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Lagavulin – The Runaway Success

Lagavulin Distillery is one of the three distilleries on Islay that made up the Kildalton trio together with Ardbeg and Laphroaig. It is a picturesque distillery situated at Lagavulin Bay enjoyed by many who visited. Saddled with a relatively dull history, Lagavulin produced one of the most widely-enjoyed whiskies on Islay.

Brief History of Lagavulin

Legal distilling started at Lagavulin in 1816 when founder John Johnston built the distillery. A second distillery, named Ardmore, originally shared the same site but the Johnston family bought it in 1825. However, by 1835, Johnston ceased production at Ardmore.

In 1836, Johnston passed away, and the family sold the distilleries to Glasgow spirit merchant, Alexander Graham. He absorbed the production of Ardmore into Lagavulin in 1837. In 1852, John Crawford Graham took over the Lagavulin distillery, but his era lasted only a brief ten years.

By 1862, James Logan Mackie & Co. bought the distillery and refurbished it. With blender James helming the distillery, the public awareness of the distillery grew. However, it was his nephew, Peter J. Mackie who took Lagavulin to greater heights.

The Story behind Peter J. Mackie

Peter J Mackie first learned his art of whisky blending at Lagavulin at a tender age of 23. It was 1878 and his first trip to Islay to learn whisky at Lagavulin gave his invaluable experience of the production of whisky. His success with learning the secrets of distilling eventually led to his taking over of the distillery after his uncle, James Logan Mackie, died in 1889.

Peter J Mackie (later becoming Sir Peter Mackie) was an important figure in whisky history. The Mackies started to blend whisky in the mid-1880s, with Lagavulin at the core, and Peter Mackie registered the “White Horse” brand in 1891, one year after the company changed its name to Mackie & Co. Peter Mackie also co-founded Craigellachie distillery and recognised as a great innovator of his time.

The “Fight” for Laphroaig

Peter Mackie leased Laphroaig distillery in the 19th century and tried to copy its style. Several legal battles ensured between the two distilleries and in 1908, Peter Mackie officially lost the battle. In his irritation, he built a second distillery on the site of Lagavulin, named Malt Hill. It tried to reproduce the same characters of Laphroaig, but it failed. It closed in 1962.

The Beginning of the Modern Era

Sir Peter Mackie passed away in 1924, and the company changed its name to White Horse Distillers Limited. During this period, they produced various expressions that are vastly different from the modern bottlings that we enjoyed now. One of them was a Lagavulin 16 Years. Bottled in the same style as the contemporary version, it had only one difference – the label held the name “White Horse Distillers”.

 

Sadly, White Horse Distillers Limited did not hold on to Lagavulin for very long. In 1927, the distillery went into the hands of DCL (present-day Diageo). When the war started, Lagavulin closed and only reopen after the war. However, tragedy struck again when a fire destroyed much of the distillery in 1951. Diageo rebuilt it.

The distillery floor malting closed in 1974 and turned into a visitor’s centre and admin offices.

The Modern Era

As Lagavulin heads into the modern era, the Lagavulin 16 Years becomes one of the six Classic Malts. Selected in 1988, it becomes Lagavulin’s pride. Today, Lagavulin holds the fort by operating 24 hours a day, seven days a week to keep up with the ever-growing demand. The core range is the 16 Years Old and the distillery also released a limited edition cask strength 12 Years Old every year. One of the most popular at the moment is the 12 Years Old released in 2016 for the 200th anniversary of the distillery.

 

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    Whisky Event – Bruichladdich Old vs New

    From left: SMOS 1992, SV 1990, X4+3, Islay Barley 2010

    Here’s a new whisky event that Geek Flora and Choc went to in less than a week! Bruichladdich Old vs New event happened at The Single Cask on 9 May 2018. Hosted by both bar manager Brendan and Bruichladdich APAC Brand Ambassador Chloe Wood, it was an awesome evening filled with history and amazing whiskies.

    The Lineup

    The lineup on 9 May was a stellar one. The liquids came from different eras of the Bruichladdich distillery. We had a Signatory Vintage 1990 Bruichladdich, 26 Years Old, a Single Malt of Scotland 1992 Bruichladdich, 23 Years Old, the X4+3 and the Islay Barley 2010 from the distillery itself. The oldest whiskies came from independent bottlers as Bruichladdich was in a less than desirable situation in the 1990s when it still belonged to Invergordon. If you followed our article about the distillery, you would know that Bruichladdich closed in 1994 and did not reopen until 2001.

