This review is a bit of a departure from the usual fare as instead of reviewing just one whisky, I will be reviewing THREE. The reason for this lies in the fact that I had the chance to sample all three at the same time during a tasting session at a bar.
But first, a little bit of context. While I do admit that The Auld Alliance is my favourite bar in Singapore, it isn’t the only place that I frequent if I am in search of some good whisky. Another establishment that I tend to frequent would be Charlie’s Paradiso at Boat Quay. The latter has a good list of whiskies that one could choose from, but they also have a wonderful sampling menu (also known as “flights”) that one could partake in for a reasonable fee.
All in all, there are four whisky flights that the bar serves: The Expert Flight, The Scottish Flight, The Blended Flight and The World Flight. I tend to alternate between the first two options more often than not (which isn’t much of a surprise), but there is a good reason as to why I keep coming back for more.
Firstly, it provides you with fairly outstanding value for money. You choose 3 whiskies from a list of 6 that every flight will have. Each of these whiskies are then served as 15ml pours for you to sip and savour. And the best part? It only costs $24++ (so basically $28.10).
Now I know some of you would sniff at the fact that the pours are relatively tiny, but believe me when I say that this would be a cost effective way to sample whiskies in order to determine whether you like them or not (rather than leave things to chance and paying for a full pour of something you may not enjoy).
But let’s get back to the whiskies in question. Of the 6 whiskies on the list which made up The Scottish Flight, I chose the following:
- Isle of Arran 15th Anniversary bottling
- Bruichladdich Infinity 3rd Edition
- Glenkinchie Distiller’s Edition
I hadn’t indulged in any of these three previously so it was bound to be fun. The bar tends to switch out the whiskies from time to time in order to freshen things up, which I reckon is a good call.
I have great respect for what Arran have been doing and had not tried this expression before so I felt that it was definitely worth giving a try. This was a feisty Islander which had been distilled in 1999 and undergone a second maturation in Amontillado sherry casks.
My love for Bruichladdich is well documented and so this was a no brainer. This particular Islay whisky is a mix of multi-vintage American oak casks which previously held either Bourbon or Syrah, which definitely meant that I was in for something different from the usual sherried fare.
As for the Glenkinchie, I knew that it was a gentle Lowlander which had also been “finished” in Amontillado sherry casks, so that was bound to be interesting as well.
My intention in picking these three whiskies out was to pit them against one another in order to see how each style and region scored against one another. I know it isn’t exactly a fair competition, but in this case I was willing to make an exception.
And so it began.
Isle of Arran 15th Anniversary bottling (54.6% abv)
Colour: Pale gold
Nose: The strength of the alcohol is the first thing you would notice about this whisky as it charges into your nose. But just beyond the cask strength alcohol presence there is a certain nuttiness to it that is reminiscent of roasted cashews and macadamias.
Some spice then enters the fray, with cinnamon and some cloves apparent. There’s a notable splash of brininess in there, which is a nod to the Island characteristics which makes Arran unique. Towards the end, just a hint of citrus emerges. Quite a complex nose overall.
Palate: The nuttiness from the nose makes an appearance, along with the cask strength alcohol burn. The alcohol inundates the palate but doesn’t sear it. The heat brings out the spiciness from the nose as well, with cinnamon, cloves and some black pepper emerging.
The sherried notes are present in the background but are rather restrained, which is consistent with the character associated with an Amontillado. As the heat recedes, it brings in a coastal saltiness along with some lemon citrus notes. Somewhat drying mouthfeel.
Finish: Quite a long finish on this one, with the citrus notes becoming somewhat more pronounced. The spiciness makes another appearance, with black pepper and cloves particularly apparent. Very interesting and complex dram.
Bruichladdich Infinity 3rd Edition (50% abv)
Nose: Quite winey on the nose, which is no surprise considering the Syrah influence. There’s a nice touch of sweet peat there, but it is somewhat restrained. Some citrus notes also emerge after a while, with some raisins, apricots and some orange juice. Some barley sugar in there as well.
Palate: Sweet winey notes intermingled with soft peat. This is delicious! The peat then takes control and injects a bit of spiciness into the proceedings, with some cayenne pepper and nutmeg apparent. After a while, there are hints of dark chocolate and orange peels, before the citrus notes make an appearance.
If you delve deeper, you would pick up a hint of sweet barley and barley sugar, which is rather delightful as it gives you a glimpse of the heart of the spirit.
Finish: Medium to long finish, with more of the sweet peat and citrus notes combining beautifully. Some coca powder. The winey character of this whisky is the star of the show and contributes to the drying character. Delicious!
Glenkinchie Distiller’s Edition (43% abv)
Colour: Deep gold
Nose: The dry sherried Amontillado notes are rather pronounced here, with a certain nuttiness that is somewhat similar to the Arran. However, in this case there seems to be more of a walnut and almond character to it. Some apple citrus with sweet barley notes also apparent.
Palate: More of the sweet barley and apple citrus notes on the palate, with a noticeable drying mouthfeel from the Amontillado. The citrus notes slowly morphs into a cidery note, which is rather weird.
Finish: Short and rather uninspiring. While the barley sugar and the apple citrus/cider notes follow through to the end, it just doesn’t seem complex enough. An overall underwhelming experience.
Overall, I felt that the Bruichladdich and the Arran were rather close to one another, with the dry sherried nuttiness of the Arran providing a nice counterpoint to the peated winey character of the Bruichladdich. The Glenkinchie was a disappointing experience for me and the rating above reflects my view of it.