Spirited’s latest edition of Unbottled dives into a discovery of unusual whiskies from around the world that move away from the norm.
The world of whisky is a glorious conundrum. On one end of the spectrum you have producers who hold fast to heritage and tradition, making whisky the way their forefathers have for centuries. Then on the other you have those who challenge convention and bring new perspective to what defines a whisky.
We look at four totally different whiskies recently released in the Singapore market that upend tradition and expectations.
Single grain whisky is exceedingly common in Scotch whisky production, largely produced for the making of blended Scotch. And while a number of single grain whiskies do enter the market under their own distillery labels, those are few and far between.
Then there’s whisky newcomer InchDairnie Distillery. Established in 2015, the creative Fife-based producer intends to upend traditional thinking with a range of whiskies that challenge convention. The first of those whiskies to be released is RyeLaw, a Scotch whisky from Fyfe made from Scottish-grown malted rye (53%) and barley (47%) using a Lomond Hill still. As the aficionados among us know, rye is more common in American whiskey, but less so in Scotch whisky making.
Here the spiciness of rye is tempered by the clever use of heavily toasted oak – as opposed to the usual American heavy char – during maturation to mellow and round out rye’s typical pepper sharpness. You’d be hard pressed to associate this with any kind of American rye whiskey. Rich, complex and layered, this is spiced apple crumble masquerading as liquid gold. We’d happily drink this neat or in a Scotch Old Fashioned.
RyeLaw is available from Resaca at a recommended retail price of S$229.
Yamazakura Asaka & 4 World Blended Whisky
Heard of “world whisky”? There’s a recent new trend in the world of spirits where distillates or even finished spirits from different parts of the world are blended into a single product. Here exact provenance takes a back seat while allowing the art of blending to shine.
And then there’s something like the Yamazakura Asaka & 4 World Blended Whisky. This world blended whisky from the oldest distillery in Japan’s Tohoku region combines whisky from Yamazakura’s own Asaka Distillery with whisky from unnamed distilleries in four key whisky producing regions around the world – Scotland, Ireland, USA, and Canada.
But this Frankenstein of a whisky bottling from Yamazakura is as much about the art of blending as a less-than-subtle dig at its competitors who tend to play loose with Japanese whisky regulations. The idea here is to shine the spotlight on the fact that there are a lot of Japanese whiskies that actually aren’t of Japanese origin.
That aside, the Asaka & 4 world blended whisky makes for a lovely little dram. This blended whisky may not have an age statement but drips quality. You’ll get sweet floral and cereal notes on the nose, while the palate offers breakfast cereal, sweet vanilla oak, and stone fruit flavours. You’ll love this if you enjoy your more delicate Japanese whiskies or lighter Highland styles.
The Yamazakura Asaka & 4 World Blended Whisky is available from Mizunara: The Shop Singapore at a recommended retail price of S$139.
Poli Segretario di Stato Whisky
Italy makes – and drinks – whisky? Apparently more than we think. Did you know that Italy was the world’s biggest consumer of single malt Scotch during the 1970s? We didn’t either. But Italy’s love affair with whisky would spark the curiosity and creativity of a number of the country’s wine and grappa producers, who set their minds and efforts at making whisky.
Among them, Veneto’s Poli Distillerie, better known for making a range of excellent grappa, as well as one of our favourite gins, the Poli Marconi 46 Gin. What started as a project in 2013 to honour an illustrious citizen from the region – who was appointed as secretary of state for the Holy See – became the Poli Segretario di Stato Whisky. This pure malt whisky – distilled in a modified alembic still – was first aged for five years in new oak barrels and then finished for at least a year in Amarone wine barrels to imbue a Venetian soul. What you’ll get here is reminiscent of fruit and nut cereal liberally lashed with chocolate and infused with a delicate whirl of peat smoke.
This delicate drop is pure sipping whisky, best enjoyed over dessert. We reckon you can also put a glug of this into the dregs of your espresso cup and drink the lot, like how a proper Italian nonno would do with his grappa.
You can get Poli Segretario di Stato Whisky from Le Vigne Wines & Spirits at the recommended retail price of S$198.
The Gospel Solera Rye Whiskey
With a name like The Gospel Whiskey you’d think that it hails from America’s Bible Belt. But this Melbourne, Australia-based distillery is actually a small craft producer based out of the inner city suburb of Brunswick that’s focused on making whiskies from rye. Which, of course, is exceedingly uncommon in this part of the world.
Formerly known as Melbourne Moonshine, The Gospel Whiskey is proudly Australian in that it uses all Australian grain for making its whiskies. The Gospel Solera Rye Whiskey, in particular, uses 100% Aussie-grown rye sourced from a single farm in the Murray Mallee region of South Australia. Different distillation batches are then aged and blended in a solera system – comprising over 20 wine and new oak barrels – for style and consistency, resulting in a rye whiskey that’s familiar yet altogether different. Here you get the signature pepperiness of rye but wrapped around by notes of dried hay, vanilla fudge, and macerated dried fruit.
We’d happily sip on this neat or over ice, but this makes a solid whiskey highball as well.
You can purchase the Gospel Solera Rye Whiskey from Spun Spirits at a recommended retail price of S$110.
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