Thursday 14 November 2019

The Singleton of Glen Ord 12yo Sherry Cask launch dinner [Tasted #470]

The Singleton doesn't get a lot of attention in Australia, but it certainly does in parts of Asia - in Taiwan especially (where we're told it's the #1 selling single malt brand), but more recently Hong Kong, where the brand and its three distilleries are rapidly gaining a large profile.

Those three distilleries are Dufftown, Glendullan and Glen Ord, and it's the latter which recently gave us a new release for the HK market - The Singleton of Glen Ord 12yo Sherry Cask, released just last month.

To celebrate the new whisky, The Singleton held an elaborate dinner at the St Regis Hong Kong's Astor Ballroom, with a menu by lauded Singaporean chef Justin Quek.

The dinner saw 5 Singleton whiskies paired with a variety of dishes, many of them surprisingly well-matched (particularly given how hit-and-miss whisky pairings can be).

What was more unusual however, was the non-food pairing. A booklet on our table told us that we'd be given an "interpretive dance recital", telling the story of the whisky, with three dancers each interpreting the "European Oak Sherry Casks", "American Oak Bourbon Casks" and the final "Sherry Casks" used for marrying the whiskies together.

I'm not sure I really "got" the interpretation of cask type in dance, but it was certainly a unique and interesting take on the whisky dinner format, which often follows the exact same formula time after time.

At the front of the elongated, twin-tabled room was a chef's station where Chef Quek talked the 120 or so guests through each dish, with a live feed being broadcast over screens throughout the venue (it was significantly less Owellian than it appears in the photo below, and actually a nice touch).

You can tell when a "whisky pairing" dinner has been thrown together, and that certainly wasn't the case here. It was clear much thought had gone into matching the whisky with each dish, such as the trio of starters (House cured salmon/Royal Oscietra Caviar, Light Smoked Hamachi Fillet/Konbu & Gillardeau Oyster Fritter/Spanish ham/Mushrooms) which Chef Quek explained were specifically chosen to match elements of the whisky - the Oysters to represent Speyside, the Hamachi to represent the subtle smoke in the whisky, and the salmon to represent...The Singleton's logo! Fair play.

Taste-wise, the combo worked well with the new 12yo Sherry Cask, as did Wok Fried Maine Lobster with The Singleton of Glen Ord 15yo, with the whisky adding a sweetness to the Lobster that worked very well.

As is often the case, the dessert pairing (Chocolate variations and Singleton Whisky Ice Cream, paired with The Singleton of Dufftown 25yo) worked a treat. It's not hard to get a dessert and whisky pairing right, but this one worked particularly well, with a creamy, fruity sensation coming out in the whisky that wasn't as prominent on its own. The Singleton infused ice cream was a nice touch as well.

Despite enjoying 15, 18, 21 and 25 year old expressions of The Singleton, it was the Sherry Cask 12yo we were all there to celebrate, and I thought it fitting to give it a proper tasting on its own, before the dinner.

The Singleton of Glen Ord 12yo Sherry Cask (40% ABV, 12yo, Highlands, Scotland, $548HKD)
Colour: Deep copper/amber with hints of red.

Nose: Candied brazil nuts, cherries, with hints of cloves and a slight berry-laden wood spice.

Palate: Initially light, but quickly settling into rich berry notes (raspberries, cranberries) then a dustry dry-rub spice. Cherries, fresh raspberries, caramel and and hints of oak are rounded out with a subtle underlying smoke.

Finish: Longer than you might expect, with hints of oak spice and pot pourri and dried raspberries.

Rating (on my very non-scientific scale):  88/100. A solid dram. It's nice to see a new release carrying a decent age statement for a change too.

MHDHK and their PR partners PRime Asia don't do things by halves here in Hong Kong, and this dinner was no exception - a beautifully curated event to suit an evening of highly enjoyable whiskies.

Martin. attended this event as guests of MHDHK.

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