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Dram on, Dràm Mòr

The first big tasting of Dràm Mòr in Singapore and their second ever release of bottles in Autumn of 2020! Dràm Mòr is an Independent Bottler in Scotland that is owned by a husband-wife duo, Kenny and Viktorija.
Many of the bottles in this second release were finished in fortified wine or wine casks for 4 months! This decision for a short duration finish was not unfounded as well! Kenny sought the advice of Whisky legend Jim McEwan and told Kenny to watch closely over 1st fill wine casks. This is most likely due to the spicy notes the active wine cask might impart on the whisky if it aged any longer.

Glen Garioch 8yo 2011 (Cask #2697) 55%
Glen Garioch 8yo 2011 (Cask #2697)
Glen Garioch 8yo 2011 (Cask #2697)

We started the night with a full-term refill bourbon. There was a time I used to find full-term bourbon maturation like from Cadenhead to be boring. What a fool I was #cringe. What I know now is that a light bourbon maturation can allow the spirit character to develop and shine through!

For this Glen Garioch, I’m glad it did! I get the herbal orange peel that I associated with the Official Bottlings of Glen Garioch, but with so much more characteristics! There’s a toasted cereal note, peaches, a hint of salinity, with a mouthfeel you can chew on! It’s a lovely anytime kind of dram!

Aberlour 7yo 2012 (#F800914) 54%
Aberlour 7yo 2012 (Dràm Mòr)
Aberlour 7yo 2012 (Dràm Mòr)

This Aberlour spent 7 and a half years in refill bourbon with a 4 month dry Madeira finish. The Aberlour A’bunadh series inspired Dràm Mòr to do a young cask strength Aberlour! This decision for a short finish was an excellent one. In 4 months, the influence of the wine is clearly much stronger, with only a touch of spice from the oak. This works well because the strawberry jam preserve notes of the Aberlour spirit character works with the dry cranberry notes, pepper and raspberries, along with the honey and floral notes from the prior bourbon maturation.

Glenrothes 9yo 2011 (#2850)
Glenrothes 9yo 2011 (#2850)
Glenrothes 9yo 2011 (#2850)

One of two Glenrothes in this Autumn release, this spent 8 years and 8 months in refill bourbon, before finishing in Spanish Red Wine casks for 4 months. This was a beautiful balance between the influence of the red wine and the European oak. Even the folks at Glenrothes distillery gave Kenny the stamp of approval!
In my personal opinion and preference, this dram probably needs some time to open up. Initial top notes of gunpowder which will fade away with time, so if you love your sulphur notes, you might not want to wait. This Glenrothes offers notes of honey, a whiff of chocolate, with oranges, red berries, figs and nuttiness!

Glenrothes 9yo 2011 (#2851)
Glenrothes 9yo 2011 (#2851)
Glenrothes 9yo 2011 (#2851)

This Glenrothes spent 8 years and 8 months in refill bourbon, before finishing in Moscatel Wine casks for 4 months. If it feels like Déjà vu, that’s because both Glenrothes are sister casks! Moscatel Wine casks are not as popular in whisky, but this is a damn good example! People who know me know that I do not particularly enjoy the spirit character of Glenrothes, but this dram is probably the first young Glenrothes that I have thoroughly enjoyed!
This dram offers golden pears, with honey and vanilla sweetness coming from the bourbon maturation. Moreover, the wine cask influence is very nuanced, with hints of toasted nuts, tart apples and a whiff of Nutella! One of the participants in the tasting even got Jasmine flowers! This is definitely a beautiful dessert dram.

Tomintoul 15yo 2005 (#32)
Tomintoul 15yo 2005 (#32)
Tomintoul 15yo 2005 (#32)

This gentle dram spent 15 years and 4 months in a rather shy refill sherry butt, and 4 months in a 1st fill Sauternes Wine Cask! These 15 years in the refill sherry butt gave a gentle maturation, and most importantly, it cultivated the gentle spirit character of the Tomintoul. Distilleries Director of Angus Dundee, Robert Flemming, who oversees Tomintoul and Glencadam, loved this dram when he asked Kenny for a sample of this! If the people who make this whisky liked it, then you know Dràm Mòr did Tomintoul right!
This gentle dram offer notes of sugary sweetness, freshly cut grass in spring, pears, white raisins, tart apples and pears, notes of a buttery pie crust and hints of salinity.

In this Autumn release, Dràm Mòr shows that flavourful whisky doesn’t necessarily need to be peated, or heavily sherried or old. I also do enjoy their stance on not chill filtering and not adding colour! If you wish to purchase these bottles, do give Spirits Castle a visit, and if you wish to find out more about Dràm Mòr and their latest December 2020 Christmas release, check it out here!

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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    Whisky Review #90 – TDM Glenrothes 1997 (20 Years Old)

    TDM Glenrothes 1997

    Today’s review is a Glenrothes that I happened to enjoy so much that I wish that I can bring back more bottles. The Drunken Master Pte Ltd is an independent bottler who also runs The Drunken Master Whisky Bar in Kaohsiung. The owner, Mr Li Chunfeng, is also the organiser for the Whiskyfair Takao.

    This Glenrothes is part of a shared cask with Michael Hsieh, the owner of ARen Trading Pte Ltd. Michael has his label for this cask, while Chunfeng has his own. While the liquid is technically the same, the different labels make each bottling unique and worthy of collection.

    The liquid is also one which impresses me. I am not a fan of sherry bombs, because sulphuric notes are often involved. I do not like sulphur in my whisky, and hence, I usually avoid sherry bombs. However, this sherry bomb is worthy to mention, because I love it. Why? Let’s find out.

    Tasting Notes:

    Colour: Dark Amber
    ABV: 52.3%

    Nose: Dark chocolates, raisins, sultanas and dark red fruits come together to create an aroma that I am unlikely to forget in a long time. Spice lingers underneath but does not overwhelm any of the other notes in the nose. It is a sherry bomb alright! (17/20)

    Palate: Pepper spice, sweet raisins, sultanas and dark chocolate all engulf the palate without knocking one another out to create a medley of flavours all over the tongue. As the liquid travels to the back of the palate, the tip of the tongue turns slightly dry and give rise to more sweetness at the back of the mouth. (18/20)

    Finish: It has a super long finish. The spice follows all the way to the throat, with dark chocolate and a crisp dryness to the finish. Hints of raisins linger all the way with some oakiness. (18/20)

    Body: This is a very balanced dram with all the right notes of a sherry cask liquid. I like that there is no liquorice or sulphuric notes in this whisky and yet, the other typical sherry notes of raisins, sultanas and dark chocolate are all complementing one another in an almost perfect harmony. (37/40)

    Total Score: 90/100

    Comments:

    Geek Flora: “It is quite a perfect whisky for me as a sherry bomb. It has all the right flavours without having the unpleasant notes of sulphur in it. Love it and hope to get more bottles from TDM!”

    Geek Choc: “Well, I love a sherry bomb, and this is one which will stay with me for quite some time to come. I love the way the dark chocolate displayed itself so significantly in the palate. It is not every day that we get to taste a delicious sherried whisky.”  

     

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      The Single Cask Masterclass 12 August 2017

      Whiskygeeks was invited by our friends – The Single Cask (TSC) for a masterclass that they held on 12 Aug 2017 at their bar located at Chijmes. TSC were introducing 5 new bottlings that they had completed early in January this year. The interesting thing about this masterclass is the fact that not all of them are whiskies as we know them. Some of them are spirits from another world. Nonetheless, all of them are limited edition and each bottle has its own number. Once these bottles are sold, there will be no more.

      This is the guy behind TSC Masterclass yesterday. Brendan has been a friend of the whiskygeeks and he is one knowledgeable whisky geek himself! His role in TSC is varied but we can be sure that he is one great guy to talk whisky!

      Now, let’s get on with the Masterclass!

      First up was the Diamond Rum 12 Years Old. As its name suggested, this is a rum from the Diamond Distillery in America and TSC bought the cask for bottling under their own independent brand. A sweety acidic drink, the rum is probably an acquired taste. However, the geeks found it reasonably pleasant. A “can try” spirit if you are interested to explore rum.

      Next up, we have the Macduff 19 years old. This whisky comes from a long history in Speyside. Distilled in 1997 and matured in bourbon cask, this whisky has a good character and a great finish. Macduff has been known as an unfashionable distillery but the geeks found that they packed a damn good whisky! This is a whisky that should be drank by everyone in our opinions!

      The next one is Tobermory 22 Years Old. Found on the Scottish Island of Mor, this is quite a fierce whisky with all its spices. Tobermory is from an ex-sherry butt, but you will never think this is so if you look at its light golden colour. The speciality of this whisky is the fact that it is a second-fill whisky cask! The ex-sherry cask was recharred and filled with a white sherry before the new-make spirit of Tobermory was poured into the cask for maturation. That is the reason for its light colour and strong flavours.

      This is the American Sour Mash 5 Years Old. It is a Tennessee whisky that is matured only for 5 years, but it looks like it has been sitting inside a cask for a much longer time. The sour mash is made by mixing some left-over wort from a previous fermentation with a new batch of barley and yeast, creating the “sourish” taste to the new make. It is extremely sweet and definitely an acquired taste.

      The last bottle is the Glenrothes 19 Years Old. Completely dark red in colour, this is the king of the batch of spirits tasted in the Masterclass. Before you decide to buy a bottle, let us disappoint you by letting you know that this bottle is not for sale, but will be kept at the bar for the enjoyment for everyone who wants a taste of this exquisite whisky. Distilled in 1997, it is another Speyside whisky. This expression only has 86 bottles that was made out of 60 litres of one particular sherry butt released by the Glenrothes back in late 2016. It is also the darkest whisky that was ever bottled in TSC.

      We will be talking more about the individual whiskies mentioned here in separate tasting notes, so stay tuned for more!

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