I’ve just finished binge-watching several Parts Unknown episodes. Again. As a result, Tony’s voice is stuck in my head. Again. With his melancholic, soothing speech haunting my mind, I wrote down most of this piece as if he were reading it out loud.
A lot of other people I know identify and look forward to visiting a city or country after seeing it in a movie, or perhaps due to its tourist attractions. I don’t. I usually avoid the tourist attractions that draw tourists, which brings me to remember another Bourdain quote from a Parts Unknown episode. Essentially, he says he recognizes every place by its food. Me too, Tony. Me too. Food and booze help transport me to other places.
Singapore is such a place. The food scene there is well-known. I have not had a bad meal in Singapore. If you love to eat or claim to love to eat, you have to go to Singapore. The hawker centers there are little patches of paradises. There, you can find cheap but excellent quality food. The food there is so good and the prices so worth it that I have made it a personal tradition to visit Singapore at least once a year. I crave their Hainanese chicken, oyster omelettes and char kway teows. I yearn to eat and learn more about the diverse food to be found there. For those afraid of not being able to communicate, don’t worry: it is Asia for beginners. Everyone there can speak English, and it’s very safe.
Since this is MALT, though, I’ll stop with the food and move on to booze. You may be saying to yourselves, “Singapore doesn’t have its own native alcohol. What the hell is John yapping about?” You are correct, but since Singapore has such a strong economy, the locals like to drink the good stuff. They love their whisky and cocktails.
On a side note, private entities were just allowed to start making their own alcohol a few years ago. I have seen someone make mead, and there are now a couple of gin distillers, too. Brass Lion, one of the gin makers, just barreled their first batch of Singaporean single malt in the middle of 2018.
Singapore has a lot of great whisky bars like The Wall, The Auld Alliance, The Single Cask, Swan Song and Quaich Bars. The whisky community there are a nice and enthusiastic bunch. A lot of them don’t take themselves too seriously, despite their being knowledgeable and opinionated. There are a good mix of people who can throw up money for bottles like Karuizawas and Macallans. There are also those “hipster” drinkers who go for the less famous brands. They are my kind of people.
A lot of them love their peated whiskeys. Ledaig is one of them. Because Ledaig is pronounced as something like Le Chig, some of them like to call it in a way I hear as “La Chick.” I hear the word “La Chick” being said a lot in Swan Song, which I try to visit at least once per trip. It is one of my favorite whisky bars in the world, a wondrous Singaporean-owned enclave. They have many fine gems like old SMWS bottles and 1970s single cask Glendronach. It is owned by a very small group of kind and passionate owners. The owners love Ledaig. It’s probably the whisky they have the most. That love for Ledaig passes on to their regulars. This is why I ended up always thinking of Singapore when I see a Ledaig.
I bought this Ledaig 18 Batch 3 Spanish Sherry Wood Finish for around P8,000 locally. Yup, way above the regular price, but I was asked to buy something interesting for a family gathering. This is bottled at 46.3% and is unchillfiltered, said to be released in 2016. If Whiskybase is correct on this bottling date, then local drinkers really have a lot of room to improve when it comes to knowing what to drink. They are missing out.
Ledaig 18 Year Old Batch 3 – review
On the nose: Firm yet gentle peat & smoke; hints of chocolate and coffee. Hints of lingering sulfur. Strawberry chocolate, dates, some sort of mint chocolate due to the pepperiness, and chocolate notes. Slight appearances of sultanas.
In the mouth: Gentle peat and smoke with spices, pink peppercorn, dates. Hints of lingering sulfur with some sultanas. Mint chocolate, peppers and chocolate cherries. Some quick herbal notes like coriander, thyme and sage at the end.
A very one-faced whisky. It’s surprising that a peated whisky this old still has a fiery peat and smoke flavor. The peat of other 18-year-old peated whiskeys I’ve had have mellowed down to nuttier notes.
It’s not very complex, but everything lingers long enough to be savored. I like that despite the sherry influence, the sulfur notes are weak. I guess it’s the peat holding the sulfur notes back. Mint chocolate notes are quite unusual but I like it!
Photograph kindly provided by the Whisky Exchange.