Santis Malt - Edition Dreifaltigkeit

Was playing poker at a R's place and he recommended we try some interesting whisky from Switzerland that his wife recently bought called Santis Malt. What makes this whisky unique is that it is stored in oak wood beer barrels instead of the usual oak or sherry casks. On top of that, they have a few different products in the market and this one we sampled was the Edition Dreifaltigkeit, which won Jim Murray's European Whisky of the Year in 2010.
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Probably the only culture in the world rivaling the Japanese in terms of meticulousness and attention to detail would be the Swiss. Santis Malt keeps the reputation intact by sourcing water from the Swiss Alps and grain from Switzerland grown under extreme weather conditions to impart an idiomatic Swiss flavour to the whisky. On top of that, the bottle labels are personally designed and hand-cut by the managing director himself.
Comments: This whisky definitely has a very distinct flavour, very unlike traditional whiskies. Strong malt profile with a hint of beer and a smokiness that is closer to smoked duck than the usual Islay peatiness. Very well done for a relatively new distillery. Definitely worth a try!

Halloween Whisky - Glenfiddich 30 & Yamazaki 25 years

Had the pleasure of going to a friend's place for a pre-Halloween dinner and unexpectedly, some seriously fine whisky. 
The first whisky we savoured was the Glenfiddich 30. I've always liked Glenfiddichs and the opportunity to taste on of their top end drams was definitely a treat. This one recently won the Gold Medal at the International Spirits Challenge in 2013.

Comments: Overall a superb whisky that goes down very well and suits all palates. Great balance overall with blends of citrus fruit, honey and vanilla overtones for a mellow, distinct flavour.

A Glenfiddich 30yr would typically be the highlight of any good night out...until an even rarer Yamazaki 25yr gets pulled out of the cabinet. This is the World Whisky Awards 2012 winner of Best Single Malt and is practically sold out everywhere.

Comments: Talk about intense. Chocolate? Coffee? Sherry? Surprisingly flavourful and deep for a 43% whisky. And the finish just goes on and on...lovely stuff.

Kavalan Solist Fino

Went to a friend's place recently and he told me that he had this whisky that I absolutely must try from Taiwan. It was the Kavalan Solist Fino and apparently won Jim Murray's Best New World Whisky in 2012 (97 points!!!) and WWA Best New World Single Malt Whisky.

We know the Taiwanese love their whisky but who would have thought that they would be able to make something seriously decent in such a short span of time! This whisky is full-on sherry with hints of nuttiness, sweet fruits and liquorice. The finish though is slightly on the bitter side and not really my cup of tea unfortunately. Otherwise, an interesting whisky to try for sure.

Christmas with Hibiki and Glengassaugh

It's Christmas time and what better way to celebrate it than to have great whisky. We were having dinner with family and friends at an Italian restaurant and we had brought a Hibiki 30 years to savour at the end of the meal.

Comments: Wow! What an amazing whisky. If you think the 21 year is good, this one adds another layer of complexity with a fantastic nose filled with vanilla and luscious berries. This is such an easy and delicious drink to quaff that the bottle will be gone in no time. Only for special occasions.

We offered the restaurant owner a dram of the Hibiki and being a self professed whisky lover, he was subtly impressed. Not to be outdone, he was kind enough to let us try his personal bottle of Glengassaugh 1972 which had his name inscribed on it as a gift from a friend!


Comments: A really different whisky compared to the Hibiki, this dram is oozing with blackcurrants, apricots with peppery spice and strong sherry elements. It has an unbelievably long finish that never seems to end, surpassing even the Hibiki. In the owner's words, 'this tastes more like a fine cognac than a whisky'. 

Laphroaig 30 Years Cairdeas

Here's a whisky I broke out for the New Year to celebrate with friends and family - the Laphroaig 30 year Cairdeas. This dram is essentially the award winning Laphroaig 30 year (reviewed here) double matured in Maker's Mark bourbon casks. Sound interesting enough already? Let's get on with the tasting.
Comments: You can definitely taste the Laphroaig 30yr here subdued a little by the oak finish. Depending on whether you are an oak or sherry cask person will determine how much you like this one. Overall an excellent whisky nonetheless worth every penny for special occasions.

Tokyo tastings: Nikka Yoichi 1991 & Rosebank 1983

Here's another whisky adventure from our travels to Tokyo. Went to a whisky bar aptly named Wodka Tonic tucked in a little corner near Roppongi hills with D and some friends.
Classic Japanese whisky bar - long wooden table, meticulously ordered shelves of whisky and the prerequisite bartenders in vests and bowties.
Some of the gems we saw at the bar were the Black Bowmore 1964 and Yamazaki 50 year (only 50 bottles available worldwide with a retail price of 1M Yen!). Unfortunately, they were way out of our price range and all we could do was take a whiff of heaven at the table. Fortunately, there were many other excellent whiskies available that were affordable. I now present you the Nikka Yoichi Single Cask 1991 and the Rosebank G&M Connoisseur's Choice 1983.
Comments: We liked the fresh fruity nose and taste of this one. Starts with an amazing burst of citrus and ends with elegant wood notes. Another testament to the great whiskies that Japanese are creating in modern times.

Comments: Another one of our favourites, the now defunct Rosebank distillery. Triple distilled goodness reveals the characteristic cut grass and floral notes. Light and fluffy, almost velvety texture. Excellent stuff.

Laphroaig 30 year

Here is the long awaited review of the multi-award winning Laphroaig 30 year whisky that has been sitting around on my shelf for way too long. I think most whisky lovers need no introduction to this one.
Comments: Absolutely sublime! The sultanas, the berries mixed with a burst of sherry followed by an extremely long and smooth finish. Then you realise that there is actually some peat in this one to remind you of its Islay roots. Definitely one of the best I've tried so far!

Laphroaig Tasting

Being our favourite distillery, it is really surprising and shameful that we have not had a single review of Laphroaig on this blog. Well, that comes to an end now as we post our first official Laphroaig review with not one but FIVE bottlings!

Laphroaig 10 year: The base of where all the great Laphroaigs come from. Iodine, medicinal, seaweed, sublime.

Laphroaig 15 year: A smoother, more elegant version of the 10 year old. You can almost call it the 10 year old's older brother. Has won multiple awards at whisky competitions so taste to find out why.

Laphroaig 25 year: Cask strength and the marriage of aged Laphroaig whiskies matured in both Oloroso sherry casks and bourbon oak casks, this dram is surprisingly refreshing and tangy. You can taste both the sherry and the peat playing in your mouth followed by a long semi-fruity finish. What a great dram!

Laphroaig Quarter Cask: Matured in smaller quarter casks to speed up the maturation process, this experiment has turned out to be a great success for Laphroaig. Jim Murray calls it the closest to the classic Laphroaigs he has tasted 30 years ago. The taste is a little sweeter than a normal Laphroaig and the finish to be long and velvety.

Laphroaig Vintage Dec 1989 17 yr 2007 Feis Ile: Wow! A surprisingly complex Laphroaig for its age. Winey, lemoney, liquorice flavours take the foreground while the typical peat and medicinal flavours of Laphroaig sit nicely in the background. Very highly recommended.

Nikka Pure Malt White

It's been awhile since we've tried a Nikka, the last being the very good Yoichi 12 year. Here is another interesting expression from Nikka called the Pure Malt White, which is a vatting of both Yoichi and Islay whisky. Love the clean bottles that they are presented in. Reminds me of science experiments in a laboratory while in school.
Comments: A very oily dram with an aftertaste of burning tires. Not our favourite Nikka to say the least.

Balvenie 14 year Golden Cask

Here's another whisky available only in duty free shops. Travel retail is a huge market for whisky and many brands are beginning to target shoppers with special these releases at airports. The Balvenie GoldenCask 14 Year Old was matured first in traditional oak whisky casks before spending a final period of maturation in casks previously containing golden Caribbean rum.
Comments: Sweet is the word to describe this dram. The rum cask really did its work here. Not your usual Balvenie and interesting to try once but perhaps not more.

Yamazaki 15 years

Here's a whisky we bought from the Yamazaki distillery that we've been meaning to try. Strangely enough, the usual 12, 18 and 25yr whiskies at the distillery shop were a lot more expensive than at duty free or in any decent whisky shop. The Yamazaki 15 years, something which is not commonly found on the mass market, was the only one that seemed more reasonably priced at ~US$100.
Comments: A very fruity Yamazaki with a burst of citrus that hits you upon initial contact. Hints of sherrywood linger in the aftertaste. A yummy whisky for a social gathering or for the happier moments in life!

Macallan 1824: Whisky Maker's Selection


The Macallan 1824 collection is a family of 4 single malts (Select Oak, Whisky Maker's Selection, Estate Reserve and the rare Limited Release bottlings) to mark the founding year of the Macallan distillery.  Interestingly, these are marketed mainly for the duty free sector where they've been extremely successful.  Note that they also do not carry an age statement, which is quite unusual for a premium single malt.

The Whisky Maker's that we sampled was courtesy of our friend K, who bought it from duty free from his latest business trip.  Straight from the press release "Containing rare whisky distilled from barley grown on The Macallan’s Estate which brings a velvety mouthfeel, Whisky Maker’s Edition recognises the skill and dedication of The Macallan’s Whisky Maker, Bob Dalgarno."


Comments:  Has an intense nutty, chocolatey flavour blended with hints of mild fruity apricot and figs.  Interesting individually but somehow the flavours did not gel as well as it should overall.  The finish was also quite average for a whisky in its class.

Bakery Hill Double Wood

Australia? Not exactly the first country that comes to mind when it comes to whisky. Our next whisky is from Bakery Hill which is one of premier distilleries in Australia located in Victoria. Bakery Hill uses only the finest Australian barley and produces its all its whiskies in single cask, cask strength and double distilled in traditional whisky production methods. One other interesting fact is that Bakery Hill is aged for only 3 years in 50L or 100L bourbon casks, which accelerates the maturation process. Jim Murray himself was pleasantly surprised with the age statement of the whiskies and has rated them relatively high (Bakery Hill Classic Malt scored 85 out of 100) and described it as "easily the most stylish Australian malt I have found".

The whisky we are reviewing is the Bakery Hill Double Wood that is aged in both American Bourbon Oak Casks and French Oak Casks.
Comment: Floral, slightly citrus, wine and woody notes. Has a great nose but taste is average at best and finish disappears a tad too quickly. Overall a great attempt by Bakery Hill given that they are a young distillery. I have no doubt that in the future, this distillery will continue to improve and may one day churn out great whiskies that Australia will be proud of.

Highland Park 18 yr

Highland Park is one of the distilleries owned by Higland Distillers, which also owns the Macallan distillery. It is also one of the main constituents in the Famous Grouse blend, which we have yet to officially review. Highland Distillers has done a great job with its Macallan marketing machine and are now attempting to do the same with its Highland Park brand. It's called 'The Best Spirit in the World' on the website and the 18 year (older bottlings) is considered 'The greatest all-rounder in the world of malt whiskey' by Michael Jackson. Let's see how this dram scores objectively.
Comments: Maybe I'm getting bored with whiskies that have a winey (sherry) and slightly peaty flavour, a la Speysides (even though Highland Park is from the Isle of Orkney). Don't get me wrong. Overall, there's nothing really wrong with this whisky and it is very well rounded and easy to drink. Verdict - not exciting but definitely worth having in the cabinet

Hakushu 1995 Owner's Cask

Our whisky adventure in Japan didn't just end at the Yamazaki distillery. We decided one night in Osaka to try the B (Baccarat) Bar near our hotel which looked very stylish and cool. The ambience was dark and sensual and for some reason it reminded me of the movie Bladerunner.

Whisky tasting with Baccarat crystal

D ordered a cocktail of champagne mixed with dessert wine and juices. I, of course, scanned the menu for interesting whiskies to try. The one that caught my eye was a Hakushu 1995 Owner's Cask that was recommended by the bartender. Since the taste of Hakushu 12 year was fresh in my mind from the tasting at the distillery, I thought I'd give it a shot to see the understand the differences.
Comments: A very interesting dram with citrus overtones and a long lingering fruity finish. Slight showing of peat here but very unlike the regular Hakushu 12 year which has more pronounced smokiness. Another great whisky from Japan!