Vita Dulcis 12 – USA’s Legent “Two True Legends” 47%

This is my first encounter with Legent bourbon, which brings together Fred Noe (think Jim Beam 7th generation master distiller) and Shinji Fukuyo (Suntory), combining bourbon and blending of bourbon, sherry and red-wine casks.

It was third sampled in an evening of north american whiskies… what did I think?

USA – Legent “Two True Legends” Finished in Wine and Sherry Cask 47% – Kentucky Straight Bourbon

  • Nose – Young, granary, old spilt red wine
  • Palate – Alcohol kick. Brash spice, cloves and cinnamon, mash
  • Finish – Warm spice

They indicate it has been matured in sherry, but no hint of it in the whisky. As for the wine? Reminded me of some whiskies I have tried that are partly matured in Merlot or Pinot Noir – which to be honest, doesn’t tend to work for me. And this case? Hmm…. not really.

I must admit, I simply wasn’t in the mood so stopped after one sip.

So I decided to come back and give it another go… better… definitely better… or perhaps I calibrated to a different style.

What do they have to say?

Legent is a Kentucky straight bourbon whiskey partially finished in wine and sherry casks. But it’s more than that. It pushes the boundaries for how bourbons can be created while remaining true to the core of bourbon’s principles. It’s a collaboration between two whiskey legends – Fred Noe & Shinji Fukuyo – and two unique styles of whiskey making.

They speak of a three cask strategy:

  • Bourbon barrel aging. From these barrels, Legent absorbs char notes and rich, traditional bourbon cues like layers of caramel, oak and vanilla.
  • Sherry Cask finishing. Sherry casks add complex layers of spice, raisin and heavy dried fruit labor. These casks also help give Legent its deeper, reddish colour.
  • Red-wine cask aging. French oak wine casks impart different oak notes than traditional white oak bourbon barrels. These red-wine casks also give Legent mild, fruity undertones and a light acidity.

Now… back to the next in my Vita Dulcis 2020 Advent Calendar!

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Dunkerton Drams – Starward Nova 41%

Australia deserves its reputation for fabulous wines and – yes – whisky! So why not combine? While Tasmania dominates, Starward prove you can be in Melbourne and deliver something worthy of attention with distinction – by consistently maturing their whisky in wine barrels.

And while we’ve explored their Apera (sherry style) Solera, a spirited experiment under 3 years (New World Project), even their 10th Anniversary special…. somehow missed trying this Nova expression from their core range! Time to rectify that gap in our collective whisky explorations…

Starward Nova 41%

  • Nose – Plum, red cherries, black and red raspberries, strawberries, red liquorice, grapes, red wine, sweet yet also tangy, dried mango powder (aamchor), sweet basil
  • Palate – Light tannins, soft, bitter, great round fruits, had a nice fruity ‘fullness’
  • Finish – Moist mouth-watering finish, cherry cough syrup

Perhaps it was just us, however we could really find the red wine element in the equation – something bold and full bodied like a shiraz or a cab? And while only 41%, this whisky had full flavours in abundance. A most enjoyable way to close our evening, watching the sunset over green rolling pastures in Somerset.

What do the folks at Starward have to say about their Nova?

  • Beginning / A fruity, double distilled single malt made with Australian barley and craft brewers’ yeast for extra flavour.
  • Middle / Lightly charred or steamed barrels sourced from Australian wineries making great shiraz, cabernets and pinot noirs. Often filled fresh when the barrel is still wet with wine. Matured in Melbourne’s wildly varied climate for three years.
  • End / Exceptional length thanks to the red wine barrels. Bright aromatic notes of red berries, orchard fruits, vanilla, caramel and soft oak spice.
  • Future / Smooth and complex when sipped neat. Shines in classic cocktails. Works exceptionally well with food.

And their tasting notes:

  • Nose / Like we took bright flavours of red berries and orchard fruit and coated them in soft oak spice
  • Palate / Imagine a rich red berry pudding covered in vanilla, caramel and spice.
  • Finish / Balanced and long. The sweetness fades and the delicious flavour goes on.

What did we try in our 2nd Dunkerton evening?

And here are a few earlier explorations of Starward:

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A Christmas ode with Swedish Mulled Wine – Mackmyra Vinterglöd

I will admit to having a mixed response to some more experimental wine maturation combinations. Not all are a smashing success, in my humble opinion. However how are unique gems discovered without someone taking a crazy idea or playing around? So I entered into this particular tasting with an open mind. Thinking of how much I enjoy the tart tasty mulled crabapple and red wine of my Canadian youth and have adapted to the sweeter avatar I find here in Germany.

Intended to come after the Mackmyra Äppleblom, the Mackmyra Vinterglöd is uniquely finished in a combination of PX and Swedish Mulled Wine casks.

Mackmyra Vinterglöd 46.1%

  • Nose – Initially a whiff of agave, then spicy cinnamon, light Christmasy notes dancing about, then sour plum, Chinese sour cherry, a touch of pine or balsam fir, then some chocolate – yum! More Christmas oranges and cloves, ginger snap cookies
  • Palate – Ginger, sour cherries… the Christmas orange and cloves on the aromas followed through beautifully on the palate, caramelized ginger peel
  • Finish – Dry spice kick, a bit bitter, sweet leather and licorice, cinnamon spice,

Distinctive and even more so when we returned after some time. Really quite interesting… it reminded me of orange bitters, herbaceous and deliciously sweet… like a Ricola swiss herbal lozenge.

What do the folks at Mackmyra have to say?

Mackmyra Vinterglöd (winter glow) is…inspired by the Swedish winter tradition of drinking mulled wine during the colder months of the year.

Vinterglöd carries notes of orange, candied fruit and almond, together with oak and a ginger-like spiciness. The aromatic profile of the whisky comes from its aging in casks that previously held Swedish mulled wine and Pedro Ximénez Sherry.

Vinterglöd is a collaboration with Saturnus Glögg.

  • NOSE – Spicy with berries, fruits and light oily notes. Toasted notes of vanilla, oak and caramel fudge. A light warm and oaky spiciness with a hint of tar and mineralities. Sweet notes of raisin, marzipan, citrus and pear drop. Blackcurrant notes of older whisky are found together with spicy and herbal notes of aniseed, ginger and tobacco leaves.
  • TASTE – Spicy with a nice balance between fruits, berries, oils and oak. Blackcurrant, pear fudge and grapefruit. Pleasant spicy oak with hints of tar and tobacco leaves. The texture has a light oiliness.
  • AFTERTASTE – Oily and spicy with berries and a light dryness towards the end.

What else did we try in our Dunkerton Drams evening?

These were all part of a 2019 Master of Malt Advent Calendar.

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Minis – Glenlossie 8 year (2010) 56.8%

My earlier brushes with Glenlossie were quite positive – both from That Boutique-y Whisky Co and then later in Berlin with a fabulous Sharing Angel. I was completely pre-disposed to enjoy, hoping to discover something interesting. It was fitting my tasting companion for the evening was the same Angel I shared the earlier Glenlossie in Berlin.

We opened this wee dram in February 2020… and what did we find??

Glenlossie 8 year (Oct 2010 / Apr 2009) Cask 8645 56.8% (Hannah Whisky Merchants – Lady of the Glen)

  • Colour – A hint of rose in the gold
  • Nose – Forest honey, sour fruit, a bit heavy, toast, incredibly sweet
  • Palate – Warm, the honey carries through… it was also a bit woodsy, a kid of course texture, mace, garden lovage
  • Finish – Nothing remarkable

We joked that it was a bit like a Winnie the Pooh honeypot – super sweet and not what we expected from Glenlossie. We speculated what could bring about this result? Clearly an ex-bourbon cask but there was something else going on…. certainly not sherry, a wine cask finish perhaps? We then tracked down the Mast of Malt notes – the Port cask finish was clearly the answer we sought!

Months later I decided to polish off the last few drops… what did I find? Surprisingly it was chock full of red berries and red cherries, candy sweet… on the palate it was a bit peculiar but better than I remembered. Interesting? Somewhat… but not one I would run out to try and repeat.

What more do we know? The folks at Master of Malt have this to say:

A wonderful amber-coloured indie bottling of Glenlossie. The single malt was distilled on 8 October 2000, and matured in a single bourbon hogshead. It was then treated to a finish in a first-fill ruby Port cask for around six months, sourced from a family-owned bodega near Porto in Portugal. The liquid was then bottled on 10 April 2019 by Hannah Whisky Merchants for the Lady of the Glen range, with the cask yielding 287 bottles at cask strength.

  • Nose: Toasted oats, berry compote and honey, floral malt and baking spice.
  • Palate: Caramelised nuts, vanilla fudge, lots of dried fruit, fresh red berries, liquorice and butterscotch.
  • Finish: Toasted walnut and buttered brown bread with blackberry jam.

So the dates don’t jibe – the bottle says 2010 whereas you might have spotted the above says distilled in 2000.. suspect this was a typo.

