Bruichladdich Port Charlotte MP5

The whole idea behind Bruichladdich’s Micro-Provenance (or MP) series is to demonstrate the difference to be found between casks when starting at approximately the same place. Through this journey, one can explore the evolution of a single malt, comparing and contrasting…

For #LaddieMP5, head distiller Adam Hannett selected three single casks of Port Charlotte whisky:

  • All starting at the same peat level – 40 ppm
  • Using the same barley type – Optic
  • Distilled within 2 weeks of each other in November 2005
  • Then matured for 10 years…. just in different casks…

The result was a fascinating experiment and experience enjoyed by our original Mumbai whisky tasting group late August 2018.

Port Charlotte MP5 Single Casks Trio: 

I asked the Comms team for more info and they said the best thing to do is to watch the MP5 broadcast where Adam and Allan talked through the whiskies – well worth watching!

To get us in the mood for peaty full cask strength drams, I also opened up another bottle of Port Charlotte to help calibrate our palates. The whisky I selected for this purpose was:

Tasting notes will be available over the next few days….

Curious about other Bruichladdich Port Charlotte tasting experiences?

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North Star Discovery – Ardmore Peat 8 year 58.7%

Next up in our North Star Discovery was another from their inaugural series… this time from Ardmore. We’ve not come across much Ardmore in our whisky explorations – my only brush has been a speed sniff and swish of the Ardmore 1997 45% (G&MP).  at Whisky Live Singapore at the Gordon & MacPhail booth.

Ardmore Peat 8 year (June 2008 / Oct 2016) 58.7% 1 of 198 bottles

  • Nose – PEAT, oily, sulfer, soapy, capsules… like walking into a doctor’s or chemist shop, iodine, steam engine, musty… then started to shift character revealing waves and waves of cinnamon, plums, mosambi juice, dark juicy fruits, black cherry, cinnamon apple juice, sour cherries…. kept evolving shifting from fruits to a slightly oily soot, like sacred ash, then a bit lactic, old flowers like malas after a day or so… then dark chocolate… and yet another element revealing such a delicious BBQ honey bacon, lots of smoked meats, light tar… followed by coffee, creamy yoghurt… an absolutely unbelievable nose
  • Palate – Sweet roaring spice, lots of sweet peat, stewed chewy fruits, then sweet meats and BBQ. Has good body, lots of character, oodles of spice yet still beautifully balanced between all the elements.
  • Finish – Chocolate cinnamon with a slight orange zest with a “hold” that really stays… dry
  • Water – Brilliant with! Becomes so sweet, lovely honey bacon with a mandarin perfume twist on the nose, silky smooth with a lovely rolling cinnamon sweet on the palate and fantastic finish.

We began to speculate, while it clearly had peat, we thought it wasn’t an obvious Islay dram, yet still likely Scottish. It has a gentle peat quality, pronounced, firmly there but with a subtle hand.

Thinking about the cask, we wondered about french oak? Something that gives a good kick like the way the virgin oak does for Spice Tree.

Again we guessed cask strength and absolutely loved the way water gave it even more “something.”

One remarked that it was a bit “naughty” in the nicest possible way…

Could any of us pick out that it was Ardmore! Not a chance… and that too from a new independent bottler? Impossible.

Which made the reveal all the more enjoyable.

And what about the official tasting notes?

  • Nose: Delicate peat, smoked meats & iodine
  • Palate: Sweet fruit juices & smoke from a BBQ
  • Finish: A great balance of savoury, smoke & chocolate orange

What were we fortunate to sample in our introductory North Star Trilogy?

Unfortunately North Star bottles fly off the online “shelves” quickly!

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Sullivans Cove 16 year 47.5%

Sullivans Cove shot from quiet quality in a special niche corner to global prominence a few years ago thanks to a few well deserved awards. Since then, tracking down a bottle is challenging… even more so to find one with an age statement.

Our merry Mumbai malters were earlier introduced to the Sullivans Cove French Oak Cask and not so long ago our Whisky Ladies went on a Trans Tasmanian Tour which included  Sullivans Cove Double Cask, yet these glimpses into what Tasmania has to offer and more specifically Sullivans Cove remain rare opportunities here in Mumbai.

Which made it all the more interesting to discover, sampling completely blind this beauty…

Sullivans Cove 16 year 905/12/2000-22/02/2016) Barrel No HH0561 47.5% Bottle No 74 of 120, Non-chill filtered, American oak ex-bourbon cask

  • Colour – Dark gold
  • Nose – Sharp, distinctive, came across as high alcohol initially, then opened into a tropical fruit paradise, some biscuit, compost and wet earth, moss, it then rapidly dissipated closing up… with a few deep sniffs could discern rubber, cashew feni… quite tricky on the nose as it was on the one hand a bit sharp and on the other hand shy… After the 1st sip revealed pears, dry copra, beyond the coconut, the tropical fruits really came to the fore, quite lively… After quite some time and a revisit, there was paan betel nut too!
  • Palate – Barley water and really rather sweet, then the spice grows, not harsh but surprisingly forceful, chew and get cinnamon. It had this most amazingly deceptive quality of seeming mellow and yet take a good swish and breath in to find SPICE!  Yet equally take a small slow sip and it was like honey water with just a dash of pepper,  so so smooth
  • Finish – A funny sort of finish… An immediate ‘flash’ then just holds you gently for quite some time
  • Water – Most were not tempted. Those that did found it took the sharp and spice mellowing it to modest and nice.

While initially the nose gave a sense of alcohol strength, the palate clearly put this into perspective with a determination it must be below 48%. There were many aspects of this whisky that were ‘tricky’ – in a very interesting way. It also was one that demanded time and attention. Sit back, relax and enjoy the dialectic.

With some whiskies, we find the flavour profiles are fairly universal – accessible to practically anyone in the world. In cases like this Sullivans Cove, we found many qualities that fit perfectly with the palate of Indian fruits, spices, country liquor and deserts. Which made it all the more meaningful and memorable to enjoy in India.

What else do we know about this Tasmanian dram? Here is what they say…

To create this exceptional Single Malt Whisky our distiller has selected the highest quality local ingredients and American Oak ex-Bourbon casks. The award winning result is elegant and creamy exhibiting sweet malt, vanilla and citrus notes with a lingering finish. Taste our splendid isolation, indulge your senses.

Our host admitted this bottle set him back a pretty penny. I do believe something like $400 was mentioned, in large part as a rather hefty “Angel’s Share” made the remaining liquid all the more precious.

What did we try in our “pedigree” evening?

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Bunnahabhain 24 year (1990) 51%

Bunnahabhain is one of those distilleries that is defined by more of what it is NOT than what it is… Kinda like how Canada describes itself by its differences from the United States.

The most obvious is that while an Islay distillery…. it generally does not peat its drams.

When I was first introduced to Bunnahabhain it was described by my friend (who is a fan) as “What women at the pub drink.” Nothing complex or classy, just straight forward and a bit sassy…. having the Islay oomph without the peat clobber.

So what would be its 90 sec “elevator pitch” description? And would this sampling help us answer the question….

Photo – WhiskyFun

Bunnahabhain 24 year (1990) “Blosson” Hogshead cask #7398 51% Hot Malt Taiwan (270 bottles)

  • Nose – It started off by playing “hard to get” then revealed a ladies perfume with a sharpness too, a waft of tropical fruits, then men’s cheap cologne
  • Palate – Hot spice, a sour funky almost rubber quality, a bit of mineral rocks? A seriously solid dram… as it settled had a hint of chocolate
  • Finish – Long and strong
  • Water – Oh please! We found a few drops really opened it up so much… morphing from being in the “I’m not entirely  sure about this one” to a rather beautiful dram

While it is unpeated… that slight rubber or plastic element on the palate could also be describe as almost smokey. Certainly  a conversation Bunnahabhain… where there is more than meets the initial sniff!

This is one of those rare drams that if you don’t happen to be a Malt Maniac are unlikely to encounter… even trying to track down an image was challenging until I went to Serge’s marvellous encyclopaedia of whiskies – WhiskyFun!

So would this experience give us the answer to the “distillery character”? Probably not. But was good to try!

Other Bunnahabhain tasting experiences?

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Ladies Choice – Kavalan Solist Sherry (2009) 57.1%

Our “Ladies Choice evening for the Bombay Malt & Cigar gentlemen closed with a Taiwanese tipple – the Kavalan Solist Sherry.

(www.tripfolk.com)
(www.tripfolk.com)

Shruti Sutwala returns as our last Whisky Ladies of Mumbai guest 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 complex 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.

kavalan-jpg

Here is what Shruti has to say about the Kavalan Solist Sherry:

I had my first exposure to Kavalan Soloist thanks to the whisky ladies and oh my god – did I fall in love with it. The “Soloist” is their premium line of whisky and of course the better one. This time we tried the “Kavalan Solist Sherry Cask S090102020 Bottle No 258/511 57.1%.”.

As the name suggests its sherry and more sherry all over from colour (dark wood) to nose (raisins & cherry) and flavour (fruity, spiced, honey). It has quite a complex experience & finish which is rather unique & different from Scottish Malts – probably because of the Taiwanese weather conditions & ageing process.

For me this dram is a perfect post dinner drink, it is plain yummy and would be the perfect ending to a wonderful evening. 

What else did we sample in our “Ladies Choice” evening for the BMC gentlemen?

Other Kavalan tasting experiences:

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Ladies Choice – Paul John Single Cask #1844 60.5%

Next up in our Ladies Choice evening was India’s Paul John Single Cask #1844, bottled at full cask strength of 60.5%.

Fellow Canadian Paula McGlynn returns as our guest whisky reviewer…

Guest Post by Paula McGlynn

Guest Post by Paula McGlynn

Based in Mumbai, Paula is an actress – including a Marathi film –  film-maker with her partner (Gulbadan Talkies), producer of the Bharatiya Digital Party‘s irreverent web series “Casting Couch” and script writer.

She’s the kind of lass that will track down a new whisky experiment  from Canada or the US, 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 Paul John Single Cask #1844 60.1%…

The whisky ladies and I have come to associate Paul John whiskies with a distinct character, from the Peated Select Cask (my favourite), to the Bold and Edited expressions available in India. Paul John has quickly become a great staple whisky to keep stocked in the liquor cabinet if you want to impress your friends with high quality Indian whisky.

However, on the first try of Cask #1844 most of us were bowled over by the distinct caramel sweetness and had trouble finding complexity underneath. Partly because of the high alcohol level (60.5%), we all had a similar struggle finding new notes on the tongue. However, a generous helping of water helped bring out a few more notes.

  • Photo: Paula McGlynn

    Photo: Paula McGlynn

    Nose – Very sweet nose, vanilla, caramel, deep fried banana (a favourite element in Paul John whiskies for me)

  • Palate – Very dry, sweet, caramel
  • Finish – Smooth and then disappears, star anise
  • 5 drops of water – Added spice to the nose, rounder sweetness and a creamy feel added to palate
  • 10 drops of water – Added the slightest hint of coconut, some of us were getting some pear on the palate
  • Later – Star anise on the nose too

Overall: Nondescript sweetness, pleasing and non offensive if water is added to counteract the alcoholic dryness. However I personally found the 1st batch of the Select Peated to be my favourite PJ of all time, and wished #1844 could have lived up to my expectations.

I think this particular cask contained the pure sweetness that is a favourite component of Paul John malt blends. Although not very complex, the flavour notes presented are unique to the fruity Goan feel of Paul John whisky and it was interesting to have them in a cask strength dram.

This particular cask is available through a Danish distributor – Juul’s – who have this to say about the expression:

  • Color: Flower honey.
  • Aroma: Roasted oak, milk chocolate, pepper, apricot yogurt. The fragrance opens with the addition of a few drops of water, and is shades of orange peel, toasted muesli and peppermint.
  • Taste: At full cask strength, with an intense caramel taste explosion. The taste is drier than the aroma suggests with notes of burnt sugar, mint, malt and apricot.

What else did we sample in our “Ladies Choice” evening for the BMC gentlemen?

For more related updates and activities, check out: