Scotch

Tomatin leads the way in sustainable practices in the Scotch industry
First things first. Tomatin whisky does not contain tomatoes. It may seem obvious to those who have heard of the brand or have at least a general idea of what single malt Scotch whisky is, but Scott Adamson, Tomatin Global Brand Ambassador, found out one day not to assume that everyone knows what Tomatin means. “I’d taken a group of visitors around the distillery but at the end of the tour they said, ‘You’ve shown us everything, but you never showed us where you keep the tomatoes’,” he recalls, laughing. “I thought it was a joke! And that was when I realised that part of the story that we didn’t tell a lot was what the name means, which is ‘Hill of the Juniper’ in Gaelic,” he clarified. “A couple of hundred years ago, when whisky-making in the highlands was illegal, excise officers looked for smoke to find the illegal stills, but the juniper bush, when you light it on fire, creates a non-visible smoke, so it was great for illegal whisky distillation. And the area we were in must have had a lot of that!” These days, Tomatin is 100% legal, and prides itself on being at the forefront of sustainable practises within the Scotch whisky industry, which as a whole has pledged to reduce its carbon footprint by 50% by 2030. In 2017, the distillery was awarded the Environment Award at the prestigious Highland & Islands Food & Drink Awards for its commitment to responsible environmental practices. According to Adamson, in 2014, Tomatin became the first distillery in Scotland to introduce a biomass boiler (historically, the fuel used to heat up the stills, mash tun and so on tends to be oil and coal), which now contributes 80% of the distillery’s entire energy production. Adamson assured us that changing that fuel source will not impact the spirit itself. “We’re still using the same heat, we’re just getting it from a different source. The biomass boiler uses small wooden pellets which are sustainable. “We get these from a company which is about 30km away from the distillery, very close to us, so less travel time means less petrol or diesel used on the road,” he said. Also read: Drink local, think global: Sustainable bartending is not just about straws The Tomatin core range consists of the Tomatin Legacy, 12YO, 14YO and 18YO. The distillery has also introduced a system of reed beds, or wetlands effluent treatment system, consisting of over 18,000 varieties of plants, each with unique properties able to digest the distillery’s liquid waste products. “Usually, this waste is spread over land as a sort of fertiliser, but by using this series of reed beds, it removes impurities and at the other end you get clean water,” he said. “At the same time, we also reduce the number of tractors needed to transport the waste to and from the distillery.” The third thing the distillery addressed was the draff, which is the residue leftover from the mashing process. “Historically, that was taken by farmers to the field for cattle feeding. Now we sell them to anaerobic digestion plants and they turn that back into energy that goes back into the public grid,” said Adamson. The Tomatin 36YO is a stunning whisky that will linger on your palate long after you’ve finished the dram. “We’re not so much reducing our carbon footprint, but we ARE increasing sustainable energy in Scotland. We’re also doing research into using the by-products of whisky as fuel for cars. We’re very proud of the things that we’re doing.” The important thing is that everything Tomatin distillery does to reduce its impact on the environment does not impact the whisky one bit. “No, it doesn’t impact the whisky at all. These measures don’t cost us more to do, and it’s good for us to do that. But the real benefit is we lessen our impact on the environment.” Of course, at the same time, Tomatin still needs to uphold its quality standards, and thankfully, its whisky still stands up to the test. During the tasting, Adamson introduced four different expressions of the whisky – the Tomatin Legacy, 12 Year Old, 14 Year Old, and 18 Year Old. The Legacy was created by distillery general manager, Graham Eunson, who has had stints at Scapa, Glendronach, Glenmorangie and Glenglassaugh, and joined Tomatin in 2011. Eunson created three recipes and gave a sample of each recipe to each member of the staff at the distillery, to try it at home and decide which their favourite was, which then became the Legacy. The name ‘Legacy’ celebrates the impact the distillery has had on the community of the eponymous town. The distillery was built in 1897 and after that, the previously quiet and isolated village grew to become a town due to the influx of workers and building done to support the distillery. Matured in a combination of ex-bourbon barrels and virgin oak casks, the whisky itself has lovely notes of bourbon-influenced vanilla, coconut, along with some spicy, nutty notes from the virgin oak influence. The 12YO, on the other hand, is matured in traditional ex-bourbon barrels and Sherry casks, and is a more traditional highlands single malt – softer, fruitier and almost like a Speyside-style whisky. The 18YO is also exceptional, a multiple award-winning malt that is bursting with sweet honey notes with a hint of chocolates and citrus, and a long, lingering sweet finish. My favourite of the core range, however, has to be the 14YO, which is matured in a combination of Bourbon barrels and Tawny Port casks which previously held port for around 50 years. The result is a whisky that still holds that signature Tomatin soft, Highland fruitiness, but also adds cherry, dark chocolate, and nutty flavours into the mix, making for a wonderfully dessert-y, almost black forest cake-like flavour to the whisky. Last but not least, is the Tomatin 36 Year Old, a small batch release that recently won double gold medals at the 2019 San Francisco World Spirits Competition. Matured in a combinatio [...]
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Shackleton’s Blended Malt Scotch Whisky launched in honour of the late explorer
No glass of Shackleton’s Blended Malt Scotch Whisky is complete without ice, as ice runs deep in its DNA. — Picture by Choo Choy May PETALING JAYA, June 14 — Explorer. Leader. Legend.These are some of the words often used to describe Sir Ernest Shackleton, one of the greatest pioneering explorers during the “Heroic Age of Antarctic Exploration."Born in Kilkea, Ireland in 1874, Shackleton always dreamed of exploring the unknown and gained fame not just for his bold expeditions, but also for his renowned sense of camaraderie and leadership qualities.In 1907, Shackleton set sail on his ship, The Nimrod, to become the first man to reach the South Pole, and ordered 25 cases of Mackinlay’s Rare Old Highland Malt Whisky to boost the crew’s spirits during the laborious journey.They had travelled closer to the South Pole than anyone ever had before but in 1909, Shackleton decided to turn around when the weather took a turn for the worse, just 97 miles from their destination, as he was unwilling to risk the lives of his crew members. Twelve years ago, three cases of Shackleton’s purchased whisky was found hidden under the floorboards of his base camp in Cape Royds, Antarctica by the New Zealand Antarctic Heritage Trust, AHT(NZ). For over a hundred years, the three cases of Shackleton’s purchased whisky sat under the floorboards of his camp in Antarctica, encased by ice. — Picture by Choo Choy May Mackinlay’s was a Scottish whisky distilled by the company Whyte & Mackay so AHT(NZ) sought the help of their master blender, Richard Paterson, to recreate the aged whisky in a bid to support the ongoing restorations of Shackleton’s Antarctic hut.Paterson analysed the 112-year-old whisky thoroughly and succeeded in recreating a modern version of the whisky, with ice in its DNA.Shackleton’s Blended Malt Scotch Whisky was officially launched yesterday by Luen Heng F&B Sdn Bhd in partnership with Poison Apple Restaurant and Bar in Bandar Sunway. Luen Heng’s Sean Soh posing with a bottle of Shackleton’s Blended Malt Scotch Whisky at the launch. — Picture by Choo Choy May “This whisky is a tribute to him, his endeavours and how much he valued his comrades,” said Luen Heng F&B commercial director Sean Soh during the launch.The unique whisky is made from the finest selections of Highland Single Malts and uniquely blended in ex-bourbon and sherry casks.The amber-coloured Blended Scotch Whisky has a dark sugary and fruity taste as it combines the flavours of sweet dried fruits like glazed pineapples and glazed mangoes with notes of vanilla, ginger and toffee apple.Best paired with ice, the whisky warms your throat with a hot mulled wine and praline chocolate finish with a final whisper of bonfire smoke.Whisky enthusiasts may also want to try adding a splash of ginger ale or club soda with a slice of lemon to tone down its spiciness and bring out the sweetness of the fruity essences in the whisky. [...]
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Scotch for the price of a Tesla? Macallan has a bottle for you
By Craig Giammona / BLOOMBERG If YOU know someone who can put their hands on some rare scotch, it’s probably time to reach out. Just in time for Wall Street bonus season, Macallan is releasing 250 bottles of 52-year-old single malt, which began the journey to maturation back when Lyndon Johnson was president and the Vietnam War raged. Aged in European oak sherry-seasoned casks from Spain, they carry a suggested retail price of US$53,500 (RM218,280). That’s just about what it would cost you for a dualmotor, all-wheel-drive version of the Tesla Model 3 — in red. Just a glass of the stuff, which in addition to the brand’s trademark smoothness carries hints of fruit, will likely cost about US$1,500, said Nicolas Villalon, a brand education and prestige manager at Macallan. America is set to receive 42 of the bottles, with 13 coming to the Northeast US (mostly New York City), the company said. Around 35 or so are going to Asia, including 10 headed to China. The UK is getting 14. “The single malt customer is a global customer at this point,” Villalon said. But don’t expect to find this scotch at your local liquor store: Bottles this rare generally don’t hit store shelves, Villalon said. You could contact the company, but it’s probably time to start calling around to see who can hook you up. The release of the rare scotch comes after high-profile auctions of rare bottles of Macallan last year. That included a 60-year-old version, part of a limited edition that was bottled in 1926. It sold at auction for US$1.1 million in October. — Bloomberg The post Scotch for the price of a Tesla? Macallan has a bottle for you appeared first on The Malaysian Reserve. [...]
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Mortlach, the single malt Scotch known as the Beast of Dufftown, is back
Mortlach single malt whisky is not exactly new. In 2016, Diageo had already launched the first ever official range of Mortlach single malt whiskies after years of it being one of the conglomerate’s best kept secrets. Now, I have to admit that I was not really that impressed with that initial Mortlach range that was released two years ago, which consisted of Mortlach Rare Old, Mortlach 18 Year Old, and Mortlach 25 Year Old. This was mainly due to the fact that I had tried independent bottlings of Mortlach before, and that initial range – with its fruitier and lighter notes – was just a little too different from what I expected from a Mortlach whisky, which is typically bold, rich and quite muscular in nature. It was as if the Beast was being kept on a leash. Two years later, however, those three expressions are no more, replaced by a whole new range that comprises the Mortlach 12 Years Old, 16 Years Old and 20 Years Old. After trying the new range at a recent launch at Curious Kitchen in Petaling Jaya, I’m happy to report that the Beast has finally been let out of the cage. Founded in 1823, Mortlach was the first legal distillery in Dufftown, but only started to come into its own in 1853, when a man named George Cowie joined the distillery. Cowie’s son, Alexander and renowned distillery architect Charles Doig were the ones who developed the distillery’s unique 2.81 distillation process in 1896. the 100% sherry-cask Mortlach 20YO a.k.a “Cowie’s Blue Seal” (43.4% ABV). Mortlach has a unique collection of six stills, which are of different shapes and sizes (unlike most distilleries, which tend to have stills of the same size and shape) and combine into three distinct distilling streams that produce different new make spirits. The ‘2.81’ distillation comes from the precision that goes into creating the final spirit that goes into the cask – a technical process that has to do with the precise cut of the spirit they take from every run. The result is a thick, viscous new-make spirit that has been called “meaty and savoury” – a description that comes across really well in the new range. First up is the Mortlach 12YO (43.4% ABV), also known as “The Wee Witchie”, which was matured in ex-bourbon- and ex-sherry casks. Surprisingly, despite it being the lowest age statement among the three, this was arguably my favourite of the lot. It has a rich, fruity yet robust nose and entry, which gives way to a rich, chocolatey, velvety palate that still packs quite a robust punch and a slight spicy finish. Now THIS is a real beast of a dram. A blend of whiskies matured in first-fill and refill ex-sherry casks, the Mortlach 16YO (43.4% ABV), or “The Distiller’s Dram”, is another step up from the previous range, with spicy, fruity notes on the nose, and layers of dark fruits and berries on the palate. Piece of advice: if you’re familiar with a certain 16-year-old Flora & Fauna Mortlach bottling, it might be wise to avoid comparing this new expression with that famously popular discontinued bottling, just to avoid disappointment. Last, but not least, is the 100% sherry-cask Mortlach 20YO a.k.a “Cowie’s Blue Seal” (43.4% ABV), which was surprisingly sweet and fruity, carrying over the characteristics of the 12YO, but with more subtlety and light elegance. Personally, I’m happy to see Mortlach finally realising its potential with these new expressions. At last, we have a Mortlach range that is approachable (and affordable), but still manages to live up to the name “Beast of Dufftown”. Michael Cheang would really like to see more malts from Mortlach. Drop him a note at the Tipsy-Turvy Facebook page or follow him on Instagram. [...]
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Whisky sour? Rare or fake Scotch exposed by carbon-dating
A large number of rare and collectable whiskies, sometimes sold for hundreds of thousand of pounds, are likely to be fake, researchers have found. — Reuters pic EDINBURGH, Dec 20 — A large number of rare and collectable whiskies, sometimes sold for hundreds of thousand of pounds, are likely to be fake, researchers have found.Investigators from the Scottish Universities Environmental Research Centre used carbon-dating to sample 55 bottles of Scotch bought through the secondary market, discovering that 21 were outright fakes or not distilled in the year declared, Rare Whisky 101, which commissioned the study, said.The sale of rare collectors’ whiskies is more and more popular, and this October a 60-year-old The Macallan Valerio Adami 1926 was sold for record £848,750 (RM4.52 million) at auction.Researchers look at minute levels of radiocarbon absorbed by the barley used to make Scotland’s flagship export to determine its age. Those with higher levels of radiocarbon must have been distilled prior to the 1950s nuclear era, they said.The accuracy of the process is such that they can pinpoint likely distillation years to within a two to three-year period after the 1950s, and a wider period before.“It is our genuine belief that every purported pre-1900 — and in many cases much later — bottle should be assumed fake until proven genuine, certainly if the bottle claims to be a single malt Scotch whisky,” said David Robertson, co-founder of Rare Whisky 101, which publishes insight and intelligence for whisky collectors.“This problem will only grow as prices for rare bottles continue to increase,” he added. — Reuters [...]
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Johnnie Walker launches limited-edition 'Game of Thrones' scotch
White Walker by Johnnie Walker features a surprise message when frozen. — Picture courtesy of Johnnie Walker Malaysia PETALING JAYA, Nov 6 — If you love watching Game of Thrones with a whisky in hand, Johnnie Walker’s latest offering might tickle your fancy.To commemorate the final season of the popular HBO series, the Diageo-owned Scotch whisky brand has launched White Walker, a limited-edition blended scotch whisky inspired by Westeros’ most feared characters.They even made a quick pit stop to Malay Mail’s office to introduce the new scotch.     View this post on Instagram         Day 2: 1st invation done. In transit for the 2nd one. #nightking #nightkinggoesplaces #nightventures #GOT #gameofthrones #jwwhitewalker #johnniewalkermy #winterishere #cosplay #cosplayer #nightkingphA post shared by Xidge - Cosplay (@xidgevicious) onOct 31, 2018 at 9:51pm PDTCollectors will be excited by the whisky’s packaging which reveals an icy glow of white and blue engravement with the words “Winter is Here” when frozen, inspired by the Night King and created with thermochromic ink.Whisky specialist and blender George Harper used blends of single malts from one of Scotland’s northern distilleries, Cardhu and Clynelish, known for their harsh winters.In line with its sub-zero theme, the tipple is recommended to be enjoyed straight from the freezer.     View this post on Instagram         Winter is here. Presenting White Walker by Johnnie Walker - for those who keep walking. #JohnnieWalker #JWWhiteWalker #GameOfThronesA post shared by Johnnie Walker (@johnniewalkermy) onOct 8, 2018 at 12:37am PDTThe blend boasts notes of caramelised sugar and vanilla, fresh red berries with a hint of orchard fruit and has a 41.7 per cent alcohol by volume (ABV).White Walker by Johnnie Walker is available now for a limited time in selected global markets. It is priced at RM330 on online liquor store StayThirsty. [...]
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This 50-year-old Johnnie Walker Scotch whisky can be yours for US$25,000
John Walker Masters’ Edition — Picture courtesy of PRNewsFoto/Johnnie Walker LONDON, Oct 19 — Johnnie Walker has released their first 50-year-old Scotch Whisky made from a blend of six whiskies all of which have been aged for a minimum of half a century. But as the saying goes, time is money, as each bottle will retail for US$25,000 (RM104,155). Only 100 bottles of the John Walker Masters’ Edition are being released, presented in individually numbered, double-cased black crystal Baccarat decanters that come packaged in an elegant, wooden box designed by cabinet maker to The Queen, NEJ Stevenson. The triple-matured Scotch whisky was made from some of the oldest available stocks within the Johnnie Walker family, including single malt whiskies from distilleries which have long closed their doors.   Finished in small batches in a marrying cask made of 100-year-old oak staves, the flavours of the Scotch whisky are said to reveal themselves slowly on the palate. “Each drop of this whisky has been hand-selected from some of the most valuable and precious casks of malt and grain whiskies to be found in our reserves,” said Johnnie Walker Master Blender Jim Beveridge in a statement. Tasting notes describe blackcurrants and citrus giving way to rich, creamy, dark chocolate and a long, gentle warming finish of menthol and smokiness. The limited-edition bottles will be made available in limited, selected markets, at a retail price of US$25,000. One bottle will be auctioned at Bonhams, Hong Kong next year. — AFP-Relaxnews [...]
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Octomore, the world’s most heavily-peated Scotch whisky
Last time round, I explored the notion of an unpeated Islay whisky with Bunnahabhain. This week, we go the other extreme with arguably the most heavily peated Islay whisky range ever produced – Bruichladdich’s Octomore. While most Islay distilleries like Arbeg, Laphroaig and Lagavulin pride themselves on producing heavily peated whiskies, when it comes to actual peat levels in the whisky, the Octomore series has them beat. Created by former Bruichladdich master distiller Jim McEwan to prove that a whisky can be heavily peated and still taste good, the Octomore series includes some of the most heavily-peated whiskies in the world. It is named after the Octomore Farm on Islay, which is the source of the spring water Bruichladdich uses in its whisky production. Just how heavily peated is Octomore? Well, consider this: Bruichladdich’s own Port Charlotte expression is described as “Heavily Peated” at 40ppm (phenol parts per million, a measure of how much peat there is in a whisky). Now, compare that to the Octomore 08.1, which boasts a super smoky 167ppm! Eight series of Octomore have been released to date, and Bruichladdich Asia-Pacific Brand Ambassador Chloe Wood was in town recently to conduct a special tasting of all four of the current Octomore 08 series side by side for members of whisky community Dram Full Malaysia. Bruichladdich’s Octomore range of super heavily peated whiskies. Octomore 08.1 The flagship of the Octomore 8 series and the most easily available among the four. Distilled from 100% Scottish barley, the whisky was matured for eight years in first-fill American oak casks that come from American distilleries Buffalo Trace, Clermont Springs, Four Roses, Heaven Hill and Jack Daniels. Containing 59.3% ABV, the whisky acts as sort of a gateway to the rest of the range. The nose is actually quite mild, considering the high peat level, with a subtle, slight smokiness in the air and a little vanilla sweetness as well. On the palate, the relative youngness of the whisky stands out a little, with a strong grassy sweetness upon entry, which gives way to more mellow melon, citrus and marzipan flavours. If you’ve never had an Octomore before, this should help ease you into the range. Octomore 08.2 Only available in travel retail, this eight-year-old whisky spent its first six years in three different second-fill wine casks – French Mourvedre red wine, Austrian sweet wines; and French Sauternes dessert wines from Bordeaux. After six years, the whisky is transferred into fresh Italian Amarone casks for another two years before bottling. Also containing 167ppm with 58.4% ABV, the red wine influences impart a sweeter nose to this whisky compared to the 08.1. In fact, the gentle peat aromas are almost drowned out by the sweetness, though you still get a whiff of it every now and then. On the palate that sweetness is even more apparent, with fruity berry jam, floral, candy notes, and a finish that combines a hint of tannins with that familiar bitter Octomore smokiness. Of the four, this arguably departed the most from the typical Octomore profile, though that peaty finish dispels any illusion that this was anything other than a super heavily peated whisky. The Octomore 08.3 is made from 100% Islay barley. Octomore 08.3 Islay Barley Its bright bottle standing out among the other Octomores’ sleek black bottles, the 08.3 is the only one that uses 100% Islay-produced barley harvested from Octomore Farm. It also stands out among all the other Octomore releases to date – with a whopping 309.1ppm, it is the most highly peated Octomore ever (the previous record-holder was the Octomore 06.3, which had 258ppm). Don’t let its five years of age fool you though, this is one monster of a whisky, and I’m not just referring to its impressive 61.2% ABV. Unlike the previous 08.1 and 08.2, the smoke on this whisky is immediately apparent. But it’s not a powerful, intense kind of smoke, more like an elegant, deep, smouldering smoke that gently wafts around your nose, before settling at the back of your senses, enveloping your taste buds in a warm, sensual, velvety shroud. 56% matured in first-fill Bourbon casks, with the remaining 44% aged in ex-Paulliac, Ventoux, Rhone and Burgundy casks, there is a wonderful dash of sweetness on the entry, which expands into vanilla, nuttiness and dark chocolates. And all the while, that shroud of peat just lingers at the back of your palate, adding another layer of bitter smokiness to it all. Octomore 08.4 Made using 100% Scottish barley as always, this 170ppm eight-year-old embodies the experimental nature of the Octomore range. This expression is matured in virgin oak barrels (which have never been “seasoned” with any spirit before), which can be tricky, as the raw wood might impart flavours that are too intense or too woody to suit the spirit. Thus, head distiller Adam Hannett had to maintain a delicate balance in the 08.4 – only 20% of the expression was fully matured for eight years in virgin oak, while the remaining 80% was aged in first-fill ex-Bourbon American oak casks before being transferred into the European virgin oak that had previously held Octomore 07.4. The result is an Octomore that is quite different from the previous three. In fact, I personally felt that this was the expression where you could really taste the new-make spirit that goes into the Octomore. The younger qualities of the whisky stands out a lot more here than in the other three, with a sharp but sweet grassiness and a much more prominent and intense peat nose. For inquiries on Octomore and which expression is available in Malaysia, visit Single And Available Whisky Shop. Michael Cheang hopes he doesn’t have to wait till October for more Octomore. Drop him a note at the Tipsy-Turvy Facebook page or follow him on Instagram. [...]
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