BMC Bourbon Night Take 2 – Four Roses, Clyde May’s, Breaker, Bib + Tucker

A personal connect often is the magic link in our sourcing efforts… Which is exactly why our Bombay Malt & Cigar group has enjoyed a decidedly Norther American “twang” to some of our tastings…

One member’s spouse is Canadian with a recent trip leading to  a Canadian Club tasting and another’s spouse is American. This member last brought us a Westland Trio and now a special evening focused purely on Bourbon!

But these were no ordinary run of the mill bourbons – nope! Other than Four Roses just to whet our whistles, the other three from Alabama to California are not your standard garden variety brash bourbons.

What did we think? Read on and discover!

BMC’s Bourbon Night

Our favourite? There was zero doubt that the Clyde May‘s came out on top for its delightful sweetness plus made a terrific complement to the cigar initially.

And next up? The Bib & Tucker was the most interesting… and as the cigar became spicier, most of us shifted to pairing with it instead.

For the rest? Four Roses the most accessible – both in palate and as a bourbon.

Whereas the Breaker Bourbon Port Barrel Finish? Not sure it quite worked for us… pity.

Interested in other Bourbon focused evenings? A few memorable ones include:

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Red Casks – Longrow Red 11 year Cabernet Franc 55.9%

We don’t often get a chance to try drams from Campbeltown, though there are a few clear ‘fans’ in the house! For our original Mumbai based tasting group, this was the first peated Springbank whisky under the Longrow brand that we tried together.

We sampled this whisky blind without bias… and here is what we thought…

Longrow Red Cabernet Franc 11 year 55.9%

  • Nose – Peat! Medicinal and maritime, Hamam or Lifebuoy soap, carbolic, fish oil and salt
  • Palate – Full raging peat fire yet still sweet, well balanced between sweet and peat, most enjoyable… terrific to just roll around the palate and bask in its full flavoured peaty sweetness
  • Finish – Gorgeous sweet spice
  • Water – While it seems counter intuitive, don’t… it somehow made the whisky a bit funky

Overall we quite enjoyed this one! It provoked a lively debate about the different characters of peat… contrasting this style of peat with seaweed vs ashy campfire, with neither elements found in this whisky.

One member was absolutely insistent that it had to be Campbeltown – that the peat style was distinctively from that region! Obviously he was spot on and with the reveal backed up his pronouncement with a short discourse on the three different Islay peat bogs vs Highland vs…. you get the picture!

What do the folks at Springbank have to say? Alas the exact expression we sampled has been replaced with a pinot noir… however this remains consistent for what they are aiming to achieve with their Longrow Red expressions:

Our Longrow Red, always bottled at cask strength, is released annually in small quantities and every year a different type of red wine cask is used to mature the whisky.

Offering a different sensation from Longrow Peated, this whisky is smooth, elegant and subtly juicy.

What did we try in our special “red” casks evening?

Other peaty Campbeltown drams

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Red Casks – Linkwood 16 year (1998) Côte Rôtie 45%

From Gordon & MacPhail’s Private Collection, this special wine cask finish expression was released in the US.

We sampled this whisky blind without bias… knowing nothing about it beyond our immediate experience… until our host revealed it!

Linkwood 16 year (14 Dec 1998/Oct 2015) Côte Rôtie 45% (G&MP)

  • Colour – A gorgeous almost unreal ruby red
  • Nose – Starts as a delightful Christmasy rum raisin with varnish… full on fruity, berries, very sweet, plum cake… loads of caramel, vanilla, soaked dried fruits, red apples, cinnamon brown sugar, malt, herbal green tea, burnt syrup, oily, coconut, calvados, a bit of spice from the oak, some rose petals?
  • Palate – Soooooo sweet! Enough character to bring one back, a lovely mouthfeel, some oils on the palate yet still had a lighter body, green apples, delicious with a hint of tannins, sweet berries
  • Finish – The oil continued… ever so slightly bitter … more creamy nutty… gorgeous
  • Water – While not needed, it opened it up to make the whisky even sweeter and more oak forward on the palate

This one was certainly a shift from the 1st… we struggled to reconcile the rich colour with the lighter body, sparking considerable speculation – how could it be such a bright red? Surely it wasn’t natural! To which our host shared the whisky was not chill filtered and completely natural colour. Hmm….

This confirmed our suspicions of a red wine cask however it didn’t quite fit with previous experiences with whiskies matured in port, pinot noir, bordeaux… so then which red wine? How long was it finished for?

And the reveal? Delighted to see we had a treat from Linkwood – a distillery our collective experiences has given rise to an impression of an underrated whisky well worth catching – particularly if seen fit to be bottled by the folks over at Gordon & Macphail.

