Whisky Lady – November 2017

Everyday Asia

November brought a trip to Germany and Singapore (with a side dish of WhiskyLive) that kept tastings on track for the  Whisky Lady!

The best was all three groups aligned to my mad travel schedule so there was a concentrated burst of all three sessions in less than a week!

Our Whisky Ladies enjoyed a carefully selected affordable trio Gordon & MacPhail:

For our Bombay Malt & Cigar  gents, we explored a “Peat Unusual” theme with narry an Islay whisky among the selection…

  • Lowland – Alisa Bay 48.9%*
  • Islands – Ledaig “Very Cloudy” Vintage 2008 40%*
  • Highland – Loch Lomond Peated 46%*
  • Speyside – BenRiach 25 year 46%*

(*Tasting notes coming soon!)

Just as the BMC gents explored peat…

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Rye Night – High West Whiskey Double Rye 46%

Last in the official pours from our original club’s rye night was a whiskey from High West. As I was off in Germany, notes were ably recorded by our guest writer Nikkhil… Read on!

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Pour ​3​: High West Double Rye Whiskey 46% | Batch No: 16I08 | Un-chill filtered

  • AppearanceDark brown caramel
  • Nose: Acrid,nail polish, solventy, metallic paint shop. A tiny hint of rose petals.Muted nose. We weren’t getting anything much from this one.
  • Palate: Sharp and bitter sweet but not rough. Palate as muted as the nose. Hints of coco,cinnamon and tobacco. With water it gets even sharper. Green tea and some black pepper.
  • Finish: Short and still solventy.
  • After 20min rest: Grassy notes and tobacco.
Official notes:
  • Nose: Mint, clove, cinnamon, licorice root, pine nuts,and dark chocolate, with a surprising dose of gin botanicals throughout
  • Taste: Rye spices up front, then menthol, mint, eucalyptus, herbal tea with wildflower honey and all spice
  • Finish: Cinnamon and mint, gradually sweetening through the finish, with a hint of anise

Double Rye: A blend of straight Rye whiskeys ranging in age from 2 to 16 years. Straight Rye whiskeys: 95% rye, 5% barley malt from MGP & 53% rye, 37% corn, 10% barley malt from Barton Distillery.

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The original’s rye night contained:

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Rye Night – Cascadia Rye (Portugues Port Barrels) 43.5%

Alas I again had to miss our session as was off gallvanting around Germany, however our resident guest whisky writer Nikkhil is back again to share our group’s impressions.

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Pour 2: Cascadia Rye Whiskey Port Barrel Finish | 43.5%

  • Appearance: A distinct pinkish amber hue
  • N​ose: Very jammy, over ripe fruit, orange oil, coco. A distinct note of gulkand (a sweet preserve of rose petals). Turmeric here as well. Strangely some sulphur notes. Mushrooms? A member even picked up mango pickle!
  • Palate: Mildly spicy. Dry coriander seeds, white pepper, vanilla. The jammy fruity nose was a lot subdued on the palate.The turmeric continues as well as the paan notes. Delicious actually.
  • ​Finish: ​Long with lingering notes of menthol/mint and warm spices.
  • With water it opens up beautifully. The soft fruits are back. Aniseed, rose, light tobacco along with that sulphury note created an interesting and a very unique flavor palate. The spices, though restrained keep the balance in check.
After 20min rest: Meaty notes, bubblegum and weirdly Lifebuoy soap! 
Official notes:
 
  • Aging: This Rye Whiskey was first matured in new American Oak barrels, then double barrel finished in French oak casks previously used for maturing rich, 20 year old Port in Portugal. The casks were transferred to the distillery’s No.I vault, the Isle of Whidbey’s oldest maturation warehouse. Located at sea level on the shores of Port Clinton, the spirit was left to mature under nature’s care. The straight Rye developed into one of the most incredible whiskies we have produced. With an aroma rich in port, cocoa, dark cherries, toffee, chocolate and mature oak on the palate, the concentration of flavors is inimitable.
  • Nose:  Rich and full, yet mild.  Lingers in the mind.
  • Tasting Notes:  Rich, delicately spicy and very smooth.

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The original’s rye night contained:

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Rye Night – Cody Road 100% Rye Whiskey 40%

In all our six years of sampling whiskies, our original Mumbai tasting group‘s adventures have only touched on rye every once and again… it has never once been a fully fledged featured evening… until now.

Alas I again had to miss our session as was off gallvanting around Germany, however our resident guest whisky writer Nikkhil is back again to share our group’s impressions.

