February 2019. After its maturation, it was bottled at 46% ABV with an outturn of 392 bottles.

Here is what the chaps over at Master of Malt have to say:

  • Nose: Toasty at first, becomes increasingly coastal. Sweetness of honeycomb in the background.
  • Palate: Flapjacks, oatcakes and plenty of smoky barley.
  • Finish: Meaty malt and black pepper spiciness.

Here are a few others we tried from my advent calendar minis:

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Advent Minis – Heaven Hill 8 Year Old 2009 63.5%

While Heaven Hill hasn’t directly featured in prior tasting experiences, we’re no stranger to their brands like Pikesville and Elijah Craig from their distillery stable.

This particular sample was originally bottled by The Higginbottom, which traces its whisky roots to the late 1800s, when Henry Albert Higginbottom supplied whisky for British troops. The brand was recently revived by Higginbottom’s great great grandson Leo Scott-Francis.

It was part of a cool relaxed evening in Nurnberg sampling minis from my advent calendar. What did we think?

Heaven Hill 8 Year Old 2009 (May 2009 / November 2017) Cask 152736 63.5% – The Higgbottom Revival 

  • Nose – Bourbon banana caramel with a sharpness, honey oats, a granary, wheat husks, unripe
  • Palate – Whoosh! What spice! Dry but with a nice depth
  • Finish – Full spice
  • Water – Now this one cried out for some water. And wow – how fabulous with it. Suddenly out came a cornucopia of fruits with banana, pineapple, green apple, throw in a generous dash of Demerara sugar, the flavours were fuller, colourful with an exceedingly nice after taste

This was definitely an example of a dram that grew on you… the more we sniffed and sipped – particularly after water was added – the more we enjoyed it. We clearly wished there was more than the wee 3cl!

Particularly for my companion, there was a clear new world over old world vibe – she loved the Rye and also this Bourbon vs the Dalmore or Caol Ila. Which is part of the magic of such minis – an opportunity to discover tastes and preferences with a wee nip rather than investing in a full bottle.

What do the chaps at Master of Malt have to say about this Heaven Hill?

  • Nose: Honeyed fruit and fresh florals. Spicy cedar and nutmeg.
  • Palate: Quite punchy at full strength, with clove, menthol and black pepper. A drop of water helps to bring buttered corn and sponge cake notes forward.
  • Finish: Coffee bean, dark chocolate and oak.

Here are a few others we tried from my advent calendar minis:

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