How to remove a broken cork from your whisky bottle

All of us are victims of this age-old problem – the cork breaks when we are opening a bottle of our favourite whisky. This issue is especially prevalent in older bottles simply due to age. Needless to say, we are all frustrated with this recurring challenge! What are some of the best ways to remove a broken cork from our whisky bottles?

Using a corkscrew

If the broken cork is just slightly below the open neck of the bottle, it is easiest to use a corkscrew to remove the broken piece. Use the corkscrew the same way that you would when opening a wine bottle, and you should have the broken cork out of the bottle soon enough!

Using a long nail and a piler

Sometimes, the corkscrew is not delicate enough to do the job, and you will need a better idea. Find a long nail (as long as possible) and make sure it is clean. Screw it slowly into the broken cork, just like how you operate a manual corkscrew. The trick is to pull the long nail a little after screwing it into the cork so that you get a tight grip. Then use piler to slowly but steadily remove the broken cork out of the bottle.

Using a flat blade

When a corkscrew or a nail is not available, grab a flat blade knife from the kitchen. This is an operation only for the nimble fingers, so be safe when you are doing it. Insert the flat knife into the cork near the cork’s edge and the neck of the bottle. Be careful not to stick the knife into the centre of the cork as you need the neck of the bottle as some form of leverage. Once you insert the blade reasonably deep into the cork, start turning the knife in circular motions. The trick here is to pull upwards as you turn so that you pull up the cork even as you turn the knife in circles. Once you can grip the cork with your fingers, stop using the knife and pull the cork free with your hands.

Push the broken cork into the whisky bottle

If there is no way for you to remove the broken cork from the bottle, the next best thing is to push the cork into the bottle. This method requires you to have a spare glass bottle to house your whisky. To use this method, clean the debris of the broken cork so that small particles will not fall into the whisky. You may want to check the integrity of the cork as well because you do not want it to disintegrate when it falls into the bottle. Once you are sure the cork will stay in one piece, go ahead to push the cork into the bottle. After that, follow the next step.

Decanter your whisky

If parts of the broken cork fall into the whisky or you push the broken cork into the whisky, you have to decanter it. Grab a clean, empty glass bottle and decanter your whisky using a sieve or strainer (for bigger debris) or a coffee filter (for tiny particles). After that, the big challenge comes – removing the bigger piece of broken cork from the newly empty bottle. One of the best ways is to use a clean plastic bag. Insert a clean plastic bag into the bottle, with the open end facing the neck of the bottle. Overturn the bottle so that the broken cork falls to the neck of the bottle. Next, blow air into the plastic bag so that the cork remains at the neck of the bottle. Then, delicately pull the plastic bag and cork out of the bottle.

Using a wire

For those with a steady hand and a steely gaze, you can consider using a stainless wire fashioned into a hook to remove the larger pieces of the broken cork. Ensure that the wire is hard, and use it like a fishing hook to puncture and lift the debris gently out of the bottle. It requires a ton of patience and a whole lot more skills!

 

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How to Store Whisky for the Long-Term

 

Whisky drinkers do not usually have a hard time storing whisky as compared to wine drinkers. As our precious liquid stops ageing once bottled, whisky drinkers can keep their whiskies indefinitely. Well, as a broad-based theory, of course. Temperature and storage methods do affect whiskies, unfortunately, so we are here to look into how we can avoid doing the wrong things.

Storing sealed and full bottles

We need to look out for two things when storing sealed bottles. The first is temperature and the second, sunlight. Both of these affect whisky by causing chemical reactions in the whisky compounds and degrade the flavours over time. While this does not happen within a few years, but it will alter the taste after ten years or more.

The best way to store sealed bottles is in a cupboard when the light is minimal, and temperatures do not fluctuate like the stock market. Having a constant room temperature between 15 to 18 degrees Celcius is ideal. Nonetheless, we know that it is impossible for us in this part of the world to get that temperature, so keeping your whiskies in the dark cupboard is the next best thing. Otherwise, make sure that your open shelf is not facing the window to avoid heat and sunlight.

Storing opened bottles

An opened bottle of whisky requires a lot more attention and careful storage as compared to a sealed one. If your bottle is more than 2/3 full, it is entirely possible that the flavours will not change for the next one year or so. What you can do is to use some parafilm to create a seal on the bottle cap or cork to preserve the flavours as much as possible.

