So much whisky, so little time | Singapore | Tasting Notes

Whiskybutler January 2016 boxset: Old Pulteney, Yamazaki, Kavalan, Redbreast, Bowmore Mizunara

Instead of my usual head to head, this is a review of a whole boxset by Singapore’s first sample service courtesy of Whiskybutler. In fact it is the inaugural monthly boxset and if I might say so, I do think it is well thought out.

At this point allow me to disclose that while I know Benjamin the Butler, I had no hand in whisky selection, nor was I involved in business modeling. I do not have any vested interests in the proceeds from this start up either.

Ok so subscribers get a 4 sample box each month. From what I see, the box is sturdy, the distribution set up is great. The bottles come with polyethelene (inert to ethanol – I totally checked) inserts that seal much better than the paper ones I’ve seen. The design is elegant chic and a little more adult than aspirant. Bottles also come with plastic seals  to prevent loosening, so the hardware checks out.

What about the whisky? This first month the subscriber received Yamazaki 18yo, Old Pulteney 21yo Kavalan Solist Sherry (and this one is at 57.8%), and Redbreast 21yo. As a bonus, you’ll also get Bowmore Mizunara  53.9% as a one time offer. Considering these choices for a first box I am quite impressed by the thoughtfulness that went into it.


I think the idea here was to give a representation of the most well regarded Malt producing countries at a good maturity. You have the limelight-special Japanese entry at 18 years, you have the up and coming Taiwanese, but in the guise of a single cask sherry monster. So that’s one play at work there. You have the stalwart Scotch, but a Pulteney this time – a very well respected distillery among connoisseurs though it hasn’t managed the mass appeal of a generic speysider because by nature, Highland whiskies tend to be individuals. And then as a one-up, a Pure Potstill Irish Redbreast. I know this expression. The quality is superb, way better than a lot of Scotch, and yet not well known either, because Irish whisky firstly has no shortage of demand Stateside, so why fight an uphill battle in non core markets.

To top it off, there’s the bonus Bowmore Mizunara for new subscribers this month. This expression sold out globally despite its hefty price tag for a NAS whisky, so that alone is something to consider.


The Boxset

Old Pulteney 21yo 46%

Nose Nose: Bitter orange marmalade on lots of really malty oat biscuits. Touch of smoke, more than a teaspoon of brine, and even some bitter quinine. I remember the 17 and this is much more nuanced, if less direct. Some wood and associated wood spices.

Taste Palate: Hmm quite a bit going on here, a whole bunch of sweet and bitter spices playing on a bed of big orangey sherry richness, after a while it develops into malty salty notes, becoming woodier but also more obviously bitter. An astringent sting.

Finish Finish: Quite long still citrusy sweet but these bitter herbals really stick around.

Despite the friendly words like sherry and sweet spice above, I assure you this is not an easy-easy forgettable whisky. This is for someone interested in experiencing what else is out there, in this case, you find a mix of sweet sherry and fierce highlander.


Kavalan Solist Sherry Single Malt 57.8%

Nose Nose: Ha ha So obvious. Very sherried. Big soy sauce and sweet balsamic vinegar. Tonnes of oak. Very very rich, like a concentrate of dark dried fruit plus dark brown sugar, and a drop of tar. Ah the sugar is caramelising. Star anise and nutmeg. A perfect example of a sherry monster.

Taste Palate: Huge. The quality of the wood is very good. Not sure where they get it from, but it would certainly cost a pretty penny, and that’s probably why the Scots don’t have many such great sherry casks anymore. This is dry sherry, unsweet yet hugely rich and darkly aromatic with these caramel and dried fruit notes. It does feel young however and the youthful spirit shows, bit of wet carpet going on here. gets tannic.

Finish Finish: Long, quite some bitter oak tannins does show up.

Flavour wise this is colossal. As a whisky however, it is true the sherry does push the spirit to the sidelines and overall the youth does show.. Kavalan did a great job bottling this when they did, 6 months more and it might be overoaky.


Yamazaki 18 43%

Nose  Nose: Perfumy. And rather clear. Lacquered cedarwood box with what must be sweetened Ume plums. Not a heavy sweetness but rather uplifting and elegant with a lot of ‘medium weight’ complexities. I sense a purposeful restraint that belays a certain depth. Cool eucalyptus clarity, and something of a fresh forest green.

Taste Palate: Fresh! Bright minty cool wet-leaves-and-broken-saplings-in-a-morning-shower freshness that recedes to reveal the waiting richness from the sherry. Some aromatic wood. Even this quickly gives way to an increasingly dry tongue.

Finish Finish: Medium, actually a tad short. Dry but aromatic.

Very structured but perfectly made in precise proportions. More ethereal on the tongue than it really is. Seems to float about a bit undecidedly on the palate for me.


Redbreast 21 46%

Nose Nose: Woot. This hits the spot. This is a big unctuously oily libation. Lots of leathery and sweet spicy sherry notes. A very rich nose. Rich enough to foil the big juicy berry fruitiness. Potstill character is evident – hot copper zing, but it is all beautifully integrated. I would go so far to say the fruitiness is a step away from being overtly tropical. (This alone is high praise.) Best of the quartet, and a hugely underappreciated category.

Taste Palate: Big sweet spices, leather creme, vanilla fudge and caramelising sugar. Now developing quickly into an array of herbal bitters and showing a charmingly piquant side. Full of surprises this one. Alas the finish comes a little too quickly.

Finish Finish: Long, full of red berries and potstill.

Excellent Irish whiskey. Nothing less to be said. Go buy a bottle!


The extra treat:

Bowmore Mizunara 53.9%

Nose Nose: This smells like 90s Bowmore to me – lime leaf and chalk. This time a heaping measure of rock salt as well. If you were hoping for a huge Mizunara presense, it isn’t here, though there is certainly a scented cherry sweetness about this nose. And something pink and floral, and just a touch of oak. Imagination? The Bowmore in this is unquenchable though. Eucalyptus ground in a granite pestel, seawater, driftwood and diesel smoke. All in all, a rather clean Bowmore.

Taste Palate: Definitely a smoky-sweet woody perfume wafting about and out the nose. Very pleasant. Then very quickly the salt kicks in and brine, and minerals and a gentle smoke and all things Bowmore. Don’t think the elegant Mizunara can hold anything against Bowmore’s spirit.

Finish Finish: Long, salty, chalky, touch smoky.

Really good whisky, because 90s Bowmore is usually quite good. The Mizunara does bring a nice twist to it, if rather subtle. The whole is worth the experience. This stuff isn’t cheap though, so it’s really a genuine gesture here.

One comment on “Whiskybutler January 2016 boxset: Old Pulteney, Yamazaki, Kavalan, Redbreast, Bowmore Mizunara

  1. Carissa Hickling
    January 16, 2016

    What fabulous choices and my envy level is going way up! 🙂

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This entry was posted on January 14, 2016 by in Bowmore, Kavalan, Old Pulteney, Redbreast, Yamazaki and tagged , , , , , .
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