Malaysian Food Blog, Travel, Diving & More

Tag / single malt

I may not be a huge whisky drinker, but I do enjoy an occasional glass or three, so when I was invited to join The Glenlivet Guardians in one of their tasting sessions, I agreed immediately.

The Guardian program often hosts members-only access to private tastings, limited edition releases, exclusive downloads and invitations to unique events, this was one of such events held at Barn Thai, Plaza 33.

the Glenlivet Alpha, 12, 15, and 18 year old single malt whisky
the Glenlivet Alpha, 12, 15, and 18 year old single malt whisky

The invitation simply states “A mystery to taste” – join us to unlock the secrets of a truly rare and enigmatic single malt with your senses in the dark. We really didn’t know what to expect at first.

KY, Horng, and Lance in the "blind tasting" of Glenlivet Alpha
KY, Horng, and Lance in the “blind tasting” of Glenlivet Alpha

As it turned out, we were treated with Glenlivet Alpha, a limited release by Master Distiller Alan Winchester with only 3,350 bottles in the world, 42 of which allocated to Malaysia.

plenty of Glenlivet Alpha to go with some tidbits from Barn Thai
plenty of Glenlivet Alpha to go with some tidbits from Barn Thai

On the night of this event, we consumed 3 of the 42 bottles. The whisky has been matured in ‘first-fill Scotch whisky casks; that is ones that had only previously held Scotch, without any prior influence of Bourbon or sherry. There isn’t any other information available on the Alpha except the 50% alcohol strength.

Lionel, Michael, and Chris with Glenlivet Alpha
Lionel, Michael, and Chris with Glenlivet Alpha

We put up our blind folds and started tasting the whisky, removing the sense of sight to put more weight on the sense of smell and taste. The Glenlivet Alpha has a somewhat subtle but fruity nose, with orange, cherry, and a bit of a toffee tinge. On the palate it is smooth and supple, with more fruit and a trace of almond and cloves.

We certainly enjoyed it a lot, having kept asking the wonderful servers to keep the glasses coming, and it was so good that one of my friends immediately have two bottles booked, although I’m not allowed to disclose his name lest his wife complains.

A few weeks ago, I was invited to my very first Single Malt Scotch Whisky tasting session at Carcosa Seri Negara. When I first got the email invite, the one thing that immediately came up to my mind was “is there a dress code?”.

As it turned out, Carcosa was indeed a very apt location for the Balvenie Single Malt Scotch Wisky that we were being introduced to. A very classy place for top of the line scotch to be tasted by the weel heeled in this part of the world who came with their fancy cars (my car was sandwiched between a Ferrari and a Porsche).

Balvenie Single Malt Whisky
30, 21, 15, and 12 year old Balvenie Scotch priced from RM 2000+ to RM 200+

Balvenie is the only distillery that employs their own internal resources in every step of the whisky making process, from growing barley to malting, mashing, fermentation, distillation, to maturation process. Nothing is outsourced, and everything is still done in the good old fashion way. They even maintain the same copper stills by their own coppersmith of some fifty years.

Balvenie Single Malt Whisky, David Mair
David Mair, the Balvenie Brand Ambassador

Our host of the day was David Mair, the Balvenie Brand Ambassador who flew all the way from Scotland. Throughout the night I did learn quite a bit from about single malt whisky in general, and of course, about Balvenie.

  • In Scotland, whisky is spelled without the E (as in whiskey)
  • Single malt whisky is distilled by a single distillery in a pot still, using malted barley as the only grain ingredient
  • Scotch whisky must be distilled in Scotland
  • The 12, 15, 18, and 30 year old whisky each has a different process for maturation, keeping the 12 year old for another 18 years doesn’t make it a 30 year old Balvenie.

buffet dinner at Carcosa Seri Negara
the buffet spread at Carcosa Seri Negara

We were treated to a buffet dinner prior to the tasting session. Most of the dishes from the buffet spread was pretty good, not overly impressive, but not disappointing either. I vaguely remember that the salad prawn was excellent, but the motto of the day was to review the whisky, not the food anyway.

I joined Fatboybakes, Lyrical Lemongrass, and Cumi as the four invited bloggers to be among those who got there with their Ferraris, Porsches, and Rolls Royce. I think we were also among the most misbehaved.

Balvenie Single Malt Scotch Whisky
Balvenie Single Malt Whisky tasting session

At the tasting table, we were each presented the four different Balvenie Scotch Whisky, the 12, 15, 18, and 30 years.

  • Balvenie Signature, 12 years – aged from finest first fill bourbon, then refill and sherry casks.
  • Balvenie Single Barrel Single Malt, 15 years – aged in only selected casks which have the essential characteristics of The Balvenie Single Barrel, with honey, vanilla, and oaky notes.
  • Balvenie PortWood Single Malt, 21 years – rare Balvenie is trasnferred to port casks, or pipes, which have held fine port wines.
  • Balvenie Thirty Single Malt, 30 years – by marrying Balvenie slowly aged in traditional oak whisky casks with that aged in European oak sherry casks. The Thirty is bottled at 47.3% abv.

KYspeaks, Cumi, Lyrical Lemongrass, Fatboybakes
KY, Lyrical Lemongrass, Fatboybakes, and Cumi

My favorite? Of course the 30 years old! The whisky is silky smooth with a hint of plum, chocolate, and caramelized pear taste that lingers in your mouth with sweetness. That said, I really liked the 12 and 21 year old too, the 18 though, somehow tasted a bit too strong for me.

It is also interesting how the taste changes if you drink it neat compared to mixing with half a glass of water. The water really brings out the flavor in a good way. Coke, green tea, or orange juice is not the mixers you should ever use for whisky, especially these single malts.

The Balvenie whiskys are priced from RM 200+ for the 12 year old to RM 2000+ for the flagship product. Since the 12 year old is still perfectly drinkable after tasting the excellent 30, I think I shall start from there.

Single and Available,
G21, Ground Floor,
Bangsar Village Shopping Centre,
1, Jalan Telawi 1,
Bangsar Baru, KL.