A great wine-tasting

I had a fantastic wine-tasting recently, which took place at Graze, Hilton KL. It’s very rare that i love all the wines at these sessions, but man, these were perfectly-selected.

The delicious award-winning Californian wines are under Treasury Wine Estates, and the session was guided by TWE Winemaking Ambassador Stuart Rusted.

The congregation

The congregation

We had several wines before and during lunch, starting with the Beringer Founder’s Estate Sauvignon Blanc. Refreshing & fruity in a citrusy way, soft, but rich as well. Clean grassy finish.

It’s for sure a superb wine, one that could easily challenge New Zealand’s sauvignon blancs. The grapes are from vineyards on the Central Coast mixed with those from the California Delta. I had to go for seconds. And thirds.

Come 'ere u!

Come ‘ere u!

It’s RRP is RM89, which is awesome value. Beringer has been producing since 1876 in Napa Valley.

After i got my late breakfast outta the way we had the Chardonnay. It was the Sterling Vineyards VC (RRP RM117). Again, the right amount of fruit, minimal dryness when it ends, and less oaky that the usual. A citrusy finish.

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Main course, NZ sirloin

A little tipsy by the time lunch was served. Food was awesome, as usual.

This was probably the first time i had a Cali merlot, the Stags Leap Napa Valley Merlot 2014 (279). Wine growers have faced a drought there for a decade, giving the grape richer flavours. As is typical of merlots, this one has a dry finish; however not the tongue-twisting dryness that usually puts me off merlot.

I’m more of a cabsauv kinda guy. We were served the Beaulieu Vineyards Cab Sauv 2015 (92). On my palate i got sweet berry. It’s also a little ‘leafy’, with tannin, but these are lighter flavours. Finish is velvety. Another excellent production.

BV_Asia CA CabSauv_750_nvThis was followed by an on-point Pinot, Sterling Vineyards VC Pinot Noir 2015 (117). It does a 10-month bid in American & French oak. The concentrated palate is rich with good depth and complex flavors of dark berries.

Dessert wasn't a dessert wine

Dessert wasn’t a dessert wine

For the finale, our glasses were blessed with the Beringer Private Reserve Cab Sauv 2012 (489). (ABV 14.9%)

The sifu for the day

The sifu for the day, kickin back

Their wines are near-perfect. Amazing stuff.

And understandably except for the Private Reserve, the prices are as enticing as the quality of these superb productions.

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I’ll definitely get my hands on some these wines, and not necessarily for special occasions either. Sunday breakfast should do.

 

Brain damage: 8/10

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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.

xx

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.

P1050462

Just add ice..

Brain damage: 8/10

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