Whisky Lady – August 2018

This August brought more monsoon rain and yes – some malts too! All three Mumbai whisky tasting groups met up and a bonus minis session.

For our Bombay Malt & Cigar gents, we took a rather significant detour from our usual whisky fare to explore rums from Columbian & The Seychelles:

For our original group, I had a special session planned for well over a year… to  explore different dimensions of Bruichladdich’s Port Charlotte with their Micro-Provenance 5 series:

Before we dove into the MP5, we calibrated our palate with:

For the Whisky Ladies, it was our 3rd anniversary with a sociable evening of Irish drams, courtesy of our friends over at Pernod Ricard who kindly shared:

  • Jameson Caskmate Stout Edition 40%
  • Green Spot 40%
  • Yellow Spot 12 year 46% and
  • Redbreast 12 year 40%

Plus we had a terrific minis session – Campbeltown style – comparing whiskies from Glen Scotia and Springbank… laugh if you will but we found…

There were a few other explorations…

I also posted notes from July’s remarkable new independent bottler – North Star with a terrific trio of:

Curious to know more? Check out recent Whisky Lady’s monthly missives:

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Campbeltown’s Springbank 37 year 43%

Once and a while, a rare dram will make an appearance in Mumbai. Such was the case one fine monsoon evening. Our hosts had a rather enviable array of whiskies in their bar and gave me a chance to pick something new to open that evening. As soon as I spotted this one, there was no doubt it was the one to try.

Even more generously, they gave me a chance to take home a sample to share with others, hence it topped off our Campbeltown mini’s evening – like the “show stopper” it was!

Springbank 37 year (May 1970 / January 2005) Cask No1343 Bottle No 630 43% (Chieftain’s)

  • Nose – Green apple, cinnamon, nutty, a bit musty, perfume, fresh fruity fragrant, herbal, bubblegum, rosemary soap, light lavender, lemon grass, cedar, raw white fruit, purple grape soda, citrus orange, dry balsa wood, sour cherry
  • Palate – A lovely spice, so smooth, delicate apple, welcoming, complex
  • Finish – Long strong and gorgeous

Bottom line – it was exceedingly enjoyable – in the category of a whisky you could while away an evening with most companionably. There was an inviting, comforting quality, nuanced, balanced and complex yet in an understated way. We counted ourselves fortunate to have an opportunity to be introduced to such a fine whisky. 

What all did we try in our Campbeltown meanderings:

As we went back to revisit all our Campbeltown drams, we noted a common thread of sheer drinkability – each was most enjoyable, no off notes, no harshness, with a common theme of vanilla, baked goods with most also having a light citrus fruit.

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Campbeltown’s Springbank 15 year 46%

Next in our Campbeltown minis evening, we moved from Glen Scotia to Springbank… comparing their 15 year age statement single malt.

Springbank 15 year 46%

  • Nose – Initial waft of oaky wood, a bit of varnish, wet dough, clearly had substance, biscuits, honey, a pronounced vanilla, shifting into white peach, a bit of spicy apple juice, more baked goods with powdered icing sugar, vanilla custard… after even more time took on a sour fudge sweet quality with nuts like almonds or walnuts
  • Palate – Softer than we anticipated yet again with substance, cereals, silky, apple sauce, more of those yummy baked goods, a bit of spice in the nicest possible way… sugar and spice!
  • Finish – Dry, lightly bitter, a bit of black liquorice, medium length yet solid

We immediately concluded with the 1st sip that this was one dangerously drinkable dram, that just kept being reinforced sip by sip. This was a whisky we would be happy to have sitting on our shelf, bringing out for guests who appreciate a good dram.

Here is what the folks over at Springbank have to say about this whisky:

Like a storm gathering off the Kintyre coast, our 15-year-old Springbank is dark and ominous, yet delicious. Best enjoyed after dinner or with your favourite cigar, this is a true classic.

  • Nose: Demerara sugar, dark chocolate, Christmas cake, almonds, toffee, oak.
  • Palate: Creamy, raisins, dark chocolate, figs, marzipan, brazil nuts and vanilla.
  • Finish: Oak and sherry notes sustain and mingle with hints of leather.

PS You can find Springbank in India through The Vault Fine Spirits.

What all did we try in our Campbeltown meanderings:

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Campbeltown Quartet – Glen Scotia 15 + Victoriana, Springbank 15 + 37

It had been some time since we had a minis evening, and this time we focused on Campbeltown… augmented by a special whisky.

What all did we try in our Campbeltown meanderings:

What fun to explore a few drams  from the Campbeltown region… a once prodigious producer of whisky, now much reduced yet still bringing most enjoyable malts to the world.

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Random whisky tasting at KODE

When we started our different whisky tasting clubs in Mumbai it was at a time where the offerings readily available beyond whiskies personally brought into the country were rather limited. Fast forward and today it is possible to have a respectable flight… right here in the city… for a price.

That shared, we likely won’t see many single casks entering anytime soon… in part because to import requires donating a “sample” for testing purposes. When a product has only say 100 bottles in the world and to sell at best a handful in a particular state, it becomes impossible to justify such a “donation”.

So while the more unusual limited edition specimens likely won’t show up anytime soon,  the overall range is sufficient for those curious to be inducted into the world of single malts and whiskies in general.

Which is exactly what we sat down to accomplish one fine evening at KODE in Mumbai early April.

My sampling companions and I warned the waiter that we would be requesting different bottles, sniffing then selecting so to be patient with us. And they were.

We began with a clear progression from light to distinctive profiles…

I’d initially thought to start with Compass Box Hedonism as it is such an unusual yet light whisky. They were just out of stock, so shifted instead to a readily accessible “appetizer”:

Our palates now acclimated, our real journey began with:

I then wanted to shift gears to start to discern more subtle complex flavours… It was wishful thinking to hope Glendronach 18 year might be available however did have a choice between the 12, 15 and 21 year... We went with:

  • Scotland – Glendronach – Glendronach 15 year “Revival” 46%*

Then split into the following to cater to the emerging different palate preferences of my sampling companions:

As conversation veered towards talk of casks and the difference between a Scottish single malt and Bourbon, I thought it would be good to do a wee detour to the US to contrast what we sampled so far with Bourbon & Rye:

Then proceeded to compare the nuances between very similar whiskies from Glenmorangie that have different finishes:

  • Scotland – Highland – Glenorangie Lasanta 12 year 46% – Olorosso & PX Sherrry finish
  • Scotland – Highland – Glenmorangie Quinta Ruban 12 year 46% – Port finish

And finally we closed with a split between revisiting whiskies that “stood” out for my companions:

*Just in case you were wondering what all the “asterisk” mean… each of these bottles were brought into India thanks to Keshav Prakash with The Vault Fine Spirits. I’m incredibly proud of what Keshav and his team have achieved and have made a huge impact on the range now available in Mumbai. Thank you!

KODE – Freestyle Bar and Kitchen

Ground Floor – 11, Oasis City, Kamala Mills – Entrance #2, Lower Parel,, Mumbai, Lower Parel, Mumbai, Mumbai, Maharashtra 400013. Tel: 077188 82924

PS It may seem like an insane quantity of whisky but keep in mind we were splitting 30 ml singles – focusing more on sniffing, swishing and savouring.

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Peaty Mini – Longrow Peated NAS 46%

Up next up in our peaty miniatures sampling was an opportunity to revisit Longrow from Campbeltown.

I will admit to a certain fondness for the lone Campbeltown distillery with their trio of styles:

  • Springbank – Most enjoyable dram… including a remarkable 1996 sample
  • Hazelburn – Their un-peated range. Had a most enjoyable evening with a Hazelburn 12 year. Still regret missing an opportunity to purchase their 8 year 1st bottling!
  • Longrow – Their peatier range, once upon a time made an appearance in my whisky cabinet…

The miniature offered an opportunity to sample the NAS avatar simply called ‘Longrow Peated’.

Longrow Peated NAS 46%

LongrowHere’s what we found:

  • Nose – Peaty wet rag or wet dog, organic, earthy, spice. After tasting, the nose took on a slightly tart or sour dimension to the peat.
  • Palate – A lovely tingly peat, viscous, spice peat, pepper, a quite mineral element, very tasty
  • Finish – Peppery peat, delightful

Overall, we found it refreshing to side step sweet to just enjoy a nice peaty dram.

