Paris Whisky Live – Exploring India’s Rampur Jugalbandi, Asava and Double Cask

We were first introduced to Rampur Single Malt in 2017 when we tried an early release of Rampur “Select” (06/2016) 43%. We found it quite promising and so I was delighted to see the folks from Rampur had a booth at Paris Whisky Live – and even better, they were releasing new expressions that weekend!

As this was a festival environment, I’ve only jotted down a few impressions – enough to get a ‘feel’ for the whisky but nothing that can be relied on as a proper sense of what each expression brings to the table.

In classical Indian music, a “jugalbandi” is a playful duet of two solo musicians – one plays and the other responds with a further variation – a kind of musical “one upmanship” that delights the audience with its flourishes and embellishes leading to a fabulous crescendo as both the instrumentalists combine their solos into a resounding duo finish!

We were delighted to discover that these Rampur “Jugalbandi” expressions were released just that Sept 2022 weekend of Paris Whisky Live – what fun!

Rampur Jugalbandi #1 56.1% (approx Eur 120) Red ie left in the above photo

Our whisky guide shared this whisky came from casks matured first in Bourbon, then in Portuguese Muscatel casks – a combination that, in this case, worked together rather well.

We found that it was intense, heavy, and tropical on the nose (particularly ripe mango!), whereas on the palate we found “gulab” (rose) syrup, coming across more like a dessert wine than whisky, then it shifted to spicier notes. We also tried this one with a small splash of water which we found opened it up nicely.

Rampur Jugalbandi #2 56.3% (approx Eur 120) Green ie left in the above photo

Then it was on to the 2nd in this “jugalbandi“. Again our guide shared that this whisky was the product of both 1st fill ex-bourbon and ex-Calvados casks from Normandy, France – interesting!

Much like the 1st, we found this was an un-whisky-like whisky! Our 1st impression of the aroma was that it was more like a liqueur, with simply loads of tropical fruit – in this case lychee was more prominent than mango! On the palate it was intense and a bit all over the place. Here is where we could first sense the Calvados influence with roasted apples and it closed with a dash of spice.

Our conclusion was this was a rather interesting duo – with a complete contrast between 1 and 2.

Rampur Asava 45% (approx Eur 75)

The next “duo” we sampled was Asava and Double Cask. With Asava, we were told it was matured in ex-Bourbon casks and then finished in Indian ex-Cabernet Sauvignon casks.

The nose rewarded us with luscious berries. The palate was soft with more juicy berries and then some tropical fruit notes. We found the finish was at 1st a citrus twist and then it returned to the berries.

Rampur Double Cask 45% (approx Eur 70)

By contrast, the Double Cask was much more balanced and for us, in some ways quite interesting. A “marriage” of American ex-Bourbon casks and European ex-Sherry casks, we found it the most accessible of the four whiskies sampled. The aroma had tropical fruits and honey, with sweetness and spice perfectly balanced on the palate with a nice long finish.

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Paris Whisky Live 2022 – Maison Benjamin Kuentz

We have been so lucky to have met with Benjamin Kuentz, in Paris, to sample some interesting creations from his careful approach to “publishing” French whiskies. So when I bumped into a collector from India at Paris Whisky Live on the first day as he was leaving, I knew just the place to take him as a “last taste” of the fest. 

Whilst I encouraged him to try the full range, I skipped over some familiar friends: (D’un) Verre printanier, Fin de partie and our favorite Aveux Gourmands.  Instead, I focused on two new whiskies intended to join their core range.

For both of these expressions, Benjamin selected whisky from the Charentes region and then matured it in a rather interesting combination with an ex-cask of Cognac, Italian Vermouth, and ginger brandy. And yet they are completely different in character! 

Maison Benjamin Kuentz Spicy Nouba (2022) 45% – Spicy, Fruity, Woody

  • Nose – Definitely woodsy, lightly peaty, and fruity
  • Palate – Fiesty young and fresh, quite a lively character
  • Finish – A bit bitter

I had fun with this one – it was indeed a bit spicy, or could also be described as “spunky!” An interesting start…

Here is what they have to say

ROUND OF FEVERISH SPICES AND RIPE FRUIT. A COLOUR, A TEMPO, THOSE OF SPICY NOUBA, A VELVET WHISKY, GENEROUS, RHYTHMIC.

Delicate, lively, smoky, fruity and slightly peaty at the same time, Latin at heart, oriental in body. Its nose is surprisingly lively. Woody green cereal notes, fleshed out with vanilla essence and candied orange peel. In the mouth, it is a long moment of suavidad. Soft and supple, a slow attack. Vanilla again, mixed with sensual spices, turmeric and sweet paprika, are shaken with a zest of bitterness. It is even more striking in the Old Fashioned version.

As for the next one?

Maison Benjamin Kuentz Végétal Musette (2022) 45% – Vegetal, Fresh, Fruity

  • Nose – Funky, fun, and really quite “vegetal”, malt, Agricole
  • Palate – Very interesting – mature orchard fruits
  • Finish – Honeyed with a touch of tartness and spice

Really quite unique – I’m not sure what exactly I was expecting. However, it was really quite compellingly interesting – I would have loved to settle down more with it rather than the scant “sniff” and “sip” that comes from festival tastings.

And what more do they have to say?

IT HAS THE FRESHNESS OF A GARDEN SHELTERED FROM THE SUMMER.

A festival of floral notes and cereal flavours makes Végétal Musette a whisky of wild youth and vivacity, free to flirt with a sparkling water. On the nose, a swing of malt flavours, wet grass, Granny Smith, crunchy pear and tropical vanilla. The palate, unctuous and light, gently abandons the spice and revives around eucalyptus, lemon and green pepper. Its finish concedes a touch of warmth, between honey and dried malt.

Would I agree? From my brief notes, quite possible! And up next? A shift to something with a bit of peat…

One of the new limited edition expressions, Benjamin selected whisky from the Lorrain region and aged it for six to seven years, including two years finishing in ex-Moscatel barrels.

Maison Benjamin Kuentz Tohu-Bohu Des Terres 56.2%Peaty, Generous, Powerful

  • Nose – A bit saline to start, quite mineral, fruity, has an effervescence to it with subtle peat 
  • Palate – Initially quite “hot” however on the 2nd sip, it settles beautifully, with a lovely mouthfeel, fab flavours of peat, and sweet
  • Finish – It continues with more peat and sweet

What a nice change of pace to a subtle peat with a bit of “oomph!” If I had more time with this dram, I would have tried it with just a few drops of water to see if it opens up to reveal other elements.  

After tasting, I guessed this must be from Rozellieures distillery which was quietly confirmed.

What more do we know? 

TOHU-BOHU DES TERRES ÉVOQUE DÉJÀ PAR SON NOM LES REMOUS QU’IL COMPTE GÉNÉRER DANS CE PRÉ CARRÉ ÉCOSSAIS QU’EST LE WHISKY TOURBÉ.

Depuis les terres accidentées, les sentiers escarpés, ou encore les tortueuses forêts, ce whisky rappelle les délicates odeurs de fumée, de mousse, du cuir de nos bottes neuves sans oublier la végétalité et la fraîcheur des sous-bois. Benjamin a souhaité réécrire à sa façon ce monument du whisky en alliant la puissance de la tourbe à l’élégance française dans une valse entre la fumée, les épices, les fruits et les végétaux. D’inspiration écossaise, mais définitivement français.

And their official tasting notes? Also only French, however thanks to Google translate, read on:

  • Nose – Fine elegant peat, delicate smoke, yellow fruits, dried apricot, currants, pastry aromas, a touch of iodine
  • Taste – Intense attack, notes of wet peat, undergrowth, smoke softened by a syrupy delicacy, and notes of candied fruit
  • Finish – Malty and fruity finish borrows from a delicate peat, notes of fig and dried dates, blending subtly with a minty peat

And with this, my 1st day at Paris Whisky Live came to a close. What fun to explore a few new developments from Maison Benjamin Kuentz. I’m quite excited to see how creations from this house will continue to evolve!

