For all those whiskey connoisseurs who prize on expanding their collection, or the rest of us who look forward to winters because of Johny Walker in winters, here’s a post you’re going to love. While I fit in with the latter category, and tend to enjoy single malts only when my Dad manages to overspend, meeting expert Charles Mac Lean was an interesting experience.
To tell you a bit about Mac Lean, he is a Scottish expert, has a nose for faintest notes in whiskey, and tastes single malts for a living. With under 13 books under his penmanship, 2 more of his books are underway. Yet, he manages to travel around the world, and came from Paris to Mumbai and then Delhi. .
Our brief conversation at The Taj Mansingh Hotel, New Delhi, revolved around the 12-15-18-year-old Singleton, a part of the Diageo group. Yes, the same group that has recently taken over the UB Group.
Launched in 2011 in India, The Singleton of Glen Ord comes from a distillery besides scenic mountains and pristine waters of Scotland countryside. Founded in yesteryears of 1800’s, they stick to traditional methods of production with in-house malting (a very long fermentation combined with a slow distillation).
We began by overlooking Mansingh’s terrace gardens on a rainy Friday and twirling the 15-year-old Singleton—Mac Lean explained how a combination of American oak (lends a reserved taste) and European (gives a rich color) is used in a cask which is used during the maturation process, back at the distillery.
As we sniff and taste, he goes on to say how each of these have a mix of spices, something I hadn’t realized after years of drinking. As we move on to the 18-year-old, Mac Lean remarked how it had a hint of wax (yes, candle wax) in it.
The 12-year-old is available at the usual shops in Delhi, Mumbai and Bengaluru, they range from Rs 5,490 to Rs Rs 5,890. The 15-and-18-year-old are available at Duty Free (utilize your time at the airport, guys), it will soon hit the metros ranging between Rs 8,880-Rs 16,800.
With the festive season, I’d say go for it, pick up a bottle (and give me a call!), but even if you don’t, here are some things that Mac Lean shared…
1. Enjoying and appreciating whiskey are two different things.
2. A single malt will give you the primal tastes with a first sip: sweet, sour (acidic), salty and bitter.
3. Use a glass meant for whiskey: say not to a tall glass or a tumbler. Go for a narrow rim—this helps you engage in the aroma of the spirit.
4. Say yes to cold water (15 degrees C), and dilute it to about 40-50% depending on your liking.
5. Avoid crushed ice, or ice if you can, Use block ice if you like it that way but it usually tends to dampen the spirit’s spirit.
6. Opt for Vitamin C tablets, and lots of water to nurse a hangover.
7. Besides diluting your favorite whiskey with cola, many experts are exploring green tea and ginger ale as suitable accompaniments.
Special thanks to Bhawna and Shahana, hope you enjoyed this post.