A tale of two whiskies
It’s no secret that whiskies aren’t launched on a regular basis, so it came to a surprise that whisky distillery William Grant & Sons released not one, but two on our shores recently: Kininvie 23 Years Old and The Ladyburn 1974. Such an occasion it was that Kevin Abrook, William Grant & Sons’ latest appointment as global whisky specialist made his virgin trip to our city to introduce them both.
Since The Balvenie in 1892, no other Speyside single malt has been created by William Grant & Sons until the Kininvie, which was named after the distillery that Janet Sheed Roberts, grand daughter of William Grant, opened in 1990. Up till 2014, the distillery had only released four single malts, two which were released to celebrate the 105th and 107th birthdays of Roberts, and the others (Batch No.1 and Batch No.2) which were exclusive to Taiwan and UK respectively.
While Batch No.3, Kininvie 23 Years Old isn’t exclusive to Singapore, it is one of the most exquisite blends conceived by Abrook and master blender Brian Kinsman. It contains whisky from Batch No.1 distilled in 1990, and was matured in ex-bourbon and ex-sherry casks, resulting in a rich floral aroma with fleshy fruit notes. In the mouth, the Kininvie 23 Years Old is languid and luxurious, with the taste of candied orange peel and woody spices. It’s short finish gives way to an oaky character, providing a pleasant contrast to its scent.
Rarer still is The Ladyburn 1974, a limited edition, single batch release that is non-chill-filtered to retain its natural colour. The 40-year-old single malt is extremely rare, as the distillery it was produced in was demolished in 1976, just 10 years after it opened. Calling the current reserves in the William Grant & Sons warehouses irreplaceable would be an understatement.
The Ladyburn’s distinct Lowland characteristics are owed to its location of Girvan, Scotland, that was selected to take advantage of the pure, soft water from the Penwhapple reservoir. Abrook describes the golden whisky as leathery, with notes of polished mahogany. It’s akin to “drinking a gentlemen’s club," he says. On the nose, it’s gentle and grassy, followed by a tropical fruity sweetness of pineapples and bananas permeate. The complex liquid contains notes of oak, with a distinct touch of oiliness, a nod to its heritage as a technological distillery during its time of operation. The Ladyburn 1974 Batch 1 is exclusive to Asia and a bonafide collector’s item.
Both whiskies are available in limited numbers, and only directly through William Grant & Sons Singapore.