Flora and Fauna – Auchroisk 10 year 43%

Flora and Fauna is Diageo’s official bottling series for their distilleries that predominantly go into blends or are found in independent bottling. After the Linkwood, our Whisky Ladies Euro chapter cracked open an Auchroisk. What did we think?

Auchroisk 10 year 43%

  • Nose – Cherry wood, cooked cherries, caramelized toasted nuts, candy apple… as it opened up more such aromas were joined by coffee, some tannins, spicier with hints of mulberry
  • Palate – Ahh… it does indeed have good body, some cinnamon spice, a bit of cherry cola quality and again those tannins from the nose come are on the palate too
  • Finish – A slightly smokey aftertaste that lingers

Just from the aromas alone there was a sense of body and substance which fully came through on the palate. Of the three Flora and Fauna whiskies we sampled together, this was the favourite for its character and

We set it aside and revisited after sampling the Inchgower… any change?

If anything, even more interesting! This time we found strawberry sweet, some milk chocolate and salty caramel. Delicious.

What do the folks at Diageo have to say?

An apéritif malt whisky, pleasant and light, which opens sweet, fresh and balanced then dries to a short finish. Doughy and buttery on the palate. This textured single malt whisky displays hints of lemon and pineapple with a slight aniseed and smokey finish.

  • Appearance – Pale gold.
  • Body – Smooth, with a light to medium body.
  • Nose – A mild nose for its strength. Sweet and fresh. Ground almonds are immediately apparent, even dry marzipan. Acetone. Some dark chocolate behind (this develops towards milk chocolate). Becomes nuttier all the time. With water, opens up: fresh and estery. Acetone, cooked pears, solvent. A light oily-fatty note behind, possibly nut oil. Nuttiness still apparent. Also a very light char in the back. Becomes more cereal-like – soggy Shreddies – and more ‘boney.’ Not so clean.
  • Palate – Takes a fair amount of water. Light and fresh; pleasant mouthfeel. Sweetish start, some acidity. 
  • Finish – Surprisingly dry, fairly short – all well balanced.

Curious about other experiences with Auchriosk? Read on…

What else did we sample in our foray into Diageo’s Flora and Fauna range?

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Flora and Fauna – Linkwood 12 year 43%

With even tighter ‘lock-downs’ happening around the world, our wee Whisky Ladies European Chapter carried on our virtual merry malty explorations. This time with the final trio from Diageo’s Flora and Fauna range….

The most natural place to begin was with the Linkwood – a distillery we’ve all tried before and have overall enjoyed for its light yet tasty and refreshing fruity sometimes floral character. So what about this official bottling?

Linkwood 12 year 43%

  • Nose – For me it started off with bubblegum, for my tasting companions one found prunes and another almonds… overall we found it fruity, with a good dash of vanilla, light and honeyed… however as it opened up, the effervescent fruity quality subsided  and it settled into a honey hay
  • Palate – A clear easy drinking dram, pleasant yet unsophisticated, creamy, with a bit of wood, light spice with some clove and tea
  • Finish – Not so long but with a hint of raw faintly bitter almond

We concluded this is a perfect late afternoon early evening sipping dram. Something the cheerfully enjoy, taking your time… and while obviously of a more ‘commercial’ bent than some of the cask strength independent bottler vintages we’ve sampled over the years, its a nice one to have around.

We set it aside and returned after trying the Auchroisk and Inchgower… had it changed?

That delightful bubblegum was back – and how! Joined by some apple sauce, very sweet… still easy drinking with a hint of floral and one even thought of champagne!

Was it the best Linkwood we’ve had? No…. however if you want an entry point into this distillery, it isn’t a bad choice.

Our whisky host for the evening read notes from the bottle… which said a lot of marketing blah blah about water but not so much about the whisky. So I checked online to see what the folks at Diageo have to say?

A whole garden of fruit and flower scents in a smooth, long, complex yet wholly integrated Speyside of utter distinction. This 12-year-old single malt whisky has a rich and oily mouthfeel with nutty, cereal notes and an aromatic and dry finish.

  • Appearance – Old gold.
  • Body – Mouth-filling, smooth and medium-bodied.
  • Nose – The first impression is of fresh soft-fruits (but indistinguishable), with a hint of vanilla in the background. Then light cigar-box notes are perceptible, and a faint hint of expensive ladies’ perfume. The whole effect is civilized, complex and tightly integrated. With water, it opens into carnations and lavender, with a whiff of perfumed smoke. There are traces of juicy green sticks, then cedar-wood, with undercurrents of pomander or dried orange peel.
  • Palate – Mouth-filling and smooth. Sweet, overall. Viscous, but fresh and clean: a pleasant acidity helps to maintain this.
  • Finish – Cedar notes emerge in the finish, which is long.

Curious about other explorations of Linkwood? There have been quite a few!

What else did we sample in our foray into Diageo’s Flora and Fauna range?

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Whisky Lady – March 2021

How is it that time seems to be both slow and slip past in a blink at the same time? That’s what March felt like… However we did manage to keep up with a few whisky explorations!

Whisky wise we certainly got creative with holding a couple sessions to explore a Campbeltown Trio

Our European Chapter of the Whisky Ladies also had fun with our 2nd quartet from Whisky Warehouse No. 8 this time featuring:

  • Glenturret 8 year (Dec 2020 – Apr 2019) Bourbon Hogshead 57.5% – Be a wee bit patient with this one…. to be rewarded with light peat and sweet
  • Ardmore 16 year (May 2000 / Feb 2017) Bourbon Barrel 52.3% – A more traditional style, something for Après ski!
  • Bunnahabhain 14 year (24 Oct 2002 / 31 Oct 2016) Bourbon Hogshead 3048, 56.7% – One of the best Bunna’s I’ve had in a long time!
  • Inchfad (Loch Lomond) 15 year (Feb 2005 – April 2019) Bourbon Hogshead 55.5% – Also give it time to reveal a bit of fruity ginger, honey spice

Just to keep the creative tasting buds working, I had fun with a wee solo exploration of some minis from Old Particular :

After a long-distance ‘teaser’ in February with the founder and master distiller from The Belgian Owl and his Whisky Ambassador, five 50 cl – yes cl not ml – whiskies made their way to Paris and Nurnberg… impatiently waiting their turn to be tasted together with another set making its way from Brussels to Bombay!

The month closed with another trio from Diageo’s Flora and Fauna range, however will save tasting notes for April!

Curious to know more? Check out a few other ’round-up’ summaries:

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Additionally, there are the two ‘off-shoots’ with:

The Belgian Owl

Sometimes one thing leads to another… What was originally intended to be a Bombay ‘bar night’ with various whiskies lying around turned (thanks to the wonders of modern technology and curious connects) into a special feature on The Belgian Owl together with the founder and master distiller – Etienne Bouillon – and brand ambassador – Frédéric Senet.

Alas I was already back in Germany so could only experience Identité ‘vicariously’ via the descriptions of the others – which were incredibly positive! Even from one who was a bit skeptical from his earlier brush almost a decade ago – however distilleries and palates evolve and the sincerity of the enthusiasm was clear.

How did this evening come about? Well, one of our Bombay Malt & Cigar gents currently splits his time between Belgium (where his wife lives and works) and Mumbai (where he lives and works).

On a recent trip to Mumbai, he was contacted via a consulate connect asking “Don’t you do whisky tastings? The folks from The Belgian Owl are interested in getting some feedback from an Indian perspective…” Which is a bit amusing considering the gent in question is actually British! However, like myself, has lived for decades in India, adopting Mumbai as home so not so strange after all.

He was so impressed with the bottle shared in Mumbai that our intrepid introducer made the trek to the distillery on his next trip to Belgium, determined to bring the full range to Mumbai.

As for myself? Courtesy of the fine folks we virtually met, I now have this very tempting quintet to explore…. not today but sometime soon when a similar set makes its way back to Mumbai so we can join together virtually in a Belgian quest!

