Celebrating 1000 Whisky Lady posts!

When I started exploring the world of whiskies, I had no idea where that journey would lead. I certainly never could have anticipated that my scribbles would result in 1,000 posts over 5 years!

Firmly anchored by life in Mumbai while traversing the globe for work and play, my observations on various whiskies were made richer by being shared experiences with much laughter, learning and naturally libations!

Starting with one, then two, then three regular whisky tasting groups, it has been a brilliant adventure. These regular gatherings where each member sources something to explore together were augmented by Masterclasses, an event or two, kind samples shared, even “mini” tastings!

However change is the only constant and my journey took a different trajectory to Germany late 2019 for work. While India remains ‘home’ and our tasting groups remain strong, I’m now a visitor when possible rather than regular participant. Where things will go from here will evolve.

For now, I’d like to raise a toast to thank all those part of this journey – whether it be sharing a dram or connecting to the whisky fabric by reading these malty missives – this milestone of 1,000 posts would not have happened without you!

And bear with me as I indulge in a little look back with some highlights of the last few years together!

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Whisky and Jazz… what a brilliant match!

There is something to be said for combining a good drink with good music. And when that combination happens to be a seriously good whisky and solid jazz? Hard to beat!

Often our whisky tasting sessions are accompanied by jazz music… curated and compiled by one of our members who once upon a time used to organise a large memorable jazz festival in Mumbai.


As my partner prepares for his upcoming show Bombay Jazz, I started to think about the different range of jazz styles, their mood and what whisky just might make a good match!

And when sax is being played live in your living room, rehearsing for an upcoming show, it is hard to not think of reaching out for a whisky….

If you are curious to see a play about India’s jazz scene of yore with its influence on Bollywood music, check out StageSmith’s “Bombay Jazz

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Mumbai’s Whisky Ladies greet AnCnoc 12 + 22 year with Karen Walker

You thought we were done after a gin and three whiskies? Oooooh no! I did mention that this was the evening when our Whisky Ladies went pro?

The delightful Karen Walker, Global Marketing Head for Scottish Brands of InterBeverage Group then introduced us to not one but two AcCnoc offerings!

AnCnoc 12 year (courtesy Inver House)

AnCnoc 12 year (courtesy Inver House)

All along in the evening, Karen shared insight into the personalities of each distillery manager. In the case of AnCnoc, she described both the whisky and manager as “dry, humorous, complex.”

Here is what our ladies found…

AnCnoc 12 year 40% year aka Modern Tradition

  • Nose – Soft, a drizzle of honey and citrus
  • Taste – Playful quality, sweet, some fruit, VERY easy to drink
  • Finish – Some found it quickly disappeared, others remarked there was indeed a warm soft finish, lingering yet subtle

Karen then unearthed a sample of the AnCnoc 22 year 46%!

  • Nose – Bursting with citrus, flowery, mild yet with complexity, dry, evolves into berries with a hint of talcum powder and a whisp of smoke
  • Taste – Quite sweet, a little ‘oily’ with coconut, some bananas… or oranges… or raisins… or all of them! Sweet spices like cinnamon and cloves.
  • Finish – Ooooh! Lovely sweet berry finish, smokey with a hint of delicious sweet spices

This whisky sparked a slew of comments:

  • “It is so fresh! Yet at the same time so mature…”
  • “Incredibly well balanced and smooth… absolutely no rough edges.”
  • “Delightful!”
  • “Warms you, completely inoffensive”

We quite enjoyed our double hitter from Knockdhu Distillery. Quite the ‘finish’ to a rather sociable sampling evening for our Whisky Ladies with Karen.

It is remarkable anyone was still standing after sipping Caorunn gin, Balblair 03, Speyburn 10 year, Old Pulteney 12 year!


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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:

Related posts sampling with Stuart Harvey:

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Whisky Lady’s 2015

What a year!

