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Whisky Review #87 – Geek Choc’s Blending Experiment #1

Macallan 12 YO x Kilchoman 2009 Vintage

Geek Choc loves to mix things up for fun, especially whisky! He was in the mood for some “mixology” yesterday (19 April), so he decided to mix a whisky that he likes (Macallan 12) with a whisky that he does not particularly like (Kilchoman 2009) and see what happened to the mixture. As I am not into such “mixology”, I stood aside to watch how the experiment went. Hehe!

Geek Choc’s Blending Experiment #1

These are the basis of the blending experiment.

  1. Macallan 12 Years Old – 10ml
  2. Kilchoman 2009 Vintage – 2.5ml
  3. Lots of swirling inside the Glencairn glass to introduce air into the blend

Results of the experiment:

Colour: We see an immediate change in colour after pouring the Kilchoman 2009 into the 10ml of Macallan 12 YO. The dark ruby colour of the Macallan turns pale, and the mixture becomes a dark gold colour immediately. The final colour after swirling remains as Dark Gold.

Nose: The characteristics of Kilchoman overpowers Macallan 12 YO in the first nose. We get slight peat with brine, pepper spice, hints of cherry and raisin sweetness. After airing for 5 to 10 minutes, the notes from Macallan 12 YO overthrew the ones from Kilchoman 2009 and emerged victoriously with muskiness, and the full sherry sweetness reappears!

After aeration of about 20 minutes, the mixture appears to settle, and interesting cereal notes surface, quite like Nestum in a tin, I must say!

Palate: The first sip reveals slight peppery spice with soft peat and seaside brine. Notes of sherry sweetness surface beautifully with the spice, peat and brine. It reduces the horrible chilli spice in Kilchoman and brings out the peat and brine in Kilchoman. The combination reminds us of BBQ bacon! Yummy! After 5 minutes, the peat disappears completely. Cherry liquorice and raisin sweetness replace the peat and turn the whisky slightly oaky. It appears that the Macallan 12 YO has once again exerted its power over Kilchoman 2009.

After aeration of 20 minutes, the sherry notes from Macallan 12 YO come to the forefront. Cereal notes quickly followed and finally, slight peat comes in the tail. The oak influence also increases. The peat reduces after aeration, which, we suppose, is a typical occurrence.

Finish: Long and quite dry. The peat lingers in the mouth before the sweetness of the sherried Macallan joins the fun. The finish ends with a nice oakiness that coats the mouth. The finish does not change with aeration.

Verdict/Balance: Wow! It is one hell of a dram! Simple but surprisingly balanced! We did not like the Kilchoman 2009 due to its extreme chilli spice, but the Macallan 12 YO brings out the peatiness of the Kilchoman and also reduces the spice drastically. At the same time, the primary flavours of the Macallan 12 YO remained more or less intact!

Score: 7/10

Comments:

Geek Choc: Haha! It was a fun experiment. I did not know how it would turn out but just wanted to try something with the Kilchoman 2009. Geek Flora suggested to mix it with something sherried, so I grabbed the only opened bottle of sherried whisky that sits on our shelf – the Macallan 12 YO. The experiment is a success I think. I will try more experiments in future!

Geek Flora: It was interesting to see how this turned out. We were toying with the idea, and then we decided just to do it! Haha! We will try more experiments soon! Stay tuned!

 

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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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      Is Jane Walker going to bring gender equality?

       

      The whisky world is filled with amusement and criticism when news of Diageo submitted a trademark application for “Jane Walker” hit the Internet. The drinks giant applied to the United States Patent and Trademark Office earlier this month and stated that Jane Walker is for “alcoholic beverages except for beer”. There was also news that labels submitted to the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB) show a drawing of a woman similarly dressed as the famous striding man logo and a bottle label named “The Jane Walker Edition”.

      The Internet has been blazing with both praise and criticism for the gender-specific trademark application. Some have come forward to applaud the move as a reminder for gender equality. Others have feedback that it is a backwards move to spread gender inequality and biases further.

      Is Jane Walker going to bring about gender equality?

      Gender equality is a long-suffering debate that gets nowhere, so far as we can see it. Men claim one side of the story while the women argue the other side. There is no end to this argument. We would rather see a general inclusion of human beings, accepting every one of us as an individual.

