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Rum & Whisky Pairing Dinner at Punjab Grill

WhiskyGeeks is excited to have been invited to a media tasting for the first Penderyn & Navy Island rum dinner, paired with authentic Indian cuisine. This tasting was a preview to the dinner open to attendees at the World Gourmet Summit 2019.

Punjab Grill

Finding a befitting restaurant for this dinner is crucial, as it must offer traditional authentic cuisine combined with flair, grandeur and elegance. That said, I would say that there is no place better than Punjab Grill, which has an atmosphere that was brimming with grandeur. The dishes are presented like works of art and its form allows its flavours to perform in perfect harmony on my palate.

Spirits Castle and INTERCO-MLE

Penderyn is a Welsh single malt, that has a sweet, fruity spirit character, with every drop unchill-filtered and natural colour. Penderyn is distributed in Singapore by Spirits Castle. The Navy Island rum is brought in by both Interco-MLE and Spirits Castle. Navy Island has its core range and also a Single Origin range called the 1731 Fine & Rare, highlighting terroir in rum. One bottle of rum each from the two series will be featured in the dinner.

Line Up

Starter: Chef Special Amuse Bouche of the Day with the Navy Habanero Mule

It was a savoury dish to start, which took me by surprise, especially because of how pink it was. The various textures of the dish were so different, from the foam to the base and the cream. The Navy Habanero Mule is based on the dark and stormy cocktail with a few changes. It features the Navy Island 40% rum, Hanebo Chilli Monin syrup and a special ginger powder provided from Punjab Grill themselves. The rum itself is less sweet but has more personality than most commercial rums. The cocktail maintains the rum’s unique spirit character, whilst balancing any sweet or citrusy tones from the Hanebo Chilli Monin syrup, with an added dimension of flavour from Punjab Grill’s Chilli powder.

Appetiser

Tandoor Grilled Barramundi Fish Tikka in Mustard Oil & Duck Seekh Kebab, Kashmiri Rogan Glaze

This dish was a delightful savoury dish. While the Seekh Kebab with the Rogan Glaze provided more herbal and heavier meaty notes, the tender fish coated in a peppery mustard exterior was lighter and mildly spiced.

Paired with this appetizer was the Penderyn Celt, which aged in ex-Laphroaig casks.

This imparts a light but distinct smoky peat-smoke note to the sweetness of the Penderyn single malt. Penderyn’s house style was intended to be sweet and unpeated; however, the Laphroaig cask was bought and filled due to an accident which turned out to be an unintended success with how delicious it is.

This was an outstanding pairing! Due to the Islay touch, the smokiness of the Celt complemented the coastal savoury fish and the Seekh Kebab. The sweetness from Penderyn’s spirit character juxtaposed the savoury spice dish. For me, it was of both a contrasting and complementary pairing. For people who might notice the smoke then the sweetness, the nature of this pairing would change as the whisky changes for you.

Entrée:

Lentils & Dry Berry Pancake, Masala Prawns & Lobster Bharta sprinkled with lime leaf powder, garnished with Masala Beluga Caviar

The entrée had a very different texture compared to the appetizer. The pancake was soft and chewy, serves as a platform for the mildly spiced shellfish bharta and caviar.

The Penderyn Legend 41% pairs delightfully with this entrée. This single malt initially goes through ex-bourbon casks maturation and ends its journey in a fruity Madeira cask. This finish goes well with the sweetness of the spirit character.

The intense umami and savoury dish met its match with the Legend (no pun intended), which provided strong sweet fruit flavours to combat the entrée’s daunting flavour. This pairing was a contrasting pairing, somewhat like the clashing of the titans, but in an enjoyable way. The pairing intensified the honey and citrus notes of the whisky as well.

 

Main:

36-hour Lamb Chop Marinated with Herbs & Spices, clay oven grilled, served with Lakhnavi brown onion gravy

The lamb was a beautiful shank, the gravy sauce was mildly spiced and had some mutton flavours to it. The meat itself is soft, tender, and melts in my mouth.

