Monday, July 21, 2014

Guardians of Glenlivet Strike Again, This Time With A Most Unlikely Pairing .... COFFEE!

I get very excited whenever I see these green invitations.  The fact that the event is for the "GUARDIANS" of Glenlivet gives one a sense of purpose, much like a superhero, except our superpower, if it is one at all, is to swirl the precious amber nectar and be able to spout and detect all the different notes, from vanilla to fruit to spice... Sssh, I hope they (the organisers) don't get wind of this, but my palate is as insensitive as leather, and my scope of description is "oooh, nice, more 18 year old please".

I lifted this from the Glenlivet website, so as to sound a bit more knowledgeable.

This particular event sought  to pair very specialized coffee with the various Glenlivets,  which I thought was a very novel concept indeed.  Again, I have to camouflage my plebian-ness, and it's best NOT to mention at any point that my daily cuppa consists of a Nescafe Gold.  I can hear my artisanal brew friends fainting in horror, clutching their chests and gagging.  Nevertheless, there's nothing to stop one from experiencing new things in life, and well, when a glorious opportunity like this presents itself,  one just thanks one lucky stars.

Who knew, that tucked away in the Club Utama (hitherto only known for the Restaurant Extra Super Tanker).. in the Village, lies a haven for coffee afficianados, where a cuppa cost almost as much, if not more, than a pack of glenlivet.  Roast Factor Glee, the place is called, and I've heard rumours about how coffee is such an art form, (and I don't mean the pretty drawings baristas create from the foam of a cappucino), but I have never really witnessed the painstaking love involved in the brewing of certain brews.  Put it this way, the amount of time taken to make one cup,  I probably could finish baking an entire cake.

The traffic as always, was HORRENDOUS, and I hate being late especially for these events, but made it JUST in time to see Lionel Lau introducing himself and the event. .

The first blend, paired with Glenlivet 12 Year Old was the Guatemala, Los Cerritos
Altitude: 1200m/ Crop year 2013/ Varietal Catuai, Caturra and Bourbon.  Caramel butterscotch notes, pleasant round acidity with notes of milk chocolate and caramel leading into fresh black cherries, and finishing with notes of baked apple.

You could see the meticulous care with which the lady boss, Shyue Chin and her brother, Shyu Wen, lovingly prepared these exotic brews.

Paired with the 15 Year old Glenlivet, the Panama, Carmen Estate Washed, Altitude:
1650-2000m/ Crop Year 2013/ Varietal Catuai Caturra Typica.  Sweet plum, apple and some toffee in aroma, deep candied fruit-like sweetness, raisins, apricot, fat juicy body with medium acidity, long delicate finish.

This was my favourite combination, as I found the first one a bit too mild, and not particularly leaving any evocative impact on any part of the tongue.

This whole fancy set up comprises the V60 Hario Dripper and Buono Kettle which releases the hot water in a thin water stream.  You really need the patience of a saint, and a lot of elbow grease to produce a cup of coffee.

Finally, to pair with the 18 Year Old Glenlivet (this time round, the 18 Years finished very quickly!), Rwanda Inzovu Washed, Altitude: 1200-1800m/ Crop year 2013/ Varietal Bourbon Typica. Caramel, lime and soft floral in aroma, black tea-like, plum, lemon, thick body with tart green apple acid, candied grape-like sweetness, long finish.

Okay, the caffeine from the coffee, and the buzz from the booze, now that's a good combination alright!!!

Looking forward to the next chapter of the Guardians.

Monday, July 14, 2014

Glenfiddich Solera 15 Years, Dissected and Deconstructed

What was I saying about my penchant for alcoholic events?  Well, the idea of a deconstruction of a whisky was too tempting to refuse, even if it meant traversing the crazy traffic to Kota Damansara at 7-ish pm.

I was intrigued, what this was about.  Actually although I am no stranger to the Glenfiddich 15 Year Old, I was not aware that it actually had a name (Solera), and certainly, when one imbibes this nectar of the gods, one doesn't think too much about its origins, and how it's made.

As it turns out, three very different components are mixed to get the finished product that we know.  And tonight was the night we were to find out which and how.

Lee Ying Zhi, Regional Brand Manager during the Glenffidich Solera Reserve 15 Year Old deconstruction tasting event, introducing the event, and the concept of the event, but what I thought was really novel, was the live tour of the distillery via live feed.

Mathew Fergusson Stewart, ‎Brand Ambassador Southeast Asia at William Grant & Sons hosted the first ever Live Streaming tasting session directly from Warehouse 8, the Glenfiddich Distillery in Dufftown, Speyside.  The last time I saw him at the Glenfiddich event in KL Hilton, he was all kilted up.

[No point reinventing the wheel, the press release is informative and accurate]
Created in 1998 by Malt Master David Stewart, the Glenfiddich Solera process was inspired by the sherry bodegas of Spain and Portugal. As one of the oldest family-owned distillers in the industry, William Grant & Sons has had the time and freedom to constantly innovate and pioneer in new distilling methods, resulting in the renowned Glenfiddich Solera Reserve 15 Year Old – the first 15 year old Scotch whisky to make it into the top ten best-selling single malts in the world.

What is interesting is the handcrafted American Oak Solera vat, in which the three components are combined to mix, is never emptied.  The 35,000 litre vat is always kept at least half full, much like a starter dough for bread bakers... hence achieving a complex and interesting flavour as time goes by.

In 1998, the Glenfiddich Solera Vat was filled with whisky that was all at least 15 years of age (distilled in 1983 or earlier). The three whiskies used to fill the Solera Vat have all been matured in different types of casks:

15 YO Glenfiddich aged in Bourbon barrels – casks previously used to age bourbon in America (bottle no 1)

15 YO Glenfiddich aged in Sherry butts – casks previously used in Spain to age sherry (bottle no 2)

15 YO Glenfiddich aged in Bourbon barrels, and finished for three months in New American oak barrels that have never been used before. (bottle no 3)

After the Solera vat is filled, the whiskies are left to mix together, encouraged with gentle aeration.
After mixing in the Solera Vat, half of the whisky is transferred into marrying tuns and left to rest for at least three months (a process used for all Glenfiddich variants). The whisky is then chill filtered and diluted to bottling strength with Robbie Dhu spring water.  Now I did not know that all this stuff is actually diluted with spring water.  Which meant when we drank the individual components, it must have been very very strong.  Actually, it was.  Very strong.

The fact that the Solera vat is always left at least half full and significant traces of earlier batches will always remain in the vat means that each bottle of the Glenfiddich Solera Reserve 15 Year Old will contain some whisky that was distilled more than 30 years ago.  If only the vats could talk.  30 years ago, ...I was but a schoolboy.

As individual components, the Sherry Butts one was the most easy to drink.  It's a bit, but only just, a bit sweeter than the other two, and somehow the high alcohol content doesn't assail the palate like flaming water.

The amazing thing about the live feed was, that you could whatsapp Matthew any questions, and he would answer almost immediately...depending on how long the whatsapp took to reach Speyside.

Here, Matthew is speaking to a guy in a leather apron, who does barrels.  He's known as a Cooper, and it is a rare and sought after profession in the distillery industry.  They work in a cooperage, and are responsible for the quality of the barrels etc etc.

In Summary, thanks to the press release

What goes better with whisky than roast pork with crispy crackling???

Anyway, it was a great night out, especially with the sterling company of Christy Yoong of The Peak.

Monday, July 07, 2014

Errazuriz's Don Maximiano Founder's Reserve, Masterclass

Oh dear, I realised most of the events I have been attending recently are all alcohol related ones.  They are also the ones hardest to say no to, because generally, they are the most fun.  So when Makan Fairy Godmother got me an invite to a wine Masterclass, it was obviously going to be a yes from me.

Chile has always fascinated me, its long narrow stretch of land that stretches the length of some continents, giving it a diverse climate profile, depending whether you are north or south, (unlike our land of perpetual summer and humidity here), and such climes make it possible for vineyards to flourish and as such, produce delectable wines.

Founded by Don Maximiano Errazuriz, one of 19th century Chile's most prominent families, he sought a land north of Santiago, and came across Valle de Aconcagua, where he founded his winery in 1870, proclaiming "From the best land, the best wine".

Vina Errazuriz Winery

Today, Vina Errazuriz leads modern Chilean viticulture and showcases Chile as a world class appellation.

The very affable Nicolas Happke, who is the Area Manager of Southeast Asia, led us through the wine tasting that evening, featuring 4 different types of showcase wines.

The wines served were the Don Maximiano Founder's Reserve, 1989 (gosh, I had just graduated in 1989), Don Maximino Founder's Reserve 1999, Don Maximiano Founder's Reserve 2010 and Kai 2010.

The DM FR 1989 is a 100% Cabernet Sauvignon, described as clean cherry brick red in colour.  Notes of fresh fruit with earthy balsamic as well.  The wine had been decanted for an hour, but actually at the time of tasting, it felt that it could use a little bit more decanting time.  Actually, upon revisiting that wine 15 minutes later after the original tasting, the flavours were so much more evident, and it really was a very elegant, polished wines.

The DM FR 1999 is 97% Cab Sav and 3% Merlot.  Aged in oak, the wine boasts harmonious integration of toasted almonds, vanilla and coffee.  On the palate the spicy tannines titillate, with flavours of blackberries and cherries.

The DM FR 2010, as the years progress, become more complex in their composition, as I think wine makers by then were more adventurous in their blending, etc.  78% Cab Sav, 10% Carmenere, 7% Petit Verdot, 5% Syrah.  I have to say the Carmenere and Petit Verdot are new to my vocabulary.  Apparently, the Carmenere is unique to Chile, which paves the way for the next very special wine, the

KAI 2010.  Kai means "plant" in the Chilean indigenous Mapudungun language, and it embodies the ultimate expression fo Carmenere that had long been lost and forgotten by the rest of the world.  Sounds rather dramatic, I know, but it was rediscovered in Chile.   The Kai has been quoted as "Year in and out this is Chile's finest example of Carmenere" - Stephen Tanzer's International Wine Cellar.

The event was also graced by Christian Rehren Bargetto, the Chilean Ambassador to Malaysia, who said his favourite wines were the DM FR1989 and the KAI 2010.  What do you know, those were our favourites too!!!

Ooh, and one of my FAVOURITE things about event is this uber cool thumb drive containing the press release!!! So cute right!??

For those interested in procuring bottles of the wines, (they are not cheap, retailing at averagely RM300 and above per bottle), you can contact :

Su Ling Lee
Senior Marketing Executive
Asiaeuro Wines & Spirits Sdn Bhd
DID : +603-78832855 | FAX : +603-78832928 |

Follow them  on