  • The Belgian Owl Origine Pot Still unaged spirit 46%
  • The Belgian Owl Identité 36 months, first fill bourbon 46%
  • The Belgian Owl Passion 36 months, first fill bourbon, single cask 1538337 46% Bottle 29
  • The Belgian Owl Intense 40 months, first fill bourbon, single cask 1538452 72.7% Bottle 177
  • The Belgian Owl Evolution 48 months, first fill bourbon 46%

Nice to have something to look forward to in the coming months.

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Additionally, there are the two ‘off-shoots’ with:

The Whisky Warehouse No. 8 – Inchfad (Loch Lomond) 15 year 55.5%

Loch Lomond goes by many names… From Loch Lomond to Inchmurrin to Inchmoan to Croftnegea – including Inchfad like this one. We speculated that this is all a marketing ploy – different brand names for slightly different expressions to tease the curious to select. Do we fall for it? Of course!

However above all, what matters is what we discover when explore… so for the last in our The Warehouse Collection quartet, we dove into this cask strength Loch Lomond dram!

Inchfad (Loch Lomond) 15 year (Feb 2005 – April 2019) Bourbon Hogshead Cask W8 438 55.5%, 300 Bottles

  • Nose – Oh my! Is that Pringles BBQ chips? However a curious thing happened, we went from hello peat to huh? Was there peat? Porridge, wet leaves, a bit metallic
  • Palate – Light peat was back, a bit spicy, coppery, a herbal medicinal quality
  • Finish – Limited
  • Water – To be honest, don’t think we even tried!

Our first thought was – better than the Glenturret (this was before the revisit) – has some “oomph!” and character, however… was it something that really stood out for us? Not really.

However like all the whiskies we sampled that evening, we set it aside and revisited. Interesting! After some time there was fruit, a dash of ginger, a bit of honey spice. It certainly improved after some time to open up… becoming an enjoyable drinking dram.

Curious about other Loch Lomond experiences?

What else did I try in the Whisky Warehouse No. 8 “Last Chance” set?

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The Whisky Warehouse No. 8 – Bunnahabhain 14 year 56.7%

Long back, a very talented multi instrumental, multi country music buddy encouraged “Bunna” explorations as his kind of Islay – not really peaty but having substance and character to spare. Over the years, I’ve had mixed experiences – some excellent, some so so and some that didn’t quite do it for me.

Bunnahabhain 14 year (24 Oct 2002 / 31 Oct 2016) Bourbon Hogshead No. 3048, 56.7% 307 Bottles

  • Nose – Initially greeted us with quite a distinctive coconut oil… which settled down into salt water taffy, candied guava, fresh bread, orange comfy or cointreau, even a bit of coffee candy, swirling about with a hint of smoke too – more like an echo or subtle embers than a live burn…overall leaving an impression of fruity
  • Palate – Silky smooth… some salted caramel, spicy desert, herbal, buttery… with a wee bit of even peanut butter, richly rolling around nicely on the tongue
  • Finish – Lovely and long, delicious
  • Water – No need… truly

I have to confess that this is without a doubt the best Bunnahabhain I’ve had in a long time. Even better as it sits in the glass, opening up more and more. While a different character, there was an element of the lightly salted ‘buttery’ quality that made us think of the insanely delicious Aveux Gourmands.

As for the folks at Whisky Warehouse No. 8? I’ve taken the liberty to ‘google translate’ my way through Julia’s terrific tasting notes:
Whiskeys from Bunnahabhain are always good for a surprise and this single barrel is no exception. Anyone who wants to deduce the taste from the nose impressions of this bottling will be amazed at how different the whiskey ultimately behaves on the palate. At least one can rely on the well-known attributes of most Bunnahabhain bottlings: hardly any wood, a little salt and a good balance of all aromas.
  • Nose: Soft and fully ripe fruit notes such as cherries, star fruit and lychees. Underneath there is a layer of salty peat that has a slightly medicinal effect, but also a damp campfire that was already burning the day before.
  • Taste: Spicy like in a hay barn, herbal notes like dried thyme and thistles, slightly nutty and almond-like, the fruit notes linger in the background, but they now appear much fresher and crisper. The peat and smoke notes also remain surprisingly restrained.
  • Finish: It is especially the herbal notes that stay on the palate for a long time and become dry towards the end. Very late, a pinch of fleur de sel tickles the taste buds.

What about other Bunnahabhain explorations?

My “Last Chance” set also contained:

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The Whisky Warehouse No. 8 – Ardmore 16 year

When I think of Ardmore, I tend to think of a lightly peated Highland dram… In many cases, I’ve had only fleeting sips rather than proper tasting… or it has been on offer at a social gathering, leaving a generally pleasant impression. So was looking forward to sitting down and giving an Ardmore some proper focus and attention… Even better, to have company with tasting cohorts joining virtually from Paris on a fine Friday evening in March 2021.

Here’s what we discovered….

Ardmore 16 year (May 2000 / Feb 2017) Bourbon Barrel Cask W80226, 52.3% 159 Bottles

  • Nose – Apricots, walnuts, pineapple and banana, vanilla flambe, some black current or black rasperry, a mix of fresh herbs like myrtle, black old fashioned licorice…
  • Palate – Oh yum! Fabulous on the tongue, cinnamon spice, butter brioche, nuts
  • Finish – A lovely finish – long, strong and very tasty
  • Water – The nose again became fruitier, tobacco leaf, hint of ajwain

Overall there was quite a ‘traditional’ style, with aromas that are less sweet, more savoury in a satisfying way. The kind of dram you would enjoy coming in from the cold like Après ski!

We set it aside and carried on tasting the others in our miniature set… and returned to find it was less fruity but still fabulous, with a nice juniper hint joining the buttery cinnamon spice. It was interesting enough to prompt checking availability of a full bottle – alas it seems out of stock – and like most of these single cask independent bottles, once you missed your chance, that is it!

Curious about other Ardmore experiences?

My Whisky Warehouse “Last Chance” set also contained:

What about prior explorations from Whisky Warehouse No. 8? Here’s our growing list:

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The Whisky Warehouse No. 8 – Glenturret 8 year 57.5%

This would be my 3rd Glenturret 8 year from an independent bottler! We were rather impressed by the North Star’s Glenturret – which was distilled the same month as this Warehouse cask and bottled within a month of each other. I’d also had the pleasure of trying Chorlton’s Ruadh Maor aka peated Glenturret.

So what about this one from The Whisky Warehouse No. 8?

Glenturret 8 year (Dec 2010 / Apr 2019) Bourbon Hogshead Cask No. W8 181, 57.5% 330 Bottles

  • Nose – Even before putting in the glass, we had a whiff of our wee bottle and went – Mmmm….sweet smoked bacon! And then into the glass it went and… huh? Where did the delicious aroma go? Instead we found a brine, hay… predominantly cereals like hot (slightly boring) porridge, wet fall leaves, rubber gum… is that gym shoe? Curious
  • Palate – Ah.. now here is the light peat smoke, bay leaves, cinnamon spice, a bit of ginger bread… not a heavy peat, more like peat ‘adjacent’
  • Finish – It does last…

Let’s be honest, we were a tad disappointed. I happened to have the North Star Glenturret bottle handy and pulled it out to compare, making my virtual tasting companions a wee bit jealous. Yup! There were all the fabulous elements we enjoyed about the Glenturret – a nuanced peat, tasty cereals, maple bacon… We dismissed the Glenturret and moved on to our other minis..

However a funny thing happened along the way… as it patiently sat there… an amazing alchemy with air took place. We returned for a revisit and we delighted to discover much that we enjoyed in the North Star was now present! Where had all those lovely qualities been hiding?

  • Nose – Gingerbread joined the light puff of smoke,
  • Palate – Some cheese, smoked meats chased by cinnamon spice
  • Finish – Remained dry and long

Even on the first go, we enjoyed the palate more than nose alone… however with the revisit it was clear this had all the makings of a rather enjoyable dram. Certainly one to wait for it…. wait for it… as it just might be “Legend… wait for it…. dary!

Curious about other Glenturret experiences?

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Glen Scotia 1832 Campbeltown 46%

Last in our Campbeltown trio was a no age statement Travel Retail offering from Glen Scotia. While one may be tempted to have an NAS before age statements, in this case, I knew this expression was both more peated than a standard Glen Scotia plus an experimentation with a PX sherry cask finish, so it ‘felt’ intuitively like the one to close with… even though the least expensive of the bunch!

That’s part of the magic with tasting order – when trying whiskies side by side, selecting the right progression of profiles is critical. Try something really intense up front and you can overwhelm the senses to miss completely the nuances of a subtler dram. It seems self-evident but can be tricky when you’ve never tried that particular expression and have to go by a ‘gut’ feel basis what you do know of the distillery, potential impact of the wood, particularly as described peat levels can be notoriously unreliable – both by ppm and the ‘eye’ (palate) of the beholder!

However in this case, my blind tasting companions from the first session confirmed the appropriateness of starting with the Springbank 10 year, followed by the Glen Scotia 16 year and this expression. So I followed the same approach for the Whisky Ladies virtual session held a few weeks later!

Whereas the small group of ladies began with this NAS followed by the Springbank 10 and Glen Scotia 16. In this case, tasting order made little difference – we had quite similar impressions of all three whiskies!

Glen Scotia 1832 Campbeltown 46%

  • Nose
    • Mixed group – Started with Williams pear or dishrag (depending on who you ask!), walnut, caramel or toffee, bacon, dates, the gulkand that goes into paan, hints of vanilla, one also got kerosene or motor oil, sour leather… after some time – don’t laugh – but I got gummy bears!
    • Virtual ladies – For us, it started with overripe almost spoilt fruits, quite pungent, oily, shifting from sweet overripe black grapes to bananas, then figs to nuts, with rum raisin.. shifted again to dahi… after even more time the over ripe fruit dimension was replaced by other elements like cardamon kheer, touch of smoke
    • During our share and compare, the other group of ladies added their sense of honey lemon, comforting.. with a vanilla perfume
  • Palate
    • Mixed group – A clean peat with cinnamon, salt and smoke, pepper fry, sweet stewed fruits, nice and round
    • Virtual ladies – The 1st sip was a bit of a shock of bitter spice, but after the initial ‘punch’, the 2nd sip was smooth, still having spice but chased with subtle sweet peat, resin, with that tasty bitterness lingering… there was also a herbal green element we couldn’t quite place which the other group of ladies nailed – green capsicum
  • Finish
    • Mixed group – Salt and pepper spice, dry
    • Virtual ladies – The bit of bitterness remained, dry with black pepper licorice spice

In our mixed group, we initially found it a bit unbalanced… there was a curious quality for some time until it settled down. Once that “motor oil” quality finally dispersed and it began to grow on us. When we compared with the others, we found all three had dry finishes with this one a bit spicier than the others. Certainly the peat was more pronounced too, though clearly not a typical Islay style.

As for our ladies? For us, it was all the contrasts that made us slow down and really explore this one.  As interesting as the nose was to begin with, after a few sips, it lost a bit of its pungency. However by contrast, the palate grew on us more and more. This whisky challenged us – in a good way, reminding us why it is so fun to explore different dimensions with others. The other group also enjoyed it – sharing the warm and tingly combined with perfume finish.

Bottom line – it was a ‘yes’ from all.

What do the folks at Glen Scotia have to say?

The higher peat content gives a more sweet and smoky character and a beautiful rounded finish.

  • Nose – Peat smoke on a salty sea breeze with background notes of crème caramel and vanilla
  • Palate – Golden syrup (light treacle), spiced apple and vanilla. Light medicinal peat notes bring balance to the mid-palate
  • Finish – Long, lingering peat with dried fruit notes adding sweetness

I purchased this whisky late Oct 2019 from Munich airport for EUR 62 on my way back home to Mumbai…. ahhh…. those were the days when we could freely fly back and forth!

And with that, we finished our wee journey to the Campbeltown region with Springbank and Glen Scotia!

Interested in other Glen Scotia experiences? Check out:

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Campbeltown – Glen Scotia 16 year 46%

Today part of the Loch Lomond Group, Campbeltown’s Glen Scotia traces its history to 1832, however certainly had a few ‘silent’ periods. The first halt in 1930 was brought on the dramatic fall of distilling in the Campbeltown region triggered by the depression, temperance movement and rising distribution costs. Original known as “Scotia”, the distillery re-opened a few years later as “Glen Scotia” when bought by the Bloch Brothers. Fast forward to the next major decline in the whisky industry – no surprise is shut production from 1984 to 1989 – starting up again when bought by the Gibson group.

With our history lesson now over, what about the whisky? Well… it has both lightly peated and non-peated variants, playing around with American oak / ex-bourbon, oloroso and PX sherry casks.

As for our collective tasting experience? I’d explored a a few minis from Glen Scotia with a regular tasting companion. We found the entry expression – Double Cask 46% – was quite a good indicator of what is to come, noting the 15 year took a bit of time to ‘warm’ up, whereas the Victoriana 51.5% was a clear ‘pleaser’ from the start.

So then… what about this 16 year?

Glen Scotia 16 year 46%

  • Colour – Coper and gold
  • Nose
    • Mixed group – Musty cupboard, sour fruits, a bit like a fruity brandy, lots of honey, oak, floral talcum, rose peppermints, coffee sweets, chicory, lightly salted, dry spice, more light wood, grass, celery, cherry blossoms
    • Virtual Ladies – A nice bourbon, fruits and nuts with cocao, changes so much in a gentle way… toffee, berries shifting to cherries… sweet but not too sweet… our IRL ladies also found beeswax
  • Palate
    • Mixed group – Spiced Christmas oranges with cloves, dry salt, cigar leaf, gooseberries, apple – like calvados, sour plum, almonds, dry sherry, peppery spice, hint of peat
    • Virtual ladies – Simply delicious! Incredibly silky with a great well rounded mouth feel. We tasted figs with dates, a gentle roasted quality…  our IRL ladies agreed – noting what really stood out was the velvety smoothness with a hint of mint at the back
  • Finish
    • Mixed group – Salty dry
    • Virtual ladies – Sweet milk chocolate, after lingering for some time slowly eases out with a dry black licorice
  • Water – A few drops didn’t hurt… but why dilute something so fine? Truly not needed

For the mixed group, we concluded overall that it had quite a friendly nose – more interesting and complex than the palate. Even after the glass was empty, the aromas were most appealing. For a few in our cross-country virtual tasting (from London to scattered locations around Europe to Mumbai) this was the favourite.

As for our ladies? We agreed! We found it had a fabulous harmony, makes its presence felt in a gentle enticing way. The kind of dram you want some ‘alone time’ with…. slow down and simply enjoy.

What more do we know? Just that it was matured in ex-bourbon and American oak (presumably virgin?) for a minimum of 16 years and released for Travel Retail. While the distillery notes do not indicate it was matured or finished in sherry casks, both their tasting notes and our experience would indicate a hint.

What do the folks at Glen Scotia have to say about their 16 year?

  • Nose – Fresh sea spray and floral notes give way to softer caramel and vanilla
  • Palate – Rich sherry flavours, toffee, raisins and roasted hazelnut. Apricot and orange add more subtle fruit notes
  • Finish – Long dry finish with touches of peat combining with nutty elements and coastal, salty notes

I picked it up in Singapore’s Changi Airport in November 2018 for SGP 167 (approx EUR 105 / INR 9,100). A bit pricey, but then that is also Singapore…

What did we explore in our Campbeltown evening aside from the Glen Scotia 16 year?

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