Oban 14 year 43%

In the whisky department, we all have a familiar friend or two… This would certainly be the case for the Oban 14 year.

It also is one of those whiskies that just keeps on resurfacing… Our original Whisky tasting group enjoyed it in August 2011 and June 2013... and it cropped up in our Whisky Ladies November 2015 tasting session.

There is a reason for it – you know what you are going to get with Oban. Its profile has managed to maintain a certain consistency over the years.

In my case, it is an early evening drink of choice with a dear friend in Singapore. I see Oban and I think of some most enjoyable evenings with merry conversations accompanied by a dram or two with her.


Oban 14 year 43%
  • Nose – Sherry, berry, apple, pears, a little leathery but overall fruity, some citrus orange peel, honey sweetness
  • Palate – Apple juice, cherry, a puff of smoke, nutmeg, nicely balanced, enough to chew on to satisfy without being heavy
  • Finish – Settled into a gentle smoke
  • Comments – “Aaaaahh! Coming home to an old familiar friend!”
Such a contrast from the Nikka which was so unpredictably contradictory… to the point of almost being contrary.
Oban is an elegant, something to enjoy with friends early evening, it isn’t complicated, it isn’t challenging however it is just exceedingly enjoyable.

Here is what they say:

A hint of peat smoke, combined with a salty maritime flavour. Citrus orangey notes are also present in both the nose and on the palate, and the sweeter honeyed notes give our malt a smooth silky finish.

Other whiskies sampled by our Whisky Ladies in November 2015 included:

Forty Creek Confederation Oak Reserve 40%

From time to time, you can also find other whisky related updates and activities on:

Aultmore 2000 46% (Gordon + MacPhail)

Our October tasting session had a theme of ‘go slow’… let the whisky evolve… Each had its unique character and each needed proper time and focused attention to unravel its mysteries.

We also went back to our original ’spit the 1st sip’ approach – helping us better calibrate our palate to appreciate the three distinctly different whiskies.

Our first whisky of the evening was yet another treat from independent bottler Gordon & MacPhail – this time a delicate Speyside from Aultmore.

Altmore 2000

Aultmore 2000

Aultmore 2000 46% (Gordon & MacPhail’s Connoisseurs Choice), Bottled in 2014
  • Colour – Light straw
  • Nose – Floral fruity, ripe peach, sweet and very inviting, has a sense of being velvety smooth, exceedingly tempting, as it opens a bit of nougat
  • Palate – Initial ‘1st whisky’ hint of being bitter, then after our first swish & spit, the next sip revealed a delicious honey, mild spice. For once the palate is every bit as good as the nose promised, exceedingly well-balanced, delicate yet still manages to coat the palate from top to bottom, balanced and oh so smooth and creamy
  • Finish – Some debate as the initial impression was the finish was quite limited… yet still felt satisfying. As we ‘tuned’ ourselves to the nuanced character, began to appreciate that in fact it has a long subtle finish, really quite delicious!
  • Water – Don’t… Water does not enhance and makes it seem terribly young with a spicy kopra
  • Impressions – Like a delicate Japanese or Chinese paper cut, very well-rounded, very easy to drink…

Speculation… As we sample blind, we began to assess our thoughts about the whisky. It vaguely reminds of Glenmorangie in its light fruity floral sweet character yet different. Age was a bit difficult to gage – not very young but also not too old. Certainly not more than 16 years… Sense that the alcohol hovered around 43% given its light approachability.

The reveal… Our first as a tasting group from this distillery and yet another ‘hit’ from independent bottlers Gordon & MacPhail. It is getting to the stage where we can blindly grab anything from their Connoisseurs Choice line!

Our host shared that he briefly sampled it at a whisky event in Europe. While normally such light whiskies are not his personal preference – this one stood out as something compelling enough to explore further. We agreed!

Knowing it is a light whisky and would be the first of the evening, he chilled the whisky for 45 mins in the fridge before serving to help ensure the viscosity for our tasting.

Our conclusion was that this was the kind of whisky  you would just sip on your own while reading a good book, curled up with a cosy blanket on a cool evening. Something to slowly enjoy its subtle range of aromas and taste. It doesn’t need conversation. It doesn’t need company. It is for those times you simply want to relax in quiet comfort.

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

  • Matured in a refill American hogshead and refill sherry hogshead. Natural colour. Non chill filtered.

Without Water:

  • Nose – The whisky has herbal, dried apricot and raisin aromas with hints of charred oak.
  • Taste – Delicate fruitiness, with red apple and pear flavours. Festive spices and a touch of oiled wood linger.

With Water:

  • Nose – Toasted malt and sweet summer fruit aromas, blueberry and raspberry. A subtle cinnamon edge lingers.
  • Taste – Peppery and sweet with hints of green apple and plum. Becomes creamy with a smooth milk chocolate edge.

Previously Aultmore was rarely available as a single malt beyond independent bottlers, instead found as part of popular blends like Dewars.

Some may recall that I tried a couple Aultmores on my July London trip – both the 12 and 21 year – part of Bacardi’s “Last Great Malts of Scotlandrange. I was surprised to find them so appealing – and recall being impressed that the promise of the nose followed through on the palate.

I, for one, look forward to both exploring more Aultmore and more from Gordon & MacPhail!

The other whiskies we sampled in October included:

You can also find Whisky Lady in India on:

Deanston Virgin Oak NAS 46.3%

Our May 2015 tasting session featured whiskies from three countries – USA, Scotland and Ireland. We found the quality and appeal of this trio extreme from ‘disaster – do yourself a favour and don’t buy!’ (Hudson) to ‘decent but disappointing’ (Deanston) and utter ‘delight’ with “More! Please sir may I have some more!’ (Teeling)

The Scottish whisky was one sampled previously and earlier a favourite of our host. As always, we tasted blind so would not be influenced by anything other than the immediate whisky experience.

Deanston NAS 46.3% (Whisky Lady)

Deanston NAS 46.3% (Whisky Lady)

Deanston Virgin Oak NAS 46.3% 
  • Colour – Light straw
  • Nose – Initially quite fruity with lime and vanilla, as it warms up, has a french lemony sweet aftershave kind of quality  – think Brut! The overall sense even before the 1st sip is that of a young, fresh, delicate whisky. After the 1st sip, whiff of crunchy green apples, nutmeg, strong honey
  • Taste – A fizzy tingly on the tongue, warm yet alas narry a hint of complexity, most found it a bit bland
  • Finish – Limited and sweet
  • Water – Nope! Don’t go there. Even diluting with only a few drops makes it simply too weak and waters down the light nose
  • Immediate reactions “OK but… maybe a good whisky for people who don’t drink whisky.” Ouch! Honestly, while there was nothing wrong with the whisky, it just somehow didn’t quite strike a strong chord. A few more descriptions bandied about were “bland” and “insipid.”
With more time to breath…
  • I used the lacklustre initial impression as an opportunity to see how it would fare after oxidating for 20 – 30 mins or so. Unlike the Nikka Takesturu 17 year or Chichibu French Oak Cask, I strongly suspected the Deanston would not improve with more time to breathe
  • Sure enough, a half hour later found the nose had dramatically changed to a pronounced sour curd – not in a pleasant way – with none of the initial fruity citrus sweet
  • On the palate? Remained decent but yes… bland

Our host shared:

“I first bought Deanston 10 years ago and it was excellent! Then my next bottle was about five years ago and it was so so. This one? (sigh)… Disappointing” 
I was curious about how this compared with our previous Deanston experiences, so I dug out our sampling records:
  • Deanston 46.3% in April 2012 – I missed this tasting session but another member noted how “We liked the bitter chocolate”
  • Deanston 12 year in June 2013 – For this one, we found “Nuanced nose with over ripe fruit, sweet and spicy on the palate, lovely finish with a hint of spice that slowly dissipated. Delightful!”

The label provides no indication of the year the whisky was bottled, so it is difficult to say whether the whisky or our tastes have changed so dramatically over the years. The only detail it does share is that it is finished in virgin oak casks and is un-chill filtered. I suspect the virgin oak element was what didn’t meet our collective palate.

Deanston up close... (Whisky Lady)

Deanston up close… (Whisky Lady)

In fairness, this isn’t such a bad dram… Unfortunately it just isn’t one that stands out. I’m a firm believer that whisky preferences are highly personal and it all depends on what appeals to your palate. Even though it clearly wasn’t the favourite of the evening, it was one whisky we could pinpoint as ‘Deanston’ even before the reveal. Which means something somewhere has registered as being distinctly ‘Deanston.’  Perhaps in a different mood, setting or a different set of expectations, it would shine more.
What others say:

You can also find Whisky Lady in India on:

GlenDronach 21 Year Parliament

Our January 2015 tasting session offered three new whiskies to sample: Bailie Nicole JarviePaul John Single Malt Edited and GlenDronach 21 Year Parliament.

This session was definitely one where the best was saved til last! As usual, we first sampled blind then revealed the whisky.

GlenDronach 21 year Parliament 48%

  • 20150115-GlenDronach 21 year ParliamentColour – Dark deep amber, almost ruby in colour
  • Nose – Instant sherry, bold, can immediately make out it is a complex and rounded whisky, a delight of berries, black cherry, toffee, banana, just bursting with character and not in the least linear
  • Taste – Raisins, plum cake soaked for long time before devouring, dry like rum, as robust as the nose suggested, earthy and rich
  • Finish – Plum finish like a dry sherry

For an all-nighter – one of those wonderful whiskies where a little goes a long way!

We also tried a small experiment:

  • Our host and partner sampled in Tulip glasses from a bottle previously opened
  • Myself and other club member tried in our standard Glencairn glasses

What was the difference?

Well…. We had a bit of debate over which was ‘sharper’ or ‘more mellow’ however it seemed the newly opened bottle was much more pronounced, rounder and more complex whereas the opened one slightly ‘cut’ but still a marvellous malt.

Confession time? Our host sez it is his current favourite! And I will admit to draining the last drop from the opened bottle… sorry folks!


More info:

  • Again one of those interesting distilleries, founded in 1826, that was quietly producing, neglected from 1996 to 2001 and then re-opened but only more recently catching attention for their single malts
  • Matured only in sherry cask – combination of oloroso and pedro ximinez – making it quite distinct from the typical ‘sherry’ cask finish approach
  • Released in 2011 and named ‘Parliament’ for the parliament of rooks that live in the trees near the distillery

In short – not to be missed!


20150115-GlenDronach Close up

Since sampling this, there have been more GlenDronach adventures:

You can also find Whisky Lady in India on: