Whisky Review #77 – Rosebank 20 Years Old (Silver Seal)

Rosebank…the distillery that is resurrecting in the near future. Most of us who have tasted the exquisite liquid from this distillery are likely to remember it for a long time to come. That sweet, floral oaky taste stays for a long time and remains etched in our memories.

The bottle for review today is a 20-year-old expression from the Silver Seal Company. Part of the Sestante Collection, it is a single barrel with an outturn of 298 bottles. The distillery distilled the liquid in 1990 and Silver Seal bottled it in 2011.

Let’s check out the notes!

Tasting Notes:

Colour: Honey Gold
ABV: 56.7%

Nose: Perfume, sweet, floral perfume wafts up the nose before sweet honey, musky oak and fresh tropical fruits rush in. A pleasant aroma of freshly cut flowers remains in the background even as warm spice creeps in. (18/20)

Palate: Hmm! Sweet raw honey, fresh fruits and flowers float the palate with the first sip. Warm spice appears with the second sip at the back of the throat, but the floral sweetness remains, bringing an enjoyable experience of a high abv whisky. (18/20)

Finish: It has only a medium finish, but the impact is impressive! The sweetness of the honey and fresh fruits lingers till the end while the spice completely disappears. (17/20)

Body: Oh boy! What a balanced dram! The floral sweetness follows through from nose to palate to finish, while the spice does a disappearing act in the finish! It is truly a pleasant dram to drink! (37/40)

Total Score: 90/100

Comments:

Geek Flora: “When I first tried this, I thought to myself, “Wow, did I just drink some perfume?” It was an interesting experience with the floral sweetness that remained me of a DKNY perfume that I used to like! It is a beautiful and balanced dram indeed, but I do wish that the price can be a little less steep!”

Geek Choc: “Wow! Just wow! I love Rosebank! That perfumey sweetness is perfect for me! I love everything about this whisky, except the price that I had to pay for it! Hahaha!” 

 

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Whisky Review #76 – Littlemill 24 Years Old (Fighting Fish)

 

Littlemill is a lesser-known distillery found in between the Lowlands and the Highlands. Regarded as a Lowland distillery, Littlemill produced a single malt that is light and floral. It closed down in 1996 and burned to a crisp in 2004. The site is now a block of apartments.

We will speak more of Littlemill as a distillery soon, but for now, let’s look at the subject for this whisky review.

The Fighting Fish series is from Germany, independently bottled by Jack Wiebers. The expression is distilled in 1990 and bottled in 2014, making it a 24-year-old whisky. Matured in a bourbon cask, it is not chill-filtered and has no colouring added. The final outturn was 172 bottles.

Tasting Notes:

Colour: Bright Amber
ABV: 52.3%

Nose: Sweet molasses, honeyed sweetness, red berries and hints of tropical fruits fills the nose before light vanilla comes into the picture. Spice lingers in the background and forms a pleasant expectation of this expression. It is different from other Littlemill expressions that I had tried before. It has an attractive nose! (17/20)

Palate: The oily mouthfeel gives robustness to the palate before sweet vanilla engulfs the palate. Molasses and tropical fruits rush in after the vanilla dissipates. Warm spice hangs in the background to remind me of the high abv in this dram. Again, it is different from other Littlemill expressions but certainly one of the interesting ones. (17/20)

Finish: The medium to long finish of this dram is pleasurable with light spice lingering at the back of the throat. Sweet molasses and creamy vanilla last all the way to the end, marking this dram as a superb balanced one! (18/20)

Body: There is a fantastic balance for this Littlemill. The nose, palate and finish are consistent, and while it does not exhibit the typical grassiness of Littlemill whisky too much, the sweetness of this dram puts it in the “interesting” category indeed. (36/40)

Total Score: 88/100

Comments:

Geek Flora: “I love Littlemill ever since I had my first dram and I was never disappointed. While I do not like the sweetness of this Littlemill, I got to say that the superb balance did not disappoint. The nose, palate and finish were perfect, so there is nothing to complain about. The expression did not score more than 88 points mainly because I find it a little unlike a typical Littlemill, which I had grown to like. So perhaps, you can say that my scoring is just a little biased!”

Geek Choc: “I find Littlemill to be too light and floral for my liking, but this expression hits the spot very well. The sweetness of the whisky makes it more special than a typical Littlemill expression. I score it much higher than Geek Flora, hence, that 88 points!”

 

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Buying a Cask? Check out Lagg Distillery’s Offer

Lagg Distillery is the peated brother of Arran Distillery, located on the Isle of Arran. The new distillery will exclusively distil peated spirits that remind drinkers of Arran, but it is also different from what you will expect from Arran.

Location of Lagg Distillery

The new distillery sits near the village of Lagg, in the Parish of Kilmory. It is at the southern tip of the Isle of Arran, so it is right at the other end of the island from Arran distillery. This area was famous for both legal and illegal whisky distillation in the past so building a new distillery here seemed like a perfect plan.

Cask Sales

Lagg Distillery is offering a once-in-a-lifetime cask ownership for all whisky lovers at the moment. The distillery commits 700 casks for sales from its first run of peated spirits when the distillery opens in late 2018. Each of these ex-bourbon casks is going at a price of £6,000 and will be filled with the new, heavily peated single malt spirit. The cost includes a maturation period of 10 years. After ten years, owners can choose to bottle their casks or continue the maturation period with additional fees. An expected outturn after ten years yields about 280 bottles (70cl) of 46% abv.

What do you get when you purchase a cask?

When you purchase a cask, you do not just own a barrel! Lagg distillery also offers the following benefits:

  • Membership to the Lagg Cask Society (an exclusive group of cask owners)
  • A bottle of whisky from Lagg Cask No. 1
  • Have your name displayed on the Lagg “Wall of Fame.”
  • A free stay at the Lagg Hotel
  • A piece of history that you will be proud of

Lagg distillery also pledged not to sell additional casks (other than the 700 cask committed) for the next ten years, ensuring that you will be a part of the exclusive group of owners to own a cask.

Buying a Cask? Consider Lagg Distillery

If you are thinking to buy a cask or are in the market to source for a cask, why not consider Lagg Distillery? The peated expressions from Arran, Machie Moor, are fantastic and we believe that Lagg will continue the good works that Arran has done so far.

 

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Whisky Event: Bruichladdich X Demochoc0

Bruichladdich has been showcasing their whiskies consistently in the recent months, and they are very successful indeed. Geek Flora had been to more than a few, and she was impressed with both the presentation and the whiskies (of course)! As Bruichladdich fans, we are delighted to see the consistent and robust interest coming from the whisky community.

Bruichladdich X Demochoco X The Wall SG

The most recent tasting that we went for was an exciting and informative one. Bruichladdich paired up with one of the best chocolatiers in Singapore – Jialiang from Demochoco, as well as the bespoke bar that we have featured in January – The Wall SG, to bring a heavenly pairing of hand-made chocolates and whiskies.

What is so unique about this, you may ask? It is common to pair chocolates with whiskies, isn’t it?

It is common to pair chocolates with whiskies, but have you tried chocolates that tasted like local-Singaporean food?! Demochoco painstakingly made chocolates that tasted like local Singaporean food (think laksa and salted-egg cereal prawns) to pair them with the excellent Bruichladdich whiskies. The Wall SG made it possible for the event by opening its doors. There was also an “extra service” – Jeremie, the whisky expert at The Wall SG, became a model for Bruichladdich merchandise!

We assured you that he was thrilled to be a model, even if he looked rather deep-in-thoughts in the picture! He was just thinking how to pose! Hahaha!

The Hosts for the night

The hosts for the night were Jialiang – Demochoco’s expert chocolatier and Chloe – Bruichladdich’s APAC Brand Ambassador. Here’s a beautiful picture of them chatting right before we started the event. Everyone knows Chloe by now. She is Islay-born and grows up on the island surrounding by whiskies! Jialiang is Singaporean and has immense knowledge about chocolates. He is a chocolate lover who decided to take one step further by making chocolates for fellow chocolate lovers to enjoy! His chocolates are really to die for, so if you have yet to taste it, we recommend you to try it!

History of Bruichladdich

We have repeated the history a couple of time previously, so we will not do it again. If you are keen to find out more, read our previous posts on the history, as well as the two tasting events here and here. We will just leave this picture here for you to admire. Take note of the picture cards in the middle row of the bar shelf! These are the precious pictures from the distillery!

Chocolates and Whisky

Now, let’s move on to the pairing event. Bruichladdich brought four expressions for the event. The pairing is as follow:

  • Bruichladdich Classic Laddie with Laksa Truffle
  • Islay Barley 2010 with Salted Egg & Cereal Truffle
  • Port Charlotte Scottish Barley with Oko Caribe 72% Truffle
  • Octomore 7.1 with Black Sesame Truffle

Let’s dive into the tasting notes!

Bruichladdich Classic Laddie X Laksa Truffle

Details of Bruichladdich Classic Laddie
ABV: 50%
Age Statement: NAS

We are sure that you know how laksa tastes like, but the laksa truffle is better than all that coconut-flavoured soup! When we first popped the chocolate in the mouth, all we got was delicious dark chocolate. Once you chewed through the top-portion, you get all the laksa flavours, down to the umami taste of the shrimps and the slight spiciness!

We sipped the Classic Laddie when our mouth was still full of the laksa flavours, and whoa, we get an intense maltiness from the Classic Laddie! The sea salt becomes prominent as well, leading to a much longer finish for the whisky. Interestingly, the “finish” of the laksa truffle lengthened as well and the spicy shrimp flavour simply shined through! The oil in the whisky helps to enhance the flavours of the laksa truffle, and we felt that we just had a bowl of piping hot laksa for dinner!

Islay Barley 2010 X Salted Egg & Cereal Truffle

Details of Islay Barley 2010
ABV: 50%
Age Statement: 6 years old

Ever tried chocolates that tasted exactly like salted egg cereal prawns? That was what we had. The flavours that exploded in the mouth was full of that crisp, flavourful salted egg cereal prawns that we get from an excellent zichar stall in Singapore! That was just so exotic!

The Islay Barley 2010 was full of salty caramel, toasty cereals and malted barley. It is also slightly more spicy than the Classic Laddie in the palate, which made a perfect pairing with the salted egg & cereal truffle! The salted notes meshed together beautifully and brought out the spice that hid under the layers of the whisky. The maltiness of the whisky combined with the cereals of the chocolate, creating a toasty cereal note that lingers in the finish. Just when we thought that it was all over, a fresh burst of sweetness in the back of the throat gave us a pleasant surprise!

Port Charlotte Scottish Barley X Oko Caribe 72% Truffle

Details of Port Charlotte Scottish Barley
ABV: 50%
Age Statement: NAS

The Oko Caribe 72% truffle was a hot favourite among many who loves dark chocolate during the event. Made from medium dark roast cacao beans, the chocolate presents itself with a creamy caramel sweetness that is not overly sweet. The soft texture adds to the appeal.

If you do not know how Port Charlotte tastes like, it is full of fruitiness and sweetness combined with smoke. Peated at 40ppm, it is a heavily peated whisky but showcases all the lovely character of what Bruichladdich represents. The chocolate gave a fantastic enhancement to the enjoyment of Port Charlotte Scottish Barley (PCSB)! The sweetness of the chocolate mixed well with the sweetness of the PCSB and showcased the fruitiness of the whisky in the grandest manner possible. The most extraordinary experience was the aromatic smoke that puffed out right after we swallowed the whisky. Omg! That fragrant smoke is so phenomenal that we could hardly believe it. The finish is incredible, all sweet and smoky at the same time!

Octomore 7.1 X Black Sesame Truffle

Details of Octomore 7.1
ABV: 59.5%
PPM: 208
Age Statement: 5 years old

The black sesame truffle consists of both Japanese and Taiwan black sesame, and the outer layer is a kinako powder from Japan. It is known as blonde chocolates and trust us when we tell you that this chocolate is heavenly. If you like the sesame taste or love anything sesame, this is the chocolate for you.

The Octomore 7.1 is somewhat medicinal and contains very light smoke on the nose. When we paired the whisky with the chocolate, it first enhanced the smoke from the whisky in an ideal way – let it all out! The saltiness of the whisky then came through the palate beautifully and continued with a pleasant spice. The finish was sweet and then tannic, leading to a dry and astringent finish. The sweetness of the chocolate found a balance with the Octomore 7.1, making it just a tad too yummy to swallow!

End of the event

The event ended shortly soon after the fourth whisky pairing and both Chloe and Jialiang went around to chat with the participants. It was a jolly good evening, and all of us had fun! It was yet another successful event by Bruichladdich, and we applaud their efforts as always. Jialiang is a perfectly good spot and sold us some delicious chocolates at a fantastic price too! Last but not least, we enjoyed the funny banter that Jeremie and the rest of the wonderful people at The Wall SG provided to us! Haha…it was an entertaining night and one that we hope to revisit soon!

If you have missed out on this event, head over to The Wall SG to try all the whiskies from Bruichladdich and you will see why we are all praise for this event! If you want to reenact the pairing session, order the chocolates from Demochoco and head down to The Wall SG for the drams!

 

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Whiskey Review #75 – Tennessee 2003 (JD)

American Whiskey is a class of its own with Bourbon, Tennessee and Rye playing the most significant share. While we have shared some American whiskey previously, we were not a big fan of it due to the overwhelming sweetness that we tend to get from corn distillate. However, we tried this bottle of Tennessee recently, and it was so good that we were taken aback! Is that even Tennessee?! It tasted like a sherry-matured Scotch!

Brief History of the bottle

The Tennessee we have here is an independent bottling by The Whisky Agency (TWA) for Kaohsiung, Taiwan. It was a joint-bottling by four different bars – The Drunken Master Whisky Bar (TDM), Inn Bistro, Goodness Bistro and Bar Diary. Each bar owner has tasted and agreed to bottle this whiskey for their bars. We got this from TDM, and it proved to be a right thing to do!

What is Tennessee?

Tennessee whiskey is different from Bourbons due to a particular step within the whiskey making process. While both liquid comes from at least 51% corn, Tennessee whiskey goes through an additional phase before the whiskey makes it to the barrel for maturation. Tennessee makers steep or filter the new whiskey in charcoal chips.

All Tennessee whiskey makers make their whiskey slightly differently. This particular bottle comes from Jack Daniel’s (JD), so the method is as follows:

  • Soak Sugar Maple Wood in 140 proof Jack Daniel’s
  • Set the wood on fire and reduced it to charcoal
  • Ground the charcoal to bean-sized pellets
  • Pour new whiskey through the pellets and placed into barrels.

Distilled in 2003, TWA bottled this JD in 2017. It is labelled as a 13-year-old as it did not spend the full 14th year before bottling. In a technical sense, you can think of this bottle as a 13.5-year-old.

Now that you have a better understanding of this bottle, let’s deep dive into the tasting notes!

Tasting Notes

Colour: Burnt Gold/Amber
ABV: 50.7%

Nose: Sweet caramel hits immediately with light spice hiding in the background. On the second sniff, we detect some sweet cream, almost like an ice-cream soda from F&N. Hints of preserved red dates and orange peels appear after a few minutes, enhancing the sweet nose to the next level. (19/20)

Palate: Sweet sherry and caramel come rushing in before a sharp spice punches the palate and disappears as quickly as it appears. As we hold the liquid in the mouth, sweet fruitiness of red dates and cherries coats the palate beautifully. The spice hits again as we swallow, creating a warm and pleasant burn down the throat. Then, a surprise happens! A burst of cranberry juice coats the whole mouth, bringing the berry sweetness to a grand ending! (19/20)

Finish: It has a relatively short finish with sweet red fruits, warm spice and a hint of cranberry juice. (17/20)

Body: Oh my, what a beautiful dram! The superb nose and palate are presented so exceptionally, and the sweetness is not overwhelming. An untypical Tennessee for sure and one that we will want to keep drinking. Although we are slightly disappointed with the shorter than expected finish, it was good till the end! (37/40)

Total Score: 92/100

Comments:

Geek Flora: This is the BEST Tennessee that I have ever tried so far! It gives me such a warm and happy feeling inside after drinking it! I will be sorry when we finish this bottle, but this is one whisky that is worth sharing!

Geek Choc: This has to be the most impressive whiskey I have ever tried. My attempts at American whiskey were few as I find them far too sweet for my liking. This Tennessee, however, hits me in all the right places! 

 

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Big Boss is Hosting a CNY Party! What should You Bring?

The Lunar New Year is all about feasting and visiting relatives and friends while feasting…Hmm…that explains the growing waistline, doesn’t it? Well, that’s not all! The Lunar New Year is also a time when all young people play dodgeballs. What? Yes, dodging questions about marital status and baby-making plans!

You may think that this is all that is about the Lunar New Year, but wait, how about that awesome party that your big boss is holding? Some of these parties are not just a party, my friends; it could be a party that every department, or perhaps every colleague tries to outdo one another based on what they bring to the party!

So, if you are heading to one of these parties, what should you bring?

Oranges and Red Packets

Oranges and red packets (ang baos) are two of the most vital things to bring when heading to such a party. This is essential if your boss is old-school and believes in a traditional set-up for the party. Even if you are heading for a pool-side party, the oranges and red packets will still do a lot of good! Well, unless you are single, then be prepared to receive red packets!

Whisky

If you want to impress your boss, whisky is one of the best choices you have. It might be cool to bring a bottle of wine to the party, but nothing impresses more than a bottle of whisky. The question is, what whisky should you bring? Let us share some suggestions with you!

Macallan Edition No. 3

The Macallan Edition No. 3 is a sweet and floral whisky that is easy to drink. It is also an affordable bottle that doesn’t break your pocket. Besides, Macallan is a famous brand, so even the uninitiated, non-whisky drinkers will recognise the brand. This bottle is going to help boost your reputation, especially if your boss loves whisky!

Taketsuru 21 Years

Next in line is a Japanese whisky that is so popular that prices are shooting higher and higher. The Taketsuru 21 Years Pure Malt is a blended whisky with some of the best Japanese single malts in it. It appears that both Yoichi and Miyagikyo are both parts of the blend! While this bottle may be a little more expensive, you can share the cost with a small team if you want to impress the big boss that your team knows what to bring for a CNY party!