While Whisky Lady started purely for my own indulgence, a few amazing things happened in 2015:

1980s whiskies

Malt Maniac’s 20th in Mumbai

2015 also brought some rather special events:

Sample setting

Amrut’s Jim Murray evening in Mumbai

Most popular whisky posts for the year were:

  1. Party Whisky – Amrut’s MaQintosh – I guess no one else has reviewed this??
  2. The Quandary of the KininVie 17 year – A quandary no more thanks to a sample!
  3. Glen Deveron 20 year – Infamous to us for being outclassed by a 3 year old Japanese whisky Chichibu ‘The Floor Malted’
  4. Mumbai Amrut and Jim Murray experience – Memorable but not for the reason they would want!
  5. Mystery Malt – Ichiro’s Malt Hou-oui – An exceptional blend of discontinued Japanese whiskies from Hanyu Distillery (12 & 20 year) and Kawasaki (30, 32 and 35 year)

20150604_Scotland Quartet

For me what stood out was:


And who is tuning into Whisky Lady? The top 10 countries by views are:

  • No surprise that my adopted country India tops views by a wide margin!
  • US come up next followed by UKCanada & Singapore
  • I wonder who my German friends are?
  • For Australia, I suspect most views come from just two fabulous Tasmanian guys!
  • Finishing up is France, Hong Kong / China and Japan

I would also like to share a special ‘nod’ of thanks to fellow whisky bloggers for their comments and encouragement – particularly Malt Activist, Whisky DenWhisky Waffle, Whiskyriffic (with extra thanks for the KininVie sample!), Whiskey and Whisky.

Any whiskies stand out for you? Anything you would like to see more of here on Whisky Lady? Ideas? Recommendations? I still consider myself a novice in the world of whisky and welcome words of wisdom from fellow whisky explorers!

Most important – wishing you a very Happy New Year – may you drink a quality dram over quantity!

Airport offerings (Whisky Lady)

Airport offerings (Whisky Lady)

For more 2015 highlights, check out WordPress 2015 Annual Report or delve into the details shared in Everyday Asia’s monthly Whisky Lady summaries: December delightsNovember noveltiesOctober offeringsSulty SeptemberAwesome AugustJuly journeysJune joyMay merrimentApril adventuresMarch madnessFebruary funJanuary journal.

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Whisky Ladies Go Goan! Paul John Quintet

After our Whisky Ladies conquered a cask strength Diwali and then went on a mini ‘world tour’ in November, you might think we would go slow for December. After all – our collective livers need to survive the holiday season!!

What we decided instead is to go Goan.. in honour of a merry malt member abandoning Mumbai for SanFran. She, quite understandably, wanted to squeeze in every desi moment remaining. Naturally this was a perfect excuse to pull out the Paul John expressions, courtesy of master distiller Michael John.

Paul John is India’s “other” single malt whisky distillery found in South Goa. Since launching their first whisky to the world in 2013, they have been making their mark.

We were first introduced to Edited in a blind tasting early 2015. Then, Michael reached out with a generous offer to send our tasting group more expressions leading to a most enjoyable evening! After those bottles were gleefully polished off, came a new set with the brand new Bold expression added to tempt our Whisky Ladies…

