Minis – Edradour 17 year (1999) Bordeaux Cask Finish 55.2%

I gotta admit, I’ve had hit and miss experiences with wine finishes but generally like most Edradour whiskies so was very curious to see what they did with a Bordeaux finish.

Edradour 17 year (1999) Bordeaux Cask Finish 55.2%

  • Nose – Started with a peculiar rubber, plastic… then citrus, sour, tannins, ripe dark plum, a sharpness, spice at the back, grapes. After the 1st sip, big nose, bursting with fruits, oats, wet hay, porridge, brown sugar and raisins, stewed apple peels
  • Palate – Dry wood, lots of flavour, prunes and plums, dark cherries, solid body, touch of leather
  • Finish – Stays, a subtle spice that holds…  extremely long with a fruity tale
  • Water – Explosion of sweet, much more round, white peach… fabulous

The danger of storing things in hot humid Mumbai is it isn’t kind on plastic or rubber. We speculated if a bit of the initial queer aromas on opening was linked to a terrible storage mishap.

But after some time, we got past the that to – Wow! Power packed. After time, the nose settled down yet also took on a musty quality, the flavours remained big and bold.

So we set it aside to continue our explorations of the other minis. We returned and found again that slightly peculiar plastic then got past it to again wow! Compelling… it was like a completely different whisky…

  • Nose – A potpourri of aromas, rose petals, perfumes, soaped, changed again to plastic then back to fruits and berries
  • Palate – Lemon pie, eve a sweet and tart key lime pie… nope… maybe kumkuat? Mangosteens? Custard apple? Starfruit? Jackfruit?! You get it – a kaleidoscope of fruits!
  • Finish – Spice, sweet and just yum!

So what do the folks over at Master of Malts have to say?

The Edradour distillery is well known for finishing their Highland single malts in wine casks – and they get wonderfully specific with it sometimes. For example, this is a 17 year old expression, distilled in October 1999 and finished in a trio of Bordeaux hogsheads for 46 months before being bottled at cask strength in May 2017! A release of 911 bottles.

Tasting Note by The Chaps at Master of Malt

  • Nose: Rich notes of stewed red berries and dark chocolate, with underlying menthol and parsley.
  • Palate: Oak-y spiciness begins to take shape on the palate with plenty of cinnamon, pink pepeprcorn and fresh cedar. Remains deliciously jammy with raspberries and cranberries.
  • Finish: Lasting sweetness of red liquorice.

As for what it would set you back? Approx $180.

So what did we try in our minis evening?

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Peaty Highlander – Ballechin Heavily Peated 12 year 54.5%

Our explorations of Highland peaty drams led us to Edradour distillery with a full cask strength dram.

Ballechin Heavily Peated 12 year (May 2017) 1st Fill ex-Bourbon Cask 330 54.5% 251 Bottles

  • Colour – Bright gold
  • Nose – Wow! Floral yet with a power punch, some sharpness, sweetly herbal, cinnamon, star anise, then the floral dissipated to be replaced by maple bacon, honey sweetness with a citrus twist
  • Palate – Honey, maple syrup, very dry, holds and took on that distinctive maple bacon whisky, substance
  • Finish – Nutty, toothpaste, lovely spice, iodine
  • Water – Sour with no spice… given time revealed cinnamon then a nutty quality, like pressed almond oil

Our final conclusion was this would be a perfect monsoon whisky… one to enjoy when the heavy rains wash away all the heat and pollution, dropping the temperature too.

What did the folks at The Whisky Exchange have to say?

A single-cask Ballechin bottled at a cask-strength of 54.5% and exclusive to The Whisky Exchange, this heavily-peated single malt from Edradour distillery boasts a smoky, farmyard character to rival any Islay whisky. Balanced by sweet citrus and hints of honey, this is a fantastic dram which elegantly combines sweet, savoury and smoky notes to memorable effect.

TASTING NOTES BY BILLY ABBOTT (THE WHISKY EXCHANGE)

  • Nose: Sweet and green smoke at first: freshly sawn branches newly tossed on to a bonfire of burning pine. Hints of jelly-baby fruitiness develop, along with Vick’s Vaporub, honey and lemon lozenges and white toast with honey. The lighter notes at the front obscure but don’t hide a darker background of rich smoke.
  • Palate: Savoury smoke to start: smoked ham and signed lemons. White pepper heat mixes with bicycle-tire inner tubes, sharp lemon curd and a hint of creosoted fence. A bubble of black liquorice rises from the depths, bursting to reveal blackcurrants and anise.
  • Finish: Tar and char fade to leave bittersweet liquorice and lemon butter sauce.
  • Comment: Softer than many Ballechins, this brings together sweet and savoury notes, all wrapped up in a smoky blanket.

And what would it set you back? If, like our Whisky Lady, you purchased it from The Whisky Exchange in London, expect something around £80.

What else did we sample in our Whisky Ladies Peaty Highland drams evening?

What else have I tried from Edradour distillery?

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Peaty Highlander – Aird Mhor 8 year 55.3%

Sound it out… “Aird Mhor” and you realize perhaps this might be “Ardmore”… and sure enough it is!

Our Whisky Ladies session dove straight into this cask strength offering from the Single Malts of Scotland range bottled by Speciality Drinks. It was purchased at their Whisky Exchange Covent Garden store under the guidance of Duncan.

So what did we think?

Aird Mhor 8 year (1 Dec 2009 / 25 June 2018) Cask 707910 55.3% 261 Bottles

  • Colour – Golden
  • Nose – Gentle smoke, leather, wood, citrus, orange, as it opened became increasingly sweet
  • Palate – Spice, tobacco, warm, 2nd sip was like an echo of Laphroaig, calming, sweet
  • Finish – Long finish with a bit of liquorice and vanilla
  • Water – No surprise it initially ramped up the spice, but when it settled down it brought out a nicely nutty quality, helped balance it out a bit, with it a bit oily on the palate

This one was a bit curious and not for everyone. Going straight from zero to full cask strength was also an adjustment.. though one our Whisky Ladies can easily make!

One remarked this whisky was a bit of an “attention seeker” with a fierceness and forcefulness that demanded notice. In this respect, it showed its youthful enthusiasm.

We discovered that the hint of Laphroaig peat came from the Ardmore being matured in ex Laphroaig barrel.

It wasn’t complicated and yet it provoked a clear divide between those who enjoyed and those who didn’t care for it so much.

Apparently Mogambo also has something to say!

Aird Mhor + Mogambo courtesy DevPaula

What did the folks at The Whisky Exchange have to say?

A smoky dram from Aird Mhor (aka Ardmore distillery). While nearby distilleries are better known for unpeated whisky, Ardmore bucks the trend, making a powerful and smoky dram. This single-cask bottling from The Single Malts of Scotland – distilled on 1 December 2009 and bottled at years old on 25 June 2018 – is a classic, with punchy smoke, honey and lemon.

I must say, I rather think “punchy smoke, honey and lemon” is a rather good way to describe this one!

What else did we sample in our Whisky Ladies Peaty Highland drams evening?

And what else have I explored from Ardmore?

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Shelter Point Cask Strength (2018) 58.7%

Last in our Shelter Point quartet from BC, Canada was their 2018 Cask Strength expression. Travelling from the west coast of Canada to Manitoba, the Manitoba to Maharashtra India, this quartet was a gift from the distillery to our Mumbai based tasting groups.

First up was the Whisky Ladies, followed by the Original tasting group and then for the last remaining drops an informal evening with a couple friends.

Here is what the Whisky Ladies had to say…

Shelter Point Artisanal Cask Strength (2018) 58.7%

  • Nose – Farm sweet, unripe avocado, smooth, citrus and camomile
  • Palate – Fruity with a bit of spice, some ginger, smooth, bright
  • Finish – Star anise, long and sweet
  • Water – We debated about this – to add or not. In the end those that did add were a bit disappointed whereas those who kept it water free, continued to enjoy their whisky full strength

Overall, what did we think? We found it quite sophisticated, we loved its character and sheer joyfulness. There was also a nice spiciness too that gave it a terrific kick.