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Pour 1: Cody Road 100% Rye Whiskey | 40% Abv

  • AppearanceCaramel
  • Nose: Spicy, citrus sour green tamarind on the tree, lemon drops, sweet poppins, orange mithai which gave way to a distinct raw turmeric (haldi root but not the dried one) note. Some ravalgaon toffee notes now in the glass. A very unusual flavour profile which was not yet experienced by the group. Certainly non-scottish!
  • Palate: Spicy and bitter. More turmeric/ginger notes on the mid-palate. Marigold flower petals! I’ve never experienced that before in any spirit. Some caramel popping its head up now. There was something plasticine about it which hit the back of the tongue. Almost like an off note. This I find commonly in first pours and usually settles thanks to oxidation as the level goes down in the bottle.
  • Finish: Spice and bitter stay at the back of the palate. A medium linger with a hint of cocoa notes.
  • With water sweet vanilla, a hint of mint. The bitterness stays. Overall a shy palate.

After 20min rest: The nose and the palate had completely opened up. It smelt and tasted like a cold sweet paan in a bottle! Lovely. The mouthfeel now had an oily consistency. Some cloves, cinnamon and over ripe bananas. Very fruity. The plasticine notes subdued significantly. Time in glass as important as time in cask. Every whisky tasting is a two way conversation and we must avoid the tendency to rush into our tastings in an effort to form or announce our impressions.

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What is interesting is how we have developed a clear slow down, sample, set aside and revisit approach (where we have enough Glencairn glasses!)… more often than not, the whisky will shift with more air – sometimes revealing additional quite interesting qualities, sometimes the opposite where once something that was quite appealing becomes “not” as it becomes sour or its aromas just vanish!

The original’s rye night contained:

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It twas a rye, rye, rye night!

As I was traveling when our original club’s October session happened, our guest whisky writer Nikkhil again stepped up to the occasion.

What made this particularly unique was our 1st ever session focused purely on Rye. As per our normal approach, the merry malters sampled completely blind before the reveal.  

The original’s rye evening contained:

Nikkhil’s comments on the evening:

The hostess revealed all three bottles together. She had chosen a Rye theme for her session and it was indeed a very interesting experience for all of us. It was a first for me. Turmeric and paan notes are not what one would normally associate with a whiskey yet there they were!

The group was divided between the Cody Road & ​Cascadia Rye​ with me preferring the former. High West was not up to the groups liking. I had never imagined a Rye to be “finished” in sherry/port casks.

The Cascadia Rye did have a distinct pinkish hue and that sulphur note. Could the sulphur be because of the port cask finish? Cask fumigation by burning sulphur candles or brimstone sticks has been used to preserve casked wine and to prevent bacterial contamination of casks stored empty. It can also creep up if batches are distilled too fast or in too warm climate​. Cask maturation can significantly mitigate the effect of sulphur after 3 years. But by law an American straight Rye can be bottled after 2 yrs in the cask. Could it be the latter than the former? The mystery continues!

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Gordon + MacPhail – Longmorn 2002/2015 43%

Last but certainly not least in our Gordon & MacPhail evening was a whisky from Longmorn.

Longmorn Distillery is found between Glen of Rothes and Elgin. Its name is derived from the Gaelic, Lhanmorgund, which means “place of the holy man”. This is a reference to the church which once stood there. Prior to the distillery being built in 1897, there had also been a grain mill on the site. R.J.S. McDowell considered Longmorn to be one of the top four malt whiskies.

And what did our Whisky Ladies think?

Longmorn (2002/2015) 43%

  • Nose – Baon! Yippee!! Then overripe fruits, creamy custard, nutmeg and such yummy eggnog, a bit of spice, ginger bread, shifted to sweet spices, peanut brittle… all this before the 1st sip!! Then… wool jacket with smoke, more fruits
  • Palate – Curious quality, black liquorice, peppercorn, so sweet, soft tobacco which took a long time to develop… smooth
  • Finish – Musky smoke, comforting wrapping around like a warm blanket with a black liquorice chaser

One remarked how it was like an “elegant man” and a yet also a bit of an old dandy.

I’ll admit I had a moment before we opened the bottle of dread… what if it was a disaster? The last Longmorn we had was less than stellar…  and the Longhorn of old was a character – and a most enjoyable one at that.

And the verdict? A complete hit. Sweet but with substance. Just the right element of a hint of smoke, sweetness from the sherry 1st fill hogsheads.

