Missing Canada…. Shelter Point’s new expressions

It is hard to believe, but I was last ‘home’ to Canada the summer of 2019 – a rushed trip triggered by needing a new passport pronto then race back to India to apply for both my German work visa and Indian long term visa. I was successful with the passport, also with the German visa but alas not the India visa – which remains elusive and further complicated by our tricky COVID times.

But I digress… While in our neighbourhood Liquor mart, I was thrilled to see that Shelter Point is now available in Manitoba. So naturally what I brought back from Canada was two bottles of Shelter Point‘s core single malt – one for my ‘new’ home in Germany and one for my ‘real’ home in India.

So in November 2020, when I saw online that Shelter Point had yet another really interesting looking limited edition expression, I was determined to not miss out!

A few clicks of a button later, an order was placed.

And what did I buy in anticipation of some very future trip to collect in Canada?

  • Shelter Point “The Collective” 4 year (2020) 46% – A blend of five casks chosen by Shelter Point’s five local staff to reflect the collective spirit and passion of their Shelter Point family. 
  • Shelter Point 7 year Single Cask #5 (2020) 43% – A blend of malted barley, unmalted barley and rye whisky, aged in an ex-bourbon cask, then finished in French oak. 
  • Montfort District Lot 151 Single Grain Whisky (2020) 46% – Montfort 151 is the lot in which the single-grain barley was grown. We’d tried the Montfort DL 141 before so was curious how the 151 contrasts and compares.

I truly have no idea when it will be possible to gather this bounty and bring it back to either Germany or India. However I know these beauties are waiting patiently with family. For now, that is enough… and I hope maybe by next summer?!?

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American Minis – Whistle Pig Rye 50%

From New York to Texas, we found ourselves closing our American minis evening back on the East coast in Vermont.

WhistlePig Rye is a proud of its pig! Who is joined by a trio made up of two chemical engineers – Emily Harrison (lead distiller) and Meghan Ireland (maturation chemist) –  with Peter Lynch (master blender). Their focus is purely on rye – in all its various permutations and experimentations.

So what did we try? I’m reasonably certain it was this one…

Whistle Pig Straight Rye 50% 

  • Nose – Honey, fruity, bananas, pear, quince, sweet spices like mace, nutmeg, all spice… then orange peel, shifting into something earthier or herbal, even a little leafy?
  • Palate – Dry spice and surprisingly some sea salt, more of that earthy element with roots, a bit medicinal, herbal
  • Finish – Herbal to the point of being peculiar

Frankly it became a bit strange – we started to be reminded of gripe water or les racines de la grande gentiane… that bitter flowering herb that makes its way into Suze, Aperol and Underberg.

Speaking as someone who appreciates what bitter brings to the flavour palate, this dimension didn’t make it ‘off’. By contrast, it was what made this rye distinctive.

So what do we know?

I will admit I’m guessing a bit here as the information on our wee mini was limited. However I think we tried their standard WhistlePig 10 year Straight Rye – originally from Alberta with a 100 percent pure rye mash, further matured in Vermont in new and used bourbon oak barrels.

I flipped back in my tasting book to notes on the cask strength expression the Drinks by the Drams folks had in my other Advent calendar… That one was all sweetness, spice and  stroopwaffles warming over a hot tea. It was clear both are in the same ‘family’ but certainly not exactly the same either!

All in all, it was a good experience and a nice way to finish our American evening in London with folks hailing from Canada, France and India!

Here was our full American quartet:

With more from our 2019 Master of Malt Advent Calendar…

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American Minis – Balcones Single Malt 53%

From Waco Texas, Balcones was ‘birthed’ as an idea in 2008 and started distilling a year later. They combine blue corn from New Mexico with Texas grown barley and have been putting out a range of whisky expressions from malts to bourbon to rye, with rum thrown into the mix as well.

Balcones Single Malt 53%

  • Nose – Rather than a clear bourbon stamp, we sensed something with – dare I say it? A sherry-like influence. A bit shy initially, as it opened up, we found nuts, raisins, more and more interesting with a decidedly fruity bent
  • Palate – First impression was ‘yummy’, while not complex, it was the kind of dram that grows on you, a nice warm toasty quality, rounding out quite happily with fruit
  • Finish – Didn’t register

Whereas the Hudson’s Baby Bourbon aromas were more interesting than the palate, we found the opposite here. The nose was interesting but the palate was its best feature. A good sipping whisky…

So what do the Balcones folks have to say about their Texas single malt?

  • Nose: ripe, buttered stone fruit, banana and pears; honey and rose water with delicate citrus accents
  • Taste: silky and full on the palate; lightly toasted bread with fresh butter and marmalade
  • Finish: long finish with lingering toast and burnt sugar notes morphing into rich malt and wood flavors with counterbalancing acidity

Here was our full American quartet:

With more from our 2019 Master of Malt Advent Calendar…

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American Minis – TBWC 24 year Bourbon No 1 48%

Clearly That Boutique-y Whisky Company has featured prominently in our miniature explorations! However this was our first bourbon bottled by them… and a 24 year old one, no less? We were intrigued…

TBWC 24 year Bourbon No 1 48%

  • Nose – Mmmm coconut, lemon, toffee, apples, lots of over ripe fruit, then floral, shifting to sweet grass, then black vanilla being scraped from the pod, sweet leather, rich rum raisin, thick black treacle, molasses morphing into chocolate, then a honey liquor, apricot cream, burnt caramelized baked pineapple, cotton candy
  • Palate – Full of flavour too! Red berries, black berries, cherries… gorgeous! As the nose evolved, elements of it could be found swirling around with a great silky sipping sensation. Simply delicious.
  • Finish – Truthfully I don’t recall – I didn’t note anything for the finish… and think we were just so taken with the aromas then sipping that nothing else registered!

Can I just say – wow! We went from curious to incredibly impressed with the complexity and range we discovered. There was so much character on the nose which followed through on the palate. The more we sipped, the more we enjoyed.

So what do we know? It is their Batch 1, released in December 2018 with 8,376 bottles. In their quirky style, the folks at TBWC have this to say:

Now, now go about your business please – there’s nothing to see here. Don’t you know you’re in a restricted area? No unauthorised personnel allowed.

  • Nose: High notes of dried peel and vanilla, flaming Christmas pudding gives way to pear drops and a light dusting of cocoa powder
  • Taste: Insistent, buttery mouthfeel carrying a lorry load of vanilla, caramel and beurre noisette
  • Finish: Punchy, warm finish with great balance of the flavours

The recommended retail price on TBWC website is £199.95. All I can say is that I’m delighted it made it into our miniatures so we could sample one!

Here was our full American quartet:

With more from our 2019 Master of Malt Advent Calendar…

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American Minis – Hudson Baby Bourbon 46%

I must admit up front that while I’d heard great things about Hudson’s Baby Bourbon, my one and only previous Hudson experience with their single malt years ago was… not great. In truth, it was a clear deterrent to prioritizing further explorations. For years I would see their squat half bottles in various airports and think… should I? And never did.

However when a dram lands in your lap, one must put aside past prejudice and enter into the exploration with an open mind. It particularly helps when sampling with others who had no such preconceived notions from past forays.

What did we find?

Hudson Baby Bourbon 46%

  • Nose – We were initially greeted with sweet corn, coffee, cherries, resin, a bit funky but in a fun way, red licorice
  • Palate – A bit rough – much more so than anticipated from the nose, not complex, woody and a bit medicinal
  • Finish – None to speak of…
  • Water – We gamely tried hoping it might coax out additional elements… don’t, just don’t

Overall it wasn’t a bad start. It certainly was promising on the nose but a disappointment on the palate. We were calibrated for brasher, younger more spirited American drams, however even keeping that in mind, this was potentially interesting but certainly not  brilliant.

We returned after sampling the other three American whiskies to see if the Baby Bourbon had evolved or changed over the hour or so…. The additional time didn’t do it any favours. What remained in the glass had soured, losing those sweet funky elements that made it promising.

So what do we know? Well, touted as the first legal pot-still whiskey to be produced in New York since prohibition, Tuthilltown distillery uses local corn, aged in small 2 gallon barrels… and then coax along the maturity with ‘sonic maturation’ from bass speakers that agitate the cask and the liquid. Hmmm… 

It seems I’m not alone in being ambivalent about Hudson – more than many other bourbon’s out there, you can find a wide range of reactions from absolute raving love to distain and derision!

I tried to find the official tasting notes, however it seems that the distillery has gone in a  different direction and no longer has this ‘Baby Bourbon’ option, shifting instead to a “Bright Lights, Big Bourbon” expression.

Here was our full American quartet:


With more from our 2019 Master of Malt Advent Calendar…

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American Minis – Hudson, TBWC Bourbon, Balcones, Whistle Rye

As the months of the pandemic stretch on… our whisky tasting groups have clearly not been meeting in person. For the Bombay Malt & Cigar gents and I, we’d done a couple virtual evenings together – each nipping into what was on hand from our various locales around the globe.

With my UK trip, my host and fellow drammer and I could join together in London while the others tuned in from Belgium and two homes in Mumbai. We decided to add to the mix a merry lass from France known well to the gents from a memorable trip to Scotland years before.

So there we were… poised to pick from our 2019 Master of Malt Advent Calendar. What pray tell did we chose?

Of all the options, we decided to explore a quartet from America….

It turned out to be a rather good mix of styles… and good fun having (gasp!) three people tasting together in the same room. What a rarity these days!

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Nurnberg “The Village” Fest Trio – Bruichladdich, Glencadam, St Kilian

It now seems so surreal… end of February large events were still happening in Germany – including The Village whisky festival here in Nurnberg.

I was quite conservative in my acquisitions assuming this was the start of a whisky festival season with plenty of upcoming opportunities. I also assumed could easily go to a specialty whisky store and gradually start collecting…

And our world changed.

As we enter into our 2nd wave of caution, I finally cracked open one from The Village festival to share with a couple Whisky Ladies also in Europe. I can’t wait to enjoy with others! As for the other two… will hang on for just the right occasion!

  • St Kilian One (2016/2019) 45% – Their first offering matured in 37% ex Bourbon, 37% ex Martinique Rum, 18% ex PX Sherry, 5% Chestnut, 3% ex Bourbon Quarter Casks… double distilled in copper pot stills, natural colour, non-chill filtered, master distiller Mario Rudolf
  • Bruchladdich 14 year 59.5% (The Single Cask for The Village 2020) 1of 250 100ml
  • Glencadam 8 year (23 Feb 2011/6 June 2019) Bourbon Barrel Cask W8 800125 61% (The Warehouse Collection) 1 of 240 bottles

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Glengoyne 16 year Malt Master “Carissa” Original Cask Strength

One highlight from our Scotland trip was having a go at crafting my own dram! Spoiler alert – what I’m about to describe can’t be replicated however I would COMPLETELY recommend the “Malt Master” experience at Glengoyne distillery and see what you come up with!

So how did we go about it? I sat in a lovely room filed with a wall of cask samples… in front of me were 5 different casks. Each was numbered from left to right with the distillery tasting notes. The suggested process was to start first by pouring a portion into the small Glencairn glasses from the test tube to try each. Then begin to play around with crafting my own malt… So what did I discover?

Glengoyne Malt Master

#1 – Refill Hogshead Cask 24 (14 Jan 2004 / 2020) 57.8%

  • Nose – Initially very pronounced pineapples, as it continued to open the tropical fruits shifted more into orchard fruits of crisp apple, pears, citrus, banana, light raisins, some candle wax, ever so slightly floral
  • Taste – A bit of spice, grapefruit, pink peppercorns, a bit zesty, thin
  • Finish – Hardly at all discernible

On its own, it was a pleasant way to begin, particularly on the aroma side, but incomplete.

#2 – 1st Fill American Oak Bourbon Barrel Cask 3553 (1 Dec 2004 / 2020) 56.2%

  • Nose – Delightfully fruity with banana, pear, tropical fruits, citrus…. coconut oil, candy
  • Taste – Sweet vanilla custard, banana cream pie, oak
  • Finish – Lighty bitter

Initially I found it a bit too wood forward… however the aromas warmed up and became more and more enjoyable.

#3 – 1st Fill American Oak Sherrry Puncheon Cask 206 (8 Mar 2000 / 2020) 57.5%

  • Nose – Chocolate, hazelnut, caramelized creme brûlée, strawberries and raspberries, rose hip
  • Taste – Just a beautiful mouthfeel, rich, dark coffee, bitter chocolate, wonderfully balanced
  • Finish – Lovely

What a fabulous single cask! It could easily stand on its own… my initial thought was keep it just as is – no need to add anything else! It was like an old friend with subtle different dimensions… sitting beautifully on the tongue.

#4 – 1st Fill European Oak Sherry Puncheon (light) Cask 934 (13 Jun 2001 / 2020) 56.8%

  • Nose – Molasses, bitter orange marmalade, treacle, nuts
  • Taste – Burnt sugar, oily, brazil nuts
  • Finish – Lots of staying power

Whereas the 1st Fill Sherry in an American Oak had lightly roasted hazelnuts, here the nuts were a mix of brazilian, pecan, walnut and more. Interestingly, when I went back to revisit it was a bit shy on the nose. However the oily element on the palate added a solid dimension… and the finish? That was what this cask really brought to the party.

#5 – 1st Fill European Oak Sherry Puncheon (dark) Cask 1927 (2 Jul 1998 / 2020) 56.4%

  • Colour – I just have to say upfront the colour was as intense as the whisky – dark ruby almost to chocolate
  • Nose – RUM! Think rum raisin ice cream, crunchy red apples, dark fruits and berries
  • Taste – Raisins, stewed fruits, lots of tannins and soft oak, drying
  • Finish – Long and quietly sweet

This one could almost be too much of a good thing! Rich, dark and heavy… yet also a bit secretive. It had a wonderful warmth to the palate, yet such intensity I immediately knew this would be a case of “less is more”.

So… what did I decide to do? I began with #3 as a wonderful base (50ml)… however I wanted to bring a bit more fruit into the mix so added some #2 (20ml), a bit of #1 (20ml) to add a little zing, then #4 (20ml) for the oily palate…. swished is around, added more of #3 (20ml), up the fruit with #2 (10ml) before adding the intensity of #5 (20ml).

The aromas were classic, the palate had lovely balance and depth with a delicious long finish. And with that – I had my recipe!

I simply replicated the portions by half – just a bit lighter on the #1 and #2 – played around a wee bit more and there I had my (almost!) 200ml bottle!

I brought it with me to London where my host and I cracked it open one evening to see how it settled in…

Glengoyne 16 year “Carissa Original” Cask Strength

  • Nose – Plum liquor, baked pineapple, sticky toffee, caramelized cream pudding, rum raisins, Christmas pudding, sticky pastries dusted with icing sugar, chocolate, dry herbs, light tangy element – almost a hint of dry mango, back to baked goods
  • Palate – Really coats the palate, a nice oily element, rich plums, dense dates, a chewy combination of chocolate, raisins, nuts…  wrapped in a rewarding spice
  • Finish – Long, warming and dry – really lasts with a delicious dry sweet spice and slightly bitter wood
  • Water – Really brought out the dried fruits, raisins, orange marmalade, some vanilla, a quixotic mix of berries and citrus… quite fabulous with water

Overall I was quite pleased with my creation. Heavier than I tend to prefer these days, it was truly a delicious ode to sherry.

I had planned to leave this as a treat for my host however he insisted I bring it back to Germany. I opened it again today and was surprised by how ‘tangy’ it had become on the nose… still great on the palate with a great chewy quality and holy toledo! What a finish… 10 minutes later and it was till very much there. What a treat to enjoy on my birthday in Nurnberg.

Cask Recipe:

  • 12% #1 – Refill Hogshead Cask 24 (14 Jan 2004 / 2020) 57.8%
  • 16% #2 – 1st Fill American Oak Bourbon Barrel Cask 3553 (1 Dec 2004 / 2020) 56.2%
  • 44% #3 – 1st Fill American Oak Sherrry Puncheon Cask 206 (8 Mar 2000 / 2020) 57.5%
  • 14% #4 – 1st Fill European Oak Sherry Puncheon (light) Cask 934 (13 Jun 2001 / 2020) 56.8%
  • 14% #5 – 1st Fill European Oak Sherry Puncheon (dark) Cask 1927 (2 Jul 1998 / 2020) 56.4%

What about other Glengoyne tasting experiences?

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Whisky Lady – September + October 2020

Suddenly everything changed! From a whisky famine to a feast. From being in the same place morning, noon and night to traipsing from one country to another, different homes, even a couple of Scottish distilleries, an exceptional evening with The Whisky Exchange’s Sukhinder Singh, four different evenings of minis…. wow!

Then to top off my travels… arriving back in Germany to literally go straight to Ziegler Distillery to spend a weekend with the fabulous Sharing Angels.

And that wasn’t all… it was also time to reach out to our desi connects in Europe to virtually launch our European chapter of the Whisky Ladies. What better excuse to crack open all the whiskies I’ve managed to acquire in Germany so far!

It will take a while to share all the tasting notes and insights… however here is a summary of what’s in store!

Scotland Highlights

London and Bath Tastings

Germany’s Willkommen with a weekend trip to Ziegler Distillery with a tasting tour of Aureum Whiskies together with the German Sharing Angels

And last but certainly not least, preparations for the European chapter of the Whisky Ladies of Mumbai… and remembering our Whisky Ladies tasting at Paul John distillery.

Curious to know more? Check out recent Whisky Lady’s semi-monthly summaries:

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Whisky Ladies of Europe – Bienvenue, स्वागत हे, Välkommen, Willkommen

Welcome to what will hopefully be a new series within this Whisky Lady blog! A much needed intro to a small Whisky Ladies of Europe group – an offshoot of our beloved and terribly missed Whisky Ladies of Mumbai. Each of us are currently living in parts of Europe, having both a malty and Mumbai connect. And given that we are scattered between Sweden, Germany, and a couple locations in France, the only recourse is to go virtual!

I offered to get things started by cracking open bottles I’d acquired since moving to Germany. With great care, 12 small sample bottles for each lady was poured, packed up and shipped. Alas one box didn’t make its destination in Paris, so a 2nd set was sent with a determination to explore together a hopefully good dram or two!

What did I think would make for a good starting point? Evenings exclusively featuring cask strength whiskies from independent bottlers…

  • North Star which we’d collectively enjoyed a quintet nearly two years ago with another Mumbai based group – including a most memorable reading of Iain’s imaginative tasting notes
  • Chorlton which I’d experienced with a different Mumbai group– falling in love both with the labels and the quality of Dave’s choices
  • The Warehouse Collection which I had sampled at The Village whisky event in Nurnberg just before the shut down…

My plan is to start with the Chorlton quintet to sample over two occasions.

  1. Miltonduff 11 years 62% 1st fill bourbon, 1 of 176 bottles (MD 11)
  2. Tomintoul 14 year 57.6% Sherry butt, undiluted, uncoloured, unchill filtered, 1 of 455 bottles (TM 14)
  3. Mackmyra 12 years 50.2% bourbon barrel, undiluted, uncoloured, unchill filtered, 1 of 278 bottles (MC 12)
  4. Mannochmore 12 year 58.7% bourbon barrel, distilled 10 Sept 2008, cask strength, natural colour, unchill filtered, 1 of 108 bottles (MN 12)
  5. Blair Athol 12 years 56.6% hogshead undiluted, uncoloured, unchill filtered, 1 of 268 bottles (BA 12)

Augmenting the 2nd Chorlton session with a whisky from a German independent bottler The Whisky Warehouse No 8 under their label The Warehouse Collection:

  • Glencadam 8 year 61% (23 Feb 2011/6 June 2019) Bourbon Barrel Cask W8 800125

I closed with two sessions meandering through the North Star Spirits, of which the initial three – Royal Brackla, Fettercairn and Inchgower – I’d also sampled and shared earlier  my personal tasting notes.

While not the same as tasting together in person, virtual tasting with the right companions is better than no tasting!

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