Glenfiddich IPA

You have probably tried the Glenfiddich IPA and love the way the gentle and malty whisky sways its way down your throat in the sexiest of ways. We think that this bottle is perfect if the gathering does not require you to bring a big gift along. It is also ideal if you want to bring a bottle on your own and do not want to spend too much money. Glenfiddich is a big brand name with the best-selling whisky in the world. Bringing a bottle from a famous distillery can earn some brownie points too!

Glenlivet 12 Years Old

If you think that an aged Scotch is necessary, bring along the Glenlivet 12 Years. It is an easy-to-drink whisky that is floral and pleasing to the nose and palate. If you are willing to splurge a little more (good bonus, perhaps), go one level higher and aim for a Glenlivet 15 Years old. Both bottles will win hearts and souls with their excellent spirits. Of course, they will bring you higher regards from both the bosses and your colleagues!

Yamazaki Distiller’s Reserve

If all else fails, there is Yamazaki to the recuse. The Yamazaki Distiller’s Reserve is one of the most popular Japanese whiskies that is still relatively affordable. Unlike the Yamazaki 12 Years old, the Distiller’s Reserve edition is easier to find and does not cost as much as a 12 Years old. Bringing a Yamazaki bottle to the party is likely to make you a favourite among all the party-goers, especially if they love the delicate and floral taste of Japanese whiskies.

Have a Lovely Party!

The weekend that is coming up is going to be busy with all the parties! We hope that this little post will help you choose a bottle of whisky to bring and hope that it will bring you good fortune and the best of luck in the new year!

Slainte!

 

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Whisky Review #74 – Caol Ila 1982 First Cask Series

Caol Ila 1982 – First Cask Series

WhiskyGeeks has not reviewed any bottles for an extended period, so it is time to put that right. Today, our review brings us to an independent bottler from the Netherlands, which is quite a character.

Brief History of the independent bottler

Jan Kok and Marcel Bol are the founders of Whisky Import Netherlands (WIN). Founded in December 2004, WIN started with the imports of new bottlings from Adelphi Distillery. Both Jan and Marcel are veterans in the whisky industry. As youngsters, Marcel was an avid whisky drinker and met like-minded Jan in the company that they both worked for. The two hit off so well that they planned a trip to Scotland together! From then on, their whisky journey took off on a higher note. As members of the local whisky club, Jan and Marcel both became the club leaders and Marcel was also in charge of the club’s publication. They are so well-known that Diageo approached them to promote whisky! As a result of this request, Jan and Marcel attended formal whisky courses and became accredited. During their learning journey, they got to know Charles MacLean, who got them to import new bottlings for Adelphi Distillery as well.

That is a short history on WIN, the Netherlands independent bottler, who bottled this excellent bottle of Caol Ila 1982 (single cask). The First Cask Series is WIN’s label, and much effort has been put into each selection to choose casks which showcase the character of the distillery and the influences of the barrels used. This bottle of Caol Ila is distilled in 1982 and matured in an American oak hogshead. 25 years later, WIN bottled the liquid without chill-filtration and colouring. It also boasts of a natural cask strength!

With the introduction completed, let’s dive into the review of this Caol Ila 1982!

Tasting Notes

Colour: Bright Gold
ABV: 60.8%

Nose: Elegant peat is all my brain could comprehend when I first nose this whisky! It was terrific. Sweet, fruity and light, all at the same time. When my mind calms down, I picked up mango, apricot and aromatic peat. There is a warm, pleasant spice wafting in the background. (18/20)

Palate: The first sip registered fruity sweetness and warm, mellow spice. A second sip reveals sweet mango, apricots, nutmeg, some cinnamon and beautiful peat. At the high abv of 60.8%, the liquid is gentle and elegant. The warm spice coats the mouth but does not burn the throat, which is pleasant for a high abv whisky. (19/20)

Finish: The finish is long with sweet peat and mango. The mouthfeel gets drier towards the end, but it is pleasant, almost wine-like. (19/20)

Body: This dram is excellently balanced. The peat co-exists beautifully with the sweet fruitiness and the gentle spice. I would say that the peat enhances the sweetness of the whisky and makes it even better! (36/40)

Total Score: 92/100

Where to find it: The Swan Song

Comments:

Geek Flora: “This dram makes me love Caol Ila more than I already am. That sweet, gentle peat completely sold me. I would be heading back for more in future!” 

Geek Choc: “I only got a sip of this, and it was heavenly. Did not get to drink a second sip of the dram after that because Flora was too excited and drunk everything herself!”

 

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Serving Whisky in Alternative Ways

 

Seasoned whisky drinkers often complained about waste – the waste of a whisky when it is not drunk neat. The assumption that whisky must be drunk as intended by the whisky distiller often intimate beginners and causes some to avoid the liquid altogether. Do we need to drink whisky neat every time? Well, not if you are looking to drink whisky for different reasons! There is no right or wrong way to drink whisky. In fact, whisky is a versatile drink.

We look to bartenders and observe how they serve whisky to understand how other people are drinking whisky. We realised that bars serve whiskies in more ways than one!

What are some of the other ways to serve whisky? Let’s find out!

Mixed with Soda aka a Highball

The world credited the Japanese with the invention of the Highball, but the Scots also have drunk whiskies this way since the 16th century. A rich and heavy whisky can benefit from the adding of soda water to make it a Highball, or what we call a “long drink”. It creates a refreshing beverage and also dilutes the alcohol level of the whisky. It is especially enjoyable on a hot day where all you want to do is to chill at a local bar!

With Iceball or Ice Cubes

Whisky is refreshing when it is drunk with an iceball or ice cubes. The ice dilutes the whisky slowly while retaining most of the flavours. It is also an excellent way to test whether a whisky can stand up to the onslaughter of ice and water. A complex and well-balanced whisky will put up a good fight against the ice and water, creating a multi-facade drinking experience for the drinker. A whisky bar will serve whisky with a solid piece of ice as it melts slower and does not dilute the whisky as quickly as ice cubes.

Chilled

Some bars chill whisky the same way that they chill wine. Interestingly, some whiskies perform better when chilled. We tried chilling whiskies with overwhelming flavours, and the lower temperature does subdue the flavours just a little to make the whisky more manageable. It is also a fantastic way to enjoy whisky without getting it diluted with ice or water.

With a Splash of Water

Some whiskies open up only after a splash of water. Usually, the water is served on the side with a dropper so that the drinker can add the water when he or she wants to. In our opinion, the best way to open up a whisky is to add a drop of water to it, swirl it around and try it again. It often works wonder without diluting the whisky much.

Have it with a mixer

This happens mostly in a pub or a club where people look to drink more than they should. Most of us probably started drinking whisky this way. Add it to a mixer and enjoy it without tasting the alcohol burn. However, as we mature and walk deeper into the whisky forest, we do forsake this habit for more advanced ways of drinking. That does not mean that others who drink their whiskies with a mixer are wrong. We all have to start somewhere, isn’t it?

As a Cocktail

Of course, we are familiar with whisky cocktails. These are perfect companions for dinner or a light drink before a party. Famous whisky cocktails such as Old-Fashioned are popular in Singapore and have always been a favourite among many drinkers. Bartenders who shake up brilliant whisky cocktails are valued (even treasured) by whisky lovers because there are still some days where you want to drink something lighter than a whisky!

Neat

Finally, the most basic serving method is to have your whiskies neat. While this is the premium choice of most seasoned whisky drinkers, remember that it is not necessary the best way. If you are not comfortable to drink it neat, why not have it with ice, water, soda or even any other mixers? There is no fixed way to drink whisky! Your bartender is more than happy to serve you whisky in whichever way that you desired!

 

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What you need to know about The Swan Song

 

We are sure that some of you have heard of The Swan Song (SS) and possibly, already visited the bar more than once. SS is a new whisky bar located at Prinsep Street, just a short walk from Dhoby Ghaut MRT. The owners of the bar are Arun and Kelvin, also known as AK for short. They are veterans in the whisky scene and are not strangers to many of us.

AK invited us to SS recently, and we appeared that very night! Haha! It was a coincidence that the invitation came on the same day that we planned for a visit with our friends! We enjoyed ourselves so much that we went down to the bar again the following week.

Have you visited SS yet? What do you know about the Swan Song?

The bar at The Swan Song

 

The bar is born out of a dream

AK met a long time ago over whisky, and as time passes, they become close friends who love to drink and talk whisky. As passionate, like-minded whisky lovers, it is no wonder that talks turn into the shared dream of opening a whisky bar. Things moved faster than they thought, and so The Swan Song is born.

The idea is to share and learn together

SS houses a great variety of whiskies, from the modern to the vintages. The concept from AK is not to hoard, but to share. They believe in sharing good drams with other whisky enthusiasts to enrich one another. Vintages and rare whiskies are expensive and almost unattainable by most, so by opening rare bottles and sharing them with patrons by the dram, SS make these whiskies attainable and available for those who want to try.

Education and Accessibility is in the heart of SS

SS has a noble vision and a worthy mission. Their vision is to educate and spread the word for vintage and rare whiskies while their mission is to make such whiskies available. Both vision and mission are commendable indeed! With a heart to share as many whiskies with other whisky drinkers as possible, SS is a bar which charges fairly and reasonably. AK do not believe in overcharging their patrons for a whisky just because it is rare. They want to charge a price that makes it attainable by the dram and yet be sustainable as a business.

Price is always a consideration

Price is essential to any business, especially one which strive to be sustainable. In SS, you will not find overpriced whiskies, but reasonably priced drams. The essence of what The Swan Song stands for is value. They want their patrons to feel that there is value in what they are drinking and what they are paying for. With their heart in education and accessibility, they think that it is pointless if they priced the whiskies beyond the value of what people would pay for. Therefore, they strive to keep the expenses low. Rental is reasonable, and the decoration is simple and practical. What is important is the heart to serve, and the passion for sharing their knowledge with the customers that come through the doors of SS.

Vintage and rare whiskies are their differentiating factors

When we spoke of differentiation between SS and the other bars in Singapore, it is evident that SS is not interested to replace the other bars but to co-exist in harmony instead. Many of the bar owners and bar managers in Singapore are their friends, so replacement is never on their mind.

What SS offers instead is their vintage and rare whiskies which are hard to come by, even by the other bars. There is also the vast knowledge that AK has, as well as their generosity that is known by the regulars. Besides the vintage whiskies, SS also strives to bring in special bottlings that are hard to find in Singapore. For example, the Bruichladdich Oirthir Gaidheal Islay Festival 2009 bottling is a limited release for the Islay festival only. It is so limited that most Bruichladdich fans outside of Islay will never taste it…until SS bring it in! Singapore is a lucky island!

Check out some of the bottles that we tried at The Swan Song!

(Old Malt Cask) Port Ellen 1983 (22 Years Old) Bottled for the Whisky Festival Noord Nederland

 

(Signatory Vintage) Linlithgow/St Magdalene 1982 (25 Years Old) Bottled for LMDW

 

(Whisky-Import-Nederland) Caol Ila 1982 (25 Years Old)

 

Bruichladdich Oirthir Gaidheal Bottled for Islay Festival 2009

 

(BlackAdder) Bowmore 1973 (27 Years Old)

 

Old Style Jura 1970s (8 Years Old)

As you can see, there are many old and rare bottles which we get to try. It is exciting to try whiskies from the 1970s and 1980s, especially when some of these bottles are distilled during our birth years!

Plans for the Future

We spoke of masterclasses and whether AK will eventually hold tasting sessions or masterclasses at the bar. The answer is a resounding “Yes”, but more needs to be discussed before they finalised anything. What we can tell you is this: you can expect an exciting, value for money masterclass that is also sharing rare whiskies! The price tag might not be the cheapest in town, but you know that you are getting a good deal out of it.

Our impression of The Swan Song

The Swan Song impressed us with their open conversations and their willingness to impart knowledge to their patrons. Their generosity as a host is also undeniable. The cosy bar reminds us of a home, and the hosts invited us to share what they have with an open heart. We feel the honesty and integrity of the people behind the bar, and we know that they are there to share and learn alongside us. They deliver what they want to offer – a free education about whisky and the accessibility of vintage and rare whiskies. The team works together, lending strength to one another and making sacrifices on the home front. We are so proud of AK because they make Singapore just a little brighter with their bar!

 

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Have you Heard of the Cradle Glass

Have you heard of the cradle glass? If you bought the VIP tickets for Whisky Live Singapore 2017, you are the proud owner of one of these cradle glasses. Do you know where the cradle glass come from and the story behind the glass? WhiskyGeeks seeks out Sandie, the lady behind the cradle glass for a chat.

The Story of the Cradle Glass

 

The story started in Tasmania, Australia. Back in 1997, the owners of the Cradle Mountain Whisky Distillery decided to mothball the distillery due to insufficient funds. At the same time, they continued to sell existing stocks. By 2015, the whisky barrels were dwindling. Joe and Sandie love the whisky so much that they brought the Cradle Mountain Whisky Distillery to prevent it from shutting down! In their capable hands, the distillery began production again.

As a small craft distillery entirely owned by Joe and Sandie, they have the opportunities to explore and experiment with different wood types. They developed their special “Sol’Lahra” Barrels (which are barrels with different stave combinations) and used these barrels on top of the standard American Oak Barrels. They also explore different charred levels and even different formula for their new make! With all these variants, they have about 45 types of new make resting in their specialised barrels.

As distillers, one of the joys on the job is to nose the new make. Cradle Mountain Whisky started with a new make of 65% abv and the alcohol fumes can be quite a challenge when the other aromas are still in their infancy stages. Using a standard Glencairn glass, it is difficult for Joe and Sandie to make out the developing aromas underneath the alcohol fumes. The high number of variants in the distillery makes the job even more difficult. Joe and Sandie know that they had to do something to make the job easier – they need a new glass.

And so the Cradle Glass is born

The owners of Cradle Mountain Whisky needed a glass that can eliminate the alcohol fumes in order to get access to the evolving aromas and subtle changes in their 45 new variants. The need to chart the development and tweak the environment (when necessary) of the maturing casks are vital for making good whiskies. With their needs clearly mapped out, the couple set to work. Creating the cradle glass was more challenging than they thought. Taking inspiration from Cradle Mountain and the nearby Dove Lake, they take movement, surface area and air pressure into consideration while creating a glass that is shaped like a natural cradle.

It took them seven attempts before they feel that what they have is a perfectly shaped glass that can radiate, move, aerate, accelerate, expel and emote.

How does the Cradle Glass work?

The Cradle Glass is easy to use – just pour your whisky of choice and cradle the glass in your palms. The radiant heat from your hands agitates the phenols in the whisky to release the aromas. The shape of the glass allows the whisky to move easily and aerates it to “open up”. As the air pressure increases within the glass, the aromas and alcohol fumes rise upwards to the narrowing neck. The smaller opening drops the air pressure as the vapours rise. When the vapours reach the widened lip of the glass, the alcohol fumes, being lighter than the organic compounds of the whisky, moves over the lips of the glass. That leaves the aromas of the whisky in the middle, right where you will nose it. The glass allows you to experience the fruity, floral aromas without getting the nasal burn from the alcohol fumes.

The glass has another function. With its rounded and weighted bottom,  the glass extended the movement of the whisky within to release the aroma in between each sip, helping you to catch all the aromas as intended by the whisky maker. Of course, it also serves a practical function – the glass does not fall over or spill the precious liquid inside.

Here’s a summary for you:

 

The Business of the Nose

Studies suggested that we used up to 80% of our sense of smell to work out the taste. The process is somewhat scientific – molecules of a substance stimulate nerve cells in our nose, mouth and throat and transfer the information to our brain, allowing us to judge whether the substance is pleasing or not. While it is natural for everyone to have a different preference when drinking whisky, Joe and Sandie want to share the cradle glass with the rest of the world as they believe removing the alcohol fumes help them to enjoy the whisky more.

Aromas can be overshadowed by alcohol fumes and make it more difficult for the whisky drinker to discern the subtle flavours beneath the burning sensation. The cradle glass removes the alcohol fumes to help the whisky drinker discover the flavours and aromas to better appreciate a good whisky.

Why do We think the Cradle Glass Works?

WhiskyGeeks tested the two cradle glasses that we received at Whisky Live Singapore 2017 for about two months before reaching out to Sandie. We need to know if the cradle glass works as it intended. We tried it with many different whiskies, even comparing the same whisky using a Glencairn glass and the cradle glass. What we found was a fuller flavour, a better nose and more aromas when using the cradle glass.

One of the most significant examples was Zerlina’s experiment with The Macallan Gold. We had a sample from Master of Malt and decided to use it as a test because there are simply too many people who think badly about it.

 

We split the liquid between a Glencairn glass and the cradle glass, and nose them. The aromas arising out of the Glencairn glass are more subtle and less prominent as compared with the cradle glass. The spiced ginger was more in tune with the citrus lemon zest in the cradle glass than the Glencairn glass. We were impressed indeed!

The cradle glass delivers as promised and we know that we need to share this after conducting various other experiments with similar results.

Conclusion

First, a disclaimer – We are not here to sell the cradle glass and Sandie is not sending us with a crate of Cradle Mountain Whisky to get us to write the article. We are here to introduce the cradle glass mainly because we believe that it works! While we still use our Glencairn glasses for drinking whisky, we find ourselves favouring the cradle glass when we want to write tasting notes. It helps us to discern the subtle flavours and make the work easier for us in general.

For those of you who own a cradle glass of your own, why not try it if you have not? For those who have tried, how about sharing your experience with us? Did you get a positive experience too?

A small note about the owners of Cradle Mountain Whisky and the Cradle Glass

Joe and Sandie are owners of the Cradle Mountain Whisky Distillery in Tasmania, Australia. They developed the cradle glass out of necessity for their whisky making process and is today, sharing the glass with the rest of the world. You can find out more at www.cradleglass.com.

 

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