The challenge hits when your bottle is about 1/3 full. With that much air in the bottle, the whisky will begin to oxidise. Once oxidisation starts, the whisky will change and no longer taste the way it was. For some expression, oxidisation improves the flavours, but for most others, it degrades the whisky instead.

The best way to prevent oxidisation is to invite a few friends over to your house and finish the bottle on a glorious night. If you want to keep it for yourself, you may want to drink it as quickly as you can. Alternatively, pour the remaining whisky into a smaller glass bottle with a good seal. You can then parafilm the smaller bottle after that.

Using inert gas

You can use inert gas to remove the oxygen from the bottle before storing it for a long time. However, there is no study to verify if the inert gas will change the whisky. By theory, the inert gas will not cause any changes since they are not reactive, but nobody has verified it (at least I did not find any scientistic study on it). Some whisky drinkers in our community use inert gas, and they have not complained about taste alteration so far!

 

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Event: Private Tasting of Glendronach/BenRiach by Brown Forman

Glendronach and BenRiach distilleries are no strangers to our shores, considering the vast number of fans for the Glendronach single casks releases. We attended a private tasting session at La Maison du Whisky on 23 March 2018, hosted by none other than Stewart Buchanan, the global brand ambassador of Glendronach, BenRiach and Glenglassaugh. Alongside Stewart were a few other vital people of the brands. We had the pleasure to meet Finbar Boyle, the General Manager of Southeast Asia, Vincent Pantow, the Area Manager in South East Asia as well as Shirley Sum, the Trade Marketing Manager of Travel Retail, APAC.

Geek Choc and I were the first to arrive for the event, and we were soon seated and served with water while we waited for the rest to show up. As LMDW scheduled the event at 6 pm, it was natural for some participants to be slightly late due to work. Anyway, the rest of the gang soon turned up, and Stewart wasted no time and started the event promptly.

The Event Proper

The initial tasting planned was to try five different whiskies. Three of the Glendronach’s core range – 12, 18 and 21, followed by two higher-end BenRiach – 30 and 35. The 30 Years Old was a peated whisky. Stewart, however, decided to add in a BenRiach 10, because he felt that it was essential for us to know how a “normal” BenRiach tastes like. We thought it was considerate of him, especially when some of the audiences have not tried a BenRiach before.

Glendronach

Glendronach distillery is one of the few fortunate distilleries that avoided a closure back in the 1900s. As a result, the distillery’s use of sherry casks did not stop, and today, it is one of the most sought-after sherry bombs in the industry. As many of Glendronach’s fans would say, “Nothing seems bad when you are sipping a Glendronach!”

For the geeky us, we were excited when Stewart started speaking of production! We understood from Stewart that the reason the Glendronach is rich and viscous is due to the way they run their production. The time that Glendronach seeps their barley, the hours of fermentation and even the way the casks are used all played a part to create the end product. Nonetheless, in Glendronach, casks are but a supplement to the rich spirit that they produce.

Glendronach 12 Years Old

Stewart started with the Glendronach 12 Years Old. A young whisky by the standard of what’s on offer, the 12 Years Old does not disappoint. With 80% oloroso casks and 20% PX casks, the 12 Years Old boasts of caramel, spice and barley sweetness. The long finish is a bonus too.

Glendronach 18 Years Old Allardice

The Glendronach 18 Years Old Allardice was up next. The word ‘Allardice’ simply referred to the founder James Allardice. The 18 Years Old is made of 100% oloroso casks which make the whisky drier and spicier. The nose also holds some leathery notes while the long finish is tannic and astringent.

Glendronach 21 Years Old Parliament

Moving on, we came to the Glendronach 21 Years Old Parliament. Now, the name Parliament has a special story behind it. It has nothing to do with the government or politics. It actually means a flock of crows! A group of crows is called a parliament. Why is there a reference to crows? According to Stewart, the men operating on the illicit stills of the past depended on the ravens to alert them of excisemen in the area. As they hid deep inside the forest, any disturbance by the excisemen would cause the crows to make noise. That became a signal to the illicit stills operators!

The Glendronach 21 Years Old is again, made up of 80% oloroso casks and 20% PX casks. The prolonged maturation allows the PX-influence to shine, making this expression sweeter and yet, rich and robust. The long finish is a balance of caramel sweetness and tannic dryness.

BenRiach

Stewart moved on to BenRiach soon enough. BenRiach sat 600 miles from Longmorn and was mothballed in 2002. Fortunately, Billy Walker bought the distillery and reopened it in 2004. Since then, the distillery has been growing rapidly and moving from glory to glory. Today, BenRiach has some of the richest Speyside spirits and excellent peated ranges that are highly sought-after.

BenRiach also used water with more minerals, which produces more esters during long fermentation. As a result, BenRiach is very fruity even at a young age. Interestingly, BenRiach also has one of the most extended middle cut in their spirit bank, which makes for a fascinating distillery tour as you get to taste the different new make at different cuts.

BenRiach 10 Years Old

The BenRiach 10 Years Old uses a combination of bourbon, virgin oak and sherry casks. Boasting notes of honey, butterscotch, vanilla, grapefruits and zesty citrus, it is perfect as a dessert whisky. The long finish helps to keep the fruitiness in the palate long after you swallow it. This is one whisky that is ideal as an introduction to a non-whisky drinker too!

BenRiach 30 Years Old Authenticus (Peated)

The BenRiach 30 Years Old Authenticus is a unique peated expression. Peated at 55 ppm, it is considered a heavily peated whisky. Now, a highland peated whisky is different from an Islay whisky, mainly because of the peat that was used. Highland peat does not produce the iodine element that you usually associated with Islay peat, making it less pungent and more fragrant. This expression is a combination of American and sherry hogsheads.

The 30 Years old boast some spice notes before a breathe of smoky peat comes thru beautifully. Sweetness than comes in before turning into dry, herbaceous notes. The finish is long and dry.

BenRiach 35 Years Old

The BenRiach 35 Years old is a sherried expression. Unlike whiskies using first-filled sherry butts, this expression used a refill sherry hogshead. Stewart shared that sherry hogsheads are hard to come by, and are usually heavily-used. Hence, the BenRiach 35 Years Old likely used one which has been reused several times before.

That probably explains the unusual notes that we get. The 35 years old is both sweet and grassy with medium spice that dissipates quickly. A yummlicious whisky for sure, and one that may confuse you just a little!

Event Ending

The event ended fairly quickly after that and Stewart did a round of autographs before bidding all of us good-bye. It was a great insight into Glendronach and BenRiach, and we look forward to more tasting sessions in the future!

 

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Whisky Review #81 – Clynelish 1970 31 Years Old (OMC)

Clynelish – a name that resounded with Brora – is an underrated whisky that whisky drinkers do not talk about. The irony of the phenomenal is the fact that Brora was the old Clynelish. How? The original Clynelish distillery completed construction in 1819 and ran its stills until 1967. The original distillery closed as the owners built a new distillery for Clynelish. Unfortunately, (or should we say, fortunately), there was a shortage of peated whisky for blending in 1969, and hence, Diageo reopened the old distillery, renamed it Brora and distilled a heavily peated spirit between 1969 to 1973.

This expression of Clynelish is exquisite. Distilled in September 1970, it slept in an oak (bourbon?) cask for 31 years before getting a finish in a sherry cask for a minimum of 6 months. Bottled in September 2001, it is officially a 31 years old whisky at cask strength. It was so exciting to try it finally!

Let’s check out the review!

Tasting Notes:

Colour: Gold
ABV: 48.4%

Nose: Liquorice and mineral notes lead the way while caramel, vanilla and sweet barley lurk in the background. Spice moves around like a roving circus on a good day. It has a fascinating nose. (18/20)

Palate: Ooo…this is oily! There is a perfect combination of minerals and spice at the first sip. The second sip reveals liquorice and sweet barley as they coat the palate. Caramel and vanilla come last, completing the different layers of flavours together in a complex and excellent mouthfeel. (18/20)

Finish: Long and tannic like a lovely wine. Sweet barley, caramel and vanilla close the finish perfectly, bringing the complexity to a satisfying conclusion. (18/20)

Body: Superb balanced dram! I love the touch of sweet barley that lingers on and on from the palate to the finish. The sherry influence is evident in the liquorice nose that appears consistently in the nose, palate and finish. This expression seems to support my theory that bourbon-matured whisky finished in sherry casks are some of the best whiskies around. (38/40)

Total Score: 92 points

Comments:

Geek Flora: Oh my God, this is possibly one of the best Clynelish that I had tried. The other Clynelish expression that I love is from Douglas Laing’s XOP series Clynelish 1995 21 Years Old. 

Geek Choc: Hmm…this is a very good Clynelish to be sure. The flavours blend so well together that I think I might have fallen in love without knowing it!

 

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Whisky Review #80 – Omar Peated CS with Mcd Chocolate Pie

McDonald’s launched their famous chocolate pie on March 1st in Singapore and long queues formed outside many of the outlets for the next few days. While many fans choose to queue for this decadent chocolate pie, lazy me decided to order for McDelivery instead. So, the chocolate pie came, and I was so excited to try it that I decided to leave the “Fish & Fries” (also new) aside. I needed to try this pie first while it was piping hot!

The first bite into the crust confirmed what I suspected all along. I needed to pair this with a peated whisky! The pie’s crust was slightly bitter when I took the first bite, but the delicious flow of molten chocolate made the whole experience great! So, I hunted around for a peated whisky to pair it with. I rejected a Laphroaig bottle because it is a PX cask, and finally settled on the Omar Peated Cask Strength Whisky, which matured in a bourbon cask.

I was fully aware that what I was about to do was crazy, perhaps even sacrilegious!

Now, let’s see what happened.

Tasting Notes:

The Omar Peated is a gentle, lightly peated whisky full of creamy vanilla and some coconut. When I took a sip of the whisky after eating the pie, smoke burst forth in the mouth and enveloped the palate thoroughly. Then all the bourbon flavours followed after – creamy vanilla, coconut, malt and some tropical fruits danced happily together in the palate. The finish was spicy but elegant. I figured the spice was just the high abv showing its character.

Wow, that was quite an experience! I never thought that I would pair McDonald’s with any whisky, but there is always a first time!

The whisky, unfortunately, did not improve the pie much, except to make it less sweet. Nonetheless, I had an enjoyable dessert before eating my lunch properly, and that was what matters most! Hahaha!

Afterthoughts

Now that I opened a floodgate of pairing McDonald’s with whisky, I am looking forward to pairing something else from McD with whisky. What would be a good choice? Suggestions anyone?

Will you drink a Scottish Highland ‘Rye Whisky’?

Picture Credits: Arbikie Distillery

We hardly heard of Arbikie Distillery in this part of the world, but they are doing a lot of fantastic stuff over in Scotland. The Stirling brothers, John, Iain and David, are fourth-generation farmers on the Arbikie Farm. Their forefathers started farming at Arbikie since the 1920s, so their history is long indeed. In 2013, the brothers decided to build a small distillery on the farm after coming up with a farm to bottle process. They aimed to produce the finest malt whisky in Scotland using the barley they farm and the water on their estates. Scotland hails the distillery as one of the most experimental distilleries due to the various projects and experiments that the master distiller does.

What is Arbikie producing?

When Arbikie first ran its stills, they produced a potato vodka using Maris Pipers and King Edwards potatoes. They grew both species on their farm. After that, they created a gin in August 2015. Then the distillery began producing single malt spirits. They determined that these spirits will lay in barrels for a minimum of 14 years before getting bottled as single malt whisky.

Arbikie Scottish Rye Whisky

However, Arbikie released something interesting recently – Arbikie Scottish Rye Whisky. Distilled in December 2015, the Scottish Highland Rye Whisky is two years old when bottled. This is batch one of their experimental pot distilled Scottish Rye spirit. Arbikie Farm grew a variety of rye since 2014 and experimented with both the variations and production techniques. The first release consisted of two versions of Rye Whisky. There is a Scottish Rye, which is in line with the Scotch Whisky Regulations 2009 and an American version, in line with techniques used in North America.

