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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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Whisky Events – Glengoyne & Tamdhu

 

If you are looking forward to the whisky events that we have spoken of in our previous article on Glengoyne Distillery, listen up now! We have received news from the organisers and here are the three finalised events curated just for you!

Jonathan Scott, Business Development Director (Asia), will be here with us for all three events. He hails from Speyside, Scotland and has experiences working with other distilleries such as Jura and Dalmore before joining Ian Macleod Distillers to head both Glengoyne and Tamdhu as their Business Development Director in Asia.

Picture from AsiaEuro

He will be sharing his passion and knowledge for whisky with the participants at all three events. Jonathan will also answer any questions that you have regarding Glengoyne and Tamhdu, so if you have a burning question to ask, you must go to at least one of these events, if not more.

The White Rocket – Glengoyne Masterclass

The White Rocket is a cafe located at 5 Stanley Street that provides a fantastic food menu to go with the whisky of your choice. In this Glengoyne Masterclass, Jonathon brings you four different drams from the Glengoyne core range. Going for this Masterclass means you will get to taste the following Glengoyne expressions:

  • 12 Years Old
  • 15 Years Old
  • 18 Years Old
  • Cask Strength

Details of the Masterclass:

Date: Monday, 21 May 2018
Venue: The White Rocket (5 Stanley Street, Singapore 068724)
Time: 7 pm
Cost: $48
Reservations: The White Rocket Facebook Page or call 6221 0108 or email thewhiterocketsg@gmail.com

Flying Fish Izakaya & Bar – Whisky Pairing

Join Jonathan Scott as he works hand-in-hand with the Flying Fish Izakaya & Bar to deliver a superb whisky pairing dinner for you at the newly-opened izakaya located at Riverside Point. We are sure that you will salivate just looking at the menu on offer that night.

  1. Nama Kaki with whisky passion fruit sauce paired with Tamdhu 10 YO
  2. Otoro with whisky miso sauce paired with Glengoyne 12 YO
  3. Pan-fried Wagyu or Kurobuta with whisky truffle sauce paired with Glengoyne 15 YO
  4. Fried whisky inaniwa udon paired with Glengoyne 18 YO

Details of the Whisky Pairing Session:

Date: Tuesday, 22 May 2018
Venue: The Flying Fish Izakaya & Bar (30 Merchant Road, Riverside Point #01-07, Singapore 058282)
Time: 7 pm
Cost: $128++
Reservations: Email andrewkj.tan@yahoo.com.sg or Call/Whatsapp/SMS 96325338

The Wall SG – Glengoyne Whisky Masterclass

For those of you who know The Wall SG well, you will know that Jeremie is going to treat you right. Join Jonathan, Jeremie and Samantha as they bring you on a tasting journey through the premium range of Glengoyne expressions. Showing in this Masterclass will be the following:

  • 15 Years Old
  • 18 Years Old
  • 21 Years Old
  • Cask Strength

Feel free to stay on after the event to enjoy more whiskies at this bespoke whisky bar!

Details of the Masterclass:

Date: 23 May 2018
Venue: The Wall SG (76 Tanjong Pagar Road, Singapore 088497)
Time: 7 pm
Cost: $68++
Reservation: The Wall SG Facebook Page or call 6225 7988 (Alternatively, drop Jeremie or Samantha a PM) 

Enjoy yourselves!

Do choose one of the events and head to the venue to enjoy a night of whisky and fun. Learning is always more pleasant when whisky is available! If you want to learn more about Glengoyne Distillery before going for any of the above events, do check out our article on the distillery here. Have fun!

 

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