We revisited it after some time and found it was full of sugar icing, vanilla, baking goodies and a tasty vanilla milkshake. Yum!

And then two weeks later with our original Mumbai group?

  • Nose – Some lovely classic notes that comes with a proper cask strength, complex, honey sweet, grape or linseed oil, perfume vanilla, sweet bubble gum, maple sugar cookies, red twizzlers, hair oil
  • Palate – Sweet and spice – one remarked how it is the distinctive Rye spice, a bit earthy, and at the centre – yum! Almost yolky
  • Finish – Just like the nose – fruity…

This one had the most diverse aromas… not an easy whisky, yet endearingly “cheerful” amidst its complexity and layers.

And a further revisit with a few friends a few days later was a different experience:

  • Nose – It began with a kicking spice, lots more “whisky”, then coconut marzipan, effervescent
  • Palate – Spices, quite “manly” with a bitter walnut, nougat, again a distinctly “rye” element but very balanced
  • Finish – Had a nice “oomph!”, black pepper, a bit bitter

We found the whisky kept changing the more it was in the glass, quite quixotic, teasing… so we decided to add water. Wow!

  • Nose – Toasted coconut, lime, lavender, herbal, flowers
  • Palate – Dark grapes, marmalade, chocolate
  • Finish – Heightened the bitter chewy quality chased with a hint of salt

Confession time?

I started to think of a quintessentially Canadian bar beverage made with Canadian “Rye” whiskey (aka a blend with a generous element of rye) and ginger ale. And while I was never a “Rye and Ginger” gal, I found myself pulling the bottle out of the whisky cabinet, pouring a generous dram, throwing a few large chunks of ice into the glass and topping with a healthy splash of cold ginger ale. Delicious!

The folks over at Shelter Point shared:

To create this limited edition cask strength whisky, we selected two casks of triple-distilled unmalted Shelter Point barley and combined these with two casks of rye, creating an incredibly rich and spicy whisky. Decadent, complex and intense, this blend will surprise you with layer after layer of flavour.

  • Shelter Point Cask Strength Whisky is fragrant on the nose with apricots, rum raisins and sticky toffee pudding.
  • The palate is sweet and warming with candied ginger, nougat, honey blossom and pineapple.
  • The satisfying finish is incredibly long with an assortment of spices, cherry wood and salt.

Whisky Facts:

  • Still: Custom-designed copper pot still
  • Base: 50% unmalted barley and 50% rye
  • Distillation: Small-batch, 3x distilled
  • Spirit: Natural colour and non-chill filtered
  • Alcohol Content: Bottled at 58.7% Alc.Vol

Bottom line? It absolutely works!

Here is what else we tried in our Shelter Point 2018 Quartet, courtesy of the cool cats over at the distillery:

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Dubai Dream Drams – Kilchoman Sherry Single Cask 59.5%

Started in 2005, Kilchoman was the first new distillery on Islay in nearly 125 years. More importantly, the distillery crafted a distinctive “Islay character” style that challenged assumptions that quality required age.

Recently in Mumbai, I had the pleasure of chatting with Kilchoman’s founder Anthony Willis in the Spirited Stories tent at The Vault Biennale, where he shared with pride their journey into the world of whisky making.

There will be more on that another time, for now let’s focus the whisky! This particular single cask release featured as the 5th whisky sampled early January 2019 in Dubai.

In keeping with our “unique” theme, this bottle was one of only 42 produced to be sold from the Kilchoman distillery shop. It is approximately 5 years of age and according to Whisky Base, last sold for EUR 161.

Here is what my tasting companions found…

Kilchoman Sherry (8 Nov 2007/22 Feb 2013) Cask 447/2007 59.5%

  • Nose: Wet wood, campfire, burnt sugar cane, cinnamon, black pepper
  • Palate: The peat from the fresh bottle was quite pronounced, edgy, taking time to settle down and reveal the sherry dimension
  • Finish: A sweet peat cinnamon
  • Water: Tamed it considerably but for some it still remained a bit brash and unbalanced

I could swear one of the guys called it an “utara” whisky… which in Hindi literally means “descend” or “bring down” but is also slang for what you drink the next morning to take the edge off a bad hangover… like “hair of the dog.”

