Whisky Lady – June 2018

June was quite full with all three tasting groups holding their regular sessions plus a few interesting visitors with:

With our Bombay Malt & Cigar gents, we shifted gears to have an evening dedicated to open bottles – a complete mixed bag of what was lying around. Which in our case meant a merry trip through:

For the Whisky Ladies, it was a night of Highland Hijinks!

And our original group? We were introduced to a remarkable new independent bottler – North Star with a terrific trio of:

  • North Star’s Cask Series 001 – Glenrothes 20 year (Oct 1996/Oct 2016) 54.6% 1 of 252 bottles*
  • North Star’s Cask Series 001 – Ardmore Peat 8 year (June 2008 / Oct 2016) 57.1% 1 of 198 bottles*
  • North Star’s Cask Series 002 – Caol Ila 8 year (June 2008 / May 2017) 58.3% 1 of 230 bottles*

Last month, I took our Bombay Malt & Cigar gents on a European Exploration and caught up with all the tasting notes which had a clear divide between ones we quite enjoyed…. and those we decidedly did not!

The thumbs “down” category included:

And in the thumbs “up” category?

In addition to our normal tasting evenings, we were fortunate to have not one but two IBHL sessions in April and May respectively with:

Evenings with Krishna Nakula, India’s Malt Maniac are always a pleasure. This time we ambled through a rather remarkable range of whiskies…

*Tasting notes coming soon…

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

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Highland Hijinks – Glenmorangie The Duthac 43%

Glenmorangie is known for taking its typical highland of sweet honey, citrus and floral to play with different casks, particularly finishes, to create a different profile. The Duthac is one such variant – using a combination ex PX Sherry and Virgin Oak. Originally launched for travel retail, it was named after St Duthac who ‘rests’ near the distillery.

And what did the Whisky Ladies think?

Glenmorangie The Duthac 43%

  • Nose – Grape, initially quite restrained then heavy caramel, some clove, sweet spices, vanilla.. after the 1st sip the aromas shifted to plum skin, apricots, butterscotch
  • Palate – One remarked how it “crackled on the tongue” with the 1st sip then settled into a “typical” Glenmorangie – sweet, lightly fruity, honey, sweet spices with mild candied ginger
  • Finish – Slightly bitter, sits there with a linear yet solid quality
  • Water – Did absolutely nothing significant initially then a remarkable thing happened – the finish took on a distinctive watered down “Thumbs Up” (desi cola) taste!

Overall it was pronounced a terrific party whisky. After time, it settled into a yummy pudding pie or creme brûlée. Nothing exceptionally distinctive yet nothing challenging or off-putting. Nice, easy dram for more sociable occasions.

What do the folks at Glenmorangie have to say?

  • Aroma: Seductive aromas of pear, toffee apple, Brazil nuts in toffee, with an underlying spicy note, some toasty oak. With a splash of water, some creamy vanilla fudge is encountered, along with the classic Sherry cask note of linseed oil.
  • Taste: Mouth-filling flavours of milk chocolate, toffee, Brazil nuts, leather and some aniseed. The spiciness is definite, but gentle, with hints of ginger and clove.
  • Finish: The aftertaste once again reminds drinkers that this is a Glenmorangie, with vanilla, apricots in cream and some almond marzipan.

What did the Whisky Ladies sample in our night of Highland Hijinks?

Other Glenmorangie  sampled over the years….

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Whisky Ladies Highland Hijinks – Old Pulteney, Glenmorangie, Aberfeldy

When we have whisky tasting themes, it tends to be “anchored” by something our host has to share. Which is exactly what inspired  our Whisky Ladies June 2018 session…

It began with a bottle of Glenmorangie and was augmented by two more highlands…

What did the Whisky Ladies sample in our night of Highland Hijinks?

I simply couldn’t help throwing into the mix something that had nothing whatsoever to do with the Highlands… It is the kind of whisky you want to share with others, just to see what they discover!

Just check out the links above to read the full tasting experience…

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Revisiting the Glenmorangie 19 year 43%

The thing about proper whisky tasting evenings is there should be “left overs”…. which typically the contributor takes home. However from time to time, it is good to share “cleaning out” with others, particularly if it means a whisky others have not sampled.

That was exactly the case with this Glenmorangie 19 year. First opened in January 2018 with the Whisky Ladies, it made its way to an evening with the Bombay Malt & Cigar gents in June 2018.

And how did if fare oxidation for nearly 6 months?

Actually… rather well.

Glenmorangie 19 year 43%

  • Nose – Started with varnish but then quickly morphed into sweet, creamy, soft citrus, Swiss milky toffees, some lovely light florals – delicate white flowers
  • Palate – Most pleasant, no wow factor but still rather nice, lots of fruit, a dash of salt mixed in with the melons
  • Finish – Nuanced

In short, we found it had a classic Glenmorangie style. Nothing dramatic but exactly what you would expect from a properly matured highland dram.

Some memorable Glenmorangie experiences?

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Random whisky tasting at KODE

When we started our different whisky tasting clubs in Mumbai it was at a time where the offerings readily available beyond whiskies personally brought into the country were rather limited. Fast forward and today it is possible to have a respectable flight… right here in the city… for a price.

That shared, we likely won’t see many single casks entering anytime soon… in part because to import requires donating a “sample” for testing purposes. When a product has only say 100 bottles in the world and to sell at best a handful in a particular state, it becomes impossible to justify such a “donation”.

So while the more unusual limited edition specimens likely won’t show up anytime soon,  the overall range is sufficient for those curious to be inducted into the world of single malts and whiskies in general.

Which is exactly what we sat down to accomplish one fine evening at KODE in Mumbai early April.

My sampling companions and I warned the waiter that we would be requesting different bottles, sniffing then selecting so to be patient with us. And they were.

We began with a clear progression from light to distinctive profiles…

I’d initially thought to start with Compass Box Hedonism as it is such an unusual yet light whisky. They were just out of stock, so shifted instead to a readily accessible “appetizer”:

Our palates now acclimated, our real journey began with:

I then wanted to shift gears to start to discern more subtle complex flavours… It was wishful thinking to hope Glendronach 18 year might be available however did have a choice between the 12, 15 and 21 year... We went with:

  • Scotland – Glendronach – Glendronach 15 year “Revival” 46%*

Then split into the following to cater to the emerging different palate preferences of my sampling companions:

As conversation veered towards talk of casks and the difference between a Scottish single malt and Bourbon, I thought it would be good to do a wee detour to the US to contrast what we sampled so far with Bourbon & Rye:

Then proceeded to compare the nuances between very similar whiskies from Glenmorangie that have different finishes:

  • Scotland – Highland – Glenorangie Lasanta 12 year 46% – Olorosso & PX Sherrry finish
  • Scotland – Highland – Glenmorangie Quinta Ruban 12 year 46% – Port finish

And finally we closed with a split between revisiting whiskies that “stood” out for my companions:

*Just in case you were wondering what all the “asterisk” mean… each of these bottles were brought into India thanks to Keshav Prakash with The Vault Fine Spirits. I’m incredibly proud of what Keshav and his team have achieved and have made a huge impact on the range now available in Mumbai. Thank you!

KODE – Freestyle Bar and Kitchen

Ground Floor – 11, Oasis City, Kamala Mills – Entrance #2, Lower Parel,, Mumbai, Lower Parel, Mumbai, Mumbai, Maharashtra 400013. Tel: 077188 82924

PS It may seem like an insane quantity of whisky but keep in mind we were splitting 30 ml singles – focusing more on sniffing, swishing and savouring.

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Whisky Lady – February 2018

Time for the monthly round-up of malty adventures and more! February was a quieter month with just two whisky tasting sessions, providing an opportunity to share impressions from WhiskyLive Singapore.

Photo: Rashmi Dhawani

As the Whisky Ladies had joined the gents for a round of independent blends, we decided to have a completely random evening of “Contributor’s Choice” at the close of January:

This was followed by our original club being overwhelmed by the inventive packaging while being undwhelmed by the whisky:

Our Bombay Malt & Cigar gents are becoming rather regular in their sessions – no mean feat consider most members can be more easily be found loitering in London, Dubai, Munich, Singapore and various US and other airports. What did we explore? A Compass Box Quartet!

Photo: Keshav Prakash

What a remarkable trio! As I could not make it to the session, the samples reached home to enable us to compare our guest writer Nikkhil Shirodkar’s notes with the group with my independent impressions of our Kavalan Solist Cask Night:

I also kicked off the first batch of a series sharing fleeting impressions from Whisky Live Singapore 2017:

Photo: Nikoulina Berg

Beyond the tasting group meetings, there was an impromptu gin evening with a few friends

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

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Glenmorangie 19 year 43%

Duty free releases can sometimes surprise you… They can be terribly average, a marketing dumping ground to see what sticks. They can also be a rather fine example of the best a distillery has to offer… or an interesting experiment in a new direction.

For this age statement Glenmorangie, I have to admit I was expecting it to take a rather “classic” take on the Glenmorangie style, an evolution from The Original like the classy 18 year rather than shifting into heavy play of finishes like with Amontillado Sherry Casks with The Tayne.

When it showed up fresh from London to Mumbai at the hands of a welcome visiting Whisky Lady as her contribution to the evening, curiosity was indeed sparked!

Glenmorangie 19 year 43%

  • Nose – Surprising sea salt, perfume, restrained, nuanced, honey, with a hint of rancio, a bit musty, old cheese, damp after the rains, then keeps getting sweeter and fresher revealing a soft citrus
  • Palate – Very peppery at first, citrusy, intense and so unexpected after the aromas, oily, bittersweet
  • Finish – Sea salt, iodine, metallic
  • Water – A few drops really opens it up and brings out more of the typical Glenmorangie 10 floral honey aromas, the peppers on the palate into balance and rounds it out beautifully

Quite subtle with some lovely  notes… And a surprising saltiness for a Genmorangie.

How it blossomed with a bit of water surprised most of us who thought at 43% should be zero need to add. We had a debate on its impact on the finish – with some finding it made it even saltier and others thought sweetened it.

But the best way to have it? With sea salt dark chocolate caramel. Which we just happened to have from the US, courtesy our contributor who brought the Glenmorangie.

What do the folks at Glenmorangie have to say?

  • Aroma – This bright sparkling golden whisky is fresh and zesty on the nose with suggestions of mint and eucalyptus, intensifying into candy, peaches and vanilla. A drop of water releases floral notes and honey.
  • Taste – A complex and creamy balance of vanilla, tangy oranges, apricots, apples, butter candy and a hint of menthol.
  • Finish – In the aftertaste, there is a strong suggestion of mint toffee alongside oak tannin and Glenmorangie’s celebrated lingering, bittersweet citrus fruit.

So what else did we sample in our Whisky Ladies “Contributor’s Choice” evening?

Other Glenmorangie’s sampled over the years include:

And a few Glenmorangie evenings too:

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Glenmorangie Bacalta 46%

Finally, after tasting The Original and Lasanta, attention turned to the main purpose of the Glenmorangie event… the revelation of the 2017 private edition – Bacalta.

Dr Bill Lumsden with Brendan McCarron shared the thinking and process behind the Bacalta – which means baked in Gaelic.

Bill shared the inspiration was a discontinued Madeira finished whisky that was replaced by Nector D’Or.

Knowing it would not be possible to simply acquire ‘ready made’ casks, a partnership was struck with a Malmsey Madeira maker, casks specifically created, heavily toasted before then holding the ‘sacrificial wines’ i.e. seasoned by the Malmsey Madeira, baked the traditional way. Bill shared that he found Malmsey Madeira had the “lively refreshing character, high acidity that reacted well to the toasted wood.”

Once ready, the wine was discarded and the 10 year aged Glenmorangie transferred gain its unique finish through maturing in the ex-Madeira casks.

Glenmorangie Bacalta 46%

  • Nose – Initially sharp blue cheese – rancio, then chocolate, aged balsamic, while one could discern the ‘house’ characteristics of The Original, it had layered on top ripe peaches, apricots like a thick smear of marmalade on toast, baked citrus  becoming caramelized
  • Palate – First sip had a gorgeous spice, then brioche, revealing a mineralogy and savoury almost smoky element, followed again by spicy textures, a big mouthful of pepper, so incredibly sweet like sucking on fruit lozenges
  • Finish – Chased by menthol mouthwash that slipped into paan, then lemon pepper and back to that hint of aged balsamic

The Bacalta was like a rich baked fruit syrup with almost a smoky quality… delicious but one where less is more.

