A Night with Glen – Glenmorangie The Tayne 43%

The Whisky LadiesA Night with Glen” closed with the Glenmorangie The Tayne.

Glenmorangie The Tayne 43%

  • Nose – Wah! A welcome nose bursting with character. Initially figs, prunes, Christmas pudding with dried dark fruits, burnt sugar, walnut and coffee…. Glorious rich coffee! Edging into mocha… it kept evolving, added to the aromas was almonds, toffee, noughat, caramel, then after more time it circled back to the dates and prunes
  • Palate – Bitter dark chocolate, slightly woody, very smooth, with a little mandarin, butterscotch, dash of ginger, and a delicious espresso
  • Finish – For all the complexity in the nose and follow through on the palate, the only element left a bit wanting was the finish which had a nice holiday sherry character, just didn’t stick around as long as one would want

What made this distinct from Olorosso sherry bombs was a more restrained sherry quality. Not overly sweet, retaining the tiramisu coffee quality interplaying with shades of sherry. There was not a single harsh element. Pronounced a ‘winter’ whisky…

The key element making this whisky burst with character appears to be the Amontillado Sherry Cask Finish.

Here is what the folks over at Glenmorangie have to say:

The resulting single malt, Glenmorangie Tayne, is a rich mahogany whisky showcasing a unique harmony of deep, spicy Sherry cask notes, and unusually fragrant, floral topknots of rose petals and east chestnuts, with a warming texture leading into rich, sweet flavours of toffee, Muscovado sugar, and tropical fruits – peaches, mango and orange, finishing with a long gentle nuttiness, like Brazil nuts embedded in toffee. 

Other whiskies sampled during A Night with Glen:

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Bonus Bourbon… Willett Pot Stilled Reserve 47%

Our Whisky Ladies evening closed with a Kentucky bourbon and chocolate – how fitting! This was a completely unplanned enthusiastic “I just so happen to have this great bourbon!” addition to our tasting!

The folks over at Willett (aka Kentucky Bourbon Distillers) claim a family history that harkens back to John David Willett (born in 1841) who was part of the master distiller for the Moore, Willett & Frenke Distillery. However, truth be told, these folks have actually only recently re-entered the distilling game in 2012, having stopped operations in the 1980s.

It is speculated that this particular whisky may actually be a product of Heaven Hill Distilleries – the folks that produce Elijah Craig amongst many others – using copper stills with only a pot still used for the doubler stage. Confused much?

All that matters to the Whisky Ladies is what we thought when we sampled it…

Willett Pot Still Reserve 47%

  • Nose – Well hello bourbon! Nice herbs, bubblegum sweet, slight mustiness too
  • Palate – Nice warm bourbon. some nuts, honey…
  • Finish – Great finish – a bit spicy

This was a bourbon that cried out for a cube of ice! When added? Voila! Lots of bright floral elements – overall just made it fab, Fab, FAB!!

And what do the Willett folks have to say about this whiskey?

  • Nose – Floral notes – jasmine and orange blossom, ginger, cinnamon with lots of bananas when water is added
  • Palate – Lemon, black tea, butterscotch, charcoal, citrus, nutty, honey. With water added – bananas and milk chocolate
  • Finish – Medium length, eucalyptus, herbal, rye, spicy, pepper, barber’s shop…with water added, light toffee & pecans

Very floral on the nose with wonderful citrus notes; more citrus on the palate with loads of honey & then turning quite herbal on the finish. An incredibly different and inviting array of aromas & flavors when water is added!

What else did we sample that “risky whisky” evening?

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Risky whisky? Virgil Kaine 2016 Ashcat 45.6%

Our trio of potentially ‘risky whisky‘ closed with a shift from old world France to new world US of A – with a “low country” whiskey from Charleston, South Carolina!

Virgil Kaine was started by two chefs – David Szlam and Ryan Meany. The idea behind Virgil Kaine was to draw on culinary “know-how” to blend, infuse and tinker in order to craft whiskeys like a ginger-infused bourbon, a ‘high-rye’ bourbon blend and a ‘robber baron’ rye… and more recently their limited edition “Ashcat” which is what we sampled.

Virgil Kaine 2016 Ashcat 45.6% Bottle #0612

  • Nose – Dusty, sawdust, cologne, spirit, dark honey, bitter, beeswax, caramelized honey, light raisin
  • Palate – Bourbon with a sherry twist! Warms, direct, spice
  • Finish – Finally a finish! Raisins, chocolatey hazel nuts

From practically the first sip, our birthday whisky lady gave an unequivocal announcement “I like this very much!”

