Hazelwood 21 year 40%

From the Glen Grant & Sons stable, this blend came out a few years ago in travel retail with its glitz bottle, harkening to Art Deco heydays in select cities around the world.

We sampled it completely blind, with no clue what we were trying… Here is what we discovered…

Hazelwood 21 year 40%

  • Nose – Hay, malt, bit sharp, citrus, candy shop, coconut oil, husk, meethi (fenugreek leaves), horseradish, a bit of cinnamon, tobacco, a bit of nuts, wood, acetone, lots of honey
  • Palate – Sweet and spice, more of that horseradish, straight, honey water, no development on the palate, spice remains, thin with no body
  • Finish – Piquant finish, flat, some wood

While it may sound like a nice range of aromas, they all played within a fairly narrow band… overall it came across as quite “watery”… inoffensive and bland. We wondered if it could make a good mixer?

Before the reveal, one speculated it might be a blend. Turns out he was right! More precisely a blend of Kininvie, Girvan, and others…

Curious to know more? Why not check out what I found in an earlier tasting of the Hazelwood 21 year 40%.

What else did we try?

  • Dalmore King Alexander III 40%
  • Glenglassaugh Revival 46%

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Madeira Finish – Penderyn Madeira 46% a favourite!

Our Whisky Ladies explored an evening of finishes… moving from Speyside to Wales to explore the affect of Madeira on whisky… Here is what we discovered…

Penderyn Madeira 46%

  • Nose – When freshly opened had a bright sharpness, metallic, then shifted into a perfume – rose and other flowers, then fruity, then the wood came to the fore followed by a nice nuttiness of chestnuts, shifting further to a chewy gummy bear, from candy to creme brûlée
  • Palate – Fruits and spice, some tannins, with a lovely slow progression, an nice understated but interesting character, some dates, toffee and cream
  • Finish – Cotton candy, then toffee and a hint of vanilla

We really enjoyed this one! One of the few times it was absolutely a unanimous “thumbs up!” We found it very drinkable, feminine, with enough going on to keep us engaged.

I set it aside and revisited after sampling all unusual finishes of the evening. What did I find? An initial whiff of sweet varnish, then a lovely candied toffee, vanilla… simply yum!

This is another you can find at some duty free or, if you picked it up from the Whisky Exchange in the UK, it would set you back approx £40.

Penderyn Official Website

And what do the folks at Pendryn have to say?

This whisky is the original Penderyn ‘house style’, aged in ex-bourbon barrels and finished in ex-Madeira wine casks to bring out its full gold character. It is bottled at 46% abv.

Official Tasting Notes:
  • Nose: A classic freshness with aromas of cream toffee, rich fruit and raisins.
  • Palate: Crisp and finely rounded, with the sweetness to balance an appetising dryness.
  • Finish: Notes of tropical fruit, raisins and vanilla persist.
  • Balance: Oaky vanilla tones/dry sweetness

What other finishes did the Whisky Ladies explore that eve?

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Finishes – Glenfiddich IPA 43%

We started our “Unusual Finishes” journey in Speyside with one of the grandaddy’s of the Glens – Glenfiddich with their IPA beer experiment.

Glenfiddich IPA 43%

  • Colour – Pale golden
  • Nose – Started off with a bit peach, sweet and grassy, some citrus, then back to a granary, barley and hay, then a crepe with sugar and lemon
  • Palate – Some spice, very sweet, yet flat with no body, a bit oily
  • Finish – Not bad, the spice remains for a bit. One even described it as “lumpy”

Our overall reaction was that it was exceedingly…. average. Yup average. It was also pronounced superficially drinkable.

Could we discern the hops influence? Perhaps a bit but it wasn’t massively pronounced.

It is also relatively easy to find in duty free – so accessible that we discovered 3 whisky ladies had picked it up! Sparking a joke that this would go into the category of whiskies decent enough to not be embarrassed to gift.

Debate turned to whether this would make a good cocktail – a Whisky Sour perhaps? Or maybe an Old Fashioned or Sazerac?

I set a glass with the IPA aside and revisited it after an hour – it was pleasant, grassy and inoffensive.

And their official tasting notes?

  • Colour – Rich golden.
  • Nose – An elegant harmony of fresh green apple, William’s pear and spring blossom. Complemented with aromatic hops and fresh herbs.
  • Taste – Vibrant with a zesty citrus note followed by creamy vanilla and a hint of fresh hops.
  • Finish – Enduring sweetness with an echo of green hops.

While travel retail prices vary wildly around the world, if you picked it up from Whisky Exchange in the UK, it would set you back approx £45.

What other finishes did the Whisky Ladies explore that eve?

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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?

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Highland Salt – Old Pulteney Dunnet Head 46%

We continued with the Old Pulteney… And I have to admit this is one I’d had in my cupboard since the summer of 2017.

I remember picking up the Old Pulteney at Heathrow airport. It was a morning flight and yet I did my “due diligence” sampling different drams at the World of Whiskies. What I won’t do for our Mumbai tasting groups!

The whisky is part of their Lighthouse series named for the Dunnet Head lighthouse built in 1831 by Robert Stevenson (Grandfather of the author Robert Louis Stevenson).

And what did our Whisky Ladies think?

Old Pulteney Dunnet Head 46%

  • Nose – Bright oranges, a bit musty initially, then revealed a lovely sea salt, some vanilla, more citrus and even a hint of cocoa
  • Palate – Yummy!! Has real substance and amazingly well-balanced with sweet spices, fruit – especially pear, lightly smokey with that caramel salt too.
  • Finish – Nice, long and lingering

There was no doubt this whisky was a hit with our Whisky Ladies. Many remarked on how it was sooooo tasty!

Here’s what the folks over at Old Pulteney have to say:

  • Appearance – Old Brass.
  • Nose – Warming and sweet, with notes of spices, bitter chocolate and a whiff of a freshly varnished deck. Lemon and creamy vanilla overtones offer balance and brightness.
  • Taste – Rich fruit cake, sultanas and salted caramel give way to a touch of leather and fragrant floral top note; a long smooth finish.

Other Old Pulteney’s sampled include:

What else did we try that evening?

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Highland Sweet – Glenmorangie Dornoch 43%

We started our evening with the Highland Glenmorangie… The Dornoch is part of their travel retail range.

Glenmorangie Dornoch 43%

  • Nose – It began with very “classic” Glenmorangie notes of heather, honey, lightly floral, juicy oranges… quite summery in its style… then started to evolve revealing a cognac quality, raspberries and dare I say it? A whiff of very light smoke…
  • Palate – A rather yummy way to start off the evening… The smoke is certainly there, yet a delicate touch, so smooth, soft and again that cognac almost white wine like quality… certainly sweet, light fruit, swish it around more and some stewed apple pie with a dash of cinnamon and cloves emerged
  • Finish – Really rather nice and surprisingly long, ending on the orange citrus

Overall we found this one simply delivered. Nothing pushy about it – just pleasant and enjoyable.

And what do the Glenmorangie folks have to say?

  • Aroma: A classic Glenmorangie spirit matured in ex-bourbon American white oak then transferred to ex-Amontillado casks.
  • Taste: The swirling of under-current of peat adds an unexpected dimension of sweet smoky apples, complemented by vibrant sweet nutty flavours layered upon the rich, warm toffee and dried fruits.
  • Finish: After tasting you are left with added layers of distinctive floral notes, the softness of vanilla with hints of citrus.

While it was the same combination of ex-Bourbon then Amontillado Sherry finish, thankfully it was far superior to The Tayne recently sampled. The touch of smoke added a certain something and substance.

Mind you, we also need to know when this Travel Retail was purchased… back in 2016 from Changi Airport in Singapore. Much has happened with the distiller since then… Just saying…

What else did we try that evening?

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