We also sampled it in the Norlan glass – fabulous! It brought out a lovely woodsy quality on the palate and really brought out the best of Longrow on the palate.

Here’s what the Springbank folks have to say:

Longrow Peated offers those who enjoy a heavily peated whisky the chance to enjoy a lingering smoky taste that travels through the senses like the smoke billows from a kiln.

  • Nose: Very creamy, vanilla custard. The smoke develops and toasted marshmallows, herbs and rich fruits appear over time.
  • Palate: Incredibly well balanced – rich and creamy with a slight medicinal hint. The smoke is always present and washes over the palate in waves.
  • Finish: The gentle smoke lingers and lingers.

We sampled from a closed miniature in October 2017… a full bottle would set you back around $60.

And what else did we sample in our merry mini malts evening?

And here’s more malt miniatures from my The Whisky Exchange:

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Springbank 12 year cask strength 54.2%

While I was off gallivanting around North America and UAE, my fellow Mumbaikers were exploring whiskies… This is a guest post by Nikkhil Shirodkar, a member of our original Mumbai whisky club.

  • Nose: This time smoky. Think cured meats, bacon and ham. Lovely notes of orange rind and rose petals. Now some ginger, toffee and leather. Superbly balanced.
  • Palate: Beautiful heather notes with vanilla and menthol. Almost reminded me of the old Highland Park 18. The meaty notes turn into gentle vegetal peat. ​Old books/library​ with leather seating. It kept evolving with lovely sherry notes, roasted apricots and that menthol note again.
  • Finish: Long and warming. A touch of lime, dark chocolate and peat interplay in a magical way! A clear winner.
  • Water: With water the peat smoke gets amplified with pepper notes. Some Pastis? Lovely! Despite the strength, no burn or rough edges. Good mouthfeel.

Reveal: The host teasingly gave away the location to be Campbeltown. From there it was a no-brainer! We were left unimpressed with the Burgundy finish. Maybe as a stand alone whisky it would be a perfectly nice dram but not if it is followed by the vastly superior Springbank 12 year. The host however was of the opinion that the 10 year old – which was the official standard – is superior than the current 12 year old version. It would be interesting to do a comparative tasting.

Official notes:

  • Nose: It’s reminiscent of walking in an autumn forest full of pine and chestnut trees, before returning home to the iodine of a Campbeltown malt and ending with a delicate hint of peat.
  • Palate: A gorgeous richness on the palate which is balanced between citrus marmalade on toast and caramelised toasted marshmallows, not forgetting flavours of vanilla and pepper. It’s a lip licking meaty dram.
  • Finish: A delicious, viscous, smooth liquid with a salty edge. It brings back memories of a ham joint which has been marinated in a rich honey sauce and slow baked in the oven.

This whisky was sampled blind, opened in September 2017 in Mumbai for this tasting. With Springbank, it releases its cask strength avatars by editions which tend to sell out quickly. This edition was released in January 2017 and is no longer available.

PS – You can get Springbank 10 year and 18 year in India! Check out The Vault Fine Spirits.

Whiskies sampled in September 2017 by our original club included:

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Springbank 12 year Burgundy 53.5%

While I was off jaunting around North America and UAE, my fellow Mumbaikers were exploring whiskies… This is a guest post by Nikkhil Shirodkar, a member of our original Mumbai whisky club.

  • Nose: Immediately medicinal, iodine but in a gentle way. Soft peat with an underlay of honey and stewed fruits. Some ash and liquorice notes now replace the medicinal ones. Some raisins and red fruits. It was an interesting nose and evidently non-islay.
  • Palate: Vanilla, gentle peat, sweet lime. The development was not in tandem with the nose. We felt it was rather thin in its mouthfeel. A little musty with damp wood notes. Some chocolate and tannic notes.
  • ​Finish: ​Medium and fades with a slightly bitter aftertaste.
  • Water: With water it becomes sweet with caramel, pineapple and roasted pine nut notes.
​Reveal: The host decided to reveal the 2nd & 3rd bottle together. But he did confirm that it was a non-islay whisky… So check out the next post on the Springbank 12 year for further observations comparing the two expressions.
  • Nose: Bold and rich with mineral and dunnage warehouse notes combining with maple syrup, pancetta, cranberry and red currants.
  • Palate: A soft velvet like texture with buttered brown toast and chocolate shortbread complementing light herb & oak notes.
  • Finish: A medium dry finish gives up liquorice and mint accompanied woody tannins.

Springbank whiskies are from Campbeltown, established in 1828 and remains family owned – now on its 5th generation. The distillery produces whiskies under three brands – Springbank (lightly peated), Longrow (heavily peated) and Hazelburn (unpeated). It also boasts adherence to traditions and proudly and stubbornly keeping every step of the process in-house and on-site.

This whisky was sampled blind, opened in September 2017 in Mumbai for this tasting. It is a limited edition introduced in June 2016 and not readily available, however on its release was retailed for around £60. As the name states, after initial maturation, it was finished in fresh ex-Burgundy casks.

PS – Believe it or not, Springbank 10 year and 18 year are available in India! Check out The Vault Fine Spirits.

Whiskies sampled in September 2017 by our original club included:

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September Samplings – Writers Tears, Springbank Burgundy + 12 year Cask Strength

It has been a long time since I missed one of our original club’s whisky tasting evenings. It is because of this dedicated group that I even started writing about whisky – initially just to chronicle our monthly tastings. However it simply could not be helped…

Stepping into the breech was a newer member who volunteered to document the impressions and discussions. So, without further ado, let me introduce you to Nikkhil Shirodkar.

Nikkhil heads Broadcast Technology & Operations at 9X Media – India’s largest music network.

His passion for whisky is infectious and his quest to know more impressive. Nikkhil’s whisky preferences lean towards the well balanced and nuanced styles. He is a big fan of Compass Box, Highland Park and old style whiskies like Mortlach and Lochside. On the Irish side he is a big fan of Midleton and Redbreast.

He also just so happens to be the 1st man to write a guest post for Whisky Lady in India… with tasting notes about all three whiskies sampled in September by our original club:

Check out the links above to read what Nikkhil has to say!

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Springbank Vintage 1996 55.8% Cask No 269

Springbank is a family owned distillery in Campbeltown. So far, I’ve had good experiences with whiskies from these folks.

  • A few years ago we sampled the delightful Springbank 18 year, paired with desert.
  • And long before I even imagined recording tasting notes, a Longrow had a most enjoyable peaty time in my whisky cabinet til the last drop was polished off!
  • During my last trip to Singapore, I enjoyed their Hazelburn 12 year and was sorely tempted to pick up the Hazelburn 8 year 1st bottling.

So when a Springbank was part of Canadian stash from my aunt and uncle? Let’s just say, I was looking forward…

Springbank Vintage 1996

Springbank Vintage 1996

Springbank Vintage 1996 55.8% Cask No 269

  • Colour – Amber
  • Nose – Rich, slightly medicinal, honeycomb, ripe plum, vanilla, toffee
  • Taste – Plums burst into chewy raisins, cereal, oily, a bit spicy, there is strength here, a toughness of character that is earthy, lots of dried fruits and a hint of cinnamon bark, meaty
  • Finish – Very different kind of bitter chocolate, burnt quality, leather… think dark chocolate covered raisins with a dusting of cinnamon, much longer than anticipated…
  • Water – Punches up the sweet quotient in the most delicious way! As expected, kicks up the spice too but then the chewy bark-like quality on the palate mellowed and gained a toffee element to cover the yummy dried fruits and berries
  • Overall – Bold and beautiful! This is no light spring dance or sunny summer romp, instead this whisky is bursting with the golden hues and blazing fire of autumn. In short – I want more!

Unfortunately I do not know what year this was bottled, however there enough going on here to warrant paying attention, regardless of age.

There also were no official tasting notes available, however I did find a few other folks with their observations about other 1996 vintages:

Can’t wait to dig in to the next one from the Canadian sampling stash…

Canadian stash

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