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:

  • Blair Athol 12 years 56.6% hogshead undiluted, uncoloured, unchill filtered, 1 of 268 bottles (BA 12)
  • Mackmyra 12 years 50.2% bourbon barrel, undiluted, uncoloured, unchill filtered, 1 of 278 bottles (MC 12)
  • Mannochmore 12 year 58.7% bourbon barrel, distilled 10 Sept 2007, cask strength, natural colour, unchill filtered, 1 of 108 bottles (MN 12)
  • Miltonduff 11 years 62% 1st fill bourbon, 1 of 176 bottles (MD 11)

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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! When I will crack them open remains to be seen! 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.

As such an activity seems very far away, I will simply leave you with this visual teaser and hope you are healthy and happy where ever you are in the world!

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:

  • Mannochmore 12 year 58.7% bourbon barrel, distilled 10 Sept 2008, cask strength, natural colour, unchill filtered, 1 of 108 bottles
  • Tomintoul 14 year 57.6% Sherry butt, undiluted, uncoloured, unchill filtered, 1 of 455 bottles

It took til Oct/Nov 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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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?

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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?

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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?

You must check out WhiskyFlu’s post about how he discovered Chorlton, David’s approach to bottling quality drams for a reasonable price and his tasting notes from our evening.

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