For a few of my sampling companions, this was simply too powerful and peaty for their palate – which is perfectly fine as half the fun of tasting a range of whiskies is discovering your personal preferences. That said, moving to a fresh pour of a cask strength at nearly 60% after the Longmorn 25 year or Strathclyde 38 year was certainly a shift in approach!

For these gents, perhaps something like the rich fruity Kilchoman Sanaig 46% might have been a more natural progression in our sampling journey. For a strong expression like this, having the right setting, time to ease into its personality, slowing down and settling in, makes all the difference.

Here is what the folks at Kilchoman have to say in their tasting notes:

  • Colour: Rich golden
  • Nose: Nice, combines peat and sherry, typical Kilchoman cloves and cinnamon
  • Palate: Soft peaty aromas with overtones of sherry, slightly dry on the palate. A good example of Kilchoman in sherry wood.
  • Finish: Clean, long and rich

If you are curious about other Kilchoman tasting experiences, check out:

The other Dream drams generously shared by our Dubai host included:

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LMdW Artist #8 – Bunnahabhain 35 year 47.9%

La Maison du Whisky’s Artist Series 8 is all about exploring unique casks which represent the artistry and character of their distilleries – be it in a non-Sherry or Sherry matured avatar. The Sherry range was adorned with most gorgeous labels created by Japanese artist Takehiko Sugawara.

At our Whisky Live Sinagapore 2018 tasting, this Bunnahabhain was the ‘penultimate’ dram in the series – both the oldest and most certainly the most expensive at SGD 1,999.

While we had only a wee nip, were left with the following impressions…

Bunnahabhain 35 year (1979/2018) Sherry Cask#9521 47.9% (472 bottles)

  • Nose – A lovely soft understated quality, complex with many nuanced layers – a bit medicinal, a bit floral, a bit of fruit, a hint of spice, even a herbal quality with a tinge of saline
  • Palate – Very soft and light, incredibly smooth, the palate was completely in character with the aromas – beautiful
  • Finish – Long yet subtle

Don’t laugh but what first struck me is how “nice” this whisky is! Exceedingly nice. I’ve been disappointed with older Bunnahabhain’s before but not this one.

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

  • Nose – Voluptuous, concentrated. Irresistible notes of emery cloth, tincture of iodine, heady flowers (purple lilac, geranium), cocoa beans and leather provide a lot of fabric and depth to the first. At aeration, it becomes more fruity (orange, fig, apricot), spicy (cinnamon, grated ginger) and exotic (passion, mango). Balsamic, it extends on eucalyptus, cardamom and even basil
  • Palate – Creamy, smooth. True delicacy, the attack in mouth oscillates between the candy with the violet, the blood oranges, the dark chocolate, the liquorice and the dried fruits (date, nuts). With a lot of freshness, the mid-palate is fruity (black grape), liquorice (stick) and honey (linden). These tones precede little bourbon vanilla, ripe bananas and cloves.
  • Finish – Long, fluffy. It preserves and preserves intact every flavor unveiled by the mouth. Then, as and when, she fully satisfies her desire for exoticism (passion, mango, guava). In retro-olfaction, coffee with milk, crushed strawberries, blueberries and ginger permeate the palate. The empty glass is resinous (pine, sweet of the Vosges) and empyreumatic (eucalyptus).

—- From LMdW website with an imperfect google translation from French.

La Maison du Whisky Artist #8 with Sherry

If you are curious, here are a few more Bunnahabhain‘s sampled over the years…

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LMdW Artist #8 – Glenlivet 10 year 64.1%

Next in La Maison du Whisky’s Artist Series 8 was a classic Sherry styled Glenlivet…

We sampled it at Whisky Live Singapore 2018’s VIP Room – just a wee nip but it was worth it.

Glenlivet 10 year (2007/2018) 1st Fill Sherry Cask#900214 Batch #2 64.1% (308 bottles)

  • Nose – Fresh, forward and just a tinge shy, nuts and berries, a hint of sweet flowers too
  • Palate – New style sherry with a bit of “oomph!” – far more on the palate than nose with much more nuts and dry fruits along with juicy plums, cherries and dates
  • Finish – Dry spice with some serious sherry lingering

While its nose was a bit shy, there was nothing shy on the palate. We were rewarded with a lovely rich quality. Robust and full flavoured, it did not disappoint.

And what do the folks at La Maison du Whisky have to say? Well… their website currently features a slightly different bottle… However it too sounds like a mighty fine dram.

But is it worth the price? Just to put in perspective, a bottle of this Glenlivet would put you back SGD 380.

La Maison du Whisky Artist #8 with Sherry

Want more Glenlivet? Read on…

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LMdW Artist #8 – Bowmore 15 year 55.3%

Our skip through La Maison du Whisky’s Artist Series 8 continued with another Sherry dram – this time progressing to combine with peat!

Bowmore 15 year (2001/2018) Sherry Cask #108 55.3% (679 bottles)

  • Nose – Light peat and sweet with vanilla, fruits, nuts, honey
  • Palate – Very balanced, wonderful interplay between the dry fruits, nuts, sweet spices and light peat with a dash of salt
  • Finish – Nice cinnamon sherry spice finish that really stays

A solid dram just bursting with character… full flavoured and really quite fabulous.

And while it was a fleeting, passing sample… this whisky was a tough act to follow. We needed to take a wee break after the Caol Ila and this one before continuing our sipping journey…

As for what this Bowmore would put you back if buying in Singapore? Don’t fall off your seat…. SGD 820. And exactly why it is terrific to try in such settings Whisky Live as waaaay beyond my pocket book!

Want to know more? Well I only had a wee nip, however this is what the folks at La Maison du Whisky have to say about this whisky:

  • Colour – Intense golden yellow
  • Nose – Elegant, precise. Delicately placed at the top of the aromatic palette, a peat both herbaceous (lichen), salty, smoke, iodine (spray), vanilla, floral (carnation) and fruity (pear) provides a lot of rhythm and race at the first nose. After creation, it becomes exotic (passion, guava) and medicinal (tincture of iodine). Further on, candied lemons, fresh walnuts and acacia honey underline its extreme sweetness. A fine smoky pungency highlights its remarkable fullness.
  • Palate – Rich, concentrated. With the same elegance as the nose, the attack in the mouth is peaty / smoke, saline and mineral (chalk). More and more milky (coconut, almond). It gains unceasingly unctuousness. In the middle of the mouth, hay cut, green walnuts, almonds, candied lemons and noble spices (ginger, saffron, clove) bring a second breath to a palate that is growing in power. Very untied, the back-mouth invites us to savour a succulent rice pudding perfumed with verbena. Magnificent.
  • Final – Long, fluffy. The start of we bite into a juicy pear. Very quickly, however, notes of ashes, soot and smoke take over the initiative with great delicacy of expression. Oily, earthy, marine (seaweed, kelp) and animal (bacon, smoked salmon), the retro-olfaction sees malted barley pointing the tip of the nose. The empty glass is herbaceous (cut hay), spicy (ginger), vegetable (tobacco), earthy (dry peat) and vanilla.

—-From LMdW website with an imperfect google translation from French.

La Maison du Whisky Artist #8 with Sherry

If you are curious, here are a few more Bowmore‘s sampled over the years…

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LMdW Artist #8 – Ben Nevis 25 year 55.3%

Our next Sherry from La Maison du Whisky’s Artist Series 8 washroom the Ben Nevis distillery. We sampled it at Whisky Live Singapore 2018‘s VIP room.

As this whisky isn’t everyone’s style, some of my tasting companions skipped this one… whereas I soldiered on and dove in for a sniff, swish, (and yes) spit!

Ben Nevis 25 year (1991/2018) Sherry Cask #2375 55.3% (561 bottles)

  • Nose – Some sour salty plums and prunes, toffee, nuts and touch of citrus
  • Palate – Slightly spicy, honey sweet, dried fruits with a bit of salty sour too
  • Finish – Hint of spiced and a bit chalky or milky

Ben Nevis isn’t for everyone… and this was very much in keeping with a Ben Nevis “style” with a bit of sour, salt and in this case – sherry.

