Chorlton’s marvelous Mannochmore 13 years 59%

There we were, one fine summer evening… back from a day of catching great music at Nurnberg’s Bardentreffen festival. As the sun set, it was still clearly a gin & tonic kind of evening… however as my companions are also fellow whisky aficionados we simply could not call it a night without a wee nip! Nicely poised on the “top shelf’, this beautiful Mannochmore beckoned… simply too enticing to resist.

This is the 2nd Mannochmore I’ve tried from the Chorlton La Nouvelle Vague series. I missed being able to purchase it when first released in the UK and was exceedingly thankful a few eventually made their way to The Netherland’s Whisky.Base, enabling me to have it directly to Deutschland.

As for the whisky…. read on…

Mannochmore 13 year 59% 162 bottles

  • Nose – Mmmmm fruits! pears, plums shifting into dried fruit… like trail mix with coconut flakes, raisins, nuts and more… then shifted further into banoffee, vanilla, creamy… then a tropical delight with pineapple, caramel, raisins – think a rich pineapple upside down cake… further evolved into lemon curd, waxy, shortbread, honey sweetness… with a hint of amaretto…
  • Palate – Oh my! Very clear its higher proof, intense and flavourful with a nice spice kick, think banana bread that is generous with nuts, toffee
  • Finish – The slightly bitter nutty element carries through – almond or roasted hazelnuts – or perhaps something more like chikki – a kind of Indian peanut brittle

I expected another delightful summery dram… it delivered that and more! It is one of those fruity sunshine whiskies… however, at full cask strength, it is intense and powerful on the palate. But wow! That nose – so delicious and intoxicating! Just makes you come back over and over and over for a blissful whiff!

Curious, we added a few drops of water…. on the nose it simply made it sweeter and fruitier with a citrus twist – made me think of lemon meringue pie. While on the palate, it smoothed out the intensity while retaining the voluptuous fruity element chased by sweet spices. And with that yummy sweet and salty nutty finish? Put simply, this is a summer dram that invites you to simply slow down, savor and enjoy.

Above all – that nose! Better than perfume… even after the last sip, the aromas in the glass were so sweetly fragrant. Such a treat!

What did David have to say? Here is what he shared in his release email:

So, the first new bottling is this 13-year-old Mannochmore. The cask yield for this was a bit of a disaster (about 100 fewer bottles than I’d expected, probably due to a slow undetected leak…).

On the nose: lemon syrup, limoncello, lemongrass (there’s a theme emerging!) plus orange barley sugar and a little honey. I also find some spearmint chews, and a touch of minerality and something a little bit beery (or maybe pet nat yeastiness for the hipster crowd!).

The palate has a rich, almost syrupy/waxy texture, with tons of clean, sweet lemon, menthol, and balanced by some butterscotch and millionaire’s shortbread. The finish is clean, citrussy (surprise!), slightly salty and honeyed. I wrote “awesome” in my tasting notes which is not something I am typically wont to do.

This is an impeccable whisky for the spring/summer. Wonderfully textured spirit given a good dollop of sweetness from an active cask. I think we’ll all be talking more about Mannochmore in the future.

I purchased it in June 2022 from Whisky.base for EUR 96 plus shipping. (originally £78.50).

Here are a few more from La Nouvelle Vague series:

Here is the full set of Chorlton‘s sampled til date from the L’Ancien Régime series:

With more coming up soon (I hope!)….

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Coveting Chorlton… Delayed pleasures

We’ve been on a bit of a “Chorlton” journey… I’ve become a complete fan of David’s cask choices, his gorgeous labels and so over the last few years I’ve done my best to snag a nice set or two with plans of having a few special tastings.

Last week I was supposed to be enjoying these beauties… carefully collected as a special 60th birthday celebration which was postponed a few times as we struggled to organize a gathering across countries. Finally the night was planned in London, flights booked and the bottles ready and waiting to be opened! And then along came a rather unpleasant bout with COVID…. sigh… So whilst I missed the evening, considerable enjoyment was reported along these lines:

  • Glen Elgin 12 year 56.6%A lovely appetizer dram
  • Tormore 28 year 42.4% One of those rare remarkable whiskies
  • Bunnahabhain 18 year 53.4%Really stood out
  • Plus a bonus bottle purchased by our birthday boy – the Orkney 22 year 53.4% (aka Highland Park) which also made quite the impression!

Hopefully, in a few months, there will be an opportunity to get to London and quite possibly snag a wee sample to experience myself!

Thanks to shipments finally making it to Europe, I have these lovelies with me in Nuremberg;

  • From April 2022 releases: Mannochmore 13 year 59%Caol Ila 11 year 60.4%
  • From December 2021 releases: Staoisha 8 year 59.9% (aka Bunnahabhain)

Whereas I’m not sure when I will be united with these waiting for me in London or Paris:

  • From December 2021 releases: Ledaig 12 year 55.5%Speyside (Glenrothes) 13 year 64.6%
  • From the May 2022 releases: Faemussach 21 year 56%Teaninich 12 year 54.2%Benrinnes 14 year 55%

However, I won’t be sampling these anytime soon! Not being very patient, I’m left with memories of previous tastings…

However rather than long for what I can’t try, here is a quick summary of those from Chorlton’s La Nouvelle Vague series I have had the pleasure of trying:

And from Chorlton‘s earlier L’Ancien Régime series:

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Chorlton’s Orkney 22 year (1999/2022) 53.4%

These days trying to acquire one of the beautiful bottles from Chorlton‘s  La Nouvelle Vague series requires lightning speed! If you miss the email for even an hour you very well may be out of luck!

When I scored this bottle in Feb 2022, I suspected it would be many months, perhaps even years before I would find the right opportunity to open it! First was getting it from London to Mumbai – which happened in March 2022. Then I needed to join from Nurnberg to Mumbai – also happened by April 2022. And most importantly, finding the right occasion? And that’s when India’s Malt Maniac Krishna Nakula mentioned he would be in town, together with two founders of SMAC India. I also knew once opened, an additional tasting session could follow where this could be shared as a “bonus”! Including the very person who kindly let me use his London address and brought the bottle to India!

So what did we think?

Orkney 22 year (9 June 1999 – February  2022) bourbon hogshead 53.4% (311 bottles)

  • Nose – Subtle and mellow at first, salt spray from the seashore, lovely herbal notes, then started to reveal butterscotch and gingerbread, fruit strudel – perhaps apricot? Then pears and melons, then tart slightly sour stewed apples. Then sweet varnish.  A nice earthy element kept the desert qualities in check – sweet but not overly so!
  • Palate – Wonderful! Buttery brandy. Salted old-fashioned black licorice, a hint of tobacco. Such a fabulous mouthfeel – tempts you to just keep rolling it around, enjoying its marvelous viscosity, a marvelous mix – from herbal to lightly fruity to smoke and pepper – all beautifully balanced and creamy
  • Finish – Rewarding, dry, bitter cinnamon bark, more of that enchanting herbal element… only complaint is that it dissipates too quickly leaving only a faint impression
  • Water – Necessary? No however also lovely with! Makes it sweeter, black peppercorn pops out, cloves and still nice and buttery

Take your time with this one… the more time you give it, the more it gives you! I was so happy to revisit it a few days later in a leisurely long evening over excellent cheese, fresh bread, and conversation.

Simply put – what an utterly lovely dram. If you blind tasted it, I strongly suspect Highland Park would NOT be the obvious option.

What did David have to say in his email?

Also available is a new 22-year-old Orkney. H*ghl*nd P*rk produces a consistently excellent distillate, but I always think these late-1990s vintages have a special something about them.

So, the nose starts on soft notes of lemony wax, honey and orange, with a wee clean herbal backing (eucalyptus, spearmint, lime leaves) and then really opens up the longer it breathes. There’s something fruity and lightly medicinal happening (think cherry lozenges), banana Nesquik powder (my secret shame), sea air and a thin thread of bonfire smoke. Adding water is transformative: tangerine Altoids, spearmint chews, angelica, sea water and heather.

The palate is rich, resinous and honeyed in texture. I get malt extract, lemons & limes & salt, plus a peppery peatiness that almost has a gentle Talisker feel. I also find seafood with salty-buttered brown bread, herbal liqueur and cough syrup. The finish is really long, with dried herbs, sweet citrus, and lingering smoke. Water again opens things up in a herbal direction: crushed mint leaves, lemon tea, pine needles and salty orangey honey.

This bourbon hogshead produced 311 bottles at 53.4% for £135 plus tax and courier charges.

Here are more from La Nouvelle Vague series:

  • Mannochmore 12 year 58.7% – A delicious fruit basket!
  • Orkney 15 year 57.1%Absolutely gorgeous dram
  • Croftnegea 13 year 53.9%Enchanting!
  • Ledaig 12 year 55.5%, Speyside (Glenrothes) 13 year 64.6% – Waiting in Paris
  • Glen Elgin 12 year (21 April 2009 / summer 2021) refill hogshead 56.6%,  Tormore 28 year (16 Nov 1992 / summer 2021)refill hogshead 42.4%, Bunnahabhain 18 year (28 Feb 2002 / Dec 2021) sherry butt 53.4% – Waiting in London

Here are the Chorltons we’ve sampled from the L’Ancien Régime series:

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Chorlton – Croftengea 13 year 53.9%

So there we were, one fine evening in Paris with two beautiful bottles from Chorlton‘s  La Nouvelle Vague series…  We began with the superb Orkney that surprised us with its lush complex character. We then turned to the Croftnegea…

If you aren’t immediately familiar with Croftnegea, perhaps you have heard for Loch Lomond? Just in this case it is the brand for their heavily peated version… much like Glenturret is also known as Ruadh Maor

It was with this heavy peat expectation that I had thought to try this after the Highland Park “Orkney”. However what we discovered was quite the opposite!

As for the whisky…. read on…

Croftengea 13 years 53.9% 231 bottles

  • Colour – Bright gold
  • Nose – Pear, ripe bananas, caramel, a bit of spice, cough syrup, malty, after the 1st sip, the aromas shifted to a delightful lemon meringue pie, strawberries, subtle spice and honey
  • Palate – Buttery sweet brioche, then citrusy with light peat at the end
  • Finish – Lingers, wonderful
  • Water – Made it even more accessible and very yummy, more fresh sweet bread, lemon curd

There was such a contrast between the aromas and palate, quite dynamic on the nose and subtle yet lovely on the palate.

We set it aside and revisited comparing the glass without water which had become perfumed and sweet, citrus and sugar. The one with the water was fruitier with the peat a bit more pronounced, cinnamon mini donut, Christmas market!

What did David have to say?

Peated single malt from Captain Haddock’s favourite distillery! This one starts on a sweet note, with banana milkshake, Milky Bars and a funky sort of fruitiness on the nose. The palate starts with fudgy chocolate, soft ginger and mango, before the peat makes itself felt with light smoke and a hit of black olive saltiness. This is a hugely fun whisky, and enjoyably weird around the edges.

I purchased this in December 2020 for £62.50 plus tax and courier charges. And I am sooooooo glad I managed to grab this while it was still available!

Here is are two more from La Nouvelle Vague series:

Here is the full set of Chorlton‘s sampled til date from the L’Ancien Régime series:

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Chorlton – Orkney 15 year 57.1%

This is my 2nd Chorlton from the La Nouvelle Vague series… I’ll admit that I had high expectations however this one blew us away!

While the distillery is not explicitly named, considering there are only two distilleries on Orkney Island with quite different characters, and David mentions it is the more famous of the two, it will clearly be Highland Park rather than Scapa.