Curious about other explorations? Check out our experiences with Maison Benjamin Kuentz :

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Paris Whisky Live 2022 – VIP Antipodes Caperdonich, Mortlach + Glenfarclas

Paris Whisky Live was chock full of a dizzying array of offerings – particularly in the VIP section. With such crowds too, it sometimes was a bit of a “get what you can, when you can!” type scenario.

With the Caperdonic & Mortlach, my scant tasting notes didn’t even capture which “Antipode” they were featured… just the photos let on that both were in the 20 year range…

Dubbed “Glen Grant 2”, Caperdonich was founded by J & J Grant around 18978 next to the main Glen Grant distillery. Shut only a few years later in 1902, it was primarily used to supply parts to its sibling across the road. That all changed in 1965 when it was rebuilt by Glenlivet, updating its name to Caperdonic, and resuming production. Changing hands a few times, it stopped production in 2002 and then was demolished just 10 years later.  You can read more here.

So what about this particular cask, bottled by Signatory for La Maison du Whisky?

Caperdonic 22 year (6 July 2000 / 5 Aug 2022) Hogshead Cask #29480 57.6%

  • Colour – Copper
  • Nose – Quite shy initially, then increasingly fruity
  • Palate – Interesting spice, a touch nutty
  • Finish – Gently faded away

A good example of the fruity, nutty character Caperdonich is known for… what a treat.


I then moved on to another exclusive La Maison du Whisky bottling – this time for their “Chapter VII” series…

Mortlach (2012/2022) 58.1%

  • Colour – Brilliant ruby
  • Nose – Sherry and ” boom!” intense and unmistakable sherry aromas
  • Palate – Again – dark rich and heavy sherry influences, veering into rum raisins
  • Finish – Continued in the same vein

What a sherry bomb! Heavy and showing every bit of its age – in a good way!

Like all experiences at a whisky festival, this was just a quick “sniff” and “swish” so please treat these tasting notes as superficial impressions! More of a starting point than a well-informed review.


Glenfarclas 10 year “Family Cask” (17 May 2012 / 20 May 2022) Sherry Hogshead #2504 60.9% (LMdW) 300 Bottles

I hope I can be forgiven for just a few scribbles for this next whisky – from the reliable Glenfarclas family stable – my notes literally state only:

Classic sherry nose, nice spicy sherry on the palate – lively and bursting with character.

Check out more interesting experiences from Whisky Live Paris here.

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Sweden’s Agitator’s early start

Sometimes the whisky fabric leads to special ‘sneak peaks’ into what is coming on the horizon. When The Box whisky became High Coast and more changes in the Swedish whisky industry happened, it lead to Nordic Whisky Capital… from which Håkan Jarskog became CEO of a new venture – Agitator – together with Distillery Manager  Oskar Bruno. Enter a fellow whisky aficionado from London / Bombay who just so happens to know these folks and a couple of early experiments made their way to us… to finally be opened one fine day in 2022.

Truthfully we just did a light touch exploration however it was enough to get a sense of something rather promising indeed!

Agitator’s 7 months (2018 – 9/27/2019) “Ny am ek” 46%

  • Nose – Custard apple, hay, citrus
  • Palate – Hint of heat, light spice, sweet
  • Finish – Hot

And what happens with a few more months in the barrel – throwing in some Sherry and Peat?

Agitator’s 11 months (2018 – 05/19/2019) “Sherry” 30 ppm 46%

  • Nose – Wow! Clear sherry stamp, a hint of iodine, milky caramel
  • Palate – Smooth, toffee, tobacco peat
  • Finish – Light

A rather good start! Way more going on than one would expect from maturing for under 1 year! I couldn’t wait to see how Agitator is with a couple years in a barrel!

Thankfully, I didn’t need to wait so long… in December 2022, we could experience how Agitor evolved with the bottles brought from Sweden by a lovely Whisky Lady for sampling during our Whisky Ladies of Mumbai session! We tried two core expressions: Single Malt 43% and Rök 43% plus a limited edition small batch expression Argument: Småfat 46%.

Curious to know more about their process and approach? Check out this informative feature in Distiller magazine.

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Whisky Lady – Oct to Dec 2022

Happy New Year! It is so good to be home celebrating with family and friends. And reflecting on how busy the last few months have been!

Unexpected tastings, sharing special drams with fabulous folks, birthday celebrations, and to top it all off – two whisky festival weekends in a row!! Wow wow wow!!! Paris Whisky Live and London’s Whisky Show – let me repeat – WOW!!

Let’s start with birthday drams….

We also had the Chorlton birthday drams – with the gift that kept on giving! So far we have held 4 tastings just from this quartet… Two in London and two in Mumbai where one session brought together two birthday ladies! (including yours truly)

Paris Whisky Live was divided between Day 1, which was devoted to the VIP area:

Day 2 was meandering around the main section with a penchant for French whiskies, a smattering of Scottish, and one Indian thrown in for good measure!

Then the following weekend was London’s Whisky Show with:

Masterclass: The Unbelievable Truth About Whisky with Gregg Glass, James Saxon, Alex Bruce, Sam Simmonds, Phil & Simon Thompson… like stepping into a private gathering of old friends, catching up telling tall tales over a fine dram or two.

What a wonderful peak into some quite marvelous malts and more at two fabulous whisky fests!

And then back in India at the close of the year, our Swedish Whisky Lady treated us to a trio from a new distillery – Agitator where we explored:

Obviously, the links above mean you can learn more by checking out a specific post…. whereas, for the balance, you will just have to be a wee bit patient as I slowly enjoy putting the virtual pen to virtual paper and then post!

Happy New Year!

Curious to know more? Check out a few more monthly summaries:

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“Character of Islay” – Ardbeg, Octomore

You thought we were done with Atom Brands? No chance! I simply had to go back to explore their “Character of Islay” range! From their Stories of Wind & Wave series, there were two distinct offerings.

Alas like the others, at Whisky Live Paris it was a mere sniff and swish, so forgive the brief impressions… That’s the beauty and danger of festival offerings…

Ardbeg 15 year (2004) 54.9% Bottle 012

  • Nose – Robust character, proper peat with smoked meats, something herbal too
  • Palate – A delicious meaty treat, peppery
  • Finish – Long and strong

Can I just say – yum! This came at the close of my 1st day and was definitely the direction to wind up a fabulous day of tasting adventures. Particularly as it came after the Lagg masterclass where I was well primed for something peaty!

If you want this for yourself, may need to track it down at a fest as it seems to be sold out! However, it was once available for Approx GBP 315.

Octomore 9 year (2011) 50% Bottle 140

  • Nose – Fruit forward then heat, sea breeze, and vanilla cream
  • Palate – Burst of flavour – peat and then shifts quickly to fruity sweet, then more peat and sweet
  • Finish – Fab all the way through the finish

I wasn’t alone in becoming a fan of this dram. A well-known Parisian chocolatier pronounced this the specific whisky he wants to use for his next single malt singular chocolate. Oh la la!

What a wonderful opportunity to try this powerful yet eminently quaffable dram from Bruichladdich. It may be tricky to find, however, it once retailed for GBP 187.

What a fabulous way to wind up my exploration of Atom Brands:

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Sweden’s Agitator Single Malt Rök 43%

We closed our exploration of three expressions from a new Swedish distillery – Agitator – with the “smoky” one, anticipating it would overwhelm the other expressions. Turns out this had a much more subtle approach. Matured in a combination of ex-Islay and Chestnut casks, this smoky Agitator expression is worth checking out!

