Whisky Archives – Singleton, GlenDronach, All Malt, The Belgian Owl

Here’s another from our whisky archives… this time from May 2013…

Following our standard format, we blind tasted samples before revealing the whisky. This month featured: Singleton, GlenDronach, All Malt and the Belgian Owl.

The Singleton – We found it tasted better when chilled otherwise a fairly ‘standard’ whisky. A Speyside offering from the Auchroisk distillery.

The Singleton (Photo: The Singleton Website)

THE SINGLETON (PHOTO: THE SINGLETON WEBSITE)

GlenDronach 12 year – Unique on the nose and on the palate. Another Speyside worth revisiting.

GlenDronach (Photo: GlenDronach website)

GLENDRONACH (PHOTO: GLENDRONACH.COM)

Nikka’s All Malt – A beautiful offering that which was quickly categorised as a `woman’s whisky’ for its delicate, nuanced character. Refreshing to sample a whisky from Japan!

All Malt (Photo: Nikka website)

ALL MALT (PHOTO: NIKKA WEBSITE)

The Belgian Owl – Nothing exceptional and not even up to our regular standards. Perhaps it needs to perch itself longer in the cask maybe? Sigh… or maybe our Belgian friends should stick to beer? Pity this eco-friendly, colouring free whisky isn’t…. well… better…

The Belgian Owl (Photo: United International)

THE BELGIAN OWL (PHOTO: UNITED INTERNATIONAL)

Our favourite of the evening? It was a toss-up between the All Malt and GlenDronach – both delightful in their own way.

For more posts on our tasting sessions and whisky explorations…

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Gourmet affair – Westin and whisky combine!

Once and awhile, I have the pleasure of joining special evenings… this was one such night!

TheWestin partnered with Nick Ord from Diageo‘s TheSingleton to host a private pairing of whisky and fine cuisine. It was very clear the chef and team spent considerable time and effort experimenting to find just the right combination (and perhaps imbibing along the way too!).

We were greeted by the poolside with a glass of Singleton, served as we wished. It was a hot muggy dark evening but the company was refreshing, the breeze delightful and the experience worth braving Bombay’s traffic to join!

Warning – my camera photos simply do not do justice… even still, you are liable to become rather envious of those lucky enough to be part of the evening.

With that caveat in mind, read on…

2016-05-22 Westin Whiskies Cards

Glenkinchie 12 year

  • Whisky – Aromatic, vanilla, cut flowers and creamy
  • Salad – Green and white asparagus, burrata with a quinoa chip
  • Pairing – An excellent starting combination, complimented well, whetted the appetite for more to come…

2016-05-14 Westin Asperagus

2016-05-22 Glenkinchie 10 year

Caol Ila 12 year

  • Whisky – Subdued, citrus fruitiness, a fresh and appetising nose, almond oil and after a while a pot pourri
  • Appetiser – Stuffed Kashmiri morels, mushroom puree
  • Pairing – Outstanding! Simply superb! Each on their own excellent but combined was easily one of the best pairings I’ve sampled so far. There was simply something about how the feta stuffed morel merged with the Caol Ila to bring out even more in each. Like taking something already fabulous and bring out something even more spectacular. It was that good.

2016-05-14 Westin Morel

2016-05-22 Caol Ila

Talisker 10 year

  • Whisky – Powerful peat-smoke with just a hint of the sea-water salt of fresh oysters, with a citrus sweetness
  • Option 1 – Panseared scallops, air dried prosciutto, cauliflower and truffle puree
  • Option 2 – Corn fed chicken smoked in clay oven, spiced yogurt, raw mango and pineapple chutney
  • Option 3 – Variation of the chicken dish with smoked paneer instead
  • Pairing – Folks raved about the scallops, spoke well of the chicken and my vegetarian fare was well balanced with the Talisker. Pleasant, worked well but not out of this world like the morel and Caol Ila.

Here Nick Ord from Singleton interjected that we should savour the Talisker 10 as stocks are running low – what is here today may be gone tomorrow.

2016-05-14 Westin Paneer

2016-05-22 Talisker 10 year

Lagavulin 16 year

  • Whisky – Intensely flavoured, peak smoke and a rich, deep sweetness
  • Option 1 – Australian lamb loin with madeira sauce, milanese risotto, truffle
  • Option 2 – Indian lamb shank with a signature ‘tear’ sauce and biryani
  • Options 3 – For vegetarians, broccoli on a mustard infused mash
  • Pairing – Though by all accounts the Australian lamb was excellent, however as a pairing it simply didn’t hit the high notes. In the case of the vegetarian version, the dish brought out spice in the Lagavulin instead of complimenting.  However, by contrast, the Indian lamb biryani was apparently spot on! It was yet another reminder, to not be afraid of bringing more desi flavours into the foreground with whiskies – particularly those with a bit more oomph!

2016-05-14 Westin Lamb

2016-05-22 Lagavulin 16

Singleton by Glen Ord 12 year

  • Whisky – Toasted nut, rich fruit and aromas
  • Desert – Delightful assortment of mignardises from fresh raspberry to a melting almond ganache to a crunchy ball bursting with flavours and more…
  • Pairing – Pure joy! After dutifully sampling a nibble of one with the Singleton, I gleefully abandoned all pretence of sticking to one whisky alone. A small bite of pure sin would tell me which whisky might work best… Fantastic way to close the evening!

2016-05-14 Westin Mignardises

2016-05-22 Singleton

While these single malts are all ‘standards’ – even familiar friends – it is always a pleasure to revisit… particularly with such carefully planned pairings.

TheWestin Mumbai team clearly put a lot of effort into playing around with possible options. Bravo to the organisers, TheWestin team and Nick!

2016-05-14 Westin Whiskies

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Canadian stash – Duthies Auchroisk 20 year 46%

Ever have something you were rather curious to discover but then were massively disappointed?

Last year my aunt and uncle in Canada made an offer I couldn’t refuse. They are fellow whisky aficionados who run a whisky tasting group in Fort Francis, Ontario and gave me a chance to sample anything in their current whisky collection!

Duthies Auchroisk 20 year was part of the ‘list’ and intrigued me as:

  • Not yet had something from Duthies independent bottler – the sub-brand of Cadenhead
  • Also not had a sample from Auchroisk and 20 year seemed a rather good place to start!

The Auchroisk distillery opened in 1972 and produced its first whisky in 1978. Currently owned by Diageo, it is mostly used in J&B with its latest slogan of Scotch whisky “made for mixing.” Some may also have tried whisky from this distillery under the  “Singleton” brand.

Photo & sample courtesy Whisky Lady's Aunt & Uncle

Photo & sample courtesy Whisky Lady’s Aunt & Uncle

Excited, I cracked open the sample jar….

  • Colour – Light gold
  • Nose – Quite striking, barley, salty, brine, slightly rotten fruit, as it opened more a hint of sweet vanilla, slight dry sweet spices… mostly cloves, then something that is vaguely reminiscent of marshmallows that have gone slightly sour
  • Taste – Very dry, odd undertone of sweet resin, something a bit peculiar, rubber, soapy… the more I sipped the more ‘off’ it seemed
  • Finish – Warm, malt and – don’t laugh – manure

I began to speculate that something from the container tainted the whisky – possible as it was from last year and the rubber seal had become stuck on the glass. There is just something very strange about this whisky. Imagine dishwater soap meets dry wood.

Bottom line – it simply doesn’t work for me.

Here’s what others say:

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Singleton Artisan 40%

Believe it or not… I still have lingering cold, so those ever so lovely whisky samples that made their way back from Canada to India await. In the interim, decided to revisit a past session to get into the mood for this month’s upcoming tasting.

This review comes from our 17 April 2014 tasting session with the Singleton Artisan.

Lining up for some serious tasting!

Our merry tasting group are no stranger to Singleton however overall it wouldn’t be a first pick. The previous experience with this Speyside left the impression of fairly standard fare, nothing exceptional.

However always game to explore more, one member picked up the Artisan expression on a whim at the airport duty-free. As usual, we tasted blind to discover without bias what the whisky has to say to us…

Singleton Artisan 40% (bottle DF 00319 AA)

  • Colour – Deep amber
  • Nose – Flowery sweet hinting of a sherry cask, rubber quality, spice dabba like cardamom and clove, even dirty sock
  • Taste – Fruity warm with a bitter chewiness, smoky and very dry
  • Finish – Short yet the bitter quality remained
  • With a few drops of water – Dry coconut bitterness emerged, sweetness reduced to highlight the spice more

And here is what the folks over at Dufftown have to say about their Artisan offering….

Made in small batches once a year, hand crafted once a year by our Master of Malts, in strictly limited quantities, this is the ultimate expression of our whisky making craft.

Luxurious and incomparably smooth A rich, defined and ultra smooth Single Malt with hints of sticky dates, raisin-like sweetness, delicate fresh fruit, mixed spice and ginger – perfect for life’s treasured moments or as a gift to someone special.

Finished in hand selected pedro ximenez casks this exquisite Single Malt is finished in hand selected Pedro Ximenez wood Casks. Using this rare, modern finishing technique our Master of Malts has hand crafted a rich, decadent and incomparably smooth Scotch whisky that is a tribute to the art of whisky making.

Marketing speak aside, the Singleton Artisan did get us to perk up and pay attention. In short, this whisky reminded us to not dismiss airport offerings!

Singleton Artisan

Other whiskies sampled in our April 2014 session included:

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