      Jane Walker, if done right, can indeed bring about a general inclusion of human beings. It is, however, a very tricky move that needs extreme planning. Is Jane Walker going to be a different blend? Will it be weaker or stronger than Johnnie Walker? Is the liquid going to be the same? Will Jane Walker become a core range or a limited release? Is the expression planned for release globally or only in the United States of America? The questions are endless.

      Nonetheless, the answer to each question will determine if Jane Walker will succeed. What if Jane Walker is a new blend that is more floral, fruitier or sweeter? How would the world respond to that? Or maybe Jane Walker could be a heavily peated whisky that is floral and sweet at the same time? What will the world think?

      Countless combination for Jane Walker’s success

      We believe that numerous combinations can build Jane Walker’s success on the world’s stage. The global community is waiting impatiently for Diageo to reveal their plans and share the new trademark with us. The revelation is likely to make or break the new Jane Walker Edition. Diageo is known for its work in promoting gender equality in the workplace, as well as running campaigns and projects to empower women around the world.

      The news of Jane Walker comes in a period where sexual harassment is trending in the news, mainly founded in the allegations made against Hollywood movie producer, Harvey Weinstein. Will Jane Walker help women around the world, or will she be seen as another sexist plot against women? We hope for the former!

      Reactions from around the world

      While we wait for news from Diageo, here’s a top response from Jump Radio. Listen to Jesse and Jenna as they present to you: The New Jane Walker Whisky Ad.

       

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        Whisky Review #63 – Three Ships 15-Year-Old Pinotage Cask Finish

        The Three Ships 15-year-old Pinotage Cask Finish is the first whisky in the world to finish in a pinotage cask. The Pinotage is a uniquely South African wine made in 1925 by Abraham Izak Perold. The whisky is the oldest whisky released in South Africa to date. Andy Watts specially crafted this whisky to reflect the unique heritage of South Africa. The whisky is rich and complex.

        The Pinotage Cask Finish is not a single malt. It is a blend of malt and grain whiskies which were matured separately in American casks for 15 years before being finished in eight Pinotage casks. Due to the higher climate in South Africa, the whisky extracts flavours from the casks faster than usual. It resulted in a whisky that feels much older than 15 years old.

        Let’s check out the review.

        Tasting Notes:

        Colour: Dark Amber
        ABV: 46.2%

        Nose: Tropical fruits and plums hit the nose with “Juicy Banana” chewing gum notes following right after. Sweet Pinotage earthy notes linger in the background. (18/20)

        Palate: Robust, earthy notes combine with banana and pineapples coats the palate beautifully. The whisky is dense and full-bodied. The spice is gentle on the palate even at 46.2% abv. (19/20)

        Finish: It has a medium to long finish with warm spice and tropical fruits lingering in the mouth. (17/20)

        Body: The whisky is well-balanced and consistent throughout. The earthy notes from the Pinotage cask are special and create an interesting experience. (33/40)

        Total Score: 87/100

        Comments:

        Geek Flora: “This is the first time I tried the Three Ships 15 YO, and I am impressed with the Pinotage Cask Finish. The earthy notes from the cask add an element of surprise to the otherwise sweet whisky. The complexity is fair but not as good as the 10 Years old single malt, even at a higher age statement. The selling point is the unique Pinotage finish, and you should try it if you have not.”

        Where to buy: If you are looking to purchase this bottle, you can find it at Quaich Bar, Singapore’s first whisky bar. Alternatively, visit their online store at www.whiskystore.com.sg to get it delivered to your doorstep.

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          Whisky Review #59 – Three Ships Select Whisky

          The Three Ships Select Whisky is a blend of high-quality Scotch malt, and African grain whiskies aged for only three years. It launched in South Africa back in 1977. As one of the core range of Three Ships, it has upheld its reputation as an exceptional whisky with its consistently high quality. The gentle profile caters to a broad audience from whisky connoisseurs to new whisky drinkers. The Three Ships Select Whisky competed in many international awards over the years and won many awards that make the distillery proud.

          Let’s dive into the review.

          Tasting Notes:

          Colour: Pale Gold
          ABV: 43%

          Nose: Soft, perfumed nose with hints of peaches. White pepper hides in the background, creating a warm and pleasant spice. (15/20)

          Palate: Soft and mellow peaches push through with a little maltiness that stays on the tongue. White pepper drifts gently in the background without overwhelming the sweetness.. (16/20)

          Finish: The finish is medium with sweetness lingering in the mouth for a while. It is slightly astringent at the end but pleasantly so. (15/20)

          Body: It is a well-balanced whisky that is easy to drink. As a blended malt and grain whisky, the flavours are reasonably complex for a 3-year-old whisky. In fact, it tasted like a 7 to 8-year-old whisky regarding flavour. (31/40)

          Total Score: 77/100

          Comments:

          Geek Flora: “I did not give the Three Ships Select Whisky a high score because the complexity of the whisky is not high. Nonetheless, it is a beautiful expression from Three Ships and is one of the most drinkable blended whiskies I have tried.” 

          Where to buy: If you are looking to purchase this bottle, you can find it at Quaich Bar, Singapore’s first whisky bar. Alternatively, visit their online store at www.whiskystore.com.sg to get it delivered to your doorstep.

           

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            6 popular whisky myths that are just…myths

            Whisky is a mysterious drink to many people around the world. While the drink is progressively getting popular, especially in Southeast Asia, China, and parts of Southern America, many people are still wary of whisky. Some of the most arguable points in whisky are possibly how to drink it, when to drink it, at what age should you start appreciating whisky and what sex you have to be if you want to drink whisky.

            All these myths are negative ideologies that give reasons why people should NOT drink whisky. To drive home the point, you just need to examine the parts of the world where whisky is getting popular, and you will see that those areas do not subscribe to whisky myths like those above. That is possibly the only real reason why whisky is so popular in these countries.

            Whisky is not an elitist drink, neither is it a drink just for men. It is a complex and flavourful drink that can impress even the most knowledgeable man and woman. Let’s see some of the whisky myths and blast them away with facts!

            Whisky is old-fashioned

            Maybe the scenes of old movies in which a group of men in tweed suits, holding glasses of golden spirits and muttering to one other about peat and flavours come to mind whenever you think about whisky? It is considered as old-fashioned, irrelevant and unable to catch up to the modern world. However, if you would just look at the whisky bars that are springing up one after another in Singapore today, and you will realise that more and more young people are starting to appreciate the complexity of the drink. Just as the clubs are mixing whisky cocktails for the party-goers, the whisky bars of the modern world are serving up drams of excellent whiskies in almost any way that it can be drank – neat, with an ice ball, with ice cubes, with water, or perhaps as a highball. Whisky is not old-fashioned, but our mindset might be.

            Whisky is too strong a drink for women

            That is probably a sexist remark in today’s world. If you walk into a whisky bar today, you may find that many of the knowledgeable bartenders are women. If women are too weak for whisky, why are the bartenders women? To entertain the men? Absolutely not! You will be surprised at what these women bartenders drink if you dare to ask! Besides, there are many women now who enjoy whisky, and possibly drink more than the men. Whisky is for everyone, and definitely not a drink exclusively reserved for men.

            Whisky should be drunk neat

            This is furthest from the fact. Whisky is a versatile drink. It can be drunk neat, but it can also be enjoyed with a splash of water, with an ice ball, with ice cubes, as a cocktail and as a highball. There are so many people in this world who does not know that whisky can be drank in any of these forms! Some old timers are so fixated on drinking it neat that they did not fully appreciate what a dash of water can do to open up the flavours of their well-loved whiskies. Newcomers are usually put off by the sharp taste of whisky when drank neat. Without knowing that whisky can be drank in other ways, these people tried whisky once and never try it again. Isn’t that a perfect waste?

            Whisky is an after-dinner drink

            Whisky might be an after-dinner drink during the Victorian era, where gentlemen retired to the gentlemen’s den for whiskies and cigar, while the ladies return to their chit-chats in the parlour. It is however, the 21st century now, and hardly anyone ever drink whisky after dinner due to the drink-no-drive policies and reluctance of restaurants to serve digestifs after dinner. This makes whisky a drink that can be drank before dinner, at parties and as a late night snack! Just ask those whisky lovers around the world!

            Single malts are better than blended whisky

            This is the one single thing that many people adhere to almost anywhere we go. This could be due to the price tags that are attached to the single malts. Blended whiskies are generally cheaper; hence, it is labelled as inferior, rough, cheap and a dilution of strong character. We need to stop comparing single malts and blended whiskies, because they are different from each other. While single malts are popular because of certain well-known brands, blended whiskies have their fan base too. In fact, in new markets such as China and Vietnam, the whisky lovers sees whisky as blended. Single malts and blend each have their own distinctive characters, complexities and flavours. Comparing the two of them is just like comparing apples and oranges – they are simply not the same, and should be appreciated differently.

            Scotland makes the best whisky

            Source

            If you still believe this, you probably stayed in an ice cave all these while! While Scotch is undisputedly the largest whisky producer, it is definitely a mistake to associate it as the producer of the best whisky. Just check out Irish whiskies with their sweet, juicy drinkability and Japan, whose precise, complex single malts have won awards in recent years. How about Taiwan? She is slowly but steadily building whiskies that are flavourful and complex, winning awards and fans along the way. There is probably no “best whisky” since the appreciation of whisky is subjective to individual preferences.

            Whisky is therefore, a drink that is for everyone. Appreciating and understanding whisky may take time, but we promise that it will be a journey that you will hugely enjoy! So, sit back, relax, rise your glass and say slainte!

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              Exclusive Whisky Pairing Event: House of Hazelwood

              WhiskyGeeks is very honoured to be invited to an exclusive whisky pairing event by William Grant and Sons on 3 July 2017. Held at Violet Oon at the National Gallery, this is a media-only event that introduced their vivacious new blended Scotch whisky inspired by the family luminary Ms Janet Sheed Roberts.

              This new range of whisky is named the House of Hazelwood. Composed of three exquisite expressions, each of them is blended to perfection, with its own inspiring story to tell. While all three whiskies are inspired by the 1920s, each whisky lives to tell a story of a different country. The most distinguished 25 years old is a representation of 1920s Shanghai, and a source of pride for its creator, Master Blender Brian Kinsman. It is followed by the 21 years old variant, which is a representation of 1920s Mumbai and the 18 years old variant, which is a representation of 1920s Paris.

              This event is a whisky pairing session, which means food is served. As the event is held in Singapore, the organisers proudly paired the whiskies with Peranakan food.

              While the whiskies are not paired with every serving of the food, WhiskyGeek enjoyed the selection of Peranakan food that was paired with the whiskies. Having attended many different whisky pairing sessions, it is in our opinion that blended whiskies are best paired with spicy food because the rich flavours of spicy food brings out the taste and flavours of blended whiskies, and vice versa.

              Food aside, let’s talk a little bit more about the whiskies. WhiskyGeeks’ opinion is that all three expressions have their own distinct characters but their similarity lies in their light but luxurious feel. From the packaging to the decanter to the whisky itself, all three expression exude luxury and exclusiveness. Personally, we prefer the 21 years old expression as compared to the other two variants as we find the bolder, spicer taste more robust and balanced. You can find the detailed tasting notes of the three expressions in our tasting notes section – The Liquid Gold.  Blended whiskies have their characters too, and can be better than some of the single malts that we have in the market right now.

              The packaging themselves are inspirations from the three mesmeric cities that are forerunners of the Art Deco movement – Paris, Mumbai and Shanghai. The designs are focused on creating a unique visual leitmotif which is associated with each city.

              The House of Hazelwood was launched exclusively in the Global Travel Retail in February last year. With an ABV of 40%, all three variants are available in a 50cl art-deco decanter style bottle and you can find them only at the exclusive retailers in Singapore Changi Airport. Remember to grab them if you are travelling anytime soon or they will soon be gone!

              More about William Grant and Sons, Ltd and Janet Sheed Roberts

              William Grant and Sons, Ltd is an independent family-owned distiller headquartered in the United Kingdom and founded by William Grant in 1887. The oldest family-owned luxury spirit company of Scotland is run by the fifth generation of his family today and distills some of the world’s leading brands of Scotch whisky, including the world’s most awarded single malt Glenfiddich, The Balvenie  range of handcrafted single malts and the world’s third largest blended Scotch Grant’s along with iconic premium spirits brands Hendrick’s Gin, Sailor Jerry Rum, Tullamore Dew Irish Whisky, Drambuie and Milagro Tequila.

              The House of Hazelwood is created  by William Grant and Sons, Ltd, inspired by both their ancestor Ms Janet Sheed Roberts and the Hazelwood House, a sturdy house that was bought by the Gordon family back in the early 1020s.. Janet Sheed Roberts united  the Grants and Gordon families, and became the undisputed matriarch of William Grants and Sons. She found her love for whisky from her grandfather while living in the Hazelwood House, travelled extensively and became the epitome of the progressive era-defining attitude of women in the 1920s and 30s.

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