This was no single malt, definitely a bourbon, yet we appreciated that it had other elements too.

In our Glencairn vs Norlan glass comparison, we found the Norlan brought out much more raisins, dark heavy honey on the nose and made it much more rounded on the palate, pumping up the slightly bitter quality.

Here is what the folks from Virgil Kaine have to say:

Virgil Kaine’s first detour from our three original whiskeys. A limited edition that strikes a balanced blend between the sweetness of a wheated bourbon, the spice of High-Rye bourbon and tannins derived from sherry casks. Which is all just a fancy way of saying we created a great tasting bourbon we hope you love as much as we loved making it. Savor this one. When it’s gone, it’s gone.

  • Nose – Cane sugar & sherry
  • Taste – Butterscotch, orange peel & dried figs
  • Finish – Smooth, long finish

What else did we sample that “risky whisky” evening?

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Who knew Alsace produces whisky? AWA Pinot Noire 42%

Next up in our risky whisky evening was another offering from France – this time the Authentique Whisky Alsacien (AWA) Pinot Noire.

The whisky lady who brought this unusual offering shared how she discovered this whisky nestled amidst all the wine in France. As in AWA was the ONLY whisky to be found amongst a LOT of wine! Apparently there are other varieties of AWA – linked to different wines like Reisling, GewurztraminerPinot Gris and this Pinot Noire. Plus someone clearly has a sense of humour with AWA’s “The Dog’s Bullocks” whisky!

So… what did we find?

AWA (Authentique Whisky Alsacien) Pinot Noire 42%

  • Nose – Dark purple grapes, fruity almost reminds one of a sloe gin, fresh figs, flower like wild rose or hibiscus, then took on a deeper quality with malty treacle
  • Palate – Initial hit of raw grain for some, flowers like a bouquet bursting in ones mouth for others, bit of a sharp zing, sits on top
  • Finish – Grapey wine-like finish

There is a playful quality to this whisky. Sophisticated? Nope. Just fruity fun! Perhaps it was our imagination but we certainly found the wine influence which made it quite a departure from your standard ex-bourbon / ex-sherry cask fare.

Overall this surprise from a Whisky Lady’s trip to France received a ‘thumbs up’ just for being… rather.. well like-able!

When we contrasted tasting this whisky in our standard Glencairn glass vs Norlan, we found in the Norlan it flattened the nose to brown sugar however brought much more out in the palate – much spicier with cloves, quite a delicious piquant quality.

The verdict? Comes across more like “whisky” in the Norlan than the Glenairn glass. So all depends on how you like your tipple.

You won’t find much about AWA however… try as I might no luck finding any official tasting notes! If anyone does – let me know!

What else did we sample that “risky whisky” evening?

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Mumbai’s Whisky Ladies meet Karen Walker – Old Pulteney 12 year

After the thoroughly delightful Caorunn Gin, Balblair 03 and Speyburn 10 year, up next in our sampling adventures with Karen Walker, Global Marketing Head for Scottish Brands of InterBeverage Group was the swarthy sea-worthy Old Pulteney 12 year.

Old Pulteney 12 year (Inver House)

Old Pulteney 12 year (Inver House)

By this point, we couldn’t wait for Karen’s crazy whisky stories.

She began by sharing that Pulteney is one of the most northerly distilleries of Scotland and known as home to ‘gold and silver’ aka Scotch and herring. Picture this – a town with 7,000 migrant workers drinking 500 gallons of whisky A DAY… you do the math! And yes – that includes the women too.

Then moved on to the background to a picture of her with Prince Charles – yes THE Prince Charles of the royal family – that proudly graces Karen’s bathroom.

And the story? A potential PR disaster averted by an advance team that pointed out that with all the slats in the stairs within the distillery (remember – distillery fashion advice?), Charles could not go up the stairs with the press following… After all… the headlines the next day should be praising the unique character of the Old Pulteney distillery not speculating what the prince wears (or doesn’t beneath his kilt!).

Karen then went on to describe the character of the distillery, high up in the highlands, firmly retaining its fishing heritage.

Old Pulteney 12 year 40% – Gold n Silver from 3′ North of Moscow! 

So it is no surprise that the whisky character reflects is swarthy sea lashed heritage. Here is what our Whisky Ladies found:

  • Nose – So sweet, salty, caramel, cinnamon, ocean salt… could be… dare we say… a bit fishy??
  • Taste – Thick and smooth, woody, oily… “An orchestra in my mouth!”
  • Finish – Quite oily, no spice… “Did I just have my cod liver oil dose for the day?”

Some of our lasses are new to whiskies, so took note that Scottish whiskies list the age of the youngest whisky in the bottle. Even in a 12 year label, there may a few elements of much older whiskies.

Up next:

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Whisky palate cleansers or palate pleasers?

With our original whisky tasting group, we are very strict about what can be served with our whiskies – just a few slices of cucumber and perhaps plain bread sticks or crackers – with plenty of water to rinse before we repeat our sampling process with the next whisky.

Palate Cleanser

However with our whisky ladies, we have a bit more fun with mixing and matching, blending sipping without accompaniment then experimenting with different delights like fruit, cheese and chocolate… perhaps a thali of chocolate delights?

goa-deserts

Both work – it just depends on whether your aim is an evening of the purest sampling or playing around with pairings.

Anyone have firm notions of what to accompany (or not) your whisky sipping adventures?

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Whisky Ladies Conquer a Cask Strength Diwali!!

We are no shy retiring missish lasses… no siree! Mumbai’s Whisky Ladies aren’t afraid to take on a trio of cask strength malts against the backdrop of India’s Festival of Lights – Diwali! After all, if firecrackers are bursting around us, why not have a few sherry bombs and whisky booms delighting our senses?

Last night we explored:

20151112_105,Chichibu2009,A'bunadh

And here is what we found…

Glenfarclas 105 NAS 60%

  • Colour – Burnished copper
  • Nose – Smells like Christmas! Very sherry-y, caramel, then vanilla notes as it opens up
  • Taste – Sweet, dark and smokey, honeyed prunes, raisins, nutty and chocolatey
  • Finish – Smooth yet also quite dry – especially with a few drops of pani (water)
  • Pairing – We just happened to have a few truffles on hand… so naturally started testing out pairings and pronounced it successful though “The kick comes back after a hit of chocolate truffles!”

Comments…

  • “It’s just like bad life choices… with caramel”
  • “Like cafe patron!”
  • “No sweet tooth here, just alcohol tooth!”
  • “Now it is simply a sherry wine bomb!”

This Speyside dram got things off to a rollicking start! Some missed the step of… “Perhaps you may wish to spit your 1st sip as going from 0% to 60% in the first swig can be a bit jarring. However our ladies were undaunted and found it became increasingly dangerous as this dram does go down rather well, easy to just keep sipping and sipping and sipping…

Ichiro’s Malt Chichibu 2009 French White Oak Cask #2357 63.1%

  • Colour – Golden straw
  • Nose – A little spicy, very sweet, light floral notes and yet can pack a punch or hit you between the eyes too!
  • Taste – Cayenne pepper, very summer-y and light, flirty, smooth yet confusing, bright and bubbly
  • Finish – Deceptive… there but much more subtle than the aroma and palate would indicate
  • Water – A couple drops of water rounds it out
  • Pairing – For some, the Chichibu and strawberries was a killer combination – who needs champagne if you have an effervescent whisky? For others, it was the brie cheese that did it. And the balance? Well… let’s just say there are a few of the opinion that chocolate goes with practically everything, doesn’t it?

Comments…

  • “From the wrong angle, just a sniff will get you!”
  • “While light and flirty, if you look at it the wrong way, it will kick you in the ass!”

This young Japanese single cask has many unique qualities and distinctly different from the straightforward Glenfarclas. It has a bright light element that completely belies its strength. Again – a dangerous combination!

Abelour A’bunadh Batch No 35 60.3%

  • Colour – A deep dark burgundy with ruby highlights
  • Nose – Cinnamon and cloves, gingerbread, honey, pronounced prunes, black cherries, Christmas cake, classic sherry-bomb
  • Taste – Apple cider, caramel, warm and smooth, very ‘Christmassy’, rum-soaked raisins, robust and bursting with character
  • Finish – Think curling up by a cosy warm fireplace…
  • Water – This one works straight yet also does a happy dance with drops or a dollop!
  • Pairing – Best with a sharp old cheddar, needs something that can hold its own with such brilliant flavours.

Comments…

  • “Beautiful things are happening in my nose! And its not what you are thinking!”
  • “This is one you notice every sip… and yes! It is probably getting you drunk…”

When the A’bunadh came out, there was literally a squeal of delight from one lady – as she would be re-uniting her taste buds with an old favourite. Talk turned to the slight shifts in flavour profiles between batches, fruitless efforts to track down certain batches from the 20s! Disbelief they are now into the 50s and a recommendation to simply ‘grab it’ if you see it!

What makes this Speyside stand out is its unabashed sherry quality. Rather than simply acquiring a sherry ‘finish,’ A’bunadh matures exclusively in Spanish Oloroso sherry butts, gaining a rich, robust and surprisingly well rounded profile.

Even better was the realisation that the price point for both Speysides remains reasonable (i.e. below $70) though the Japanese is near impossible to find at any price!

Our whisky ladies relished this cask strength trio – without a doubt a Diwali night to remember!

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Compass Box – Hedonism 43%

I seem to be on a bit of a Compass Box roll… til date have sampled: AsylaGreat King’s Cross Artist’s Blend and Glasgow Blend, Juveniles, Spice Tree, The Peat Monster… and now Hedonism.

This sample came compliments of the Canadian stash from my aunt and uncle – fellow whisky aficionados with their own whisky tasting group running for more than a decade.

Compass Box Hedonism (Whisky Lady's uncle)

Compass Box Hedonism (Whisky Lady’s uncle)

Hedonism 43% – Blended grain scotch whisky

And here goes my impressions:

  • Nose – Lots of coconut oil, light and perfumed, sweet vanilla flowers, subtle, over time a light white chocolate emerged, then an overly sweet marzipan
  • Taste – A slightly odd quality… not so much oak more like a ‘woody’ coconut, a bit herbal, very soft with a bitter edge, like faded cinnamon bark
  • Finish – Very dry, light yet somehow hangs in there, a curl of oak and something else I simply wasn’t able to pinpoint
  • Water – Adds a slightly spicy element, creamy, the pronounced coconut remains but a tinge subdued

Interestingly, we had the dregs of another bottle of Hedonism passed around at the end of our August Whisky Ladies session. It had been transferred into a small glass jar… and I found the coconut oil so predominant we actually speculated whether the container may have contaminated the sample.

Clearly it had not as this one from my aunt and uncle had that same quality.

In some ways, it reminded me of my first foray into the land of single grain whisky from Chita. Yet while the Chita is quite ‘technical’ in its soft, delicate, floral nature, Hedonism has more of an ‘edge,’ there is personality peaking through that coconut and a sense of age.

I wanted to love it as I do many Compass Box offerings. I was pre-disposed to find it delightful. It isn’t.

Yet it is intriguing. Unusual. Difficult to describe. Completely unique. And it grows on you… sip after sip…

Do I like it? After a bit of warming up and aligning to its special qualities… yes!

Would it be 1st priority for future purchasing? Perhaps not but it is absolutely worth trying if you get a chance.

For a bit more info, here’s what the folks at Compass Box say about Hedonism
  • Flavour Descriptors – Elegant flavours of vanilla cream, toffee, coconut.
  • Recommendations – As an aperitif, serve with a small amount of chilled water. Late in the evening, serve neat. Also makes a great whisky sour.
  • Distillery Sourcing – Will vary according to batch but typically whiskies from the following distilleries: Cameron Bridge, Carsebridge, Cambus, Port Dundas or Dumbarton.
  • Wood – 100% first-fill American oak barrels or rejuvenated American oak Hogsheads.
  • Bottling Details – 43%. Not chill filtered. Natural colour.
And here’s what others say:
Canadian stash

Canadian stash…

Other Compass Box treats sampled:

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Kilchoman Coull Point NAS 46%

Kilchoman may be a young whisky distillery, however it is making its mark.

Our merry malt group were fortunate to sample the Kilchoman Machir Bay and 100% Islay… long before I was disciplined about writing tasting notes. We even had an opportunity to meet the master distiller Anthony Willis and his delightful wife for dinner in Mumbai for a marvellous pairing of these whiskies that could hold their own with desi khanna (that’s Indian food folks!).

So on my last chance to grab a bottle at Heathrow Airport, the quite reasonably priced Coull Point caught my eye.

And when we decided the kick off a kick @$$ whisky women evening, it seemed fitting to bring along the Kilchoman.

Kilchoman Coull Point (Table For One)

Kilchoman Coull Point (Table For ONE)

Kilchoman Coull Point NAS 46%

  • Colour – Pale straw
  • Nose – Needs to breathe if just opened (unless you enjoy chloroform!), then the most gorgeous sea breeze, salty, briny, peat, a little sour curd… after some time sweeter fruity elements emerge, a little vanilla
  • Taste – A touch of cinnamon spice then sweet, citrusy or pear, then just cranks up the sweet, replacing the cinnamon spice with cinnamon candy like those red heart candies, increasingly softer the more it opens
  • Finish – Bold yet smooth, a hint of spice and that woodsy peaty breath
  • Water – Yes please! While it doesn’t need it, brings back the zing on the palate and awash of sea breeze
  • Overall – A mighty fine dram. It may be young, but it transports one to a beatifull bonfire on a beach.

I love one of our merry lasses (TableForOne) tweeted about the Coull Point:

This ‪#‎Kilchoman‬ is like a kiss on the beach, snuggled up against a bonfire.

Yup! Sounds about right!

While I will admit at the end of the evening my hand reached for the Compass Box Asyla, it was in part as I knew this baby was coming home with me.

It would be interesting to revisit the Machir Bay, 100% Islay with Coull Point. While my memory was overall positive for the others, I have a funny feeling there is something more with Coull Point… just a few baby steps further into the territory of more complex nuanced whiskies… Bottom line, these folks are on to a good thing!

Coull Point (Whisky Lady)

Coull Point (Whisky Lady)

Like all Kichoman expressions, there is a story behind the name. In this case, Coull Point is half a mile north from the distillery on Machir Bay, described as a “rugged outcrop of rocks on the west coast of the Island.”

The box notes share it is a vatting of 4 to 5 year single malt, matured in fresh bourbon barrels, with the 4 year old finished in oloroso sherry butts for 4 weeks prior to bottling.

What the Kilchoman folks have to say:

  • Colour – Light beech
  • Nose – Soft cooked fruits with strong peaty aromas
  • Palate – Soft mixed fruits and vanilla with an intense sweetness
  • Finish – A classic Islay malt now showing the benefit of additional ageing. A long lingering finish.

And here’s what others say:

Kilchoman Coull Point 46% (Whisky Lady)

Kilchoman Coull Point 46% (Whisky Lady)

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Compass Box – Asyla 40%

I’m in love with a beautiful woman… and her name is Asyla.

And who exactly is she? Another captivating Compass Box  blend…

Asyla was named for the plural of asylum, playing on the word’s ambiguous character – sanctuary or madhouse. John Glazer, whisky maker, waxes poetical about a piece of musical inspiration and reflects on whether whisky, like music, can be an asylum… as he describes his creation:

… for a delicate, comforting yet luminous whisky such as this, one which gently enlivens the sense, I have always felt ASYLA an appropriate name. And I believe our lute-playing minstrel is an appropriate image for this label, depicting that penumbra between ecstasy and serenity.

Asyla (Whisky Lady)

Asyla (Whisky Lady)

And what did our Whisky Ladies have to say about Asyla?

  • Colour – Pale straw
  • Nose – Floral, fruity, exceedingly light, vanilla… in short like a feminine perfume
  • Taste – Yummy! Quite delicate, warm, toffee, more vanilla with the lingering floral element, surprisingly ‘thick’ on the tongue, subtle yet with quiet substance
  • Finish – Smooth!
  • Water? Don’t think anyone tried… perfect as is.
  • Overall – Without being insanely sweet, it is like a fluffy desert! Or everyone’s perfect woman in a whisky.

For many, this whisky was the favourite of the evening. A few of us were already massive Compass Box fans, those that weren’t, became converts in the making…

Here is what our note-taker of the evening predicted:

Carissa will probably steal the remainder and snuggle with the bottle for the rest of the evening…

Confession… I did.

Here is what the folks over at Compass Box have to say:

A blend of soft, fruity malt whiskies on a bed of rich, sweet grain whiskies. All whiskies aged in first-fill American oak casks to yield the trademark Compass Box style: soft, rich, vanilla-tinged, delicious. See why this, the lightest of our whiskies, wins the most awards!

For those that want more ‘facts’, Asyla is a blend of single malts from the towns of Alness and Longmorn; single grain whisky from Fife.

However who cares about facts when an achingly lovely lady enters into your life?

The Compass Box sampling suite enjoyed so far include:

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