Picture Credits: Arbikie Distillery

As you can see from the label of the bottle, all the essential information that a discerning drinker would like to know is there. It is exciting to know that more experiments are happening all over Scotland. While the younger distilleries such as Arbikie are leading the way, well-established distilleries like Bruichladdich are not far behind either. As to how these experiments will help the industry as a whole, we will have to wait and see.

 

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Whisky Review #79 – Battle of Aberlour A’Bunadh Batch 19 & 20

Fans of Aberlour A’Bunadh loves the deep sherry and caramel notes of these beautiful sherry bombs. We know that these are favourites among many whisky lovers just by looking at the sheer number of releases of the Aberlour A’Bunadh. The current release appears to be Batch 61!

We tasted two older batches of the Aberlour A’Bunadh, namely Batch 19 and Batch 20. The liquids are quite different, which prompted us to do a battle of the Aberlour A’Bunadh – Batch 19 VS Batch 20.

How would they stack up against each other? Let’s find out!

The battle starts now:

Aberlour A’Bunadh Batch 19

Abv: 59.9%

Neat from the bottle
The nose is full of sweet sherry, cherry liquorice and caramel. There is a hint of raspberries (sourness) and blackcurrant sweetness hiding in the corners. Some spice lurks in the background, and no sulphur is detected. The mouthfeel is oily with sweet berries and spice mixing together at the first sip. The spice leads the way, which is unpleasant but it goes away quickly, leaving a burst of cherries and blackcurrant sweetness! The sweetness coats the mouth on the second sip to give superbly rich, sherried notes and caramel. Rich and fruity! The finish is slightly disappointing as it is not as long as expected. It gets a little dry towards the end but is enjoyable.

With a drop of water
The spice increases with a drop of water when we nose it. The sweetness does not change and still makes for a lovely nose despite the increased spice. The water dilutes the spice on the palate, making it acceptable with the first sip. The fruity sweetness takes full control, with the berries in the limelight. The sherry and caramel coat the mouth beautifully. The finish lengthens with a drop of water, which improves it by leaps and bounds. Even if the sweetness in the finish reduces, the water did wonder to the finish.

With 15 minutes of airing
Wow! The spice is almost gone, but the sweetness of sherry and caramel deepen. The dark berries dance around the nose playfully. The cherry liquorice and blackcurrants are exceptionally strong in the nose, but interestingly, the hint of raspberries intensify as well. Fantastic nose! The palate and finish did not change from the taste we get when we first try it neat from the bottle.

Conclusion
Batch 19 is exceptionally balanced with all the right notes in place for us. It is a typical sherry bomb, but with more surprises! The only thing that we did not like is the spice initially, but it improves with water and airing. It is very enjoyable indeed!

Aberlour A’Bunadh Batch 20

Abv: 60.5%

Neat from the bottle
Strong spice leads the nose and makes it almost impossible to get any other notes. There are caramel and sherry initially, but the spice overwhelms them almost instantly. We detect faint cherry notes and sulphur in the background, but nothing is certain. The palate is full of spice and caramel. The mouthfeel is drier than Batch 19, and the sweetness is a lot more mellow. While we get the caramel in the palate, the sherry notes are less prominent, making it a little disappointing. It almost feels like the whisky is somewhat flat. The finish is short and sulphuric! The caramel sweetness disappears in a flash and sulphur takes over completely.

With a drop of water
The spice becomes stronger, and the sweetness of the caramel, sherry and cherry is almost all but gone in the nose. It is quite horrible unless you happened to like rubbing chilli on the nose. Water does not seem to improve the palate in batch 20 as well. While the caramel appears to increase a little, but the change is minimal. The finish is still short and sulphuric with no changes even after a drop of water.

With 15 minutes of airing
Wow! Airing makes a lot of differences to the Aberlour A’Bunadh Batch 20. We detect no spice on the nose, and cherry liquorice replaces it. The sherry and caramel notes are also prominent now. In the palate, the spice returns in full force, but together with the spice comes the sweetness of the sherry and caramel. It is a beautiful combination! The finish is still disappointing though. While airing lengthens the finish, it causes it to become even more tannic and sulphuric.

Conclusion
The Aberlour A’Bunadh Batch 20 is rather disappointing. While it appears to be balanced, the notes that we get are not a typical sherry bomb. If we compare it to a sherry bomb, it lacks in many departments.

The Result of the Battle

We declare Aberlour A’Bunadh Batch 19 as the winner of this battle. The expression is more robust and balanced as compared to Batch 20 and honestly, much more pleasant to drink. The complexity is evident and beautiful to catch. On the other hand, Batch 20 appears to be more challenging and is less robust. The one thing that we dislike is definitely the sulphur that comes with it.

EXPERIMENT BY GEEK CHOC:

It is BLENDING TIME!

Geek Choc loves to mix things around. He is the unofficial mixologist at WhiskyGeeks, so he decides to mix things up after the comparison and see what happens. He pours 10ml of Batch 19 (with a drop of water) and 10ml of Batch 20 (with a drop of water) into a new glass. Now, let’s see what the notes are like!

Nose: Sweet caramel, sherry and dark berries with hints of muskiness and sulphur. Faint vanilla (what??) floats in the background with some spice.

Palate: Straight spice but it is not overwhelming like either of the drams on their own. Then surprise strikes! Strong vanilla taste appears for a while before strong sherry notes rush in at the back of the throat. There is cherry liquorice, caramel, dark raisins and berries hitting all the right spots. The mouth is warm and pleasant. Very yummy! Oh, and there is no sulphur!

Finish: It is long and sherried. Superbly pleasant but it does get very dry in the end. Sadly, the sulphur came back at the end too.

Body: Balanced! Wow, this seems like an experiment gone RIGHT! We thought batch 19 will overpower batch 20 but looks like batch 20 held its weight. The combination takes both whiskies’ good points and makes it excellent. That extra vanilla note was a real surprise too!

Conclusion for the blend:

Batch 19 is better than batch 20 as concluded earlier but batch 20 stood up to the test in a blend. The two batches also created a new profile when mixed, which is a pleasant surprise! We expected 19 to overwhelm 20, but looks like we are wrong, in a good way! Experience successful!

Whisky Review #78 – Linlithgow 1982 (SV)

 

Do you know the other name of Linlithgow? If your answer is Saint Magdalene, you are right! Recognized as one of the closed distilleries with fantastic golden liquid, Linlithgow invoked much excitement amongst whisky fans whenever a bottle of its whiskies surfaced in auction sites. The same enthusiasm arose in us when we saw its name on the menu in The Swan Song, and we wasted no time in ordering a dram of the liquid!

Signatory Vintage is the bottler of this particular expression of Linlithgow. Matured for 25 years in a wine-treated butt (cask #2201), Signatory Vintage bottled this expression in 2008 for La Maison du Whisky Collectors’ Edition.

Let us check out this dram now.

Tasting Notes:

Colour: Gold
ABV: 59.2%

Nose: At first, there is a strong peppery spice in the forefront that mixes with the sweet and fruity nose. After airing for some time, the spice disappears, and apricots (wow!) replaces the spice! The intense tropical fruitiness gets stronger, and the nose becomes so fragrant that we can’t help but to bring the glass to our mouths! (18/20)

Palate: Clean mouthfeel with sweet apricots and pears enveloping the mouth as we sip, taking us to a fruity, tropical island where all we want to do is sit and relax. It is incredibly fruity with hints of peppery spice that combines beautifully without being underwhelming. It is the abv talking, and we love it! (18/20)

Finish: The pleasant warmth from the peppery spice as we swallow is comforting, reminding us of the higher abv and why we are enjoying this dram so much. The medium to long finish is full of sweet tropical fruits, bringing us right back to that fruity, tropical island that we were in when we first tasted the liquid. (18/20)

Body: This is a fantastic dram to be sure! Superbly balanced with a right combination of pepper and fruity flavours, it is an exciting dram to try. Words cannot justify the experience, and you just got to try it to understand why we love it. (37/40)

Total Score: 91/100

Comments:

Geek Flora: “Well, if I did not know this is a Linlithgow, I might think that it is a Littlemill. The dram showcased its Lowlands’ characteristics well and is an excellent expression to start.”

Geek Choc: “Hmm…I think this is fantastic. It is my first time trying an St Mag, and I am not disappointed! I will try more moving forward.”

 

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A Visit to Pernod Ricard’s Office Bar

The new Reception at Pernod Ricard Singapore

Geek Flora and Geek Choc visited Pernod Ricard Singapore recently for a drink with their Assistant Brand Community Manager, Denis English. It was our first time to the office bar, and we were excited to find out how it looks like. When we reached the office lobby, we found Denis patiently waiting for us outside the office! That was a great welcome!

The Walk to the Bar

Denis walked us into the office, and the first thing that greeted us was the magnificent reception that you see at the top of this post. We understand that Pernod Ricard renovated the office and they have just recently reopened the bar as well. At one corner of the large reception area, there is a sofa with some splendid posters. This is the waiting area.

Pernod Ricard’s Waiting Area

 

Check out the posters. They are gorgeous!

We turned into a corridor where there is a wall filled with their products. There is a selection of fine wines, cognac, whiskies, gins, vodka, tequila and rum. Here’s a picture to show you how the wall looks like.

 

The Whisky_Cognac Wall

Pernod Ricard’s Office Bar

This beautiful corridor leads to a vast, open space that house the Pernod Ricard’s office bar. This is how it looks.

Denis behind the bar counter

Pernod Ricard uses the bar for training within the company and industry. Denis shared that the company trains bartenders, bar owners, bar managers and their trade partners in the bar. Of course, employees have access to the bar and they can “drop-by” after work for a drink or two.

Besides the bar counter, there is an open area that can hold up to say about 30 people by our judgement.

Appealing Open Area in the bar

The office bar is a good place for employees to relax after a hard day’s work with some whiskies, cognac or gin. The bar is well-stocked, and there are various delicious blended and single malts that we spy from our seats at the counter. We spent a long time here to understand more about the whisky range of Pernod Ricard and of course, chatting about whiskies!

The Tasting Session

Denis filled the evening with lovely whiskies and his generosity as we sample drinks after drinks. We started with two special bottlings of the Chivas Regal – the Extra and the Mizunara. We then moved on to the Royal Salute 21 Years, Ballantine’s and the single malts.

The range of whiskies we tasted

The Chivas Range

Those of you who know me (Geek Flora) personally will know that I am not a huge fan of the Mizunara cask as I am not fond of incense in my whisky. The Chivas Regal Mizunara is of course, not something I am so keen to try. It is finished in Mizunara casks for three to six months, so I am wary of the incense notes when I nose it. Interestedly, the incense here is fragrant and well, not so intense! I get the vanilla more than the incense. You could say that it is a welcoming change, but it is still not as outstanding as the Chivas Regal Extra.

Now, the Chivas Regal Extra is made up of mostly sherry-cask whiskies. That shows up quickly in the nose and palate where sherry notes and caramel fight for the limelight. Although it is a 40% blended whisky, it holds up to the test when we leave the whisky in the glass to air. After about 45 minutes of airing in a Glencairn glass, the whisky opens up beautifully with deep sherry notes, caramel, hints of vanilla and gentle spice. It does not taste like a 40% anymore. It is fantastic! What is even better is the fact that the whisky costs only SGD$85. Perfect for a party, don’t you think so?

The Royal Salute 21 Years is a famous expression that many whisky drinkers enjoy. It is easy to drink and looks royal sitting in those ceramic decanters. We had more than just a sip of the Royal Salute 21 years and enjoyed the oily, sweet palate as the whisky slid gently down the throat.

The Ballantine’s 17 Years Old

We want to highlight the Ballantine’s 17 Years Old here because it is not a popular brand in Singapore. It is well-loved in Taiwan, and our Taiwanese friends love the brand. We requested to have a taste of it, and Denis generously opened a new bottle just for us to try.

Ballantine’s is spicier than the Chivas, which makes us think that the blend is likely to contain more whiskies aged in ex-bourbon casks. There is also a possibility of having some rye in it. The flavours are also more prominent. Slightly grassy, with green fruits such as apples, pears and even some grapes in it. Even the finish is longer than the Chivas, with dry sweetness leading all the way till the end.

The Single Malts

Pernod Ricard carries many single malts that go into their blends. Some of the single malts include The Glenlivet, Aberlour, Strathisla, Allt-a-Bhainne and Braeval. Glen Keith, Longmorn, Glenburgie and Glentauchers are also part of their portfolio. With so many single malts under their belt, Pernod Ricard’s position as the second largest company of wine and spirit in the world is not at all surprising.

We tried the Aberlour 12 and the Stathisla 12. Interestedly, we had tried whiskies from both distilleries before, but never an official bottling. It was a perfect chance for us to try them out indeed!

The Aberlour 12 is delicious with plenty of sherry and caramel notes. What is unique about this expression is the grape notes that I picked up on the palate, almost like red wine. We found out later that this expression is not the usual 12 years old, but one of the limited editions. Talk about it being a special one!

The Strathisla 12 has more bourbon influence, and the oak is stronger too. Perhaps the distillate is lighter and takes in more influence from the cask. Nonetheless, it was a lovely dram that speaks of creamy vanilla, mild oak and a little spice.

A Tour around the Office

After some drams, Denis invited us for a tour around the office. They have themed meeting rooms which impressed us very much with the beautiful decorations and practical use of the various items within the rooms. They have a Perrier Jouet room, a Chivas Room, a Monkey 47 Room, a Jameson Room and a secret Martell Room! Outside the rooms, there is also an open area where employees can discuss matters over a cup of coffee or a game played in a sandpit!

Open Area and Sandpit

 

Perrier Jouet Room

 

Monkey 47 Gin Room

 

Jameson Room

 

Display at the Martell Secret Room

It was a pity that I failed to take a full picture of the secret Martell room, but well, it was a thrill to find it! Haha!

The Last Drop before Leaving

As we headed back to the bar to pick up our things, Denis found an open bottle of the Chivas Royal Salute – The Polo Collection. As it is a special edition, Denis invited us to sit down again for a taste of it. It is different from the usual Royal Salute. The Polo Collection has a spicy tinge to it and opens up a delicate, floral flavour. The nose is perfumey and gentle, almost like a soft touch from a rose petal.

Royal Salute Polo Collection

It was time to say goodbye after the last drop as the night was deepening. We bid good night to Denis and thank him for the wonderful evening. We look forward to seeing Denis again and hope to work with him in future!

As for you, our dear readers, we hope to bring you some superb deals from Pernod Ricard too!

 

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Have you heard of Glen Flagler Distillery

The story of Glen Flagler distillery linked closely to that of Inver House Distillers. Glen Flagler was a unique distillery as it sat within a larger complex known as the Moffat complex in Airdrie. The purpose of Glen Flagler was to fill in the gaps for Inver House’s blends, but eventually, the company released some single malt expression. There was also a “Pure Malt” expression of Glen Flagler.

History of Glen Flagler

Inver House Distillers (IHD) formed in 1964, backed by Philadelphia’s Publicker Industries. IHD in turn established Glen Flagler in 1965. The distillery found its home within the Moffat complex in Airdrie, together with Garnheath grain distillery. Within the compound, there was another distillery named Killyloch.

The name, “Glen Flagler” honoured the owner of Publicker Industries, Simon Neuman. Flagler was the name of a road in West Palm Beach, Florida, where Neuman stayed. IHD initially built Glen Flagler for their blends but later on, also released official single malts such as the 5-year-old, 8-year-old and a NAS bottling in the 1970s-1980s. A 30-year-old expression appeared in 2003! Independent bottler Signatory Vintage also bottled a handful of expressions during the 1990s.

Tough Times in the 1970s

Troubles brewed for Publicker Industries in the 1970s, sending waves of unfortunate events to IHD. These events affected Moffat complex. Killyloch closed in the early 1970s, and only Garnheath grain distillery and Glen Flagler continued soldiering on. Alas, it could not last either, and IHD shut Glen Flagler in 1985. Garnheath grain distillery shuttered in 1986.

Current Status of the Site

Sadly, IHD demolished the Moffat site in 1988, bringing Glen Flagler distillery to the dust as well. Currently, only the warehouses, blending and bottling facilities remained and acted as Inver House Distiller’s headquarters.

Glen Flager Whiskies

As mentioned, the whiskies from Glen Flager are hard to find. The official releases appear in auction sites now and then so if you are looking to own a bottle, watch out for them! Otherwise, you can find the Glen Flagler 5 Years Old at The Single Cask as a part of their “Old but not Forgotten” flight.

 

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