Chorlton – Croftengea 13 year 53.9%

So there we were, one fine evening in Paris with two beautiful bottles from Chorlton‘s  La Nouvelle Vague series…  We began with the superb Orkney that surprised us with its lush complex character. We then turned to the Croftnegea…

If you aren’t immediately familiar with Croftnegea, perhaps you have heard for Loch Lomond? Just in this case it is the brand for their heavily peated version… much like Glenturret is also known as Ruadh Maor

It was with this heavy peat expectation that I had thought to try this after the Highland Park “Orkney”. However what we discovered was quite the opposite!

As for the whisky…. read on…

Croftengea 13 years 53.9% 231 bottles

  • Colour – Bright gold
  • Nose – Pear, ripe bananas, caramel, a bit of spice, cough syrup, malty, after the 1st sip, the aromas shifted to a delightful lemon meringue pie, strawberries, subtle spice and honey
  • Palate – Buttery sweet brioche, then citrusy with light peat at the end
  • Finish – Lingers, wonderful
  • Water – Made it even more accessible and very yummy, more fresh sweet bread, lemon curd

There was such a contrast between the aromas and palate, quite dynamic on the nose and subtle yet lovely on the palate.

We set it aside and revisited comparing the glass without water which had become perfumed and sweet, citrus and sugar. The one with the water was fruitier with the peat a bit more pronounced, cinnamon mini donut, Christmas market!

What did David have to say?

Peated single malt from Captain Haddock’s favourite distillery! This one starts on a sweet note, with banana milkshake, Milky Bars and a funky sort of fruitiness on the nose. The palate starts with fudgy chocolate, soft ginger and mango, before the peat makes itself felt with light smoke and a hit of black olive saltiness. This is a hugely fun whisky, and enjoyably weird around the edges.

I purchased this in December 2020 for £62.50 plus tax and courier charges. And I am sooooooo glad I managed to grab this while it was still available!

Here is are two more from La Nouvelle Vague series:

Here is the full set of Chorlton‘s sampled til date from the L’Ancien Régime series:

If you don’t want to miss a post, why not follow Whisky Lady on:

Chorlton – Orkney 15 year 57.1%

This is my 2nd Chorlton from the La Nouvelle Vague series… I’ll admit that I had high expectations however this one blew us away!

While the distillery is not explicitly named, considering there are only two distilleries on Orkney Island with quite different characters, and David mentions it is the more famous of the two, it will clearly be Highland Park rather than Scapa.

As for the whisky…. read on…

Orkney 15 years 57.1% 121 bottles

  • Colour – Deep copper
  • Nose – Smoked pork? Wow! What an active aroma – jumping all over the place in an amazingly powerful way the sweet smoke was initially predominant but not alone. From strawberries to cherries, hibiscus with a bouquet of flowers, citrus then shifted to red berries or French sweet red currents, a gorgeous dessert, underlaid with old wood, dark bitter chocolate, nutty, treacle and ham
  • Palate – Fabulous! Sweet, peat, generous berries, bitter coffee, absolutely flavour packed with so many layers, complex… all on the 1st sip. As we went in for our second sip, it was meaty, spicy, some french toast drowning in maple syrup, buttered brioche, caramelized banana, honeyed ham
  • Finish – Long and strong, phenomenal, with a rich mocha coffee initially which then also morphed from coffee and chocolate to cherry
  • Water – Needed? No. However is it also brilliant with water too? Yes. We found it was even more chocolatey

Even before opening, we started speculating about the cask given its incredibly dark hue and a mere 121 bottles from a hogshead barrel which typically would produce more than double!  And then we cracked it open and were amazed at the promise shown just from the cork alone – strawberries and bubblegum!

Then to have the caleidoscope of aromas then richly complex palate and stellar finish? We were floored. Our experience went well beyond any expectation and was decidedly different than recent brushes with Highand Park.

When we set it aside and revisited it was equally enjoyable. This time with a new briney seaside quality we missed in our earlier exploration. It is clearly a whisky to savour and enjoy – over and over!What did David have to say?

