Peaty Highlander – Aird Mhor 8 year 55.3%

Sound it out… “Aird Mhor” and you realize perhaps this might be “Ardmore”… and sure enough it is!

Our Whisky Ladies session dove straight into this cask strength offering from the Single Malts of Scotland range bottled by Speciality Drinks. It was purchased at their Whisky Exchange Covent Garden store under the guidance of Duncan.

So what did we think?

Aird Mhor 8 year (1 Dec 2009 / 25 June 2018) Cask 707910 55.3% 261 Bottles

  • Colour – Golden
  • Nose – Gentle smoke, leather, wood, citrus, orange, as it opened became increasingly sweet
  • Palate – Spice, tobacco, warm, 2nd sip was like an echo of Laphroaig, calming, sweet
  • Finish – Long finish with a bit of liquorice and vanilla
  • Water – No surprise it initially ramped up the spice, but when it settled down it brought out a nicely nutty quality, helped balance it out a bit, with it a bit oily on the palate

This one was a bit curious and not for everyone. Going straight from zero to full cask strength was also an adjustment.. though one our Whisky Ladies can easily make!

One remarked this whisky was a bit of an “attention seeker” with a fierceness and forcefulness that demanded notice. In this respect, it showed its youthful enthusiasm.

We discovered that the hint of Laphroaig peat came from the Ardmore being matured in ex Laphroaig barrel.

It wasn’t complicated and yet it provoked a clear divide between those who enjoyed and those who didn’t care for it so much.

Apparently Mogambo also has something to say!

Aird Mhor + Mogambo courtesy DevPaula

What did the folks at The Whisky Exchange have to say?

A smoky dram from Aird Mhor (aka Ardmore distillery). While nearby distilleries are better known for unpeated whisky, Ardmore bucks the trend, making a powerful and smoky dram. This single-cask bottling from The Single Malts of Scotland – distilled on 1 December 2009 and bottled at years old on 25 June 2018 – is a classic, with punchy smoke, honey and lemon.

I must say, I rather think “punchy smoke, honey and lemon” is a rather good way to describe this one!

What else did we sample in our Whisky Ladies Peaty Highland drams evening?

And what else have I explored from Ardmore?

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North Star Spirits Series 5, Regions 5, Bottles 5

Once a year, two of our Mumbai whisky groups come together to celebrate our mutual passion for a fine dram. This time, I selected the whiskies – ordered online and brought in by another member for our sampling pleasure. I was inspired by an earlier introduction to North Star Spirits and honed in on their series 5, tending towards the more affordable options available with a nice cross-section from different regions.

While the Whisky Ladies sponsored the whiskies, the gents hosted our evening in a gorgeous South Mumbai home with a most civilized sit down tasting followed by a brilliantly paired dinner. To put it mildly, the bar was set high!

And did the whiskies deliver? Read on to discover…

Our 5 Region North Star Spirits cask strength quintet from Cask Series 005 included:

Each was distinctive, unique and completely worth trying!

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North Star’s Caol Ila 12 year (2006/2018) 54.6%

Our final North Star Series 5 whisky was from the Islay region with a Caol Ila whisky. While it was the last, it was an entirely appropriate tasting order with this peaty robust dram coming after some lighter, flirtatious whiskies.

Here is what we discovered with the North Star Cask Series 005 Caol Ila…

Caol Ila 12 year (April 2006/May 2018) 54.6%

  • Nose – Hello peat! Sweaty, yheasty, medicinal… quite ‘wintry’, pine nuts, spirit of “peat fun”, some salt, kept evolving with the peat much less pronounced, giving way to other aromas, green asparagus, young potato starch, burnt maple bacon, sweet citrus, lightly smoky sweet grass, burnt sugar, sour cherry
  • Palate – Proper peat, some spice and everything nice. Crêpe Suzette with cherry liquor flambé, perhaps with a touch of citrus too
  • Finish – Green chilli and wasabi, sweet grapes

For those of a peatier persuasion, quite enjoyed this one. The bottle shared a few more details – noting the Caol Ila was bottled from a refill hogshead, un-chill filtered and natural colour.

