Every bottle of whisky tells a story – whether it’s the craft of artisans of decades past or the changing characteristics of a distillery. Now, Diageo has released a single malt Scotch collection of vintage bottles marking momentous points in the stories of their respective distilleries.
Named Prima & Ultima, the cask-strength collection features eight expressions curated by Dr Jim Beveridge, master blender for Johnnie Walker – the sixth in the brand’s 200-year history, to be precise, and one of the Scotch world’s most prolific figures.
It includes the liquid from the very last cask of Cragganmore produced with coal-fired stills – a practice that ended in 1971 – as well as a 26-year-old Clynelish from 1993, one of the first casks filled after the Highland distillery understood and perfected the “mysterious waxiness of Clynelish”. For those who relish a bolder ﬂavour, there is also a 25-year-old Mortlach – one of the last with whisky aged in first-fill Pedro Ximenez and Oloroso seasoned oak butt casks.
Each of the 239 Prima & Ultima sets comes with a limited-edition book featuring personal stories from Dr. Beveridge and a 20ml sample of each whisky so collectors can get a taste of their purchase while all eight bottles stand untouched in their cellar. Interested parties can contact the Diageo Private Client team at PrivateClientSG@Diageo.com.
Story Of A Dram The Prima & Ultima collection features vintage Scotch whiskies representative of the start or end of particular processes and techniques used by their respective distilleries
AS ABOVE, SO BELOW
If you’ve ever downed a Jack and cola and wondered about the possibilities of Jack Daniel’s resources, its Craft & Luxury Collection will answer all of your questions. Most of the collection lie in its single barrel range, where specific casks of exceptional character are bottled, resulting in products like Jack Daniel’s Single Barrel 100 Proof, an oily, fruitier and more complex departure from the relatively simple sweetness of the basic old No. 7. then there’s the slightly more experimental stuff like Jack Daniel’s Sinatra Select that pays homage to legendary crooner Frank Sinatra. It is aged in custom-built barrels with deep grooves in the char, resulting in maximum exposure to the toasted oak.
BETTER BUTTER COOKIES
Danish butter cookies – the same ones that came as an assortment in a metal tin – was once a sign of luxury in Singapore decades ago. Now, the confection is making its comeback with Leckerbaer, a chain founded by Jakob and Gabi Mogensen, two pastry chefs who have made their rounds in various Michelin-starred restaurants in Scandinavia. the butter cookies, known as småkager, are available in a rotating cast of seasonal ﬂavours, including a raspberry jam sandwich and calamansi-spiked vanilla. the Singaporean outlet is also a fully realised cafe, offering drinks and pastries with a Nordic spin like a lemon and sea buckthorn tart and a pea and avocado tart.
From the same people who brought you employees Only, Bang Bang, and Papi’s tacos comes Bar Milano, an intimate 38-seater slinging aperitifs and Italian bites. After-dinner drinks got a bit more interesting with their selection of spritzes like the Rinomato Spritz, which features Rinomato – a modern style aperitif formulated by bar legend Giancarlo Mancino – London dry gin, prosecco, and housemade rosemary and black pepper tincture. the food is equally alluring, with the kind of sinfulness that’ll take the edge off a long day. Head straight for the pizza fritta, or deep-fried pizza, which comes with options like a combination of trufﬂe, smoked ricotta, and wild mushrooms, all crowned with a fried egg. there are also options for more complete meals: creamy burrata with honey roasted peaches, chicken Milanese with apple-fennel slaw, and an Italian paella with Pugliese baked rice, seafood and potato ensure you leave rolling out the door.
David Thien has got big shoes to fill. After all, he’s taking over the reins from chef Jason Tan at Corner House, one of the darlings of Singapore’s restaurant scene. Thien is well-equipped to take on the role though, having spent 12 years in holding positions ranging from being the sous chef at L’Atelier de Joel Robuchon to executive chef of TWG Tea. The French-Chinese-Mauritian chef presents a strong Asian inﬂuence in his French-based cooking, continuing in a clear thread from Tan’s previous style. While dishes like vadouvan-spiced Sri Lankan crab with dahl aioli and papadum, brioche otah sandwich and Thai herb-spiked beef tartare drive home the point, they are not defining features either. Thien also draws ideas from Japanese cuisine, offering wagyu and morel sukiyaki as part of his tasting menus. Available as three, five or seven courses.
It might seem like strange times to debut a high-end sushi restaurant, but this Sushi Kou comes with two-Michelin-starred pedigree. Holding court behind the hinoki wood counter, which hosts the only seats in the house, is chef Yoshio Sakuta, who previously headed the two-starred Shoukouwa. While expectations are naturally high, Sushi Kou ticks all the boxes for the kind of exclusivity it’s seeking to offer: produce, sourced directly from farmers and fishermen and air-ﬂown into the country; rice, dressed in a proprietary blend of salts and vinegars and cooked in a clay kettle; and talent combined with over two decades of experience. To go with the food, there’s sake and wine – from cult Napa cab to legendary champagnes – worthy of a rarefied experience.
A few months after taking the 22nd spot on Asia’s 50 Best Bars list, The Old Man Singapore has launched version two of its menu. Just like the first, the new cocktails take inspiration from Ernest Hemingway’s oeuvre. Take A Movable Feast, for instance. It’s a modernist spin on a Bloody Mary with clarified, spiced cherry tomato water, coconut, basil, and distilled seawater all infused with cheese wax. The result is a crystal clear, savoury-sweet-spicy cocktail with all the nuances of a Bloody Mary – except you don’t feel like you’re drinking boozy soup. The bar has also collaborated with The 1925 Brewing Co. to launch an amber lager brewed with Wild Turkey-infused oak for a relatively more sessionable pint informed by the ﬂavours of an Old Fashioned.
Fresh from a lockdown and eager to remind people what it can do, Italian mainstay Cicheti is back with a new menu. Singaporean head chef and co-owner Lim Yew Aun hasn’t had the chance to visit Italy, and we’re beginning to suspect that it’s the reason for Cicheti’s success. The food’s perceptibly Italian, but sneakily fine-tuned to ft local palates. Think less acidic and more robust ﬂavours.
Besides the mainstay wood-fired oven pizzas, there are market-fresh tiger prawns, grilled over an open fire and slathered with an umami, garlicky smoked herb butter, and eggplant, charred over the same fire but receiving a caper-butter-chilli ﬂake-toasted breadcrumb dressing.
Other highlights include beef cheek paccheri (a large, tube-shaped pasta) made with eight-hour ragu and a deconstructed lemon tart with rosemary-infused cream, candied lemon peel, almond crumble and surprising rounds of briney capers. They’ve also got an Enoteca now, so expect more exceptional wines available by the glass.
GHOSTS OF WHISKY PAST
While the Islay distillery Port Ellen may have closed in 1983, its whisky is still around. A 40-year-old expression – one of the oldest yet – has been released. The Port Ellen 9 Rogue Casks is a blend of nine errant casks discovered in 1979 whose unusual characteristics rendered them unsuitable for the blenders of that time. So, they were put aside for further maturation and future use.
Fast forward four decades and the four American oak hogsheads and five European oak butts have been chosen by master blender Dr Craig Wilson to create an unprecedented expression of Port Ellen that has been bottled at a cask strength of 50.9% ABV. The result is a dram that has additional layers of tropical fruit and baking spices on top of the distillery’s soft peat and sweetness, leading to a complex, evolving pour that is also a massive collectible.
Text Weets Goh