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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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?

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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:

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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:

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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?

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