Minis – BenRiach 22 year Moscatel 46% (SMSW)

BenRiach is one of those distilleries that rose, fell and rose again… and one that we’ve quite enjoyed during our various explorations. However this was a first with a Moscatel finish.

What did we think?

BenRiach 22 year Moscatel 46% (Single Malt Scotch Whisky)

  • Colour – Burnished copper
  • Nose – Fruit bursting forth, nuts, chocolats, juicy sultanas, sweet dry wood, amazing nose, cinnamon, nutmeg, like a pie or a tart, black peppercorn, keeps shifting between sweet and tart and spice… all before the 1st sip!
  • Palate – Wow! Soft then explodes, rich, sweet, dry tannins.. such a wonderful balance. with sweet spices, oranges
  • Finish – Spice – long and lingers wonderfully, loads happening, so sweet and delicious
  • Water – In one glass we added water whereas in the other we did not.The one with water was beautifully balanced. And yet we equally enjoyed it absolutely neat.

This whisky simply enveloped us in a great big whisky hug… yet shifting and changing, retaining brilliant balance between the different elements.

Like the others, we set it aside and revisited it after sampling the full quintet of minis. What did we find in the revisit?

Absolutely fabulous! Fruity with an outstanding finish.

What they have to say

This whisky was originally matured in American bourbon barrels before being finished in Moscatel wine casks from Portugal and Spain. During this second period of maturation, the spirit subtly interacts with the oak wood and takes on new flavours and aromas from the Moscatel wine cask. The 22 year old is non chill filtered, natural in colour and bottled at 46% abv.

Our Sales Director Alistair Walker said: “Moscatel is a sweet fortified wine, hailing from Portugal and Spain, which adds a buttery-soft, spicy and fruity dimension to the whisky. The result is a superlative malt in the classic BenRiach style. It is lusciously rich, velvety and full-flavoured, delivering superb dried fruit and honeyed sweetness, like a good apple crumble.”

  • Colour – Rich gold mahogany.
  • Nose – A full, sumptuous nose consisting of dark orange marmalade, rich fig syrup and sweet dates. A dusting of cocoa and cinnamon followed by a gentle hint of garden mint adds a luxurious character.
  • Palate – Rich, velvety dark chocolate fondant topped with glazed maraschino cherries develops to plum cordial and spiced honey. The long finish is rounded with a gentle, earthy balance of nutmeg, stewed barley and old vintage leather.
  • Finish – A rich body laden with dark Mediterranean fruits and a complementary balance of warm spices and delicate oak characters.

What else did we try in our minis evening?

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

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?

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

Glenglassaugh Revival 46%

The best thing about sampling blind is being saved from your own prejudices.

I will have to admit my first brush with Glenglassaugh was in 2015 with an open bottle of Torfa at Quaich in Singapore. To put it mildly, I wasn’t impressed and my strongest memory was that of solvent. Fast forward two years and I had an opportunity to compare minis of both Evolution and Torfa – better, definitely better. Late 2018, I was introduced to their Peated Port Wood – certainly moving in a much better direction. And now, in May 2019 I found a Glenglassaugh that clearly hit its mark.

Yet I knew none of this when I picked up that Glencairn glass and began to sniff, swish and sip my way…

Glenglassaugh Revival 46%

  • Nose – Sour curd, spice, prunes, raising, chocolatey custard, black pepper spice which then shifted into red chillies, oily, orange cloves and Christmas pudding, tobacco, dusty
  • Palate – Greeted with a bit of spice, tobacco, prunes, medium body with a good mouthfeel, wood smoke, chestnut, caramelized apples, some oak, honey malt
  • Finish – A great chewy cherry finish, more of the prunes carried through, had staying power

Of the three whiskies sampled that evening, it was by far the most robust and complex. The character also kept changing. Most remarkable was when it was revisited there was a delightful perfume!

While I couldn’t find anything specific on the bottle which indicated which batch, our host thought it was from their first release.

What do the folks at Glenglassaugh have to say?

