Singapore may be expensive as far as whisky purchasing is concerned, however it never fails to deliver a new discovery.
There are always unique offerings at La Maison du Whisky.
Even Changi Airport is no slouch as a spot to sample something novel with its range of whiskies from everyday duty-free to airport exclusives to a special “I have way too much money” collection upstairs…
So what did my August 2016 Singapore trip have in store?
It began with a pilgrimage to La Maison du Whisky…
I stopped by early, well in advance of 6 PM ‘sampling’ time to pre-select options more or less under SG$200, less readily accessible elsewhere, not a repeat of any previous drams and could spark conversation from our fellow samplers back in Mumbai.
After a bit of careful thought, Priscilla sprung into action and began pulling out a few… checking some possibilities that I declined… to come up with a diverse shortlist. My sampling companion arrived and we began our final selection process by “speed dating” each whisky with quick short nips.
We began with a trio from Italy. Yes… Italy. We compared (right to left):
- Matured in American and European oak casks, initially seemed just grains, flowers, honey and vanilla… relatively standard on the palate.
- In short, dismissed as not terribly interesting… but after the others, we found ourselves drawn back… then it really began to grow on us… for a young whisky, it has something quite enjoyable and attractive for a lighter dram.
- Limited edition, uses barley, wheat and a locally grown rye matured from six months to three years in oak barrels that previously contained Sicilian marsala, Pinot Noir from South Tyrol and Zibibbo from Pantelleria.
- And the result? Interesting, definitely interesting, but also oddly schizophrenic… simply didn’t seem to know what direction, here there or where?
- Was it a light romp or storm the bastions? No balance between the sweet and spice elements like a cocktail with too many ingredients.
- Matured in Marsala and Islay casks, initially attracted attention – quite different with its pronounced cloves, range of fruits, peat, tobacco and nuts.
- However like a one trick pony, we kept waiting for more… then reached back to the Puni Nova as the more drinkable dram!
Next up was Bruichladdich 1990 24 year 56.5%
- I was pre-disposed to fall in love… after all this was a special bottle for LMDW from a distillery that produces a rather interesting range of whiskies…
- Eager anticipation, I took the first few whiffs…. and sip… And had the opposite reaction.
- Harsh cloves cinnamon no softness… thin rather than layered and robust
- Perhaps it needed time to air, a few drops of water or simply more consideration possible in a quick sample however didn’t pass the taste test… and in fairness, not all whiskies do… some simply require patience and attention not possible when “speed dating”
We then moved on to two independents without the distillery disclosed:
- As you would expect from a sherry, lots of delicious stewed fruits, a distinctly winey quality yet accompanying this was also a richer nutty dimension that brought you back for another nosing again and again
- On the palate it was mellow, smooth and seemed to have many more layers than we could properly discern in a small taster… overall left you with the impression of an eminently drinkable dram
- Sansibar are new independent bottlers from Germany and a first for me!
- Unlike some who disclose minute detail about the cask, here the approach is different sharing only that it comes from a single cask, aged 8 years (2007-15) with 330 bottles…. and the rest? Up to you to guess!
- We quickly pronounced it a fine specimen of an Islay malt
- Compared it with the distillery official bottling – no doubt which WE preferred!
Wolfburn 46% Batch #2
- As a new re-entry, this distillery has been on my radar and considered in London with rather honest advice “It is still quite raw” enabling the Teerenpeli to win that round (I’m ever so grateful!)
- From 7.03.2016, Distillery Manager Shane Fraser shares “On the nose you’ll find fruit and malty aromas, with a hint of peat. On the tongue, sweet and nutty flavours are present, which coat the palate and leave a very slight pleasant flavour of smoke. It is a joy to drink – I hope you enjoy every drop.”
- This one was thrown in as a courtesy to let me try as a bottle was not available for purchase. Yes there is fruit, nuts, hint of peat, quite intense with lots of promise but not there yet – a bit ruff, gruff and certainly not balanced.
- However… Let’s just say I’m looking forward to seeing what more comes… though can safely skip this one…
We then shifted our attention to the Americas… In this case, to potentially obtain a 3rd American whiskey as counterpoint for two recent acquisitions direct to Mumbai from Denver, Colorado…
For this ‘brief’ we explored a duo from Colonel E. H. Taylor, part of the Buffalo Trace stable:
- Small Batch 50% – What a change to shift gear to a rye! I’ll admit I’m neither a bourbon nor rye aficionado, however for this style, was a rather good example.
- Barrel Proof 63.6% – Packs a serious wallop! As in galloping head on into all senses, firing all cylinders. Yowza!
Next up Changi Airport… A few highlights / lowlights include:
- Suntory has launched outside of Japan The Chita… Quite reasonably priced, alas it was not the exquisite Chita Single Grain 12 year I picked up in Tokyo years ago. Easy to pass…
- However the Kavalan selection was tempting with a Sherry cask strength for less than SG$100. And a new Kavalan Peaty Cask – matured in a cask which previously held a peated whisky for SG$175.
What made the final cut for purchase?
You will just need to be patient til one or more whiskies sampled make it into a focused tasting session.
- Sept 2016 – Wolfburn Batch #1 made its way via another original tasting group member
- Jan 2017 – The Italian Puni Alba was a hit with the original tasting group!
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