Hidden Spirits Glen Ord Aged 13 Years

The great Dada artist Marcel Duchamp was famed for his controversial pieces that stunned and yet indelibly influenced the world of art. He never ceased to astound, shock and amaze with every piece he put forth, and for that will always be a beloved character in the world of art.

And yet, for all the shock value he generated in his life, his beliefs and principles were remarkably consistent and simple: that he never believed in art at all! How strange for a man who is widely considered a great artist. “I don’t believe in art. I believe in artists.”

To Monsieur Duchamp, what makes an art is that it was by an artist. That it was an extension of an artist’s self and expression was sufficient to make anything art. He once waxed lyrical about how shopping was the most painful thing a person could engage in; how my bank balances wish it were the case.

And yet to Duchamp, the act of selecting something (in this case, to purchase) was a do-or-die question of choosing your identity! Should you get that striped shirt? Would that make you look too “work”-y? What about that car? Nah, people might think I’m a showoff! Or that bag? What if they think I think I’m all that!

You see Duchamp’s point? What we select reflects something about us, and so must be chosen with the utmost care. That was Duchamp’s central thesis and the man’s claim to fame. What makes something art is that a self-identified artist chooses to associate himself with it. Otherwise, it is no different from the item next to it. It is on this item that an artist stakes his very identity!

Whisky is no different, is it?

What makes Andrea Ferrari such a widely recognised master of whisky? After all, his Italian independent bottler Hidden Spirits – focusing solely on quality Scotch whiskies – is fairly young in whisky years. Is it not his selection? It is ultimately the very casks he selects amongst a warehouse of many sleeping casks that his reputation is built on?

It isn’t even as simple as choosing a “good” cask. It is that he selects casks that reflect his taste and – by extension – his expression of self and identity. These select casks resonate with him and, by putting them out there for the world to enjoy, he is bringing you into his world, and letting you see through his palate.

So, in just a quite a short span of time, Hidden Spirits has risen to become a well-known independent bottler, renowned for bottling some intensely great whiskies. Some have even called him a young Samaroli. Perhaps. It might just be me, but I’d hazard a guess that he might just want to be known as Andrea. It is, after all, his unique palate, not his Italian predecessor’s.

Which brings me to today’s good fortune: to try a special Singapore-exclusive bottling by Hidden Spirits (of course) for a beloved local distributor, Friends With Drams. As an homage to Singapore, you’ll find this 13 Year Old Glen Ord donning a familiar sight: Singapore’s Cloud Forest, which is part of the country’s Gardens by the Bay mega-project. This was bottled at 50.2% ABV.

Hidden Spirits Glen Ord 13 Years Old, Selected by Friends With Drams – Review

Singapore Exclusive 50.2% ABV. US$135 for a 70cl Bottle.

Color: Magnolia gold.

On the nose: Delightfully creamy vanilla gradually opens up into a more classic 70s style farmhouse bouquet of dried hay, salted butter, and honeysuckle. Accompanying it is a dense note of Werther’s Original caramel candy, lotus leaves, and cedar wood. Belying that is a gentle fruity note of overripe bananas, candied pineapples and finally peppermint.

In the mouth: Richer and dense still; there’s a fruity waxiness of fruit candy, fruit cup syrup, combined with a textural tingle that’s quite lively. More on apple tea, pear drops, and butterscotch. The fruitiness here leans towards fruit candy and gummies or even something closer to Turkish Delight. It’s a refined concentrate that slowly melts and opens up as you give it time. More on cranberry and lingonberry jam. The texture is smooth and buttery, with a hint of nutty savouriness – almost umami, even – and finally walnut oil. Clean finish, but the creaminess of those red berries continues, with a good dash of cracked black pepper.


This is an odd mix of 70’s you-know-who-bank, Speyside, and Lowland profiles… and by odd, let me be clear: exceptional. It traverses Scotch’s regional profiles with such ease and marries them seamlessly. Where one ends and the other begins is almost unnoticeable. The reality is that with something like this, it’s hard to even pinpoint a specific style, or how it could’ve gotten here. What you certainly can’t tell is that it’s a 13 Year Old Glen Ord; it definitely punches way above its weight.

Sure, it’s not one of those “punch you in the face with a pack full of flavors” kind of heavy-styled whiskies, which have become popular carnival drinks to shock and awe, but really are good for one drink. This you could easily sip daily, sit back, and let its refinement open up as you enjoy it. There are complexities to be explored here, which is what makes it enjoyable. Also, if we had to go under the hood, it really is a fraction of the price of what you would have thought it ought to cost. A steal, really. I should know; I’ve had it twice, paid for by yours truly.

Score: 8/10

CategoriesSingle Malt

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