Agitator Single Malt Rök 43%

  • Nose – Smoked apples by the seaside, shifts into milk chocolate malt balls, light leather, fresh sea breeze, some herbal or vegetal elements… one lady described it as red cabbage and also found some bacon too!
  • Palate – Burnt sea wood, seawater, damp embers, walnut, dark chocolate, smooth and balanced, some vanilla custard in there too, followed by salt-water taffy
  • Finish – Nice walnut bitter then cinnamon candy, a hint of ginger

Overall this was yummy! This had the character of a friendly sailor… More of a ‘late night’ whisky with some “pep”! The more we sipped, the more it grew on us.

Interesting! We increasingly see the use of ex-Islay casks to add a gentle peat element. Whilst I couldn’t tell from the distillery information if they also used some peated barley, based on the character would suspect some (just don’t quote me on it!). Bottom line, there was a gentle “hand” at play – making this a balanced lightly smoked dram instead of a bold peat monster!

Here is what the folks at Agitator have to say (with the help of google translate from Swedish!):

In the aroma, a flattering smoky tone appears, which is accompanied by light herbalism and straw, as well as balanced fat notes. The taste, just like the smell, has a very balanced smokiness that lingers for a long time without becoming dominant. There are also notes of the vegetable found in the fragrance and a clear note of dried apricot. The finish has a certain saltiness, which probably comes from the fact that we used casks that had previously stored whiskey from Islay.

Pairing suggestion: Flavorful cheeses like blue mold, dark chocolate, oysters or smoked fish, such as salmon.

What an interesting trio! Our introduction to Agitator also included:

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Sweden’s Agitator Single Malt 43%

Like other European whisky distilleries, Agitator turns to chestnut wood to augment the standard oak. For their “core” expression simply called “Agitator Single Malt” they have aged their whisky in four casks: ex-bourbon casks, new American oak casks, ex-sherry casks, and chestnut casks. It makes for an interesting combination…

Agitator Single Malt 43%

  • Nose – Quite spirited at 1st, then mellowed to reveal crunchy green apples and pears, joined by tart pomegranate or mosambi (sweet lime), some fresh-cut wood, slight hint of dried fruits, however overall it was summery – fruity and sweet. We also caught teasing tastes of tropical fruits every once and a while as a contrast with the orchard fruits.  And all this before the 1st sip! After quaffing, we also found vanilla custard, red apple strudel, a hint of bitter cinnamon
  • Palate – So soft, delicious apple sauce, with some spice burn at the back, that shifts into white peppercorns, silky smooth on the palate, joyfully fruity, some salt water taffy
  • Finish – A bit bitter, and resinous, yet also soft and creamy, closing quite sweetly

We could describe this as a Swedish summer – frolicking in the sunshine-kissed fields. When we returned to revisit after an hour – it was like sipping sweet honey water!

We tasted this after the complex small cask/batch Småfat so obviously found their Single Malt less complex. That didn’t stop us from enjoying its sweet, easy-drinking, uncomplicated happy character. We thought this would be the perfect whisky to ease into an evening.

For my part, I couldn’t help but wonder what if it was bottled at 46%? I suspect it would be even more interesting. However, given Agitator cask at a much lower ABV – only 55% instead of the more common approach in Scotland of casking at 63.5% – it must be more challenging to reliably produce higher ABV expressions. Additionally, playing around with four casks, yet still quite young (above three years but likely not too much above that!), means that some of the casks could still be quite “active”, hence achieving the smooth amiable character at a higher strength could also be tricky.

Here is what the folks at Agitator have to say (with the help of google translate from Swedish!):

The aroma has a lovely and light note of fruitiness which is dominated by citrus, red apple and pineapple together with some dried fruit which primarily comes from the Sherry and Chestnut casks. The taste has some saltiness and a slight smoky undertone, which comes a lot from our choice of smokiness on the grain. This is well accompanied by a fruity element where you can also find some apple and citrus here. The finish has a note of sweet vanilla toffee, mostly from Bourbon casks and American oak, and it lingers pleasantly for a long time.

Pairing suggestion: Why not try it with an apple cake?

Our introduction to Agitator also included two other expressions. Now… if you were to also explore this trio together, there is no doubt you should start with this expression first! Then explore the smoky Rök before settling into Argument: Småfat. At least that would be our humble recommendation!