This whisky (from the more famous of the two Orkney distilleries) has been matured in a very active cask, giving it the sort of hue you might expect from first-fill bourbon. The nose has waxy citrus, sea water and sticky cherry-flavour cough syrup alongside a lightly fragrant peat smoke. The palate is oily and chewy, with stewed red berries, smouldering wood, rose petals, herbal pastilles and a long coastal finish.

I purchased this in December 2020 for £75 plus tax and courier charges, back when it was still possible to get whiskies directly from the UK.

Here are two more from the La Nouvelle Vague series:

Plus the Chorlton‘s sampled til date from the L’Ancien Régime series:

If you don’t want to miss a post, why not follow Whisky Lady on:

Arran Quarter Cask The Bothy Cask Strength 56.2%

Nearly a year ago I was in Scotland and one of the few distilleries I had the pleasure of visiting was Lochranza on Isle of Arran. It was a fabulous day trip with friends and well worth doing.

One whisky I tried there was their no age statement Quarter Cask – and absolutely loved it! However as I could only walk away with one bottle for Mumbai, chose one that was only available at the distillery – the gorgeous rich and intense 23 year old cask strength.

A few months later, I bought the Quarter Cask online in Germany with plans to bring it to India during my summer trip as a way to ’round out’ a no-age-statement trio – joining bottles of the Lochranza Estate and Port Finish already patiently waiting for a tasting session in my Mumbai whisky cabinet.

And then summer came with no chance of a trip home in sight, I decided to open this bottle and simply enjoy! Naturally sharing samples with my Whisky Ladies in Paris.

Whilst we had minis of the Arran vertical 14, 18, and 23-year-olds plus the Port finish, I chose to dive into this one as an appetizer before the mighty Chorlton cask strength Orkney and Loch Lomond.

So what did we think?

Arran Quarter Cask The Bothy Cask Strength 56.2%

  • Nose – Mmmm….. vanilla, sweet sponge cake, Barbados rum, fruity, honey caramelized nuts which then flipped through a combination of blanched white almonds, hazelnuts, Brazil nuts, coconut, back to honey, vanilla, pineapple upside-down cake, milk chocolate
  • Palate – A wonderful warming spice, nicely well-rounded, a much more “solid” character than anticipated from the dessert-like aromas, approachable yet with substance, oily, a touch of dark bitter chocolate, nutmeg – rich without being heavy, lightly fruity
  • Finish – Lingers with pineapple and honey, lovely and long
  • Water – While we didn’t think it needed, decided to try – and you should! It brought out buttery sweet brioche on the nose, reduced the nuttiness, amping up the fruitness, bringing out on the palate a citrus twist and orange marmalade without compromising the delicious finish

We loved it! The nose was so inviting and delicious, the palate is marvellously well balanced and the finish long and rewarding. What isn’t there to enjoy?

We set it aside for a revisit and was greeted by a delightful perfume on the nose, fabulous flavours on the palate – which much more citrus than we initially found. Loved it!

What do the folks at Arran have to say?

Our Quarter Cask expression is a complex, rich and intensely fruity Single Malt, a cask strength delight and the perfect partner to our Sherry Cask Single Malt!

The Arran Single Malt selected for this cask strength expression was initially matured in first-fill ex-Bourbon barrels for 7 years before being transferred for secondary maturation into smaller Quarter casks also made of the finest American oak for a further 2 years. The process of transferring our whisky into the smaller 125 litre sized casks for their final 2 years of maturation produces far greater contact between the whisky & oak and a faster, more intense maturation.

The end result is a full-bodied expression of Arran Single Malt combining power and finesse full of rich vanilla sweetness and bold peppery spice. Bottling at natural Cask Strength without chill-filtration or artificial colouring of any sort presents this whisky in its purest form. Small casks would have been a common feature of the Arran whisky trade in the eighteenth & nineteenth centuries as they were easier to handle and transport around the island. With our much-loved Quarter Cask expression we proudly bring this tradition back to life.

Official distillery tasting notes:

  • Nose – Apple tart, pineapple brioche
  • Palate – The citrus hallmarks of Arran welcome you, and the sweet spice of cinnamon and vanilla promises a memorable dram.
  • Finish – Sweetness, Honey, Pineapple, Vanilla, Coconut.

To be honest, we didn’t read the official tasting notes however clearly we would completely agree!

This expression is available from the distillery for GBP 50 and I bought it in Germany for EUR 53.56.

Ad arran quarter cask bottle box product detail rebrand

What else have we recently tried from Arran?

If you don’t want to miss a post, why not follow Whisky Lady on:

Chorlton’s La Nouvelle Vague picking up from L’Ancien Régime

Ah… Chorlton… it has fast become a favourite independent bottler with their beautiful whiskies with even more beautiful labels.

In 2020, David came out with a new series – La Nouvelle Vague – and I simply could not resist! While I haven’t acquired all, I am a proud owner of this trio! So far we’ve only sampled the first… and I couldn’t wait to crack open the next two… bringing the full bottles with me on a trip to Paris to share!

Alas since I got my hands on the Croftnegea and Orkney, Brexit has complicated things considerably and I suspect future Chorlton acquisitions may be quite challenging.

Here are all the Chorlton‘s sampled till date from the L’Ancien Régime series… both with the Whisky Ladies European chapter and earlier in Mumbai with our original tasting group…

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

Each one has been unique and interesting in its own way… Slainte!

If you don’t want to miss a post, why not follow Whisky Lady on:

Arran Duo – Quarter Cask and Port Finish

Back at the start of 2021 I was in Mumbai, rebottling whiskies into miniatures for tasting in India and to bring some back to Europe. The Campbeltown and Arran sets were dutifully dispatched early February to Paris and we dove into the Campbeltown ones almost right away!

As for the Arran trio? Let’s just say we got distracted with all the other whiskies we had accumulated or had wandered their way to us!

So when I decided to “pop” over to Paris, I decided to augment the trio already with my fellow “Euro Whisky Ladies” with another duo…. this time bringing the additional drams by hand.

So what was in the original Lochranza vertical?

And what did I add to augment it?

Tasting notes for The Bothy are from this summer however the Port is from a few years ago. We haven’t yet revisited it, though no doubt will soon enough. It may be some time before we slowly but surely work our way through a few sets before the Arran drams. Ahh… a problem of plenty is not really a problem at all!

If you don’t want to miss a post, why not follow Whisky Lady on:

The Belgian Owl – Intense 72.7%

I am pretty sure that The Belgian Owl Intense has to be the strongest whisky I’ve ever had – by alcohol strength that is! Most distilleries will reduce the new make spirit by adding water before maturing in barrels – hence even in younger cask strength whiskies we see ABV hovering around the 60%s or less. Not so with Belgium Owl who have bottled at a whopping 72.7%! What did we think of the whisky?

The Belgian Owl Intense 40 months, first fill bourbon, single cask 1538452 72.7% Bottle 177

  • Colour – Bright gold
  • Aroma – We initially thought of a dusty attic, very different. Nutty, resins, as it opened up, becoming increasingly pleasant, sweetly vanilla, a floral perfume, toffee, strawberries, Victoria sponge cake, cream, pure desert, really interesting and inviting. It kept shifting – from desert to sweet grass and honey, back to cinnamon, then caramelized bananas
  • Palate – Salty buttery caramel, cinnamon, chocolate milk, toffee, vanilla, bananas
  • Finish – Initial burn, then very sweet soft caramels
  • Water – While surprisingly smooth without water, it is even better with – bringing out a buttery cinnamon roll… over time there was almost a “perfume” on the palate

Had we sampled this “blind”, I highly doubt anyone would have guessed the ABV. It was way too delicious with different dimensions and not at all harsh. In many ways this was the most interesting of the quintet – bursting with character yet surprisingly not overwhelming.

What do the folks at The Belgian Owl have to say?

The Belgian Owl Intense is a single cask whisky stored at its degree of ageing, specifically selected by Etienne Bouillon. Each cask is unique and unveils its own character. We would like to promote some of these casks, we are sure you will be delighted.

The choice of bottling at cask strength is a completely natural choice for us. We can offer you a tasting as if you were here with us, in our whisky storehouse, undiluted, straight from the cask. This sensation is intense and unforgettable. We hope that these emotions will accompany you wherever you are.

Overall when we considered the five different whiskies in our The Belgian Owl quintet, we thought:

  • Trying the spirit with Origine provided interesting insights into the underlying qualities
  • Their flagship Identité at only 3 years is friendly with delicious aromas
  • For us, the 3-year single cask Passion was the only disappointment, coming across as a bit unbalanced and ‘not quite there’ the way Identite nailed it… and curiously lacking “passion”
  • When we first tried the 4-year Evolution, we loved how it was a clear step forward from Identite, building on what we appreciated with the added maturity really augmenting the experience on the palate in particular
  • And with Intense? Remarkable! At 72.7% we thought it would be too intense – not at all!

This set was kindly provided by The Belgian Owl – to me in Germany, my tasting companions in Paris and hopefully soon by folks in India too. However, the views here are our own.

If you don’t want to miss a post, why not follow Whisky Lady on:

Additionally, there are the two ‘off-shoots’ with:

The Whisky Warehouse No. 8 – Bunnahabhain 14 year 56.7%

Long back, a very talented multi instrumental, multi country music buddy encouraged “Bunna” explorations as his kind of Islay – not really peaty but having substance and character to spare. Over the years, I’ve had mixed experiences – some excellent, some so so and some that didn’t quite do it for me.

Bunnahabhain 14 year (24 Oct 2002 / 31 Oct 2016) Bourbon Hogshead No. 3048, 56.7% 307 Bottles

  • Nose – Initially greeted us with quite a distinctive coconut oil… which settled down into salt water taffy, candied guava, fresh bread, orange comfy or cointreau, even a bit of coffee candy, swirling about with a hint of smoke too – more like an echo or subtle embers than a live burn…overall leaving an impression of fruity
  • Palate – Silky smooth… some salted caramel, spicy desert, herbal, buttery… with a wee bit of even peanut butter, richly rolling around nicely on the tongue
  • Finish – Lovely and long, delicious
  • Water – No need… truly

I have to confess that this is without a doubt the best Bunnahabhain I’ve had in a long time. Even better as it sits in the glass, opening up more and more. While a different character, there was an element of the lightly salted ‘buttery’ quality that made us think of the insanely delicious Aveux Gourmands.

As for the folks at Whisky Warehouse No. 8? I’ve taken the liberty to ‘google translate’ my way through Julia’s terrific tasting notes:
Whiskeys from Bunnahabhain are always good for a surprise and this single barrel is no exception. Anyone who wants to deduce the taste from the nose impressions of this bottling will be amazed at how different the whiskey ultimately behaves on the palate. At least one can rely on the well-known attributes of most Bunnahabhain bottlings: hardly any wood, a little salt and a good balance of all aromas.
  • Nose: Soft and fully ripe fruit notes such as cherries, star fruit and lychees. Underneath there is a layer of salty peat that has a slightly medicinal effect, but also a damp campfire that was already burning the day before.
  • Taste: Spicy like in a hay barn, herbal notes like dried thyme and thistles, slightly nutty and almond-like, the fruit notes linger in the background, but they now appear much fresher and crisper. The peat and smoke notes also remain surprisingly restrained.
  • Finish: It is especially the herbal notes that stay on the palate for a long time and become dry towards the end. Very late, a pinch of fleur de sel tickles the taste buds.

What about other Bunnahabhain explorations?

My “Last Chance” set also contained:

If you don’t want to miss a post, why not follow Whisky Lady on:

The Whisky Warehouse No. 8 – Glenturret 8 year 57.5%

This would be my 3rd Glenturret 8 year from an independent bottler! We were rather impressed by the North Star’s Glenturret – which was distilled the same month as this Warehouse cask and bottled within a month of each other. I’d also had the pleasure of trying Chorlton’s Ruadh Maor aka peated Glenturret.

So what about this one from The Whisky Warehouse No. 8?

Glenturret 8 year (Dec 2010 / Apr 2019) Bourbon Hogshead Cask No. W8 181, 57.5% 330 Bottles

  • Nose – Even before putting in the glass, we had a whiff of our wee bottle and went – Mmmm….sweet smoked bacon! And then into the glass it went and… huh? Where did the delicious aroma go? Instead we found a brine, hay… predominantly cereals like hot (slightly boring) porridge, wet fall leaves, rubber gum… is that gym shoe? Curious
  • Palate – Ah.. now here is the light peat smoke, bay leaves, cinnamon spice, a bit of ginger bread… not a heavy peat, more like peat ‘adjacent’
  • Finish – It does last…

Let’s be honest, we were a tad disappointed. I happened to have the North Star Glenturret bottle handy and pulled it out to compare, making my virtual tasting companions a wee bit jealous. Yup! There were all the fabulous elements we enjoyed about the Glenturret – a nuanced peat, tasty cereals, maple bacon… We dismissed the Glenturret and moved on to our other minis..

However a funny thing happened along the way… as it patiently sat there… an amazing alchemy with air took place. We returned for a revisit and we delighted to discover much that we enjoyed in the North Star was now present! Where had all those lovely qualities been hiding?

  • Nose – Gingerbread joined the light puff of smoke,
  • Palate – Some cheese, smoked meats chased by cinnamon spice
  • Finish – Remained dry and long

Even on the first go, we enjoyed the palate more than nose alone… however with the revisit it was clear this had all the makings of a rather enjoyable dram. Certainly one to wait for it…. wait for it… as it just might be “Legend… wait for it…. dary!

Curious about other Glenturret experiences?

If you don’t want to miss a post, why not follow Whisky Lady on:

Talisker 8 year 2009 48.4% (Old Particular)

Last in my Old Particular trio is a complete shift in character to the Isle of Skye with the peaty Talisker. Though technically part of their “Highland” region bottles, it is also an “Island” distillery.

Talisker 8 Year Old 2009 (cask 12578) 48.4%

  • Nose – Mmmm smoked meats, juicy fruits with a bit of brine
  • Palate – A nice smokey burn, touch of ash, a dash of sugary sweet
  • Finish – Cinnamon, then a nice campfire finish

It has been awhile since I’ve had a Talisker… and I gotta admit it hit the spot. Peat and sweet, nothing complicated but well balanced and just… worked. In truth, it disappeared too soon – always a good sign!

As for tasting notes? Here is what the chaps over at Master of Malt had to say:

Part of Douglas Laing’s Old Particular series, this expression from Talisker was distilled in 2009 and bottled at 48.4% ABV, after 8 years of maturing in a refill hogshead. It is one of only 378 bottles produced. Of course, this whisky was bottled without colouring or chill-filtration..

  • Nose: Complex warming phenols alongside intense seaweed notes.
  • Palate: Both sweet and salty, maritime flavours are joined by slightly ashy notes and a touch of brown sugar.
  • Finish: Distinctly sooty on the finish, balancing by subtle sugar sweetness.

Would I agree? Overall yes!

And what about previous brushes with Talisker?

Don’t want to miss any posts? Why not follow Whisky Lady on:

Jura 12 year (2006) 48.4% (Old Particular)

I found myself in the mood for something uncomplicated… a dram to ease into an evening of sampling… The obvious choice from the Old Particular trio was to start with the Jura. From Jura Island, the distillery style tends towards lighter whiskies intended to support a blend. However more recently, there has been subtle peat added to the equation.

Jura 12 Year Old 2006 (cask 12966) 48.4% – Old Particular (Douglas Laing)

  • Nose – Cereal, butter biscuits or lemon curd cookies – a bit of sour, yet some citrus and sweet
  • Palate – A bit more substance than anticipated, can see the wood influence with a hint of bitterness, a bit salty… like lightly salted nuts and raisins.. is that a hint of toast?
  • Finish – Light spice, that nutty bitterness continued

Overall it hit the spot for something not too sweet, straight forward and a way of kicking off a tasting trio.

As for tasting notes? Here is what the chaps over at Master of Malt had to say:

12 year old single malt from the Jura distillery, named after the island it resides on. This whisky was distilled in December 2006 and allowed to age in a refill hogshead for 12 years, then bottled in December 2018 by Douglas Laing for the Old Particular range. Only 357 bottles were produced.

  • Nose: Custard Cream biscuits, dried lemon and grapefruit peel, a hint of salted peanuts.
  • Palate: Soft oak and smoke appears up front, followed by citrus once again and sultanas.
  • Finish: Almond pastries, coriander and caramel.

Would I agree? More or less…

And what about previous brushes with Jura?

Don’t want to miss any posts? Why not follow Whisky Lady on: