Whisky Events

Paul John – 6-row barley Whisky

Whiskygeeks sat down for an extraordinary tasting with Yash, the brand ambassador for Paul John whisky! He’s a geek himself, graduating from the Harriet Watts brewing and distilling masters course, and I have learnt a lot!

The Barley

One of the unique things about Paul John is their use of 6-row barley for their core range whisky production. However, this is not bere barley from Orkney; this 6-row barley originated from the Himalayas and grows in India today. In contrast, most whisky producers use 2-row barley like Concerto or Optic strains. In Scotch, the most common 6-row barley used is Bere Barley that originates from Orkney. 

While the 2-row barley has more sugar but fewer proteins and fats, it is the reverse for 6-row barley. As we would need sugar to ferment to alcohol, this means that the alcohol yield for 6-row barley is lower than 2-row barley. However, for 6-row barley, the higher content of barley fats and protein results in more flavour and complexity in its spirit character. 

The Peat

Paul John produces peated and unpeated whisky and brings in 2 kinds of Scottish peat. The barley is peated using Islay peat and Mainland peat to approximately 20-25ppm and 30-35ppm respectively. The Paul John Bold uses Islay peat while the Paul John Edited uses mainland peat. These two bottles make an interesting comparison between peat from 2 different regions as the whisky comes from the same pot stills.

The Fermentation

The fermentation process is approximately 70 hours in total, using a unique strain of yeast that performs well in Goa’s hot climate. The wash undergoes a 60-hour primary fermentation and sits in the washback for an additional 10 hours to develop flavour. During the warmer seasons, the fermentation is slightly faster, and during the colder seasons, more time is given for fermentation.

Distillation

The copper pot stills in Paul John distillery is not from Forsyths, but they were made locally in India! The still features an ascending lyne arm, which causes more reflux, allowing for a sweeter lightly distillate. 

The Maturation

The angel’s share in Goa is 8% per annum, which means that whisky ageing in Goa will lose 22% of its original volume in 3 years. However, as whisky matures faster in a warm climate, a 3-year-old whisky in India would taste like a 12 to 15-year-old Scotch! 

For the past few years, Paul John has released mostly American white oak matured whisky primarily due to the law in India with importing casks. There is a new upcoming bottle that I cannot talk about at the time of writing this article, but let me say this – Christmas is coming early for sherried whisky drinkers! 😛

Paul John’s main ageing facility is on the ground level with ventilation from the wind. The distillery also has an underground cellar with a slightly lower angel’s share. Yash told us that it’s a challenge to stay in the underground cellar as the alcohol vapours are thick and intoxicating!

Challenge accepted!

Guest Post – Whisky Live Paris Part 2

Editor’s Note: This is the second guest post completed by Ezra Toh, who is our newest correspondent on the other side of the world.  WhiskyGeeks is going global, indeed!

Written by: Ezra Toh

Whisky Live Paris scheduled a day, especially for the trade personnel to network over whiskies. It is an excellent opportunity for trade people to mingle with the brand advocates and understand the brands more. This year, it happened one day after the actual Whisky Live weekend.

Monday 7th October (Trade Day)

Whisky Live Paris 2019 reserved the longest day for professionals in the industry. There was open access to the VIP section and all areas of the exhibition. Masterclasses were also jam-packed throughout the day. Having visited most of the whisky stands on the main exhibition floor on Sunday, we headed for the VIP section straightaway. We were floored by the selection of whiskies from various independent bottlers, including but not limited to LMDW artist series, Spirit Shop Selection, Hidden Spirits and Sansibar.

From Left to Right (Clockwise) – LMDW Booth, Artist Bunnahabhain 40 YO, LMDW 20 Rue D’Anjou Range, Clynelish 1995 by LMDW

VIP Section

The selection available was mind-boggling. We started our day with a Bunnahabhain 40 Years Old from LMDW Artist Range and from there, we moved on to the rest of the Artist Range. We also had the good fortune to taste the various LMDW 20 Rue D’Anjou bottles. A special mention must go to the Clynelish 1995 as it was excellent with full-on waxiness and well-balanced sherry influence from the refill cask.

Asian Whisky was King

We soon found ourselves at the Asian whiskies section. The booth was swarming with eager whisky enthusiasts who were like kids in a candy store, except that they were all grown men. Most of them, including us, were waiting to try the various Chichibu and Kavalan expressions. However, the Yoichi and Miyagikyo 2019 Single Casks were the stars of the show. Besides their rarity, the price tag of 2750 euros made them the “must-try”.

We managed to taste the two rare bottles as we were right there when the bartender brought out the bottles. That moment became chaotic almost immediately, as everyone jostled their glasses through to get a sample. Bottled for the 50th anniversary of Miyagikyo Distillery, many whisky lovers around the world criticised the two bottles for their massive price tags. As Non-Age Statement (NAS) whiskies, people do have a view that these whiskies must be cheaper. Nonetheless, both whiskies made it to our top picks (see below). The Miyagikyo was woody with a right balance of dark fruit flavours and a hint of muskiness while the Yoichi had a buttery sweetness with lingering soft peat.

Other Impressive Drams

Besides the various Asian whisky, we discovered other gems in the VIP section. The 18-year-old Laphroaig bottled by Signatory Vintage for LMDW was surprising as the medicinal character of Laphroaig was not the first thing that surfaced. Instead, the Laphroaig was salty, gentle and subtle, with the leather notes kicking in only towards the end. It remained me of a much older Laphroaig in general, which was interesting. Meanwhile, the Caroni and Hampden bottles at the Velier booth were also extremely popular.

Taiwanese – Spirits Shop Selection

Spirit Shop Selection is an independent bottler from Taiwan. They work closely with LMDW and move many of their bottles through Paris. There is a huge following in France for their bottles. At the booth, we learnt that they typically chose casks suited to the Taiwanese palate. It explained why most of their casks leaned towards the sweeter side – Taiwanese tend to have a sweet tooth!

There was an incredibly sweet and pleasant Caroni 21 1997 available for sampling which did not have that bitterness in the finish. The Ben Nevis 22 years was excellent as well with the funky distillery character at the forefront. There was a Karuizawa under the table as well, but few have gotten the opportunity even to see the bottle, let alone taste it. We, of course, did not get to try it.

Italian – Hidden Spirits

After trying out Taiwanese independent bottles, we move on to Hidden Spirits, an Italian independent bottler.

To our knowledge, Hidden Spirits was the only independent bottler who brought out a Mortlach for tasting, and it was a cracker. This 17-year old whisky sits a full term in a first-fill bourbon cask. It was then finished for three months in a sherry cask which contained a peated Ben Nevis. Chock-full of leather, sulphur, funk and mild peat, in our opinion, this was such an underrated bottle given the hype around other bottles.

It was a pity that we couldn’t try every whisky offered at the VIP section. Nonetheless, we went through at least 90% of them. Every booth had unique offerings, and the VIP ticket is worth the extra 60-65 euros! We will highly recommend you to get it if you plan on going next year.

Whisky Picks in the VIP Section (in no particular order)

  1. Ben Nevis 22 1996 56.2% for Spirit Shop Selection
  2. Caroni 21 1997 63.8% for Spirit Shop Selection
  3. Chichibu 2012 Cask 2058 Refill Hanyu Cask for LMDW
  4. Clynelish 24 Years 1995 Cask 2158 for LMDW
  5. Hampden 7 Years 62.8% for Whisky Live Paris 2019
  6. Hampden 9 Years 69.2% for LMDW
  7. Laphroaig 18 2001 Signatory Vintage 59.3% for LMDW
  8. Ledaig 10 2007 Artist Series 60.8%
  9. Miyagikyo 2019 Limited Edition 48%
  10. Mortlach 17 55.5% Cask MR219 for Hidden Spirits (First Fill Bourbon and 3 Months in Ex Sherry Peated Ben Nevis Cask)
  11. Westport 12 Valinch And Mallet 51.8%
  12. Yoichi 2019 Limited Edition 48%

Mars Masterclass

Information on Mars Distillery

We were lucky to get seats at the Mars masterclass led by the Distillery Director Hajime Kunai. The class was a showcase of three single casks (ages 3-4 years old) matured in different regions in Japan, each with different climates. The locations were Shinshu, Tsunuki and Yakushima.

The differences demonstrated the effect that the maturation environment had on almost identical whiskies. The Yakushima maturation is a peated expression at 20ppm and stood out as you could tell the difference of an island-style maturation practically immediately. It closely resembled the style of Highland Park with the saltiness in the finish. The class perhaps showcase the evidence of terroir most significantly. It is worth a side by side if you ever get a chance to do so.

The line up was –

  1. Shinshu – Single Cask #3320 3 Years Old, 61% abv, bottled for LMDW
  2. Tsunuki – Single Cask #5185 3 Years Old, 60% abv, bottled for LMDW
  3. Yakushima – Single Cask #2037 3 Years Old, 60% abv, bottled for LMDW

Compass Box Tasting

John Glaser, the founder of Compass Box, raised a few eyebrows when he founded the company. His determination in detailing all the whiskies and ages that went into each of his blends is at the heart of an increasing drive for transparency in the whisky industry today. Interestingly, this drive is also supported by Bruichladdich Distillery on Islay. John talked about each whisky in detail, explaining the recipe for each blend and stating the exact ages with the type of casks used.

The line-up consisted –

  1. Hedonism – Grain
  2. Balblair – Myths and Legends 1
  3. Glen Elgin – Myths and Legends 2
  4. Undisclosed Orkney, Glen Elgin, Caol Ila – Myths and Legends 3
  5. Affinity – Whisky and Calvados blend

The tasting started with the first-ever Compass Box creation – Hedonism – which not only provided nostalgic value but was a fantastic blend to boot. The lineup culminated in the Myths and Legends 2 and 3 which were driven by a robust Glen Elgin distillate, giving lovely rhubarb and Turkish delight notes. The Affinity is supposedly the first-ever calvados and whisky blend, making for an enjoyable last dram.

Before we go…

Group Photo with John Glaser

We had a fantastic experience at Whisky Live Paris 2019 and would return. The draw was the opportunity to meet fellow whisky lovers from all over the world and share our opinions over fantastic whiskies. The views of the whiskies were formulated based on what the writer and his companions felt were the most exciting and impactful. Writing detailed tasting notes was not practical, given the short amount of time. We also tasted 30-40 whiskies in 1 day (possibly more), hence we will not blame anyone for questioning our sanity and palate conditions and consequently, our top picks for the show. Whisky is subjective, after all.

Finally, WhiskyGeeks would like to thank La Maison du Whisky Paris for our invitation to Whisky Live Paris’ trade day. It included an entire day’s access to all areas, including the VIP section. Thank you for the great opportunity!

*Read Part 1 of Whisky Live Paris here.

 

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Guest Post – Whisky Live Paris 2019 Part 1

Editor’s Note: WhiskyGeeks has truly gone global with the help of our friends. Ezra Toh, a Singaporean who is currently studying in Edinburgh, agreed to represent WhiskyGeeks in Whisky Live Paris 2019. We are proud to have Ezra onboard with WhiskyGeeks to cover events happening in the other part of the world.

 

Ezra Toh (Guest Writer) and his friends pictured together with Serge and Dave Broom

Written by Ezra Toh
with input from 3 other whisky enthusiasts: Andreas Tassinari, Andrew Reid and Javin Chia
.

According to the Scotch Whisky Association, France was the second-largest market by export value in 2018 (£442.1m). It edges out Singapore and beaten only by the US’ whopping £1,039.5m total. Hence it is no surprise that Whisky Live Paris is Europe’s largest whisky show and it not only attracts the French but international visitors too. This year saw a shift in venue to La Villette to accommodate the increasing numbers of visitors. With over 151 whiskies, rum and spirit booths, an additional 27 stands in the cocktail street and a host of masterclasses, the show was poised to impress.

Check out the queue!

Sunday 6 October 2019 – Whisky Live Paris

La Maison du Whisky Shop

The day started at 12.30 pm as visitors stormed the La Maison Boutique to grab the Chichibu Paris Edition 2019 and the Hampden Single Cask 7 years bottled for Whisky Live Paris. Visitors grabbed them in a matter of minutes! We were lucky to be able to get in the action at the shop to buy the bottles that we were after!

Below are some pictures of the various exclusive bottles available.

Whisky Live Paris Exclusive Bottles

After the stress of buying bottles among the crazed crowd, it was time for us to get to the fun part. With the promise of delicious whisky, we were looking forward to tasting them. In whisky shows, trying everything was impossible and blasphemous acts of pouring away and spitting out whisky was the norm to last the entire duration of the show.

Checking out the various Distilleries at WLP

Various booths at WhiskyLive Paris

Many distilleries took the chance to showcase their newest releases at Whisky Live. Some notable ones included the revamped Arran Range, Compass Box Myths and Legends 1, 2 and 3. We also found Glenfiddich Grand Cru, Kilchoman Vintage 2010 9 Years, Macallan Edition 5 and Ardbeg 19 Traigh Bhan. Some distilleries also pulled off the stops to ensure that their booth stood out. Some used attractive displays; others covered stalls with curtains to create an ambience. Yet others chose to showcase chocolate pairings.  Eager enthusiasts swamped several brands throughout the day (i.e. Macallan, Kavalan, all the Islay distilleries, Blanton’s, Velier).

Kavalan Masterclass

Kavalan’s Master Blender – Ian Chang

We attended Kavalan Master Blender Ian Chang’s Masterclass to start our day. Dr Jim Swan was Ian’s mentor and the man who was instrumental in the conception of Kavalan. He explained the exciting process behind Kavalan’s maturation process of first creating a heated and high humidity environment to intensify the colour. Next, the distillery would open the warehouse windows in the winter months to cool the interior and allow for wood aromas to infuse into the whisky.

Ian came across as an exceptionally down to earth and unpretentious man during his presentation. He even went as far as to say that the 11-year oloroso sherry single cask for LMDW was a bit over-oaked and that he should have taken the whisky out earlier. He was right. You won’t usually see master distillers or blenders throwing shade on their whisky, but this honest opinion was incredibly refreshing to see and is a testament to the distillery’s efforts to always strive for quality.

The Whisky Line-up

The Whisky Line-up at Kavalan Masterclass

 

The line up for the Masterclass was interestingly made up of single casks bottled for LMDW.

  1. Single Cask French Wine Cask 59.4% 
  2. Oloroso Sherry Cask Strength 58.6%
  3. Single Cask Peaty Cask R071126052

It is interesting to taste various casks from Kavalan to see how these casks impact and influence the spirits of Kavalan. Having the chance to meet Ian Chang was memorable too!

Serge Valentin and Dave Broom Picks of Whisky Live Paris 2019

Serge Valentin (left) and Dave Broom (right)

It was an incredible opportunity to interact with what some would term the ‘stockbrokers’ of the whisky industry. Both Serge Valentin and Dave Broom reviewed whiskies using online platforms.  Due to their heavyweight reputation in the industry, their scores for bottles are taken quite seriously, affecting the re-sale value or collectability. Technically, these scores should not define any whiskies for the whisky drinkers because tasting whisky is subjective. Nonetheless, the ratings are often, unfortunately, used by many to resell their bottles at much higher prices.

We thought it was terrific that LMDW invited both Serge and Dave to present their picks for Whisky Live Paris 2019. The mood was lighthearted on stage, with Dave jokingly saying that his choices were better than Serge. We found the tasting fun and fair as all attendees tasted the whiskies blind. We were also encouraged to guess the country of production, regions and distilleries through our blind tastings.

The Line-Up

We tasted six bottles blind. Serge picked three expressions while Dave chose the other three. The three bottles by Serge were Highland Park 10, Ben Nevis 10 and Chichibu Pairs Edition 2019. Dave decided on Arran Sherry Cask (new release), Saint James Distillery Cuvee L’Essentiel 43% and Worthy Park 12 Years Old 2006 to 2018.

Blind tastings are always fun because you get a lot of different answers to the same question. For example, some attendees thought that Ben Nevis 10 was a Springbank due to its funky note. However, our friend, Javin Chia, is a Ben Nevis superfan and immediately identified it as Ben Nevis. His training as the distiller of Singapore’s first-ever whisky certainly did help too!

Chichibu Paris 2019 tasted almost Clynelish-like with waxiness lurking in the background. It has the fruitiness that we found in some modern Clynelish bottles, and it was a surprise to many that it was a Chichibu! Overall, the crowd had a balanced opinion of all the whisky. The Arran Sherry Cask, however, stood out for many, and it received slightly more votes than the others.

Closing for the Day

We enjoyed the day with all the whisky flowing freely for us. To conclude our day, we presented to you our picks for the day. Kindly note that they are in no particular order of merit.

  1. Benriach 12
  2. Years 2007 Cask 3242 for LMDW
  3. Blanton’s 2019 64% for LMDW
  4. Chichibu Paris Edition 2019
  5. Compass Box Myths and Legends 2, 3
  6. Kavalan Single Cask French Wine Cask 59.4% for LMDW
  7. Kavalan Single Cask Peaty Cask R071126052 for LMDW
  8. Last Caroni 23 Years 1996 61.9%
  9. Loch Lomond Organic 17 Years
  10. Monymusk 1995 Villa Paradisetto 24 Years Tropical Aged 67%
  11. Port Askaig 10th Anniversary
  12. Speyburn Single Cask 12 Years 52.5% for LMDW

Continue to read Part 2 – Trade Day of Whisky Live Paris here.

 

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Singapore’s first Single Malt!

Singapore’s first Single Malt distillate was filled into a Four Roses ex-bourbon barrel! In a collaboration between Brass Lion Distillery and The General Brewing Co., the wash was carefully formulated and distilled.

The Process

The team used a barley strain called Maris Otter for the mash. This malted barley used for the mash was especially unique, as it is a pale malt that Scottish distillers do not use. The mash then underwent fermentation, utilising a blend of 80% high gravity yeast and 20% ale yeast. Brewer Daryl Yeap noted that the high gravity yeast could survive a higher alcohol content and produce a high alcohol yield. He went to explain that the ale yeast contributed fruity flavours to the new-make. In crafting a truly Singaporean whisky, the fermentation was at a very local temperature of 30 degrees Celcius, which possible due to the thermotolerant yeast used. After 36 hours of primary fermentation, the wash sat for another 36 hours to allow unique and funky flavours to emerge.

This 2000L wash at 9.5% reached Brass Lion distillery for a double pot still distillation. Although Brass Lion’s hybrid consists of a pot still and a modern column still, the low wines did not get distilled in the column still. Instead, the low wines underwent distillation a second time through the same pot still. A strict numerical point did not determine the cut of the heart. Instead, Javin Chia analysed the new-make distillate in most of all the distillations and took the cut of the heart. This process bears a striking similarity to Chichibu’s method of nosing to determine the cut of the heart rather than a fixed numerical figure.

Challenges

As this is Singapore’s first legally distilled Single Malt New-Make Spirit, the team faced many challenges. One challenge was getting Singapore customs to understand how whisky duties would work, taking into account the angel’s share. Executing a brew without hops presented the brewery with new challenges. The wee pot still had a volume of 150L, and approximately 130L can be distilled each time.  After a gruelling 22 distillations done, Brass Lion obtained 180L of new-make spirit, which would go into a bourbon barrel.

The New-Make Spirit

Nose: The nose was generally malty, with notes of cereal biscuit aromas, butter, and peanut nuttiness.

Palate: The arrival gave notes of unripe green apples and cereal. The texture was buttery, and after a bit, lemon rind notes start to appear.

Finish: A lovely malty, and buttery finish

Unlike most new-make spirits that I have tried, this did not have strong notes of sour mash. Furthermore, the malty notes of the Maris Otter shone through. This very drinkable new-make is likely due to the commitment of Javin and the Brass Lion team to smell and analyse the distillate.

 

Whiskygeeks is very honoured to be invited to the barrel-filling and showcase of Singapore’s first legal Single Malt New-Make! I am confident that the spirit will evolve into something spectacular.  Special thanks to Javin Chia and Brass Lion!

Taiwanese Style Whisky Dinner at SiChuan DouHua with Tony from HNWS

Whisky dinners – you probably seen one before or maybe even gone for one. In those dinners, whisky or some other quality spirit would be paired with a dish. With many thanks to Spirits Castle, I got to experience my first Taiwanese-style whisky dinner! Taiwanese style whisky dinners separate whisky and dinner, does not attempt to pair it. This allows for dishes that don’t usually go with Whisky, like spicy food or strongly scented ones. In this tasting, Tony, owner of the Taiwan independent bottler HNWS, has graced us with his presence in a befitting venue – Sichuan Douhua, a restaurant on the 60th floor of the UOB building with a glorious view! So, just like whisky dinners in Taiwan, we started with 5 drams from the HNWS. To the reviews! -batman transition-

 

Imperial 23yo 1995 Sherry Finish

Imperial is a closed distillery, and most casks are under the ownership of Pernod Ricard. While most Imperials I have come across are bourbon matured, not many of them have undergone sherry maturation. This bottle features a sherry finished Imperial, and it is quite a looker. But it’s not just all looks, the nose and palate are both welcoming and inviting. The dram even showed some prominent character development in the next 20 minutes of breathing.

Nose: An initial arrival of a sherry bomb greets me as the first dram of the evening — notes of raisins, cinnamon, black pepper and a distinct savoury note reminiscent of Oloroso sherry. The hints of strawberries and walnut nuttiness were incredible too. With water, the raisin notes were softer. However, the prior ex-bourbon maturation shines through with notes of peaches puree, a soft orange note, confectionary sweetness and mango.

Palate: The arrival was a good note of cinnamon spice along with strawberry jam, cranberry, gooseberries, black cherries and raisins. With water, the initial arrival was more chocolatey with the mid-palate still dominated by strawberry jam.

Finish: A beautiful cinnamon and strawberry finish with floral notes and black cherries. With water, notes of chocolates, sour plums and lemon zest appear in that finish.

Islay 29yo 1989

Although the distillery is not mentioned in the name, this bottle has a label depicting a Scottish-style dragon flying over the Laphroaig distillery. It’s not often that I come across an old Laphroaig and boy is this fascinating!

Nose: The dram began with soft medicinal notes and coastal brine aromas. Notes of heather, musk, vanilla and honey were also present. Despite its age, the smoke is still remarkably vibrant and lively. With water, this Laphroaig becomes sweeter, quite like vanilla sponge cake, with notes of musk, leather, earth and notes of damp bonfire ash the morning after.

Palate: As expected, this arrival was as soft as an old islay whisky can be, with notes of Laphroaig’s signature medicinal TCP notes, sweet oak, and soft peaches. With water, the musky leather notes became more prominent, alongside notes of coastal brine.

Finish: The finish was a sweet honey vanilla finish along with earthy and medicinal notes. With water, the earthy, smoky and vegetal Lapsang Souchong tea notes become more evident in the finish.

Ardbeg 10yo 2008 PX Finish

This dram is a Peated sherry bomb with a mocha vibe on the colour, the nose and the palate! This is most likely due to the strong oak influence in the dram. Yet, the Ardbeg spirit character stands strong with tones of mineral notes alongside the heavier oak influence

Nose: The initial arrive with a peated, smoky bang, alongside notes of smoked salmon, seafood, sulphur, floral notes and red plums. With water, the mineral iodine character of Ardbeg shines through.

Palate: Similar to the nose, the palate starts with the same big show stopper of smoked bacon, strong cinnamon spice, along with the mineral iodine note and coastal brine. With water, a gunpowder note shines through with dark chocolate and roast coffee bitterness.

Finish: This gives a robust smoky finish with smoked meat, sulphur note, mineral note and. With water, the extended finish comes with iodine notes and dark chocolate.

Hellyers Road 16yo 2002

Hellyers Road is a Tasmanian whisky distillery with a unique spirit character. The bottle almost looks identical compared to an official bottling if I did not look carefully enough. It comes with a certificate of authenticity, as well. At a whopping 64.5%, this spirit-driven dram tastes especially good for its strength.

Nose: T’was a spirity arrival of tea bags and hay. Unique notes of passionfruit appear with notes of vanilla, honey, cinnamon and brioche. With water added, the honey note became sweeter with notes of green guava, honeydew, passionfruit, peaches and a nice confectionary note. 

Palate: The arrival did not feel like 64.5%, and I was immediately greeted with notes of green guava, dry tea, floral notes and a vegetal hay note. With water, there were notes of peaches, Japanese honeydew (those from DonkiDonki), and green guava; with the tea spirit character being very prominent throughout the palate.

Finish: the finish was vanilla, slightly smoky, and earthy. With water, the finish is a lot longer with the aromatic tea note.

Port Charlotte 10yo 2008 Madeira Cask

Bruichladdich is one of my favourite distilleries, and I love their whiskies for its consistent quality. This dram was somewhat different. This PC started with notes of creamy feta cheese. Along with the fruitiness of the Madeira cask and the sweetness of the intrinsic nature from Bruichladdich still.

Nose: This was surprising. I was not prepared at all to smell cream cheese in a dram. It was something between cream cheese and greek feta cheese. The spirit character of Port Charlotte shines through with marshmallow sweetness and lovely peat smoke. With water, the cheesy note became more of fruit yoghurt with notes of unripe green apples.

Palate: The arrival was cheesy as well, with notes of red cheddar and greek feta alongside peat smoke. With water, the dram showed more of the sweetness from its spirit character with more fruitiness.

Finish: The finish is just as unique as the nose and palate, with notes of dry cranberries and aromatic vegetal notes. With water, brings a longer, earthy peat smoke finish.

Dinner

After 5 drams, our appetite has built up. Now comes the dinner, which was a lot more satisfying after drinks!

This 5-course meal was terrific, from the tea to the main course to the dessert! Check it out!

There was a professional pouring hot water into the teacup that allowed the tea inside to swirl and mix! That’s form and function!

The trio combo was amazing. These three items on the plate contained a wide plethora of flavours, which showcases how skilled the chefs are at balancing flavours.

This braised lobster soup with bamboo pith and kale is probably the calm before the storm.

This is the start of the mala storm. Lovely stir-fried chicken with cashew nuts and dried chill had the familiar numbing spiciness.

This bowl of sliced fish in Sichuan Pepper sauce was topped with loads of chilli.

This fragrant rice with diced chicken helped me cool down from the last two mala dishes!

The dessert was lovely, but a suggestion by Zerlina to add some whisky inside did improve it!

This has been a fantastic first visit to the Sichuan DouHua on the 60th floor of the UOB building! Special thanks to Tony for coming all the way down from Taiwan, and Spirits Castle for this invite! 

 

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WhiskyGeeks x DFS Glenmorangie Event

Photo Credits: DFS

As a blog, WhiskyGeeks has come a long way since we first started two years ago. We started our Facebook page in May-June 2017 and made the first post in July 2017. Since then, we had garnered interest from readers all around the world. The team at WhiskyGeeks humbly thank everyone for the support! Without our readers, we would not have gone this far.

In celebration of our second anniversary, WhiskyGeeks approached DFS Singapore to collaborate on a one-off whisky tasting in conjunction with the Whisky Festival at Changi Airport. We are honoured that DFS responded positively, and we had a great time hosting a small batch of our members at Changi Airport Terminal 2 on 22 June 2019.

The Glenmorangie Event

Brendan McCarron

We are fortunate to have Brendan McCarron, the head of maturing whisky stocks at Glenmorangie, with us during the event. Brendan is a talented guy who has experience working in both malting halls and distilleries. He is, currently, under the tutorage of Dr Bill Lumsden, and likely, will be the next Director of Distilling, Whisky Creation and Maturing Whisky Stocks after Dr Bill retires.

Travel Retail Bottles

As the event is a collaboration with DFS, we focus on the various Travel Retail bottles available for Glenmorangie. We tasted three expressions. There is a bourbon-matured 19 years old, the chocolate malt Signet and a 14 years old single cask. Each of them houses different flavours.

Photo Credit: DFS

Glenmorangie 19 Years Old – Exclusive Travel Retail

The 19 years old is a 100% bourbon-matured whisky. On the nose, we get vanilla, flowers, pine resin, unripe strawberries and some vegetal notes. Adding some water to the whisky brings out fragrant sandalwood, old books, with hints of cherries, lemon zest and confectionary sweetness. We get citrus and mango on the palate, with honey and the vegetal note lingering. With water, we get some musk and earthiness. The lemon zest also surfaces with confectionary sweetness. The finish is of medium length with honey, musk and lemon zest.

Glenmorangie Signet

The Signet is a familiar bottle in the Glenmorangie family. The signet on the bottle gives Glenmorangie its identity. Therefore, this bottle is of special meaning to the distillery. The malt in the Signet is done slightly differently when compared to the rest of the range. By roasting and burning some of the malt used in the Signet, it gives rise to what Brendon calls, “the chocolate malt”. The distillation team mixes traditional malt and the chocolate malt to create the highly delicious Signet.

The nose is full of roasted coffee bean, cold brew, mocha latte, and dark chocolate, with some cinnamon and dried fruits. The mouthfeel is rich, with cold brew, vanilla, marzipan and dark chocolate, each giving complexity to the dram. The finish is a combination of cinnamon, vanilla and dark chocolate.

Glenmorangie 2004 14 Years Old Single Cask (Cask #1399)

The 14 Years Old Single Cask is quite similar to the 19 Years Old. The difference is in the alcohol percentage and the fact that it is a single cask. In terms of prices, it is also much higher. On the nose, we get vanilla, confectionary sweetness, unripe strawberries and milk chocolate. When we added water, the dram becomes sweeter. The milk chocolate is more prominent, and there are hints of lemon zest and green apples. The palate is full of citrus, vanilla, cinnamon, chocolate and some vegetal notes. Water brings out the lemon zest found in the nose, as well as honey and a slight spicer palate. The finish has lemon zest, vanilla, honey and the cinnamon spice.

The Whisky House @ Changi Airport Terminal 2

After the event, the DFS team kindly opened up the Whisky House to our members to do more tastings. WhiskyGeeks is thankful for the generosity. It was a privilege for us to get access to the Whisky House after the event! Our members got to try many more whiskies, such as the Ardbeg 23 Years Old and the Octomores 7.2 and 8.2! One of our members even tried the Octomore 8.2 for the first time in her life, and enjoyed her first peated whisky!

The Ardbeg 23 Years Old

We like the Ardbeg 23 Years Old. The whisky has the right amount of smoke, peat, and sweetness to delight most of us peatheads. It is also one of the easiest to drink Ardbeg so far. We know that it would be harder to try this dram if DFS did not open up the Whisky House for us during the event as we would need to fly out of the country to get a taste. 🙂

For anyone who will be flying in or out of Singapore, do drop by the DFS counters at the various terminals for some tasting. The current range available will not disappoint!

We believe that most of you know that there is an ongoing promotion at DFS until 30 June 2019 in conjunction with the Whisky Festival. Travellers who spend above SGD$200 will receive a complimentary Glencairn glass at the departure hall. For those arriving in Singapore, spending $140 and above will guarantee you a pair of ferry tickets to Batam coupled with a city tour.

A Welcoming Host

Photo Credit: DFS

We want to add a note here, especially to thank the team at DFS. Our members enjoyed themselves during the event and told us that DFS was a fantastic host. We had plenty to eat and drink during the event. With delectable pairings such as artisan cheese, fruits, and nuts, to a variety of tarts and brownies to choose from, the DFS team fed us well in terms of food and drinks.

WhiskyGeeks is very grateful to the team for taking care of such a big group and giving us enough time to enjoy our whiskies.

A Fantastic Experience

From right to left: Brendan, Zerlina and Zicong

It was an awesome experience for most of us to get a chance to visit the transit area at Changi Airport without an air ticket. The experience was significantly upgraded with Brendan McCarron hosting us for the tasting of the three Glenmorangie expressions. It wasn’t easy to arrange the trip, but it was all worth it when we saw how happy our members were.

We hope to collaborate with DFS again in future, and once again, we want to give our heartiest thanks to the DFS team! You guys rock!

One Last Thing

Before we go, we want to mention that we did an exclusive interview with Brendan during the event. We are in the progress of writing it up and plans to release it sometime in July. Watch out for it, for Brendan did speak about the different casks the distillery uses, and also have advice for budding young whisky enthusiasts on “how to enter the whisky industry”. That means, “how to land a job in a whisky distillery”. Stay tuned!

 

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Whisky Night at Hard Rock Cafe Singapore

Whisky Line Up for the night

Most of us are familiar with Hard Rock Cafe, the hippy American rock cafe found almost everywhere in the world. However, most of us probably will not associate them with whiskies. Therefore, it was with surprise when we received an email from Hard Rock Cafe Singapore, requesting for WhiskyGeeks to assist them in a shout-out for a whisky tasting event happening on 15 May 2019. Of course, we helped, and the restaurant invited us to attend the tasting. The honour was all on us because we were the only media invited to the tasting.

Why Do a Whisky Tasting?

We understood that the whisky tasting was held to celebrate the upcoming World Whisky Day (18 May). Hard Rock Cafe Singapore (HRCS) invited Randall Tan, the brand advocate from Edrington Group, to host the tasting and he kindly agreed. The line up was also one of the first of its kind that Randall did – A cross-brand tasting of Macallan, Glenrothes, Highland Park and their blended malt, Naked Grouse. We got to say that it was indeed the first ever cross-brand tasting that we did with Edrington Group and Randall.

It was a treat, to say the least, to be able to taste four different brands in one single tasting event.

Randall Tan, the Brand Advocate

Randall Tan

Those of you who attended Macallan masterclasses would know Randall. We first got to know Randall many years back, when Macallan started the Toast the Macallan Masterclass series. It appeared that whisky is not only the water of life but also the fountain of youth. Randall doesn’t seem to have aged after ALL THESE YEARS! He still looks as youthful as always. Perhaps it was the lighting in the room?! Hahaha!

Anyway, it was good to see Randall again and listen to what he had to say. We thought the presentation was excellent because he shared much knowledge with the audience. From whisky making to distillation to maturation in casks, Randall offered up many nuggets of information to help the participants to learn more about whisky in general. Naturally, Randall also spoke about the different whiskies that we tasted, in more details.

Whiskies of the Night

There were six whiskies on the table, and we tasted them all before. They were not something new, but there was a certain appeal to go back to the basics at times to appreciate the whiskies that we used to drink when we started our whisky journey.

Naked Grouse, Blended Malt, 40% abv

The first whisky to start the night was the Naked Grouse. It is a blended malt now, with some of the best single malt whiskies that Edrington has ever produced being part of the blend. The whisky used to be a blended Scotch, and it was one of my favourite blends.

The new blended malt has Macallan, Highland Park, Glenrothes and Glenturret in it, and it is a parade of Edrington’s finest malt whiskies all in one. The individual whiskies are blended and then married in an oloroso sherry cask for six months as a finish before bottling. As a result, the sherry influence in the whisky is quite evident.

On the nose, we got Highland Park immediately. The honeyed notes, coupled with a waft of smoke before fading into the background. In a little moment, the influence of Macallan’s sherry notes came through. Glenrothes wafted in and out with its orange notes, and Glenturret was probably asleep as a base whisky. There were caramel, chocolate, cinnamon and hints of cherry.

The palate was mellow and pleasantly sweet. Caramel, milk chocolate, cherry soda were prominent, which probably were the Macallan and Glenrothes talking. There were also hints of oak and incense smoke which screamed Highland Park. I suppose the oaky bits could be the Glenturret. The finish was medium with some honey and oakiness to it.

Glenrothes 12 Years Old, Single Malt, 40% abv

Glenrothes is a brand that is often overshadowed by Macallan and Highland Park. Previously sold to the Chivas Brothers, the brand recently rejoined Edrington Group. The Group immediately did a rebranding for Glenrothes, and now the brand spots age-statements on their labels. In the past, they only showed the vintage, which confused some consumers.

Randall mentioned that there is no colouring added to the Glenrothes because the distillery works hard on their wood policy. We suppose it is an extension of Edrington Group as all the distilleries under their care take pride in their method of wood selection.

On the nose, sweet sherry, caramel and vanilla came through very quickly. As the whisky aired in the glass, we began to get hints of hay, citrus and oak. Slowly, the orange notes developed, and the combination of orange, sherry and vanilla made the nose extremely pleasant.

The palate was gentle and light, with caramel, sherry, cinnamon, citrus orange and hints of oak. The sherry-seasoned European oak cask used for maturation was evident in this whisky, especially when the whisky had time to air in the glass. The finish was short, oaky and sweet.

Macallan 12 Years Old Triple Cask, Single Malt, 40% abv

Now, we came to the Macallan 12 Years Old trio. First up was the Triple Cask. The three casks used in this whisky are ex-Bourbon American White Oak, sherry-seasoned American Oak and sherry-seasoned European Oak. The Macallan new make is matured for 12 years in each of these casks before getting married in a neutral (or spent) casks for a few months before bottling.

The citrusy nose was accompanied by vanilla and coconut from the American oak. There were hints of pepper and oak. On the palate, it was very light and maybe a little flat. The flavours were rather weak, with some vanilla, citrus and pepper. The finish was almost non-existent, and the whisky disappeared way too quickly.

Macallan 12 Years Old Double Cask, Single Malt, 40% abv

The Macallan Double Cask was next. The casks used were sherry-seasoned European Oak and ex-Bourbon American White Oak. The Macallan new make is matured for 12 years in each of casks before getting married in neutral casks for a few months before bottling.

With the absence of the sherry American Oak, the influence of the sherry European Oak took over. The nose was full of toffee, burnt sugar, vanilla cream, raisin and bread crusts. There were also notes of cinnamon underneath. On the palate, toffee, cinnamon, and vanilla cream were prominent, with hints of raisins and pastry at the back. The influence of oak was also stronger.

Macallan 12 Years Old Sherry Cask, Single Malt, 40% abv

Macallan is famous because of this whisky. We can almost call it the flagship whisky of Macallan. The 12 years old sherry cask, however, is different from what we used to enjoy. The old Macallan 12 Sherry Cask used barrels that held aged sherry. As the world evolved, people move away from aged sherry, and the old type of sherry casks was also gone. What Macallan uses now are sherry barrels that are seasoned with oloroso sherry for 18 to 24 months. Compared to the old Macallan 12 sherry cask, the current batches of 12 years old are very different indeed.

On the nose, we got clean sherry, caramel, cinnamon, raisins, candied oranges, milk chocolate and clove. The old familiar muskiness surfaced after a while, but it was nothing like the old Macallan 12. The palate was full of caramel, cinnamon, cherry, raisins, chocolate, cloves and spices. The finish was long, sweet and dry.

We must say that the new Macallan 12 Years Old is still a pleasant drink. Even though whisky drinkers who love sherry bombs may no longer like it, the Macallan 12 Sherry cask still pack a punch for the beginners. We found it rather pleasant; perhaps we no longer like sherry bombs?

Highland Park 12 Years Old, Single Malt, 40% abv

Finally, we came to the last whisky – the Highland Park 12 Years Old. This whisky divided the opinion of Zico and me, mainly because he doesn’t mind the Highland Park while I dislike the light smoke. I always find the Highland Park too lightly smoked for me, as I much prefer stronger peated whisky such as Lagavulin 16 or the Octomores. Nonetheless, I was pleasantly surprised by the whisky this time.

On the nose, the heather honey was so strong! We must thank our newly-joined writer, Hong Fu, for giving us a taste of heather honey when he came back from Scotland last year. Perhaps it was the heather honey that made me feel better about Highland Park. Besides the heather honey, the nose was full of sweet vanilla, cinnamon, hints of toffee, and very light smoke.

The palate was again, heather honey, combined with vanilla cream, hay, cinnamon, nuts, green fruits and light smoke. It was nice. I actually enjoyed the Highland Park 12 for the first time! It was quite surprising for me, to be honest. The finish was medium, sweet and oaky.

Food from HRCS

Once the tasting was done, HRCS treated all of us like Kings and Queens. They served some of their signature dishes in small bite-size portions for us to enjoy. The only exception was their Hard Rock Slider, which appeared to be just a junior-sized burger.

The HRCS Food Galore

The food did not disappoint; for it was part of the Hard Rock signature. The food paired relatively well with some of the whiskies too!

Sharing is Caring – Promotion at HRCS

The session came to an end around 9 pm, which I need to commend Hard Rock Cafe for keeping to the time. We hung around for a while, chatting with Randall, and the HRCS team. We also enjoyed another dram of Highland Park 12 Years Old. Haha…it was still amazing to me that I actually enjoyed it.

We learned from the HRCS team that they have promotions for most of the whiskies in the next few months.

Now to June – Macallan 12 Years Old Double Cask – $19/45ml or $225 for 1 bottle or $400 for 2 bottles

July to August – Glenrothes 12 Years Old – $17/45ml or $175 for 1 bottle or $320 for 2 bottles

September to October – Highland Park 12 Years Old – $17/45ml or $175 for 1 bottle or $320 for 2 bottles

These prices are affordable! Even if you are a seasoned whisky drinker, you may want to pop by to enjoy some basic drams when you are near HRCS. If you are starting out on your journey, why not pop by to try them? You may be surprised at how gentle a 40% whisky can be!

 

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DFS Whisky Festival 2019 Special Releases

For 4th Edition of the DFS Whisky Festival, DFS Changi has its first pop-up bar in T3! If you are travelling anytime between 1st May to 10th June, the bar is opened from 8am to 12 midnight so be sure to check it out! Travellers can expect to enjoy their whisky with live jazz performances. You can find out more about the event here! The DFS Whisky Festival brings about some new releases as well! And I got to try some of these exciting drams, here are some of my opinions on it!

 

Glenmorangie 14 year old 2004 (#1399)

This single cask Glenmorangie is a Changi exclusive! It spent the first 10 years in ‘slow-growth’ American White Oak, and then spent the next 4 years partying in an oloroso sherry cask!

Nose:  The smell is initially sweet but reserved. Vanilla, Confectionary sweetness, unripe strawberries, notes of milk chocolate With water: Strong notes of milk chocolate, lemon zest and green apples with that sweet Glenmorangie spirit character

Palate: Citrus notes on arrival with vanilla. The dram had good texture, bringing hints of cinnamon spice, vegetal note and whiff of chocolate With water: Initially a burst of lemon zest, then stronger cinnamon notes, more chocolate-y this time round, alongside honey and vanilla, hints of dried fruits and figs.

Finish: Citrus, brioche and vanilla notes still lingers on With water: It’s much sweeter, with a stronger cinnamon spice

 

Chivas 21 year old The Lost Blend

This is a rather “rare and ghostly” version of the Chivas 21yo, but with an age statement! This Chivas 21 Royal Salute blend features some silent distilleries in the mix! Of the information I could get, there were two malt distilleries and one grain distillery: Imperial (mothballed in 1998), Caperdonich (closed in 2002), and Dumbarton (shut down in 2002). Although I didn’t have as many flavour notes to write about for this dram, I really enjoy the luxuriously high calibre of maturation. This is the best Chivas blend I have had! If only it was at cask strength……

Nose:  The smell is full of musk, leather, old books, and slightly waxy notes. Some hints of citrus gets through, with time it is more old and elegant oak

Palate: Musk somewhat reminiscent of the “old bottle effect”, earthy notes, mineral notes, scent of stone walls from a dunnage warehouse, old libraries! <3

Finish: Leather, old books, and limestone.The finish is surprisingly long and musky!

 

Compass Box No Name No. 2

One of my favourite blending companies coming with a strong blend! As usual, Compass Box has been very transparent with his recipe. This blend is made of:

75.5% Caol Ila matured in refill sherry butts

13.5% Clynelish matured in rejuvenated white oakhogsheads

10.5% Talisker matured in rejuvenated white oak hogsheads

The remaining 0.5% is a vat of 3 highland single malts finished in French oak barrels! This dram is a peaty beast initially, but the Clynelish sweetness slowly emerges with time.

 

Nose:  A strong initial peatsmoke, like a tight and warm embrace! bonfires, lemon zest, earthy vegetal notes, hints of yuzu. With water: more of that honey and vanilla appears and fruity sweetness and more citrus fragrances.

Palate: A strong arrival of peat smoke, smoky, earthy, BBQ grilled meat and honey sweetness With water: more vegetal note, and hints of apples, With time, plums, unripe strawberries, green apples

Finish: Earthy, and long lingering peatsmoke finish With water: The smoke stays, but lingers alongside sweet fruity notes, and waxy candle notes!

Jura 20 year old One and All

FIVE cask types! 5!!! 2 more cask types and I would be telling you the different casks types to the tune of Mambo No. 5! That is the work of none other than Jura’s Master Blender Richard Patterson. This dram has in it a bit of ex-bourbon, sherry oak, Pinot Noir barriques, Sparkling Cabernet Franc casks, and Cabernet Sauvignon casks. This Jura bottled at 51% works well. Due to its age and calibre of maturation, some people could not tell that it was peated!

Nose:  Cherries, cherry stones, soft hints of smoke like a extinguished campfire in the morning, eucalyptus, coastal notes. With water: The european oak shows as whiffs of roasted coffee, almonds and cinnamon come into play

Palate: A balanced cinnamon arrival with musky and earthy notes. Cherries, lemon zest, old oak and old books. With water: The chocolate becomes more apparent

Finish: The strong cherry note lingers with hints of cinnamon and musky earthiness.

 

Royal Brackla 20 year old 1998 Exceptional Cask

This mahogany beauty spent 9 years in an American white oak cask before spending 11 years in a Tuscany (Italian Red Wine) cask! Luckily, this is bottled at a higher strength of 50.6% to showcase its complexity. This for me was definitely more oak focused from the start but with water, the personality started to shine through!

Nose:  Treacle, chocolate, mellow cinnamon notes, walnuts, followed by notes of raisins, dried prunes With water: Floral notes appear, like a desert flower in the rain! This is soon followed by spicy cinnamon, strawberries and cranberries!

Palate: Cinnamon arrival with this savoury note, coffee note, dark chocolate bitters With water: A bit more sweetness and the flavours are a bit more balanced

Finish: Cinnamon chocolate and coffee finish With water: The dark chocolate note got more intense!

A 1L version of the Port Charlotte 10 year old is also available, so if you fancy a bigger PC10, you can get the upsized version at DFS!

Hope you get to visit the bar! Slainté!

Special thanks to DFS Singapore for the invite to the media launch 😀

DFS Whisky Festival 2019: The 4th Edition

The DFS Whisky Festival is back, this time with their first ever pop-up bar at Terminal 3. The beautiful pop-up bar features some new DFS whisky releases, so you can drink that travel anxiety away with the ambience of live jazz performances. If you are travelling anytime between 1st May to 10th June, you can visit the bar  from 8am to 12 midnight. The bar is located at T3 in the concourse space near Gucci and Burberry. Alternatively, you could just follow the sound of live jazz~

This pop-up bar is inspired by a whisky’s maturation journey in its cask. The oak used in the decor of the bar were ex-whisky staves to provide the bar with its aesthetics. The jazz is layered and complex just like whisky, creating a comfortable ambience for any whisky drinker.

In the 4th Edition of the Whisky Festival features some very exciting whiskies, and some surprisingly good drams! Some new releases include Glenmorangie 14 year old Single Cask #1399, Chivas 21 year old The Lost Blend, and Compass Box No Name No. 2! You can read some of my thoughts about the drams and tasting notes here!

The DFS Whisky Festival itself will last till 30th June, and brand ambassadors will be invited down to talk about their products! Travellers can get a complimentary whisky tasting as well!

