That Boutique-y Whisky Company – Dualiane, Glenlossie, Strathmill, Fettercairn

One evening over a malty minis evening, my fellow whisky explorer and I did a little online shopping for our combined Whisky Ladies and Bombay Malt & Cigar club… the result was an exceptional collection from independent bottler North Star.

However we were also distracted by the Master of Malt dramples – wee little 3 cl sample bottles that enables you to explore “drinks by the dram.” Who could resist??

My tasting cohort and I selected a range from That Boutique-y Whisky Company which has made a name for itself with its quirky bottle designs that look more like graphic novels than whisky labels…  and for the quality of their small batch whiskies.

So what did we pick for our That Boutique-y Whisky Co explorations?

As these whiskies came out some time ago, you won’t find more details on the “That Boutique-Y Whisky Company” website.

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LMdW Artist #8 – Bunnahabhain 35 year 47.9%

La Maison du Whisky’s Artist Series 8 is all about exploring unique casks which represent the artistry and character of their distilleries – be it in a non-Sherry or Sherry matured avatar. The Sherry range was adorned with most gorgeous labels created by Japanese artist Takehiko Sugawara.

At our Whisky Live Sinagapore 2018 tasting, this Bunnahabhain was the ‘penultimate’ dram in the series – both the oldest and most certainly the most expensive at SGD 1,999.

While we had only a wee nip, were left with the following impressions…

Bunnahabhain 35 year (1979/2018) Sherry Cask#9521 47.9% (472 bottles)

  • Nose – A lovely soft understated quality, complex with many nuanced layers – a bit medicinal, a bit floral, a bit of fruit, a hint of spice, even a herbal quality with a tinge of saline
  • Palate – Very soft and light, incredibly smooth, the palate was completely in character with the aromas – beautiful
  • Finish – Long yet subtle

Don’t laugh but what first struck me is how “nice” this whisky is! Exceedingly nice. I’ve been disappointed with older Bunnahabhain’s before but not this one.

What do the folks at La Maison du Whisky have to say about this whisky?

  • Nose – Voluptuous, concentrated. Irresistible notes of emery cloth, tincture of iodine, heady flowers (purple lilac, geranium), cocoa beans and leather provide a lot of fabric and depth to the first. At aeration, it becomes more fruity (orange, fig, apricot), spicy (cinnamon, grated ginger) and exotic (passion, mango). Balsamic, it extends on eucalyptus, cardamom and even basil
  • Palate – Creamy, smooth. True delicacy, the attack in mouth oscillates between the candy with the violet, the blood oranges, the dark chocolate, the liquorice and the dried fruits (date, nuts). With a lot of freshness, the mid-palate is fruity (black grape), liquorice (stick) and honey (linden). These tones precede little bourbon vanilla, ripe bananas and cloves.
  • Finish – Long, fluffy. It preserves and preserves intact every flavor unveiled by the mouth. Then, as and when, she fully satisfies her desire for exoticism (passion, mango, guava). In retro-olfaction, coffee with milk, crushed strawberries, blueberries and ginger permeate the palate. The empty glass is resinous (pine, sweet of the Vosges) and empyreumatic (eucalyptus).

—- From LMdW website with an imperfect google translation from French.

La Maison du Whisky Artist #8 with Sherry

If you are curious, here are a few more Bunnahabhain ‘s sampled over the years…

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LMdW Artist #8 – Glenlivet 10 year 64.1%

Next in La Maison du Whisky’s Artist Series 8 was a classic Sherry styled Glenlivet…

We sampled it at Whisky Live Singapore 2018’s VIP Room – just a wee nip but it was worth it.

Glenlivet 10 year (2007/2018) 1st Fill Sherry Cask#900214 Batch #2 64.1% (308 bottles)

  • Nose – Fresh, forward and just a tinge shy, nuts and berries, a hint of sweet flowers too
  • Palate – New style sherry with a bit of “oomph!” – far more on the palate than nose with much more nuts and dry fruits along with juicy plums, cherries and dates
  • Finish – Dry spice with some serious sherry lingering

While its nose was a bit shy, there was nothing shy on the palate. We were rewarded with a lovely rich quality. Robust and full flavoured, it did not disappoint.

And what do the folks at La Maison du Whisky have to say? Well… their website currently features a slightly different bottle… However it too sounds like a mighty fine dram.