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Sweden’s Agitator Argument: Småfat 46%

Kicking off our evening exploring a trio from the new Swedish distillery Agitator was an interesting expression from their small batch and small cask series. In this case, it was a mix of whisky matured in three different quarter casks: ex-Islay to add a gentle smoke, ex-Sherry for a dash of Christmasy sweetness, and chestnut wood.

It was an impressive start – we immediately appreciate the different qualities the cask combination brought and how remarkably complex it was for a whisky that must be only around 3-4 years!

Agitator Argument: Småfat 46%

  • Nose – Is that Benedryl cough syrup? A bit musty then shifts into a lovely hazel nuttiness, some grain mash, switching to sweet marzipan, then tropical fruits, which was quite inviting and warming. After the 1st sip we detected some hints of leather, black licorice, and some cayenne that then shifted into crisp green capsicum
  • Palate – Love it! Velvet, leather, caramel, cinnamon (a bit like chewing “Big Red” bubblegum), bitter almond, very Christmasy with sherry influences – marmalade, dried fruits with sweet spices, warming and complex, full and fab!
  • Finish – At first we thought little of the finish, but by the 2nd sip, remarked on how it lingers, some black pepper, a hint of salt, a touch bitter, like chewing on meethi ladkri

Overall it was really rather interesting and contrasting – a delicious and shifting nose, so enjoyable on the palate – one to relax, sip and enjoy like a warm embrace, and a finish that sparked a debate.

So what was the discussion about? It was around the dimension described as मीठी लकड़ी (meethi ladkri) which translates into sweet wood – a stick that you can chew to freshen breath, help a sore throat, settle your stomach, and more. A bit more research and we burst out with laughter – it isn’t some exotic desi root – instead we were talking about licorice which is quite common in many parts of the world! However, it is true, chewing a stick differs from the processed licorice one normally finds.

One lady remarked how it reminded her a lot of Caperdonich. I quickly flipped through my whisky-tasting notes and read impressions from a recent experience at Paris Whisky Live from La Maison du Whisky – would absolutely agree! Especially the nutty character!

We rarely have such an enthusiastic reaction to the 1st whisky of the evening – which just goes to show how much we enjoyed this expression! For most, it was the favourite of the evening.

Here is what the folks at Agitator have to say (with the help of google translate from Swedish!):

Tasting Notes: 
  • Aroma: In the aroma you will find a nuanced smokiness with a clear barrel character, hints of vanilla, butterscotch, red apples, tropical fruit and dry leather.
  • Taste: The Islay casks contribute to the taste with distinct smoky tones and a fine-tuned saltiness. Sherry and chestnut casks contribute fruitiness of red apples, tropical fruit and a dry finish.
  • Finish: Light to medium-long finish with hints of some salty licorice.
Pairing suggestion: Blue cheese, chocolate, seafood, and snacks such as pistachios and almonds

Our introduction to Agitator also included::

Curious about more Swedish whiskies? Well…. you are in luck! We’ve had quite a few interesting explorations, so you can take your pick of:

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Sweden’s Agitator Trio – Single Malt, Rök, Argument: Småfat

Welcome to Sweden and say hello to a new distillery – Agitator! Thanks to the travels of a Swedish Whisky Lady, we had an opportunity to explore a trio from the latest “kid on the block”.

I’m still learning what makes this new entrant distinctive but a few things already caught my attention. Agitator do vacuum distillation – to give a gentler treatment to the raw materials and reduce energy consumption. They also have a casking strength of 55% ABV – which is much lower than the standard 63.5% ABV by Scottish distillers. And, much like some German distillers, they also use chestnut casks to augment traditional oak. You can read more about their approach here.

Our introduction to Agitator included::

What an interesting introduction to a very promising new entry into the world of whisky!

And what a lovely December evening in Mumbai – kicking off with the flavourful Swedish mulled wine, an impressive spread of snacks, it was a fabulous way to close another calendar year of tasting adventures with the Whisky Ladies!

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