Peaty Highlander – Ballechin Heavily Peated 12 year 54.5%

Our explorations of Highland peaty drams led us to Edradour distillery with a full cask strength dram.

Ballechin Heavily Peated 12 year (May 2017) 1st Fill ex-Bourbon Cask 330 54.5% 251 Bottles

  • Colour – Bright gold
  • Nose – Wow! Floral yet with a power punch, some sharpness, sweetly herbal, cinnamon, star anise, then the floral dissipated to be replaced by maple bacon, honey sweetness with a citrus twist
  • Palate – Honey, maple syrup, very dry, holds and took on that distinctive maple bacon whisky, substance
  • Finish – Nutty, toothpaste, lovely spice, iodine
  • Water – Sour with no spice… given time revealed cinnamon then a nutty quality, like pressed almond oil

Our final conclusion was this would be a perfect monsoon whisky… one to enjoy when the heavy rains wash away all the heat and pollution, dropping the temperature too.

What did the folks at The Whisky Exchange have to say?

A single-cask Ballechin bottled at a cask-strength of 54.5% and exclusive to The Whisky Exchange, this heavily-peated single malt from Edradour distillery boasts a smoky, farmyard character to rival any Islay whisky. Balanced by sweet citrus and hints of honey, this is a fantastic dram which elegantly combines sweet, savoury and smoky notes to memorable effect.

TASTING NOTES BY BILLY ABBOTT (THE WHISKY EXCHANGE)

  • Nose: Sweet and green smoke at first: freshly sawn branches newly tossed on to a bonfire of burning pine. Hints of jelly-baby fruitiness develop, along with Vick’s Vaporub, honey and lemon lozenges and white toast with honey. The lighter notes at the front obscure but don’t hide a darker background of rich smoke.
  • Palate: Savoury smoke to start: smoked ham and signed lemons. White pepper heat mixes with bicycle-tire inner tubes, sharp lemon curd and a hint of creosoted fence. A bubble of black liquorice rises from the depths, bursting to reveal blackcurrants and anise.
  • Finish: Tar and char fade to leave bittersweet liquorice and lemon butter sauce.
  • Comment: Softer than many Ballechins, this brings together sweet and savoury notes, all wrapped up in a smoky blanket.

And what would it set you back? If, like our Whisky Lady, you purchased it from The Whisky Exchange in London, expect something around £80.

What else did we sample in our Whisky Ladies Peaty Highland drams evening?

What else have I tried from Edradour distillery?

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Peaty Highlander – Inchmoan 12 year 46%

From Loch Lomond distillery, Inchmoan is another variant of Inchmurrin (or Inchfad, Croftengea, Rosdhu)… with peat to go with the Highland sweet.

Here is what we thought of this 12 year expression…

Courtesy DevPaula

Inchmoan 12 year 46% (Loch Lomond Distillery Island Collection)

  • Colour – Burnished copper
  • Nose – Quite metallic to start, iron, copper, rust, fruits, back to a blacksmith, wet leaves, then campfire s’mores, sweet, apricot, rum raisin, macadamia nuts
  • Palate – A nice campfire peat, juicy raisins, butter, silky smooth, syrupy with a herbal quality like sipping Jägermeister with a flash of fresh tarragon, then tannins and a bit of “raw hide”, then back to herbal, followed by sweet coffee and chocolate, and is that a bit of ginger and cinnamon?
  • Finish – Long finish, surprisingly gentle, sweet grassy peat, smoke and peppery spice with a stoneware close
  • Water – Simply perfect as is – no need to add

What we enjoyed most was the shifts and changes with this whisky. We thought there was a bit of a burn to start – a touch of “dragon’s fire” which then settled down and became dangerously delicious!

What did the folks at The Whisky Exchange have to say?

Inchmoan is the peated single malt produced at Loch Lomond. The 12 Year Old is sweet and spicy with notes of vanilla and a smoky backbone.

And what would it set you back? If, like our Whisky Lady, you purchased it from The Whisky Exchange in London, expect something around £45.

What other Peaty Highlanders did our Whisky Ladies try?

What else have we experienced from Loch Lomond?

And that’s it! Me thinks it might be time to explore more!

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Peaty Highlander – Aird Mhor 8 year 55.3%

Sound it out… “Aird Mhor” and you realize perhaps this might be “Ardmore”… and sure enough it is!

Our Whisky Ladies session dove straight into this cask strength offering from the Single Malts of Scotland range bottled by Speciality Drinks. It was purchased at their Whisky Exchange Covent Garden store under the guidance of Duncan.

So what did we think?

Aird Mhor 8 year (1 Dec 2009 / 25 June 2018) Cask 707910 55.3% 261 Bottles

  • Colour – Golden
  • Nose – Gentle smoke, leather, wood, citrus, orange, as it opened became increasingly sweet
  • Palate – Spice, tobacco, warm, 2nd sip was like an echo of Laphroaig, calming, sweet
  • Finish – Long finish with a bit of liquorice and vanilla
  • Water – No surprise it initially ramped up the spice, but when it settled down it brought out a nicely nutty quality, helped balance it out a bit, with it a bit oily on the palate

This one was a bit curious and not for everyone. Going straight from zero to full cask strength was also an adjustment.. though one our Whisky Ladies can easily make!

One remarked this whisky was a bit of an “attention seeker” with a fierceness and forcefulness that demanded notice. In this respect, it showed its youthful enthusiasm.

We discovered that the hint of Laphroaig peat came from the Ardmore being matured in ex Laphroaig barrel.

It wasn’t complicated and yet it provoked a clear divide between those who enjoyed and those who didn’t care for it so much.

Apparently Mogambo also has something to say!

Aird Mhor + Mogambo courtesy DevPaula

What did the folks at The Whisky Exchange have to say?

A smoky dram from Aird Mhor (aka Ardmore distillery). While nearby distilleries are better known for unpeated whisky, Ardmore bucks the trend, making a powerful and smoky dram. This single-cask bottling from The Single Malts of Scotland – distilled on 1 December 2009 and bottled at years old on 25 June 2018 – is a classic, with punchy smoke, honey and lemon.

I must say, I rather think “punchy smoke, honey and lemon” is a rather good way to describe this one!

What else did we sample in our Whisky Ladies Peaty Highland drams evening?

And what else have I explored from Ardmore?

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TWE Cask Strength – Ledaig 12 year (2004) 58.1%

Last in our TWE Cask Strength evening was a Ledaig from Tobermoray‘s distillery on the isle of Mull. Ledaig, pronounced ‘Let-chick’, uses peated malted barley.

There are no official tasting notes available however this particular bottle was personally recommended by TWE’s owner Sukhinder Singh and an easy pick given how much I’ve enjoyed Ledaig’s sampled til date.

Ledaig 12 year (5 Feb 2004/29 Aug 2016) Cask 1030, 327 Bottles 58.1% (SMSW)

What did the ladies think?

  • Nose – We were immediately greeted with peat, then brine – making us imagine sea swept coasts, there was a wildness to it, stormy weather and bold character… even as it opened revealing marmite, fruit, apple pear, herbs and more with even a hint of heather, it retained a robust quality
  • Palate – One spoke of fresh oysters, another of steak tartare, the herbal quality on the nose followed through on the palate, there was also a lovely cinnamon spice with black pepper, yet all combined in a very smooth, balanced dram
  • Finish – Such a long finish, continuing to reward with peat and sweet spice with that slightly salty briney dimension too

If the Glen Moray was a bright spring morning, and the Arran a hot summers day, then the Ledaig was a wind lashing, rainy cool winter evening.

I’ve enjoyed Ledaig’s bold peaty character before yet this was clearly a top notch cask – remarkably silky smooth and clean with no harsh or brash qualities even at full cask strength. No need to add water but also lovely with too.

A 12-year-old Ledaig, the peated whisky from Tobermory on the Isle of Mull, from The Single Malts Of Scotland. This was distilled in 2004 and bottled in August 2016 from a hogshead. I picked it up from The Whisky Exchange in London in June 2017, under the owner Sukhinder Singh’s guidance for GBP 64. It was opened from a fresh bottle in July 2017.

What else did we sample in our single cask, cask strength evening?

Each whisky sampled that evening was unique, quality and well worth sampling.

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TWE Cask Strength – Glen Moray 8 year 57.8%

To kick off our trio personally selected by The Whisky Exchange’s owner Sukhinder Singh for our Whisky Ladies of Mumbai as affordable, quality whiskies, each representative of their distillery’s style.

Glen Moray is not on most of our merry Mumbai malters top hits list… in part as they tend towards affordable NAS whiskies with finishes… It also isn’t so often you will come across a cask strength avatar either… so we were primed to dive in and discover!

And were rewarded by a rather marvellous most enjoyable malt.

Glen Moray 8 years 57.8% 251 Bottles

What did the ladies think?

  • Nose – Is that bubblegum? Loads of pear, even that hybrid apple snow pear, the perfume of flowers, vanilla, lavender, crisp and crunchy apples, then shifts into baked apple pie and ice cream
  • Palate – 1st sip at cask strength was fire and heat. The it shifted into cinnamon and chilli… with  water it was transformed into a yummy baked delight, pure desert
  • Finish – A delicious fresh fennel or pastise element, then lightly bitter with a citrus twist
  • Water – An absolute must for this dram. All the spice morphs into a very tasty, fruity, honeyed whisky, soft and gentle, smooth and inviting with just the right balance of fruit, flowers, a light touch of sweet spices

Overall we loved it. With water it took us to our “happy place”, nice and relaxing. Something to sit, sip, enjoy with friends or solo. An eminently approachable and enjoyable whisky.

Here is what Billy Abbott at The Whisky Exchange had to say:

  • Nose: Candied lemon peel and lemon jelly are backed up by biscuity grain, soft spice and vanilla cream.
  • Palate: Lemon zest, vanilla toffee and butterscotch to start, with citrus building on the tongue. Lemon sherbet sparkles before darker notes of chocolate and liquorice roll in, along with clove and dark spice notes.
  • Finish: Dark and spicy, slowly lifting to reveal dried lemon peel and freshly milled malt.
  • Comment: Youthful and zesty, with an excellent balance of spirit and cask character.

Did we agree? Overall yes. What we unanimously agreed is this was one fine dram, most enjoyable.

What else did we sample in our TWE cask strength evening?

  • Ledaig 12 year (5 Feb 2004/29 Aug 2016) Cask 1030, 327 Bottles 58.1% (SMSW)
  • Arran 14 year (16 Dec 2000/7 Aug 2015) Barrel 2000/1106 Bottle 185/197 55.5% (TWE)

This whisky was purchased at The Whisky Exchange in London in June 2017, under the owner Sukhinder Singh’s guidance for a mere GBP 46. It was opened from a fresh bottle on July 2018.

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Whisky Ladies TWE Cask Strength Night – Glen Moray, Arran, Ledaig

This was not our first evening devoted to high alcohol strength whiskies… Last time, our Diwali celebration featured Glenfarclas 105 60%, Chichibu 2009 63.1%, A’bunadh 35 (2011) 60.3% and we’ve certainly sampled other Cask Strength drams including our Bruichladdich peat progression session.

So what made this session distinctive? This time our selection had a decidedly independent bent, all purchased through The Whisky Exchange in June 2017, personally recommended by Sukhinder Singh as affordable quality drams:

  • Glen Moray 8 year 57.8% 251 Bottles (SMSW)
  • Arran 14 year (16 Dec 2000/7 Aug 2015) Barrel 2000/1106 Bottle 185/197 55.5% (TWE)
  • Ledaig 12 year (5 Feb 2004/29 Aug 2016) Cask 1030, 327 Bottles 58.1% (SMSW)

What did the ladies think? Read on over the next few days…

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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!

port-askaig-19

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!

port-askaig-19-year

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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More Miniatures – Speyside, Edradour, Glendronach 18 + 21

My fellow Mumbai whisky aficionado and I kept up our dedication to explore the world of whiskies through miniatures…

So enthusiastically did we embrace our task that we even invited another friend to join the sipping sampling fun!

And what did we explore this time?

speyside-edradour-12-glendronach-18-21

Our session featured a Speyside appetizer and a revisit of three familiar Highland sherry friends:

Tasting notes will be coming soon, however if you missed any earlier miniatures explorations, check out our experiences here:

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TWE Covent Garden Reserve Edition No 2 – Islay

After the excellent start with the The Whisky Exchange’s Covent Garden Reserve collection Edition No 1 – Speyside, our miniature exploration turned to the next edition – Islay.

TWE Islay

Edition No 2 – Islay, NAS, Hogshead Cask, Bottle No 288, 55.2%

  • Nose – Clear stamp of Islay character – smoke, dry bark, a tinge bitter, leather, bogs, bitter, sweet smoke, over rite fruit, moss, some cereals, liquorice, cracked black pepper
  • Palate – For such a promising nose, the palate was not so complex, still in character with the nose but in a sharp way, almost harsh and young… however when later revisited seemed like it had settled into its own and much more in harmony with the nose and finish
  • Finish – Sweet long finish with a bitter edge… nice and ‘big’
  • Water – Lost a lot on the nose, became almost too sweet – like cinnamon candy

After a a wonderful range of aromas, bit disappointing palate initially, the finish completely redeemed itself. After airing for some time, all three elements started to play much better together.

Above all – there was absolutely no doubt this was an Islay whisky! If you were randomly asked to pluck something off the shelf that meets the stereotype of a what one associates with the ‘Islay region’ – this would be perfect.

Wanting to know more, I wrote to the gentlemen over at the Whisky Exchange.

Most amusingly, they came back with a teasing clue…

a distillery from the town of Port Askaig

What’s your guess?

The other miniatures sampled in August:

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TWE Covent Garden Reserve Edition No 1 – Speyside

Next up in our miniatures session was the 1st of The Whisky Exchange‘s Covent Garden Reserve collection…

TWE Edition No 1 Speyside

Edition No 1 – Speyside 10 year, Sherry Butt, Bottle No 240, 51.6%

  • Nose – Lemon zest, wood, malty, complex with a dry spice like allspice and clove, sharp and then kept changing.. crisp pear, fresh tart apple then morphed into stewed fruits, almost wine-like quality, then musty compost, sweet toffee salt
  • Palate – Initially hits the upper palate, very robust, chewy sweet, spice, toffee pudding
  • Finish – Medium dry, sweet cloves… a big finish
  • Water – Brought out a tasty sourness and peppers, with a spice kick, liquorice,

What a treat!! It has been some time since we enjoyed such wonderful shifts in aromas, it has a ‘kick back’ but in a beautifully well-rounded way.

We gave it time and found with the revisit the sherry dimension was even more pronounced full of ripe plums, prunes, dates, mince pie. Delicious!

Wanting to know more, I wrote to the gentlemen over at the Whisky Exchange.

Most amusingly, they came back with a teasing clue…

a famous speyside distillery in Ballindalloch that does everything in sherry casks….

Pretty obvious which distillery…

Other miniatures sampled recently include:

*Tasting notes coming soon!

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