Smoky Night – Kilchoman Loch Gorm 46%

Last in our Whisky LadiesSmoky Night” evening was this Islay – Kilchoman’s full sherry expression – Loch Gorm.

What did we think?

Kilchoman Loch Gorm 46%

  • Nose – Mmmmmm…. lovely tobacco, sea salt, smoke, mixed with Christmas cheer, some orange twist, dried fruits and sweet spices
  • Palate – Yum! Soft and buttery, chocolate, peat rolling around with a clear sherry dry richness
  • Finish – Gorgeous peat

For many, this was proper peat and sweet dram – a full, robust and satisfying whisky.

More than anything else, this evening was a terrific reminder that tasting order and environment makes all the difference!

After the rather disappointing Bunnahabhain, this Loch Gorm was “Oh yeah!” The peat hit just the right note and the sweet was also quite welcome.

Whereas for the Bombay Malt and Cigar lads, we sampled this same whisky after a trio of unpeated sherry drams. And the one just before – the BenRiach – was particularly spectacular. So when we got to the Loch Gorm it was a bit of a shock to the palate.

And what do the Kilchoman folks have to say about Loch Gorm?

  • Nose – Orange peel, cloves, caramel and mixed spice with waves of fruit cake and citrus.
  • Palate – A beautiful balance of spicy richness, cooked fruits, chocolate with layers of brown sugar sweetness and earthy peat smoke
  • Finish – Mouth-filling peat smoke, lasting tropical sweetness, toffee and rich dried fruit.

The biggest distinction here being 100% oloroso sherry cask matured… As the Kilchoman folks put it:

It is common for distilleries to use a variety of sherry producers but for our consistent quality and character, it is vital that we source them all from just one bodega. We select a combination of sherry butts and hogsheads from Jose Miguel Martin that provides two separate styles of maturation.

These ex-oloroso sherry casks impart a combination of heavy sherry notes, spicy dark chocolate, rich fruits and burnt sugar. This balances beautifully with the Kilchoman peat smoke and citrus fruits found within our farm crafted spirit.

For us, the results worked!

Our Smokey Night with the Whisky Ladies also included:

Interested in catching more? Why not follow Whisky Lady on:

Smokey Night – Bunnahabhain Chuach-Mhona 50%

We continued our smokey explorations with Bunnahabhain…. typically known as the one Islay distillery that typically doesn’t use peat. Yet more and more you will find Bunnahabhain flirting with variations of peat.

Bunnahabhain Chuach-Mhona 50%

  • Nose – Shy yet familiar, a bit sharp and came across as immature, initially not so peaty, some spice, a bit of zing, honey, hay, sweet grass and then a bit of smoke and ash
  • Palate – Direct, burnt toast
  • Finish – Spice
  • Water – Much sweeter and brought out a pleasant cinnamon

To be honest, this was the most disappointing whisky of the bunch. It was surprising how there was both minimal peat and how young it seemed, missing so many elements we appreciate in a good dram.

And what do the Bunnahabhain folks have to say?

Gaelic for ‘peat stack’, this malt has strong influences of peat and sea salt. 

  • Colour – Pale gold
  • Nose – Crisp and lively sweet peat, with herbal hay, dry smoke and burning grass
  • Palate – Starting light, malty and sweet, developing into smoky white pepper and seaweed saltiness
  • Finish – Lingering dry smokiness with seaweed and spice

Our Smokey Night with the Whisky Ladies also included:

Interested in catching more? Why not follow Whisky Lady on:

Smokey Night – Glenglassaugh Peated Port Wood Finish 46%

We started our Smokey Night on a lighter note… with something from the Highlands…

Long back our Mumbai original group tried some new make spirit from Glengassagh. I then had a chance to try the Torfa – ugh. I then revisited it as a mini together with the Evolution… better. I reminded myself to keep an open mind and see what we discovered with this bottle.

Glenglassaugh Peated Port Wood Finish 46%

  • Colour – Bright ruby red
  • Nose – Began with a bit of tar, smoke yet very mild, a bit rubbery, butter crème, spice, raisin, ginger…
  • Palate – Spice, steamed plums, brandy cherries, raisins, very peppery, wood, some mystery pulpy fruits, however pleasantly rolled around the palate
  • Finish – Then sweet

It was pronounced a good daily whisky. While not terribly distinctive, it was easy to enjoy.

As for me? I was happy to try a Glenglassaugh that I enjoyed!

Here’s what the Glenglassaugh folks have to say about their Peated Port Wood Finish:

Glenglassaugh’s waves of fruit and smoke are amplified in Peated Port Wood Finish. Whilst finishing in ruby Port pipes, the open structure of the oak brings waves of velvet tannins and peppered dark fruit, reminiscent of Winter berries by an open fire, kissed by the sea.

  • Colour: Rose gold
  • Nose: Heather honey drizzled over a medley of fresh red fruits, all backed by intriguing waves of sweet peat smoke
  • Palate: Delicious wild red berry compote and clotted cream balanced by a hint of cracked black pepper, surrounded by a fantastic sweet campfire peat note.

Would we agree? Not sure we would call the light smoke “waves” or describe as campfire peat… but overall, the notes weren’t far off.

Our Smokey Night with the Whisky Ladies also included:

Interested in catching more? Why not follow Whisky Lady on:

Smokey Winter Nights – Glenglassaugh, Kilchoman, Bunnahabhain

Delhi in winter has a smokey quality from the stubble in fields surrounding the city being burned to little roadside fires to keep warm.

While it has been years since I lived through a Delhi winter, I was reminded of those chilled evenings with smoke in the air during our recent Whisky Ladies evening which featured Smokey Whiskies!

What did we try?

So let’s talk a bit about peat with its PPM or Peaty “Phenol Parts Per Million”….

Once upon a time, peat was the norm to dry malted barley. Then enter this new fangled alternative called coal… or more precisely coke… made readily accessible by the 1960s via rail. Coke burns more evenly, more consistently and with less smoke than peat. The Lowlands and Speyside regions jumped on the unpeated bandwagon early.

Yet most of Islay kept to using peat. As do other distilleries – some craft both unpeated and peated variants – occasionally under different brand names.

Glenglassaugh, for example, have two versions of their port wood finish – the peated one we tried and one without peat.

Whereas Bunnahabhain from Islay, once known for eschewing peat,  has more recently been flirting more openly with peat. Today approx 25% of their whisky has varying degrees of peat.

Kilchoman, by contrast, has from the start kept peat as part of its consistent style, playing instead with the casks with a gradation from none to full sherry.

And PPM? It is measured at the point of the dried barley… typically using UV spectroscopy or High Performance Liquid Chromatography (HPLC). However where the PPM level starts is NOT where it finishes.

Throughout the whisky making process, phenols are lost. How much depends on a range of different factors from what is left behind in the draft at the end of mashing to how they are changed during fermentation with the type of still changing the character and intensity and most importantly how it is impacted during the second distillation.

So while Kilchoman may consistently START at 50 PPM, where it end up may differ significantly… Just check out what we found with the Port Charlotte 10 year MP5 series!

There are those that suggest that given PPM can bear such little relation to actual “smoke” strength, why not drop using PPM completely and instead define the peat as light, medium or heavily peated?

Want to know more? Don’t listen to me, check out an expert like Dave Broom on Whisky.com.

Want even more Whisky Lady posts? Follow this blog on:

Gordon and Macphail’s Caol Ila 33 year 52.8%

At Whisky Live Singapore 2018, there were a few choice Gordon & MacPhail whiskies available in the VIP section. It provided a great opportunity to sample fine whiskies – particularly aged drams one could ordinarily not afford.

We spotted this when we first perused what was available and knew we must try it. We were fortunate there were still a few drops left!

Caol Ila 33 year (1989/ 3 July 2018) Cask 181062 52.8% 216 bottles

  • Nose – Smoke and fire and yet with beautiful balance, nutty, salted toffee, smoked meats, light herbal sweet grass and tobacco
  • Palate – Buttery, apricot plum, pastry, remarkably well-balanced peat, vanilla
  • Finish – Long and smoky

It is such a treat to try something aged and beautifully peated. While it was only a small snifter, it was more than enough to know we were lucky to have such an opportunity.

And what would this set you back? While the 33 year was not on sale, the 34 year old was retailing for SGD 1,100. Yikes!

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

Want more Whisky Lady posts? Follow this blog on:

Whisky Live 2018 – Edradour Ballechin

Edradour has been known as the smallest traditional distillery, up in Pitlochry, Perthshire part of the Highlands region.

Currently owned by Pernod Ricard, the Edradour distillery produces a range of different single malts under both the Edradour (unpeated) and Ballechin (peated) brands with a dizzying array of wine cask finished experiments as well!

And what did we try at Whisky Live Singapore in the VIP room? Two distinctly different drams…

Edradour Ballechin 8 year (2009) 46%

  • Nose – Had a lovely nutty quality – veering towards hazelnut and almond – with a clear influence of both the sherry dried fruits and a puff of smoke
  • Palate – Beautifully balanced between peat and sherry sweet, fruity, smooth and a light chilli spice, honey
  • Finish – Sweet sherry fruits and spice – delicious!

The gent who encouraged us to try was a merry Scottish fellow but completely mixed up the contents and context!

It is a marriage of Edradour’s un-peated ex-Sherry cask # 69 and the peated Ballechin ex-bourbon casks # 279, 280 and 281.

It was rather good and I was exceedingly surprised to discover how affordable it was in the UK at GBP 50… alas in Singapore it is a pricy SGD 198 (ie more than double at GBP 115).

Edradour Vintage 10 year (2008/2018) FF Sherry Cask No 8, Bottle 515 57.9% (LMdW)

  • Nose – Juicy berries, red fruits, clear robust sherry
  • Palate – Follows through on the palate with the nose, light sweet spice, black raspberries, dry
  • Finish – Full finish, with dry sweet spices of cinnamon bark and clove

No doubt this was some quality sherry and the bottle noted it was a first fill sherry cask.

If you are curious, in Singapore, this bottle goes for SGD 258 and was specially selected for La Maison du Whisky.

What about other Edradour’s sampled by our Mumbai based tasting clubs over the years?

Don’t want to miss Whisky Lady posts? Follow this blog on:

Highland Peat – Ardmore Triple Wood Peated 46%

We closed our tasting evening with the Ardmore…

Our contributor confessed that while she was excited to try, was initially disappointed when she opened the bottle… finding it a bit too dry and somehow lacking a certain something.

Undeterred we merrily poured our glasses, keeping our minds, olfactory senses and taste buds open to the experience….

Here is what we found…

Ardmore Triple Wood Peated 46%

  • Nose – Caramel and peat! It almost reminded of caramel popcorn just slightly overdone… not in bad way though. There was also some light spice, fruit, sweet… one remarked how it smelt like cooked caramelized banana
  • Palate – Light peppery spice, a bit of toast, herbal and aromatic
  • Finish – Some vanilla, dry and again all with a lighter touch
  • Water – None of us were tempted

Overall we found that while yes it was dry, it wasn’t terribly so. The peat also was much more subtle than anticipated – in a nice way.

Why triple wood? It refers to the three different type of casks used to make this whisky – American Barrel, Quarter Cask and Puncheon.

What do the Ardmore folks have to say?

  • Colour – Golden straw, natural honey.
  • Nose – Biscuity cereal notes and the scent of banana underlie the initial nose of ginger, burnt sugar, cherries and honey. A drop of water intensifies the ginger snap biscuit notes with a hint of cinnamon, and soft highland peat smoke.
  • Palate – Light caramelised sugar, toasted barley, and warming, light peat smoke are followed by sweet vanilla custard. Water releases notes of pink peppercorn, and dried fruit flavours (raisin and candid orange peel).
  • Finish – Light with soft peat smoke, lingering pepper and toasted almonds with a well-balanced dry mouth feel.

We didn’t read the tasting notes at the time but they seem rather apt… and suspect we should have tried it once with a bit of water.

What else did we try that evening?

What about other Ardmore’s sampled?

Don’t want to miss Whisky Lady posts? Follow this blog on:

Whisky Ladies “Bar Bottle” – Glenmorangie, Old Pulteney, Compass Box, Ardmore

We had different plans for this evening – a much anticipated combined night with our Bombay Malt & Cigar gents… However it was not do be so what to do instead?

We thought why not reach into our bars and see what was available to share…

Here is what we unearthed:

It turned out every bottle could be purchased (at one time) at duty-free and yet each was certainly a cut above the standard travel retail fare.

It also just so happened that each had a touch of smoke… from a mere hint with the Old Pulteney and Glenmorangie to a more pronounced puff of peat with the Compass Box Great King Street Glasgow Blend and Armore Triple Wood Peat.

In an unplanned twist, all three single malts were also from Highland distilleries… with the delightful Compass Box blend a terrific foil with some highland whiskies too.

Overall it proved to be a most enjoyable quartet and a good reminder to not dismiss what you may find when perusing airport wares – at least in some select airports around the world!

Don’t want to miss Whisky Lady posts? Follow this blog on: