A 60 year old whisky?! Yes please! Glen Grant 60 year (1950-2010) 40%

Mature whiskies are rare and beyond the means of most whisky imbibers.

Thanks to a few events, generous fellow malt explorers, I’ve had the pleasure of sampling a couple of older drams – Glendronach, Glenfarclas and Auchentoshan come to mind. Yet none crossed the 50 year mark, let alone touched 60 years…

Until a fine evening of malting with Malt Maniac Krishna Nakula who started our evening off with this beauty from Glen Grant.

And best yet – my sample began completely blind so I had no idea what I was experiencing…

Glen Grant 60 year (14 Oct 1950 – 22 Nov 2010), Cask Strength No 2750, 2760 40%

  • Nose – Musty, like a granary with my being transported to the Manitoba farms of my youth, cereals, then shifts more into the old, polished wood of antique furniture, followed by a light sweet honey, a delicate perfume, flowers, fruits, cream, the slightest hint of bitter mocha, as it kept airing with a just drop remaining, a delightful piquant aroma emerged
  • Palate – Rubber, smoky, more of that antique wood, coffee, very elegant and nuanced, exceedingly easy on the palate, great mouthfeel
  • Finish – Such staying power! Yet delicate with a light clove spice

Slow, complex with a hint of smoke without a pinch of peat. The more you sip, the more you marvel. Very sophisticated. This was one that if you had a full dram, it could last hours… sit, savour and let it continue to speak to you, revealing different elements along the way.

The two casks were both ex-sherry – one first fill and the other re-fill. While we do not know the balance between the two, given its nuanced character, the re-fill may have had more play.

We spoke of the contrasting character of sherry matured whiskies – with the younger Kavalan’s on one end of the spectrum with its intense very berry sherry character to the Glendronach grand dames matured for 39 – 42 years in Pedro Ximénez Sherry puncheons dripping in rum-soaked Christmas cake with dry fruits and nuts.

Whereas this Glen Grant was much more gentile, with a fresh ripe fruitiness not dried dates or prunes, light honey drizzle not rich dark maple syrup… a quite fabulous balance of subtle elements in perfect harmony.

Apparently this is a Gordon & MacPhail bottling can be found for £3,500 through Whisky.online. Here’s what they have to  say:

A 1950 Glen Grant bottled in 2010 at 60 years of age. There is no other company in the world that still holds stocks of whisky like this, another super aged masterpiece by Gordon & MacPhail. Glen Grant is a spirit that ages beautifully, this is a beguiling mix of antique wood aromas, simmering spice, all kinds of layered fruit complexity and utterly perfect balance. A truly beautiful, utterly classy whisky that captures just how beautiful the really old whiskies can be, mesmeric stuff.

And yes, for once, words like “beguiling”“layered fruit complexity”, “classy” and “mesmeric” really do apply…

What else did we sample in our Krishna Collection from July 2017?

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Krishna Collection – Enjoying a few drams with a Malt Maniac

India’s Malt Maniac Krishna Nakula is a rather fine fellow to dram with… So when we thought July would be a slow whisky month, a few of us decided it would be an absolutely brilliant idea to see if Krishna would be free for a short visit to Mumbai. Lucky us – he was!

And he didn’t come empty-handed… Nope. He brought along an assortment of miniatures that we had the pleasure of enjoying a wee nip… quick glimpses all concentrated in a brief but memorable one hour of discovery.

What did we sample?

Links to more detailed tasting notes are provided above. Some were truly quite an eye-opener, so be sure to check out what we discovered!

Other evenings with Krishna Nakula include:

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Dream Drams – Mortlach 1976, Lochside 1981, Mosstowie 1979, Aultmore 2007

There are tasting experiences that collectively push the bar to a completely different level.

On this particular monsoon evening in Mumbai with Malt Maniac’s Krishna Nakula, none were standard distillery drams. All but one would qualify as ‘adult‘ whiskies, representative of an older style… From Gordon & MacPhail‘s rare old collection  of closed distilleries to Signatory Vintage‘s mature cask strength set to a unique Master of Malt single cask series, these were no ordinary single malts.

These were the drams that dreams are made of… prompting a few of us wonder… are we truly worthy?

What did we sample?

You will simply need to be patient over the coming weeks as I catch up with all the marvellous malts enjoyed. Trust me… it will be worth the wait.

And a HUUUUGE thank you to our host, whisky contributors who made such an exceptional evening possible! You know who you are.

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Whisky Live Singapore – Gordon + MacPhail

I’ve admitted it before and will probably admit it again – I have a total school girl whisky crush on all things Gordon & MacPhail. They don’t just bottle the stuff, they find something with potential and nurture it along carefully in their own barrels, crafting a whisky that is somehow ‘even more’ than what the distillery alone produces.

2016-11-12-gordon-macphail-collection

The whiskies on offer at Whisky Live Singapore featured:

A most enjoyable collection of which I had a nip of the Blair Athol… and intended to come back to the Macallan and Ardmore, skipping only the Caol Ila and Highland Park as sampled these before. Alas I kept no tasting notes however was not disappointed.

Just a few of the Gordon & MacPhail whiskies sampled on Whisky Lady include:

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East to West – Clynelish 15 year 54% (Gordon + MacPhail)

Our journey from East to West finished in the ‘motherland’ of malt – Scotland.

However as we were sampling blind, we had no clue! We were still savouring the remarkable Puni Alba and remarking on how impressed we were with the Paul John Bold, when our host brought out a 4th whisky. Naughty man… we normally try to stick to three but… couldn’t resist!

Clynelish 15 year (2001/2016) 54% (G&MP)

Here is what we found:

  • clynelish-2001Nose – So rich! Bursting with sherry berry sweetness – such welcome aromas. Soaked rum and raisins, Christmas cake, promises body and age, slightly musty hints, more plum pudding, orange zest…
  • Palate – 1st sip? Puzzlement… while clearly high in alcohol strength, it had a very light body, bitter green wood, spicy, almost too dry, lots of HOT peppers that were a contrast with the clear sherry nose. As it opened up more, revealed chocolate and a hint of coffee beans
  • Finish – Hot chilli – the red ‘mirchi’ type
  • Water – A few drops brought out bitter gourd and the sherry sweetness became slightly bitter. Then it settled down and with a more generous dollop became a bit more balanced between the different elements

After tremendous promise on the nose, we were challenged by the palate. In part this may have been shifting from standard whisky strengths to cask strength and the sherry experimentation.The hot pepper and bitterness was such a contrast to the initial aroma which teased us into thinking we were in for a full rich traditional sherry dram.

As speculation commenced, there was a sense an effort to move in the direction of GlenDronach or Benromach yet operating with different variables – be it the new make spirit or casks.

And the reveal… Clynelish? Never would have guessed.

What a different kind of Clynelish – clearly no “micro-greens, perfume, delicate sweet spice” or “sun-dried flowers among the sand dunes.”

Which just goes to show the power of different cask maturation on a whisky – in this case Gordon & MacPhail brought together two sherry refill casks – No 307849 & 307850.

Here is what the folks over at Gordon & MacPhail have to say about this Clynelish:

WITHOUT WATER

  • Aroma – Rich Sherry aromas combine with green apple, kiwi, and orange followed by charred oak and subtle clove notes.
  • Taste – Sweet and spicy on the tongue with orange peel, green apple, and ripe banana flavours complemented by a chocolate praline edge.

WITH WATER

  • Aroma – Soft vanilla notes mingle with water melon, plum, and cherry aromas. Which combine with toasted malt and cocoa powder notes.
  • Taste – Creamy and sweet with raspberry, banana, and orange flavours enhanced by charred oak and delicate peppermint influence.

For us, sherry is always a fine finish to an evening and while this one puzzled us a bit, it brought to a close a most satisfactory evening from East to West.

Other whiskies sampled in our East to West evening included:

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East to West – Hakushu, PJ Bold, Puni Alba + Clynelish

I love the forethought and creativity that goes into some of our whisky tasting sessions…

Our January 2017 host’s theme was a journey from East to West… following a geographic progression from Japan to India to Italy and finally Scotland.

hakushu-paul-john-puni-clynelish

It was a fabulously curated collection that shifted in styles and threw in surprises too! Each was sampled completely blind before the reveal.

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Mini Malts – Glen Keith 1993 46%

Next up in our miniatures sampling was a duo from Gordon & MacPhail from their Connoisseurs Choice line.

From the Speyside region, Glen Keith was founded in 1959 by the Chivas Brothers near their Strathisla distillery. At the time, their gas fired stills was a novelty. It was mothballed in 1999, sold to Pernod Ricard in 2001 and re-opened in 2013 with completely new wash backs, new still and more.

Primarily used in Chivas blends such as Chivas Regal, Passport and 100 pipers, official bottlings are near impossible to find. And none from the revamped distillery have been officially released.

We tried a Gordon & MacPhail bottling of approximately 17 years.

Glen Keith (1993/2011) 46% (Gordon & MacPhail)

Auchroisk + Glen KeithHere’s what we found:

  • Nose – Quite restrained, organic fruits, subtle yet very malty, yeasty, like wet dough or moist unbaked cake, a bit of pine cone, damp good, humid, with absolutely no hint of spice
  • Palate – Dried orange rind, potpourri, beautiful round spice, like an old fashioned orange with cloves, black peppercorn
  • Finish – Initially sweet then spice then bitter

Overall, there was a muted quality to this whisky. Yet a nice contrast between zero spice on the nose and then a nice round spice on the palate.

It really had the most unbelievable moistness – like a greenhouse in a glass. We even covered the glass and it swirled with moisture.

This was an unpredictable date – flirtatious, changing its mind yet maintaining its coquetish quality.

Here’s what the Gordon & MacPhail folks have to say:

Without water:

  • Aroma -Fresh fruit aromas – apples, bananas and grape must. A sweet floral hint – bubblegum. Some chocolate and vanilla notes also present.
  • Taste – Peppery notes again with floral herbal flavours. Slightly drying with wood elements present.

With water:

  • Aroma – More aromatic with malt and cereal elements. Some more floral aromas remain with a subtle sweetness.
  • Taste – Peppery amd spicy initially followed by a sweet, slightly fruity element. Hints of cedar wood.

More malt miniatures from the Whisky Exchange:

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Mini Malts – Auchroisk 1996 46%

Up next up in our miniatures sampling was a duo from Gordon & MacPhail from their Connoisseurs Choice line.

From the prodigious Speyside region, Auchroisk was built in 1974 with high necked stills intended to produce a lighter elegant spirit. Today it is owned by Diageo with some official bottlings released under the label ‘The Singleton’ (until 2001) which confusingly now is used for three different malts in three different regions: Dufftown (Europe), Glendullan (USA) and Glen Ord (Asia).

Primarily used in blends such at J&B, you may find it difficult to track down a bottle. Only a few casks have been acquired by independent bottlers and there are very limited official releases such as a 20 year, 30 year and a few single casks.

I previously sampled an Auchroisk 20 year old from independent bottlers Duthies – a sub-brand of Cadenhead. This experience didn’t enamour me as my impression was “dishwater soap meets dry wood”… however I also speculated my sample had become tainted, so was keen to try again.

This time, I went with a Gordon & MacPhail bottling of approximately 17 years.

