Whisky Ladies Compass Box Eve – Peat Monster 46%

At last! Our final Whisky Ladies Compass Box Quintet whisky of the evening!

We started with Spice Tree Extravaganza, then the lightly peated Great King Street Experimental Batch, shifted gears completely to the blended grain Hedonism before being bowled over by the majestic Flaming Heart!

No easy feat to follow, Peat Monster boldly entered the fray!

Compass Box Peat Monster 46%

  • Nose “Did I just singe my eyelashes?” Punchy, pepper, much spicer than the Flaming Heart, malty sweet embers, coffee
  • Palate – Sweet, campfires burning, spicy yet not harsh, smoky, malty, lightly fruity
  • Finish – Smoky embers, cinnamon sweet spice
  • Water – This was the 1st dram of the night where a few drops of water really helped open it up, dampening the fires, bringing out a wider range in the spice elements, black liquorice, basil and more… a kaleidoscope of flavours to the back of the mouth and throat

After the gorgeous complexity of Flaming Heart, Peat Monster was a return to a dramatic dram that gets right to the point. Nothing fundamentally wrong with that – in fact at times that is exactly what you are in the mood for! No nonsense, this is what it is and enjoy!

For some, previous memories of Peat Monster was of a well-balanced, rich peaty dram that didn’t demand a single drop of water. Yet this one did. With a few drops transforming it, achieving the accessibility and drinkability we remembered. Interesting…

Here’s what the folks at Compass Box have to say:

You will find a spectrum of seaside and medicinal peatiness, along with kipper-like smokiness, all surrounding a core of fruity malt whisky character. THE PEAT MONSTER is a whisky for those who love intensity, flavour and freshness, balance and drinkability. A whisky for those who appreciate the blending of seemingly dissonant elements to create something sublime.

For the whisky geeks, I’ve included Compass Box’s info graphic, outlining the break-up between Laphroaig, Ledaig, Caol Ila, Ardmore with a 1% dash of Highland malt (Clynelish, Teaninich, Duilaine) with a warning that with each batch variation will occur.

Our Compass Box evening included:

Psst… this wasn’t my first brush with Peat Monster… you can read more about my earlier experience here.

This whisky was purchased by one of our Whisky Ladies and sampled from an unopened bottle in July 2017. It is also available in India through The Vault Fine Spirits.

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Kilchoman Sherry Single Cask 60.6%

Last in our Kilchoman peat explorations was the Kilchoman Sherry Single Cask matured completely in a sherry butt and bottled at cask strength.

Kilchoman Machir Bay, Sanaig, Sherry Cask

Kilchoman Machir Bay, Sanaig, Sherry Cask

  • Colour: Deep copper
  • Nose: Again such a contrast from the previous whiskies! Initial punch of blue stilton cheese, curd, then a hint of peat, some spice, buttery leather… as it opened a tight ball of citrus gradually opened
  • Taste: Spice, strength, boot leather, sits on the tongue
  • Finish: Waves of beautiful sherry peat
  • Water: Hmm… kicked up the spice even more when that was already a powerful element
Speculation: All thought it must be cask strength however none could imagine over 60%.
Reveal: This time, the Kilchoman was matured 100% in Oloroso Sherry butts. A powerful whisky and part of a special La Maison du Whisky “Trilogy” series. We sampled the:
Cask # 199/2010. Distilled 8 April 2010 & Bottled 31 August 2015. Bottle #204 of 642.

For those tuning in now, our Kilchoman evening featured:

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Kilchoman Peat Pairing Evening

Our original Mumbai based whisky tasting group consistently pushes the bar when conceptualising evenings.
We rotate hosts with each responsible to curate the experience – both whiskies and food to follow.
Over the years, we’ve had whisky and food pairings before.

Some of us even enjoyed a delightful dinner years ago with Anthony and Kathy Willis featuring Kilchoman Machir Bay and 100% Islay paired with a multi-course north Indian meal at Neel, Mahalaxmi Race Course in Mumbai.

None of this could prepare us for the unique experience in store for our March 2016 whisky tasting evening.

Our host began with a fabulous concept to explore the nuances of peat. Three different expressions from Kilchoman at identical 50 ppm which demonstrated the effect of the casks on the character with increasing percentage of sherry.

To then take this a step further, she then wanted us to explore how the peaty whiskies paired with three courses weaving in elements of smoke.

We first sampled in rapid succession the trio of whiskies blind. Then they were revealed to re-visit each paired with  carefully planned, beautifully presented courses.

Here is what we enjoyed from Kilchoman:

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Straight from Sweden – Mackmyra Svensk Rök 46.1%

I’ve been impatiently waiting to sample this beauty since December. I knew one of our Whisky Ladies made the trek back to Sweden with the intention of picking up something interesting. I also knew her personal preferences lean towards peat so was secretly hoping for this very bottle to make its way back to Mumbai.

I remember sampling the Mackmyra Brukwhisky at La Maison du Whisky – while I quite enjoyed its fresh youthful dance and loved what the folks at Mackmyra are doing, was looking for something with a bit more complexity and depth for an upcoming tasting session.

However I remained curious to try more and have avidly been reading Whisky Saga‘s adventures with Nordic whiskies – Sweden specifically.

To say I was delighted to sample their Swedish Smoke avatar is putting it rather mildly.

Mackmyra Svensk Rok

Mackmyra Svensk Rök 46.1%

  • Nose – Juniper, a perfumy smoke, light, honey, quite herbaceous, woodsy, sweet in a way that is almost florals but not quite, cut grass, coriander, a minty freshness that softens into vanilla
  • Palate – Smoke and spice and everything nice! Warm not sweet. A delightful ‘tingle’ that wakes you up.
  • Finish – Has an oaky smokey linger
  • Water – 2 drops rounds the smoke, 3 drops dampens to much! (Precise distinction!)

Talk turned to where this whisky would best be sampled? Consensus was after a vigorous ski, relaxing in a chalet where the whisky warms and perks up at the same time.

This is not an ‘easy’ whisky and is certainly distinctive. There is something quite appealing about how it has a clean ‘minimalist’ quality with no pretence.

Personally I also find a 50cl bottle just right. Enough to amply share in a tasting session with a dram left to enjoy at home later. If I could only find 4 such bottles on international trips, could bring in more variety within the 2 L import limit to India!

Here is what the Mackmyra folks have to say about their Svensk Rök:

In Sweden we have used juniper to season our food for generations. Now you can enjoy the timeless flavor in a golden form. The aroma is slightly smoky and spicy, with a much smokier flavor and peaty juniper notes. Together, the flavors unites in a quite unique Swedish flavor.

Swedish Smoke is the only smoky single malt whisky made on Swedish ingredients only.

  • Nose: The nose is slightly smoky and spicy with aromas of peat, juniper, vanilla, caramel, citrus, pears and raisins. Spicy oak notes such as toasted bread and anise.
  • Taste: Smokier than the nose with smoky, peaty, juniper notes. Dry, oaky aromas found with light tobacco leaves and herbs. A slight saltiness with minerals, anise and green fruits.

Mackmyra Svensk Rok Label

Other whiskies sampled that evening were:

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