The Revival is the first expression released from Glenglassaugh distillery after being mothballed for more than 20 years. The Glenglassaugh Revival has been matured in a balanced mix of ex-red wine and fresh bourbon casks, vatted and re-racked for double maturation in rich sherry casks. Bottled at 46%, non chill filtered and of natural colour, Revival is a stunning Highland single malt with a coastal charm.

  • Colour: Copper
  • Nose: Sweet caramel and toffee with notes of nutty sherry, milk chocolate and honey. Ripe plums, red berries and oranges. Caramelised sugar and earthy, charred oak.
  • Palate: Sweet, rounded and creamy. Oranges, plums, cherry and walnuts, chocolate, honey-mead, sherry and soft, spiced oak.
  • Finish: Medium with warming mulled-wine spices, sherry and caramel.

While not sure where our host sourced this whisky, it is available at Master of Malt for approx $40.

What else did we try?

What about other Glenglassaugh experiences? Read on…

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

The Dalmore King Alexander III 40%

What do we know about this Dalmore? That it was matured in not one or two casks but seven! Aside from the standard ex-bourbon (Kentucky) and Sherry, it also spent time in wine (unspecified), Madeira, Marsala and Port casks. The goal was to produce a unique rich, fruity Highland single malt.

However we knew none of this when we sampled it… blind…

Dalmore King Alexander III 40%

  • Colour – Deep dark burgundy
  • Nose – Dark fruits, cherries, nuts, cheap chocolate bar with nuts and raisins, curdled milk, liquorice, an oddly artificial aroma
  • Palate – A light teasing spice, a bit of mango pickle?
  • Finish – Lingers – a bit bitter then gets spicier with a fruity close… yet still a medium finish that runs away

The colour was a dead give away that something else was going on… which we later discovered with the reveal is augmented with caramel. Hmm…

Overall it was a bit disappointing nothing exceptional and there were a few odd elements that didn’t quite work.

Our host shared he received this whisky as a gift. There was no doubt the person gifting had the absolute best of intentions. And it certainly isn’t cheap – typically retailing for approx $200.

However in our humble opinion, there was more hype and high price than quality. Which is a pity.

What do the Dalmore folks have to say about the King Alexander III?

  • Aroma – Red berry fruits and hints of passion fruit
  • Palate – Citrus zest, vanilla pod, crème caramel and crushed almonds
  • Finish – Cinnamon, nutmeg and ginger

What else did we try?

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

Irish Whiskies – Green Spot Bordeaux 46%

The “Spot” whiskies come from Mitchell & Son with the Bordeaux finish a new variation of Green Spot.

Now I will admit upfront I’ve had some mixed experiences lately with wine finishes… and while I’m happy to settle down with a Green Spot in sociable evening, I feared this friendly green orchard fruits and honeyed dram may not take well to being finished up to two years in  Bordeaux barriques from Château Léoville Barton.

I’m exceedingly pleased to share my fears were groundless and, if anything, this was a favourite of our Irish evening!

So what did we discover?

Green Spot Chateau Leoville Barton Bordeaux Finish 46%

  • Nose – From the bourbon we found vanilla and banana… then the sherry elements of dried fruits, nuts and prunes came to the fore… followed by the tannins, tart black cherries from the Bordeaux all with a lovely spice, pungent and almost a bit astringent… a few even caught a whiff of sulfur? As it settled in, a nice vanilla cake and custard with berries and a dash of sweet spices predominated
  • Taste – Dry, yet with sweetness. The 2nd sip revealed a clear influence of the wine, fruity, more of the sweet spices, overall pronounced most enjoyable
  • Finish – A lovely spice, juniper, sour cherries, long and easy

We found it was a mix of of the casks in which the pot still whiskey matured – bourbon, sherry and Bordeaux – and truly felt all three elements influenced the result, particularly in the aromas.

There was no doubt this was an easy one to return too, eminently friendly with enough going on to not get bored. The nose especially was delightful and kept its sweet honey and other elements quite nicely even after setting aside for some time.

What do the folks at Mitchell have to say?

Green Spot Château Léoville Barton has initially been matured in traditional sherry and bourbon casks, then finished in French oak wine casks from the renowned Château Léoville Barton, Bordeaux.

  • Nose – The French oak drives the initial aroma with crisp woodland notes added to the spicy Pot Still character. The wine seasoning brings a floral perfume and ripe berries to the archetypal orchard fruits.
  • Taste – The familiar mouth coating is a very satisfying balance of oak and spices. Some vanilla sweetness works in harmony with the dry orchard fruits and French oak, combining effortlessly with barley grains to complete the complexity.
  • Finish – For the finish, the rich French oak slowly fades leaving the wine & the spices of France & Ireland with the last word.

As for the price? We’d say for this quality, it is exceedingly reasonable at £58 if you find it, as this was,  at The Whisky Exchange in London.

Here is what else we explored during our latest greatest Irish whiskey evening:

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

Irish Whiskies – Dingle Triple Distilled 46.5%

By now its a known factor of Irish whiskies that while new brands may have sprouted up all over, the “juice” is likely from Cooleys (aka Tyrconnell, Kilbeggan, Greenore, Connemara), Bushmills or Midleton (aka Jameson and all its variants). And while many have the desire to start their own distillery, until they have the wherewithal to do so, buy and bottle.

The story is a bit different with Dingle. In this case, the distillery makes their own pot still whiskey – with this their 3rd batch. They also make a quintuple distilled vodka and a London Dry style gin with mostly Kerry county ingredients – a smart way to start earning from their distillery while waiting for the whiskey.

Dingle Triple Distilled Batch 3 46.5%, Bottle 12686

  • Nose – A spike of grapes, compost, quite vegetal, old banana, nuts, dry wood, leaves, then the sweetness started to creep in with boiled sweets, lemon zest, vanilla, even a sweet dusty powder…
  • Taste – For one taster it was an immediate “yummy!” For others, it was innocuous, flat, a bit of tart lemon then sweet… by the 2nd sip, no sweet –> straight to bitter and sour
  • Finish – This was an odd one… the finish began bitter with a light burn, then sour, even a bit of rancid walnut, wood… and overall what we would describe as “khatta!

In the aromas, initially the port influence was almost impossible to discern. However as it opened up, it became more apparent. Yet the palate didn’t reward… and the finish? Let’s just say if bitter and sour is your thing, then this one is for you… but for most of us? Nope, didn’t quite hit the mark.

So it was set aside to see if it gained any other elements or shifted after being open for an hour.

And what did we find? Not very different, still quite sour… just not happening for most of us. Gotta be honest, we had hoped for something more.

But like all things whisk(e)y, exploring and experimenting has its amazing rewards and a few disappointments too.

It could be said that Dingle was the first to open a new independent distillery in Ireland after 200 years… it definitely is not the last. Where Dingle is today could transform over the years… these are exceedingly early days given the first distillate was laid only in 2012 and the one we tried was the 3rd batch. So let’s see!

What do the folks at Dingle have to say?

Created by the marriage of meticulously selected casks, both Bourbon and Port, this single malt Irish whiskey is a small piece of history, unique and rare. Batch No. 3 is a limited release of 13,000 bottles at 46.5% and 500 bottles at Cask Strength. It is a marriage of Bourbon and Port casks.

A burst of blue/black fruits on the nose forms a tart almost jam like sweetness on the palate with some subtle notes of citrus peels, the liquid coats the mouth like warm honey, mixed berries and marmalade linger on the tongue.

As for what would it set you back? Well, if you picked it up at The Whisky Exchange like this one was, you could be looking at £75.

Here is what else we played with during our latest greatest Irish whiskey & cigars  evening:

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

Port Finish – Amrut Port Pipe Peated 48%

India is making its mark with Amrut and Paul John single malts… so when we were planning an evening exploring different finishes and the Amrut Port Pipe Peated became available, well… we simply had to give it a whirl!

