As 2019 winds to a close, I’ve been reflecting on the ways the world whisky fabric weaves us together!
In June, I went to Germany to attend a work conference… at the time airfares between Mumbai and Munich were stupidly expensive thanks to the combination of India’s Jet Airline going under and no fly zone over Pakistan lengthening flights. I managed to find a ticket via Istanbul that was marginally cheaper yet had a 20 hour stop over. So I thought why not close off a project in Turkey by going to office on the Monday to meet with the team rather than have Sunday in Istanbul.
Why mention all of this? Well I finally had a weekend in Germany to do with as I wished. And what I wished was to go to Berlin.
When I first went to Germany in 1986, the country was still divided between East and West Germany with Berlin’s Checkpoint Charlie the focal point for travel between. The cold war was our reality, Gorbachev recently in power on the one hand and Reagan on the other.
Do you need a history lesson? Not really, but it sets the stage for my first trip to Berlin in 2019 where I fell in love with the pulse, grit and spirit of the city. Some places around the world have a “live wire” feel… Berlin is one of them.
And a highlight of my 1st trip to Berlin was an evening at The Union Jack Pub with a member of The Sharing Angels – Germany’s whisky women network.
At the time, a move to Germany wasn’t on the cards and I had no clue just a few months later I would be dividing my life between my home, husband, friends and felines in Mumbai with my work and new life in Nurnberg, Germany.
Instead, I embraced meeting a fellow whisky explorer where we enjoyed discussing malty matters over a dram or two… a most memorable evening.
Don’t want to miss Whisky Lady tasting notes? Why not follow:
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?!
Thank you also fellow bloggers and whisky aficionados:
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.
Yes… it was the night we graduated to power point presentations with insights from a real live whisky professional! Who just so happens to be the absolutely delightful, entertaining and highly knowledgeable Karen Walker, Global Marketing Head for Scottish Brands of InterBeverage Group.
Here is what we sampled with Karen with full posts about the Whisky Ladies experiences:
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!
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…
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 – 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!
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.
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?
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: