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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Chorlton – Miltonduff 11 years 62%

We kicked off our virtual tasting evening with a Chorlton trio! First up was cask strength 11 year old from Miltonduff.

Miltonduff 11 years 62% 176 bottles

  • Nose – It started off as a refreshing melange of pears, apples, apricot… fruity, then came the toffee and nuts, shifting back to the apple with a clear calvados stamp! Apple strudel
  • Palate – Spicy! With an itchy warming… then it eased into quite a bit character. Chocolate gingerbread, even a bit of coconut, then almond paste
  • Finish – Slightly bitter

Let’s be honest… first whiff was ‘woah!’ as it was going from zero to serious alcohol strength without any easing into it! And first sip? Yeah… maybe starting with 62% was a bit much!

However both as we adjusted and the dram opened up more, it was clear there was much going on. We quite enjoyed the contrast  between the fruity nose and the rich palate.

For me, at least, this one demands generous water… only then does the full character come through!

  • Nose – Yum! First it revealed a lovely fresh green apple, then herbal. Then clearly shifted into baked apple pie, vanilla… and dare I say marshmallow?
  • Palate – Given I’m in the heart of “lebkuchen” land, I couldn’t help but think of Nuremburger gingerbread! It also had a bit of orange marmalade ,

So it turns out that the 1st whisky of our evening turned out to be the one we enjoyed the most. It had a certain ‘oomph’ and character that compelled us to come back!

What does David have to say?

A rollicking joint bottling with my friends at The Rare Malt in Hong Kong! The nose is big and bourbon-forward, with marmalade, custard cream biscuits and plum jam. Underneath that you’ll find more subtle hints of dried flowers, cocoa powder and anise. The palate is also bold and rich, with mocha, chewy gingerbread, nutmeg and fudge, balanced by some zingy fruits. Water is transformative and makes everything more citrussy, clean and herbal.

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

Here is the other Chorlton‘s sampled with the Miltonduff:

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Gorgeous Chorlton’s – Miltonduff, Blair Athol, Macmyra, Mannochmore, Tomintoul

Many months ago we were introduced to the independent bottler – Chorlton during a quick trip home to Mumbai. The Chorlton tasting was conducted completely blind and we were floored by the pedigreed character of each whisky – Miltonduff 9 yearOrkney 9 year, Glenturret Ruadh Maor 8 year.

With the reveal, we also fell in love with the gorgeous labels!

I knew I wanted to explore more, however was in the midst of my move to Germany, finding a place to live, getting up to speed in a my new job with – shocker – whisky a low priority in my juggling act!

Fast forward to early 2020 and the COVID crises changed our world completely. During the initial phase of working from home, I decided to start selectively planning for future sessions – a mythical time  where I could either re-unite with much missed tasting groups in Mumbai, join something existing in Nurnberg or create a new community of fellow whisky explorers.

And this is where Chorlton came in… knowing their stock is in limited supply, I still took a chance to see if anything was available directly from this fabulous independent bottler and was in luck! This delightful trio was possible to order online and, even better, make its way from the UK to Germany.

Here is what I chose:

While they don’t say when they were bottled, presumably it would have been 2019/2020.

To say I was excited on their arrival was an understatement! At the time, I had no idea when I would have a chance to crack them open! I’m more of a social imbiber – what I enjoy most is the exchange and range of impressions an interesting bottle can evoke from a small group tasting together – so the whole notion of opening just for me was absurd!

After acquiring the initial beauties, when David’s email came about the Mannochmore from his new La Nouvelle Vague series, I could not resist! Both picking up the Mannochmore and acquiring the Tomintoul I’d reluctantly passed on when ordering the initial trio.

And with that, in July 2020, a trio became a quintet adding to the array:

It took til Oct/Nov 2020 launch of our European chapter of the Whisky Ladies of Mumbai to taste these bottles… and what a treat it was! Certainly worth the wait.

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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:

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