Amrut Port Pipe Peated 48%

  • Nose – Well hello peat, smoking pipe, sea salt, apricots, a richness, then as it opened up more, became spicier, smoked meats, some cognac and even sweet candies, apples, give it even more time and there was a whiff of mocha coffee chocolate
  • Palate – Spice and peat and sweet combine, heavy and creamy on the tongue, balanced
  • Finish – After the 1st sip, the finish was a bit bitter, then a few sips in, the finish was nice long, lazy peat, with sweetness and salt, just hanging around

We thought it a good ‘all rounder.’ Overall… there was something quite ‘desi‘ about this one. We even speculated about tasting besan – the chickpea flour used to make pakoras. Whereas another suggested kebabs picking up on the hint of smoked meats dimension. Yet another called it a solid 4 course meal. Hmm…. were we starting to get hungry?

It was apt though – this is a whisky of substance. What was curious was how the port element was subtle, whereas the peat was predominant.

Certainly this is a whisky you would be proud to call Indian.

Zoe and Amrut

And what do the combined Amrut and The Vault folks have to say?

This a single cask release made with a combination of 3 YO Virgin Oak & Ex-Bourbon matured malts that are further aged in the very rare 30 YO Port Pipe cask from Portugal, for another 2.5 years. Whisky aged for 5.5 years in tropical climate like Bangalore, which is 3000 ft. above sea level brings the flavour to its apex profile. The peated malt, imported from Scotland, uses Aberdeenshire peat that delivers well rounded peat notes with only a hint of iodine on the nose and palate.

  • Nose: First up is butterscotch wrapped in delicious gentle peat with growing sweetness of honey, and raisins. Thick oak tannins and hints of cinnamon flavoured dark chocolate.
  • Palate: The peat has come to life with all the creaminess from raisins and honey. Lots of citrus and tropical fruits. Cinnamon and chocolate in the background.
  • Finish: Ever so long and mouth coating. Peat, citrus and sweetness lingers on with massive salivation and little dryness.

You won’t find this whisky easily…. only 100 bottles were released for sale in Mumbai – launched as part of The Vault Biennale, held in Mumbai February 2019. And if you managed to snag one of those bottles? It would cost you Rs 7,000 / approx $100.

Curious about other Amrut experiences?

You can also find Whisky Lady in India on:

Port Finish – Tomatin 14 year Port Wood 46%

From the Highland, we sampled Tomatin’s 14 year Port Wood finish 46%. In 2014, Tomatin added it to their core range, noting that it starts in Bourbon barrels before spending a year being finished in Port pipes.

So what did we think?

Tomatin 14 year Port Wood finish 46%

  • Nose – Initially lots of wine, grapes, some spice, even black salt from a chaat masala, dried herbs, old shoes
  • Palate – Grape cool aide with spice, yoghurt, a bit thin
  • Finish – Bizarre tannins
  • Water – A bit softer, yet gained an odd metallic quality

Sometimes when you taste with others, one thought leads to another and another. In this case, we spiralled from the above observations into uproarious laughter. Why?

Well… we started off remarking how the aroma reminded us of a cheap bar… more specifically the morning after with the stench of spilt cheap red wine and tequila. The reaction was so strong from a few that there was considerable trepidation to even taste.

And then?

Let’s just say it considerable devolved into talk of baby puke (not uncommon with whiskies) and even less polite observations… back to that bar with the unmistakable aroma of those who over indulged and could not contain there… er… you get the picture.

So we read what the folks at Tomatin have to say? Could we discover some of the notes they share?

The Tomatin 14 Year Old is soft, smooth and sweet, benefiting from its time spent in Tawny Port casks which previously held port for around 50 years.

Rich but balanced aromas of red berries, sweet honey and rich toffee develop into aspects of light fruits and nuts on the palate and an abiding finish of smooth fruit salad.

Sorry? Rich? Fruit salad?! And that’s when we devolved into laughter… when someone mentioned maybe if it was fruit that… er… again… you get the picture.

So I set it aside to see if it improved with a bit… it happens sometimes.

And?

Nope! Not for us. If anything was a bit queer. Sigh…

What other finishes did the Whisky Ladies explore that eve? A few we enjoyed much much more!

And that is the terrific thing about experiments – some hits, some misses and more!

If you picked it up from Master of Malt in the UK, this Tomatin would set you back approx $60. However like most whiskies, prices vary massively depending on where you purchase it and understand this particular bottle cost nearly double that! Yikes!

You can also find even more Whisky bits ‘n bobs on:

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?

You can also find even more Whisky bits ‘n bobs on:

“Dining delight” Shelter Point Double Barrelled (2018) 50%

Imagine sitting down to a table overflowing with food – some contrasting salads, maple glazed carrots, beans, corn on the cob, pasta, roasted meat – and beside it sits a glass of liquid, pairing perfectly.

Naturally you thought wine, right? Perhaps even a Pinot Noir…  But what if the image shifted from a deep large round glass of red wine to the distinctive contours of a Glencairn glass? Containing instead a beautiful whisky from the west coast of Canada… ?

While you may be surprised, if you tried, you would not be disappointed!

But first, our  Whisky Ladies of Mumbai had a chance to discover… Here is what they had to say…

Shelter Point Double Barrelled French Oak Cask Finish Single Malt (2018) 50%

  • Nose – Sweetness, a bit musty and shy initially, then a lovely perfume, caramel, fruit, butter popcorn, candied apple, flowers
  • Palate – Spice, lots of variation, very different, whisky and wine combine
  • Finish – Long, dark grape peel, even some rich buttery ghee, a pinch of salt

Then a few weeks later our original Mumbai tasting group checked it out.

We discovered this whisky had certainly evolved… none of the musty elements, though some found it retained a bit of “shyness” on the nose until it opened up in the glass…

  • Nose – A lovely wine note, surely it must have held red wine in the French oak cask? It also had a light almond aroma mixing with the sweet fruits and berries
  • Palate – Such character! A nice balance of sweet and dryness, wood, spice and tannins, clear stamp of red wine with a nice body
  • Finish – Some light spice?

The more we sipped, the more we enjoyed this one. It had a wonderful palate… almost like sipping a good red wine.

As we sat down to dinner, this whisky made a brilliant companion. It truly turned out to be a perfect “dinner whisky” – wonderful!

It was then further revisited with a few friends not long after:

  • Nose – Soooo fruity! Pear, blackberry, sugar sweet and malty, macadamia nuts, cherry
  • Palate – Marvellous! Less sweet than the nose indicated, more substance. Is that coffee? Certainly more of those yummy berries with a nice peppery spice… not in the least bit harsh
  • Finish – Character follows through with a vanilla cream close

As before, the more we sipped, the more we enjoyed. It was much more complex than the other Shelter Points… one that requires you to slow down and pay attention.

I confirmed with the folks over at Shelter Point that their 2nd edition was in collaboration with Quails’ Gate Estate Winery, with a French Oak cask which previously held their rich fruity Pinot Noir.

All our speculation about the cask used for the finish fell into place – there was no doubt the dark grape, the tannis and berry fruitiness came from the wine cask.

Curious to know more? Here is what Shelter Point has to say:

We hand selected 4 of our finest Single Malt whisky casks and finished them in French oak wine barrels, previously home to Quails’ Gate Pinot Noir. Aged in our American oak for six and a half years, and then finished for 1993 hours in the flavourful French oak, Shelter Point Double Barreled Whisky is a sensational marriage of spirits.

Tasting Notes:

  • Nose: A deep, rich berry jam with toffee apple and toast. Stewed fruits, figs and rum raisins followed by powdered jelly doughnuts.
  • Palate: Sweet, juicy tropical fruits with oak and forest berries.
  • Finish: A warm peppery finish of cherry pie and salted caramel.

Whisky Facts:

  • Still: Custom-designed copper still
  • Base: Two-row barley (That’s it. Nothing else.)
  • Distillation: Small-batch, 2x distilled
  • Spirit: Natural color and non-chill filtered

So there you have it – one whisky, three distinctive experiences!

What else did we sample in our Shelter Point 2018 Edition evenings?

Interested in more Shelter Point tasting experiences?

You can also find Whisky Lady in India on: