2016 Whisky Thank You…

Sampling whisky is an expensive habit and one most enjoyable when shared. Rather than brag about brilliant drams, talk about top tipples, I want to start 2017 by saying thank you for those who aided in ways big and small Whisky Lady adventures. Because of you, 2016 resulted in over 200 posts – unbelievable!

Above, Whisky Lady in India is a collective effort – a chronicle of tasting sessions – so thank you fellow Mumbai whisky club members:

  • Our original private group that meets religiously at least 8 times a year on the 3rd Thursday for nearly six years.
  • I’m so proud of our Whisky Ladies of Mumbai – an amazing group of remarkable often unconventional ladies who forge unique paths in their lives… our monthly fellowship over a dram is something I look forward to!
  • And our Bombay Malt & Cigar gentlemen – you have introduced me not only to some mighty fine whiskies but the world of fine cigars. I still can’t believe I puffed up in smoke a $400 cigar?!

Featured Image -- 7325

Thank you also fellow bloggers and whisky aficionados:

2016-11-12-whisky-collectors-room

Two very specific thank yous:

  • Keshav – Friend and fellow spirits explorer, who turned an amateur interest into an avocation with The Vault Fine Spirits. I’m so proud of what you have accomplished!
  • Krishna – India’s very own Malt Maniac for generously sharing your insights and select rare samples from your collection… your dedication to the world whisky fabric is inspiring

20151121_Rare Malts

Thank you also distillery and industry well wishers who generously share their wares. Specifically:

20151224_Paul John Quintet

We also have global whisky mules who keep us supplied… sourcing interesting whiskies isn’t easy and many a different dram would never make it to our shores without you.

Above all, I would like to thank my partner. While he does not indulge in whisky, he indulges me – every day in small and big ways. Thank you.

For more related updates and activities, check out:

Whisky Live Survival Guide

When I strolled into the office in Jakarta Monday morning, straight from Singapore airport, the team were rather surprised to see a chirpy bright-eyed lass rather than a sorely hung-over miss.

Why such an expectation? The guys all knew I spent the weekend imbibing at Whisky Live Singapore and assumed much over-indulgence would have occurred.

The secret? I followed a ‘Whisky Live Survival Guide‘ regime recommended by a friend who has much more experience with such events than I.

It roughly goes along the following lines:

  • Sniff to your heart’s content, sip, swish and swash merrily away but above all… spit don’t swallow!
  • Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate… water more than aqua vitae is your friend
  • Less is more… yes the temptation is there to try everything but after a point it all blurs… so go slow, take breaks, give up trying to sample all
  • Select very carefully your full indulgences…
  • Go early to explore at a leisurely pace, chatting with folks before the crowds inundate and inebriation changes the dynamic

This all seemed rather sensible advice. I’ve always been a quality over quantity kind of gal, more interested in the tasting adventure and conversation that goes along with the exploration than the effects of alcohol.

Perhaps a sacrilege to some – including a few whisky brand ambassadors – who gasped at my dumping, rinsing before repeating my sampling routine, however the approach served me well.

Surely others must adopt a similar strategy? I can’t imagine actually drinking all on offer! Fess up you whisky convention veterans!! How do you survive?

2016-11-12-whisky-collectors-room

Some of the distilleries and independent bottlers featured at Whisky Live Singapore included:

Plus some rare drams in the collectors room. Beyond whisky there were other discoveries too, such as Velier’s distinctive Clarin rums and stunning Hampden 2010 HLCF. And a convenient ‘Ladies Room‘ to escape for a few minutes of ‘down time’ before heading back into the sampling fray.

There were many highlights and the links above are to a few posts sharing various insights. Above all, it is the stories, meeting interesting people over the whisky fabric that was the most enjoyable.

I sincerely hope to be back next year and look forward to continuing explorations.

2016-11-13-whisky-live-look-up

You can also find Whisky Lady in India on:

“Single malt drinkers are promiscuous”

Now before you get all offended… there is a very specific context to this comment.

It came up at a Whisky masterclass with Master Distiller Stuart Harvey, where one of my whisky partners in crime whispered cheekily:

“Single Malt guys are promiscuous, whereas blended guys are very loyal.”

It echoed something mentioned earlier in the day by Stuart, when asked why Inver House decided to enter the Indian market in 2015.

Stuart shared how over the last decade he has seen a shift across the globe but particularly in India:

“Basically we’ve seen people trading up. Ten years ago it would have been the cheaper and mixed products that people were drinking. That was down to affordability, the price point.

Obviously now foreign travel is a lot more common. And they come back and bring back whisky – a nice status symbol.

Earlier they would bring back a nice blend. Then they moved up the ladder to a 12 year old blend. That’s the signal that it is time to introduce single malts. As going from 12 year old blend to a single malt is easy.”

So far, not terribly promiscuous…. however according to Stuart, 12 year old blends can be a tipping point to become a seeker of diversity over monogamy…

“They start getting more interested in the different flavour profiles, they want to try something different, they want to entertain their guests.

Single malt drinkers have more than one brand. As opposed to blended product where people tend to be very loyal to a particular brand.

They want to try something different. So when they are traveling, they try to pick up something different.”

From that point of picking up something different during travels eventually translates into two outcomes:

  • The single malt adventurer infects a loyal local blend drinker into the dangerous world of illicit relationships with an imported single malt!
  • And from such exposure, the desire to acquire extends to duty-free airports at ‘home’ or perhaps eventually from the local ‘wine’ shop.

So while blend drinkers are a loyal lot who for years, nay decades, stick to their Black Label, Teachers, Blenders Pride, those who have strayed down the path of single malts are always itching to explore, make that next remarkable whisky discovery!

I was again reminded of this when a fellow whisky explorer requested ideas for acquiring more miniatures… to add to his growing collection of different sets… already at 14, he added another 20 during his latest London jaunt.

So far we have explored the Tomintoul triofour more minis in August, another set in September… and yet another mini session planned next week!

J2M Miniatures

Before getting smug about such miniature mania, I then thought of our Mumbai based whisky club members creative approaches to sourcing something ‘untried’ from around the globe and my own sampling scores:

Canadian stash

Would you agree? Are single malt sippers incapable of fidelity and always seek the novelty of something ‘new’ in their quest for the next great whisky?

You can also find Whisky Lady in India on:

200 whisky posts…. with thanks!

Six months ago, I celebrated a remarkable milestone – 100 whisk(e)y posts with 100 whiskies!

I enthusiastically listed all 100 whiskies reviewed and couldn’t stop doing a jig of celebration!

Fast forward and today marks 200 whisky posts… a double accomplishment!

However nothing is achieved without help! So I thought it high time to recognise all the fabulous folks that made it possible….

Most importantly, our Mumbai based whisky groups! Our shared journey and tasting sessions gave birth to this blog:

Plus very special tastings thanks to:

Most importantly, many anonymous friends and fellow bloggers who bravely court liver failure in the quest to find that special dram! Be it sending a sample or sharing an evening… an amusing quip or shared opinion, you know who you are!!

I raise a dram to you all in salut!

post-milestone-200-2x

You can also find Whisky Lady in India on:

On a lighter note… Tyrconnell, Clynelish, Speyburn

Most whisky aficionados have a ‘preferred’ profile. It could be bold peaty or sweet sherry or a craving for complexity where nothing else will do!

One of our original malt group members is partial to lighter more delicate whiskies. He seeks a little nuance and elegance in his dram.

So when it came time to host our 1st tasting session for 2016, he selected whiskies that he hoped would achieve such an approach.

2016-01-27 Oak League

Our evening had a decidedly light sprightly feel with:

However don’t be fooled! Just when pegged into a particular ‘type’, purely for contrast, our host shared that when he’s had a hard day at work, only something a bit rougher, tougher and robust will do.

That’s when a Wasmund’s 12 month 48% was pulled out! Because we all need a little ‘bad boy’ to spice things up once and a awhile.

Me? I’m terribly mood dependant. Some could say I can’t make up my mind, but it is simply that I enjoy the range of profiles.

You can also find Whisky Lady in India at:

Mumbai’s Whisky Ladies greet AnCnoc 12 + 22 year with Karen Walker

You thought we were done after a gin and three whiskies? Oooooh no! I did mention that this was the evening when our Whisky Ladies went pro?

The delightful Karen Walker, Global Marketing Head for Scottish Brands of InterBeverage Group then introduced us to not one but two AcCnoc offerings!

AnCnoc 12 year (courtesy Inver House)

AnCnoc 12 year (courtesy Inver House)

All along in the evening, Karen shared insight into the personalities of each distillery manager. In the case of AnCnoc, she described both the whisky and manager as “dry, humorous, complex.”

Here is what our ladies found…

AnCnoc 12 year 40% year aka Modern Tradition

  • Nose – Soft, a drizzle of honey and citrus
  • Taste – Playful quality, sweet, some fruit, VERY easy to drink
  • Finish – Some found it quickly disappeared, others remarked there was indeed a warm soft finish, lingering yet subtle

Karen then unearthed a sample of the AnCnoc 22 year 46%!

  • Nose – Bursting with citrus, flowery, mild yet with complexity, dry, evolves into berries with a hint of talcum powder and a whisp of smoke
  • Taste – Quite sweet, a little ‘oily’ with coconut, some bananas… or oranges… or raisins… or all of them! Sweet spices like cinnamon and cloves.
  • Finish – Ooooh! Lovely sweet berry finish, smokey with a hint of delicious sweet spices

This whisky sparked a slew of comments:

  • “It is so fresh! Yet at the same time so mature…”
  • “Incredibly well balanced and smooth… absolutely no rough edges.”
  • “Delightful!”
  • “Warms you, completely inoffensive”

We quite enjoyed our double hitter from Knockdhu Distillery. Quite the ‘finish’ to a rather sociable sampling evening for our Whisky Ladies with Karen.

It is remarkable anyone was still standing after sipping Caorunn gin, Balblair 03, Speyburn 10 year, Old Pulteney 12 year!

Slainthe!

You can also find Whisky Lady in India on:

Mumbai’s Whisky Ladies meet Karen Walker – Old Pulteney 12 year

After the thoroughly delightful Caorunn Gin, Balblair 03 and Speyburn 10 year, up next in our sampling adventures with Karen Walker, Global Marketing Head for Scottish Brands of InterBeverage Group was the swarthy sea-worthy Old Pulteney 12 year.

Old Pulteney 12 year (Inver House)

Old Pulteney 12 year (Inver House)

By this point, we couldn’t wait for Karen’s crazy whisky stories.

She began by sharing that Pulteney is one of the most northerly distilleries of Scotland and known as home to ‘gold and silver’ aka Scotch and herring. Picture this – a town with 7,000 migrant workers drinking 500 gallons of whisky A DAY… you do the math! And yes – that includes the women too.

Then moved on to the background to a picture of her with Prince Charles – yes THE Prince Charles of the royal family – that proudly graces Karen’s bathroom.

And the story? A potential PR disaster averted by an advance team that pointed out that with all the slats in the stairs within the distillery (remember – distillery fashion advice?), Charles could not go up the stairs with the press following… After all… the headlines the next day should be praising the unique character of the Old Pulteney distillery not speculating what the prince wears (or doesn’t beneath his kilt!).

Karen then went on to describe the character of the distillery, high up in the highlands, firmly retaining its fishing heritage.

Old Pulteney 12 year 40% – Gold n Silver from 3′ North of Moscow! 

So it is no surprise that the whisky character reflects is swarthy sea lashed heritage. Here is what our Whisky Ladies found:

  • Nose – So sweet, salty, caramel, cinnamon, ocean salt… could be… dare we say… a bit fishy??
  • Taste – Thick and smooth, woody, oily… “An orchestra in my mouth!”
  • Finish – Quite oily, no spice… “Did I just have my cod liver oil dose for the day?”

Some of our lasses are new to whiskies, so took note that Scottish whiskies list the age of the youngest whisky in the bottle. Even in a 12 year label, there may a few elements of much older whiskies.

Up next:

Related posts sampling with Stuart Harvey:

You can also find Whisky Lady in India on:

Mumbai’s Whisky Ladies and Karen Walker sip a Speyburn 10 year

Next up, the Whisky Ladies were introduced to Speyburn by Karen Walker, Global Marketing Head for Scottish Brands of InterBeverage Group.

Speyburn 10 (Courtesy International Beverage)

Speyburn 10 (Courtesy International Beverage)

Speyburn 10 year aka distillery visit footwear

Karen shared that her ‘goal’ for the evening was to bring the distillery to us ladies in Mumbai. Which then turned to some fashion advice showing off her rather stylish wedges:

Wear wedges or flats, no heels!

Why? There are typically slats in the stairs and hence heels can get caught… to avoid ankle twisting and accidents, sensible (but stylish!) footwear is recommended…

Karen then shared how this Speyburn is considered a ‘classic’ single malt in the US – more than holding its own with high competition.

Here is what we found…

  • Nose – Heavy caramel and spice, a bit of bananas, some raisiny goodness
  • Taste – Completely piquant on the tongue! Cayenne and orange. Sweet, with toffee and lemon.
  • Finish – Light with a bite on its way out…
  • Water – Opens up nicely with a drop or two of water
  • Overall – Interesting how it has a heavy nose but light mouthful

This whisky sparked remarks like:

  • “Something you could gift to someone and expect that they’d like it!” 
  • “Perfect for a hot whisky toddy!”

Already sampled in our evening with Karen:

Up next:

Related posts sampling with Stuart Harvey:

You can also find Whisky Lady in India on:

Mumbai’s Whisky Ladies and Karen Walker explore Balblair 03 46%

Next up with Karen Walker, Global Marketing Head for Scottish Brands of InterBeverage Group was the delightful Balblair 03.

Karen set the tone by taking us on a trip to the early days of the whisky industry, proudly sharing Balblair has been distilling legally since 1790… though no doubt drunk before the first official ledger entries!

Conversation turned to comments about the whiskies ‘thick legs’… to which Karen shared it is all about the viscosity. To which immediately there was the quip “Wouldn’t say that word after four of these!”

Balblair 03 (InterBev)

Balblair 03 (InterBev)

Balblair 03 aka 12 year 46%

Here’s what the whisky said to our whisky women:

  • Nose – There is a freshness, apples, sweet, heady, fruity. After airing a few vanilla notes emerge
  • Taste – Caramel apples, sticky apricot, a bit spiced, toasty, good mouth-feel, as it opens a little earthy element peaks out, smooth and easy.
  • Finish – Spicy finish, star anise, very smooth going down and curls with light smoke

Karen shared how the pale natural colour of Balblair has caused a marketing quandary. A certain country in Europe and well known retailer that shall remain nameless, called to say there was something ‘defective’ or ‘off’ about the entire Balblair shipment. Why? It wasn’t the ‘right’ colour. And consumers would not buy it. Hmm…

The Balblair was sampled after the refreshing Caorunn Gin and before:

What others say about Balblair 03:

  • Whisky Gospel – with a tour of the distillery too
  • Miss Whisky – on trying the 03, 90 and 69 with the distillery manager John MacDonald

You can also find Whisky Lady in India on:

Mumbai’s Whisky Ladies with Karen Walker and Caorunn Gin

To ease into our evening with Karen Walker, Marketing Director of InterBeverage Group, we began with a refreshing gin cocktail that greeted our ladies as they waltzed in the door from all corners of Mumbai.

Some chose with soda, some preferred tonic. All had their gin topped with a thin slice of apple.

Caorunn Gin (Courtesy International Beverage House)

Caorunn Gin (Courtesy InterBeverage House)

Caorunn Gin aka the appetiser

Here is what we found:

  • Nose – Like a perfume! Strong dandelion, sense of ‘branching out’ into different elements
  • Taste – Comparable to Hendrick’s yet more nuanced. Sweet, smooth on the tongue, complex with layering
  • Finish – Let’s just say, we all thought it was a brilliant ‘finish’ to a hard day’s work and a very welcome way to begin our whisky evening

Karen shared the care taken in sourcing and blending five local botanicals to make a gin that is distinctly Scottish, given life in their Balmenach distillery.

Without a doubt, the Caorunn Gin was a complete hit and several whisky women later blamed the sample for sparking a re-interest in gin!

Up next:

Related posts sampling with Stuart Harvey:

You can also find Whisky Lady in India on: