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.



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.



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


Fifty Six Degrees whisky

KL was graced with a new Scotch whisky brand recently when Fifty Six Degrees launched at the supercool spot, M8.

56 Degrees is a blended whisky, consisting of single malts and a single-grain whisky, aged in American bourbon oak casks and finished in sherry casks.

56 degrees is the latitude of the Scottish Highlands.

A single grain whisky is made in a single distillery, from unmalted grains – most often barley, corn or wheat. (If produced with malted grain, the end product is a single malt.)

Boy of M8 gettin d party started

Boy of M8 gettin d party started

It describes itself as a ‘’smooth and rich new-age blend’’. Well, it’s smooth alright. Extremely smooth, easy-drinking beverage. Guests enjoyed many glasses and it went down easy. In that sense, it’s a good whisky for any occasion, breakfast included.

Very interesting.


Very smooth

The whisky is produced by 56 Degrees Marketing Sdn Bhd and Ian Macleod Distillers Ltd, a Scotch producer which also does whiskies like Glengoyne, Isle of Skye and Tamdhu.

“The best feature of 56 Degrees is that it can appeal to both whisky aficionados and novices’’- Kristine Goh, CEO of 56 Degrees Marketing. Yup, it probably can.



Chillin with a guy in a kilt

Chillin with a guy in a fancy skirt

This new blend has a balance of citrus with a malty heart, plus a fresh, creamy palate. Can be enjoyed on the rocks. It’s actually a Highland whiskey, blended with the Asian palate in mind.


The awesome party went on till late, as we moved from the restaurant to the lounge

You can find this whisky at The Roulette Restaurant Bar, Naughty Nuri’s, Piggy Tail, Sid’s Pub, Chapter One Bar & Bistro, Hour Place Restaurant, Eight Gourmets Gala (EGG), and Castell Gastrobar.


Brain damage: 8.5/10


Johnnie Walker Double Black

This is a relatively new Scotch that my housemate Ben got his paws on.

Tried it out recently. Quite different from the Black Label; a lot more smokiness, as its uses West Coast whiskies. Some Islay style. Although it’s blend, it’s got a distinct character that suggests otherwise. More like a single-malt.

The whisky was created taking Black Label as a blueprint and adding heavily-peated malts, with some aged in deeply charred oak casks.

Giant stills at the Cardhu distillery

Some of those who enjoy Black Label might appreciate something more complex like the Double Black. Price wise, its 15-20% higher than Black Label.

It’s reported to be doin really well – it’s already number eight in travel retail liquors by value, above Absolut Blue, Jack Daniel’s and Famous Grouse – exceeding sales targets seven times!

At the mo, its available exclusively in travel retail at selected airports. KLIA probably not yet, but is designated to be available at Bangkok International and Changi.

Loos like the JW DB is set to be a hit!


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