Lunar New Year isn’t quite complete without the right whisky – here are some Chinese New Year whiskies to celebrate the Year of the Ox.
While there’s plenty to look forward to every Chinese New Year – an abundance of gloriously decadent food during reunion dinners, gambling over mahjong and card games with friends and relatives, or catching the festivities in Chinatown – much of that isn’t happening this year thanks to social distancing measures set in place by the authorities to contain a possible coronavirus epidemic.
But we can console ourselves this season knowing that we can always rely on whisky. To be more exact, that there are always special whiskies released during Chinese New Year.
This year there’s a couple of single malts in different livery, a decadent blended Scotch, a premium blended malt, and a rare independently-bottled cask-strength whisky. So whether they are used for festive gifts for the whisky-loving in-law, (appropriately distanced) sharing amongst the closest of friends and family, or just personal imbibing in the comforts of one’s own study, here are some limited-edition Chinese New Year whiskies for this Year of the Ox.
[Main photo credit: Joel Lim Photography]
John Walker & Sons King George V Chinese New Year edition.
To celebrate the Year of the Ox, best-selling blended Scotch whisky brand Johnnie Walker has unveiled its John Walker & Sons King George V expression in a first-of-its-kind, limited-edition Chinese New Year design. The King George V sits as part of Johnnie Walker’s John Walker & Sons series of premium whiskies, and is inspired by the great whiskies made during the reign of King George V.
And while the regular version employs a classy dark blue box, this Chinese New Year edition sees the bottle come in bespoke livery inspired by traditional Chinese patterns. The beautifully illustrated Chinese knots harken to the tradition of weaving and hanging Chinese knots to usher in good fortune for the rest of the year. Each box also comes with a set of five exquisitely designed red packets, which should come in handy during (very limited) visiting season. The decanter too gets a splash of red on the neck of the bottle.
But the spirit within remains the same. This indulgent blend is put together with spirit from Benrinnes, Caol Ila, Cardhu, and even the silent distilleries of Port Ellen and Port Dundas. Expect notes of rich fruit, abundant spices, along with a creamy vanilla sweetness with a hint of maritime Port Ellen smoke for an elegant yet persistent finish.
The John Walker & Sons King George V Chinese New Year Limited Edition is available from diageorareandexceptional.com at a price of S$655.
[Photo credit: Joel Lim Photography]
The Macallan Double Cask 12 Year Old Chinese New Year twin pack.
Leading Scotch single malt whisky brand The Macallan celebrates this coming Lunar New Year with a special limited-edition twin pack. The festive set comes with two bottles of its very popular Macallan Double Cask 12 Years Old, part of the Macallan Double Cask range that features expressions using both American and European oak sherry-seasoned casks.
Each of the two bottles in The Macallan’s Chinese New Year set comes with a beautiful red box with a design inspired by traditional Chinese fabrics that depicts the rolling hills surrounding the distillery and Easter Elchies House, The Macallan’s spiritual home by the River Spey. And when you place both boxes next to each other, they form a complete image of the estate. To mark the Year of the Ox, there’s a stylised visual of an ox on each box, which is doubly apt; Macallan’s estate is also home to its own herd of Scottish Highland cattle.
The Macallan Double Cask 12 Year Old Chinese New Year twin pack is available from The Macallan Experience at Raffles Hotel Singapore for the price of S$274.
[Photo credit: Joel Lim Photography]
Glenfiddich limited edition Chinese New Year collection.
Like last year, the world’s most awarded single malt Scotch whisky brand Glenfiddich has again collaborated with Shenzen, China-based illustrator Rlon Wang to design limited edition festive boxes for Chinese New Year this year.
Rlon’s latest design – the second in a commissioned series for Chinese New Year – tells a story of homecoming. At the centre of the design is a reimagination of Glendiffich’s stag iconography; but surrounding the majestic creature is a vibrant scene of travel, of people making their journey home by all manner of transportation. The 2021 CNY edition is also an oblique tribute by the up-and-coming Chinese artist to Glenfiddich’s late life president Charles Gordon, who not only brought Glenfiddich to prominence but also embarked on an epic journey to Asia to promote the brand and his subsequent triumphant return to Scotland.
Rlon’s new Chinese New Year design will be featured on the boxes across its 12 Year Old, 15 Year Old Solera, and 18 Year Old expressions, as well as Glenfiddich Reserva Rum Cask 21 Year Old. Each of these sets not only come with a bottle of Glenfiddich but also two branded glass tumblers. Also fun is the fact that you can customise messages to your loved ones for the festive season using augmented reality (AR).
The Glenfiddich Chinese New Year limited edition gift packs come at a recommended retail price of S$108, S$138, S$200, and S$330 for the 12 Year Old, 15 Year Old Solera, 18 Year Old, and Reserva Rum Cask 21 Year Old respectively. They are available from William Grant & Sons flagship store on LazMall or the The 1887 Bar via GrabFood, as well as other authorised retailers such as 1855 The Bottle Shop, iShopChangi.com, Redmart and Cold Storage.
[Photo credit: Joel Lim Photography]
Scallywag 100% Sherry Matured Year of the Ox edition.
Douglas Laing loves getting into the Chinese New Year spirit. The Scottish independent bottler – best known for its “Remarkable Regional Malts” series of blended malt whiskies – has a penchant for rolling out a special edition of its blended whiskies every year specially for its Asian markets during the festive season.
Last year Douglas Laing brought out an exclusive CNY bottling under its Timorous Beastie label of blended Highland malts – appropriately for the Year of the Rat – that was aged for a minimum of 18 years in 100% Spanish sherry casks. This year the special edition comes under their Scallywag label of blended Speyside malts; like last year’s expression the Scallywag Year of the Ox Edition is also fully matured in sherry casks. Bottled at 48% ABV, this non-age statement whisky is described to exude notes of juicy plums, warming spices and dark chocolate on the noes, and a rich currant, charred oak, and sweet nuttiness on the palate, along with a satisfying long finish.
Only 1688 bottles have been produced exclusively for selected Asian markets – including Singapore, Malaysia, China, Taiwan and Hong Kong – so you may want to get your hands on more than one bottle.
The Scallywag Year of the Ox Edition is available for pre-order from Le Vigne Wines & Spirits at a retail price of S$138.
[Photo credit: Le Vigne Wines & Spirits]
The Single Cask Kildalton Lunar New Year edition.
There are Chinese New Year whiskies, and then there are Chinese New Year OMG whiskies. Singapore- and London-based independent bottler The Single Cask has announced their first ever Lunar New Year Release – The Single Cask Kildalton is sourced from an undisclosed Islay distillery that was distilled in November 2005 and matured in a refill bourbon hogshead for 15 years.
This cask-strength whisky clocks in at 54.2% ABV and comes with a very limited yield of 304 bottles (it is a single cask whisky, after all). Now we’re going to call it an Ardbeg, mainly because the closest distillery to Kildalton – where the iconic Kildalton Cross is located – is the LVMH-owned Ardbeg. Also, the cask reference number is a dead-giveaway.
The Single Cask Kildalton is available for order from The Single Cask. Price upon asking. It will also be made available by the dram at the bar, while stocks last.
[Photo credit: The Single Cask]
Follow us on Telegram to get updated on events and other spirited announcements!