This was an evening of discovery… starting with tasting completely blind a mystery malt… which turned out to be a 20 year Glenrothes from North Star’s Cask Series 001…
Glenrothes 20 year (Oct 1996/Oct 2016) 54.6% 1 of 198 bottles, Refill sherry
Colour – Yellow gold
Nose – Light varnish, heavy honey, citrus lemon, then marmalade, apricot, like breakfast cereal, sense of being very “full”, dry fruits, creme rum and raisin, sense of high alcohol, creamy toffee, chocolate chips, shifting into a curl of tobacco, black ‘bara’ elichi. After time it shifted into molasses and powdered icing sugar with sweet spices
Palate – An explosion of flavour. Salty caramel, completely matches the nose with force… sharp then diffuses into fruity deliciousness. The 2nd sip was much spicier with a creamy quality. And the 3rd revealed tobacco, tannic and dry… then shifted into a sweet perfume palate. Simply “yum!”
Finish – Bitter with a ‘khatta‘ sourness like tart apples, initially seemed short, then we realized it is quite the opposite – a lovely long finish with hazelnut pepper and red fruits
Water – Kicked up the spice – particularly on the finish, changed and holds. Normally we find water can initially notch up the spice, then mellows. In this case, it remains – lots of peppers, really holds its own with water, reveals a lovely mocha coffee
We joked that it “Tastes delicious on the nose!” like walking into a cookie store! It really teases, from sweetness to bitter with a beautiful balance. Another thought it would make a great “cigar” malt….
We speculated it must have a high alcohol content – likely cask strength, definitely Scottish, well constructed though we thought perhaps it may not be very old – perhaps 8 – 12 years? We really appreciated its fabulously long finish.
We also observed it had a terrific synch between its aromas and palate – both delicious and mirroring their notes.
The reveal was such a surprise. None of us would have guessed it could be 20 years. Some remarked their mixed experience with Glenrothes, finding it sometimes over-priced for what it delivers.
There is something so fabulous about being truly surprised.
Which is why our original Mumbai tasting group keeps to its habit of tasting blind. Sometimes we reveal each whisky immediately after tasting, other times we wait until we have sampled all three whiskies.
In this case, it was after tasting all three drams and what a reveal! Why?
As it introduced North Star Spirits, a new independent bottler based in Glasgow. Starting in just 2016, we understand it is a “one man” operation by Iain Croucher, earlier part of A.D. Ratraay group.
Interestingly, he has a distribution relationship in Germany with Sansibar – which is another independent bottler that caught my attention recently for its ability to spot good casks for relatively reasonable rates.
My photos do not do justice to their packaging which is …
What did we sample?
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 – Islay 8 year (June 2008 / May 2017) 58.3% 1 of 230 bottles
Unfortunately North Star bottles have already captivated attention that it is best to pre-order online as they seem to be snapped up quickly!
You can also find even more Whisky bits ‘n bobs on:
The bottles reveal only the region, cask type, alcohol strength and in some cases the age… however for those clever enough to do a simple online search, all is revealed about the distillery codes.
As for what we thought? Tasting notes available by clicking on the links above. I should also note, the sampling order which was spot on in terms of a tasting profile progress from light to sweet to robust and peat!
And our cigar of the evening? An Edward Sahakians private vintage selection 1999. A might fine night it was indeed.
Another from the tasting archives… this time from Sept 2011. Rediscovering these notes brought a flood memories of my previous Mumbai flat… that had a fabulous cabinet in which all my whisky was stashed… now replaced in our current home by a larger storage space waaaaay up high in our kitchen pantry.
We broke with tradition and merrily abandoned all pretense of blind tastings… instead settled down for a sampling of various bottles. It became a popularity contest between different regions and geographies as small pegs of multiple whiskies were sniffed, swirled, swallowed, savoured and yes – much discussed!
Speyside‘s dominated the evening with:
Aberlour’s cask strengthAbu’nadh batch 32 (sampled earlier) and batch 31 were compared. Batch 31 was a clear winner and a hit of the evening! Bold yet with an extraordinary warm finish… with layers to discover and enjoy.
Aberlour 10 year held its own with slight smokiness and butter, however was overshadowed by it’s cask strength cousin.