    The X4+3 was a unique expression as it was quadruple-distilled and aged for only three years (hence the name X4+3)! It came from the era of Mark Reynier and Jim McEwan, the legendary distiller. It is almost impossible to find a bottle now, so if you manage to find one, BUY IT! The Islay Barley 2010 is, of course, one of their newer expressions when the distillery came under the guidance of their current master distiller – Adam Hannett.

    The Event Proper

    The event started not with the whiskies, but with pizzas and garlic bread, compliments from the good folks at The Single Cask and Bruichladdich. After they fed us, the event started with Brendan and Chloe up on “stage”.

    Brendan and Chloe up on “Stage”

    They explained that they originally wanted to start the tasting session with the old vintages, but changed their minds. They were starting with the youngest one! The reason was simple – we are likely to taste the difference better when we did the young to the old. So, that’s precisely what we did!

    Islay Barley 2010 (50% abv)

    The Islay Barley is slightly different from the regular Scottish Barley as it has a salty tint to it. We would like to think that it is due to the Islay barley used. While the typical sweetness of a Bruichladdich is prominent, there is this unique coastal salt, and toasty cereal notes to it. The spice is also sharper than the regular Scottish Barley. Overall, it is a lovely dram that you can enjoy any time of the day.

    X4+3 (63.5% abv)

    X4+3 is exceptional. That is Geek Flora talking, by the way. The sweetness of the whisky is so distinctively pears, green apples and melons! This is one whisky for the sweet tooths! The palate has hints of coastal salt and lemons coupled with light tangy spice at the tip of the tongue. Even though this is only aged for three years, the creaminess and oiliness of the whisky are remarkable. We supposed it has something to do with it being quadruple-distilled.

    SMOS 1992, 23 Years Old (55.4% abv)

    The SMOS 1992 was one of the crowd’s favourite that night. As it was from the Invergordon era, the distillate differed slightly from the modern ones. There was this pine note within the whisky, which kind of differentiate it as a whisky made for blends (we think). The nose was fresh with pine, melon and lime. The palate presented a bouquet of flowers, with oak, light melon and hints of lime. Warm spice lingered in the middle and back of the tongue. Unfortunately, the finish was short with pine-oak and floral notes. It was also dry. Again, the finish showcased a whisky that was perfect for blending, but not so great perhaps, as a single malt due to a rather short finish at such a high abv.

    Signatory Vintage 1990, 26 Years Old (53.4% abv)

    As for the Signatory Vintage 1990, it was a little different because it was a sherry-cask matured whisky. However, it appeared to be slightly lacking as it did not showcase typical sherry notes. The nose was promising, with cherry, hints of cranberries (some say baby vomit), green apples and some savoury salted meats. The palate was warm spice, red fruits and hints of salt. While the finish is long, salty and dry, it did not give a high satisfaction. Were our expectations too high? We are not so sure.

    After Party at The Single Cask

    We stayed way longer than we planned to (as usual). Initially, it was to savour and finish our drams, especially the X4+3 and the SMOS 1992. As the crowd left and the bar quietened, it became a great place for conversation. We had a chat with Chloe and a fellow Laddie fan, Fiona, and spoke about Laddie t-shirts! Haha! So, we decided to take this photo below.

    Laddie fans united with our Laddie Ambassador!

    It was such a beautiful picture, isn’t it! Chloe and Brendan had on the Bruichladdich Polo Tee, while Geek Flora and Choc had our Unicorn Bruichladdich and Octomore Tee. Fiona was wearing her 2017 Feis Ile tee! We love this so much that we named it the “Laddie fans united with our Laddie Ambassador” picture!

    A Laddie Cocktail

    Islay Barley 2010 Whisky Sour

    Just as we were about to leave, Brendan said, “How about an Islay Barley Whisky Sour?” We just had to stay for that because Brendan made terrific cocktails! Most of you who know Flora personally know that she is not a cocktail person, but she took two big sips from this glass that she shared with Chloe. It was the perfect answer to how yummy this whisky sour was. Stunningly balanced between the sweetness and the alcohol, this whisky sour is probably something that you will keep wanting to come back for.

    After emptying the glass, it was time to head home. So we bid goodbye to Brendan and Chloe and made our way back. It was an excellent evening to be sure. If you have never been to a Bruichladdich event, come to the next one. We promise that you will not be disappointed.

     

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      Whisky Review #88 – XOP Caol Ila 36 Years Old

      XOP Caol Ila 36 Years Old at The Drunken Master Whisky Bar, Kaohsiung

      Some of you may know that I am a Caol Ila fan as well as a Bruichladdich fan. Both distilleries are on Islay, but the styles are quite different. Nonetheless, I find whiskies from both distilleries enjoyable, and suitable for the various moods that befall me. This review is an independently bottled Caol Ila by Douglas Laing. It is part of their XOP range as it is a distillate from 1980 and matured for 36 years. I had this whisky at The Drunken Master Whisky Bar last year when I was there attending the Takao Whisky Fair.

      Tasting Notes:

      Colour: Amber
      ABV: 57.4%

      Nose: Sweet caramel finds its way into the nose with warm spice in the background. Hints of dark fruits like raisins float in and out of the nose. After aeration of three minutes, the spice becomes more prominent, and the sweetness of fruits and caramel fade into the background. After ten minutes, light, aromatic peat appears to complement the spice. At the same time, light notes of caramel and dark fruits reappear. The result is intense sherried notes. (18/20)

      Palate: Hot spice leads the way, but sweet caramel and dark raisins coat the palate almost immediately after the spice, reducing the fiery hotness. After airing, the spice mellows beautifully. Caramel, raisins, and dark chocolate are evident in the mouth, and we detect hints of honey at the back of the mouth. Unfortunately, the honey notes are quickly overwhelmed by the spice. Light peat comes in at the end, but it is hardly noticeable. (17/20)

      Finish: Long finish with warm spice leading the way. Aromatic peat surfaces in the finish instead of the palate. We think that it could be due to the spice. After airing, the peat disappears from the finish, leaving only the mellow spice and the fruity sweetness. (17/20)

      Body: It is not the most balanced dram that I had drunk. The peat is hardly noticeable in the palate and finish, though it is promising in the nose. The redeeming grace is the intense sherried notes that are balanced from the nose to the finish. The whisky is likely to benefit from some water, which will open the flavours. Unfortunately, we did not have the chance to do that due to the overcrowding at the bar. (33/40)

      Score: 85/100

      Comments:

      Geek Flora: “My first impression was WOW! Then the spice overwhelmed me at the palate. I still think it is a fantastic whisky, but it probably needs more than just aeration. This whisky should open up its flavours if I add some water. It was a pity that I did not get to do that during my time at the TDM bar as it was too crowded! If I get to try this again, I will report!”

      Geek Choc: “My mouth burns from drinking this whisky. It is too spicy for my liking, and I do not know why Geek Flora likes it! Hahaha…but I have to admit that it is pretty special. I think I will enjoy it more if I add some water to mellow the spice.”

       

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        The Glengoyne Way – No One Takes More Time & Care

        Glengoyne Distillery nestled deep within the beautiful landscape of Dumgoyne, north of Glasgow, Scotland. Within the surroundings of the distillery, a hidden waterfall waits to surprise first-time visitors. The miniature glen that Glengoyne sits is an amazing sight to behold. There is no wonder that visitors often named Glengoyne Distillery as the most beautiful distillery in Scotland.

        History of Glengoyne

        George Connell was the founder of Glengoyne distillery. History has it that Connell began distilling at Burnfoot Farm – the current Glengoyne distillery – in 1820. Safe within the miniature glen that hid the farm from the Exciseman, Connell escaped the notice of the law. Connell was not the first man to distil at the farm illegally as he learnt the trade from his grandfather.

        In 1823, the law changed with the introduction of the Excise Act. Many underground distilleries took the license to operate, but Connell did not. In 1833, he finally decided to work with the law and obtained his license. He named the distillery Glenguin of Burnfoot. Connell took a 99-year lease on the land where Glenguin sat in 1836. It gave him the right to use the water of the property at any future time. Critically, Connell also made the decision not to use peat in his distillation process. His decision to deny peat in his whisky behold his legacy until today.

        The Distillery Changed Hands

        The distillery changed hands in 1876 to the Lang Brothers in Glasgow. History has it that the Lang brothers wanted to change the distillery name to Glengoyne, but a clerk made a mistake, and the distillery became Glen Guin. The name Glengoyne did not take effect until 1907. Did you know what Glengoyne means? It comes from Glenguin, which means Glen of the Wild Geese.

        The Lang brothers took ownership of Glengoyne until 1965 before selling it to the Robertson & Baxter Group. The R&B Group eventually becomes Edrington Group. Under Edrington, the distillery underwent a rebuilding project between 1966 and 1967. They added one more still to the distillery, expanding it from two to three stills.

        In 1984, Glengoyne became suppliers of whiskies to the then Queen Mother, Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth’s household. The Royal Warrant can still be seen on all the Glengoyne products today.

        The Beginning of the Modern Era

        Ian Macleod Distillers Ltd acquired Glengoyne Distillery in April 2003. The taking over included both the “Glengoyne Single Malts” and “Langs Blended Whisky” brands. Under the family-run company, Glengoyne expanded rapidly regarding output capacity and sales. Ian Macleod keeps to the traditional way of making whisky at Glengoyne, and instead, increase the equipment onsite to increase output. Today, Glengoyne has eight working warehouses with a total capacity of nearly two million litres.

        Before we move on from the history of Glengoyne, it is worthy to mention that Glengoyne distilled whisky in the Highlands and matures its whisky in the Lowland. What? Yes, it is true because the distillery sits upon the Highland Line, which divides the Highland from the Lowlands. Glengoyne, however, is still regarded as a Highland Whisky.

        The Glengoyne Way

        We spoke of the Glengoyne way of making whisky, but we have yet to tell you what it is. The Glengoyne way is six guiding principles that keep the distillery true to their past and the original decision that George Connell made in 1833. The distillery team believes that to change one element would alter the bold and complex flavours of Glengoyne.

        Principle #1 – Unpeated

        Glengoyne’s whisky is always unpeated. In 1833, the decision was one that was out of necessity. There was no peat in Dumgoyne. Unpeated whisky defines what Glengoyne stands for today – it produces only the most exceptional sherried whisky. The distillery uses Golden Promise barley, similar to The Macallan in Speyside. Perhaps that is why Glengoyne tasted somewhat like The Macallan. Is that the barley making its stake in the whisky?

        Principle #2 – Patience

        Glengoyne runs the slowest stills in Scotland. The distillate interacts immensely with their copper stills to eliminate the undesired chemical compounds. The result is a smooth, hugely complex spirit that the distillery is known for.

        Principle #3 – Sherry Oak Casks

        Before the 1870s, Glengoyne did not use sherry oak casks for maturation. However, the boom in sherry in London during the 1870s yields high-quality sherry casks and Glengoyne took the economical route by utilising the sherry casks for maturation. The result was stunning; taking Glengoyne whiskies to new heights and new depths. In today’s market, sherry is not so readily available, and Glengoyne needs to make a decision. They did by sticking to their principle. They use only the best sherry casks and control the process from oak forest all the way to the distillery.

        Principle #4 – Maturation

        The warehouses at Glengoyne are traditional. Made of stone walls and earthen floor, each warehouse protects the maturing casks from extreme temperature changes. The casks are not stacked close together either. By giving them the space needed for maturation, the distillery creates the consistent evaporation rate that they want in each of their casks.

        Principle #5 – Natural Colour

        By taking control of the sherry casks they procured, the distillery ensures that the colour of each whisky is natural and without added colour. The clear spirit from the distillery takes on the colour of the cask that they matured in, before getting bottled and released to the market.

        Principle #6 – Tradition

        It is hard to keep to tradition, but Glengoyne does it, every single day. From 1833 when Connell took the license to operate the distillery legally, the intricate steps he chose to make the whisky are still in use today.

        The Glengoyne Whisky

        The range of whisky from Glengoyne Distillery is impressive. Starting at ten years old, the core range moves up to 25 years old and a NAS cask strength edition. In between, we have the 12, 15, 18, and 21 years old. The distillery is moving away from the ten years old in recent years and in the future, the 12 years old will be the entry point of the core range.

        Besides the core range, there are also rarer whiskies to be found. The Glengoyne 30 years old and 35 years old are expressions to behold. The 30 years old boasts of intense sherry notes with cinnamon, cloves and tangy marmalade. The 35 years old (distilled in the 1970s) boasts of tropical fruits, liquorice and a dark chocolate finish. It also comes in an artistically-designed decanter. Only 500 bottles are available worldwide.

        What to Expect Next

        Ian Macleod plans to focus on Asia for the Glengoyne brand shortly, so we can look forward to tasting events and food pairing sessions. While the organising committee is getting the logistics sorted out, let us wait patiently for the news. We will inform our readers when the events are ready!

         

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          Whisky Review #86 – Edradour 2002 Single Cask

          Picture of Bottle and Cask details – Courtesy of a friend

          Edradour is a fascinating distillery as we have discovered in an earlier post. A friend had given me a pretty sample of an Edradour single cask some time ago, so I think this is the best time for me to drink and post some tasting notes. It is my first whisky from Edradour, and I am excited to get going!

          So here are the details of the single cask.

          Edradour 2002 13 Years Old
          Distilled: 28/08/2002
          Bottled: 01/10/2016
          Cask No: 1412
          Outturn: 700 bottles

          Note: The liquid is 13 years old as stipulated by the regulations of SWA – the bottled date does not add up to 14 years in total.

          Tasting Notes:

          Colour: Dark Gold
          ABV: 54.6%

          Nose: Caramel and peppery spice surface almost immediately with some dark, ripe fruits in the background. After aeration of five minutes, intense dark chocolate notes triumph over the caramel and push the spice into the background. There are hints of raisins and cherries floating around, but the dark chocolate notes overwhelm the other notes most of the time. (16/20)

          Palate: There is an initial bite of the spice, and then caramel leads the way in the mouth, with dark chocolate and raisins coming soon after. Warm peppery spice reappears in the back, coating the back of the mouth and the throat pleasantly. The mouthfeel is oily and creamy with faints hints of oak at the tail end of the palate. (17/20)

          Finish: Long finish with an increase in oakiness from the palate. The sweetness of the raisins follows closely, and the creaminess of the whisky coats the mouth thoroughly. Some caramel notes appear shortly and linger long into the end of the finish. (17/20)

          Body: It is a balanced dram with a sherried profile. Approachable and easy to drink, even at 54.6% abv, this single cask Edradour is an ideal whisky to introduce to drinkers who are exploring higher abv drams. (33/40)

          Score: 83/100

          Comments:

          Geek Flora: This is not a bad whisky; in fact, I like it for its balance and the gentle sherry notes. However, it is slightly one-dimensional and not as challenging as expected. Mellow and approachable, I think this is perfect for whisky drinkers who are starting out on their journeys for a higher abv dram. 

          Geek Choc: This is a typical sherry whisky but not a sherry bomb. The dark chocolate notes are memorable though. It is too easy to drink at 54.6%. The price point is another contender for the lower score. While it is not an expensive bottle, it is not the price of a “daily dram” too.  Nonetheless, it is a lovely whisky that I enjoyed! 

          Disclaimer:

          This sample is part of the last drops in the bottle. It might not be the exact reflection of the whisky but should be close enough. The bottle is probably opened for about 3-4 months.

          Whisky Event: The Malt Affair’s TMA Vol. 2

          Have you heard that The Malt Affair’s TMA Vol. 2 is coming up in early May? If you have not, please listen up! The upcoming event is a bi-annual whisky event where whisky lovers gather in one place to enjoy whiskies by the dram. This exciting experience is a follow-up to last year’s successful TMA Vol. 1, where offers of rare and old whiskies sent whisky lovers into a frenzy. Not to be pushed around, impressive modern bottles also strutted their stuff in TMA Vol. 1.

          WhiskyGeeks attended TMA Vol. 1 held last year during November, and they impressed us with more than a couple of great whiskies. Some of the selections that we love were the Laphroaig 10-year-old Bonfanti Import (short label), the Rosebank 20-year-old Zenith Import, the Port Ellen 1982 Malts of Scotland, and the Miyagikyo 18-year-old Whisky Live Tokyo 2010.

          TMA Vol. 2

          So, when we know that TMA Vol 2 is coming up, we are ready for yet another challenge of old and rare whiskies! To prove that we are going to this event, here’s a picture of the tickets that we bought!

           

          What to Expect at TMA Vol. 2

          The news is out that there is a rare Springbank 12-year-old (Black Label) bottled by Cadenhead and a Macallan 1958 (gasps!) Campbell Hope & Kings 1970s White Metal Cap representing Campbeltown and Speyside respectively. There are also a couple of excellent Laphroiags and a Caol Ila 18-year-old by Sestante Import representing Islay. To top things off, there are a few bottles of old Karuizawas and the Hanyu Card Series waiting for you too!

          For the less initiated whisky fans, do not be intimated! If you are not ready to drink these old whiskies yet (trust me, they are like self-poisons), you can find more accessible drams such as the Balvenie Single Barrel 15-year-old and a Bruichladdich ‘The Laddie Ten’ Second Edition. If you are feeling just a little adventurous, why not try an affordable closed distillery whisky – Littlemill? On offer at TMA Vol. 2 are three expressions for your picking. Personally, I love the expression bottled by The Perfect Dram!

          You can find the list of drams here.

          How to Buy your Tickets?

          If you have yet to buy tickets for the event, head over to Peatix and grab yours now. Early bird tickets are now sold out, so grab the standard tickets at $30 each before they are gone too! Each ticket gives you entry to TMA Vol. 2 and also includes a Glencairn tasting glass, a 2cl (20ml) glass sample container and a $10 Downtown Gallery voucher! Do note that you can bring additional sample bottles if you are looking to buy some whiskies home instead of drinking them all at the event.

          We hope to see you there at The Malt Affair’s TMA Vol. 2! If you happen to see us Geeks at the event, pop over to say hi!

           

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            Whisky Review #82 – Littlemill 22 Years Old (WhiskyBase)

             

            Some of you may know that I have a strong love for Littlemill. I never passed a chance to try new expressions from this closed distillery. I was again, given an opportunity recently, when I got to taste a Littlemill.

            This expression is distinctive on its own. It is a bottling from WhiskyBase, in celebration of their 40,000 bottles on the wall. Matured in a bourbon hogshead, it is a 22 years old whisky distilled on 20th Dec 1990 and bottled 10th Feb 2013. Not quite a 23 years old whisky, so as per SWA’s rules, its label reads 22 years old.

            Let’s dive straight into the notes!

            Tasting Notes:

            Colour: Bright Gold
            ABV: 56%

            Nose: Hmm…a typical Lowlands nose with aromatic dried grass. Floral and perfumey, almost like sniffing a particular brand of perfume. Sweet pears, melons and berries dance gracefully in the nose. Warm spice lurks underneath, waiting for its turn to dance. (18/20)

            Palate: Sweet fruits – pears, apples, melons and berries – explode in the mouth. The sweet overtones bounce all over with warm spices catching up in the background. The floral, grassy notes come last, rounding up the perfect and typical Littlemill notes. Warm spice tingles in the back of the throat pleasantly. (18/20)

            Finish: Medium finish with dried grassy notes that become herbaceous after a while. Sweet and perfumey all the way, the finish boasts pleasant spice that lingers comfortably while it lasts. (17/20)

            Body: This is a typical Littlemill that boasts the usual grassy notes, but what is worth noting here is that instead of the fresh grass that we usually find in Littlemill, this expression features grassy notes of dried grass! The fruitiness is beautiful and welcoming to anyone who is a Lowlands fan. Excellent mix of spice, fruits and grassiness to make an unforgettable whisky. While it does not have the most exciting profile, it has the strength of the character from Littlemill Distillery. (37/40)

            Total Score: 90/100

            Comments:

            Geek Flora: I love this! It features the characteristics of Littlemill without taking on too much character from the bourbon hogshead. I simply adored the grassiness of this dram!

            Geek Choc: Well, it is nice, but I think I prefer something a little sweeter. A bourbon hogshead is too mild for me. Maybe a sherry cask Littlemill will do the trick! 

             

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

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

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

              Let’s check out the review!

              Tasting Notes:

              Colour: Gold
              ABV: 48.4%

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

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

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

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

              Total Score: 92 points

              Comments:

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

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

               

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                Whisky Review #78 – Linlithgow 1982 (SV)

                 

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

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

                Let us check out this dram now.

                Tasting Notes:

                Colour: Gold
                ABV: 59.2%

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

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

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

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

                Total Score: 91/100

                Comments:

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

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

                 

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                  A Visit to Pernod Ricard’s Office Bar

                  The new Reception at Pernod Ricard Singapore

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

                  The Walk to the Bar

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

                  Pernod Ricard’s Waiting Area

                   

                  Check out the posters. They are gorgeous!

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

                   

                  The Whisky_Cognac Wall

                  Pernod Ricard’s Office Bar

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

                  Denis behind the bar counter

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

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

                  Appealing Open Area in the bar

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

                  The Tasting Session

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

                  The range of whiskies we tasted

                  The Chivas Range

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

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

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

                  The Ballantine’s 17 Years Old

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

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

                  The Single Malts

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

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

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

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

                  A Tour around the Office

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

                  Open Area and Sandpit

                   

                  Perrier Jouet Room

                   

                  Monkey 47 Gin Room

                   

                  Jameson Room

                   

                  Display at the Martell Secret Room

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

                  The Last Drop before Leaving

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

                  Royal Salute Polo Collection

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

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

                   

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