Wednesday 10 August 2016

Michael Wong "MW35" 35yo Single Cask Glenlivet launch (Tasted #309)

We've written about Dragon 8 Auctions a few times recently, though usually about the auctions themselves or the incredible bottles they've featured. In 6 short months they've certainly established their whisky credentials here in Hong Kong.

Not one to rest on their laurels though, Dragon 8 have recently released their own whisky, in collaboration with HK actor/singer/pilot/celebrity Michael Wong. Not just any whisky, mind you - a 35yo single cask Glenlivet, well and truly from the days when the distillery was still using Golden Promise barley.

Bottled at 49.8% ABV, it spent its life maturing in a single sherry hogshead, and comes presented in an engraved decanter along with two engraved Glencairn glasses, all secured in an impressive display case and limited to 228 bottles.

..which is all very nice, but what I wanted to know was - what was the whisky like?

Luckily Steph and I were able to answer that question recently, when Dragon 8 and Michael Wong held a launch party at Gaia Ristorante in Sheung Wan.

Never one to do things by halves, Dragon 8 ensured the party was every bit a "party", with magnums of Champagne, excellent food, a band, a few tunes belted out by Michael, and even a trio of Brazilian dancers to ensure guests continued to party well into the night.

...and of course there was plenty of the "MW35" to go around:

35yo Single Cask "MW35" The Glenlivet (49.8% ABV, 35yo, 1 of 228 bottles, Speyside, Scotland, $24,888HKD)
Colour: Dark copper brown.

Nose: On first nosing there's no doubt this is every bit a sherried dram. Fruitcake, raisins, sherry-soaked prunes, it's all there. There's a hint of sulphur, but it's very minor and doesn't detract from the enjoyment at all. It's also, however, floral, fruity, with some hints of vegetation. The sort of unique combination of notes that usually only come with an extremely long time in oak.

Palate: Clean sherry - no discernible sulphur. Creamy, fruity (raisins, sultanas, cherries) with hints of caramel chews. It's drying, but not in a bad way, and whilst there's a slight tannic mouthfeel, it works well. The oak is there, but only to let you know that it spent a good 35 years getting to know this whisky (it doesn't dominate the whisky). It opens up nicely with a few drops of water too, with the sherry fruity notes exploding onto the palate.

Finish: Long and slightly tannic, with a lingering rich fruity sherry mouthfeel that makes you want to go back for a second dram and sit on it longer the second time (which we did...)

Rating (on my very non-scientific scale): 91/100. A nice, clean, lovely-drinking sherried whisky - a whisky that strikes the balance between being able to be appreciated by whisky fans, whilst also being enjoyed by whisky novices (there were plenty of both on the night). The rarity obviously makes it a special occasion dram, but for those occasions its well up to the task.

Update: A previous version of this article mentioned that this whisky was bottled by Signatory, information we took from the mock-up bottles at their Gamma auction in June (see last photo), and from this YouTube video. We have since been informed by Signatory Vintage Scotch Whisky Co. Ltd. that they were not involved in either the bottling or cask acquisition, or any other part of the final product (which is why their name is not present on the final decanters - only the early mock-ups). We apologise for any misinformation.


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