Writers Tears 2013 Cask Strength 53%

While I was off jaunting around North America and UAE, my fellow Mumbaikers were exploring whiskies… This is a guest post by Nikkhil, a member of our original Mumbai whisky club.
Pour 1: Writers Tears 2013 Cask Strength 53%
  • Nose: Citrus, lemon/lime hit which quickly faded into some mild honey followed by some baked/toasted cereal grain notes – think Marie biscuit. Then suddenly it turned solventy. The nose kept changing rapidly. Some odd notes of pressure cooker boiled peanuts. Hints of green apple. Overall very temperamental. And the initial citrus hit never returned. 
  • Palate: A swift uppercut! Hot but strangely not raw. Young and rather thin on the palate. We did speculate on this being a high strength bottling. Again just like the nose the heat faded quickly! Very little mouthfeel. Volatile. Bitter cereals, tannic and spirit driven. A very muted development. With water it turned more bitter. Some faint banana and herbal notes. We couldn’t quite place this spirit either in terms of its flavour profile or geography.
  • Finish: There was none! We were all unanimous on that.
Reveal: We were quite surprised (in disbelief) and those in the know of this brand were even more so. One member was disappointed as he had highly recommended it based on his previous encounter with Writers Tears in Glasgow. Another member was equally perplexed as this was high up on his wishlist having been recommended by an Irish whiskey aficionado.There was not a hint of the “pot still” character even though it claims to be a vatting of Irish single malt and Irish pot still.
In my experience Irish whiskies always start spirit driven and solventy and benefit immensely given some time in the glass. Could it be the same with this one? Did we sample it too quickly? Perhaps I should have poured one more, let it rest and then revisited it.
The discussion then turned to provenance or rather the lack of it when it comes to newer Irish whiskey with many NDPs (non distiller producer) sourcing the bulk of their matured stock from Cooleys and Middleton.
Official notes: 
 
  • Nose: Flashes of apple with hints of vanilla and honey over a distinctively Irish Pot Still base
  • Taste: Gently spiced with a burst of ginger and butterscotch with background notes of toasted oak
  • Finish: Long, elegant finish with subtle notes of milk chocolate and almonds

Writers Tears whiskies are a combination of unspecified Irish pot still and Irish single malt, triple distilled and aged in ex-bourbon casks.

This bottle was sampled blind, opened in September 2017 in Mumbai for this tasting. It can be found online at the Celtic Whisky Shop for €150.00.

The 2014 edition all appears to be sold out/discontinued on Master of Malt, however The Whisky Exchange still has the 2015 (2100 bottles at $151)  & 2016 (2640 bottles at $151) available. 

This may be a cask where variation between the years makes a difference. What was stellar one year becomes merely average another year or – gasp! – even a disappointment.

Whiskies sampled in September 2017 by our original club included:

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A trip to Teeling!

In November 2016 I was travelling and missed our original tasting group’s session. However our host stepped up to the role to ‘chronicle’ the sampling experience.

She went well beyond merely jotting down tasting notes… she visited the distillery and documented observations from there too! What follows is a blend of both for your reading pleasure…

“The Irish invented the stuff. The Scotts perfected it.”

Whiskey was first recorded in Ireland in 1405 then 1495 in Scotland. Old Bushmills Distillery claims to be the oldest (started in 1784) and Irish whiskey is most popular in the USA. Prohibition, independence war and trade disputes with Britain all impacted the Irish whiskey industry.

In 1966, there were only a handful of Irish distilleries. By the 1970s, only two – Bushmills and New Middleton. Yet now, in the last 20 years, Irish Whiskey is the fastest growing spirit in the world. There are currently 12 distilleries with more being set-up yet to release their whiskies.

Teeling was the 1st new distillery built in Ireland in the last 125 years. Its character comes from their approach:

  • Triple distilled in old copper pots making it a lighter, smoother spirit
  • The pot stills used are short, fat, large stills with a round base (thrice the size of normal copper post stills), again helping contribute to the softer character
  • No peat is used – instead wood or other fuels are used to dry the grains
  • They use both raw and malted barley and do mix other grains with it too

2016-11-13-teeling

And now to the tasting notes:

Teeling Single Grain 46%

  • Nose – Vanilla, orange, sweet
  • Taste – Sweet like SWEET (more sugary sweet), smooth, had body / oil / viscous-y, light body
  • Finish – Some thought no finish, another found it bitter

Speculation on the strength ranged from 40% to at most 43% to a lone voice suggesting 45%.

Overall conclusion was this is not a sipping drinking, but a drinking whisky. While it lacks complexity and body, if someone served “I would enjoy it!”

This whisky is matured in California red wine barrels and known for its spice, red berries, grapes, with a dry, woody, spicy finish.

Teeling Single Malt 46%

  • Nose – Light – like a fast car that doesn’t even attempt to promise body, citrusy, mild dry fruits, honey water and figs in water
  • Taste – Spice, sweet but not as sugary sweet as the 1st one – instead more dates and raisins, fruit chocolate sweet, one found the lemony quality on the nose extended to the taste too. Fills the mouth a bit
  • Finish – No comments

One shared he certainly preferred this to the 1st whisky as had more character.

The Single Malt is from 100% malted barley of different ages, typically a batting of five different wine casks – sherry, port, madeira, white burgundy, cabernet – hence the raisin, fig, toffee and dry fruit notes.

Teeling Small Batch 46%

  • Nose – Jackfruit, curdled milk (yes – that’s spoilt milk folks!)
  • Taste – Very nice, a ‘happy taste’, lots of spice notes, lemony, more body than the 2nd Teeling
  • Finish – A spice finish, and considered much “nicer” on the finish

Overall the conclusion was that none of the three sampled so far were complex.

What makes this whisky distinctive is it has further maturation in ex-rum barrels adding a vanilla spice to the whisky.

Teeling Cask Strength (02/2002 – 12/2015) Madeira Cask No 933 55.2%

  • Nose – Lemony, dry
  • Taste – Finally a complex, balanced whisky! Dry, then became buttery, spicy and back to dry, oily in the beginning then dry as simply evaporates! One found a little jasmine on the tongue.
  • Finish – Pepper spice

In reading her notes, I felt like I was there at the session… even more so it transported me back to my Whisky Live Singapore tasting with Teeling’s Single Grain, Small Batch and Single Malt.

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Whisky Live Singapore – Teeling Trio Tasting

My Whisky Live Singapore tasting experience kicked off with a decided Irish air with a trio of whiskies from Dublin’s new Teeling distillery established near Walter Teeling’s old distillery from 1782.

2016-11-13-teeling

Tasting notes are sparse as my approach was to sniff, sip and spit… then move on to the next dram. A sacrilege to many, but worked for me. Hence most of my scribbles are more impressions than proper tasting notes, providing more of a teaser of what is in store than proper evaluation.

2016-11-12-teeling-single-grain

Teeling Single Grain Wine Casks (08/2015) 46%

  • A sweet light fruity breakfast dram with a nice viscous mouthfeel, though soft has substance with a dry finish
  • The Teeling gent shared that the wine cask in question was a Californian Cabernet Sauvignon

2016-11-12-teeling-small-batch

Teeling Small Batch Rum Casks (11/2015) 46%

  • Another sweet easy going dram, vanilla spice on the nose, a bit sweet spice sour on the palate, with a finish that is there and gone
  • Matured in ex-Nicaraguan Rum barrels

2016-11-12-teeling-single-malt

Teeling Single Malt (09/2015) 46%

  • Lots of dry fruits, toffee, citrus, sweet spices, dry finish
  • A vatting of 5 wine casks – Sherry, Port, Madeira, White Burgundy, Cabernet Sauvignon

2016-11-12-teeling-trio

A light, sprightly start to tasting adventures…

Wanna read about more Irish whiskies? Check out:

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Irish Night – The Wild Geese, Knappogue Castle, Teeling

I’ve shared the genesis of this blog was a whisky tasting group started with friends in Mumbai in 2011…

We are rather particular about adherence to our pre-set dates and have been known to plan a year in advance who hosts which session. The evenings are blocked and the commitment sacrosanct…. except… when unavoidable things get in the way.

Like a change in dates for my Canada / UK trip which meant I missed the June session. Oops!

Teasingly photos were shared and exclamations about what a fabulous night it was…

(Photo: Ashok Gulati)

(Photo: Ashok Gulati)

The group sampled:

  • The Wild Geese Rare 43%
  • Knappogue Castle 14 year 46%
  • Teeling Small Batch 46%

Alas no tasting notes were made though apparently much enjoyment was had!

And when I pretty please requested to pop over for a wee side sample… was gently informed all three bottles were polished off. Double oops!

Guess I truly missed the treat this time however have no doubt it was a merry night of most sociable Irish malts!

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Irish Night – Connemara NAS 40%

Just to ensure we didn’t miss Ireland’s peated offering, the lads n lasses evening included Connemara!

(Six Mumbai 2015)

(Six Mumbai 2015)

Lina Sonne is our last Whisky Ladies of Mumbai guest whisky reviewer for our Irish Night… 

An escapee academic, Lina heads the Mumbai office of Okapi and its consulting portfolio on innovation and entrepreneurship. Her work focusses on enabling inclusive innovation, social entrepreneurship and start-ups across South Asia and she has traveled widely across the region.

Lina has developed a bit of a reputation for preferring whiskies with a bit more ‘hair on the chest,’ veering towards more robust and peated profiles. On a recent trip back to Sweden, she zeroed in on Mackmyra’s peated Svensk Rök as THE whisky she wished to share with Mumbaikars. 

Here is what Lina has to say about the Connemara….

  • Nose – Definitely seaside, distinct peat and plenty of wood.
  • Palate – Smooth and very light on the palate – a puff of wind on your tongue and it finishes! Where did all that peat go?
  • Finish – Light sweet finish, but with some bitterness and maybe a walnut hiding in there somewhere.
  • Water – Add water and old wood comes out, with a little spice to tickle your tongue.

Overall we found that the Connemara had a great peaty nose promising plenty, but failed to deliver on the palate, with the peat all but disappearing. While still an enjoyable dram, we had hoped for a bit more drama. Instead, it’s quite dry and makes you want to go looking for water.

brandImageConnemara

Kilbaggan website

Here’s what the folks over at Kilbeggan distillery have to say about their Connemara:

Inspired by Ireland’s ancient distilling traditions, Connemara’s smooth sweet malt taste and complex peat flavours makes it a truly unique Irish whiskey.

Connemara is the most decorated Irish whiskey with a huge collection of Gold Medals and has been honoured as the “Worlds Best Irish Single Malt”. Connemara allows you to unearth the Peated Pleasures of Ireland.

Last but not least, more guest reviews by different Whisky Ladies of Mumbai:

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

Irish Night – Bushmills Steamship 40%

Our Irish lads n lasses evening moved on to Bushmill‘s newer offering to the travel retail market – Steamship!

Susan Dias is our next Whisky Ladies of Mumbai guest whisky reviewer… 

(Susan's LInkedIn profile)

(Susan’s LinkedIn profile)

What does a Chartered Accountant with a fierce pride in Indian traditions and keen interest in local spirits do? Naturally start a venture, Native Brews, with a dream of celebrating traditional artisanal Indian spirits in a contemporary context.  

After a year of extensive exploration and research into remote corners of India, Susan returned to Mumbai to begin playing around with the distillation of Mahua, a flowering tree found in central India. While still in the early stages (so be patient!), exciting experiments are already under way!

Having focused more on native Indian spirits, Susan is newer to exploring the world of whiskies… however this lass is fast catching up! 

Here is what Susan has to say about the Bushmills Steamship….

Bushmills Steamship – Sherry Cask Reserve is part of Bushmill’s first ever travel retail exclusive, ‘The Steamship Collection’. The collection is inspired by the historical SS Bushmills steamship and celebrates its maiden voyage in the 1890s. Story goes that after being commissioned by then owner the Boyd Brothers, it sailed to America, travelling as far as Philadelphia and Yokohama, and returning with refilled casks of rum, fortfied wine and Bourbon.

The Steamship Sherry Cask Reserve is a no-age-statement single malt Irish whiskey exclusively matured in Oloroso Sherry casks.

(Bushmills)

(Bushmills)

Susan’s Tasting Notes

  • Color: Medium rich gold
  • Nose: An intriguing almost spicy aroma, burnt sugar sweetness
  • Palette: Sweet, dried fruits, vanilla
  • Finish: Medium finish, sweet
  • Water: Brings out spice. Opens it up and after sitting for a while becomes more enjoyable.

It is quite evidently a young whiskey. The first launch under new owner Jose Cuervo’s expansion plans, it has the characteristics typical of the brand, but lacks the maturity (pun intended) of its older siblings.

Colum Egan, Master Distiller at The Old Bushmills Distillery, said about the Steamship Collection

“For centuries distillers have experimented with different barrels so naturally I was inspired by the adventures of the ship and the opportunities it opened to experiment with various casks from around the world. So, together with Master Blender Helen Mulholland, we created a whiskey with a rich, complex flavour and a smooth finish – a characteristic synonymous with our range of triple distilled whiskeys.”

The experts at the tasting gave the Steamship a thumbs down although quite a happy one. This is because at some point (I don’t know how it came up – I was quite a few drams down by then) it was compared to a gay lad on the Love Boat. I will let you figure that one out yourselves!

PS Poor wee whisky, in the consumption contest, Steamship lagged behind all the other Bushmills…

Bushmills Steamship, 10, 16, 21

Bushmills Steamship, 10, 16, 21

Here are more guest reviews by different Whisky Ladies of Mumbai!

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

Irish Night – Bushmills 21 year 40%

Our Irish lads n lasses evening continued with the Bushmill‘s 21 year!

(www.tripfolk.com)

(www.tripfolk.com)

Shruti Sutwala is our next Whisky Ladies of Mumbai guest whisky reviewer… 

With a background in marketing, Shruti took the plunge to transform her passion for travel into a profession. Her company, TripFolk, curates unique travel experiences with like minded travelers, tapping into local bloggers, travel writers, wine and food enthusiasts, art curators and more….. 

Given that Shruti travels extensively (plus has a partner who shares her whisky explorations), she can always be counted on to have a good whisky bottle (or more!) kicking around in her cabinet.

She’s particularly fond of more nuanced whiskies with a wide variety of profiles. Shruti has introduced us to Japanese whiskies like the yin yang Nikka Blended and the subtle Nikka Coffey Grain.

Here is what Shruti has to say about the Bushmills 21 year

(Bushmills official website)

(Bushmills official website)

  • Colour – Dark Amber
  • Nose – Woody & spicy (hints of pepper) with some freshness of citrus fruits like orange
  • Palate – Sweet, sweet, sweet as you sip it! Gets a little nutty and spicy as you let it sit on your palate for some time!
  • Finish – It has a spicy finish which balances the sweet palate overall, however overall it’s not complex as expected
  • Water – You should try this with a few drops of water if you are really looking for some complexity in this 21 year old! It does bring out a few caramely notes..

Overall we found this to be the most “Irish” of the other expressions of Bushmills. A fun easy going whisky to drink which gives you a few nuances to experience, without making it too complicated and serious. One of the gentleman actually said “you almost feel like breaking into an Irish dance along with this whisky!”

Here’s what the folks over at Bushmills have to say about their 21 year:

Bushmills Single Malt Whiskey 21 year old is aged for a minimum of 19 years in former Oloroso Sherry and Bourbon-seasoned casks, then transferred into Madeira casks for a further 2 years. The result is a whiskey awarded ‘Best Irish Single Malt 2013’.

It has huge depth that interweaves dried fruit flavors with spicy, aromatic maltiness and subtle nutty raisins notes.

PS The Bushmills 21 year clearly won the consumption contest!! An entire bottle was polished and could see eyes coveting the 2nd bottle waiting in the wings…

Here are more guest reviews by different Whisky Ladies of Mumbai!

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

Irish Night – Bushmills 16 year 40%

Pindadaan-Marathi-Movie-Poster

Next up in our Irish lads n lasses evening was Bushmill‘s 16 year!

Fellow Canadian Paula McGlynn is our 1st guest whisky reviewer…

In addition to her blog & experiments with Pollywood Vlog (now discontinued), Paula is a film maker with her partner (Gulbadan Talkies) and actress, recently making her Marathi film debut.

What matters to our Whisky Ladies in Mumbai, is she’s the kind of lass that will track down a new whisky experiment from Canada, take an hour off from shooting in Goa to zip over to Paul John to collect a coveted bottle of Peated or pop into WhiskyLive when in South Africa… just because… whisky!

Here is what Paula has to say about the Bushmills 16 year….

Bushmills Single Malt Whiskey 16 year old is aged for 16 years in a combination of Oloroso Sherry and Bourbon-seasoned casks, then matured for several months in port wine barrels.

(Photo: www.bushmills.com)

(www.bushmills.com)

Paula’s Tasting Notes

  • Color: Amber
  • Nose: Sweet and subtle nose. Burnt sugar, toffee, citrus, overall restrained.
  • Palette: Cinnamon, caramel, marmalade, orange peel, star anise.
  • Finish: It hangs at the back of the tongue. Fennel and spice.
  • Water: Leather and more spice. Not recommended. It damps it down, but it was noted that after sitting for a while, the water brings out more of the Port notes.

Overall it is reserved and subtle but clean. Retains the distinct sweetness characteristic of Bushmills expressions.

Here is what the folks over at Bushmill have to say about the 16 year:

“The unique maturation process gives this single malt its distinct notes of juicy fruits, nuts and spice, as well as a hint of ruby redness.

It’s best enjoyed neat or over ice.”

It was also awarded Gold at the 2010 San Francisco World Spirits Competition.

PS In the consumption contest, Bushmills 16 year was 2nd!

More reviews by different Whisky Ladies of Mumbai:

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Irish Night – Bushmills 10 year 40%

Rather than bounce around with multiple distilleries, our recent Irish evening narrowed its focus to primarily Bushmills.

For those not familiar, the Old Bushmills distillery can be found in Bushmills, County Antrim, Northern Ireland and traces its history back some 400+ years.

1st up in our combined Whisky Ladies & Bombay Malt & Cigar evening was the Bushmills 10 year.

Carissa’s tasting notes:

(Bushmills official website)

(Bushmills website)

  • Nose – Light, sweet, sprightly, a bit of banana, hints of vanilla, some honey, a whiff of spice all typical of an ex bourbon cask, mellowed into a soft caramel
  • Palate – Some fruit – apples and pears, very smooth and easy to drink, a hint of sweet spice like cinnamon, malty cereal
  • Finish – Was there a finish? Maybe a little light whisky sweetness…
  • Water – Hmm… honestly don’t… it was already quite ‘thin’ to our palates now more attuned to cask strength than 40%… and the whisky character is already quite restrained so best avoided

Overall we found it was a good start to the evening – one of those eminently accessible whiskies. While it doesn’t challenge, it does an admirable job of lubricating the senses with a sweet, sociable, uncomplicated yet pleasant whisky.

Here’s what the folks over at Bushmills have to say about their 10 year:

Bushmills Single Malt Whiskey 10 year old is triple distilled from 100% malted barley and matured for at least 10 years in bourbon season barrels which give it it’s honey, vanilla and milk chocolate aroma.

It can be served neat, over ice or if you’re feeling a little more adventurous, try it frozen.

We didn’t try it frozen, however…in a muggy Mumbai May night? Perhaps that wouldn’t be such a bad thing.

Extra special treat for this sessions are guest reviews by different Whisky Ladies of Mumbai!

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

Irish Night – When the BMC + Whisky Ladies unite!

To the casual observer, it may seem slightly absurd that one woman living in Mumbai could be part of three whisky tasting groups. Yet each are unique and completely delightful.

Particularly our Whisky Ladies group attracts quite a bit of… ahem… gentlemanly attention with many men wishing to crash our female only party.

However the lads over at our Bombay Malt & Cigar club are a rather more civilised lot. Clever gents, they knew the best way to enjoy an evening with the ladies would be to extend a gracious invitation to the mysterious whisky women of Mumbai.

And thus the Irish night was conceived!

While it didn’t take 9 months for this momentum occasion to become a reality, many  most amusing efforts went into selecting more sociable Irish whiskies, with the gentlemen taking full charge of sourcing everything from the whiskies to pipettes to acquiring more Glencairn classes to even glass covers!

Bushmills Distillery 21 May 2016 (Photo: Arti)

Bushmills Distillery 21 May 2016 (Photo: Arti)

At one point some 10+ whiskies were being bandied about as options, however in the end they settled on:

Then a few more were added as ‘bonus’ whiskies:

As always, the proof of what proved most popular is what was consumed most during the evening… in this case, the evidence is quite clear! The Bushmill’s 21 year beat the pants off the entire competition. Followed by the 16, 10 and Steamship lagged behind…

Bushmills Steamship, 10, 16, 21

Bushmills Steamship, 10, 16, 21

Our venue host personally cooked an Irish stew as the focus entrée of a fabulous sit down dinner which followed our slightly inebriated pronouncements about the various drams. We even had an Irish themed assortment of music and naturally much merriment was had by all!

To say the lads fully embraced our Irish evening is a wee bit of an understatement.

As for the lasses? Let’s just say we are plotting how to return the courtesy… with a theme that may completely disrupt normal notions of what defines a good dram!

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