Caorunn Gin… Beat the Mumbai heat!

Yes this is a whisky blog.

However I did warn that from time to time another tipple or two may make an appearance.

And I think we CAN make an exception for this gin – given that it is made at a malt distillery – Balmanech.

I’ve had the opportunity to sample it thrice in 2015:

  • Once at a BMC member’s home in a highly convivial social evening
  • Again as the ‘starter’ to sip before getting down to the serious business of a whisky master class with Stuart Harvey, Inver House Master Distiller
  • A wildly popular ‘appetiser‘ for a Whisky Ladies evening with Karen Walker

In all cases, it was served with an apple and an equal portion of tonic to gin. Perfection!

Bright, light, highly refreshing. Delicate notes.

As Karen shared, the five points of the red star bring together the Caorunn gin elements – bog myrtle, rowan berry, heather, coul blush apple, dandelion.

Yet since then… only a whiff in Winnipeg’s liquor mart.

Til today! Thanks to my partner’s recent trip to London, our liquor cabinet is graced by our very own bottle.

As Mumbai’s 2nd summer comes upon us, temperatures rise, a chilled G&T or other assorted beverages seem just right! Oh happy days!

Caorunn Gin (Courtesy International Beverage House)

Caorunn Gin (Courtesy International Beverage House)

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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!

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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:

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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

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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:

Mumbai’s Whisky Ladies meet Karen Walker of Inver House

Now… I could tell you serious stories of sniffing, sipping, swishing, swilling, and eventually swallowing.

However this is the tale of how a bunch of women got together one evening and managed to still stand after five (or was it six?) fabulous beverages.

Some of Whisky Ladies of Mumbai

Karen with some of Whisky Ladies of Mumbai

Whisky Ladies go pro!

Yes… it was the night we graduated to power point presentations with insights from a real live whisky professional! Who just so happens to be the absolutely delightful, entertaining and highly knowledgeable Karen Walker, Global Marketing Head for Scottish Brands of InterBeverage Group.

Here is what we sampled with Karen with full posts about the Whisky Ladies experiences:

Related posts sampling Inver House offerings with Master Distiller Stuart Harvey from earlier in 2015:

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Balblair 03 46% 1st bottling

In July 2015, our whisky tasting group was invited by International Beverage Holdings to join a ‘Master Class’ with master distiller Stuart Harvey for a mini tour of their Inver House Scottish whiskies – Balblair, Old Puteney and Speyburn.

Who could resist?

We began our whisky sampling with a Balblair – a Highland distillery in EddertonRoss-shireScotland which was founded in 1790 and boasts having one of the oldest archives in distilling – with a ledger entry from 1800.

One of the hallmark approaches with Balblair is to focus ONLY on vintages rather than producing consistency to a particular flavour profile for say a 10 year, 15 year, 18 year, etc.

Stuart shared that 1989 “was an amazing vintage!” where the 1st note was unmistakably banana yet was very delicate. Even with this vintage, now into their 2nd bottling, he noted there is some variation.

Which is half the fun of taking a vintage approach – where the distiller manager John MacDonald can wait until he believes it is ready for bottling – and then have additional releases as and when desired with variation entirely acceptable.

Lucky us – we had an opportunity to sample the 1st release of the Balblair 2003!

Balblair 03 (InterBev)

Balblair 03 (InterBev)

Here’s what I found with the Balblair 03 46% (bottled in 2015) that evening:

  • Nose – Honey, toffee, green apple, citrus, fruity fragrant
  • Taste – Warm creamy with a spicy vanilla from the bourbon, hint of sweet ginger, has a kind of brightness
  • Finish – Soft sweet spice reminiscent of white peppercorn

Stuart shared they typically use 2nd fill bourbon barrels from Buffalo Trace. He noted this Balblair 2003 was filled at 67% and matured at an even temperature between 12 – 14’c for 12 years. While whisky typically looses about 2% to the angels each year, this is offset by absorbing moisture from the atmosphere so was still 61% when it was ready to dilute and bottle 12 years later.

For many of us, the Balblair 03 was the whisky of the evening – we enjoyed its nuanced Highland balance of fragrances, fruit and creamy spice.

Here’s what the Balblair folks have to say about the Balbair 03:

The American oak, ex-bourbon barrels used in maturation impart toffee, butterscotch and vanilla notes.

  • Appearance – Balblair 2003 is golden amber in appearance.
  • Nose – On the nose there are the signature Balblair aromas: floral and fragrant punctuated with citrus fruits, apricots and honey.
  • Palate – On the palate it is full bodied, with notes of oranges, lemon, honey and spice.
  • Finish – The long lasting finish is sweet yet spicy; a superbly well-balanced dram.

Confession time… I revisited the Balblair 03 in September with the delightful Karen Walker, Marketing Director of Scottish Brands for International Beverage, and our newly formed Mumbai Whisky Ladies group. The notes from that evening are most amusing and deserve a separate post!

Related posts:

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