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DFS Whisky Festival 2019 Special Releases

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

 

Glenmorangie 14 year old 2004 (#1399)

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

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

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

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

 

Chivas 21 year old The Lost Blend

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

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

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

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

 

Compass Box No Name No. 2

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

75.5% Caol Ila matured in refill sherry butts

13.5% Clynelish matured in rejuvenated white oakhogsheads

10.5% Talisker matured in rejuvenated white oak hogsheads

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

 

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

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

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

Jura 20 year old One and All

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

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

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

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

 

Royal Brackla 20 year old 1998 Exceptional Cask

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

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

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

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

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

Hope you get to visit the bar! Slainté!

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

Whisky Review #97 – Benrinnes 17 Years (Vive La Vie)

This is a bottle of Benrinnes from yet another independent bottler named Vive La Vie. The label showcases a Japanese woman with a painting behind her. It looks somewhat Japanese and gives off an air of elegance. The expression is a 17 years old Benrinnes distilled in 1997. Bottled in 2016 at 57.6% abv, the cask yielded 194 bottles.

How does this measure up? Let’s find out.

Tasting Notes:

Colour: Pale Gold
ABV: 57.6%

Nose: Vanilla and coconut waft fragrantly into the nose, with gentle spice in the background. Hints of green fruits seem to be in the back but do not come forward. The overall notes are soft and delicate. After airing, banana chewing gum replaced the coconut notes. The green fruits also become more prominent but still hiding in the background. (17/20)

Palate: Oily mouthfeel with light and delicate vanilla notes come together with a gentle spice that engulfs the palate warmly. The coconuts notes appear towards the end of the palate and take over the vanilla freshness. The overall notes are sweet with a light peppery spice. After airing, the spice intensified. (17/20)

Finish: Medium finish with delicate vanilla and coconut notes lingering until the end. After airing, the finish becomes spicier. (16/20)

Body: It is a balanced dram but nothing over the top. There are no wow factors. It is rather one dimensional with very typical bourbon notes.  (32/40)

Total Score: 82/100

Comments:

Geek Flora: “It is an easy dram to drink, but I think it is not complex enough to be a challenge. Nonetheless, if you are looking for something easy to enjoy, this expression is gentle and approachable.”

Geek Choc: “This is suitable as a daily dram for me. Simple, easy to drink and yet enjoyable. Nothing over the top and comfortable.” 

 

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Whisky Review #96 – Clynelish 19 YO (The Water Margin)

We love the independent Taiwanese whisky labels for their interesting designs. Most of them showcase either the Chinese history or myths that we enjoy as kids. We found this particular bottle in The Malt, Taipei, and it is a label of a character from The Water Margin ( 水滸傳 ), one of the four Chinese Literature Classic. The expression is a Clynelish 19 years old, bottled by The Whisky Agency for The Drunken Master. It is distilled in 1997 and bottled in 2016. Matured in a hogshead, this expression has only 108 bottles.

How does it taste? Let’s find out!

Tasting Notes:

Colour: Dull Gold
ABV: 57.1%

Nose: Fresh vanilla pods, hints of coconuts and fresh grass in a spring meadow waft gently to the nose first. Sweet green fruits surface after a short while, and gentle spice flirts in and out from the background. (18/20)

Palate: Fresh grass, sweet vanilla and peppery spice are in the forefront while coconut lingers in the middle of the palate, bursting forth as the liquid goes down to the throat. (16/20)

Finish: Medium finish with sweet vanilla stays for a while. Spice takes over too soon and then it gets oaky and remains so till the end. (17/20)

Body: The whisky is not as balanced as I hope it would be. The palate is disappointing considering the excellent nose we got. The finish was also too oaky and borders on a slight bitterness. Overall not a bad Clynelish but lacks the waxy feel of a typical Clynelish. (32/40)

Total Score: 83/100

Comments:

Geek Flora: “I was quite disappointed with the palate because the nose promised such excitement. It is also not the typical waxy Clynelish that I like so much.”

Geek Choc: “Well, it is not as tasty as some of the other Clynelish that I have tried before, but I don’t think it is a bad dram. Overall, it is easy to drink and complex enough to enjoy.” 

 

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Whisky Review #95 – Rosebank 1990 – Blackadder

I am not fond of Blackadder as an independent bottler. I had tried more than a couple of Blackadder’s bottles, and none of them has impressed me too much. However, it changes with this one bottle of Rosebank 1990. I was completely bowled over and forced to admit that it is good. Nonetheless, I am still not convinced that Blackadder is consistent. I shall wait and see.

This review is another Rosebank expression distilled in 1990. It is a cask strength bottling from Blackadder’s Raw Cask series and only matured for 14 years.

Tasting Notes:

Colour: Dirty Gold
ABV: 56.3%

Nose: Sweet fresh berries such as cranberries and strawberries waft in before the sweetness of peaches comes for a visit. Vanilla, honey and hints of coconuts come after. Gentle spice hides in the background, a reminder of its high abv. (18/20)

Palate: Fresh cranberries and strawberries in the forefront before peppery spice assault the palate. A light sweetness of peaches appears for a brief moment before vanilla engulf the entire mouth. (17/20)

Finish: Long finish with vanilla cream lingering all the way to the end. Some fresh berries in the middle before it develops into a pleasant oakiness. (17/20)

Body: It is an interesting dram because the profile is far from its Lowlands characters. There are notes of ex-bourbon and ex-sherry which makes the dram both balanced and complex. The notes of sherry/bourbon influence also keep replacing one another, making this dram exciting and fascinating to enjoy. (37/40)

Total Score: 89/100

Comments:

Geek Flora: “I avoid Blackadder’s bottling usually because I never enjoyed any of them. However, this bottles came highly recommended by the owner of The Malt, Taipei. After trying, I got to admit that it is good, and hence, I will strive to keep my options open when I happened upon another Blackadder’s bottling.”

Geek Choc: “I love Rosebank, so I must try all the expressions that I came across. When the owner of The Malt recommended this, I jumped at the chance of trying it. I only regret that I cannot bring the whole bottle home.”

 

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Whisky Review #94 – Rosebank 21 (Cask Strength)

Rosebank…”The finest example of a Lowland malt” (Michael Jackson) is a whisky which creates many emotional outbursts amongst whisky lovers. Rosebank shares typical Lowland characters of grassiness, fruits and flowers with other famous Lowland distilleries such as St Magadelene and Littlemill.

Recently, we got lucky and tasted two Rosebank expressions bottled in the 1990s. Both of them are 21 years old, bottled at cask strength. The bottle that we tried in The Drunken Master Bar was from the 1992 bottling while the other one that we had in The Swan Song was from the 1990 bottling.

This review showcases the Rosebank 21 Years Old distilled in 1990 and released in 2011. Part of the Rose series, this expression is a heavenly dram which represents all the Lowland glory of Scotland.

Tasting Notes:

Colour: Gold
ABV: 53.8%

Nose: Glorious Lowlands notes are immediately apparent. Grassy, herbal and slightly cereal. Then after a few minutes, the sweetness of fruits surface. Green apples, sweet pears and a hint of melons. Mintiness also appears with the grassy notes going into the background. Peppery spice combines with the grassy notes to give an extra complexity. (19/20)

Palate: The palate is herbal, grassy and fruity all at once. Green apples, sweet pears, peppery spice and mint come together after that. The oak influence becomes more prominent after a while and creates a slightly drying palate. The fruitiness of the dram combined with the gentle spice gives a comfortable feel to the overall experience. (18/20)

Finish: It has a medium to long finish that is oaky, minty and sweet. The drying effects from the grassiness of the dram lengthen the finish. (17/20)

Body: It is a balanced dram with typical Lowlands notes. The identity is Rosebank from the nose to the finish. Excellent dram! (36/40)

Total Score: 90/100

Comments:

Geek Flora: “I was not a Rosebank fan previously, but after drinking this expression, I was converted. It is light and floral but yet, complex. I especially love the minty notes that we get, as it is quite special to me.”

Geek Choc: “I am a Rosebank fan and can only love Rosebank more with every expression that I tried. Rosebank produces good quality whisky, and I am looking forward to the new Rosebank distillery.”

 

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Whisky Review #91 – Clynelish 1995 Waxing Lyrical

Wemyss Malts is an underrated independent bottler with some great bottles. They are not quite popular in Singapore yet, but in some countries like Taiwan, Wemyss is very well received. Flora was first introduced to Wemyss by our friend, Brendan, over at The Single Cask. Since the first tasting, we have tried more than a fair number of their expressions.

The particular expression for this review is one of those bottles which impressed us greatly. It is a 22 years old Clynelish; distilled 1995 and bottled 2017. It has an outturn of only 240 bottles. We like Clynelish well enough, but we do not usually go out of our way to try or buy a bottle. We have a couple of bottles at home, but it is not our first go-to distillery. However, after tasting this expression, we went all out to find a bottle of it to bring home with us. It was impressive.

How so? Let us find out.

Tasting Notes:

Colour: Pale Gold
ABV: 55.7%

Nose: Sweet tropical fruits, red apples, sweet pears and hints of melons come quickly. As it develops, pineapples notes began to surface in the background. Vanilla cream develops and forms a beautiful nose together with the other fruity notes. Spice hides in the background, rearing its head now and then. (19/20)

Palate: Gentle spice and sweet fruits envelope the palate completely. The sweet fruity notes turn into red apples, sweet pears and butterscotch. The spice goes to the back and provides a gentle warmth all the way down the throat. (17/20)

Finish: Medium finish with a little burning spice at first but it mellows out beautifully. Sweet notes linger for a while before some oakiness takes over. (17/20)

Body: Well balanced dram that is extremely flavourful and complex. The sweetness complements beautifully with the spice and makes it an enjoyable dram to nurse after a long day. (36/40)

Total Score: 89/100

Comments:

Geek Flora: “I love this Clynelish! It is fruity and yet the spice adds a challenging dimension to the dram. It encourages me to sip and savour this dram slowly, instead of drowning it out in one gulp!”

Geek Choc: “I do not like spice, especially the kind that burns! However, this Clynelish surprises me with its lovely complexity. The spice mellows quickly and is always in harmony with the sweetness of the fruits.” 

 

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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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Whisky Review #85 – Rosebank 20 Years Old (Zenith Italia)

Rosebank generated a lot of buzzes recently with the news of its revival as well as the upcoming release of its new bottling. Since we have yet to hear news of the new release, we are satisfying our craving for its beautiful liquid from the old stocks! What we have here is a sample of a Rosebank 20 Years Old distilled in the 1970s by the Zenith Italia S.A.S Import. We bought this sample at TMA Vol. 1 and have only recently tried this.

Let’s look at the review now.

Tasting Notes:

Colour: Gold
ABV: 57%

Nose: Sharp cinnamon and nutmeg spices lead the way before green apples and pears surface. After two minutes of airing, it turns grassy (like a sweet meadow) and melon sweetness appears! Wow! (18/20)

Palate: Cinnamon spice leads the way again but nutmeg is nowhere to be found. It has an oily mouthfeel and light green fruits appear on the palate. The melon sweetness that we got in the nose appears for a brief while and disappears too quickly. There is also a slight alcohol burn down the throat that lasted almost a minute. After airing for a while, the oak influence comes in and the side of the tongue gets some bitterness. The sweetness returns after that to create a sweet taste in the middle of the tongue, but the fruitiness does not reappear. It is a little disappointing as the palate does not deliver what the nose promises. (15/20)

Finish: The finish is relatively long with the sweetness lingering briefly. Oak influence rushes in to overwhelm the sweetness soon after, making the long finish astringent and slightly bitter. (16/20)

Body: It is a relatively balanced dram but not impressive to wow. A one-dimensional dram with a disappointing palate and a beautiful nose. (31/40)

Total Score: 80/100

Comments:

Geek Flora: “Well, I am greatly disappointed with the palate and finish. The nose promises such wonderful things but the palate and finish fall flat on it. It would be an impressive dram if the palate and finish follow through.”

Geek Choc: “Sigh, I had high hopes for this dram because the nose was pure bliss but I was disappointed with the palate. I wondered if we had aired it too long after purchasing the dram. We wouldn’t know it unless we tried this again from a full bottle, I suppose.” 

 

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Whisky Review #73 – LMDW Glenburgie 18 Years Old

LMDW Glenburgie 18 Years Old

It has been quite a while since we last made a whisky review. It is time to do yet another whisky review for our readers! For the first review in 2018, we decided to dedicate it to a beautiful expression from the Glenburgie distillery, selected and bottled for La Maison du Whisky (LMDW).

Glenburgie is a Speyside distillery. This expression is a single cask with a yield of 267 bottles from a hogshead. Distilled in October 1998, it is bottled in March 2017. The liquid spent 18 years maturing patiently in the hogshead.

Let’s head straight to the review now without further ado!

Tasting Notes:

Colour: Gold
ABV: 53.9%

Nose: The first sniff brings sweet tropicals fruits – pineapples, green apples and sweet bananas. A second nose brings the pineapples and bananas to the forefront, with the green apples receding a little. The third sniff after 5 minutes reveals warm spices and hints of vanilla appears in the background. (18/20)

Palate: Warm spice envelops the mouth in the forefront at the first sip. A quick second sip brings the expected tropical fruits – pineapples, bananas and green apples into the mouth with strong vanilla notes hanging around in the background. After 5 minutes, oak influences surface with a slightly drying mouthfeel. (18/20)

Finish: It has a medium to long finish. Astringent oaky taste lingers in the mouth with pineapples and hints of green apples. (17/20)

Body: There is superb balance in this 18 years old expression. The sweet tropical fruits are consistent from the nose to the finish. The influence of bourbon oak is also constant with vanilla notes and that slightly astringent mouthfeel. The only pity is perhaps the length of the finish. If it is longer, the whisky would be more excellent. (37/40)

Total Score: 90/100

Comments:

Geek Flora: “This is a dram for the sweet tooths. The tropical fruits play their parts well, giving off the sweet scent that lures many into whisky. I love it!”

Geek Choc: “Hmm…It is a beautiful dram for sure. However, it might not gel too well for those who are not into any kind of sweet whisky at all. I think this whisky should be drunk as quickly as you can once the bottle is opened – the sweet flavours might change if it is aired too long.”

 

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Whisky Review #49 – Wemyss Malt 1990

We are reviewing an interesting bottle today – The Wemyss Malt 1990. Although it is supposed to be a “secret” whisky, we are putting our fingers on Mortlach! Here are some of the interesting details of this bottle.

Name: Single Speyside Scotch Whisky “Freshly Cut Grass” (Single Cask)
Bottler: Wemyss
Bottled in: August 2010
Aged: 20 Years
Cask: Refill Puncheon
Number of bottles: 559

Mortlach is the first distillery in Dufftown, Scotland after the Excise Act was passed. James Findlater founded the distillery in 1823. William Grant, the founder of Glenfiddich, used to work at Mortlach distillery for more than 20 years before he went on to found Glenfiddich. In a way, we could probably say that Mortlach is the grandfather distillery in Dufftown, Scotland.

Let’s dive into the review without too much history. We will leave that for another day.

Tasting Notes:

Colour: Gold
ABV: 46%

Nose: Freshly cut grass (as the name suggested) with a background spice hits the nose. Green apples with hints of oaky malts start to form as we nose it further. Sherry notes can be detected in the background after some time. (17/20)

Palate: Spicy mouthfeel covers the palate at the entry but the second sip reveals sweet sherry, green apples and green bananas. Let the whisky sit for a while, and we found fresh, green salads with green fruits on the side. (18/20)

Finish: The finish is medium long with a pleasant sweetness of sherry and green fruits. (17/20)

Body: Well-balanced and fresh whisky that delivers what the nose promised. A refreshing dram indeed! (32/40)

Total Score: 84/100

Comments:

Geek Flora: “This is a nice, fresh whisky that delivers exactly what the name promised. The freshness of grass and various green vegetables and fruits combined with the sherry overtones to create a well-balanced whisky that is not too complex and easy to drink.”

 

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