On the bottle, the notes confirmed it is from 1st fill ex-sherry hogsheads and described as:

Delicate Sherry notes with stewed apples, pear and traces of tobacco. The palate has white pepper initially with banana and orange flavours complemented by a creamy milk chocolate chip.

Here’s what the folks over at Gordon & MacPhail have to say on their website:

Without water:

  • Aroma – Delicate Sherry influences with vanilla, stewed apple, and cinnamon spice. Hints of dried tobacco and cream soda are complemented by milk chocolate aromas.
  • Taste – Sweet and creamy initially with mild chilli spice developing. Liquorice, orange zest, and toffee flavours followed by a milk chocolate edge.

With water:

  • Aroma – Delicate Sherry initially with fresh green apple, sweet hay, and banana aromas with hints of toasted pecan nuts.
  • Taste –  Peppery with green apple, grapefruit, and charred oak flavours are complemented by a mouth coating milk chocolate and Brazil nut edge.

Would we agree?

The affordable G&MP trio featured:

This bottle was purchased at The Whisky Exchange for GBP 48 and freshly opened in November 2017 for our Whisky Ladies.

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Gordon + MacPhail – Aultmore 2000/2014 46%

Next up was an Aultmore I’d had the pleasure of sampling this back in October 2015. The original purchase request was for the newer version from 2002 (bottled 2016) at only 43%, however I was so happy to see this one make its way to Mumbai that I kept it to myself!

Aultmore Distillery lies several miles north of the town Keith on the eastern fringe of Speyside. The distillery was established and building commenced in 1895 by Edward Alexander. The distillery initially did well and production was doubled in the first few years. However, the Pattison crash (1899) hit Edward hard as he had been a large supplier of bulk whisky to Pattison. Production continued at Aultmore but times were difficult; closing during WWI with the barley shortage, then Edwards sold the distillery to John Dewar & Sons Ltd in 1923. It was rebuilt when temporarily closed from 1968 to 1971, this time under the auspices of United Distillers, a pre-cursor to Diageo. Then in 1998, Diageo sold the Aultmore Distillery to Bacardi, subsidiary of Dewars – yes back to its earlier owners – in a deal worth more than £1 billion!

Known primarily as an element in blends – initially Pattison, then various for Dewars and others, it has only more recently emerged as a single malt. It should be noted that Aultmore whisky is not matured at the distillery site.

We sampled a 2000 vintage Aultmore bottled by Gordon & Macphail as part of their Connoisseurs Choice range. And what did the Whisky Ladies think?

Aultmore (2000/2014) 46%

  • Nose – Initially very sweet, then spice, baked pear, grassy, wildflowers, fresh meadow, then star anise, fresh mint – almost like paanAfter the 1st sip, a lovely lemon peel, so subtle and nuanced
  • Palate – So much going on… herbal, almost reminiscent of Underberg, though has a thin body, it has such a lovely delicious quality, roast cumin, some darker notes which made it eminently more complex and enjoyable
  • Finish – Brilliant! Spice to chewy bitter back to spice and soooooooo long, as it evolved took on almost a burn match quality
  • Water – Initially punches up the spice, makes the palate fruitier, nicely rounded, with a sweet finish with a hint to bitter to make it interesting

For many, this was the most interesting as its character kept shifting as we settled down and let it evolve.  Each sip revealing more elements, all in subtle harmony.

Aultmore 2000

On the bottle, the notes confirmed it was matured in refill American Hogshead and refill Sherry Hogsheads. They describe it as:

The whisky has herbal and dried fruits aromas with hints of charred oak. On eat palate there is a delicate fruitiness with spices and a touch of oiled wood.

More detailed tasting notes from Gordon & MacPhail are for the 2000 vintage bottled in 2012 not 2014. Here is what they say about the 12 not 14 year Aultmore:

Without Water:

  • Nose – The whisky has herbal, dried apricot and raisin aromas with hints of charred oak.
  • Taste – Delicate fruitiness, with red apple and pear flavours. Festive spices and a touch of oiled wood linger.

With Water:

  • Nose – Toasted malt and sweet summer fruit aromas, blueberry and raspberry. A subtle cinnamon edge lingers.
  • Taste – Peppery and sweet with hints of green apple and plum. Becomes creamy with a smooth milk chocolate edge.

Would we agree?

This bottle was purchased at The Whisky Exchange for GBP 53 and freshly opened in November 2017 for our Whisky Ladies.

The ‘affordable’ G&MP trio featured:

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Gordon + MacPhail – Glendullan 2001/2014 46%

1st up in our Gordon & MacPhail trilogy evening was a bright, light delightful dram from Glendullan.

Glendullan Distillery was founded in 1897, and was the last built of the original seven distilleries of Dufftown. Glendullan was rebuilt in the 1960’s and an additional distillery unit was built between 1971-72. Currently owned by Diageo.

And what did our Whisky Ladies think?

Glendullan (2001/2014) 46%

  • Nose – Light, flowery, a spring breeze and then a balmy summer day, sweet lemon curd, beautiful… after the 1st sip, turned to a honey cinnamon spice, apricot, fresh fruit, crisp applies, caramel shift to wild flower honey
  • Palate – A delightful spice, all rather “grown up” then shifts to candy cane with a light tingle
  • Finish – Really stays…

I was expecting something light bodied, refreshing, likely best had chilled… and sure enough… it was absolutely delightful. A completely “happy” whisky, nothing harsh yet avoided stepping into the territory of cloying sweet. Instead it was nuanced quality, exceedingly drinkable, just warm, lovely doing a sprightly dance on our palate…

On the bottle, the notes confirmed it is from 1st fill ex-bourbon barrels and describes it as:

The whisky has sweet vanilla notes with hints of kiwi and green apple aromas. The palate is sweet with cracked black pepper, lime and orange flavours. These combine with a lingering creamy chocolate edge.

Here’s what the folks over at Gordon & MacPhail have to say:

Without water:

  • Aroma: Sweet vanilla with hints of kiwi, green apple and lime. These are complimented by underlying coconut, white chocolate and rose water aromas.
  • Taste: Cracked black pepper with lime, ripe banana and orange zest flavours. These combine with a lingering creamy milk chocolate edge.

With water:

  • Aroma – Vanilla pods with hints of cucumber, green banana and lime zest. A subtle freshly cut grass and cedar wood note lingers.
  • Taste – Ripe banana, pressed apple and melon flavours initially. A delicate trace of vanilla and digestive biscuit develops.

Would we agree? For the most part yes! And for the rest? Who cares… we loved it!

The ‘affordable’ G&MP trio featured:

This bottle was purchased at The Whisky Exchange for GBP 45 and freshly opened in November 2017 for our Whisky Ladies.

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Gordon + MacPhail’s Affordable Trio – Glendullan, Aultmore, Longmorn

I’ve long been a fan of Gordon & MacPhail – finding they deliver consistent quality for value – even in their younger or entry level ranges. I decided to test this by deliberately selecting a few of their most affordable offerings – all around 50 GBP – for a special Gordon & MacPhail evening with the Whisky Ladies in Mumbai.

The purchasing was easy thanks to help of a friend who stopped by The Whisky Exchange in London. The gradual import into India took a bit more time. What required the most patience of all was waiting for an evening to share with the Whisky Ladies!

Two of the whiskies selected were from their “Connoisseurs Choice” range which was started in the mid-1960s by Gordon & MacPhail to bring to whisky aficionados whiskies that were less readily available as a single malt at an overall reasonable price range.

One was from their “Distillery Labels” range using unique distillery designs once used ‘officially’ to bottle the whisky under license from the distillery, now in disuse except through a special relationship with Gordon & MacPhail.

The Whisky Ladies Gordon & MacPhail trio featured:

Fabulous each one in its own unique way…. 

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Peaty Mini – Ledaig 10 year 46.3%

Last in our peaty persuasion session of miniatures was the Ledaig 10 year. This certainly wasn’t my first brush with Tobermoray Distillery’s peaty product… a few years ago my 1st introduction was to a Gordon & MacPhail Ledaig 1997, then our original club sampled the Ledaig 18 year and last summer I picked up the Ledaig 10 year in Winnipeg.

Ledaig 10 year 46.3%

Here’s what we found:

  • Nose – Dry hay, farm peat, invitingly sweet, grassy
  • Palate – Peat spice, balanced and straight forward
  • Finish – Warming… like being wrapped in a nice warm fuzzy blanket

Overall we put this in the category of a quality bar standard – one to keep in your cupboard and trot out for folks who are getting to know their whiskies and interested in exploring further…

We sampled from a sample from closed miniature in October 2017 purchased from The Whisky Exchange for approximately $6.

And what else did we sample in our merry mini malts evening?

And here’s more malt miniatures from my The Whisky Exchange:

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