As for the wood and finish? The notes on the bottle revealed it was aged for 15 years to then be finished for 23 months in the Côte Rôtie – which is considerably longer than most finishes.

We set the whisky aside for some time and revisited – absolutely exquisite! Definitely one to slowly sip and enjoy.

While further details are not available in the Gordon & MacPhail website, there were short tasting notes on the bottle:

Sweet and cream accents with rich summer berries and green apples, which are complemented by a smooth milk chocolate edge.

Last seen in the US online for approx $160.

What did we try in our special “red” casks evening?

Other Linkwood experiences?

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Red Casks – Balvenie 14 year Caribbean Cask 43%

Our original tasting group was in for a surprise! A special theme of unusual finishes, first sampled completely whisky blind without bias…

Balvenie 14 year Caribbean Cask 43%

  • Nose – Fruity, floral and distinctly ‘feni’-like, some citrus, distinctly ‘prickly’, syrup, salted cashews… as it settled down, started to reveal a nice oily aroma, a sweet and sour of khoya, strongly reminded us of a gulab jamun, toffee cream chocolate, spice… after the 1st sip, had a nice vanilla biscuit, retaining the gulab jamun chased by salted caramel, rum spiked honey water
  • Palate – Initially greeted us with a spicy ginger, salt then gentle tobacco, something of substance and a bit astringent, yet still heavy oils, chewy, butter biscuit, a good balance… if you the breathed it in were rewarded with khatta meetha  or sour sweet
  • Finish – A bitter pepper spice that sparked a debate – lingering with orange peel and almond or short yet balanced? I was in the camp that found after the initial oomph… the shadow of the finish remained
  • Water – After it initially sharpened the spice, it settled down to make this whisky more pleasant and mellow on the palate however didn’t reveal anything new

Overall we found the aromas quite volatile when freshly open, taking some time to settle down… and interesting.

There was loads of speculation… we didn’t think it was sherry cask but there was definitely something different going on. One member was clear it was rum, others not convinced.

And the reveal?

Well our rum speculator was spot on!

What did we try in our special “red” casks evening?

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Experimenting with Red Casks – Balvenie, Linkwood and Longrow

I love the creativity and curiosity that our whisky club members have… seeking out something “different”. This session was the result of careful research and hunting down a trio of whiskies experimenting with different cask finishes from a favoured shop in San Fransisco.

An evening with red casks:

We sampled each, completely blind before the reveal. Curious to know more? Just click the links above to read all about what we discovered!

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Whisky Lady – March 2019

March was mostly in Mumbai with just a wee jaunt to Bangalore… a welcome change after earlier months zipping around to Germany, Dubai, US, Canada, Germany again…

As for tastings? All three Bombay based tasting groups were extra active – making up for a slower Feb! So read on and enjoy!

Our Bombay Malt & Cigar kicked off March with an Australian Starward Flight:

Our Whisky Ladies then carried on with Asian Delights featuring:

Our original group decided to explore ‘red’ cask finishes with:

Both our Whisky Ladies late February and Original club in March explored the 2018 Canadian Shelter Point editions:

  • Artisanal Single Malt (2018) 46% – Bottled sheer joy and happiness
  • Montfort District Lot 141 Grain (2018) 46% – Award winning, curious and interesting
  • Double Barrelled Single Malt (2018) 50% (French Oak Cask) – What you want instead of wine with dinner!
  • Artisanal Cask Strength (2018) 58.7% – Rye adds a spicy twist!

Rounding up the month was an evening of Bourbon‘s with the Bombay Malt & Cigar gents:

In addition to our sampling sessions, I finally caught up on tasting notes from a remarkable evening early January 2019 in Dubai with a few “Dream Drams“:

Plus shared a “sneak peak” into a growing stash of German whiskies, thanks to my work trips to Munich.

Curious to know more? Check out recent Whisky Lady’s monthly missives:

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Shelter Point’s 2018 Whisky Quartet

I will admit to a certain bias… there is a good bit of Canadian pride at work when it comes to my experience with Shelter Point. However just because I think their single malt is the best to come out of Canada – sheer happiness in a bottle – doesn’t mean others do too.

Which is exactly I chose to do three rounds with this quartet which came courtesy of the lads over at Shelter Point – first with the Whisky Ladies then a couple weeks later with our original Mumbai tasting group and finally with a couple friends familiar with earlier editions from the distillery.

And what did we have an opportunity to try?

Shelter Point 2018 Quartet

The whiskies were complements of the Shelter Point distillery – shipped from BC to my folks in Manitoba then brought back to India on a recent trip to Canada in February 2019. We opened them in Mumbai late February 2019 with tastings that continued to late March 2019.

I was particularly thrilled to see the Artisanal Single Malt is now available in Manitoba for an exceedingly reasonable price of CND 67 (that’s less than US $50).

Just click on the links of the specific whiskies to read our collective tasting notes.

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Asian Delights – Nikka Whisky From the Barrel 54.1%

Our Whisky Ladies of Mumbai are no strangers to Nikka Whisky – or this particular dram From the Barrel. Our last tryst was in 2017 when we tasted From the Barrel side by side with Super Nikka.

However our evening exploring “Asian Delights” veered towards gentle uncomplicated whiskies which demanded a close with something having a bit more “Oomph!”

So out popped this beauty to round out our evening… here is what we thought…

Nikka From the Barrel 54.1%

  • Nose – Initially a bit musty, overripe fruit, had a spice kick, needed time to settle down… cloves, sweet vanilla, rum raisins, baked fruit – particularly apple and pear, increasingly fruity as it opened up more, then revealed some flowers, even a bit of talcum powder
  • Palate – Fruity, spice, bold, malty, yet missing something
  • Finish – Lingers
  • Water – Do add! Enhances the character, rounds it, lots of body, wood came forward on the palate, completes this whisky… out comes some marvellous marshmallows, very tasty on the palate even with a chasing dash of cinnamon sweetness

Overall most preferred it with water – enjoying how it brought a more accessible, enjoyable, balanced dram.

What is nice about such a compact 500 ml bottle is that we have enough left over to enjoy a dram or two but not much more. As the last few drops came home with me, it might just be time to enjoy a wee nip!

What the Nikka folks have to say:

From The Barrel is an extremely complex blended whisky bottled at 51.4% ABV. In order to deliver its richness and full flavors, the blended liquid goes into used barrels for another few months for “marriage” before it is bottled.

We enjoyed a few other whiskies in our Asian Delights evening:

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Asian Delights – Kavalan Classic 40%

The Whisky Ladies of Mumbai began our exploration of Kavalan Taiwanese whiskies in 2016, where we sampled an open bottle of the Concertmaster Port Cask Finish 40%… we then cranked it up several notches with the Solist Sherry cask S1001200358 57.8%. It was so memorable with its concentrated robust flavours that we decided to track down another bottle (this time from cask S090102020 57.1%) and share it in our “Ladies Choice” evening with our Bombay Malt & Cigar gents.

Fast forward and we found ourselves in 2019 checking out the “Classic“… here is what we thought…

Kavalan Classic 40%

  • Nose – Spruce, pine, fresh balsa, sweet with a hint of nuts, very comforting on the nose, loads of fruit
  • Palate – Had some character, spice, nice and dry, tannic, after some time a sugar syrup
  • Finish – Finally a proper finish!

Sweet on the nose, spice on the palate… a good entry level to the brand, bottled in 2016. It was opened a few months earlier and you can see from the photo that after our tasting, there wasn’t much left! However we certainly felt we had a good enough impression of a lively tasty dram.

Talk turned to how nice it is to find value for money… This particular bottle was purchased in Germany, however can also be found at The Whisky Exchange for  £54.45.

For those curious to check out more Kavalan’s tasted over the years, pop over to the Asian whiskies page.

Here’s a few more whiskies we enjoyed in our Asian Delights:

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Asian Delights – Nikka Coffey Malt Whisky 45%

Much like the Akashi White Oak where we had twice sampled the Red Blend but not the Single Malt, we also tried the Nikka Coffey Grain twice but not the Malt version.

Our first blush of the Nikka Coffey Grain in 2016 made us think of piña colada… two years later when we tasted another bottle in an evening exclusively featuring grains, we still found it had a delightful desert like quality.

Both are make in Nikka’s Coffey still however the difference is that the grain is mostly made from corn whereas the malt from malted barley.

What did we think of the malted version?

Nikka Coffey Malt Whisky 45%

  • Nose – Chocolaty cream, tiramisu, marzipan, toffee, like a sweet Amarula, a caramel Irish Baily’s, candied cherries, a cherry cough syrup, banana, cinnamon
  • Palate – Soft, flat, linear, thin body, cheery and cherry, smooth
  • Finish – Hardly there
  • Water – Spicier on the nose, cream and fruit

Overall it retained a sweet dessert quality yet was heavier and darker than we remembered the Grain one… nothing complex but still satisfying and most enjoyable in its way.

Here is what the folks over at Nikka have to say about their Coffey Malt:

Coffey Malt is made from 100% malted barley. However it is not categorized as “malt whisky” but as “grain whisky” since it is not distilled in a pot still. This unique production method results in extraordinary flavors and texture.

We enjoyed a few more whiskies in our Asian Delights evening:

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