And what would a bottle of this cost? If buying in Singapore, that would be SGD 575. Hmm…

If curious to know more, here is what the folks over at La Maison du Whisky have to say:

  • Nose – Very exotic in its oxidative register (pineapple, mango), the first nose perfectly synthesizes the Ben Nevis style. At aeration, the influence of sherry clearly evokes a sherry fino type. Notes of almonds, walnuts and curry are reminiscent of Jura yellow wine. Very deep, it evolves on citrus (lemon, grapefruit), praline and verbena. At the precise moment, the aromatic palette is still far from having delivered all its secrets.
  • Palate – Lively, removed. Vanilla, the attack in the mouth is also deliciously honey (acacia), vegetable (cucumber) and fruity (dried apricot, gooseberry). Both menthol and lemony, the mid-palate reveals a luxuriant nature, nuanced by a shades of green that goes from the softest to the darkest. The mouth is nobly spicy (saffron, ginger, cardamom).
  • Finish – Long, sweet. With the same power of seduction as the nose and mouth, it oscillates between almond milk, candied pineapple, cut hay and spices (ginger, clove). In retro-olfaction, Mirabelle plums and quince add to its fruitiness. Empty glass is medicinal (balm), spicy (cinnamon), roasted (coffee) and oily (walnut, almond).

—From LMdW website with an imperfect google translation from French.

La Maison du Whisky Artist #8 with Sherry

Curious about other Ben Nevis tasting experiences?

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LMdW Artist #8 – Ardmore 10 year 60.3%

We were nearly through our exploration of the full range of the new La Maison du Whisky Artist # 8.

Back to the non-sherry drams and shifting again back to peat… with Ardmore and a label that made me think of wandering through a chilled winter forest.

Ardmore 10 year (2008/2018) Cask #800168 60.3% (233 bottles)

  • Nose – Citrus, herbal, then shifts into sweet spices, classic
  • Palate – Light spice and again quite herbal, traditional styled peat
  • Finish – Long, tobacco

I will admit by this point, I had been sniffing and swishing through 8 drams. Did this one stand out? Not exceptionally so. Particularly after the powerful Bowmore.

That doesn’t mean it wasn’t a fine dram – it certainly had some interesting qualities however a fleeting sip leaves only an impression than full fledged proper tasting. And I have a feeling to properly appreciate this Ardmore, one would need to slow down to give it full attention and due consideration.

As for a ball park on cost? In Singapore, this bottle would be SGD 300 at La Maison du Whisky.

And what do the folks there have to say?

  • Nose – Both powerful and unctuous. So Ardmore, the first nose does not go with the back of the spoon and we propose to discover a peat trimmed with billhooks. Very chocolaty and spicy (cloves, nutmeg), this peat impregnates the aromatic palette. In the background, some white flowers and peppers (Cayenne) reinforce its heady character. To be noted, its beautiful herbaceous and busty register (verbena, sage).
  • Palate – Rich, dense. In tune with the nose, the attack on the palate is full of vivacity. Whole blocks of peat literally fall down the walls of the palace. At the same time, coconut and juicy pears release their sweet juices and constantly refresh the taste buds. The mid-palate is marked by various essential oils (savory, rosemary). Gradually, a diaphanous smoke starts to intensify.
  • Finish – Silky, nourished. Gourmet, it evokes a delicious milk pie. As it goes, it becomes more and more herbaceous (green malt) and saline. Pink berries and cloves give it the tonicity that will allow it to finish in beauty on notes of red fruits (raspberry, strawberry). Intensely smoke and ash, the retro-olfaction reveals notes of tobacco and menthol. Fibrous, empty glass pays tribute to malted barley.

—-From LMdW website with an imperfect google translation from French.

La Maison du Whisky Artist #8 sans Sherry

We’ve not had so many Ardmore’s and those that made it to Mumbai were both just this year (2018)!

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