Singapore Saturday Sipping… Crown Royal, Bruichladdich, Springbank + Kilchoman

It was one of those sociable Saturday evenings in Singapore…

It also happened to be the home of a fellow malt aficionado and ex Mumbai tasting group member. On my last trip we took on an eight dram marathon at The Auld Alliance. This trip we swapped such revelries for a family and friends affair with great company, delicious food and… yes… a whisky or two or three!

I will openly admit, it was a fully social setting so it wasn’t like I jotted down tasting notes until the last… when we decided to have a little impromptu ‘tasting’ experience to close the night.


Official CrownRoyal website

However, formal tasting notes or not… we still covered four rather distinctive whiskies in one evening!

Shortly after I arrived, a mystery glass was brought out as a teaser. What did I find?

  • Nose – A sparkling quality like having a whiff of proseco or sparkling apple cider
  • Palate – Some spice yet overall smooth, vanilla – clearly not Scottish, not bourbon, not having the sophistication one associates with Japan…
  • Finish – Sweet spice wood then fades away

The ‘punch line’ was that this particular bottle just so happens to be from Gimli, Manitoba… my home province in Canada. And – you guessed it – was Crown Royal’s Northern Harvest Rye which has literally flown off the shelves globally thanks to Jim Murray’s recent recognition of it as 2016 World’s Best Whisky.

The bottle was snagged in the US by a friend’s brother and brought to Singapore… part of the stash that will be coming into India soon. Gotta love globe-trotting whisky!

Overall what did I think? Honestly – it is not bad for a Rye and really quite excellent for $30 whisk(e)y but… come on… world’s best whisky? Seriously?

The Organic Scottish Barley (Whisky Lady)

The Organic Scottish Barley (Whisky Lady)

With this start to our evening, our host then pulled out the Bruichladdich The Organic 50%:

  • Nose – That overripe fruit to the point of being rotten
  • Palate – Young, a bit of spice, sourness
  • Finish – Still a bit ‘queer’

Just not aligning with my mood for the evening… I simply could not wrap my palate around the extra over-ripe quality.

So our host took pity on my pickiness and out came a reliable dram – Springbank 10 year 46%.

  • Nose – Pear, a hint of peat
  • Palate – Yum – cinnamon and nutmeg, rich oak, a bit nutty
  • Finish – Dry, sweet, salty

Khanna (food) then became the focus… was happily consumed and our evening was winding its way to a close. As the deserts and tea came out… so too did a bunch of glasses for a semi ‘proper’ tasting session. What did we sample?

Kilchoman (Whisky Lady)

Kilchoman (Whisky Lady)

Kilchoman Machir Bay 46%

  • Nose – Honey, cough syrup, leather, medicine and surgical wipes, fruity like peach and grape, very light not a hint of peat, vanilla, sweet, like an apple orchard, quite youthful
  • Palate – Peaty, sharp, black pepper, young, woody, bitter cinnamon bark, a little oily, star anise
  • Finish – Dry wine, a rawness
  • Overall – While not mature and still a bit raw it is also like a procosious youngster – lots of promise, worth checking out and quite remarkable for such a young whisky.

Our host shared tales of his visit to Kilchoman’s distillery and shared how it ‘transformed’ expectations of a young whisky. I was again reminded that for me at least, the Kilchoman Coull Point stands out.

What fun to revisit a few whiskies… and a perfect close to a most enjoyable trip to Singapore.

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Bruichladdich and the organic option – The Organic Scottish Barley NAS 50%

A muggy August evening brought our merry malt explorers together for a treat of three unique Islay whiskies. Each came from a familiar distillery yet were new expressions to tempt our palate.

We followed our standard blind tasting format, only revealing the whisky after sniffing, sipping, swishing, speculating and more.

So what did we find?

Bruichladdich The Organic Scottish Barley NAS 50%

Bruichladdich The Organic Scottish Barley NAS 50% (Whisky Lady)

Bruichladdich ‘The Organic Scottish Barley’ NAS 50%

  • Colour – Light yellow straw
  • Nose – Imli (tamarind), yet also a classic Scottish quality, fruit basket, very light, a kind of desert sweet, slight olive brine, as it continued to air an overwhelming sweet overripe bananas emerged
  • Taste – Initially a tingly spice, very dry and khatta (sour) with cinnamon, a bit prickly, then grew more and more  bitter, a little brine or sour curd, after some time the spice nearly disappeared
  • Finish – Bitter spice
  • Water – Even more bitter that without a drop or two, then mellows
  • Overall impression – While clearly young, has character and very interesting. Something a bit ‘different’ and while the tasting notes may not seem appealing, was actually quite lovely.
Unveiling – A Bruichladdich experiment with organic barley in a unpeated Islay – a very original choice!!
The Organic Scottish Barley (Whisky Lady)

The Organic Scottish Barley (Whisky Lady)

Official blurb about the expression:
  • In Victorian times, when Bruichladdich Distillery was built, all Scottish barley was organically grown. The relationship between distiller, farmer and soil was intimate and enduring. These ties were lost as industrialised farming cut through ancient synergies and an age of super efficient blandness was born.
  • In partnership with our organic farmers – Sir William Roberts of Mains of Tullibardine, William Rose at Mid Coull and Neil Scobie at Coulmore – we are rediscovering these synergies. We believe relationships matter. Once again, land and dram united.
  • Character – An elegant, composed and stylishly vibrant spirit that showcases the absolute finesse, purity, definition and elegance of organically grown barley.
  • Colour – Late summer barley
  • Nose – Opens on a light almond note with a twist of candied lemon. Followed by the magical aromatics of toasted barley, floral and fruit notes with a hint of lemon honey intermingling beautifully. Toffee sweetness comes from American oak cask and as the spirit opens little drifts of succulent papaya, melon and kiwi can be found.
  • Palate – The texture is sensational, the spirit gliding over the palate like warm syrup. The taste buds love the purity and the sensational clarity of flavours being presented. A real sweetness on the front palate, barley sugar, honey almonds, green jelly beans, pear drops all splashed with fresh lemons and balanced by the crispness of malted barley.
  • Finish – An intensity and definition of flavour that is unparalleled. Incredibly fresh giving an unforgettable palate experience that leaves the taste buds tingling and overwhelmed.
  • Mood – Mischievous. Coy, flirtatious, Lolita. A breast-surging, bodice ripper: breathlessly virtuous.
Am I the only one who finds this giggle-worthy whisky copy? I mean really, bodice ripper??

And this description doesn’t seem to bear much resemblance to our experience. Curiously a different organic expression (The Organic 2010 Multi-vintage) had identical notes… hmm…

I was reminded of my interview with Bill Lumsden of Glenmorangie who shared:

I’ve had discussions with our marketing team with organic whisky as an option in response to the incessant demand for something different from the different channels, but our friends in marketing don’t like it. And I can understand where they are coming – if we market it as organic then does it make the rest of it ‘impure’ in compared to it? I have two minds. 

Other whiskies sampled in our August session included:
August Tasting Trio

August Tasting Trio (Whisky Lady)

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