But is it worth the price? Just to put in perspective, a bottle of this Glenlivet would put you back SGD 380.

La Maison du Whisky Artist #8 with Sherry

Want more Glenlivet? Read on…

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LMdW Artist #8 – Bowmore 15 year 55.3%

Our skip through La Maison du Whisky’s Artist Series 8 continued with another Sherry dram – this time progressing to combine with peat!

Bowmore 15 year (2001/2018) Sherry Cask #108 55.3% (679 bottles)

  • Nose – Light peat and sweet with vanilla, fruits, nuts, honey
  • Palate – Very balanced, wonderful interplay between the dry fruits, nuts, sweet spices and light peat with a dash of salt
  • Finish – Nice cinnamon sherry spice finish that really stays

A solid dram just bursting with character… full flavoured and really quite fabulous.

And while it was a fleeting, passing sample… this whisky was a tough act to follow. We needed to take a wee break after the Caol Ila and this one before continuing our sipping journey…

As for what this Bowmore would put you back if buying in Singapore? Don’t fall off your seat…. SGD 820. And exactly why it is terrific to try in such settings Whisky Live as waaaay beyond my pocket book!

Want to know more? Well I only had a wee nip, however this is what the folks at La Maison du Whisky have to say about this whisky:

  • Colour – Intense golden yellow
  • Nose – Elegant, precise. Delicately placed at the top of the aromatic palette, a peat both herbaceous (lichen), salty, smoke, iodine (spray), vanilla, floral (carnation) and fruity (pear) provides a lot of rhythm and race at the first nose. After creation, it becomes exotic (passion, guava) and medicinal (tincture of iodine). Further on, candied lemons, fresh walnuts and acacia honey underline its extreme sweetness. A fine smoky pungency highlights its remarkable fullness.
  • Palate – Rich, concentrated. With the same elegance as the nose, the attack in the mouth is peaty / smoke, saline and mineral (chalk). More and more milky (coconut, almond). It gains unceasingly unctuousness. In the middle of the mouth, hay cut, green walnuts, almonds, candied lemons and noble spices (ginger, saffron, clove) bring a second breath to a palate that is growing in power. Very untied, the back-mouth invites us to savour a succulent rice pudding perfumed with verbena. Magnificent.
  • Final – Long, fluffy. The start of we bite into a juicy pear. Very quickly, however, notes of ashes, soot and smoke take over the initiative with great delicacy of expression. Oily, earthy, marine (seaweed, kelp) and animal (bacon, smoked salmon), the retro-olfaction sees malted barley pointing the tip of the nose. The empty glass is herbaceous (cut hay), spicy (ginger), vegetable (tobacco), earthy (dry peat) and vanilla.

—-From LMdW website with an imperfect google translation from French.

La Maison du Whisky Artist #8 with Sherry

If you are curious, here are a few more Bowmore‘s sampled over the year…

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LMdW Artist #8 – Ben Nevis 25 year 55.3%

Our next Sherry from La Maison du Whisky’s Artist Series 8 washroom the Ben Nevis distillery. We sampled it at Whisky Live Singapore 2018‘s VIP room.

As this whisky isn’t everyone’s style, some of my tasting companions skipped this one… whereas I soldiered on and dove in for a sniff, swish, (and yes) spit!

Ben Nevis 25 year (1991/2018) Sherry Cask #2375 55.3% (561 bottles)

  • Nose – Some sour salty plums and prunes, toffee, nuts and touch of citrus
  • Palate – Slightly spicy, honey sweet, dried fruits with a bit of salty sour too
  • Finish – Hint of spiced and a bit chalky or milky

Ben Nevis isn’t for everyone… and this was very much in keeping with a Ben Nevis “style” with a bit of sour, salt and in this case – sherry.

And what would a bottle of this cost? If buying in Singapore, that would be SGD 575. Hmm…

If curious to know more, here is what the folks over at La Maison du Whisky have to say:

  • Nose – Very exotic in its oxidative register (pineapple, mango), the first nose perfectly synthesizes the Ben Nevis style. At aeration, the influence of sherry clearly evokes a sherry fino type. Notes of almonds, walnuts and curry are reminiscent of Jura yellow wine. Very deep, it evolves on citrus (lemon, grapefruit), praline and verbena. At the precise moment, the aromatic palette is still far from having delivered all its secrets.
  • Palate – Lively, removed. Vanilla, the attack in the mouth is also deliciously honey (acacia), vegetable (cucumber) and fruity (dried apricot, gooseberry). Both menthol and lemony, the mid-palate reveals a luxuriant nature, nuanced by a shades of green that goes from the softest to the darkest. The mouth is nobly spicy (saffron, ginger, cardamom).
  • Finish – Long, sweet. With the same power of seduction as the nose and mouth, it oscillates between almond milk, candied pineapple, cut hay and spices (ginger, clove). In retro-olfaction, Mirabelle plums and quince add to its fruitiness. Empty glass is medicinal (balm), spicy (cinnamon), roasted (coffee) and oily (walnut, almond).

—From LMdW website with an imperfect google translation from French.

La Maison du Whisky Artist #8 with Sherry

Curious about other Ben Nevis tasting experiences?

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LMdW Artist #8 – The Glenrothes 20 year 52.8%

Our first sherry dram from the La Maison du Whisky’s Artist Series 8 was from The Glen Rothes distillery.

Even our wee nip at Whisky Live Singapore 2018 was enough to establish this as a solid sherry specimen in a beautiful bottle with art by Takehiko Sugawara.

Glenrothes 20 year (1995/2018) Sherry Butt Cask #909700 52.8% (530 bottles)

  • Nose – Classic sherry notes with sweet spices, dates, prunes! With a lovely toffee, chocolate orange
  • Palate – Full flavoured, well rounded and robust! Loads of sherry dry fruits with and a touch of blue cheese or rancio
  • Finish – Sherry, spice and cloves, toast, salty caramel and chocolate

What a whisky! No doubt this dram delivered! If you happen to be in a sherry mood, this one is a marvel…

However with only 530 bottles in existence, available only through La Maison du Whisky, you may find it challenging to track down. Not to mention the pricy price tag at SGD 725.

However I was rather delighted to have a chance to try a quick sample…

Here is what the folks at La Maison du Whisky have to say:

  • Nose – Fine, ample. At first, beautiful notes of bitter orange are coated with dark chocolate. This wonderfully classic starter is also composed of red and black fruits (blackberry, strawberry) and noble spices (cardamon, ginger, cinnamon). At aeration, it evolves on precious wood (beeswax), vanilla and leather. Dried fruits (dates, figs) then add complexity to the aromatic palette.
  • Palate – Lively, racy. In attack of mouth, the orange releases their juice at the same time sweet and acidulated. Very tense, it reveals notes of salted butter caramel, exotic fruits (guava, persimmon) and creme brûlée. Unveiling gianduja, the mid-palate is also close to malted barley. In the back of the mouth, strawberries and blackberries make a particularly tasty and fleshy taste return.
  • Final – Long, balanced. Change of scenery. Heady flowers (iris, purple lilac, peony) make their appearance and perfume the atmosphere of one who also shines by the delicacy of his touch. In retro-olfaction, chocolate and salted butter caramel accompany notes of toasted bread and aromatic plants (chervil, laurel). Original the empty glass lets admire a wood that is reduced to dust giving way to cocoa beans and very ripe bananas.

—- From LMdW website with an imperfect google translation from French.

La Maison du Whisky Artist #8 with Sherry

Want more Glen Rothes tasting notes?

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LMdW Artist #8 Sherry – The GlenRothes, Ben Nevis, Bowmore, Glenlivet, Bunnahabhain

La Maison du Whisky’s Artist Series 8 has two distinctly different ranges… this one is all about the Sherry with the most gorgeous labels created by Japanese artist Takehiko Sugawara.

While we followed the suggested order alternating between non-sherry and sherry, I thought to focus on the sherry range – and what a range!

Here is what we sniffed, swished and sampled our way through in the Whisky Live Singapore 2018 VIP room…

La Maison du Whisky Artist #8 with Sherry

For those whose brains are wired to maths… you will note the years are all in intervals of 5  yet if you calculate, may actually be more. Take the Bunnahabhain 35 year which was laid in a cask in 1979 and bottled in 2018. What this means is it could actually be 38 or 39 years, depending on the month it went into the cask or bottle.

We won’t quibble or question their logic, just enjoy what wonders the years quietly maturing in their respective sherry casks produced!

PS – Don’t miss the Artist Series #8 without Sherry either!

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Whisky Lady – January 2019

What a great start to 2019! Kicked off in Dubai, then Mumbai, the US and today in my home town of Winnipeg, Canada!

I’m also hugely excited about the upcoming inaugural spirits Vault Biennale in Mumbai on Feb 16 – 17, 2019. If you are in Mumbai those days – don’t miss!! Limited tickets are available on Book My Show.

As for January tasting experiences, our original group paid tribute to Jim McEwan with a remarkable range bottled by That Boutique-y Whisky Co:

I continued to make folks jealous sharing tasting experiences from the Whisky Live Singapore 2018 with La Maison du Whisky Artist #8 sans Sherry

Our other tasting groups – BMC & Whisky Ladies – combined to explore a remarkable North Star 5 Region quintet from Cask Series 005 with guest posts coming soon!

  • Speyside – Glentauchers 11 year (Apr 2007/May 2018) 58.9% by Nikolina Berg
  • Campbeltown – Campbeltown 4 year (2014/2018) 57% by Paula McGlynn
  • Highland – MacDuff 11 year (2006/2018) 55.2% by Rekha Sharma
  • Island – Orkney 12 year (Mar 2006/May 2018) 57.8% by Shruti Sutwala
  • Islay – Caol Ila 12 year (Apr 2006/May 2018) 54.6% by Lina Sonne

The minis returned with That Boutique-y Whisky Co (TBWC) with Dailuaine 15 year 47.5%, Glenlossie 17 Year 48.4%, Strathmill 21 Year 47.7%, Fettercairn 21 Year 48.6%

And last but certainly not least, there was a very special evening of Dubai Dream Drams:

  • Midleton Very Rare (2011) No 042585 L121731255 40%
  • SMWS G10.10 “Busy buzzing bees” 38 years (23 Nov 1977) 49.6%
  • Old Pulteney 17 year 46%
  • Longmorn 25 year (1988/2014) Cask 14384 46% (Berry’s Bro)
  • Kilchoman Sherry (2007/2013) Cask 447/2007 59.5%
  • SMWS 29.229 “Harmonious balance” 19 year (1998) 55.2%

Loads of tasting notes from January will be coming soon… so stay tuned!

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Jim McEwan Tribute – Mackmyra, Bowmore, Bruichladdich, Octomore

We kicked off our new year with a rather clever range of whiskies from “That Boutique-y Whisky Company“.

Our original whisky group general taste blind, and initially on the reveal, you could be forgiven for thinking the theme was to feature whiskies from independent bottler.

However the theme taped into substance even more than style… paying tribute to whisky veteran Jim McEwan. With over 50 years of industry experience, he isn’t slowing down and after officially retiring from Bruichladdich is now involved with a new Scottish distillery – Ardnahoe.

Here is what we sampled…. with a bit of insight into the Jim McEwan connect…

Bowmore 27 year, Batch 5, 47.6% (TBWC)McEwan 1983 – 2000

Where Jim began his career at 15 in 1963 as an apprentice cooper, then warehousing, mashing and malting, becoming cellar master. He then moved to Glasgow to become a trainee Blender in 1976, then manager of The Tannochside Bonding Co (Bowmore facility) in 1978. He returned to Bowmore Distillery in 1986 as the manager and stayed for 12 years.

“It was during this time in Bowmore that I started travelling to various whisky events around the world, initially a few times per year but building up to acting as Ambassador and travelling globally about 30 plus weeks per year.” (excerpt from Jim McEwan’s biography).

Bruichladdich-both.jpg

Bruichladdich 13 year, Batch 11, 47.6% (TBWC) McEwan 2001 – 2015

In 2000, McEwan was approached by Gordon Wright who planned to purchase Bruichladdich Distillery together with Mark Reynier and Simon Coughlin. McEwan joined as Master Distiller and Production Director. The work then began to dismantle and reassemble the distillery, keeping much of the Victorian decor and equipment.

“The last 12 years with Bruichladdich have been a roller-coaster ride but to see the progress we have made and the friends we have gained, has been the most wonderful experience. To bring this old distillery back from the dead to become 3 times “Distillery of the Year”, 4 times Innovator of the Year plus a host of other awards from around the world has been incredible….  For Bruichladdich to become the cult figure it is, whilst employing so many good Islay people, is for me my greatest reward.” (excerpt from Jim McEwan’s biography).

Octomore B1.jpg

Octomore 6 year, Batch 1, 50.4% (TBWC) – McEwan 2001 – 2015

McEwan was the mastermind behind this super heavily peated Islay dram that defies convention. He began distilling Octomore in 2002 and his last (7.1) was released in 2017. With peat levels ranging from 80.5 ppm to 208 ppm, what makes Octomore remarkable – even with all its variation – is its multidimensional character. An Octomore is never merely a peat monster… in fact some of the expressions are outstanding and somehow magically come out the other side of peat to something incredibly silky smooth with no peat punch.

“Octomore is the wild card in the pack and without doubt the guy who drives you crazy but steals your heart every time. Sometimes the peating level is 167 ppm and sometimes it’s 200ppm, we just gave you whatever nature gave us and boy has the wild young islander delivered time after time.” (Interview with Whisky Tower)

Mackmyra B1.jpg

Mackmyra 3 year, Batch 1, 47.2% (TBWC) Personal connect

And the relationship with Mackmyra?

I have long been a fan of Mackmyra and I share a small cask with my good friend Angela who is their Chief Blender. We first met when I was the Manager at Bowmore so we we back a long way, she really has the knowledge and the passion that is required to bring the best to the table which she does consistently, so yes I enjoy their single malts very much and I look forward to trying my share our cask which I know will be very drinkable and not for sharing with those who know not the art of distillation.” (Interview with Whisky Tower)

It was a terrific theme and such a treat!

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The “Sublime” One – TBWC’s Octomore 6 year 50.4%

Our host decided to pay tribute to whisky veteran Jim McEwan with an interesting line-up bottled by “That Boutique-y Whisky Company.”

Truth be told, had our explorations of the 3rd whisky been wildly successful, we likely would have stopped there. Three really is a perfect tasting number. However the Bruichladdich was such a peculiar one that our host brought out one more…

And…. we were so LUCKY that he did!

So, why did Jim McEwan create Octomore? Here is what he has to say:

‘I was tired of people saying that Bruichladdich wasn’t a true Islay as it wasn’t peated. From 1881 to 1960 it was peated. I resurrected a peated malt and called it Port Charlotte to stop those people. Then I decided to make Octomore to shut everyone up for ever.’

We sampled the Octomore blind, followed by the surprising reveal…

Octomore 6 year, Batch 1, 50.4% (TBWC) Bottle 608 of 796

  • Nose – Wonderful! Oil and peat, lemon, wet fur, a wild marine sea spray, some sea weed, shifting into a rich sweet spice, roasted cinnamon
  • Palate – Ooooooh! Gorgeous and just simply – beautiful. It rolled around like silk, with such a lovely balance, something to savour…
  • Finish – What a pleasure! A long delicious spice

We loved the peat as it was perfectly balanced, not too heavy, none of that asphalt or ashtray peat… just salt sweat and peat in delightful harmony. In short it was sublime!

The debate began – leave perfection as is? Or add some water…

We gave in to temptation… and discovered it was even better?! Bringing out a lovely earthy quality on the nose, initially so much yummy spice on the palate, then settled down to become even more enjoyable, shifting between cinnamon toast, salty toffee, simply delicious!

It was absolutely unanimous – we all agreed this was a brilliant dram. One to just enjoy. We ran out of words as we sat back and simply indulged, feeling exceedingly pampered.

Octomore B1.jpg

Here is what the folks over at That Boutique-y Whisky Company have to say about their 2nd batch as the notes for the 1st batch are no longer available:

The discovery of our bottling of Octomore single malt is displayed on its label in three acts. Act I: Research. Act II: Revelation. Act III: Request. A timeless tale for the ages. The most heavily-peated whiskies from Islay-based distillery Bruichladdich are released under the name Octomore, and they have a reputation for being particularly intense…

Tasting notes:

  • Nose: Medicinal peaty notes with polished leather. Liquorice toffees, charcoal burning smoke and sea spray.
  • Palate: Sweet white grapes, prickly pepper, with a woody bonfire smoke and a pinch of salt. 
  • Finish: Dry, spicy, and that hint of salt is still there while the smoke lingers

And what would this Octomore set you back for a 50 cl bottle? The recommended retail price is £144.95.

What did we sample in our tribute to Jim McEwan?

As for other Octomore explorations? Here are a few highlights:

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