As for the whisky…. read on…

Orkney 15 years 57.1% 121 bottles

  • Colour – Deep copper
  • Nose – Smoked pork? Wow! What an active aroma – jumping all over the place in an amazingly powerful way the sweet smoke was initially predominant but not alone. From strawberries to cherries, hibiscus with a bouquet of flowers, citrus then shifted to red berries or French sweet red currents, a gorgeous dessert, underlaid with old wood, dark bitter chocolate, nutty, treacle and ham
  • Palate – Fabulous! Sweet, peat, generous berries, bitter coffee, absolutely flavour packed with so many layers, complex… all on the 1st sip. As we went in for our second sip, it was meaty, spicy, some french toast drowning in maple syrup, buttered brioche, caramelized banana, honeyed ham
  • Finish – Long and strong, phenomenal, with a rich mocha coffee initially which then also morphed from coffee and chocolate to cherry
  • Water – Needed? No. However is it also brilliant with water too? Yes. We found it was even more chocolatey

Even before opening, we started speculating about the cask given its incredibly dark hue and a mere 121 bottles from a hogshead barrel which typically would produce more than double!  And then we cracked it open and were amazed at the promise shown just from the cork alone – strawberries and bubblegum!

Then to have the kaleidoscope of aromas then richly complex palate and stellar finish? We were floored. Our experience went well beyond any expectation and was decidedly different than recent brushes with Highand Park.

When we set it aside and revisited it was equally enjoyable. This time with a new briney seaside quality we missed in our earlier exploration. It is clearly a whisky to savour and enjoy – over and over!What did David have to say?

This whisky (from the more famous of the two Orkney distilleries) has been matured in a very active cask, giving it the sort of hue you might expect from first-fill bourbon. The nose has waxy citrus, sea water and sticky cherry-flavour cough syrup alongside a lightly fragrant peat smoke. The palate is oily and chewy, with stewed red berries, smouldering wood, rose petals, herbal pastilles and a long coastal finish.

I purchased this in December 2020 for £75 plus tax and courier charges, back when it was still possible to get whiskies directly from the UK.

Here are two more from the La Nouvelle Vague series:

Plus the Chorlton‘s sampled til date from the L’Ancien Régime series:

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Chorlton’s La Nouvelle Vague picking up from L’Ancien Régime

Ah… Chorlton… it has fast become a favourite independent bottler with their beautiful whiskies with even more beautiful labels.

In 2020, David came out with a new series – La Nouvelle Vague – and I simply could not resist! While I haven’t acquired all, I am a proud owner of this trio! So far we’ve only sampled the first… and I couldn’t wait to crack open the next two… bringing the full bottles with me on a trip to Paris to share!

Alas since I got my hands on the Croftnegea and Orkney, Brexit has complicated things considerably and I suspect future Chorlton acquisitions may be quite challenging.

Here are all the Chorlton‘s sampled till date from the L’Ancien Régime series… both with the Whisky Ladies European chapter and earlier in Mumbai with our original tasting group…

  • Miltonduff 9 year 58.3% – Creamy dessert with fruits, breakfast cereals… in short delicious!
  • Orkney 9 year 63.1% – Copper, minerals, salted caramel, and smoke, all beautifully balanced
  • Ruadh Maor 8 year 62.5% (aka Glenturret) – Seasoned meats and fried snacks…. a chameleon quality that evolved differently in each glass

Each one has been unique and interesting in its own way… Slainte!

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Chorlton – Mannochmore 12 years 58.7%

All the Chorlton‘s I’ve tried so far are from the L’Ancien Régime series – with a gorgeous consistency to the labels.

However this Mannochmore comes from a different series – La Nouvelle Vague – with delightful period stylized labels. I couldn’t resist throwing a bouquet of flowers into the mix with my photo!

As for the whisky…. read on…

Mannochmore 12 years 58.7% 108 bottles

  • Nose – Yummy, a fruit basket in a glass! Generous cherries, vanilla sponge cake, amaretto, flowery, fresh, beeswax candle, herbal
  • Palate – Toffee, sweet spices, fruity… after some time – yup there is the pineapple and mango… the fruity fabulous quality fully comes through…
  • Finish – Stays… long, lingering, more of that toffee, sweet spices… mmmmm…..

There was a delightful summery quality to this whisky. I found a citrus twist whereas another lady did not. Which is completely normal – different conditions, different glasses, different palates and persuasions.

So whether we found spring, summer or fall in the character of this whisky, did we like it? Absolutely without a doubt!  We really appreciated the subtle contrast between aromas and palate – similar vein but sufficiently different to keep us fully engaged.

A beautifully well rounded whisky – the kind you are quite happy to curl up, sip, enjoy.

What did David have to say? As it isn’t on his website, I’ve copied from his email which prompted this purchase!

And next is a 12yo Mannochmore. This continues the summery theme with a very clean, citrussy and herbal nose. I get melon, bergamot, lemon posset, posh olive oil, vanilla cream and a bit of lavender.

The neat palate is quite intensely tart at first, then sweet – like lemon sherbet, or biting into a kumquat. Wakes up the ol’ taste buds! The development then is on mango jam, roasted pineapple and a touch of peanut brittle in the aftertaste. With water everything is much softer, adding some Bakewell tart, orange, and cream soda.

A good example of the distillery character, this, and great fun to play with adding water. We got just 108 bottles from this bourbon barrel at 58.7%, and they’re available for £57.50 each.

I am so glad I managed to grab this while it was still available!

Here is the full set of Chorlton‘s sampled:

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Chorlton – Tomintoul 14 years 57.6%

Let’s just start by acknowledging that independent bottler Chorlton has the most gorgeous labels! There is no way these bottles are going into recycling… instead I’ve decided to start a ‘top shelf’ in my study with the empties.

But first, we need to finish them! Galloping to the rescue was our European Chapter of Whisky Ladies… nicely enabling me to package up generous tasting sets for our mutual malty pleasure.

Our second evening started off with this Speyside Tomintoul… Naturally at cask strength and sampled without initially revealing the distillery.

Tomintoul 14 years 57.6% 455 bottles

  • Nose – Mmmm cherry, jammy with lots of red fruits and berries, started to shift into melon, then marzipan, nuts, honey, cured prunes
  • Palate – A lovely nice sweet spice, more depth than expected from the aromas, honey, almost a ‘port’ style with a heavy sweetness, wood, full bodied yet gentle and nuanced… with a kind of almost buttery or creamy fullness
  • Finish – Long, strong, comforting finish

While there was absolutely nothing wrong with this one ‘as is’, we thought to also try with water and see if it added, detracted or made minimal difference.

  • Nose – Even fruitier – if that is possible! With more of the marzipan nutty element too, chased by creme brûlée
  • Palate – Also juicier, simply lip smacking!
  • Finish – Retained the sweetly spiced finish

In short, water works if you want to amp up the fruits even more, but also fine without.

Overall we found this to be a well-rounded, happily familiar feeling dram. The kind of cold weather whisky you want to come home to as the perfect anecdote to the bracing outdoors. Fabulous.

What does David have to say?

A fully sherry-matured single cask Speysider at an everyday price? Why ever not! This one has dark berry fruits, honey and toasted teacake on the nose. The palate is creamy, with lemon drops, caramelised pears and an earthy and toasty cardamom spiciness, leading into a hazelnut and dried fruit finish. An affable and quaffable dram, but by no means dull.

I purchased this whisky directly from the Chorlton website for £60 plus shipping.

Here is the full set of Chorlton‘s sampled:

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Chorlton – Blair Athol 12 years 56.6%

Next up in our Chorolton evening was another from the Diageo stable – Blair Athol. Over the years, there haven’t been as many Blair Athol experiences as one would expect… Just the Flora & Fauna official bottling 12 year 43%, and two from independent bottlers – Hunter Laing’s “Old Malt” collection 16 year (1997) 50% and Signatory’s 27 year (1988) 55.7%.

So what did we think of this one from Chorlton?

