When an International Scotch Day celebration is NOT about the whisky

From time to time, our Whisky Clubs are invited to events… Let’s just say it is convenient to extend an invite to one and get a bunch of whisky aficionados – particularly if it is a rollicking group of “Whisky Ladies.”

And that is how we found ourselves at Diageo’s International Scotch Day… Yet given what we assumed would be the whiskies on offer, our interest was more the multimedia artist’s ‘odes’ to the water of life, live music and good company.

In short, it is known as the evening the “Whisky Ladies” became the “Bitchy Ladies!”

Why?

Just peruse some of our Tasting Sessions or Ladies Corner and it easy to see we are an adventuresome bunch, exploring a wide range of whiskies sharing frank, fun and sometimes brutally honest opinions about what we sample.

Which means the bar is set pretty high to impress these ladies. We strolled in, traipsing after actress Freida Pinto and headed straight for the bar.

We knew the stuff on offer would not make our normal “cut” yet we still gamely did a tasting round of the whiskies available – Johnie Walker, Black and White, Black Dog and Vat 69. I’m too polite to reproduce what was said. 🙂

1st you.. then you.. like this not that!

Cocktails was clearly the way to go! However the “Old Fashioned” approach also didn’t make the “cut” either so one Whisky Lady took charge telling the poor beleaguered bartender how to go about it!

Getting an Old Fashioned right?

The food? From a fabulous chef yet with pairings that seemed a tad random and mostly got quizzical curious reactions.

And the Art? “Not so finely disguised advertising” was one comment, however it was fun playing around with the “Black & White” exhibit.

Black + White Whisky Lady?

Lest we seem like complete ingrates, what finely pleased these picky ladies? Oh the music, merriment and mischief we caused!! In the end, we had a mighty fine evening!

PS – It was interesting to read the somewhat “random” quality we found was echoed in other cities..

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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 – Mackmyra Vinterdröm 46.1%

Our Ladies Choice evening moved on to the cooler climes of Sweden with Mackmyra’s limited edition Vinterdröm – an experiment partnering with Plantation Rum for a Caribbean rum cask finish.

Susan Dias returns as our next Whisky Ladies of Mumbai guest whisky reviewer…

(Susan's LInkedIn profile)
(Susan’s LinkedIn profile)

What does a Chartered Accountant with a fierce pride in Indian traditions and keen interest in local spirits do? Naturally start a venture, Native Brews, with a dream of celebrating traditional artisanal Indian spirits in a contemporary context.  

After completing extensive exploration and research into remote corners of India, Susan has been working hard experimenting with the distillation of Mahua, a flowering tree found in central India.

More recently, her distillation adventures have lead to the creation of a unique set of Indian gins that should be available soon…

Susan consistently displays a keen nose and wry wit in her whisky tasting approach! 

mackmyra-vinterdrom

Here is what Susan has to say about the Mackmyra Vinterdröm 46.1%

Tasting Notes:

  • Colour: Pale gold
  • Nose: Clean, spices – cinnamon and cloves, caramelised fruit, demerara sugar
  • Palate: Sharp hit of spices, salty caramel, fresh clean wood, toast
  • Finish: Long, lingering spices, bitter dry
  • Water: Water opens the spices on the nose and palate

Vinterdrom is Mackmyra Distillery’s newest offering in its limited edition ‘Seasons’ range. Each whisky in this range has received a different finish and for Vinterdrom, Mackmyra used oak casks which previously held rum from Bardabos and Jamaica.

The Caribbean influence is amply evident. The whisky is sweet and spicy and has a warmth that would make it ideal for a winter evening. Whisky purists might find it hard to shake off the ‘rum’ness of the liquid but given what Mackmyra set out to do, Vinterdrom is an interesting experiment of a seasoned whisky with a Caribbean twist.

This whisky would make for great company on a chilly evening paired with some dense chocolate dessert.

