Undisclosed Distilleries – Again!

A few months back I shared a trio of whiskies with our original tasting group – each did not disclose the distillery.

My original intention was to immediately share the same whiskies with our Bombay Malt & Cigar group… we had a wait a few extra months and by the time the evening arrived, I managed to add a 4th undisclosed distillery bottle to the mix – what fun!

And challenged the gentlemen to attempt to guess the possible distillery…

Wilson & Morgan “Highland Heart” Sherry (2006/2015) 43%

We began with the delicious sherry delight…

  • Nose – Sherry, berries, bannoffee cream pie, lots of cherries, delicious orange marmalade, prune, dark chocolate
  • Palate – Malty, biscuits, Ghanna bitter chocolate
  • Finish – Beautiful, long, round finish
  • Water – Opens up more but not required

We found it warm, fruity, luxurious and utterly delicious… there is a rich robustness to this whisky which belies its mere 43%.

And the guesses? From Glenrothes, to Glendronach to Aberlour… none suspected Macallan.

Sansibar Islay 8 year (2007/2015) 52.2%

We moved on to Islay…

  • Nose – Sea breeze Islay, sweeter honey notes, some iodine, peat and then peppermint
  • Palate – Cinnamon spice, chewy, velvet and smoke
  • Finish – A lovely finish, peat, bitter cinnamon that ends on sweet
  • Water – Had a bit of a debate – yes or no – with a complete divide on whether we preferred with or without water. Some found it made it sharp and sour whereas others thought it tamed it into sweet submission.

Interestingly, while the Wilson & Morgan seemed stronger and richer than 43% the Sansibar didn’t give a hint of being cask strength.

And the guesses? It was more a process of elimination… everything it was not and only a ‘maybe’ Ardbeg… firmly in the ‘Well it isn’t…’ category was Lagavulin. Oops!

Port Askaig 19 year 50.4%

  • Nose – Wow! Sweet stewed fruits, pears, with a restrained peat, wet rag, white sugar cane as it opened revealed hazelnuts and cream
  • Palate – Oily resin, smooth as silk with a subtle smoke
  • Finish – Sour bitter sweet
  • Water – With a few drops simply made is spicier. With a generous dollop brought out a perfume smoke. Again – opinions were divided between preferring with water and those who thought it best absolutely without a drop

It has a simple yet interesting nose, a complex palate, with a sweet finish.

And the guessing game? Perhaps Bunnahabain, Bruichladdich… certainly not Caol Ila!

Finlaggan Cask Strength 58% 

  • Nose – Pudding, overripe bannoffee pie, coconut, Jamaican sugar cane, lemon curd, nutmeg, spice, dry leaves and hay, vegetable
  • Palate – Peppery peat,
  • Finish – Smokey bitter ash chased by cinnamon sweet
  • Water – It softened the whisky considerably, bringing out juicy fruits – particularly peaches

Final guesses? After an initial speculation may perhaps be Caol Ila, Bowmore… settled on Laphroaig.

If you are curious, check out what I found originally:

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Undisclosed Distillery – Port Askaig 19 year 50.4%

I first sampled this Port Askaig as a sniff, swish and spit “speed date” at Whisky Live Singapore.

I was both impressed and intrigued, knowing it was impossible to get a full feel for this whisky, the Port Askaig 19 year made the cut to come home to Bombay for collective sampling pleasure!

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Port Askaig 19 year 50.4%

Here is what our original underground group had to say:

  • Nose – Jasmin, then a whole array of flowers, perfumes, hay, lightly toasted sesame seeds, quite restrained overall
  • Palate – Delicious! Balance, nice warm spice, light peat, mellowed, nuanced musk
  • Finish – Long beautiful finish – quite refined
  • Water – Brought out honey and cumin spice
  • Revisit – A huge bouquet of flowers on the nose – one said “like what you give your spouse for a special anniversary.” Followed by lots of hay, that beautifully balanced mellow delicious whisky and long enjoyable finish…

One put it perfectly “This is why we love Scottish whisky!” A fine example of what whisky can and should be! One to sip and savour, sufficiently complex to keep it interesting, quite elegant in its way.

For those who are curious, it is a well known industry secret that Caol Ila is the distillery of this TWE bottling!

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Here is what they have to say about Port Askaig 19 year:

This 19 year old cask-strength edition bursts with fabulously flinty, lemony, seashells-on-the-seashore flavours. This is a truly elemental whisky, perfect for sipping from hip flasks during cold winter walks.

And here is what Billy A over at The Whisky Exchange have to say:

  • Nose: Crisp, stony smoke hides a layer of muddy peat. There are hints of flowers and a thick and spicy middle, reminding me of sponge-cake batter.
  • Palate: A syrupy sweet start is quickly overtaken by flinty smoke and charcoal dust, sherbert fountains, lemons and a hint of violet.
  • Finish: Long and lingering, with sappy wood and sherbet lemons giving way to wood ash in a cast iron stove. After that there’s a lingering green leafiness – fruit leaves?
  • Water: Dirties up the nose with heavily smoked bacon and adds more sweet and sour fruit to the body – lemons, limes and berries galore. The finish loses some of its its ashy bitterness, becoming softer and sweeter.

The trio of whiskies sampled in our undisclosed distillery evening included:

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Undisclosed Distillery Drams – Sansibar, Port Askaig + W+M Highland Heart

While in the grand scheme of things entering our 6th year of monthly whisky meetings may not seem like much, for our original Mumbai whisky club, it is still a marvellous milestone.

The sincerity, dedication and creativity we bring to our sessions just keeps evolving. We put effort into planning our sessions, often collecting whiskies well in advance – as in a year or two.

In 2015, I went fully Japanese sharing bottles purchased a year earlier in Tokyo.

For my 2016 session, I went with Signatory Session theme.

So what to do for my 2017 session?

I put a cheeky twist on our most sacred of traditions – blind tasting. How, you may ask, could there be a twist to something like that? Either you can see the bottle or not.

In this case, we could see the bottles but still not know what distillery we were sampling!

What did I select?

I then added a further sneaky twist to the mix – sharing the exact same bottles in a completely different setting, different company which added a different dimension to the whisky impressions… You can read about the Bombay Malt & Cigar gents reactions here: Undisclosed Distilleries… Again!

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Whisky Live Singapore – Port Askaig

Our saunter through Whisky Live Singapore continues with Port Askaig.

Port Askaig is a project from Sukhinder Singh’s Specialty Drinks, owner of The Whisky Exchange with brands like Single Malts of Scotland and Elements of Islay.

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Port Askaig 100 Proof 57.1%

  • Nose clearly Islay, sweet soft aromas with peat, a bit of fruit and spice on the palate
  • Islay refill bourbon cask, aged for approx 7 years with 50,000 bottles
  • PS This whisky won Malt Maniacs 2016 “Thumbs Up Award

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Port Askaig 16 year 45.5%

  • Initial impression is of stewed fruits, then soft peat, sweet coconut, overall sense is of approachability – and with a splash of water even more so
  • Brings together a marriage of 80% ex-bourbon and 20% Oloroso Sherry casks

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Port Askaig 19 year 50.4%

  • Lots going on with this whisky with peaty leather, sweet, smoky, yet some citrus too
  • I knew immediately this was one I wanted to more than just ‘speed date‘ – a quick impression was not sufficient to form a proper opinion
  • Which is why the Port Askaig came home to Mumbai with me to join a theme evening of ‘undisclosed distlleries

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PS Those in the know would know that most know Port Askaig is actually Caol Ila…

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