Blair Athol 12 years 56.6% 268 bottles

  • Nose – Chocolate, prunes, toffee, nutty, ginger bread, marmalade, marmite, pink peppercorn, berries, even a hint of apricot?
  • Palate – Delicious! Ginger snap, spice, toasted almonds, a nice oily fullness, fruity and well rounded, with that marmalade quality on the nose eventually coming through on the palate as well
  • Finish – Carries through the depth, character and sweetness

Amusingly we had quite a divergent opinion on this Blair Athol.

While two of us nattered on about its complexity, character and how with each sip, we enjoyed more and more. Our third lady got none of what we found – none.

A couple hours later? She came back with an exuberant – “I finally got it!!!”

What could account for the difference? Likely several factors – not the least of which is glassware. Usually when we taste together it is with glencairn glasses. In the past, I would bring to our tasting sessions in Mumbai. After my move to Germany, the Whisky Ladies of Mumbai invested in a couple sets which get passed from host to host so that consistency remains. We also were tuning in from our homes – from Scandinavia to Bretagne to Bavaria. Each likely having some lingering aromas of our every day indoor life.

What ever the reason – it was most amusing that, in the end, the Blair Athol came through!

What does David have to say?

A complex, earthy and waxy whisky this, in a very old-fashioned Highlands style. The nose has orange peel, malt extract, herbal pastilles and dark berry fruits. The palate has a long development that starts on honey and ginger beer, becomes more nutty, and ends with orange syrup, Blackjack sweets and a touch of salt. Blair Athol isn’t a big name, but this is a delicious and characterful whisky that rewards your attention.

I purchased this whisky directly from the Chorlton website for £62.50 plus shipping.

Here are the Chorlton‘s sampled with the Blair Athol:

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Chorlton – Mackmyra 12 years 50.2%

I don’t know why, but I struggled to prepare this post… My tasting notes from a virtual tasting evening with our European chapter of the Whisky Ladies of Mumbai were weak. So it took sitting down for a solo tasting to tease out a bit more. If some of the impressions seem contradictory, this would be why!

First off – we are no strangers to Sweden’s Mackmyra distillery offerings.We’ve quite enjoyed a few over the years… and been disappointed too.

And now, without further ado… here is what we discovered!

Mackmyra 12 years 50.2% 278 bottles

  • Nose – Clean and fresh, cherry wood, sweet honey, one dimensional, caraway seed
  • Palate – Cork or wood, juniper?
  • Finish – Bitter cinnamon bark
  • Water – We had a bit of a debate on this – some thought it nicer with water, others thought it killed its character
  • Return – We set it aside and returned after some time… it opened up to reveal some lightly floral notes and balsam wood

Well this was a curious one… certainly not complex or flamboyant. Above all, it needed time to open up.

Did we like it? Let’s say there was a mixed response. In particular our Swedish lady was… underwhelmed by this Mackmyra.

And yet, when I came back to it a few weeks later, I found there was an inviting ‘freshness’ to its approach – clean, straight forward and quite pleasant. I found a subtle citrus fruitiness – more grapefruit than orange. With water, I also discovered tasty baked goods – more like lemon curd wickeltorte or poppyseed grapefruit gugelhupf.

It is distinctly different and while it wouldn’t be the 1st dram I would gravitate to relax and unwind, it was utterly delightful one evening when I came in from a brisk chilly walk. Clearly that is the right context for quite a cheerful dram.

What does David have to say?

My first foray into the world of whisky outside of Scotland is a rare chance to try a non-finished single cask from Sweden’s Mackmyra distillery.

The nose is super-clean and foresty (very Scandi!), with rye, caraway, lemon sponge and hints of apricot. The palate continues the theme with gingerbread, spiced cookies, juniper and a zingy orange/grapefruit fruitiness in the finish. Really interesting stuff, and a profile quite unlike any Scotch.

This bourbon barrel was fully matured in an abandoned mine under the Swedish forest.

I purchased this whisky directly from the Chorlton website for £70 plus shipping.

Here is are the other two in this Chorlton trio:

As for other brushes with Mackmyra? There have been many! With nearly all sampled together with our Swedish Whisky Lady:

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