Courtesy of William Grant & Sons, whisky enthusiasts in Singapore have two more rare single malts to add to their collection. By Rachel Ang
It’s interesting to sometimes stop and wonder whether William Grant had imagined the great success that his company, William Grant & Sons ( WGS), would become when he first founded it in 1887. Despite it maintaining its independence by keeping its ownership in the family, WGS is now the company behind some of the most popular and iconic spirits brands such as Hendrick’s gin and Sailor Jerry spiced rum, not to mention the leading brands of Scotch whisky such as the handcrafted Balvenie and the world’s most awarded single malt, Glenfiddich. Now, WGS has introduced two more names to its single malt range in Singapore: Kininvie and Ladyburn.
Sweet And Discreet
When the popular triple malt Monkey Shoulder was released, it was not uncommon to catch ambassadors under the employ of WGS chuckling to themselves and declaring that the blend of ingredients that went into creating it was “a KGB secret”. This was especially amusing because it was, in fact, made out of a mix of whiskies from three WGS distilleries: Kininvie, Glenfiddich, and Balvenie. While the second and third labels are practically household names even to any whisky novice, the first is not nearly quite as well known.
One of the youngest distilleries in Scotland, the Kininvie distillery started production in July 1990. It was opened by William Grant’s last surviving grand- daughter, Janet Sheed Roberts, in the back garden on the Balvenie distillery grounds in Dufftown, Moray. The whisky produced in this distillery was used only as a component in other WGS blended whiskies until fairly recently. In particular, the Kininvie 23 Year Old Batch No. 1 was first released exclusively in Taiwan in 2013. America, mainland Europe, and the United Kingdom saw Batch No. 2 the following year. The latest release is that of Batch No. 3, which has been blessed upon Taiwan, China, Europe, the UK, and now Singapore.
Created by internationally renowned malt master Brian Kinsman, the Kininvie 23 Year Old single malt has been matured in first-fill bourbon casks and married in hogsheads and sherry butts for nearly a quarter of a century to give it a distinct Speyside character. Bottled at 42.6 per cent ABV, this whisky holds a rich and vibrant aroma of ripe fruits, buttery sweet vanilla, and a note of fragrant blossoms; an elegant taste of deep vanilla oakiness layered with wood spices, zesty citrus, and candied orange peel; and an enduringly sweet finish with a floral back note.
Those keen on adding Kininvie to their collection will be delighted with the discreet packaging with minimal branding and a premium matte finish, and the fact that each bottle is labelled with the year of distillation, batch number, and bottle number.
Still more interesting for whisky collectors and connoisseurs alike is the launch of the Ladyburn Scotch whisky. What exactly makes the Ladyburn such a covetable label? Let us count the ways.
For starters, while some experts might argue against the expected relation between the age of the whisky and the pleasure that is given in consuming it, it’s still difficult to find a 40-year- old single malt on the market. Furthermore, while most people have been made familiar with the term “Highland”, “Lowland Malts”, on the other hand, are not as commonly heard of, and Ladyburn numbers one of only nine that are made available outside Scotland.
As if that didn’t already make it highly desirable, this particular single malt is made available in a limited edition, single batch release, which originates from the Ladyburn distillery built in 1966 by Charles Grant Gordon, great- grandson to William Grant, and was only in operation for nine short years before shutting down in 1975, and afterward being completely demolished in 1976, earning it the title of shortest operational distillery in the history of Scotch whisky. In other words, the ancient reserve casks rescued from the Ladyburn ghost distillery, from which this 40-year- old Scotch is being bottled, have no way of being added to; once gone, the Ladyburn whisky can never be replaced.
The Ladyburn distillery was deliberately built near the Penwhapple reservoir in Girvan, Scotland, so as to benefit from the quality of the water from the reservoir, which was recognised as being perfect for the distillation of superior whisky. This has resulted in a golden liquid with a unique Lowland flavour profile, characterised by a delicate aroma of earthiness that might be identified as polished wood or leather. On the tongue, it is soft and mellow with a sugary sweetness laden with tropical fruits and melons. Some say it has a hint of spice and white pepper, ending in a long and lingering oaky finish. Rest assured, this is very much Ladyburn’s natural form, as WGS has wisely chosen to bottle it at cask strength and non- chill filtered, to pay due homage the beauty of the Ladyburn’s fleeting existence in an industry that celebrates longevity.