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The Singleton of Dufftown

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CLUBHOUSE | LIQUID ASSETS THE SINGLETON OF DUFFTOWN JOHN BRUCE RAISES HIS GLASS TO TWO OUTSTANDING NEW EXPRESSIONS FROM THE "WHISKEY CAPITAL OF THE WORLD" here is a sign on the road into Dufftown which declares it the “Whisky Capital of the World”. The citizens of Islay might disagree with the hyperbole but long-time readers of this publication will know that Dufftown lies to the east of the Glenfarclas distillery in the Speyside region of Scotland [see "Glenfarclas, West of Dufftown" from the December 2009 issue] and will also be familiar with my wont to get to the point of these tasting tales in a somewhat meandering fashion. In the year when we lost the late great Ronnie Corbett, the master meanderer, it seems only appropriate that this should remain the case. Former First Minister of Scotland, Alex Salmond, when visiting China and Hong Kong a few years ago, remarked in jest to an assembly of journalists in Shenzhen that the demand for single malt whisky was such that Scotland was in danger of running out of its best-loved export. Three separate publications took him at his word and left the FM, at a gathering in Hong Kong the next evening, promising that this was not the case. Much as I admire Mr Salmond, it has to be said that this may have been a typical politician’s promise. One only has to see the emergence of single malts described by perceived quality rather than age and the emergence of new single malts and distilleries under construction to understand that here is an industry whose success is putting huge pressure on the supply of malt whisky whose production is years in the planning. With its recently launched Singleton of Dufftown, Diageo has, in my opinion, fortunately eschewed such evasive naming and the publisher and I were fortunate enough to be invited to a recent tasting which featured both the 21 and 25-year-old expressions of this fine addition to the Singleton line. It must be said that Diageo is one of these companies that has the ability to destroy any joy in one’s career success that hubris might have allowed. I have known two Diageo employees well. One had been employed in Dublin many years before and tasked with designing mixed drinks featuring Guinness as the core ingredient and the other was the large, unsurprisingly cheerful, Drew Mills who conducted the tasting of the Singleton expressions last month. Where do they advertise these “jobs”? Dufftown sits on the River Fiddich and is the home to six active distilleries which produce more malt whisky than any other town in Scotland; this is no triumph of quantity over quality with some of the great names based in this picturesque Moray town. The eponymous Dufftown distillery has for many years produced fine malts which Diageo has mainly used in the production of their premium Johnny Walker Blue Label, but the introduction of the Singleton of Dufftown is both welcome and a sign of the 32 HK GOLFER・JUN 2016 T The author rates the 25-yearold alongside the best malts he's sampled in the last few years increasing demand for – and limited supply of – quality single malt whisky. As an aside, many people are now appreciating the value of whisky as an investment due to the burgeoning demand and limited supply but, much as art should be seen and music heard, whisky should be drunk; I am sure that even Adam Smith would have understood. Given our predilection for the pleasures of today rather than security in old age, the publisher and I eagerly accepted the invitation and headed for Paradis in Wyndham Street, which prior to arrival evoked much reminiscing about Vanessa of the same name, "Joe le Taxi", our departed youth and how magnificent Nena was singing "99 Red Balloons". Of course, such singularity of concentration left us ill-prepared for that typical Hong Kong odyssey of finding our destination. Having located the building, we encountered a sign instructing us to take the lift to the fourth floor and walk down. In some trepidation we negotiated a route that could have featured in the "Great Escape", although more suited to the size of the aforementioned Ronnie Corbett than Steve Macqueen, and were rewarded by our arrival at a HKGOLFER.COM

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destination worthy of its name. Paradis is indeed a hidden gem and if one adds the veritable cornucopia of ready poured fine malt whisky and generous sharing plates of delightfully presented food one might indeed believe that the name was entirely accurate. Displayed on tables in the room were some of collectors’ malts that The Singleton bottles from Diageo’s Glen Ord distillery which were beautifully presented in wooden cases but unfortunately were not part of the complimentary sampling of the evening. Not The 25-year-old has quite as appealing to the traditionalists were the been aged in ex-bourbon whisky cocktails that were readily distributed for American oak casks sampling. I have to say that the two I tried were both well designed and quite fantastic in taste Singleton being deemed of sufficient quality and the selectivity is readily apparent. but it did seem akin to using Chateau Lafitte to This is a sterling expression which both illustrates the difference between a sherry make sangria and I eagerly awaited the real thing. cask-matured whisky and one matured in bourbon casks. It also highlights the The tasting actually featured four single malts, great skill in selecting and combining the casks. The 25-year-old is a less rich but two from Glen Ord and two from Dufftown but magnificently flavoured expression. It is difficult to comparatively describe the given the fact that the flavour but it is light on the palate; more summer berries latter two are new to than rich citrus but it is long in flavour with just the right The 25-year-old is amongst the market, we shall amount of redolent warmth. It suits room temperature the best expressions I have leave the former for and an unadulterated pour, although a tiny amount of another day. We first sampled in a number of years water added might be to some tastes. sampled the Singleton The 25-year-old is amongst the best expressions and I would recommend a D u f f to w n 21- y e a rI have sampled in a number of years and I would swift purchase before the old which is aged in recommend a swift purchase before the damned European oak casks damned investors scoop it investors scoop it up. Each bottle is individually previously containing up. Each bottle is individually numbered and there are very limited global supplies. sherry and this This will, by virtue of its quality and rarity be highly numbered and there are very expression exemplifies sought after. The publisher preferred the 21-year-old, and why Scottish single malt limited global supplies. This it too is a magnificent addition to the Hong Kong single whisky is the success will, by virtue of its quality and malt market. The Singleton range, in my opinion, damns that it undoubtedly itself with faint praise. They advertise as themselves as rarity be highly sought after. is. Bottled at 43%, the top selling malt whisky in Taiwan; they are far better same as the 25-yearthan that. old, this slightly higher The name itself is somewhat counter intuitive as malt strength whisky is in no way an aggressively whisky is at its best when enjoyed in company and with Drew’s active refilling and strong spirit but is instead fruity, with a hint of the publisher and I sharing tales, it was apparent that Paradis was named with smoke or burnt oak and a sweet long finish. As great foresight. Sadly, like all great things, it came to an end and I left the publisher referenced previously, malt whisky is in high with a “Goodnight from him”. demand and no wonder when Diageo can bring products like this to market. Only one in every Dufftown sits on the River twenty thousand casks used for the Singleton Fiddich and is home to range is used to craft this and therein lies the rub; six active distilleries there will never be enough of it. In the short term neither the publisher nor I experienced this as we sat next to two unoccupied seats and it was our responsibility to ensure that the pre-poured nectar was not wasted. Next came the 25-year-old and Drew Mills emphasised that both began as the same spirit but this had been aged for at least four extra years and more importantly in ex-bourbon American oak casks. This expression is even rarer with only one in fifty thousand casks from 34 HK GOLFER・JUN 2016 HKGOLFER.COM

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