The Auld Alliance, Singapore

In terms of whisky, the absolute highlight of all Singapore “watering holes” was an evening spent at The Auld Alliance a few years ago.

I was joined by one of the original member of our Mumbai based whisky tasting club. Since his move to Singapore a few years ago, he’s been much missed.

We were taken on a tour of the remarkable collection by Arun who shared insights and tales about the remarkable collection – from ship wreck rescues to historically unique bottles – traversing the world of whiskies.

We returned post a delightful dinner to sit down and enjoy two custom created sample sets featuring four whiskies each:

Arun challenged us to go ‘hard core’ blind where we sipped from black glasses so could not even be influenced by the whisky colour.

It was a perfect evening and a complete treat!

Since then my whisky sampling companion and I have tried other places yet tip date, nothing tops that particular evening in June 2015.

You can find The Auld Alliance at:

  • 9 Bras Basah Road, RendezVous Hotel, Gallery #02-02A, SINGAPORE 189559 
  • Tel: +65 6337 2201

Dream Drams – Lochside 1981 43% (Gordon + MacPhail)

Years ago I tried in Singapore at The Auld Alliance a Gordon + MacPhail bottling of Lochside 1981 at cask strength 51.2%.

To say it was superb was an understatement. Til date it remains in my mind as the singularly longest finish I’ve experienced.

When asked by folks to share one whisky I’m dying to try again… this came top of the list.

Unbelievably, during the last London jaunt, a slightly different avatar of this beauty was tracked down at The Whisky Exchange, now reduced in strength to 43%.

Trusting the gents over at Gordon + MacPhail that they know what they are doing and haven’t ruined this lovely dram watering it down, my whisky sampling companion took the plunge and made the huge sacrifice to his wallet to acquire the bottle.

It was saved for a very special evening – Dream Drams – held with Krishna Nakula with the balance carefully preserved to share with the Whisky Ladies.

Lochside 1981

Lochside 24 year 1981 (bottled 2005) 43% (Gordon + MacPhail Rare Old)

  • Nose – Lovely old furniture, stewed fruits, amarula fruity Bailey’s, fresh eucalyptus, bitter almond, fish oil, old leather, fresh brioche or french toast with a sprinkle of powdered sugar, maple syrup, light citrus spice, milk chocolate, beeswax, truffles, salted caramel, zesty citrus, and behind cinnamon spice… it all keeps evolving
  • Palate – An absolute show stopper! Spices dancing, unctuous, simply delicious, honey sweet, spice and bitter, causes mouth watering salivation
  • Finish – A fantastic long finish with incredible staying power. Herbal, bitter almond, puff of smoke that still lingers

In short, this whisky is completely stellar. It is very complex, pronounced by Krishna Nakula as an “old style whisky”, with a gift of aromas, flavours and finish that keeps on giving.

After sitting with it for some time, it continued to evolve… coming back, it was like sniffing a fruit salad of pear, apples, nestled in custard creme… such a beautiful whisky with a delightful sweet spice.

The Whisky Ladies concurred with the original assessment and added a few of their thoughts:

  • Nose – Lovely with so many elements. Soft, sweet to piquant and herbal, nutmeg, cotton candy, slight salt
  • Palate – Warm spice, light leather, so smooth, yet also tingles then back to just silky smooth. Truly beautiful with such complexity and nuance, a fully body experience of delight!
  • Finish – What a finish! It keeps changing, starts with a warm spice, then dark raisins, sweet spices of clove and cinnamon, then fruits, simply stays and stays and stays

In short. A complete stunner.

Here is what the folks over at Gordon + MacPhail have to say:

Without water:

  • Nose – Sweet, oily and herbal aromas. Some dry grass, with cereal notes.
  • Taste – Sweet, rich fruits flavours and a touch of green grass/leafy flavours. Spices and a hint of plain chocolate.

With water:

  • Nose – Some fruit, oiled wood, earthy and sweet toffee aromas all present. Hints of smoke on the edge.
  • Taste – Sherry wood with sweet, nutty flavours. A touch of smokiness.

If you are curious to know more about the Lochside Distillery, Gordon & MacPhail has this to say:

Lochside Distillery began life as a brewery in the 1890s. After closing in the 1950s the site was bought by Joseph Hobbs, who also ran the Ben Nevis Distillery and converted it into Lochside Distillery. The new distillery contained 4 pot stills and a 21 metre high Coffey Still. Lochside Distillery was one of a few distilleries which produced both malt and grain whisky. Following the death of Joseph Hobbs, his son, also Joe, ran the distillery until it was acquired by Destilerias y Crianza, of Madrid, in 1973. The main purpose for the distillery was to produce Scotch Malt to blend with their own Spanish spirit. After years of industrious production Lochside Distillery fell victim to the drinks industry over-production problems of the early 1990s.

PS This whisky was purchased in 2016 at the Whisky Exchange in London for an unmentionable price. A different bottling recently sold for £450.00. This one can no longer be found…

Other whiskies savoured in our “Dream Drams” evening:

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Laphroaig 1987 16 year 46% from Silver Seal

As shared, my last trip to Singapore featured a remarkable whisky sampling evening at The Auld Alliance with eight different drams!

One of the more surprising whisky was a very uncharacteristic yet rather interesting Laphroaig. I’ve never associated ‘flowery’ with this distillery!

20150604_Laphroaig 16 yr

Laphroaig 16 years ‘Silver Seal‘ 1987/2004  46% (No 229 of 770)

  • Nose – Softer, easier, sweet, a sterile pharmaceutical quality like a sweet medicinal capsule
  • Taste – Initially sweet and flowery, a distinctly ‘meetha‘ (sweet) all the way down with mint, basil and honey, so light and yet grew into the faintest wisp of smoke? Sip further and it the smoke begins to uncurl itself revealing there is indeed a deeper element, growing and expanding into a more robust and rounded whisky than it seemed in the first few sips. Still retained a fresh, sweet quality yet with depth
  • Finish – Smooth, nice and easy, sweet peat
  • Overall – A sense of SILK, well balanced with more going on than first appeared

In fairness to this whisky, it was difficult to get back into the saddle after the utterly remarkable Lochside 1981. What was fascinating to us was this did not have the current bold Laphroaig whisky character – something much more nuanced and subtle.

Laphroaig 1987

You can find The Auld Alliance at:

  • 9 Bras Basah Road, RendezVous Hotel, Gallery #02-02A, SINGAPORE 189559 
  • Tel: +65 6337 2201

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You can also find Whisky Lady in India on:

Lochside 1981 51.2% (Gordon + MacPhail)

The next up in our The Auld Alliance Singapore sampling suite simply stays with you! Lochside 1981 remains one of my all time favourites til date.

20150604_Lochside 1981

Lochside 1981 / bottled 2010 51.2% (Gordon & MacPhail)

  • Nose – Peat, meadow, grassy, fresh, hint below of spirit, from the nose alone a sense of some age, tropical fruits
  • Taste – Unbelievably smooth, silky with the nicest peat, absolutely no harshness, bursting with raisins, berries, a big swell of delicious spice, juicy
  • Finish – A gorgeous gift. The kind of finish that simply keeps on giving, shifting from berries to smoke to a savoury sweetness.
  • Overall – Had a sense of maturity, very well-balanced with the kind of finish that simply commands RESPECT!

In short, this one made us stop. We turned to each other and realised our evening could just end on this whisky – a true show stopper. One sip would last 15 minutes. This is the kind of whisky you wish you had in your cabinet. The kind you want to share with special folks who truly appreciate a quality dram. Without fanfare, it slipped into the class of one of the most memorable whiskies sampled til date.

From the discontinued Lochside distillery – known to be one of the ‘ugliest’ distilleries – Arun from The Auld Alliance shared it also used to produce beer. Bottled by Gordon & MacPhail, the label noted the whisky is matured in refill sherry hogshead.

Their notes indicate:

From the closed, and now demolished distillery, this Single Malt has hints of subtle spices and is laced with ripe, tropical fruits.

All I can say is, if you can try this whisky – just do it! It was last seen on for € 350 however is no longer available. For more information about the distillery, you may find this post from WhiskyIntelligence of interest.

Other whiskies sampled as part of our Scottish quartet included:

If in Singapore, check out The Auld Alliance at:

  • 9 Bras Basah Road, RendezVous Hotel, Gallery #02-02A, SINGAPORE 189559 
  • Tel: +65 6337 2201

Related posts:

You can also find Whisky Lady in India on:

BenRiach 21 year 1988 Cask No 4423 54.8%

Next up in our Scottish sample at The Auld Alliance was a BenRiach limited release exclusive to Singapore.

20150604_The BenRiach 1988

BenRiach 21 years 1988 Cask No 4423 54.8% (bottle 19 of 269) 

  • Nose – Sweet honey suckle, soft, romantic, a symphony of scents with figs, dates, treacle. A ‘nice’ whisky…
  • Taste – Swung from sweet to spice, bursting with cinnamon and cardamoms, then fennel. Full of such a distinctively spicy character.
  • Finish – Remained on the spicy side
  • Overall – Clearly without peat, the final feeling was more of delicious spice rather than the sweet nose

What we appreciated most was the deceptively soft sweet nose which then made us stand up and pay attention with the spice. All in all a rather ‘nice’ dram!

Other whiskies sampled as part of our Scottish quartet included:

If in Singapore, check out The Auld Alliance at:

  • 9 Bras Basah Road, RendezVous Hotel, Gallery #02-02A, SINGAPORE 189559 
  • Tel: +65 6337 2201

Related posts:

You can also find Whisky Lady in India on:

Scottish sampling suite in Singapore – Little Mill, BenRiach, Lochside, Laphroaig

I can’t wait to be back in Singapore this coming week!

My last trip there in June resulted in a remarkable whisky sampling evening at The Auld Alliance with eight different drams to our tasting adventures… A round the world tour and a remarkable Scottish suite…

The Auld Alliance

The Auld Alliance – All eight sampled!

A ‘sneak peak’ into what we sampled…

For the Scottish quartet we tried a remarkable line-up:

We also explored the world with:

I know how rare such an evening like this one was… however I’m hoping for another whisky adventure on Saturday night! Perhaps with some new whisky aficionados…?

If in Singapore, I do encourage you to explore the whisky collectors mecca at The Auld Alliance:

  • 9 Bras Basah Road, RendezVous Hotel, Gallery #02-02A, SINGAPORE 189559 
  • Tel: +65 6337 2201

Related posts:

You can also find Whisky Lady in India on:

Round the world – Bushmills, Beam’s Choice, Kornog, Yamazaki Sherry

By far, the #1 whisky sampling evening I’ve experienced til date was at The Auld Alliance in Singapore.

My fellow whisky adventurer and I began our evening with a stop at The Auld Alliance thinking we would have a wee dram there before carrying on to dinner and exploring another whisky spot.

Then we met Arun and were treated to a detailed tour of the remarkable collection, full of fascinating trivia, rare bottles and such a clear passion for the water of life it was almost overwhelming! Worthy of another post however I could never do justice to the experience.

We went to our dinner but were determined to return to settle down for a proper tasting. Return we did and chose from the sampling menu the ‘World’ and ‘Scottish cask’ options. Arun then offered to curate a custom experience for us, along our chosen lines, completely blind. As in dark glass can’t even glean a clue from the colour blind.

How could we say no?

It was such a treat to sample four such distinctive and unique global whiskies.

Bushmills (Whisky Lady)

Bushmills (Whisky Lady)

1st Irish – Bushmills Single Barrel 1975 49.1%

Cask No 164, Bottle No 153, Part of the 365 single barrel millennium series

  • Nose – Spirity, coconut, raw, citrus lemon, not smooth instead a sharp woody scent
  • Taste – Indeed has a kick – wow! Sharp spice, bitter, no body – simply collapses
  • Finish – Dies like that – snap!
  • Impression – A sharp ‘Zap!’ kinda whisky that tingles… something to jolt you awake rather than woo your heart

This was an ‘in your face’ kinda whisky. It had a raw quality – not watered down, natural strength. A dash of water did open it a bit and while it was a terrific ‘kick-off’, just whetted the appetite for further sampling adventures…

Beam's Choice (Whisky Lady)

Beam’s Choice (Whisky Lady)

2nd American – Beam’s Choice 8 year, 1980 (58.7%?)

  • Nose – Sweet flowery fragrance, clean, pure
  • Taste – Bourbon – no doubt! Sour raw mango, curd, raisins, smooth like a good rum
  • Finish – What finish? It was like it was knocked out for the count and simply couldn’t recover
  • Impression – There was zero doubt this was a bourbon. What we also noted was after the initial sip, when we went back to the nose post sampling other drams, the delightful flowery fragrance had disappeared.

While we knew it was a bourbon, we were both surprised it was Jim Beam as there was a different quality than one finds in the current incarnation. For one, it was matured for 8 years instead of the typical 5 years found today. For another, it had such contrasting elements between the nose and palate.

Kornog (Whisky Lady)

Kornog (Whisky Lady)

3rd French – Kornog NAS 2013, bottled for The Auld Alliance 58.7%

  • Nose – Smooth flowers, garden greens, nail polish or varnish, very sweet – almost too sweet, smells light, bright and fresh… just couldn’t get beyond the sweet
  • Taste – PEAT as in serious peat, horses kick kinda peat, with bitter tamarind, super sour yet also rich and creamy – may sound like a contradiction yet it works
  • Finish – Smoooooth, warm, beautiful and simply delightful
  • Impression – Has a distinctly different character. Superb. We speculated that it may be cask strength

Of all the world whiskies sampled, this one stood out as being in a completely different league. I resolved to explore more from this distillery to learn that it is difficult to track down both the unpeated Glann ar Mor or peated Kornog whiskies and is likely to become even more challenging as the distillery just announced it will be closing in August 2015. What?! No!! Say it isn’t so!

PS – Since this post (June 2015), it now has a slightly extended lease on life… however tracking down bottles from this distillery remains challenging!

Yamazaki 1998 (Whisky Lady)

Yamazaki 1998 (Whisky Lady)

4th Japanese – Yamazaki Sherry Cask 1998 61%

Cask # CU70067, Bottled in 2011, Bottle #429

  • Nose – Like a candy store, bursting with sherry soaked sweeties, fresh, young, powder of flour
  • Taste – A fizzy spice, with some ginger, dried fruits, bursting with raisins, citrus zest and a sense of being rather well-manicured, utterly delicious and… well… dare I say ‘nice’
  • Finish – It warms up, more sweet spice, licorice, long and juicy
  • Impression – There is a youthful exuberance about this whisky. The closest of the lot to something identifiably Scottish which meant to us it must be Japanese!

There is a lot going on with this whisky and what made it special was the interplay of many different elements. What is also remarkable is that it is so utterly smooth you would never guess it to be 61%. We had absolutely no temptation to add even a drop of water.

While a complete treat, I would prefer to come back to it when the focus is on this whisky alone. As one amongst eight, it was simply over shadowed by the distinctive quality of the Kornag and the remarkable Lochside 1981. However without a doubt, one to be savoured and enjoyed and I do hope to have another opportunity sample it.

The Auld Alliance World Whiskies (Whisky Lady)

The Auld Alliance World Whiskies (Whisky Lady)

I would encourage you to not miss The Auld Alliance if in Singapore… you can find it at:

  • 9 Bras Basah Road, RendezVous Hotel, Gallery #02-02A, SINGAPORE 189559 
  • Tel: +65 6337 2201