Nanyang Whisky and Rejo Beverages have released its Peninsula Collection of three new single cask expressions that, for whisky fans, are going to be absolute crackers.

The Nanyang Whisky label is the brainchild of Nanyang Whisky, a Singapore-based independent bottling company formed by a group of whisky enthusiasts.

Indie labels are often characterised by the distinct choice that they make. Nanyang Whisky is no different. Benny Santoso of Nanyang Whisky shared that they are in the business of releasing bottles intended for drinking, and at prices that they themselves would be willing to pay. In other words, the prices would be relatively fair and they’re not trying to actively market to a luxury crowd.

Nanyang Whisky collection May 2022
Nanyang Whisky’s Peninsula single cask collection for May 2022.

However, the bottles for the new Peninsula Collection do have an upmarket-looking label, featuring collaborations with local artists or artists who have a connection with Singapore. In this instance, they enlisted the help of Diana Francis and Tong Chin Sye for the artwork. Their creations adorn a 1998 Ben Nevis (23YO), an unnamed 1999 Orkney (22YO) distillery, and a 1990 Islay (30YO) bottling.

While they aren’t exactly cheap, the prices are indeed quite fair for what they offer in terms of quality. The 22YO Orkney is priced at S$348, the 30YO Islay at S$598, and the 22YO Ben Nevis comes in at S$458.

According to Santoso, Nanyang Whisky is quite specific in what they are looking for: a whisky with a balanced, friendly flavour profile, and one that shows more of the spirit than the wood influence. Hence, they currently prefer whiskies matured in hogsheads, which they find gives them the best results.

The 22YO Orkney is a prime example of a whisky with an intense bourbon cask flavour profile sans the oakiness. It’s also smoky on the nose with hints of coastal character (salinity). But despite the heavy nature of its elements, the Orkney is an easy drink and is friendly on the palate. So is it a Highland Park or Scapa? The unnamed nature of the cask makes you want to think it’s the former as well…

If you haven’t had a good vintage Islay, the 30YO Islay comes close and gives you a good idea of what to expect – smoky sweetness and fruit, with enough hints to make you want to think that this is a Laphroaig (although probably not as that would likely cost more).

The 23YO Ben Nevis is likely going to be the crowd favourite, and for a good reason: it’s the most dynamic of the lot. It starts with a tropical fruit basket on the nose with some vanilla sweetness. It’s not as dry as most Ben Nevis are known for, and it’s certainly quite balanced. You’ll be in for a treat when it opens up more as the orange and peach character becomes more intense.

Santoso reminds us that 1998 is not thought of as the best vintage for the modern Ben Nevis. On the other hand, this cask that they uncovered came close to the highly-prized vintages of 1996. The same could be said for the other two, which evoke the spirit of some of the most prized whiskies collectors hanker for. And that, I suppose, is pretty much how Nanyang Whisky tries to offer value.

You can argue that this means that the prices aren’t actually cheap on paper, but when you consider the quality of what you actually drink, it’s pretty fair.

Because in the current climate of whisky prices, getting what you pay for is harder than you think.

The 1998 Ben Nevis (23YO), 1999 Orkney (22YO), and 1990 Islay (30YO) bottlings that form the latest Nanyang Whisky Peninsula Collection will go on sale at Nanyang Whisky on 9 May 2022 (late night).

*Updated: the Orkney whisky should be 22YO and not 30YO, and the prices have been updated (Orkney S$348, Islay S$598, and Ben Nevis S$458); sorry for the confusion!

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