Whisky Ladies Paul John Evening

Whisky Ladies Paul John Evening

Here is what the lasses thought!
  • Nose – Caramel, mango, papaya, jackfruit a whiff of ahem.. Formaldehyde, then a chocolatey flavour when ‘aggressively’ inhaled
  • Taste – Sweet with lots of caramel, buttery caramel popcorn, marzipan, a little malty too
  • Finish – Soft and easy… warming… a bit of black pepper, slightly bitter finish a la dark chocolate
  • Water – Better… much better
  • Comments“A step up from Blue Ribbon and Old Monk! Multiple steps…. Possibly full flights” “A good ‘intro’ whisky for new whisky ladies”
  • Nose – Bursting with fruit especially pineapple, more citrusy than Brilliance. Soft butter, a curl of peaty smoke playing peek-a-boo… a little cocoa, most of all… it is “Like breathing in pina colada!”
  • Taste – Hugely sweet rush, smoked pineapple with a hint of banana, has a bit more of a ‘manly’ kick, meatier and richer, some woodsy spices
  • Finish – Some found it unremarkable, others found a sweetish note with a hint of bitter, perhaps a dash of oak. One remarked “Better than most recent dates!”
  • Water – Much preferred with a few drops of water
  • Observations – Pairs well with food – especially cheese!
  • Nose – Back to being almost overly fruity! This time with a hint of floral elements, some lemon citrus sweetness, a bit of caramel, white pepper, with a good inhale – heavy vanilla, lots of white pepper and some sage
  • Taste – Sweet and a bit spicy if you take a serious swig, hold and let it linger. Nice warm burn.
  • Finish – A bit of a bitter aftertaste, yet still sweet – almost like cough syrup
  • Comment“It is making us nice and warm… but alas not hot.” 
  • Nose – Yum! Now we are talking! Delicious bacon jam, some pastrami, think procsutto and cantaloupe, with a caramel glaze
  • Taste – Hickory, smokey, warm and sweet, rich, a little rough with character – in a way that we like! Fabulous balance of peat and sweet, fruit and earthy elements. Again – yum!
  • Finish – Leaves its mark like a scratchy stubble burn…
  • Water – A little citrus orange high note peeps out then settles back into bacon goodness
  • Comment “It is like a really GOOD Canadian man – Bacon, maple syrup, lumberjack fantasies and ice hockey!”
  • Nose – Bergamont, light, restrained, not quite sweet, a sense of being a bit more sophisticated, with a little vanilla
  • Taste – Dare we say… after a name like BOLD  we expected the whisky to jump out at us, swaggering into our senses… instead it was… um… almost tame? Light, honey sweet, some citrus, a puff of smoke, lovely but a step back from the luscious Peated
  • Finish – Here was where we found peat – a lightly peaty finish with walnut. Some found it slightly bitter, others found it wasn’t bitter at all – particularly when compared with the bitterness of  the Edited finish.
  • Overall – Character of the whisky contrasts with the name. We realised afterwards, we should have tried it together with Brilliance after Edited, as part of the ‘Trio’ of entry level Single Malts vs the ‘Pair’ of cask strength whiskies. Particularly after the fabulous Peated, the Bold was a bit overshadowed. Me thinks this one needs to be re-sampled just on its own…

As you can see… the Peated was ‘dipped’ into again after our initial tasting. I do believe that is a rather obvious sign that we liked it rather a lot!

20151224_Paul John Quintet

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Whisky double trouble

A funny thing is starting to happen… as our original whisky tasting group looks forward to our 5th year together, we are beginning to do a little inadvertent duplication.

As our practice is to rotate hosts with each host responsible for curating the evening, not disclosing the whiskies procured for our sampling pleasure until after we have tasted blind, it means we do not coordinate with each other to ensure we aren’t buying the same or similar thing.

At the time of the reveal, we are now occasionally hearing ‘Oh’ in a different tone as the whisky just tried was already acquired for a forthcoming session by another member. That happened in August with the Bruichladdich The Organic Scottish Barley 50%.

However for those that are similar, rather than exactly the same, it means we can play around with interesting comparisons… and in the coming months we will have opportunities to do just that!

Hibiki Harmony, Aultmore 18, Glenburgie 15

Hibiki Harmony, Aultmore 18, Glenburgie 15

For example, November’s three whiskies included:

Why is that remarkable?

We had just sampled the Aultmore 15 year bottled by Gordon & MacPhail the previous month… and here was another Aultmore. Naturally we have asked the hosts from both sessions to bring along both bottles to our next tasting in January!

And now that I have the delightful Whisky Ladies group too, that provides scope for even more such comparisons! Between the two whisky tasting groups, I was able to put side-by-side the distillery release of Caol Ila 12 year next to a Gordon & MacPhail Caol Ila 12 year.

For those of you part of a whisky tasting group, how do you acquire whiskies and organise your sessions?

And do you sometimes get that ‘Oh!’ of duplication or ‘Oooh!’ for another opportunity to do a different kind of comparison?

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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?


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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10 tips for whisky hosting

While our original tasting group has perfected the art of hosting whisky tasting sessions, my new group of fabulous women are mostly new to hosting structured tasting sessions.

Lining up for some serious tasting!

So with our whisky ladies in mind, I put together a ‘how to’ for hosting with flair and panache!

  1. Capacity – Start with how many people can comfortable sit around a circle to discuss, debate, swish, swill, swallow and kibbitz together… if you have too many split around the room, that’s more of a party than tasting. Yet too few and you miss out on the fun of different impressions and reactions.
  2. Diversity – The best whisky tasting group has a range of palates and perspectives. How boring would it be to all pontificate in unison?
  3. Scents – If you have novice whisky samplers coming, it is advisable to let them know any strong perfumes are a ‘no no’ as it interferes with the whisky aromas. Ditto for you as a host – including those gorgeous flowers or spicy cooking smells.
  4. Whisky selection

    Whisky selection

    Contributions – Decide how the whiskies will be selected and in which order. Personally, I prefer no more than 3 samples per evening. I also prefer to have a theme behind the sampling journey.

  5. Glasses – I have a distinct preference for either Glencairn or tulip glasses. We’ve tried other options and they just don’t work as well. If possible, it is ideal to have one glass per whisky per person. If not, then just rinse between whiskies.
  6. Presentation – Do you wish to taste blind, then reveal the whisky? Display each whisky openly, sharing stories as you sample? Either works!
  7. Palate cleansers – During the tasting, should only have cucumber or bread sticks / crackers with minimal salt and no other flavours to influence. Best are simple oat cakes, but not everyone goes to the effort of making or finds them easy to acquire.

    Sampling Glenfarclas in Hong Kong

    Whisky + water…

  8. Water – Everyone should have their own water glass to liberally consume – particularly between whiskies. There should also be water jars to refill, rinse glasses, etc. Plus it is ideal to have a couple pipettes or droppers to control adding just 2-3 drops of water to a whisky.
  9. Spittoon – Whether you follow the ‘spit the 1st sip‘ adage or not, it is still good to have a bowl to dump excess whisky and water from rinsing glasses, etc.
  10. Food – The best approach is guests come after having already lined their tummy before tasting – a soup with bread is a great base. However if that isn’t possible, it is good to greet with something light, no strong flavours, just to coat the belly and get the taste buds revved up for the whisky goodies to come! Post tasting, if not dispersing immediately, feel free to get creative, playing around with foods you think will pair well with whiskies! Just refer back to #3 on scents – ideal is to time your food order to arrive when you expect to finish  tasting.

Anyone else have simple tips for organising a whisky tasting evening?

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Three tips for whisky tasting order…

For those new to Whisky Lady in India, many of the notes come from tasting sessions of a small private whisky group based in Mumbai.

For those not familiar with the approach our whisky tasting club takes… here’s a snapshot:

  • Meet once a month, same time, same day and week of the month
  • Rotate hosts with the host responsible for ‘curating’ the evening
  • Taste blind!

Which means only one person (i.e. the whisky contributor/host) knows what is being served. That puts him / her firmly in the ‘driver’s seat’ as far as whisky selection and tasting order.

Over the years, we’ve tended to apply three simple guidelines. They may seem obvious but can also produce surprises too.

Hello peat! (The Whisky Exchange)

Hello peat! (The Whisky Exchange)


Naturally we pay attention to peat levels – it is hard to appreciate an exquisite delicate grain whisky after a peat monster!

However usually, the host also has not tried the whisky before our session so relies on the distiller or bottler tasting notes or others reviews – sometimes the descriptions are a bit misleading.

Chichibu 2009 French Oak Cask

When 60% seemed like high 40s%! (Whisky Lady)


We may pay attention to alcohol strength – you don’t want to whallop your guests with a bold cask strength whisky at 60+% then follow with a wimpy 40% strength. However when all the whiskies are in the 45 – 55 % range, this is less of a factor.

We’ve also been surprised by some incredibly smooth cask strength whiskies that are highly deceptive in their alcohol level – one time we guessed at most 48% and it turned to be 63.1%!

Whisky age trivia (Scotchfest 2015)

Whisky age trivia (Scotchfest 2015)


Another way to order whiskies for tasting is by age. Generally, young whiskies with an interesting new make spirit have some character but are still developing whereas there are certain levels of nuance and complexity that really only comes with maturity.

If the young upstart comes after a grand old dame, you may miss appreciating some of what the youngster has to offer. However equally, we’ve had a 25 year old be completely outclassed by a young No Age Statement (NAS) whisky.

So… while these are tips that generally work, half the fun is discovering how in the world of whisky, there are exceptions to every rule!

Additionally, it isn’t one factor alone but a combination that helps make the tasting order decision.

Most important is simply to go on a journey of discovery and explore what works for you!

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