Advent Minis – Dalmore 14 Year Old 2003 57.8%

Dalmore is one of those Highland distilleries that you count on for a familiar flavour profile with a good dose of sherry.

A couple years ago the Whisky Ladies enjoyed the Dalmore standard 15 year… and at Whisky Live in Singapore, I had full plans to come back and spend time at their booth however somehow only managed to check out the 18 year in passing… The last Dalmore properly sampled was the slightly pricey King Alexander III which was a bit of a let down.

Beyond these, I’ve had a few quite enjoyable Dalmore’s over the years and had high expectations of this one… So what did we discover with this single cask edition bottled by the folks over at Master of Malt?

Dalmore 14 Year Old 2003 57.8% 

  • Nose – Lots of toffee, caramel, bannofee cream pie, it settled down quickly, shifting into something a bit sour, peach pits and cherry
  • Palate – Warm sweet spices, wood, dry, sits on the surface
  • Finish – Long finish, tingling and a bit tart
  • Water – Sour cherries, some spice but flat – honestly water did not do the malt any favour

I’m not sure if it was my anticipation of something “good” or how the Dalmore followed the Rye but I must admit, I found it a bit disappointing. It wasn’t bad, it just simply wasn’t exceptional. And that’s just the way it goes sometimes.

Here is what the chaps over at Master of Malt have to say :

It’s been a bit of a while since we independently bottled some Dalmore single malt, so we decided to fix that by bottling up a stunning 14 year old from the distillery as part of our Single Cask Series. This one was distilled in April 2003 and left to age in a bourbon cask until March 2018, when it was bottled at cask strength.

  • Nose: Sultana, dusty oak and new leather, hints of fresh pear drenched in honey.
  • Palate: Hugely chocolatey, though pear notes still shine through. A hint of hoppy bitterness.
  • Finish: Fizzy oak, foam bananas and greengages.

Here are a few others we tried from my advent calendar minis:

Curious to check out more? Why not follow Whisky Lady on:

Advent Minis – Whistle Pig Rye 10 year 54.3%

I had to be amused by the journey our 1st sample has taken. Originally from Canada – like me – it then was aged at WhistlePig Farm in Vermont. To then be rebottled by the folks at Drinks by the Dram in the UK and finally shipped off to me in Nurnberg, Germany.

But this was no normal WhistlePg in my wee advent calendar of single casks – nope! This was a single barrel release at cask strength.

WhistlePig 10 Year Old  54.3% – Drinks By The Dram Exclusive

  • Nose – It started off with typical rye, some spice, cloves, orange peel, honey and oats, porridge, sweet caramels, hint of mint and a touch of oak
  • Palate – Had all the lovely elements of rye, some caramel, spice, more of the honey and oats, more of that butterscotch… it reminded me a bit of stroopwaffles
  • Finish – Light liquorice, butterscotch
  • Water – Racks up the spice, the rye became even more prominent, more barley and less honey, the light brown black liquorice danced on the palate, lots of spice on the finish in a most delicious way

I have to admit upfront that I’m not normally a rye fan. But this was a darn good dram. Nothing about it was harsh, and whilst there was no major variation and you couldn’t call it complex, it was full flavoured and really quite enjoyable and well balanced.

And my companion? Let’s just say she discovered that she absolutely IS a rye fan! Particularly for this one.

What do the folks over at WhistlePig have to say about the standard expression?

The spirit of entrepreneurship.

Fortune, superb taste, and hustle lead us to the discovery of an aged Rye Whiskey stock in Alberta, Canada. We rescued the stock from misuse as a blending whiskey, aged it in new American Oak, then hand-bottled this rye on its own. We’re honored to present the most awarded Rye Whiskey in the world.

  • Nose – Allspice, orange peel, anise, oak, char and caramel
  • Palate – Sweet; hints of caramel and vanilla, followed by rye­spice and mint
  • Finish – Long finish; warm butterscotch and caramel

Here are a few others we tried from my advent calendar minis:

Curious to check out more? Why not follow Whisky Lady on:

Advent Minis – 1st batch

Thanks to the lovely lads and lasses at Master of Malt, we were finally able on the 3rd attempt to get my 2019 Advent Calendar to Nurnberg, Germany.

Whilst I’m still not yet properly set-up, I simply had to crack open the calendar before catching a flight to India for Christmas… I didn’t have my favourite Glencairn glasses but “made do” with a pair of capita wanna be’s… Even better, I co-opted a friend to join in a small tasting quartet!

So what did we try? Here are the ones we dove into from the advent calendar minis:

Curious to check out more? Why not follow Whisky Lady on:

Whisky Lady – January 2020

A new year, a new chapter in whisky tasting adventures.

2020 kicked off with a real milestone in my whisky explorations – a celebration of 1,000 Whisky Lady posts! There are so many prolific and profound blogs out there, however I just wanted to say THANK YOU to all who have been part of this journey.

As I reflected on what brought me to this point, I shared a few insights:

As for new tastings? 2020 also began back home in Mumbai where we had a celebration combining our Whisky Ladies of Mumbai and Bombay Malt & Cigar club exploring something incredibly unique – two Japanese standards, bottled some 40-50 years apart:

  • Suntory Excellence from the 1970/80s compared with Suntory Old from today
  • Nikka Super Rare Old from the 1970/880s and 2019

Given we had no idea if the old bottles would even be drinkable, an Iwai and Hibiki were kept on hand to accompany dinner and a cigar.

I also shared notes from a remarkable Mumbai evening with Chorlton Single Casks:

Curious to know more? Check out recent Whisky Lady’s monthly missives:

And if you don’t want to miss a post, why not follow Whisky Lady on:

Old vs New Japanese Blends

Once upon a time, an excise officer lived in Mumbai, India. Bucking convention, he married outside of his community and country to a lovely elegant lady from Japan. They enjoyed the good things in life and were happy to generously share with their friends too – including an enthusiasm for Japanese whiskies. It was through this connect a couple of bottles made their way into a South Mumbai home many years ago. And while most were consumed, some were not… and a precious few were passed on from father to son as part of a dusty yet diverse collection.

These gifts from the 1970s / 80s inspired an evening honouring the “old” and comparing them with the “new” – a fitting way to bring in 2020. Just to put this into perspective, some 40 – 50 years ago, hardly anyone in India even knew Japan made whisky. To then imagine the Japanese whisky craze that captured attention decades later? Unthinkable! Instead this was the era where Johnnie Walker Black reigned supreme – just exploring anything beyond “Black” was being a bit daring and adventuresome!

So what did we try? Two pairs of Japanese blends…

Now, truth be told, we had no idea how these sealed bottles had fared. Had the decades been kind? Or would we be hugely disappointed? And what made us most curious – how did the “old” style compare with the “new” equivalent?

As we could not predict what we would find when the bottles were opened, back up blends were acquired as well – a Mars Iwai and Hibiki Harmony. Just in case.

Curious to know more? Why not follow Whisky Lady on:

Chorlton Single Casks – Ruadh Maor 8 year 62.5%

Last in the remarkable trio from Chorlton Whisky was a whisky distilled at Glenturret. Like the Miltonduff and Orkney, we sampled it blind before the reveal of all three together.

Here is what we discovered…

Ruadh Maor 8 year 62.5% 158 bottles

  • Colour – Light straw
  • Nose – Mmmm… maple glazed bacon, Life Buoy soap, chip shop oil, blue cheese, curdled milk, beach ground nuts in sand and salt, boiled peanuts… then started shifting and it revealed light perfume, lemons in brine, the lactic aroma more pronounced, green olives, pizza tomato sauce, umami, light soy, cinnamon, fried chaklis, like being next to a meat shop
  • Palate – Delicious sweet peat, butter then sweet spice… really quite amazing
  • Finish – What a finish! It simply did not stop

We couldn’t help it… after such interesting aromas and fabulous palate, we were greedy to see how it faired with water.

The verdict?

It did rather well with water. It enhanced the peat, bringing it out more on the nose, definitely on the palate and certainly following through on the finish. Comments like “Yum, yum, yum!” could be heard! Even those who initially resisted adding water succumbed and went “Fab!”

We then began to speculate about the peat. We found it hard to pin down. It wasn’t a typical Islay… we struggled to identify it. Some wondered if it could be from Campbeltown? With smoke more than peat. However the briney quality had us puzzled.

Like the others sampled blind, we set it aside for some time. When we returned the “Yum!” very much remained – the interplay is fabulous between the sweet, peat, cinnamon bitterness, an oily head, and bacon barbecue.

What a treat and what a surprise to be introduced to a peated Glenturret.

The Chaps over at Master of Malt have this to say:

A wonderfully Ruadh Maor single malt, which is the name Glenturret used for its peated whisky. Distilled in 2010, it was aged for eight years in a hogshead from Caol Ila, which yielded 158 bottles which were bottled in 2019 at 62.5% ABV by Chorlton Whisky. A very unique peated dram, this, with an equally unique label!

  • Nose: Powerful, earthy, oily and smoky, with roasted potatoes, paprika, very salted caramel and just a hint of honey.
  • Palate: Great big savoury flavours of barbecued meats, charred herbs, fresh coffee and a somewhat honeyed mouthfeel, with a drop of orange oil.
  • Finish: Toffee apple and a slight waxy note.

Alas, this Glenturret single cask is sold out – just like the others. When it was available, it could be purchased for the exceedingly reasonable amount of €62.25.

And PS – Turns out the chaps at Master of Malt didn’t quite get the cask detail right. My fellow Mumbai whisky explorer and host checked with the folks at Chorlton who clarified it was just a normal hogshead – not an ex Islay Caol Ila.

We also enjoyed these other Chorlton Single Cask whiskies:

As for other Glenturret experiences, I’m still at early stages having tried only two so far, neither of which had peat:

Curious to know more? Why not follow Whisky Lady on:

Chorlton Single Casks – Orkney 9 year 63.1%

After such a brilliant start with the Chorlton Miltonduff, we were primed for something interesting. Our host then poured us this Orkney dram, which we sampled completely blind before the reveal.

Orkney 9 year 63.1%

  • Colour – Light straw
  • Nose – Wow! Began with acetone, medicine capsule, industrial metal – particularly copper, burnt ghee, then started to shift into caramel, suddenly heavy dry fruits, nuts – imagine a box of figs and nuts! Then curd – like those yoghurt covered raisins, shifting further into grape skin, a wine tannins, back to minerals, wet slab for sharpening a knife… all of this before even the 1st sip! Then a smoked honey ham, like a Chinese honey pork dish from Mumbai’s Golden Dragon
  • Palate – Superb! A lovely balance, silky, sweet, smooth, spice with a gentle smoke… a bit of wood char, salty caramel… a lovely honey sweet with a touch of salt yet no medicinal element
  • Finish – Lovely, long and continued to hold

The aromas kept evolving – particularly after the 1st sip.

And what about adding water? Yes please! We found it brought out the spice and honey even more. A dash of dry roasted cinnamon and other sweet spices. In some ways the peat was quite deceptive – hardly their on the 1st sip even with water and then quite pronounced in subsequent sips.

We concluded that water really helps open this whisky up beautifully. And yet we equally enjoyed it without water… one of those remarkable whiskies that is terrific both with and without, simply showed off different dimensions.

All  we could be certain is there was high quality wood, a classic approach with an ex-bourbon showing no signs of sherry or experimental wood finishes. Truth be told, it was mighty good to simply enjoy a traditional dram.

We set it aside to sample the 3rd whisky in our trio – each explored blind with only our speculation for company!

And then returned to this one… And found it a bit sour, salty on the nose, the peat clear and warming on the palate, a distinct personality with a nice chewy quality. Imagine a coconut lozenge… Delicious!

The Chaps over at Master of Malt have this to say:

9 year old single cask single malt from the isle of Orkney, drawn from a bourbon hogshead and independently bottled by Chorlton Whisky. With a very small number of whisky distilleries in Orkey, you might be able to figure out which one this whisky is from when tasting it. 191 bottles were produced.

  • Nose: Coffee bean, sea air and a touch of cookie dough.
  • Palate: A bit gristy, but with plenty of vanilla and salted caramel to back it up.
  • Finish: Lingering smoke and olive oil.

Alas with less than 200 bottles, it flew off the shelves at Master of Malt at the reasonable price of €62.49 – now completely sold out.

We also enjoyed these other Chorlton Single Cask whiskies:

And what about other Orkney (aka Highland Park) drams?

Curious to know more? Why not follow Whisky Lady on:

Chorlton Single Casks – Miltonduff 9 year 58.3%

Better known for its part in Ballentine’s blend, Miltonduff Distillery in Speyside is starting to be found more readily as a single malt. Which is a rather fine thing as past experiences with a 10 year and 21 year were most positive.

This particularly one was sampled blind in November 2019 as part of a very special evening exploring Chorlton bottlings.

Miltonduff 9 year 58.3%, 137 bottles

  • Colour – Light straw
  • Nose – Greeted us with varnish then shifted quickly into a rich heavy cream, stewed fruit like apricot and apples, tart strawberries, one found key lime pie, then light floral, hint of lavender, an organic sweet not saccharine, lactic, bread pudding, baked custard, cinnamon, banana cream pie, settling into a nice harmonious aroma which held…
  • Palate – Initially reminded of a thick heavy cough syrup, it warmed the ‘cockles’, fig stew, rum raisins rolling around the tongue, a nice spice from behind comes in waves, bitter at the end, with such staying power, lots of toffee, shifting increasingly into a fresh green herbal quality
  • Finish – Initially a white pepper finish but sip after sip it shifted more into licorice, basil

Despite the powerful flavours, it had a medium to thin body – no complaints just a comment.

A few of us decided to try adding a bit of water to see how it

  • Nose – Oh my! Peppers, zesty, cinnamon spice, lemon or sweet lime, scented, sweet eraser, fruity and floral
  • Palate – Nicely tangy, the perfume also was pronounced on the palate – almost like sipping a perfumed nectar, lots of character and clearly from a good cask
  • Finish – The finish was delightfully extended

On the revisit, we found Brittania biscuits or Parle-G, so much coconut, condensed milk like chewing into a Bounty bar, sandalwood, ice cream, tangerine. Yum!

The Chaps over at Master of Malt have this to say:

This 9-year-old single malt Scotch from Miltonduff was aged in a first-fill bourbon barrel and bottled by Chorlton Whisky at natural cask strength of 58.3%, with no chill-filtering or added colouring. There was a total outturn of 137 bottles.

  • Nose: Banoffee pie with custard and lemon peel, with a slight floral undertone.
  • Palate: Creamy and rich, the palate has plenty of salted caramel, toasted barley and green apple. A touch of waxy grapefruit arrives with time.
  • Finish: A jammy red berry note remains.

We also enjoyed these other Chorlton whiskies:

And earlier Miltonduff tasting experiences?

Curious to know more? Why not follow Whisky Lady on:

Chorlton Single Casks – Miltonduff, Orkney, Ruadh Maor

One of the best things about being in a whisky tasting group is when a member discovers and shares something truly special. The evening with a trio of whiskies from independent bottler Chorlton was one such occasion.

We sampled each blind and it was clear from the first whiff of the first dram this was no ordinary tasting.

Chorlton Single Casks

We were struck by the quality of each –  “pedigree” whiskies which held well not just with our initial tasting but when we revisited too. Each had a distinct personality, and while entirely different characters, there was a clear common thread. Solid drams, no sherry influence or other finishes, just premium picks at incredibly reasonable prices.

With the reveal, we were struck by the gorgeous labels and astounded by our host sharing he paid a mere GBP 50 a bottle?! Could this even be possible in a time of ever increasing costs with mixed quality?

It was a special evening for more than just the whisky – it was held at Savor‘s tasting room with a meal designed to complement our whisky wanderings. A very memorable night!

Curious to know more?

My tasting notes are coming soon but you must check out WhiskyFlu’s post about how he discovered Chorlton, David’s approach to bottling quality drams for a reasonable price, tasting notes from our evening.

You can also follow Whisky Lady on:

Whisky Lady’s Top 10 Events

Welcome to a little nostalgia for a few exceptional evenings gone by… a light tripping through a malty memory lane… with a focus on events that expanded understanding, industry connects and some pretty great malts too!


2011

Let’s start by re-winding the clock to the year our original Mumbai tasting group formed. It was February, our inaugural evening was hosted at BlueFrog’s private alcove above the recording studio. We were

#1Glenfarclas Mumbai Special 12 year, 105, 21 and 40 year

Later that year we were invited to attend a tasting led by the family own distillery’s George S Grant – a remarkable evening that closed with the Glenfarclas 40 year!

It cemented an appreciation for not only for the whisky but the stories that go with its making – without a doubt it was the stand-out experience of the year!


2012 – 2013

As a tasting group, we began to find our grove with monthly sessions and it became clear who would remain as regular members. We shifted from random contributions to themes hosted in homes as increasing effort and creativity went into sourcing something interesting to share with other members.

This was also the period I went from occassionally jotting down impressions to regularly crafting tasting notes which I posted on my other blog Everyday Asia.

#2Jameson Original, 12, Gold Reserve, 18 yearGreen Spot + Redbreast

As for memorable event? I will always have a soft spot for the Jameson lads (and hopefully lasses to come too!) who make their way as brand ambassadors to India. In large part this is due to the convivial evening held at one of our members homes in 2013 where they shared insights into the Irish whisky industry, tall tales and good dram or two, augmented by a few more we added to round out the evening.

Jameson lads with their set-up


2014-15

This was a stand-out year for more than one reason! It would be impossible to limit to a single event. When I look back, I realise this was the pivotal year that opened the most doors to industry insights and introductions. By late 2014, it was clear I was ‘hooked’ on exploring and sharing such experiences, with the birth of this blog the outcome!

#3 – Amrut with Jim Murray (compliments Amrut)

Beyond our regular tasting sessions, I experienced the massive “show” that is a Jim Murray event – in this case sponsored by Amrut. It was memorable but not necessarily for the right reasons!

#4 – Glenmorangie (with Bill Lumsden)

In complete contrast, I was invited to attend an event in Delhi and interview Bill Lumsden for Man’s World. The event? Glenmorangie’s celebration of their prestige line with Glenmorangie’s 18 year, 25 year and Signet expressions. Each was perfectly paired and a true class act.

Glenmorangie evening at The Oberoi, Delhi

#5 – Balblair 03Old Pulteney 12 yearSpeyburn 10 year

This was followed a few months later by a master class with Stuart Harvey. Again – full of stories, insights, good company and a most enjoyable dram or two, three with a bonus!

Old Pulteney 12 year (Inver House)

#6 – Whisky Ladies with Karen Walker – Caorunn ginBalblair 03Old Pulteney 12 yearSpeyburn 10 yearAnCnoc 12 + 22 year

Then an evening with Karen Walker, when she was Global Marketing Head for Invers House for the newly formed Whisky Ladies of Mumbai.

Some of Whisky Ladies of Mumbai

#7 – Mumbai Malt Maniacs Rare Malts – Auchentoshan 40% (1980s)Port Ellen 26 year 1982 50%Lagavulin 16 year 43% (1980s)

Each experience added a layer and being introduced to India’s Malt Maniac Krishna Nakula was and remains a true gift. His 20th anniversary celebration of Malt Maniacs in Mumbai with Rare Malts from the 1980s was an eye opener to a different ‘style’. Krishna’s knowledge and passion is immense, his ability to discern such nuances and details from a few good whiffs and just a sip is astounding!

1980s whiskies


2016

By 2016, I was part of 3 tasting groups who regularly ‘fed’ my habit! We had several stand-out evenings and I was consistently impressed with the growing quality and variety of themes. I was also invited to ‘crash’ a private whisky tasting in my home town Winnipeg’s “The Cabinet”.

Some are surprised it took so long, but 2016 was the 1st time I went on a distillery tour. Clearly I’ve not taken a ‘typical’ path as it wasn’t Scotland… nope! Instead it was Gimli, Manitoba, Canada at Crowne Royal’s plant.

#8 – Whisky Live Survival Guide Collector’s Room –BenromachBruichladdichKavalanNikkaOld PulteneyPort AskaigTeelingRum + Whisky Masterclass with Luca Gargano + Dave Broom

As for a remarkable event? Without a doubt it was my 1st Whisky Live Singapore experience. I loved everything about it – from the Collector’s Room to masterclasses to engaged conversations with industry experts on the tasting floor. None of the subsequent WhiskyLive’s lived up to this one.


2017

The year started with a trip to Goa, India with a Michael personally giving a tour of Paul John distillery, showing plans for their visitor centre, insights into upcoming expressions, etc.

Mid-year on our way back from our wedding in Canada, a whisky club member arranged a special evening in London with Sukhinder Singh, co-founder of The Whisky Exchange. Following our dinner, he took us to their office, giving a tour of his personal collection in their board room, the rare malts section, warehouse and private bar where he ‘started us’ with something simple – a mere 30+ year Caol Ila! What Sukhinder and his brother have done for the world of whisky is unmatched.

My friend wondered why I never wrote about this experience or took copious photos like I do during our normal tastings together. My response? It was like entering a “whisky temple” and I wanted nothing to distract from fully being there in the moment of that exceptional experience. It was a year later before the Cask Strength Trio selected by Sukhinder that day for the Whisky Ladies was opened.

There were also several events (Glenmorangie Bacalta Launch, DISCUS American bourbon, rye and cocktails, Whisky Live Singapore), however what really stood out was 2 days, 3 tasting experiences featuring 15 whiskies from 3 to 60 years!

All were held with Krishna Nakula and Keshav Prakash and each experience added a richness to a whisky appreciation repertoire, making this my #9 Expert Event:


2018 – 2019

The next two years were full of so many tasting experiences – introductions to new independent bottlers like North Star and Chorlton, whiskies from new distilleries, another trip to Paul John’s Distillery – this time with the Whisky Ladies.

I have watched with immense pride as our original tasting club members Keshav and Anjan Prakash translated their passions into professions – leading to the creation of The Vault Fine Spirits – a beacon of quality, imbued with their generous spirits.

#10 – The 1st Vault Biennale

Their inaugural spirits festival “The Vault Biennale” brought remarkable spirits and spirit makers to Mumbai in a two day event anchored by spirited stories that personalized and contextualized the passion applied to bringing unique, quality expressions to the world. It was a truly special experience and I hope it will be back next year!

Curious to know more? Why not follow Whisky Lady on: