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Sipping Eastward

Tired of hearing another Scottish whisky? Then it’s time to go east! If you haven’t heard, Japanese and Taiwanese whiskies have been making malt tsunamis for some time. Opening a bottle is opening the doors to a whole new world of distinctive readjusted flavours. Buckle up! We’re sipping eastward.

Miyagikyo Single Malt

Type Japanese Whisky
Style Single Malt
Region Miyagi
Country Japan
Distillery Miyagikyo
ABV % 45
Aged NAS
NOTES:
RM498.00

Lessons in the Dram

True or false: when it comes to Single Malt whisky, the older, the better.

The answer is false. We aren’t saying that age doesn’t matter, but really, it’s all about the right balance. The younger the whisky, the more it retains the cereal flavours from the barley. The older ones have more time to draw flavours from the barrel. That said, the quality of the barrel plays an important role. Whisky aged in an over-used barrel may lack in flavour.

Description

Trust the Japanese to have excellent quality control. Nikka, the founder of Miyagikyo distillery, searched high and low for the ideal location for barrel ageing. The air has to be pure and high in humidity, much like the Cairngorms highland in Scotland. He did find such a place in Japan after three long years. It was the foothills of Miyagi prefecture, where he built the Miyagikyo distillery in 1969.

Miyagikyo distillery is one of the most advanced whisky facilities, yet it uses old Coffey stills from the 19th century—a Japanese trait that respects both progress and tradition. The Miyagikyo Single Malt is their entry whisky and honestly could be mistaken for a Speyside scotch. It is that smooth. Unlike the Scots, who use wheat, the Miyagikyo uses maize for malt, which offers a novel experience on the palate.

Tasting Notes

Sight
Light amber
Nose
Luscious and overflowing with aromas. Captivating hearts with the flirtatious perfume of tropical fruits, beeswax, and white flowers. Hints of white smoke give it a mysterious sophistication. We wonder if there is more.
Palate
Despite its playful nose, the palate is solid. At the core is malted barley, spiced with ginger and coated in chocolate. Even in mid-palate, the elegant mix remains, then slowly eases out with fresh tobacco leaves and coconut.
Finish
Now it is soft and romantic, and doesn’t want to say goodbye. The tobacco and ginger linger on. It leaves behind wilted roses, nuts, and some exotic fruits like lychee. It’s a little sour too, with the lemon and grapefruit, but that’s soothed out with fine tannins. Awww, another one?

Customer Reviews

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Omar Single Malt - Bourbon Cask

Type Taiwanese Whisky
Style Single Malt
Region Taiwan
Country Taiwan
Distillery Nantou
ABV % 46
Aged NAS
NOTES:
RM388.00

Lessons in the Dram

What’s NAS? It’s the acronym for no age statement, like how the European Union is EU. Speaking of which, the EU (see what we did there) legally allows two types of age statements. 


Distilleries can either declare the youngest age of the bottled spirit or not mention it at all, hence NAS. Age statements can inform us on how long the Single Malt was matured before bottling, but they do no justice to the flavours and quality of the whisky itself. We may miss a good dram if we make premature decisions based on the age statement alone. That is why some distilleries prefer not to use them.

Description

Before Nantou and Kavalan was the TTL (Taiwan Tobacco & Liquor Corporation) who bottled, imported, and sold whisky since 1947. The first TTL distillery opened in 1978, where they produced adapted specialty spirits and wines to suit the Asian taste buds. It was a hit, and whisky, in particular, saw a spike in popularity and demand. To quench the thirsty crowd, TTL made their first Single Malt whisky and released it under their Omar and Jade Supremacy labels.

Their Omar line shares the same sources of malted barley as those in Scotland. The malt is fermented and distilled in Nantou—TTL’s newest distillery, then aged in ex-bourbon casks that are imported directly from Kentucky, USA. We don’t know how old (or how young) this whisky is, but we do know that the tropical climate in Taiwan only makes whisky age faster. Whatever your guess is, it’s probably younger than it tastes.

Awards

Silver
Whiskies Worldwide – Single Malt – 2019 International Spirits Challenge

Tasting Notes

Sight
Medium amber
Nose
Definitely zesty! Lemon and orange peels dominate, with hints of cinnamon and melted caramel dripping on the end.
Palate
Here’s one for the sweet tooth. The palate is loaded with toffee, chunks of milk chocolate, vanilla extract, and ripe bananas all in a single serving.
Finish
Tones down the sugary desserts to barley dipped in honey and a handful of dried tropical fruits. It’s addictive, and we can’t stop sipping (munching) away.

Customer Reviews

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Amrut Fusion

Type Indian Whisky
Style Single Malt
Region India
Country India
Distillery Amrut
ABV % 50
Aged NAS
NOTES:
RM418.00

Lessons in the Dram

Single Malt whiskies, although everywhere, were never sold for consumption until the 1960s. They were sent to other distilleries to make blended whisky. It was Glenfiddich that broke away from that practice and allegedly sold the first Single Malt to consumers. A daring move at the time, but worth every drop as the Single Malt rapidly gained popularity worldwide. It was also the first Single Malt to make its way into airport retail shops.

Description

Amrut puts India on the map. It's a Single Malt that can compete with some of the world’s best. It won two gold medals too. When it comes to Single Malt, Amrut is the real deal. It’s even lightly peated with 25% of that Indian barley sent to Scotland for peating. The remaining 75% stays unpeated and dried in India. No brownie points for guessing where the “Fusion” came from.

As for age, it’s “four and half years old”, aged in new oak and ex-bourbon casks. In truth, it has the quality of a 12 to 15 years old scotch. No joke. Studies proved that whisky matures three to four times much faster in warmer climates. If we do the math, the Amrut could be 16 years and older. It’s not all age and no substance either. Many Scotch lovers would kill to get their hands on that 50% ABV. Great job, India!

Awards

Gold
Liquid Gold Award – 2014 Jim Murray's Whisky Bible
Gold
Asian Whisky – 2014 Wizards of Whisky Awards

Tasting Notes

Sight
Antique gold
Nose
Remarkably rich with an abundance of citrus fruits and spices (obviously), and a big serving of creamy sweetness from the barley. There's a slight peatiness—the perfect final touch.
Palate
Fruity with an added depth of rich oak, coffee, and dark chocolate. Soft peat snakes in between the flavours.
Finish
Long spicy finish with some marmalade sweetness.
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