Whisky Festival Promotions

There will also be festival exclusive promotions at T2’s Whiskey House Duplex, The Raffles Long Bar at T3 and The Whiskey House at T4. During the festival, a minimum purchase of S$250 on any whisky from the Departure store will come with a branded Glencairn whisky nosing glass. As for the Arrival stores, from 8th May to 30th June, spend a minimum of S$140 per passport that includes any whisky product(s) to receive a pair of ferry tickets and city tour to Batam (worth S$70).

But the Festival isn’t just happening in Singapore, check out this information released by DFS Singapore:

DFS Whisky Festival around the world:

1st May to 30th June:   

  • Singapore Changi Airport
  • Hanoi Noi Bai International Airport
  • Ho Chi Minh Tan Son Nhat Airport
  • John F Kennedy International Airport
  • Tom Bradley International Terminal

1st June to 31st July:  

  • Hawaii Honolulu International Airport
  • San Francisco International Airport

1st July 1 to 31st August:   

  • Abu Dhabi International Airport

Travellers planning their vacation in May or June might want to allocate some extra time at the pop-up bar to savour that sweet liquid gold! Special thanks to DFS Singapore for the invite to this event 😀

Interview: An Hour with Jonathan Scott

Jonathan with the Smokehead Range

We have been fortunate to get support from Asiaeuro Singapore and Ian Macleod since we started the blog. We are grateful that the company has always looked after us. Last year, Glengoyne distillery and Jonathan had also gone out of their way to host our writer, Mr Hongfu Teo, when he visited the distillery.

This year, we are once again, grateful, to be invited to the Asiaeuro’s office for an exclusive interview with Jonathan when he popped by Singapore for a really short time. As we had mentioned our love for Islay and peaty whiskies the last time we met, we are invited to cover for their iconic Islay Single Malt whiskies – SMOKEHEAD!

Of Growing Up in Speyside and Tomatoes…

Jonathan Scott grew up at the edge of Speyside, and interestingly, his first memories for whisky is Glen Garioch. We spent some time talking about how to pronounce the distillery’s name, and finally, we agreed that it should be called “Glen Gary”! It helps the unschooled Asian tongue to pronounce the name and also makes it acceptable for the Scottish ears.

Jonathan shared that his childhood in Speyside revolved pretty much around tomatoes. The reason was simple – Scotland does not have the ideal climate to grow tasty tomatoes. Most of their tomatoes come from Spain. Therefore, tomatoes were a large part of his childhood. Nonetheless, tomatoes have had nothing to do with his passion for whisky…

Working in the Industry…

Jonathan works in the whisky industry for the past 15 years. His experiences are varied, and that was what makes things so exciting to him. Considering his many years of experience, we asked him the critical question – What are the differences for Glengoyne, Tamdhu and Smokehead when compared to others?

Glengoyne and Tamdhu Distilleries

Tamdhu 12 and 15 Years Old

Sherry. It is always the sherry wood cask that these distilleries use. Both brands have their reputation built around the excellent sherry oak casks that they use for maturation of their whiskies. They use both first-fill and refill sherry oak casks that can cost up to a £1000! Each sherry oak cask comes from Jerez, Spain, and it is not a readily available item due to the shrinking sherry industry and the inflation of prices for the sherry casks.

Besides the exclusive usage of sherry casks, Tamdhu (in Speyside) also sourced its water from underground springs. Unlike many other distilleries around the area, Tamdhu does not use water from the river Spey. This makes Tamdhu unique as I do believe that water plays a part in the production of whisky.

Smokehead

The Smokehead Trio

The range of Smokehead is the most interesting to me. Despite the various expressions available in the global market for about 16 years, Smokehead remains mysterious in its ways. Ian Macleod works with multiple distilleries on Islay to buy their casks for the Smokehead range. Smokehead started with one expression – the classic Smokehead, and then move on to release other expressions, including the 18 years old and the Sherry Bomb. While there may not be a name put to each Smokehead expression, we probably could tell from the palate when we enjoy the whiskies.

The Interesting Portfolio of Ian Macleod

Jonathan shared an often overlooked characteristic of Ian Macleod’s current portfolio. They have a distillery in the three major regions of Scotland. Tamdhu in Speyside region, Glengoyne in the Highlands, Rosebank in the Lowlands and of course, Smokehead (as a brand) on Islay. Perhaps the next step for Ian Macleod after restoring Rosebank is to build a new distillery on Islay!

They also have two gin distilleries – The Edinburgh Gin Distillery based in the city and a larger distillery in Leith.

Rosebank Robbery and its Restoration

Diageo mothballed Rosebank Distillery in 1993, and the robbery took place over the Christmas of 2008/2009. The thieves stole all the original Rosebank copper stills, but they left the whisky alone! If we looked at the context of that period, we would realise that copper was probably more expensive then whisky! In some ways, that was lucky! Otherwise, we would not have any remaining Rosebank whisky now.

The restoration of the distillery is underway now. As all the stills were never recovered, Ian Macleod has to rebuild all the stills in its original form. That is taking up much of their time, but patience will pay off eventually. While Jonathan does not have an exact timeline for us right now, we can be assured that Rosebank distillery will rise from the ashes again soon!

New Releases from Ian Macleod

Smokehead Sherry Bomb

Smokehead Sherry Bomb

Exciting new releases from the three brands are coming to Singapore in June and July. First up, we have the brand new Smokehead expression – the Sherry Bomb. Strong peat, creamy vanilla, and some fruits came through on the nose. Oily, black smoke, peat and burnt banana filled the palate. The long finish has hints of sweet sherry and a tinge of saltiness to remind you of the origins of the whisky.

Besides the Sherry Bomb, you can still find the classic Smokehead, the 18 Years Old, and the High Voltage expressions in Singapore too.

Tamdhu 12 and 15 Years Old

Tamdhu launches the 12 and 15 Years Old whisky recently, and Singapore will be getting them soon. If you are a sherried whisky fan, these are to die for. Try them for yourself and let us know what you think.

Glengoyne The Legacy Chapter One

The Legacy is one of the newest NAS bottles from Glengoyne, and we understood that the expression would only come to Singapore sometime in July. Even though it is not yet in Singapore, we are positive that this bottle will be again an extraordinary expression. We have received a sampling portion and will soon be posting a review of the whisky. Stay tuned for it!

Where can you find these products in Singapore?

Some of our bars in Singapore are carrying the brands from Ian Macleod. One bar of special notice is The Wall at Tanjong Pagar. They have the most number of bottles from Ian Macleod, from Tamdhu to Glengoyne to Smokehead. In fact, the bar is stocking up with some of the new releases such as the Smokehead Sherry Bomb, Tamdhu 15 Years Old and Glengoyne Legacy. Smokehead Sherry Bomb is available now, while Tamdhu 15 and Glengoyne Legacy will arrive in July.

Besides our friends at The Wall, you can also find Tamdhu 10 and 12 Years Old at The Connoisseur Divan! There will be more places in future, so do keep an eye out for them! In the meanwhile, head over to the two bars to try these delectable whiskies!

 

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