Auchroisk (1996/2014) 46% (Gordon & MacPhail)

Auchroisk + Glen KeithHere’s what we found:

  • Nose – Initially quite organic, overripe fruit – especially banana, think sour mash, leaves in the spring damp after a rain,  flowers, then a delightful honeydew melon. After airing, revealed fresh crisp pears
  • Palate – What a contrast! A soft, subtle yet delicious peat, sweet, smooth, beautifully balanced, still quite fruity with a nice coating, like sucking on gumdrops
  • Finish – A lovely long finish, sustaining a gentle sweetness

Absolutely delightful! We quite enjoyed how the nose shifted from over-ripe fruit to crisp fresh pears… the taste brought another dimension but above all it was the finish that invited us to slow down and enjoy.

This is no frivolous dram, instead one for a meaningful relationship.

My sipping companion is now a full convert to the “If it is Gordon & MacPhail… buy it!”

Here’s what the Gordon & MacPhail folks have to say:

Without water:

  • Aroma – Fresh and fruity with ripe plum and kiwi aromas. Toasted malt and subtle herbal notes with hints of old leather and aniseed.
  • Taste – The palate is peppery initially with stewed plums and lemon flavours. A lingering milk chocolate edge develops.

With water:

  • Aroma – Stewed pears, banana and grapefruit aromas. A subtle hazelnut and toasted malt edge lingers.
  • Taste – Sweet with cinnamon, nutmeg and black pepper. Fruit flavours develop with plum and lychee.

More malt miniatures picked up from The Whisky Exchange:

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On a Linkwood roll…. Whisky Live’s Linkwood 25 year 40%

Next up from the special Collector’s Room at Whisky Live Singapore 2016 was a whisky selected so that my sampling companion could try an older Linkwood from Gordon & MacPhail.

I was quite impressed with the Linkwood 25 year from Gordon & MacPhail and less so by a Linkwood 24 year from Signatory.

2016-11-12-linkwood

Alas, the La Maison du Whisky ‘Rarities Tasting Book Edition 2016’ did not feature this Linkwood and my separate scribbles went missing with all my subsequent travels.

Given the black and white label and the strength of only 40%, my guess is this may be from the 1980s. However that is pure speculation on my part.

So rather than tasting notes, details on the rare whisky imbibed, this is merely a testament to my chronicling follies. All that remains is a photograph and fuzzy recollection that this Linkwood did not disappoint.

2016-11-12-collectors-quartetOther whiskies sampled in the Collector’s Room included:

PS This whisky came compliments of my Whisky Live Singapore traveling companion – you know who you are and you know how much I appreciated experiencing these discoveries together!

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Whisky Ladies discover Benromach 100° Proof 57%

Our Whisky Ladies ‘contributors choice‘ evening moved from the Old Pulteney 21 year to an offering from Benromach.

It was recently purchased by one of our Whisky Ladies during her trip to Scotland. She shared how many a dram was sampled before finally settling on this one as THE whisky she wanted to bring back from her trip for the Whisky Ladies in Mumbai.

benromach-10-year-100-proof

What did the Whisky Ladies find?

  • Nose – Sweetly smoky – we’ve found our happy place, clear sherry with hickory wood… like the embers of a campfire in the morning, then bananas, stewed fruits
  • Palate – Cherry liquor, the peat is back with spice, salty chocolate fudge, vanilla, liquorice, nicely complex with the different elements swirling about with one sip bringing out more of the creamy fudge and another the cherry berry quality then the next sip the sweet spices and another the peat – what a treat!
  • Finish – A drizzle of honey bacon with dry spices

What did the ladies think?

  • “Quite a coooool whisky”
  • “Something new in every sip!”
  • The whisky you really want to spend an evening with…”

I had recently revisited several rather fine Benromach whiskies at Whisky Live in Singapore and initially was puzzled by all the peat thinking this was the classic 10 year. When discovered it was the 100° Proof, all became clear we were dealing with quite a different avatar!

Whisky ladies experimental evening also featured:

PS – For more details, check out an earlier encounter with this whisky last year … Benromach 100° Proof.

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