The Whisky paired to the main is the Penderyn Myth which underwent maturation in ex-bourbon casks prior to a Red Wine cask finish. Bottled at 41%, this is a dram with notes of cinnamon spice and red berries, coupled with citrus zest, vanilla and confectionary sweetness from its ex-bourbon maturation. The spice of the dram blended well with the spices of the dish, whilst the sweetness of the Myth juxtaposed the main dish.

For seafood lovers, there is also another option for mains of having Tava Grilled Chilli crushed Jumbo Tiger Prawns, served with Chettinad & Coconut Smooth Gravy, paired with Penderyn Sherrywood.

Dessert: Punjab Grill Special Dessert Platter

The platter consisted of a pineapple cheesecake, lychee, caramel ice cream dusted with delicious crumble, and a warm mildly sweet paste decorated in a blueberry sauce of sorts. A dish just as pleasing to the eye as it is to the palate. The dessert is paired to the Cuban 5yo rum which is a Spanish style “Rhum” using column distillation. Regionality dictates that only Cuban molasses and sugarcane should be used, giving some providence to its terroir. The initial taste of the rum was fresh and zesty with notes of honey. However, this pairing brought out a different dimension to the Cuban rum. The sweetness of the dessert was able to accentuate an earthy note in the rum which I did not notice in the rum before I had the dessert. This pairing was a truly transformative experience.

How do I get to attend the dinner?

The dinner will be available at the World Gourmet Summit 2019, with a vegetarian option. It will cost 128++ without whisky pairing and 178 ++ with whisky and rum pairing. With the 5 drinks, I think it’s worth getting the latter! You can reserve your seats at this link! Grab your seats now!

Special thanks to Zerlina of Spirits Castle for the invitation, this was an absolutely remarkable experience!

 

Weekend Rendezvous with Penderyn Single Malts

We had an awesome weekend with Michael Wheeler, Global Brand Ambassador of Welsh Single Malt, Penderyn in early March. As Wales celebrates St David’s Day on 1 March of every year, Penderyn importer, Spirits Castle Pte Ltd, decided to bring the celebration to Singapore with a couple of whisky tastings amongst other activities.

Pre-Celebration Drinks

The celebration started at The Providore, Downtown Gallery, where Michael held an impromptu lunchtime tasting of two best-selling whiskies in Singapore, the Sherrywood and Rich Oak.

Set up at The Providore, Downtown Gallery

While most people were not keen to start drinking at noon, more interested drinkers came at around 1 pm. Michael had a good time speaking with them about Welsh whiskies, and some of them walked away feeling that they have found gold! He also spoke with two seasoned drinkers who thought that the Sherrywood was quite similar to some of their favourite Scotch whiskies!

Whisky Pairing Dinner @ Conrad Centennial Singapore

WhiskyGeeks invited ourselves to the whisky pairing dinner at Conrad Centennial Singapore on 1 March 2019 because we had to (wink!) and of course, we were glad that we went! The event was a collaboration between Conrad and Spirits Castle with Conrad doing most of the job. When we arrived, we saw the team at The Lobby Lounge busy working on the set up for the evening. What impressed us though, was that their General Manager was helping out as well! We seldom see a GM who is so hands-on and respected the man who is so willing to serve.

The completed set up

First…the Dragons

The Dragon Range (from left to right): Legend, Myth, Celt

The whisky dinner started with a series of canapés and the Dragon Range from Penderyn. The Dragon on each bottle represents Wales and what it stands for. The dragon is, of course, the one gracing the flag of Wales. Michael spoke about the range and intrigued audiences with tales of dragons and myths.

Michael and his audiences

The Legend was the first whisky we tried. Matured in a bourbon cask before having a finish in Madeira casks, this whisky is light and fruity, with a hint of oakiness. The Myth is sweeter, with a rounded balance of fruits and candy because it is a bourbon-matured whisky that is finished in red wine casks. The Celt is the most interesting, with light peaty smoke and sweet ripe fruits. Michael explained that this whisky was finished in ex-Islay casks! All the whiskies in the Dragon range are bottled at 41% abv.

The Golden Dinner

The food prepared by Conrad’s Chef

The actual dinner pairing worked with Penderyn Gold Range – a series of 5 different whiskies bottled at 46% abv. Chef Mandar worked extensively to come up with each pairing, and all of them were fantastic!

Conrad’s Penderyn Pairing Dinner

Our favourite was the Pork Belly with Sherrywood as the pairing worked so well! The tender pork belly infused with coffee enhanced the flavours of Penderyn Sherrywood, while the whisky helped to remove the sweetness of the sauce perfectly. We also like the dessert, because the chocolate cake was divine! It was so good that we almost forgot about the whisky!

Michael speaking about the whiskies

Michael talked about the whiskies at every course, and he regaled tales of the distillery’s history and blunders in a humourous manner. He told us about Penderyn Peated – a mistake that turned out to become a popular whisky in the core range! It was said that the person-in-charge of buying casks for the distillery made a terrible blunder and purchased a batch of casks that were once holding peated whisky on Islay. When the distillery discovered the mistake, it was too late, and they had to release the whisky as a “one-off” experiment because they cannot just throw away good whisky. It turned out that people love the whisky so much that they begged the distillery to continue the production, and so today, it is part of the core range.

The Final Frontier

We ended the dinner with a special cocktail, one which the bartender at The Lobby Lounge did for the event. It was a Manhattan but done using the Penderyn Celt. Sweet and smoky, the cocktail was the perfect drink to end a lovely evening at Conrad Centennial Singapore.

A Whisky Journey to Wales at Wala Wala

Wala Wala’s Bartender with Penderyn

2 March 2019 was equally exciting because Penderyn did a tasting at Wala Wala, Singapore’s iconic bar at Holland Village! We understood that Penderyn distillery (and Spirits Castle) is absolutely delighted with Wala Wala’s support of their whiskies.

Wala Wala Cafe Bar is a place that most of the 80s and 90s kids know fondly. It is THE place to hang out, and some of us did more than hang out there – we slept on the floor, drunk, of course! The event was a collaboration between Wala Wala and Spirits Castle. Again, Wala Wala was the one who did all the job of setting up!

The Actual Event

Michael led the group gathered at Wala Wala on a journey to Wales, where he waxed lyrical about the country and the beautiful places that surround Penderyn Distillery.

Mike with the attentive audiences

The focus at Wala Wala was the five Gold Range expressions, but participants were greeted with a cocktail done with the Myth! The crowd at Wala was curious about Welsh whiskies, with many of them hearing about Penderyn for the first time. Therefore, many questions flew at Michael, who happily answered them all.

He also showed them some interesting elements of the distillation method at Penderyn and explained why the whisky tasted so different from the others.

Studying the elements of distillation

Interaction with our resident WhiskyGeeks

Michael also had a chance to speak with our guest writer of WhiskyGeeks – Hongfu aka Panda. He was delighted to find someone who loves whisky so much that questions came nonstop! It was enjoyable to see them interact with each other and to know that WhiskyGeeks will always have someone to fall back on should we fail to deliver in future! Hahaha!!

Michael with our resident whisky geeks

All of us enjoyed ourselves at Wala Wala, and we are awed by the generosity of the owner – Stanley when platters upon platters of food came from the kitchen after the presentation was over. It was an endless parade of food, and needless to say, we were all stuffed by the time the event ended. So many questions, so much food…Whisky flow aplenty as well, and out of the five, Sherrywood naturally came out tops, again!

We had an enjoyable time, and appreciated the efforts that Wala Wala had put in to make the event so fun!

Till the next time…

The weekend rendezvous with Penderyn was excellent, and we hope to do it again! Conrad’s dinner pairing was a luxurious, one of a kind event and Wala Wala’s laidback environment was a complete opposite to it. Both events left deep memories of the place, the whisky and the food. We can’t wait to do this again! Till the next time, folks!!

 

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    The Liquid Gold of Wales – Penderyn Distillery

    We interview Dr Giancarlo Bianchi, Technical Director of Penderyn Distillery previously, where we spoke briefly about Penderyn Distillery. It is now time for us to formally introduce the Penderyn Distillery to our readers since their products are coming to Singapore shortly.

    The Birth of Penderyn

    Wales, England had lost the art of distillation for over a century since it stopped in 1894. The people of Wales need to have a distillery to call their own, their pride. In the late 1990s, a group of friends met at a pub in a small Welsh valley town for a catch-up session over drinks. As the night progressed, the talk turned serious, and this group of friends began to conceive the idea of building the first whisky distillery in Wales. It would be a Welsh distillery that creates “a whisky as pure and precious as Welsh gold” and one which the people of Wales will be proud of.

    The group of friends already have a location in mind – the historic village of Penderyn on the southern tip of the Brecon Beacons. The site is perfect because it has its supply of fresh, natural spring water. They knew that it is the ideal place for a distillery. What’s more, this resourceful group of friends also have access to a unique copper single-pot still designed by Dr David Faraday. He is a relative of the famous 19th-century scientist Michael Faraday.

    With the resources and plans ready in hand, the group of friends began the construction of Penderyn Distillery and established the home of the Welsh’s liquid gold on 1 March 2004 in the presence of HRH Prince Charles.

    Penderyn’s Unique Copper Still

    How is Welsh’s liquid gold made? Well, remember we spoke about Penderyn’s unique copper single-pot still designed by Dr David Faraday? It is this very still that makes gold for Penderyn.

    Penderyn distillery has a pair of copper single-pot stills called the Faraday Stills. The stills are designed by Dr David Faraday, who is a relative of the famous Victorian scientist, Michael Faraday. The single-pot still produces a clean and flavourful spirit of extraordinary strength that becomes Penderyn’s signature style of whisky.

    The Distillation Process

    The distillery charges malted barley wash into their copper stills every morning. The still is heated with hot steam. As the liquid reaches boiling point, the vapour rises into a copper column above the still. The column has seven perforated plates, and the vapour condenses on the first plate before falling back into the still. The process continues, with the vapour that condenses on the first plate becoming purer and rising to the second plate before condensing. This delicate process continues until the vapour reaches the 7th plate, where it condenses and is collected into a glass spirit safe, drop by drop.

    The entire process helps to purify the final spirit and imbues it with great complexity, depth, and body. The copper still also removes many undesirable chemical compounds. The magical process creates a clean spirit of extraordinary strength. The new make at Penderyn arrives at the spirits safe at a staggering strength of 92% abv, one of the industry highest.

    Wood and Cask

    The new make from Penderyn needs a home after they are born. Penderyn takes great care to ensure every drop of liquid has a quality home to rest in. The distillery’s house style comes from the use of two kinds of casks. The primary residence of the new make is an excellent hand-selected bourbon barrel that comes from either Buffalo Trace or Evan Williams Distillery. Both of them make some of the finest bourbons in the world. That makes their ex-bourbon casks perfect as the first home for Penderyn’s whisky.

    Penderyn uses Portuguese barriques that held a rich Madeira wine to finish their house-style whisky. The rich Madeira casks imparted subtlety and complexity to the whisky. They also use other types of casks to create a range of products to suit everyone’s palate. The distillery uses Scottish peated casks, Portugal port wood barrels and Spanish dry oloroso sherry casks.

    Penderyn’s Range of Whisky

    Penderyn has a large range of whisky available for every whisky drinker. At a glance, there are three ranges of whisky on offer as well as other spirits such as gin and vodka.

    First up, there is the Dragon range. It showcases the pride of Wales as the red dragon is the national flag. Under the Dragon range, you can find Legend, Myth and Celt. Legend mirrors the house-style of Penderyn’s signature malt, with ex-bourbon and Madeira finish. Myth is matured in ex-bourbon and ex-red wine casks. Celt is the lightly peated version of Penderyn’s single malt.

    There is also the Gold range, which is made up of Maderia, Port wood, Sherry wood and Peat. Every expression is matured in ex-bourbon cask before getting a finish in their respective casks.

    Besides the above seven expressions, Penderyn also has limited edition releases named Icons of Wales which showcase either a person, milestone or event from Welsh history with international significance. So far, the distillery launched five expressions with number six coming along in the near future.

    What will be Available in Singapore?

    We understand that Penderyn whisky will be launched in Singapore in October 2018 with seven expressions from the Dragon and Gold range. The dates are not confirmed, but we will be releasing them as soon as we know. Stay tuned for more!

     

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      Interview: Dr Giancarlo Bianchi, Technical Director, Penderyn Distillery

      Picture from Penderyn Distillery

      Penderyn Distillery is a boutique whisky distillery located in Wales, in a small but historic village known as Penderyn. A group of friends conceived the idea of setting up the first whisky distillery in Wales in the late 1990s. The idea became a reality on 1 March 2004, in the presence of HRH Prince Charles.

      Penderyn Distillery will be exhibiting its whiskies for the first time in Asia during the ProWine Asia 2018. The exhibition can be found at Expo Hall 10. ProWine Asia is held together with the Food & Hotel Asia 2018 which will span two locations at Singapore Expo and Suntec City Convention Hall. Both events will be held from 24 April to 27 April 2018. WhiskyGeeks gets to speak with Dr Giancarlo Bianchi, the Technical Director of Penderyn Distillery before the exhibition.

      Penderyn Distillery and its unique single copper-pot still

      Picture Credit: Penderyn Distillery

      The distillery boasts of a few things which other distilleries do not have. One of their prized possessions is their single copper-pot stills. Penderyn produces whisky from the copper-pot still and yields a flavourful spirit of high strength and purity. Dr David Faraday, a descendant of the famous Victorian scientist, Michael Faraday, designed the copper-pot stills. The picture above shows the launch of the new copper-pot still in 2013.

      The Special Distillation Method at Penderyn Distillery

      Picture Credit: Penderyn Distillery

      We spoke to Dr Giancarlo Bianchi on Penderyn’s distillation method and learned the intriguing technical process. We understood that the distillery uses steam to heat the copper-pot stills. Once the wash heats up, the vapours rise into the copper column above the still and move into a second column. The unique second column has perforated plates. Some of the vapours condense as it runs through the first plate while others continue the journey up to the next plate.

      The process continues, with some vapours condensing and others moving higher up to the next plate along the copper column. Eventually, all the vapours condense and fall back through the still. As the spirit goes through the process, it becomes smoother, softer and more refined with each step. Finally, the spirit is drawn from the seventh plate in the still column and piped into their spirit safe at a staggering  92% abv! (Refer to above for a graphic depiction of the process)

      The Difference between Welsh Distillation Methods versus Scotch and Japanese Method

      We wondered aloud how different the distillate would be between Penderyn and the traditional Scotch and Japanese whiskies. Dr Bianchi happily picked up the question and explained the difference. “Most Scottish and Japanese distilleries use a conventional two or three-pot still system, but at Penderyn, our single copper-pot still allows us to produce an extremely clean, flavourful spirit that sets it apart from the Scotch and Japanese spirits,” Dr Bianchi said. “This magical process not only imbues our raw spirit with great complexity, depth and finesse but also removes many of the undesirable chemical compounds – something that conventional pot-still systems cannot achieve,” he continued. The clean spirit, we understood, help Penderyn distillery during cask ageing as the absence of undesirable compounds makes it easier to achieve the flavours that Penderyn’s whiskies are famous for.

      The Range of Penderyn Whisky Available

      Picture Credit: Penderyn Distillery

      As the range of Penderyn whisky is relatively new to Asia, especially in Southeast Asia, we ask Dr Bianchi for recommendations. There are two core ranges of products from Penderyn Distillery. The Dragon Range comprises three expressions bottled at 41%. Their names are Legend, Myth and Celt. These are the brand’s light and fruity whiskies, which are perfect for beginners as well as whisky drinkers who like gentle and easy to drink whiskies.

      The other range is the Gold Range (shown above) which includes four expressions bottled at 46%. The Gold Range comprises of the Madeira Finish (which is the house style of Penderyn), Sherrywood, Peated and Portwood. With the higher abv, the range is more suitable for whisky drinkers as well as the adventurous beginners who want to move ahead in their whisky journey.

      Whisky Trends in 2018

      Geek Flora is excited to pick Dr Bianchi’s brains regarding whisky trends in 2018, especially that of boutique whisky in non-whisky producing countries. Dr Bianchi explained that there is a long-standing trend in Europe for consumers to explore single malts outside of Scotland and Japan. Considering the numerous distilleries popping up in Germany, France and England, it is indeed heartening to know that consumers are now more open to whisky produced in other non-traditional whisky-producing countries. “For the younger generations, age statement and country of origin are not going to be the key criteria,” said Dr Bianchi, “Taste, and a true, honest brand identity generate interest instead.”

      As for the market outside of Europe, Dr Bianchi admits that it is still somewhat an age-statement market that sticks to the traditional core producing regions of Scotland and Japan. However, he believes that with more chances to meet and encourage drinkers to try the whiskies from the “new world”, more people will eventually come to understand and appreciate the whiskies made outside of the core producing regions.

      Non-age Statements (NAS) versus Age-Statements Whiskies

      We cannot resist the age-old question (pun intended) of the NAS versus age-statement whiskies. We asked Dr Bianchi what he thought about the on-going debate within the whisky community. Dr Bianchi said, “We recognised early on, that while age is important, its absolute value is not linearly related to whisky quality.” He went on to explain that the distillate is the most important. With a clean distillate such as the one from Penderyn, the whisky does not need to mature for an extended time. Given such, Penderyn chooses to launch NAS whiskies and will continue to do so.

      “NAS whiskies are perhaps fashionable, but they do not mean lesser quality. They allow small, craft distilleries to carefully select their limited stocks flexibly to maximise quality without getting tied to a specific age,” Dr Bianchi continued. Dr Bianchi believes that NAS and age statements both work well in the global community as they appeal to different groups of drinkers. As long as NAS whisky producers continue to communicate and put forth good quality whiskies, everyone, even those who are against NAS whiskies now, will come to appreciate the care that goes into each bottle.

      Challenging Scotland and Japan

      As more whisky distilleries popped up around the world, we are interested to find out if these boutique distilleries are a threat to Scotland and Japan, the traditional whisky-making regions. When we put the question to Dr Bianchi, he laughed and said, “The whisky market worldwide is growing, and there is still room for everyone.”

      We have to acknowledge that Dr Bianchi was right.  The small distilleries are far from challenging the established giants in both Scotland and Japan as their capabilities are nowhere near the big ones in either region. Nonetheless, they are threatening age-old production techniques and forcing the traditional producers to rethink both their production techniques and their marketing methods.

      The Future of Whisky

      Finally, we asked Dr Bianchi what his views are for the future of whisky. He made an important point – whisky is around for a long time, but it is essential that whisky producers continue to innovate. Variety is vital in a market where consumers are always looking for something new. Such trends are beneficial to smaller producers like Penderyn because consumers are more willing to try new varieties from boutique whisky distilleries.

      While it is still a question mark on whisky’s future, one thing is sure. Producers will strive to make good whisky to intrigue the world and convert more drinkers in time to come.

      Moving Forward

      WhiskyGeeks will be attending ProWine Asia 2018 to provide more updates to all our readers! Stay tuned for more!

       

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