Talk turned to pairing the Bacalta with grouse, pheasant – in short any gamy bit with a fruity sauce. This was no light sprightly pairing but one to take advantage of Bacalta’s unique qualities.

And what do the Glenmorangie formal tasting notes have to say?

The eighth release in our multi-award-winning and always intriguing Private Edition, Glenmorangie Bacalta brings new heights of complexity to a rare wood finish. Inspired by the long, balmy days on the island of Madeira, Glenmorangie Bacalta (Scots Gaelic for “baked”) is a sun-soaked single malt which delivers wonderfully warm layers of sweetness, brimming with baked fruits and honeyed tones.

It has been created from Glenmorangie first matured in former bourbon casks, then extra-matured in bespoke casks baked under the sun which once contained Malmsey Madeira – the sweetest and most prized of the Madeira wines.

  • Aroma: Fragrant, honeyed and sweet. Some ripe apricots, mead-like, and a curious flinty note, followed by sweet white chocolate.
  • Taste: An initial burst of mint toffee, with baked fruits such as caramelised oranges, honeycomb, almonds and dates.
  • Finish: A rich, syrupy aftertaste, with more caramelised citrus and pears, creamy fudge, and an intriguing mentholic sensation in the background.

In short, it was a classy experience – start to finish – as one would expect from the Luis Vitton Moet Hennessy brand.

Other Glenmorangie experiences:

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Glenmorangie Lasanta 12 year 46%

After The Original, our Glenmorangie tasting continued with the Lasanta – a word that derives from the Gaelic for warmth and passion.

We were led through the experience by Dr Bill Lumsden and Brendan McCarron who shared their insights into the whisky…

They shared how the Lasanta first spent 10 years in ex-bourbon casks, much like The Original, followed by 18 – 36 months in ex Olorosso and PX sherry casks. The sherry cask finish is what Bill credited for providing a very “up fruit, spicy, ginger, unctuous” character that is both “classic yet enhanced.”

There was no doubt this whisky gained much of its character from its sherry finish… Impressions of:

  • Creamy, caramel custard, sweet spices, vanilla on the nose, with substance, good body, raisins, more creme on the palate followed by a dry, chocolate nutty spice finish…

Pairing talk turned to enjoying with a good Monte Cristo cigar, or a rich fruity dessert, a ginger chilli chocolate… very much an ‘autumn’ whisky for cooler weather….

Well after the main tasting, when we returned to the Lasanta, found that it kept is character in a most satisfying way.

And what do the formal Glenmorangie tasting notes have to say?

Elegant but full bodied this whisky has spent ten years maturing in American white oak ex-bourbon casks before being extra-matured for a further two years in Oloroso and PX Sherry casks from Jerez in Spain.

  • Aroma: Warm spices mix with smooth chocolate covered raisins, honeycomb and caramel toffee.
  • Taste: Deliciously sweet sherry flavoured sultanas, orange segments, walnuts and butterscotch combine to create complex warm spices.
  • Finish: Long and satisfying finish with spiced orange and chocolate covered hazelnuts.

We sampled the Lasanta at the launch of Glenmorangie’s Bacalta in February 2017.

Other Glenmorangie experiences:

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Glenmorangie Original 10 year 40%

Our Glenmorangie Bacalta Launch tasting linked Dr Bill Lumsden and Brendan McCarron in Scotland with whisky afficianados in Mumbai, Sydney and Seoul. It began with the foundation of all Glenmorangies… The Original 10 year:

“We’ve found there are 140 different flavours in our Original” — Bill Lumsden

An appropriate place to start, we sniffed, sipped, swished and savoured…

As we sipped, Bill and Brendon shared their observations, augmented by those enjoying in Mumbai:

  • Creamy and complex, sweet butter, some sweet spices such as ginger, gentle nuttiness with almond, coconut, sunshine like character…

The Sydney folks observed that the Original’s character is:

  • Fresh applies, light… sunshine and spring like

Talk then turned to pairing with white fish, shrimp, foie gras… and more fancifully to enjoying at a:

  • “Chinese restaurant in Taipei with steamed fish seasoned with soy sauce and sweet ginger!”

As an opportunity to revisit The Original in a formal virtual four country tasting, it was indeed a unique experience… an excellent base for the whiskies to come… The Lasanta and Bacalta!

Other Glenmorangie experiences:

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