Old Particular’s Laphroaig 19 year 53.9%

Just as we were about to dash out the door after our zip through a remarkable set of minis from Krishna’s Collection, this 19 year old Laphroaig from Douglas Laing’s Old Particular  was opened.

Me? I took one sniff and knew rushing through this wouldn’t do justice so took my wee sample home…

However the other gents gamely carried on… enjoying immensely!

My turn came a few weeks later, on a relaxed evening after a manic few weeks of work.

Laphroaig 19 year (Oct 1996-Feb 2016) Cask No 10720 53.9% (Old Particular) Bottle 1 of 22, Refill Hogshead

  • Nose – Medicinal, smoky, maritime sea salt, a bit of black pepper peaking behind, then mellowed into an incredible cinnamon sweetness, chased by an almost pine freshness… after some time more like creme brûlée, chocolate caramel. cappuccino with a dusting of mocha… in short yum!
  • Palate – Wow! All chewy leather and toffee, nicely smoky and spicy, all swirling about, chocolaty even
  • Finish – Leather, tobacco, more of that cinnamon sweetness, long and lingering

It gave the impression of a beautiful complex nuanced dram… As I literally only had two small sips, no chance to try with water but it was a delight to have any at all to try!

It also was my first snifter of the evening, with no hint of harshness for the 1st nip of alcohol, let alone a cask strength one. An exceedingly good sign of it being a dangerously drinkable dram!

I’ve not had the pleasure of “Old Particular” bottles but if this was any indication… I wouldn’t mind keeping an eye out…

No luck tracking down further details about this particular sample, however the Old Particular Laphroiag 18 year can be found at The Whisky Exchange for £150.

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

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Glen Garioch 17 year (1996-2016) Cask No 3730 55.7%

After the absolutely stunning Glen Grant 60 year, dangerously drinkable Bowmore 12 distilled in the 1970s, the peculiar The Prestonfield Vintage 1972 Bowmore 16, we shifted gears to a meatier sherry style whisky from Adelphi‘s single cask bottling of Glen Garioch.

Adelphi Glen Garioch 1993 (note image from different year)

Glen Garioch 17 year (1996-2016) Cask No 3730 55.7% (Adelphi) 152 bottles

  • Nose – Top note of varnish, orange cream cookies or that fanta fizz, citrus zest, sweet honey, clove, a teasing nose that later revealed a musty quality – in a good way
  • Palate – Spicy, old style wood, sweet spice orange like clove studded oranges at Christmas, an almost brandy-like quality, red and green stewed apples, a dash of cocoa, continued to evolve taking on a meaty quality like a quality wagyu steak
  • Finish – Lovely chewy dates

There was a nicely mature quality to this dram, exceedingly smooth and no sense of it being full strength at 55.7%. A lovely sherry quality, more in keeping with what we normally expect – and that’s a mighty fine thing indeed!

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

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Ben Nevis 19 year (1996/2016) Cask No 871 45.1%

After two teasing whisky flights of 20 ml each at The Single Cask in Singapore, it was time to have a full and proper dram.

To narrow the choices, I by-passed “smoky” or “sweet” to settle on “salty”… as a contrast to the mostly lighter drams we’d just sampled…

And the choice? A whisky from Ben Nevis distillery bottled by The Single Cask. This distillery joins the lot which were opened then closed and re-opened again – in Ben Nevis case – re-opened in 1991 under the new owners – Nikka.

Ben Nevis 19 year (09.07.1996/16.06.2016) Cask No 871 45.1% Bottle 6 of 68

  • Nose – Salty – not sea breeze but more leather with salty caramel, as it opened up took on a sour curd quality
  • Palate – More chewy, soft spice, character
  • Finish – Bit of smoke and spice, with a nice milk chocolate at the end

A few drops of water brought out the spice and a much longer finish with sweet cinnamon.

Apparently this whisky came from a leaky cask, hence why there were only 68 bottles.

What also makes this out of the ordinary for Ben Nevis is that it was matured in bourbon not sherry casks.

And the best part? It was paired in a truly spectacular fashion with a salty caramel chocolate – locally hand crafted and absolutely the perfect accompaniment!

My earlier whisky flight experiences can be found here:

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Glentauchers 18 years (1996/2014) 2 casks 46%

I first flirted with Glentauchers as part of a set of 17 year old Ballantine‘s blends ‘featuring’ variations that focused on exploring the component distilleries. While an interesting experiment, nothing substitutes for experiencing a whisky in its single malt avatar.

Given nearly all Glentauchers goes into blends – primarily Ballantine’s and Teachers – this isn’t so easy to accomplish.

So I was particularly pleased to have a chance to try a Carn Mor bottle at The Single Cask.

Glentauchers 18 years (1996/2014) 2 casks 46% 443 bottles

  • Nose – Cereals with lightly toasted seeds, apple sauce, quite sweet with a hint of very faint jasmine
  • Palate – This is where more character reveals itself, almost reminded me of a lemon barley squash, gentle malt, sweet and fruity, with a hint of toasted nuts and something else elusive I couldn’t quite catch!
  • Finish – Retrained and gentile, quite lovely

Overall it is exceedingly easy to drink, smooth, approachable, entirely civilized though not terribly distinctive… In short quite ‘likeable’ and one for folks enjoy a lightly fruity whisky. Though restrained, the finish was truly quite enjoyable… nuanced yet very much present.

Here is what The Single Cask folks have to say about this Glentauchers (SG$198.80):

This is a sweet easy, fruity Speysider! 

  • Nose has sugar, sweets, overripe apples and maybe whiffs of flowers.
  • Taste is sweet and green apples, lemon drops, sweet barley, tinned pineapples, maple syrup.
  • Finish is nice, with a little more caramel

Reading their description after sampling the whisky, I would overall quite agree!

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This whisky was sampled as part of a whisky flight at The Single Cask together with:

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Glen Moray 21 year (1991/2013) Cask 9980 46%

Next up in our ‘lighter touch‘ quartet from a whisky flight at The Single Cask in Singapore is Glen Moray.

This Speyside distillery has been a bit of a ‘2nd cousin’ to the more prominent Glenmorangie distillery when owned by Macdonald & Muir and even with Martiniquaise, it is primarily used for the French company’s blends such as Label 5 and Glen Turner. Glen Moray single malts from the distillery have tended to be quite affordable, earlier with age statements of 10 (finished in Chardonnay cask), 12 and 16 years, more recently replaced by their Elgin collections:

  • Elgin Classic‘ line of NAS first fill ex-bourbon, peated then sherry, port and chardonnay cask finish
  • Elgin Heritage‘ age statements with 12, 15 & 18 year
  • Elgin Reserve‘ featuring only a 25 year Port pipe finish whisky

So to find a 21 year is an anomaly… in this case from from Douglas of Dramlanrig collection of single cask bottlings from Hunter Laing, endorsed by the Duke of Buccleuch himself. Bearing the image of the Douglas family seat – Drumlanrig Castle in Dumfries and Galloway. While initially available only through The Whisky Shop, you can now find Douglas bottles in other places as well..

Glen Moray 21 year (Oct 1991/Aug 2013) Cask 9980 46% 159 bottles (Douglas)

  • Nose – Cereals, light honey drizzle, all the usual light bright single malt notes
  • Palate – Spice then sweet with a nice interplay between the two, as it opens up becomes more and more creamy
  • Finish – More of a dry burn, nothing spectacular

The palate is the strongest dimension whereas the  finish is the least interesting element. In truth, we were challenged to tease out many specifics… It was just a classic middle of the road malt that neither stood out as particularly unusual yet had nothing ‘wrong’ either.

In truth, the limited aromas was consistent for all but the Miltonduff… which I later suspect had more to do with sitting directly underneath an A/C vent sharing a small 20 ml pour than the whiskies themselves. Particularly with the Gloen Moray, I’ll openly admit to struggling to discern much beyond a cursory impression.

And what do the folks at The Single Cask have to say about this one? Just this

Douglas of Dramlanrig is inspired by the rolling hills and green forests in the estate of the Duke of Buccleuch and Queensferry, Douglas of Drumlanrig is a collection of single cask bottlings personally endorsed and approved by the Duke himself. (SG$294.00)

This whisky was sampled as part of a whisky flight at The Single Cask together with:

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Deanston 15 years (1997/2013) Cask No 1958 45.8%

There are some whiskies that if you simply sniff, swish and move on, you may not catch what makes them enjoyable. This Deanston is one of those which initially had quite an unassuming character, yet if you didn’t give it a proper chance, would miss out on a rather companionable dram… it also just so happened to kick of our 2nd Whisky flight with a “lighter touch” at Singapore’s The Single Cask.

Deanston 15 years (1997/2013) Cask No 1958 45.8%

Here is what we found:

  • Nose – A nice honey sweetness, light touch of flowers, vanilla and a ‘green’ grass fresh quality
  • Palate – Initially the impression is of citrus sweetness, then with a bit of cheekiness, it starts to reveal much more character with a bit of light spice, raspberries and vanilla wood
  • Finish – Short, simple and slightly sweet

Overall it is simply a lovely easy drinking whisky. Not complicated, not a show-stopper but one you wouldn’t mind coming back to…

Even when revisited after sampling the other whiskies, there was something simply ‘comfortable’ and ‘comforting’ about this one… and I found myself coming back to it for a final sniff, sip and sigh of happiness.

And here is what the folks over at the Single Cask have to say:

  • Nose: This is a very natural whisky that is added to, but not burdened, by wood influence. We have just enough vanilla pod and bruleed banana that complements the spirit’s masses of estery green fruit. It is on the whole light and exuberant, showing the freshness of green apple peels but is also anchored by malt notes and linseed oil.
  • Palate: The wood has more to say here, with a growing hot spiciness and black pepper. But look past that and find tart berries, pollen and – surprise – lots of lilies.
  • Finish: Vanilla and more charred spiciness linger on.

I certainly didn’t catch any oil or lillies but overall wouldn’t disagree… except for the finish lingering… not in what we experienced but you can also see there wasn’t much left in the bottle! Particularly with lighter whiskies, I find oxidation can be a factor in shifting some elements.

Other Deanston sampling experiences:

This Deanston was sampled as part of a whisky flight at The Single Cask together with:

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A lighter touch… Whisky Flight at The Single Cask

Often when one thinks whisky, what jumps to mind are the sherry bombs, the power packed peat monsters, the salty brine maritime malt, or even a bourbon banana sweet… yet nestled amongst those bold, sometimes brash characters are a subtler lot…

One tends to associate a lighter, slightly sweeter touch with whiskies from the Highlands or  Lowlands… though not necessarily so…

On my 2nd stop to The Single Cask, we picked the featured whisky flight with:

Some of these whiskies are found primarily blends – such as Deanston in Burn Stewart’s blends, the Glentauchers or Miltonduff in Ballantines. Whereas Glen Moray, a neighbour of Glentauchers and Miltonduff, is known for affordable single malts.

What did my sampling companion and I think? Click on the whisky links above and find out!

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Undisclosed Distilleries – Sansibar Islay Malt 8 year 52.2%

Trips to Singapore since discovering the world of whisky nearly always include a stop at La Maison du Whisky.

Sure there has been a change in staff however when I shared my idea of doing a twist on our usual ‘blind tasting’ approach, Priscilla did a great job…

Sansibar is a new independent whisky bottler out of Germany, on the isle of Sylt, Bad Nenndorf, near the Danish border. They carefully select their Scottish casks, have them bottled then brought over for their (and now our) enjoyment.

It kicked off our underground original Mumbai tasting group’s 6th anniversary. My original plan was to then contrast and compare with the Bombay Cigar & Malt gents  a week later! Except that session kept getting delayed… from Feb.. to March… to April to… ? So decided without further ado to share notes from our 1st tasting experience!

sansibar-islay-8-year

Sansibar Islay Malt Whisky 8 year (2007/2015) 52.2%

Here is what the original underground group found:

  • Nose – A salty lemon citrus twist entangled with muted peat, initially quite fresh, one found it quite ‘pungent’, another was reminded of peppermint drops, then it began to shift into paan, ‘bazooka‘ chewing gum, basil and pine needles. As it continued to open, took on a nutty quality yet overall sweet citrus with a light touch
  • Palate – Nice and chewy – starts with sweet citrus then shifts into cinnamon spice and rounds out with peat
  • Finish – A lovely long finish
  • Water – Unbelievable – water rounds it out even more!

Though we knew it was only 8 years and a steep starter for the evening at 52.2%, found no rough edges and instead a remarkably well rounded whisky. One member speculated it must be matured in re-fill bourbon barrels.

We returned to the Sansibar Islay after sampling the other whiskies and found it took on a much more nutty quality like almond marzipan, lots of cereals, rice milk and concluded, in short, it is simply a wonderful whisky.

While not disclosed on the bottle, I came to know the distillery is Lagavulin. The Lagavulin 16 year was once a familiar friend and I had an opportunity to try the 8 year side by side with this one in Singapore – absolutely no comparison!

The Sansibar Islay comes from a single cask with 330 bottles. If you are lucky enough to stumble across one, grab it!

Standard Lagavulin 8 year:

  • The palate is light in texture, with a magnificently full-on Lagavulin taste that’s even bigger than you may expect; sweet, smoky and warming, with a growing, smoky pungency, then dry, with more smoke.
  • The finish is lovely: clean, very long and smoky. This is a polished and exquisitely crafted celebration of Lagavulin with smoky-clean aromas and a mighty taste.

Signatory session take two with cigars!

Quick before oxidation did too much damage, I wanted to share with the BMC lads a sampling from my earlier Signatory session.

However as whisky gremlins (aka friends and I) got into the Edradour and the Bunnahabhain too, it was clear augmentation would be needed to have sufficient for my sipping companions as we puffed on our cigars, post initial tasting. With this group, tasting is not the end, merely the selection process to settle down to savour a further dram or two with a cigar, some nibbles and convivial conversation.

2016-02-19 Oak League1

So what did I do? First began with what our merry malt men had to say about the whiskies…

We kicked off with the Speyside – Glenburgie 18 year (13 June 1995 / 20 Feb 2014) Cask No 6451, 391 bottles 46%.

  • Nose – Flowers, perfume, summer meadow
  • Palate – Surprisingly robust
  • Finish – Spice
  • Water – Adds ‘wood’ brought out vanilla and moss
  • Overall – Light bright and sprightly

Then followed up with the Islay – Bunnahabhain 26 years (6 June 1988 / 7 Aug 2014) Cask No 1874, 175 bottles 48.6%.

  • Nose – Varnish, lots of esters, pineapple, a flick of mint?
  • Palate – Smooth, a bit oily, tart granny apples…
  • Finish – Sits… very dry, black pepper
  • Water – Spicier, less acidic, brings out the peppers and even a medicinal quality on the nose. Then was that gasoline??
  • Overall – One commented the whisky made his lips numb! Certainly not a favourite (and yet the bottle was empty by the end of the evening… Oh the sacrifices these gentlemen will make!)

Closing our Signatory trio in the Highland‘s with the Edradour 10 year (2 Nov 2004/26 Mar 2015) Cask No 406, Bottle 440 46%

  • Nose – Very chocolaty, vanilla, prunes, fig newton, varnish, rum raisin
  • Palate – Very smooth, little pepper, lime?
  • Finish – Not long but rather pleasant
  • Water – Softens, mellows it out and makes it even sweeter
  • Overall – The kind of whisky to sip in a comfy chair, very palatable, well balanced and well rounded

Having tried all three before, I found the Edradour stood up best after being opened. Alas the Glenburgie had clearly lost some of its earlier nuances. And the Bunnahabhain? Let’s just say it is not one to sit in a bottle. The most expensive of the trio was also the most disappointing.

But what to sip with our cigars?

One already has clear sherry preferences. For him, he likes his whiskies robust and full of flavour. Aberlour just so happens to be a personal favourite, so it was only natural to introduce him to the gorgeous A’bunadh Batch 35.

For another, we earlier spoke of enjoying a good Irish dram – when in the mood for something a little simpler and sociable. He’d sampled Tyrconnel before – even has a bottle at home – however had yet to try the Madeira finish.

Now, another member knows his stuff and nothing less than a complex, nuanced and very special dram will do! I knew what remained in my whisky cabinet would not meet such standards. Closest was a few remaining rare Japanese whiskies yet only a single dram left – clearly insufficient to support a good cigar. So the Signatory trio would simply have to do.

And the last? I still haven’t pegged his preference beyond a desire to try something ‘different’. So added an unpeated Paul John Classic into the mix.

My experience pairing with the cigar? I initially thought the Edradour with its rich sherry notes would pair best with my robusto. Imagine my surprise to discover the delicate Glenburgie held its own.

Slainthe!

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Signatory’s Glenburgie 18 year (1995) 46%

As we have already tried many of the ‘known’ and readily accessible distilleries, it is always a treat to add a less readily accessible distillery to our list!

So back in 2014, I proudly picked up a bottle of Glenburgie from the prodigious Speyside region. At the time, we never tried anything from this distillery, primarily as it is used in blends like Ballentine’s with no “official” distiller editions. I looked forward to showing off something ‘different’ when it came around to my turn to host!

The irony is by the time we cracked open the bottle in February 2016, it was no longer the ‘1st’ Glenburgie to cross my palate:

So much for bringing a little novelty to our tastings!!

2016-02-19 Glenburgie 1995

As always, our blind whisky tasting approach reigns supreme… so how did this one fare?

Signatory Vintage – Glenburgie 1995 46%

  • Colour – Light straw
  • Nose – Bright, fresh, clean fruit, sweet, hint of coconut, toffee, oily, no peat or was there a whiff? Fresh grass, much more fruit than spice or flower, lovely yet quite linear, no major surprises
  • Palate – Initially much sharper, sour and very different than we expected from the nose, sweet, spice and bitter, a tingling on the tongue, mild citrus. The bitter gives it character – in a good way. Has a very good palate, sits on the tongue and is well rounded.
  • Finish – Bitter – some initially thought it short, others found its like a punch that you still feel after some time topped with a  dash of cherry cough syrup
  • Water – Opens it up, makes it even more approachable, however loses the light coconut nose, though the syrupy element stays
  • Speculation – Immediately thought likely an independent bottler – possibly Gordon & MacPhail. Single Cask? Could it be a Highland Speyside? Perhaps younger? Speculation ran riff!
  • Overall – Approachable, one of those books that is easy to read, quite pleasant. For some this was the favourite of the evening.
The reveal was a surprise – both as it was older than most thought and we relatively recently sampled the G&MP 15 year Glenburgie. For comparison, I pulled out a Ballantine’s 17 year set which featured blends that ‘celebrate’ the characters of the different component single malts such as Glenburgie.
This Speyside may mostly go into blends however it is worth enjoying in both its independent bottler Signatory and G&MP avatars!

Here are the only details available about this Signatory Vintage:

Aged 18 years, distilled on 13 June 1995 and bottled on 20 Feb 2014. Matured in the Highland. Cask No 6451 with an outturn of only 391 bottles. No chill filtration, natural colour.

A bit of trivia I find interesting is Glenburgie was run for a time in the early 20th century by a woman – Margaret Nichol – reputed to be the first female manager of any whisky distillery.

Up next in our Signatory Session:

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