Here is what the folks from Mackmyra have to say:

Mackmyra Vinterdröm is a fruity and slightly spicy Swedish single malt whisky, made in limited edition. The whisky is a collaboration with rum producer Plantation Rum and has a finish from casks that previously stored Barbados and Jamaican Rum. The result is a soft oaky whisky with notes of orange, vanilla and demerara sugar – a Carribbean love affair.

  • Nose – Spicy and fruity, slightly oily with notes of anises, dried fruits and molasses and a soft light oakiness. Some spiciness and notes of tobacco leaves.
  • Taste – Fruity, spicy and oily. Well balanced with anise, tobacco leave, a saltiness and some raisins and vanilla.

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

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Whisky Ladies Choice – Treating the BMC Gentlemen…

Last year, the gentlemen from the Bombay Malt & Cigar club took it upon themselves to treat the Whisky Ladies of Mumbai to an evening of Irish whiskies and cigars.

This year, it was our turn to return the favour.

We debated a range of different approaches and finally decided on a theme of “Ladies Choice.” And what pray tell did that mean to us?

We wanted to share with the gentlemen some of the most memorable whiskies we sampled together as a tasting group. They may not be the world’s best whiskies but they would be our “Choice” – ones that stood out in some kind of way.

We went about it in a democratic manner and voted, tallied up the responses to create a “short-list”, then began the efforts to source these whiskies.

Our approach was a bit flexible, in some cases we knew it would be impossible to source the EXACT same whisky. What worked was finding something from the same distillery or similar category.

The whiskies were literally sourced from around the world involving travel, friends of friends and even last minute acquisitions…

What made it into our final “Ladies Choice” list?

JapanAkashi Red Blended Whisky 40%

  • In truth we had several Japanese whiskies in mind however the Akashi was accessible and a refreshing departure from the expensive exclusive impossible to find Japanese single malts, so figured why not!
  • It also made for a perfect ‘appetizer’ whisky to get the evening going…

Sweden – Mackmyra Vinterdröm 46.1%

  • The most enjoyable peaty Mackmyra Svensk Rok 46.1% captured our attention with its clean, minimalist yet smoky qualities.
  • So when our Swedish whisky lady went on the hunt over Christmas for something distinctly different from the distillery, this limited edition “Caribbean love affair” avatar was her pick!

IndiaPaul John Single Cask #1844 60.5%

  • The Paul John Select Cask Peated Batch 1 “OMG bacon!” made many Whisky Ladies swoon for more during our Paul John evening… we definitely wanted to include a Goan single malt, preferably a Select Cask or Single Cask…
  • Thankfully Michael from Paul John distilleries was able to oblige our interest – literally hand delivering this single cask a mere two days before our evening!

France – Kornog Taouarc’h Pempved 14 BC 46%

  • Kornog’s whisky from Bretagne will forever be known in our group for the comment “How did you go from being a perfect gentlemen to getting my bra off like that?” (WL on Kornog Taourac’h Trived 10 BC 46%)
  • Alas the Trived 10 BC was no longer available so we took a gamble on the newer Pempved 14 BC

TaiwanKavalan Solist Sherry Cask S090102020 57.1%

  • There was no doubt a Kavalan was going to make the cut…
  • By a very wide margin, the Solist Sherry Cask topped the charts with the most votes from all our Whisky Ladies tasting experiences. So… it simply HAD to be our ‘showstopper’ of the evening!

Somehow not one Scottish whisky made it into the list. Not a single one. It wasn’t deliberate. It was simply how the votes panned out.

But that says something about how the whisky world is going…

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2016 Whisky Thank You…

Sampling whisky is an expensive habit and one most enjoyable when shared. Rather than brag about brilliant drams, talk about top tipples, I want to start 2017 by saying thank you for those who aided in ways big and small Whisky Lady adventures. Because of you, 2016 resulted in over 200 posts – unbelievable!

Above, Whisky Lady in India is a collective effort – a chronicle of tasting sessions – so thank you fellow Mumbai whisky club members:

  • Our original private group that meets religiously at least 8 times a year on the 3rd Thursday for nearly six years.
  • I’m so proud of our Whisky Ladies of Mumbai – an amazing group of remarkable often unconventional ladies who forge unique paths in their lives… our monthly fellowship over a dram is something I look forward to!
  • And our Bombay Malt & Cigar gentlemen – you have introduced me not only to some mighty fine whiskies but the world of fine cigars. I still can’t believe I puffed up in smoke a $400 cigar?!

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Thank you also fellow bloggers and whisky aficionados:

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Two very specific thank yous:

  • Keshav – Friend and fellow spirits explorer, who turned an amateur interest into an avocation with The Vault Fine Spirits. I’m so proud of what you have accomplished!
  • Krishna – India’s very own Malt Maniac for generously sharing your insights and select rare samples from your collection… your dedication to the world whisky fabric is inspiring

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Thank you also distillery and industry well wishers who generously share their wares. Specifically:

20151224_Paul John Quintet

We also have global whisky mules who keep us supplied… sourcing interesting whiskies isn’t easy and many a different dram would never make it to our shores without you.

Above all, I would like to thank my partner. While he does not indulge in whisky, he indulges me – every day in small and big ways. Thank you.

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Whisky Ladies of Mumbai turn “One”

One year ago, a chance conversation about whisky lead to a fabulous evening… Each month since, a remarkable group of women have met in Mumbai to explore whiskies combined with witty conversations.

Whisky Ladies 1st Anniversary

Together we’ve had 12 fabulous sessions:

  1. Whisky Ladies Welcome Compass Box Asyla, Kilchoman Coull Point, Nikka ‘Yochi’ 10 yr, Caol Ila 12 yr, Ledaig 1997
  2. With Karen Walker – Caorunn ginBalblair 03Old Pulteney 12 yrSpeyburn 10 yrAnCnoc 12 + 22 yr
  3. Cask Strength Diwali – Glenfarclas 105, Chichibu 2009, A’bunadh #35
  4. World Tour – Forty Creek Confederation OakNikka BlendedOban 14 yr, Sheringham William’s White Double Distilled Grain
  5. Go Goan! Paul John Brilliance, Edited, Bold, Classic & Peated
  6. Go American! JD, Hudson Single Malt, Jim Bean, Knobs Creek 9 yr (with Shatbhi Basu)
  7. Sweetly smokey – Dalmore 15 yrMackmyra Svensk RökSmokehead Rock
  8. Chocolate with Hibiki Harmony, Lagavulin 16 yr, A’bunadh #46
  9. Far East – Kavalan Concertmaster SolistNikka Coffey GrainChinese baijiu
  10. “I like the label” – Compass Box Great King Street – Artist’s BlendStarwardSmoky Goat
  11. European Tour – Teerenpeli (Finland)Danica (Denmark)Kornog (France)Slyrs (Germany)
  12. 5 Region Tour – Glenkinchie 12 yrJura Turas-MaraClynelish 14 yrCardhu 12 yrArdbeg 10 yr

Whisky Ladies in Mumbai

And the whiskies for our 1st anniversary celebration? Count them… yup that’s 13 whiskies from left to right…

  1. Amrut Single Malt
  2. Amrut Fusion
  3. Paul John Edited 46%
  4. Paul John Peated 55.5%
  5. Cragganmore 12 year 40%
  6. Smoky Goat 40%
  7. Highland Park 1998 40%
  8. Aberfeldy 12 year 40%
  9. Monkey Shoulder 40%
  10. Dalmore 15 year 40%
  11. Glen Grant 10 year 40%
  12. Caol Ila 12 year 43%
  13. Ardbeg 10 year 46%

Along with a bottle, our potluck approach to nibbles resulted in a fabulous spread.

Whisky Ladies Spread

Here’s to wonderful women that make up this Mumbai malty tribe! May we continue to enjoy many more sessions together!

In celebration, we now have a special Whisky Ladies Corner sharing:

  • Blog posts from our Whisky Ladies of Mumbai (other than mine!)
  • Recognition of evenings we’ve enjoyed courtesy of a few kind benefactors
  • Other nights with whiskies we sourced with different themes
  • Related women centric whisky posts

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Sometimes you need a treat! Zacapa 23 rum 40%

Our Whisky Ladies in Mumbai are a merry lot and so if one of our members has a birthday, that naturally demands a small celebration… and cake… chocolate of course!

While our host made from scratch this luscious number… adorned with flowers for a fanciful flourish.

2016-05-17 Birthday Cake

Our birthday lass decided we needed a treat…Zacapa 23 Sistema Solera.

2016-05-17 Zacapa 23 rum

Now there are rums and then there are rums!

From Guatemala, it is called ‘solera’ for the system used to blend the rum. No simple affair here, it is matured in a mix of bourbon and sherry casks… Unlike whisky where the age depicted is the youngest found, for rum it is the oldest. Hence Zacapa 23 does indeed contain SOME 23 year old rum, however is known to be a range from 6 to 23 year.

Here’s what they say about the Zacapa 23:

  • Keynote – Wonderfully intricate with honeyed butterscotch, spiced oak and raisined fruit, showcasing the complexity of the sistema solera ageing process.
  • Appearance – Light mahogany, with the tones of long barrel ageing at the rim and long, slow legs clinging to the glass.
  • Nose – A soft start which develops complexity in the glass; sweet aromas of caramel, vanilla, cacao and butterscotch, combining with layers of flavour indicative of the different barrels in the solera process; sherried notes of caramelised, roasted brazil nuts and toasted hazelnut, and the characteristic rounded toffeed banana and dried pineapple of ex-American whiskey casks.
  • Palate – Wonderfully complex, generous and full-bodied, with a sweet honeyed viscosity atypical of an aged spirit; a great depth of raisined fruit and apricot preserves, building to an intense heart of savoury oak, nutmeg, leather and tobacco with notes of coffee and delicately sweet vanilla, balanced with a spicy touch of cinnamon and ginger on the pleasantly astringent finish; truly a rum for the discerning palate.

We didn’t even pretend to make tasting notes, simply enjoyed its sweet chocolatey, slightly smoky molasses nutty delights.

Here’s what else we sampled that evening Whisky Ladies Like Labels:

Related posts Beyond Whisky:

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Lovely labels – Australia’s Starward 43%

Starward was introduced in our Whisky Ladies May session, part of whiskies our host selected based on labels she found attractive and interesting! Produced by New World Distilleries in Australia, Starward is a new entry to the growing Australian whisky market.

Unlike many terrific Australian whisky distilleries based in Tasmania, New World Distilleries is located just outside of Melbourne – apparently in an old Qantas hanger. They use Australian barley and age their whisky in reconditioned Australian oak casks. In the case of Starboard, the casks were previously used to age an Australian sherry called Apera. This makes for a novel fresh and distinctly Australian approach to their whisky.

2016-05-17 Starward

Starward NAS 40%:

  • Nose – Apricots, prunes, a sherry-like influence, honey, demerra sugar. Then a hint emerged of a flowery woodsy perfume… like faded lavender sachets in a cedar closet. As it aired more, out came some pepper, toasted coconut and even a little sour curd
  • Palate – Quite deceiving and a contrast to the nose with a much deeper profile than expected, topped with sweet spices, an almost tingling sensation yet smooth, intense flavours yet well balanced, more pepper, ginger, even apples or a citrus twist
  • Finish – Short and sweet
  • Water – Though a few hesitated to add, after initially punching up the spice it brightens and opens up the whisky. While not needed, doesn’t kill it either.

Overall a sense of youthful intensity with depth. Not massively complex yet had a teasing quality that danced along a spectrum of possibilities.

Bottom line… did we like it? Absolutely!!

Based on this introduction, am quite interested in seeing what more comes from this distillery.

Here’s what the New World folks have to say about their whisky:

Starward represents a new world where experience is respected but boundaries are challenged. This world class malt is youthful, rich and bright; a fine balance of tradition and innovation – of passion and analysis.

Bold but delicate, youthful but mature; rich and contemplative, and surprisingly crisp. It’s the essence of a determination to explore, discover and enlighten.

Starward. What whisky can be.

And Starward‘s tasting notes:

  • Rich amber colour
  • Aroma of ripe orchard fruits: pears, bananas and apples with vinous raisins and dried figs. Caramel, vanilla and marzipan balance the fruit.
  • The palate is filled with rich, toasty caramel, creme brulee, more fruit, pepper, sandalwood, nutmeg and marzipan.
  • A full, sweet, juicy mouthfeel, with a youthful, spicy, dry finish.

Here’s what others have to say:

Other whiskies sampled in our ‘I like the label!‘ session:

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“I like the label!” Great King Street, Starward, Smoky Goat

There is the old adage “Don’t judge a book by its cover!” However let’s face it, we can’t help but be swayed by the ‘packaging’ sometimes!

The theme for our May Whisky Ladies evening was a trio of whiskies selected by our host simply because “I like the label!”

One was a familiar favourite and the other two were completely new to both her and our merry bunch of whisky women.

2016-05-17 Great King, Starward, Smoky Goat

We sampled:

With some very clear ‘wins’ – the ever lovely Compass Box treat and the surprisingly fabulous Starward from Australia.

2016-05-17 Great King St + Starward

And a very clear ‘no!’.. yeah this one decidedly got our goat for being unpalatable…

2016-05-17 Smoky Goat 2

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Irish Night – Connemara NAS 40%

Just to ensure we didn’t miss Ireland’s peated offering, the lads n lasses evening included Connemara!

(Six Mumbai 2015)

(Six Mumbai 2015)

Lina Sonne is our last Whisky Ladies of Mumbai guest whisky reviewer for our Irish Night… 

An escapee academic, Lina heads the Mumbai office of Okapi and its consulting portfolio on innovation and entrepreneurship. Her work focusses on enabling inclusive innovation, social entrepreneurship and start-ups across South Asia and she has traveled widely across the region.

Lina has developed a bit of a reputation for preferring whiskies with a bit more ‘hair on the chest,’ veering towards more robust and peated profiles. On a recent trip back to Sweden, she zeroed in on Mackmyra’s peated Svensk Rök as THE whisky she wished to share with Mumbaikars. 

Here is what Lina has to say about the Connemara….

  • Nose – Definitely seaside, distinct peat and plenty of wood.
  • Palate – Smooth and very light on the palate – a puff of wind on your tongue and it finishes! Where did all that peat go?
  • Finish – Light sweet finish, but with some bitterness and maybe a walnut hiding in there somewhere.
  • Water – Add water and old wood comes out, with a little spice to tickle your tongue.

Overall we found that the Connemara had a great peaty nose promising plenty, but failed to deliver on the palate, with the peat all but disappearing. While still an enjoyable dram, we had hoped for a bit more drama. Instead, it’s quite dry and makes you want to go looking for water.

brandImageConnemara

Kilbaggan website

Here’s what the folks over at Kilbeggan distillery have to say about their Connemara:

Inspired by Ireland’s ancient distilling traditions, Connemara’s smooth sweet malt taste and complex peat flavours makes it a truly unique Irish whiskey.

Connemara is the most decorated Irish whiskey with a huge collection of Gold Medals and has been honoured as the “Worlds Best Irish Single Malt”. Connemara allows you to unearth the Peated Pleasures of Ireland.

Last but not least, more guest reviews by different Whisky Ladies of Mumbai:

From time to time, you can also find other whisky related updates and activities on: