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  • Birth of a Baby Giant: Hibiki Japanese Harmony

    Hibiki Japanese Harmony - the latest whisky to take Singapore by storm. 

    Hibiki Japanese Harmony Hibiki Japanese Harmony - the stuff of dreams...

    So what's the latest hot thing on the Singapore whisky scene? Well, there is no doubt that all the talk has been about the Hibiki Japanese Harmony, which was released in March 2015 to showcase Hibiki's range of young talent, supported by its more veteran whiskies. 

    Hibiki was created to be the paragon of the Suntory blend. The name Hibiki literally means "resonance" in Japanese, and reflects Suntory's corporate philosophy to "live in harmony with people and nature". Hibiki celebrates Japanese nature and the subtleties found in the 24 seasons of the traditional calendar - this is reflected in the 24 facets of Hibiki's bottle design. Hibiki is a harmonious blend of numerous malt and grain whiskies from Suntory's distilleries, which are meticulously blended to create a full orchestra of flavours and aromas. The Hibiki Japanese Harmony is the epitome of the Hibiki blend. Subtle, noble and harmonious, the Hibiki Japanese Harmony is a perfect introduction to Japanese whisky and the award winning House of Suntory Whisky.

    Tasting Notes

    If you have not already tried the Hibiki Japanese Harmony (what have you been doing?!), we will give you a heads up on what to expect when you finally get the chance to do so.

    Colour: Amber

    Nose: Rose, lychee, hint of rosemary, mature woodiness/sandal wood

    Palate: Honey like sweetness, candied orange peel, white chocolate

    Finish: Subtle and tender long finish, hint of Mizunara (Japanese oak)

    In developing the Hibiki Japanese Harmony, Hibiki proved that age is not the sole parameter in determining quality, delivering a truly exceptional Japanese ‘No Age Statement’ whisky.

    Bootleggers View

    We know what some of you are thinking: "No Age Statement, seriously? I want my whisky to be at least 18 years old!". We have, of course, stated our view on ‘No Age Statement’ whiskies before in our earlier blog post, but we will repeat it here: take all the criticisms and preconceived notions on ‘No Age Statement’ whiskies with a pinch of salt, taste it for yourself and decide if ‘No Age Statement’ whiskies are for you.

    In any case, we think that like the Yamazaki Distillers Reserve, the Hibiki Japanese Harmony offers good value in light of the ever increasing price of Japanese whiskies in the market. The Hibiki Japanese Harmony is certainly ideal for those who would like to explore the famed Hibiki range of whiskies!

  • Scotland's Whisky Regions 101 - Singapore connoisseur's guide

    Scotland's whisky regions A map showing Scotland's whisky regions.

    "What are the different whisky regions in Scotland? And how do the whiskies from different regions differ in taste?"

    Whiskies from Scotland are extremely popular amongst whisky drinkers in Singapore. As such, we often receive the above questions from our customers. So here's the 101 on Scotland's whisky regions!

    Every whisky is unique, but there are distinct flavours associated with different Scotch whisky regions. The best way to get to know each region is of course to taste its products, but it helps to know some background information. Although Scotland has a variety of micro-climates and whisky making traditions (and therefore a variety of whiskies), the following 6 regions are considered as the main whisky producing regions.

    Campbeltown. Most whisky producing regions are vast, but Campbeltown is very small - it comprises just a single town and the immediately surrounding area. It was once considered the capital city of Scotch whiskies, with as many as 28 distilleries in the area. Although there are now only 3 operating Campbeltown distilleries, it retains its own area designation because of its historical significance in whisky making. An interesting example of a Campbeltown whisky which has a huge cult following is the Springbank.

    Highlands. The Highland region, named for its high elevation and its position at the very north of Scotland, is the largest of Scotland’s whisky producing areas. Highland whiskies tend to be rich and smoky, although there is a huge variation. Because this is a large region with a variety of microclimates and landforms, the whiskies each have a unique flavor. You will hear the word ‘Glen’ a lot in both Highland and Speyside distillery names; this word means ‘valley’, which is where distilleries tend to be built. Common examples of Highlands whiskies include Glenmorangie and Dalwhinnie, whereas more exotic examples include Clynelish and Deanston.

    Islands. While this name sounds similar to Islay, don’t let that confuse you. The Islands region includes the isles of Arran, Jura, Mull, Orkney, Shetlands and Skye. There is some disagreement about the Isle of Orkney, which many feel should be grouped stylistically and geographically with the nearby Highlands. However you define the region, its whiskies are smoky, peaty and salty in a similar fashion as Islay whiskies, although they are generally milder. Talisker is one of the better known Island whiskies and has the characteristics considered typical of the region, whereas Tobermory is very much considered as a niche whisky.

    Islay. Islay may be a small island, but it is well-known for its high quality whiskies. Its whiskies tend to have predominant notes of smoke, peat and salty sea wind. A relatively small island, Islay once had 23 distilleries but now only has 8. However, the popularity of this distinctive terroir ensures that more distilleries are coming to this area. Popular Islay whiskies include Lagavulin, Laphroaig, Bowmore, Bunnahabhain and Caol Ila.

    Lowlands. As the name suggests, this is the flattest region of Scotland and also the Southernmost. The Lowland whiskies tend to be light and smooth compared to other Scotches, probably because of the temperate nature of the area. These whiskies are a treat at any time and go well with a variety of foods and situations.

  • Coopering (for whisky)? What the **** is that?

    Hahaha bet you have never heard of that. And if you have, congratulations - you are probably a top percentile whisky-geek, especially in Singapore.

    To determine if you are a true-blue geek, check out this Buzzfeed quiz on Scotch

    whisky singapore coopering You hear a lot about how whisky casks can affect the flavor of a whisky, but do you know how these casks are made?

    Coopering is an art that dates as far back as wine production—that is, thousands of years—and the profession continues to this day, with traditional methods augmented by modern technology. Here are a few things that every whisky lover should know about coopering.

    The Ingredients

    Scotch whisky by definition must be matured in ex-bourbon or ex-sherry casks. These are made using oak from mature trees (defined as being 25 feet tall and 3 feet in diameter). This wood is sawed into planks that are turned into staves (staves are planks that have been cut and curved so that they can be combined into a round cask). In order to bend the planks into staves, the planks are heated with fire. In some whisky/whiskey traditions, such as in bourbon making, the inside of the cask is also charred. The heating and/or charring of the casks adds flavour to the wood and helps the liquor to penetrate the wood.

    The Coopering

    A cooper (ie. a barrel maker) then smoothes and finishes the staves so they can be joined tightly without leaks. No glue or nails are used - the cask must be able to hold liquid with the help of metal hoops alone. A cask traditionally uses 32 staves for the body and 15 to seal the ends. No finishes, such as varnishes or paints, are used because these would interfere with the ability of the air to penetrate the wood. It is very important that the spirits inside the casks be exposed to air during maturation. Lastly, a hole is bored into the side to allow the spirit to be checked and sampled as it matures. This obviously is kept closed through most of the maturation process.

    The Variations

    Bourbon casks are charred, while sherry casks are not. However, there are other variations within the casks used for whisky maturation. There are several different sizes, from a 4 or 5 gallon pin to a 108 gallon butt. The smaller the cask, the more the whisky will interact with the wood. There are a variety of shapes, although these are mainly due to the historical need to ship casks on either sea or land. How they affect the end product depends on the unique aspects of that cask.

    Often, whisky will be aged in a certain type of cask and then finished in another type of cask. This is intended to create a more complex flavor by allowing the spirit to interact with other types of wood and spirits. Finishing usually involves just six months to a year, while the first part of the maturation usually takes three or more years. Sometimes a whisky that has obvious flaws will be finished in a way that partially removes such flaws. Deciding how to finish a whisky is an expert matter requiring years or even decades of experience in whisky making.

    Some of our latest releases are indicative of the complexity in the choice of casks. The Macallan 12 Fine Oak is triple cask aged with maturations in Spanish oak sherry, American oak sherry and American oak bourbon barrels to create a mellow, floral and subtle flavor. The Yamazaki Distillers Reserve is matured in Bordeaux wine casks and Sherry casks, featuring malt matured in Mizunara casks, adding subtle fragrant oak notes.

    For more whisky-geek worthy stuff, check out our "Whisky Wisdom" page!

  • Lagavulin - If it is good enough for Johnny Depp...

    it probably is good enough for most.

    But first things first. Aeneas MacDonald writes of a man who ‘was kept awake for hours in the night by the prolonged rhapsodies of two Highlanders, men who had nothing else in common in the world but their affection for and praise of Lagavulin’. It has, he says, ‘an almost legendary fame’. That was in 1930 and, if anything, its fame has grown. Today, it inspires fanatical devotion in its many followers.

    "I don't drink hard liquor anymore, but I sometimes order Lagavulin just for the smell. It's so good. It's unbelievable." - Johnny Depp (Rolling Stone, February 2005)

    The Lagavulin 16-Year-Old is a single malt with the massive peat-smoke that is typical of southern Islay. However, it also offers a unique blend of richness and dryness that turns it into a truly interesting dram. As it is probably the most pungent of all Islay malts, it is not for the faint-hearted.

    The Lagavulin 16-Year-Old was awarded the Gold Outstanding Medal at the International Wine and Spirits Competition 2012, the Non-Plus-Ultra Award (Daily Drams) at the Malt Maniacs Awards 2010 & 2011, the Best Islay (13 to 20 years) Award at the World Whiskies Awards 2012, and the Double Gold Medal in the San Francisco World Spirits Competition 2013. The Lagavulin 16-Year-Old has a rating of 95 in Jim Murray’s Whisky Bible 2012.

    The Lagavulin 16-Year-Old was awarded the Gold Outstanding Medal at the International Wine and Spirits Competition 2012, the Non-Plus-Ultra Award (Daily Drams) at the Malt Maniacs Awards 2010 & 2011, the Best Islay (13 to 20 years) Award at the World Whiskies Awards 2012, and the Double Gold Medal in the San Francisco World Spirits Competition 2013. The Lagavulin 16-Year-Old has a rating of 95 in Jim Murray’s Whisky Bible 2012.

  • A FEATURE ON THE LAPHROAIG 18-YEAR-OLD

    LAPHROAIG 18Our best-selling Laphroaig 18 is a beast. As a rare whisky produced in limited quantity, our customers love it for its peatiness (aka smokiness) which makes for a perfect drink after a steak dinner or with a mid to heavy body cigar. For those of you who have read our feature article on the Glenfiddich, you will remember that we had mentioned that Laphroaig incites love or hate amongst drinkers. Why do some drinkers hate it? Well, for the exact same peatiness. As you would have guessed by now, peatiness is a characteristic that some people love and others hate.

    Laphroaig is the brainchild of Ian Hunter over 75 years ago, and is still distilled in the same way today. The distillery sits in the Islay region, alongside its famous counterparts - the Lagavulin and Bowmore. In making the Laphroaig, malted barley is dried over a peat fire. The smoke from this peat, found only on Islay, gives Laphroaig its particularly peaty (aka smoky) flavour.

    Laphroaig 18 YO

     

    Laphroaig 18 is made in limited quantities each year and savoured by a fortunate few. A soft, sweet and spicy Islay peat smoke greets you when you first open the bottle. The immediate taste is an oak sweetness, which comes from the whisky spending 18 good years in the barrel. A faint hint of the sea can be detected, testimony to its time maturing on the remote island of Islay. Bottled at 48% ABV, it is non-chill filtered for a depth of taste and texture.

    As mentioned, the Laphroaig 18 has won multiple prestigious international awards. It was awarded the Gold Medal Best in Class at the International Wine and Spirits Competition 2010, the Double Gold Medal at the San Francisco World Spirits Competition 2011, and the Gold Medal at the International Wine and Spirits Competition 2013.

    To complete your Laphroaig 18 journey, see below for a video on its tasting notes!

     Cheers, 

    Bootleggers

  • Special Orders of Craft Beers & Craft Ciders

    March 22, 2015 Beer Brains, News

    You are probably sick and tired of the same old cheap and tasteless commercial beers/ciders that you get from your supermarket and airports. But you like to chill out in front of your very own TV on your own sofa (or bed) with a high quality ice-cold ale/lager/stout/cider - just like the kind you get at micro-brewery restaurants in Singapore. What do you do?

    Fret not, we've got the ready solution. We are happy to make special orders of unique craft beers and craft ciders for you to ensure that you get the freshest craft beers and craft ciders in Singapore so that your experience will be like being in a micro-brewery restaurant, but only better because you will pay much less and be in the comfort of your own home! All you have to do is to email us at hello@bootlegbrew.com.sg to let us know what craft beer/cider you would like (perhaps something that you had encountered on your holidays/read about) and we would do our very best to source it for you.

    1. We can let you know the availability and price of your request within 3 business days.

    2. If you confirm your request, it will be made available within 5 business days of your confirmation.

    3. For such a special order, a minimum order of 24 bottles of a single type of beer/cider applies. We provide free delivery for orders of $175 and above.

    Curious about exploring the intriguing world of craft beers but don't know where to start? Fret not, we can share with you our list of favourite craft beers, as follows:

    • Mac's Great White
    • Minoh Pilsner
    • Hitachino White Ale
    • Tokyo Black
    • Minoh Stout
    • Hitachino Espresso Stout

    Good things are best shared, and from our experience, such craft beers are also excellent for events such as weddings, birthdays and corporate functions. So drop us a mail at hello@bootlegbrew.com.sg  now!

    Cheers! 

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