As for what Iain Croucher had to say about it in his North Star’s tasting notes?

  • Nose: An Oligarch’s humidor… a big dusty one
  • Palate: A peated Sherbet Lemon, doubled-dunted with a peated Soor Ploom
  • Finish: Reminds me of well-seasoned hardwood burning near a new carpet… all subjective of course

Now I must share, we had the most hilarious response and commentary on this one – thoroughly enjoying the reading of the tasting notes… including having to look up what exactly is a “Soor Ploom.”

In case you are curious, a “Soor Ploom” according to Wikipedia is

a sharp flavoured, round, green boiled sweet originally associated with GalashielsScotland.

A “childhood favourite,”[3] they are pale green and “slightly acid in flavour”.[2]

Overall it was terrific having a chance to try such distinctive drams – well worth exploring.

For those curious about cost, this whisky was purchased online in July 2018 from Master of Malt for £76.36 / USD 100 / INR 7,215 and was opened in November 2018.

Don’t miss the other Whisky Ladies guest reviews of North Star Series 005 whiskies covering 5 Scottish regions:

Or check out the Original Group’s North Star Discovery:

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North Star’s Orkney 12 year (2006/2018) 57.8%

Our 5 region tour of North Star’s series 5 continued with a whisky from the Islands.

(www.tripfolk.com)
http://www.tripfolk.com

This time our Whisky Ladies of Mumbai guest reviewer is Shruti Sutwala… 

A marketer by profession, Shruti brings her passion to travel across through her travel blog MeWanderlost. She divides time between creating brands, travelling to distant corners of the world & inspiring many to experience the world. 

Given that Shruti travels extensively (plus has a partner who shares her whisky explorations), she has blessed us with equally adventurous  whiskies from AustraliaBhutan, FranceIceland, Japan and US.

Here is what she has to say about the North Star Cask Series 005 Islands offering…

North Star Orkney 12 year (March 2006/May 2018) 57.8% is a great example of the trend of “secret bottling” by an independent bottler.

It’s secret because all we know about it is that it comes from Orkney and that it’s bottled from a refilled bourbon hogshead. Well, the Orkney is so small that the secret is really not a big one, it has to be one of the two big ones on the island!

It’s rare because independent bottling is all about small batch production – we tasted the Cask Series 005, 1 of 362 bottles, and yes, the same one will not be available in the market anymore.

And of course its experimental if the official tasting notes are any indication. Here it goes – on the palate it’s supposed to be ‘Melted Normandy salted butter poured over popcorn’ & on the finish Clover-honey on yer toast”. That’s experimental for sure!

  • Nose: The nose definitely connects to the island origin of this dram – it has strong sea salt & sea weed notes followed with some fruitiness. It feels quite young in the beginning, however develops subtle smokiness & butter notes, a perfect invitation to sip it along.
  • Palate: The peat on the nose doesn’t disappoint as you sip it along as it develops a nice caramel toffee sweetness. What stood out for me was a nice buttery coating on my palate which reminded me of the butter whisky I had in Scotland. Notes of burnt caramel, pipe tobacco, vanilla & a touch of spice with the subtle smokiness is just lovely!
  • Finish: After the mélange of notes on the palate, the finish was a little flat for me. Some comments around the table were “flat ginger ale” and “bitter”.

Adding a few drops of water made it more approachable for a few, however for me it lost the nice chewy and buttery character with the water.

Summing it up, it’s a solid dram which is nicely matured & balanced & at the same time not so serious. With the Orkney, the bottlers have clearly made a statement that whisky can be fun & experimental, yet well rounded. It would be a great addition to any collection, pity, there are so few of them in the market. A clear vote winner, this one was polished off in the post tasting session!