And what would it set you back? Hannah Merchant have it listed for GBP 100. Before this sample, I hadn’t tried anything from Hannah Whisky Merchants with their “Lady of the Glen” line.

Here are a few others I tried from my advent calendar minis:

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Teeling Brabazon Bottling 49.5% – Sherry Twist?

For those who make it to Ireland and start to explore beyond the big daddy Midleton, known best for its Jameson brand, there are a plethora of options… yet still only a small yet growing number of distillers.

Teeling is one of them and relatively recently launched a new “Brabazon Bottling” series – to explore maturation experiments with fortified wine – kicking off with this Sherry avatar and then launching a Port version for the 2nd series. Our host had tried both and knew to reverse the tasting order so we had the 2nd first and the 1st second. But what matters more than series and tasting order is what we thought!

Teeling Brabazon Sherry 49.5% (Series 1, 02/2018)

  • Nose – Heavier than the Port, dark plums, fruity, sharp cheddar, direct, liquorice, black olives or capers… and after the 1st sip, it was an explosion of Christmas qualities, dried fruits, cinnamon, cloves, ginger…. then settling into a caramel with a hint of salt and toast
  • Palate – Usual… like a sweet apple and ginger chutney, kiwis, cloves, chocolate… while wasn’t massively complex, it had a strong character, quite tasty with a light Christmas pudding
  • Finish – Beautiful! The finish was really long… really really long… with a curl of liquorice

Early reactions to this one after the 1st sip was “I like it! I really like it!” With comments about how it simply envelops into a nice warm hug… In many ways it was the yin to the yang of the Port with a slower start on the nose, blooming fully on the palate, and slowly tapering into a lingering finish.

Which sparked a lively comparison between the two non-chill filtered Brabazon Bottling boys… Which was preferred? Why?

Some were decidedly against this one. Finding it a bit challenging and lacking in a certain something required to make an appealing tipple. Others had the opposite reaction, really enjoying it.

I’ll admit I was in the 2nd camp and found it an interesting twist on the sociable quality I’ve come to expect from Teeling

And what do the folks at Teeling have to say?

The Brabazon Bottling Series is a limited edition collection of unique Irish Single Malts capturing the full impact and flavour crafted through fortified wine cask maturation.

Series No. 1 focuses on sherry cask maturation and consists of a range of carefully selected sherry cask aged whiskeys producing a full flavoured sherry influenced Irish Single Malt. This bottling consists of a vatting of 6 different sherry casks, carefully chosen for their complementary character. The Brabazon Bottling Series 1 is bottled at 49.5% ABV with no chill filtration allowing for all the natural flavours of this whiskey to be retained. Limited to just 12,500 bottles, this is a whiskey to savour.

Teeling’s Tasting Notes:

  • Nose – Earthy dried fruit and roasted hazelnut, with marmalade, peach, plum and burnt toffee.
  • Taste – A rich sherry sweetness, red berries, nuttiness and toffee, with a hint of of liquorice and clove.
  • Finish – Lingering mixed spice, trail-mix, crisped marshmallow, dry tannins and spice with toasted wood.

What else was picked up Whisky Ladies Irish Trio:

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Teeling Brabazon Port 49.5% – Hot Toddy Time?

After the delightful Glendalough, we were primed and ready for more Irish explorations!

Our Whisky Lady host brought back an interesting duo – a new Brabazon Bottling series from Teeling that explores Sherry in the 1st and this Port in the 2nd. Each series has different bottlings – with month and year on the label.

We started with the Port, bottled in September 2018… What did we think?

Teeling Brabazon Port 49.5% (Series 2, 09/2018)

  • Nose – Cinnamon, wet leaves, wood, musty, camel leather, over ripe apples… then shifted into sweet dry spices of clove, cinnamon, nutmeg… and from apples to citrus orange and apricots… with a lively kick
    • After the 1st sip, became quite sweet – biscuits, a nice custard, lemon chiffon cake. It simply needed time to open into a delicious desert
  • Palate – Hmm… began with quite a bit of oak, tannins, spiced cherries, orange marmalade with bitter orange peel, smooth, shifting between a sour amla and marmalade
    • After some time, we returned and I found it quite bitter, it had a slightly queer or weird character… interesting when it veered more towards a tart marmalade, challenging when it became more like a bitter gourd like karela
  • Finish – Bitter warm spice, like absinthe soaked burnt sugar, a bit sharp…

This one sparked quite a bit of debate. We thought it had an interesting nose that became quite lovely. However the palate was quite mixed.

One lady quipped it was the kind of whiskey that was like a train with a great start but somewhere in the middle “Bro! I need to get to the next station!

And what did we mean by this? Both the nose and finish received a thumbs up. However the taste simply wasn’t for everyone’s palate. Yet for others, this was a clear preference.

For me? I couldn’t help but think of a hot toddy… Something about the finish in particular made me speculate if it might make a rather superb one!

And what do the folks at Teeling have to say?

Jack Teeling, Founder and Managing Director of Teeling Whiskey, commented “Our new Irish Single Malt brings together two famous Dublin family names – the Teelings and the Brabazons. By making reference to the historical Brabazon name, we are telling the story of why our family first came to the Liberties area of Dublin. But more importantly we are telling the story of why we are here now. Our aim with the whiskey was to create a full bodied tasting experience for people who enjoy the added complexity and taste sherry casks impart, and at the same time continuing our goal to expand the spectrum of flavours available from premium Irish whiskeys.”

And specifically anything about their 2nd series featuring port?

Not on the Teeling website that I could find, however the Celtic Whisky Shop folks have these tasting notes:

Taste Smooth and mouth-filling. The fruit characters are fresh and lively with a delicious strawberry shortcake front end backed up by malted grains, vanilla and dried fruits. The finish is drier and oakier with some furry tannins and exotic spices creeping through.
Nose Soft and aromatic with touches of freshly baked fruit loaf, apricots, strawberry jam, dates, fresh figs, honey and malted milk biscuits.
Colour Bright gold with a very slightly pink hue.

We continued on to the Brabazon Bottling with Sherry… and contrasted and compared the duo. Some preferred the Port, others the Sherry. I’d be curious to hear from others familiar with both which they prefer and why?

What else was picked up Whisky Ladies Irish Trio:

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Kentucky Rye – Basil Hayden’s Dark Rye 40%

Our host shared he wanted to start with the Basil Hayden’s one as it was an ‘outlier’ in flavour profile and approach. He also shared the reason he wanted to focus on Rye is the ‘liberties’ that can be taken to explore a range of combinations without any major restrictions.

Hence this was not simply matured in a Port cask…. it actually had Port simply blended with the Kentucky Straight Rye and Alberta Rye!

Which I somehow hadn’t clued into until after our tasting… no wonder our notes keep coming back to cherries and port!

Here is what we thought…

Basil Hayden’s Dark Rye 40%

  • Colour – Such a vibrant ruby red it was unreal! (the photo does NOT do justice to the colour!)
  • Nose – Started off a bit peculiar – like it was whiskey at all! Then shifted into orange, cloves, a bit musty and metallic, old wood polish, then increasingly the black cherries of the port became more and more pronounced, peaking behind was some vanilla custard… after the 1st sip, it took a sour almost sharp quality, lots of wood, vanilla and above all cherries
  • Palate – Sour fruits, dark cherries, spice comes in from behind… better on the 2nd sip, oily, sweet… while quite linear had different dimensions, becoming sweeter and sweeter with each sip, the port element remains strong, wood and even a bit of whey
  • Finish – Definitely there

Fresh out of the bottle it was a good place to start – while the three elements were not melding together cohesively, it did make for an interesting interplay. Unlike most where port is an accent from being matured in ex-port pipes, this was full on port… which clearly is due to it literally being added to the mix!

We set it aside and when we returned? It was like coconut water that has gone a bit off… after the cask strength and diverse other ryes, this one at 40% seemed watered down… back to being slightly queer or different.

While it may not be for everyone, it was certainly interesting to try! After later reading the notes it might go well on the rocks, perhaps with a twist of orange or as a cocktail such a Sazerac of Whisky Sour.

What did the folks at Basil Hayden’s have to say?

Blending is an art form, and our Dark Rye is your chance to own what might very well be a masterpiece.

It all begins with Kentucky Rye, providing a firm foundation of spice, oak, dried fruit and subtle molasses undertones for this release to build upon. From there, Canadian Rye from our award-winning Alberta Distillery is skillfully layered in. A touch of California Port, and its complementary notes of ripe fruit, provides the third and final layer to a whiskey just as at home on the rocks as it is in a cocktail.

Full in flavor, yet delicately nuanced, you’d be wise to grab a bottle of our Dark Rye to experience this magical blend for yourself.

  • Color – Deep, rich amber with ruby undertones
  • Aroma – Oaky notes balanced with dark berries and molasses
  • Taste – Complex blend of caramel, dried fruit, and oak with back notes of spice and a rounded mouth feel
  • Finish – Lingering dried fruit with a hint of sweetness and rye spice.

What else was on our Kentucky Rye menu?

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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?

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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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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…

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