Benromach, a Speyside special

Speyside single malts like Glenlivet tend to be my favourites. Typically, they possess light, sweetish characteristics. Lunchtime whiskies. The older ones and those aged in sherry casks however are richer and more pronounced.
Benromach is a tiny distillery from this region, which was once closed for a long time. Then it reopened in 1998. Nothing is automated at Benromach. It’s 100% hand-made single malts.

All the action in this 'house'

All the action in this ‘house’

It’s the second smallest whisky distillery in Scotland. It’s such a small distillery that only a handful of guys run it.

Stills... mmmm..

Stills….  mmmm….  full of goodness

Speyside whiskies of past had small elements of smokiness in them. This feature is said to be the classic pre-1960s Speyside character.

Before the mid 1960s, these distilleries malted their own barley. Hidden away in remote glens, they’d top up their fires with cuts of local peat when coal was running low. These slices were enough to impart a touch of smoke in the region’s whisky.

Hmmm. I didn’t know that. I have always assumed Speyside whiskies traditionally have a light and non-smoky profile.
However, the ‘Speyside smoke’ ain’t nowhere like the Islay one (in your face). The smokiness is very light, and not very noticeable.

Ace

Ace

Met up with the Juliette Buchan of Benromach for an introductory session.

The Benromach 10 Years (43%) is a mix of aged whiskies with 80% from bourbon barrels, 20% from Sherry hogshead. Final year is spent in first-fill Oloroso casks. Its beautiful taste of sherry, fruit and vanilla gives way to a light pop of smoke, coming after that pleasant sweetness that Speysides are so sought for.

Loved it. This is Benromach’s flagship expression.
We also tried the 10 Year Old 100 proof (50% abv). Just as interesting, only stronger.

The teen

The teen

The longer maturation of the 15 Year Old (43%) softens its smokiness to hints of charred smoke, while developing the wood-imbued character of honey, vanilla and fruit. Very pleasant, but richer.
As a treat, we had some Benromach 35 Year Old (43%). This exquisite dram is a lot more complex after chillin for more than three decades in oak. It’s a sophisticated, delicate dram, with the right balance between fruity freshness and oaky maturity.

Classy

Classy

This tiny family-run distillery by the town of Forres produces some astounding stuff. Will plan to serve it at Locker & Loft, especially the 10.

 

Brain damage: 8/10

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Tiffin teaser party

We had a great time at Taste of Tiffin, a two-day event at Publika organized by Freeform Untitled. Took my  mixologist Imran along as well, to check out the alcohol section.

It was certainly an experiential celebration of food and drink. Although we only attended one afternoon, it was obvious that it was a unique collection of food and drinks all in one spot, with a total guest count of 3,000.

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The set-up outside

There were three parts of the event that we visited – the food booths outside, the ones inside, and the booze section. There was some really good grub all around, and we were spoilt for choice. I vaguely recall swallowing some Mexican stuff in the afternoon while buzzed.

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The afternoon session

Anyway, my highlight was in the Black Box – the sampling sessions in the afternoon, as well as cocktail stands. I got so wasted at one point just from sampling the variety that was given, that i had to leave. Swallowed the Mexican stuff at the food section, then came back.

I enjoyed trying out some new gin from Australia, West Winds – the Sabre, and the Cutlass. Especially the Sabre – kinda tangy and sweetish. These gins are available at Locker & Loft.

There were about 40 different spirits to try at the event!

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The Wholly Spirits boys

 

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Some of the booty

 

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Many mini-bars to select from

The best part of this event is that it’s actually merely a teaser to the main event, Tiffin Week. This goes down Sept 24 – Oct 3 at Publika. Expect a very interesting and fun ten days.

Launching mid-2016

Launching mid-2016 for Sept

But in the meantime, Tiffin is also organizing an F&B experience for Urbanscapes 2016. Locker & Loft will be involved in the final weekend of Urbanscapes in KL, May 7 & 8, where we’ll be making alcoholic ”daytime drinks!” from 11am on Saturday & Sunday.

Event details here. Day-drinkers, rejoice.

 

Brain damage: 8/10

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44 Pops Up again

Pop-up bar 44 has reappeared, after going under for a coupla months. It first appeared at APW in Bangsar, a warehouse joint. However, it’s got a different set-up and look now. While the first one had a really interesting industrial theme, this one has more of a modern and minimalist look.

44 now hides in a downtown spot at The Row, and the lifespan this time is up to December.

Like certain newer bars now, 44 is now upstairs

Like certain newer bars now, 44 is now stashed  upstairs

The joint had a guest bartender, Yishu, from Jigger & Pony for a visit. I had the opportunity to try some of the cocktails he made.

Starting with the Sakura Sakura, which was a real treat for a first drink. I should have saved it for last. It was like a fruity dessert. Delicious, finely-balanced, tho i expected it to be too sweet.

But the ingredients are surprisingly complex – Owney’s rum, peach liqueur, sake, lemon juice, sakura syrup and egg white.

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Sakurax2

Next was the Godfather – Scotch & amaretto. Nutty, with some chocolate goodness. It had a sweetness, but it was a good kinda sweetness. Like the natural flavours u’d find in a fruit. That’s probably courtesy of  the amaretto, which is almond liqueur. Such a simple but amazing drink.

Comes with a piece of flamed white chocolate.

Uncomplicated like a guy

Uncomplicated like a guy

And then there was fire. Flames and alcohol tends to get my attention. Mai Tai ala Sugarhall. It was Bacardi 151 (a 75.5% rum) that provided the burn. Yishu sprinkled some grounded spices to add some fireworks.

In it is cachaca, rum, orgeat syrup, spiced apricot syrup, lime juice.  It’s spicy-sweet, with some cinnamon coming thru but not dominating the show.

We also had a tequila cocktail. Haha.

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Parakeet

The lychee in this drink hits your palate off the bat. So i expected sweet shit, but no. It was fruity, but the lychee flavour flattens out quick, and surprisingly, you dont taste or smell any tequila. Fruity. It’s called Newton Flash.

We also tried some craft spirits – gins and American whiskies.

What stood out was a gin called New Deal – real strong berry nose, berry taste, but with quite a zing at the end.

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Also another cool one was Green Hook. Distinctly floral.

But by then, my taste buds were too busy partying to provide anymore feedback.

44 also ages pre-mixed, simple and classic cocktails, like Negroni. They are on display at the bar, in cool bottles, and aged for a few weeks, with oak added in.

The regular menu

The regular menu

To find 44, head to The Row (Jln Doraisamy, KL), and go behind Mojo.

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Just add ice..

Brain damage: 8/10

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The Glenfiddich ‘distillery’ in Carcosa

William Grant & Sons took over the awesome hill of Carcosa for a few days for Glenfiddich to set-up a little mock-up of distillery.

The party went on for several nights, catering to about 3,000 whisky fans.

I love Carcosa. It’s such a cool spot, with the beautiful main building which has a great classic interior as well. Tastefully renovated too.

The pad

The pad

Anyway, the set-up was classy, and Glenfiddich 12, 15 and 18 were served. Guests were treated to group tours to the ‘distillery’ which was built outside.

Tour in action

Tour in action

After a history lesson on the brand, we were schooled on how whisky is made, with a cool presentation by my buddy Ian Brosnan, who did a great job.

The 'distillery'. Looks great eh?

The ‘distillery’. Looks great eh?

Cool screen

Cool screen

The replica of a still was quite a sight. The last time i saw stills was in Scotland a few years back. I guess the only thing missing was the lovely aromas of alcohol brewing!

The still is still

The still is… very still

The party however was in the main building. Service was excellent.

The bar, which was kinda smalll

The bar, which was kinda limited with the drinks

Halim and his smooth crew

Halim and his smooth crew

Cool stairs. Where to?? Checked it out of course

Cool stairs. Where to?? Checked it out of course

Glenfiddich's head cooper (aka woodman), Ian McDonald showed up. These are the guys who build the oak barrels. They do 126 per day at the distillery in Dufftown

Glenfiddich’s head cooper (aka woodman), Ian McDonald showed up and got down. These are the guys who build the oak barrels for maturation. They do 126 per day at the distillery in Dufftown

The 12 is matured in American bourbon and Spanish sherry oak casks. Glenfiddich translates to valley of the deer in Gaelic.  It’s still managed by the fifth generation of William Grant’s descendants.

The good stuff

The good stuff

The 12, with its famous triangular bottle, is definitely one of the single malts that i enjoy. I find it easily enjoyable, pleasant, and smooth. Fresh with a mellow finish. Hence, it’s the world’s best-selling single malt. It’s expressions go up to 50 year-olds.

They are also the first ones to package whisky in cyndrical tins.

Let’s hope they have events at more cool spots like this.

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Door gift. I tot it was a lil bottle of perfume and dabbed it on my face. It worked. Kinda

 

Brain damage: 7/10

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