For those curious about cost, this whisky was purchased online in July 2018 from Master of Malt for £53.76 / USD 70 / INR 5,080 and was opened in November 2018.

Don’t miss the other Whisky Ladies guest reviews of North Star Series 005 whiskies covering 5 Scottish regions:

Original Group’s North Star Discovery

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North Star’s Macduff 11 year (2006/2018) 55.2%

From the Highland region, our next North Star Series 5 exploring 5 regions in Scotland was from the Mac Duff distillery, best known for their Glen Deveron brand.

Our guest reviewer Rekha Sharma has been part of the Whisky Ladies of Mumbai from the start.

Having lived a fairly nomadic existence since a young age, Rekha gained over two decades of varied corporate & entrepreneurial experience.

From cable media industry in Hongkong with Disney Challen then Turner Networks (CNN), she then moved to New York where she founded & managed a retail business in Manhattan, combining an Asian antique store with an art gallery & a cafe/bar.

Now living in India, Rekha manages a serviced apartments business in Bombay,  being a part of a rapidly changing economic & social landscape that is India today.

Above all, Rekha enjoys the arts, cooking, interior design, travelling & good whiskey!

Here is what she has to say…

Macduff 11 year (Nov 2006/May 2018) 55.2%

  • Nose – Dish water soap, very light, flowers, flirting with us by running away then gently re-appearing, red delicious apple, balsa wood and some lovely ripe bananas
  • Palate – Peach, apricots, metallic, almost eggy, liquorice
  • Finish – Bitter walnut, big red chewing gum
  • Water – Much better! Really brings out more with this one and gave it a somewhat sweet, creamy finish

It was a friendly easy drinking dram and hard to imagine it was cask strength!

The North Star Macduff was bottled from a refill bourbon hogshead, un-chill filtered, natural colour with only 240  bottles.

North Star’s tasting notes:

  • Nose: Red apple & that smell you get when rain hits hot tar macadam
  • Palate: Instantly creamy & sweet, like my mum’s custard
  • Finish: The crispy topping on a creme brûlée 

This whisky was purchased online from Master of Malt in August 2018 for £53.76 / USD 70 / INR 5,080 and was opened in November 2018.

Don’t miss the other Whisky Ladies guest reviews of North Star Series 005 whiskies covering 5 Scottish regions:

Original Group’s North Star Discovery:

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North Star’s Campbeltown 4 year (2014/2018) 57%

Next in our North Star Series 005 quintet was a whisky from Campbeltown, which was reviewed by fellow Canadian Paula McGlynn.

Paula McGlynn is a CEO and Founding Director of Gulbadan Talkies and Bharatiya Digital Party (BhaDiPa). BhaDiPa is the pioneer of Marathi digital content, starting with its hit series “Casting Couch with Amey & Nipun” in 2016, and recently revived the Marathi Stand-Up comedy scene, now managing over 15 comic artists. BhaDiPa now has 3 channels under it’s brand, including Bha2Pa (Travel) and Vishay Khol (Politics and Infotainment). BhaDiPa recently received the Zee Talkies Marathi Comedy award for “Best Web Series”, and currently has over 80 million views and over 800K subscribers.

Entrepreneur, producer, actress, script writer… Paula will track down a new whisky experiment from Canada or the US, take an hour off from a film shoot in Goa to pop over to Paul John distillery for a tour (plus collect a coveted bottle of Peated) or drop by WhiskyLive when in South Africa… just because… whisky!

You can also check out her #daarudiscoveries on Instagram at Dev_Paula

Here is what Paula has to say about the Campbeltown…

North Star Series 005 – Campbeltown, 4 yrs, 57.4%
  • Blended Malt (blend of 2 casks) – Distillery Unknown
  • Bottled from a refill bourbon hogshead, un-chill filtered, natural colour.
  • Item no longer available for purchase

The second in an impressive-looking line up of North Star whiskies was a bit of a surprise – a 4 year old blend, cask-strength bottle (uh-oh) 57.4%!

The Campbeltown immediately drew a few raised eyebrows, and when assigning review-duties to the whisky ladies Carissa warned me to be ‘gentle’ considering its youth.

Upon opening, the first few whiffs led to a few remarks around the table about nail varnish and alcohol fumes… reaffirming our concern that this whisky needed some more time with the wood before bottling.

However, much to everyone’s surprise there started to appear notes of honeycomb, cream, vanilla, and those small, sweet and tart mandarin oranges!

Upon first sip, we were all pleasantly surprised to discover a delightfully light and fruity palate echoing the nose – honey, oranges, ginger, and an orange-maple liqueur quality.

Ending with a mid-length finish (again, a nice surprise), we drew further floral notes of lavender, aromatic bitters, salt, and some lingering orange sweetness.

After sampling a few more whiskies, we returned to this one to find the nose had shifted to a delicious butterscotch, while the palate remained much the same as before.

With a few drops of water, it brought out a lot more hard spices like cloves and ginger, and lost some of the more delicate floral notes. Still, not a bad trade-off depending on your mood!

Campbeltown 4 year (Apr 2014/May 2018) 57%

  • Nose: sweet mandarin orange, honeycomb, floral, cream, vanilla, and sprite! (later butterscotch)
  • Palate: honey, oranges, spice, ginger, orange-maple liqueur
  • Finish: mid-long, bitters, lavender, light sugar-water sweetness, salt, and some lingering orange flavour

The official tasting notes remark on something most of us had never tried… ‘oddfellows aromatic sweeties.’ I did a quick Google and turned up an image of some chalky-looking sweets of mixed colors… I felt it must have been somewhat accurate as mixed fruit, floral, and citrus flavors coming together in a heady-sweet mix from being mixed around in a paper bag. (the image source was named Scottish Retro Sweets)

I really really loved this whisky, not just because it was unique to find such a light summery orange element in a whisky, but the pure surprise element of this depth and complexity coming from a 4-year old whisky. It’s like the underdog story, distilled and bottled… everyone loves it!

North Star’s official tasting notes:

  • Nose: Lemon citrus & cut-grass. Oddfellows aromatic sweeties
  • Palate: Gingerbread & a lovely clementine
  • Finish: Super summer fruit with a touch of sea salt

Carissa asked the folks at North Star for more insight and this is what Ciara Hepburn had to say:

The Campbeltown in Series 005 was a blended malt, and unfortunately they do not give us information as to what the whisky is made up of. I love bringing this bottle to my tastings as there is usually a few dinosaurs in the room that cannot believe this is only a 4 year old!

We couldn’t agree more! It was a hit and great reminder that terrific whisky can be crafted with just a few years.

For those curious what we paid (before it disappeared from online shelves!), this whisky was purchased from Master of Malt in August 2018 for £37.40 / USD 50 / INR 3,600 and was opened in November 2018.

Don’t miss the other Whisky Ladies guest reviews of North Star Series 005 whiskies covering 5 Scottish regions:

Original Group’s North Star Discovery:

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North Star’s Glentauchers 11 year (2007/2018) 58.9%

From the Speyside region, we picked the gentler Glautachers as our first selection for our North Star Series 5 evening with our Whisky Ladies of Mumbai guest reviewer Nikoulina Berg

Photo: Team Table

Niko knows her stuff. Experienced in the F&B industry with a career that has spanned Germany, US, Spain, China, Singapore and now India, Niko has a certain flare for food and fine spirit and wines.

Currently based in Mumbai, Niko went from heading operations at The Table and Le Pain Quotidien, she went fully independent in 2018 to bring her expertise to advise existing and new hospitality companies on everything from guest experience, IT, operational excellence, entire concept creation to execution. More recently in December 2018, she launched ‘Sorrentina’, a classic Italian all-day dining restaurant and India’s largest gourmet grocer’s ‘Foodhall’ very first restaurant in Santacruz, Mumbai.

With the Whisky Ladies, Niko has shared Bavarian whisky (Slyrs), several Japanese whiskies (AkashiMars IwaiNikka Grain, Super Nikka) and from La Maison du Whisky That Boutique-y Whisky Company’s Glentaucher’s 20 year.

So what did she think of North Star’s 11 year Glentauchers by comparison?

Glentauchers 11 year (April 2007/May 2018) 58.9%

  • Color: light golden 
  • Nose: lots of fruit! then after a couple of minutes of letting it breathe notes of sherry, vanilla, smokey, a bit like s’mores, peaches, canned pear, minty fresh fumes
  • Palate: salty dark licorice, very strong, later coats your tongue with an oddly taste if boiled milk or maybe a version of dulce de leche
  • Finish: very salty, keeps burning on your tongue – medium finish. For some of the ladies a harsh burn. Later anise seed, liquorice, coating of sherry  
  • Water: very different characteristics with water – soil, vegetale, not the grassy type though, less burn. If don’t add water but rather have a sip of water in between – brings out a burnt caramel taste 
  • Overall: It’s an absolutely beautiful whisky and definitely one of my favourites from the series we tasted! 

I prefer it without water but it needs some time to unfold fully. 

After the Glentaucher’s 20 YO from ‘The Boutique-y’ I am starting to see a pattern with my notes and ratings of Glentauchers drams!

If you can get your hands on this – get it while you can! Highly recommended!

North Star Spirit’s shares it was matured in a refill bourbon hogshead, finished in a PX Sherry, un-chill filtered, natural colour… and have this to say:

  • Nose: My gran’s syrup sponge pudding
  • Palate: Thick cream, condensed milk just before the tablet sets
  • Finish: Touch of aniseed with a delicate sherry coating

For those curious about cost, this whisky was purchased online in July 2018 from Master of Malt for £53.76 / USD 70 / INR 5,080 and was opened in November 2018.

Don’t miss the other Whisky Ladies guest reviews of North Star Series 005 whiskies covering 5 Scottish regions:

Original Group’s North Star Discovery:

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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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The Nector of the Daily Drams – Deanston 19 year 51%

After an appetizer of four whiskies from The Nector of the Daily Drams at La Maison du Whisky, I topped it off with trying their Deanston at Whisky Live.

Here is what I thought in my very brief teasing tasting at the VIP room….

Deanston 19 year (1999/2018) 51%

  • Nose – Sourdough, fruits and cream
  • Palate – Some spice, dried fruits and other elements like toast and light coffee, malty with some creamy vanilla custard too
  • Finish – There but… subtle, toffee

Overall it had that lovely malty quality one expects from Deanston.

You can currently track this dram down online from Master of Malt for GBP 145.

And here is the quartet we tried earlier from The Nector of the Daily Drams:

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The Nector of the Daily Drams – Ben Nevis 21 year 48.7%

Our evening at La Maison du Whisky in Singapore continued with a whisky from Ben Nevis… here is what we thought…

Ben Nevis 21 year (19967/2017) 48.7%

  • Nose – Lots of fruits, vanilla, caramel, sweets, then a distinctive sourdough bread or biscuits, a bit milky too
  • Palate – Very rounded on the palate, fruit forward with melons and grapefruit yet balanced
  • Finish – Subtle close, very much in keeping with the palate
  • Water – Yes please! Works quite well with water

After the delightful Highland Park and peaty Springbank, this Ben Nevis didn’t quite hit the mark.

Don’t get me wrong, this is a more than a decent dram. However it all comes down to preferred styles of whiskies. For my companion, this simply wasn’t his tipple. And that is perfectly fine.

Truth be told Ben Nevis isn’t my “go to” style either… however I appreciate shaking things up and contrasting every once and a while.

If this is the kind of whisky that appeals to you, then you may still be able to snag a bottle via Master of Malt for $184.

Here are other whiskies we tried bottled by The Nector of the Daily Drams:

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