Tuesday, January 19, 2010

The Old & Rare 30yo Highland Park

It was such a dreadful evening of late meetings, traffic jams and heavy rain. Therefore, to release some stress, one has the company of food and drinks. For me, I had some "water of life" coupled with good food at Gu Yue Tien with my friends and sisters.

The Scottish Gaelic calls it "uisge beatha", meaning "Water of Life", phonetically became "usky" and then "whisky" in English. The calling was superb as we all were lucky to be able to have a sip (actually gulps) of this wonderful amber nectar which we called Scotch whisky today.

What a RARE opportunity to taste this!

Our dear friend was so kind to open one of his 3 bottles of allocation of this wonderful Douglas Laing Old & Rare highland Park 1978 30 year old whisky. There are only 302 of this bottle worldwide and our wine merchant friend managed to secure 12 bottles!

This is the bottle No.6!

This is a 30 year old single malt whisky, in single cask and bottled in natural cask strength. In layman terms, a 30 yo whisky is a whisky that is matured for 30 years in a cask before bottling. In this case, a single cask means that the cask is only used once and then it will not be recycled anymore and since it's in its natural cask strength, nothing is added into the whisky. Thus, this whisky has a pure & natural taste of the cask that it has matured in.

On the nose, there were very strong tangerine notes, some spices and tobacco. The palate itself consists of some spicy smoke, chocolate and fruits. This is a whisky with such a long and lingering finish. Two ice cubes made the whole drinking experience even much better!

When compared to other 30 yo whiskies, the colour might not be as rich or dark but the palate certainly did not fail. As there are only 302 bottles worldwide, one might not even be able to find it on the shelves. It's valued at around RM1500 here.

We had some simple dishes at Gu Yue Tien to go with the wonderful amber nectar.

Pig Stomach & Intestine Soup
Hot and Peppery. Very tasty indeed. Except for the parsley...

Beef, Steamed chicken, Loh mee & Kailan.
The Loh mee is done very nicely and with a dash of vinegar, the taste is complete!

Ziling didn't like whisky so she had the Hennessy XO.
She's the cocktail drinker and we called her no taste.

Failed Dessert.
Creative use of preserved "Jambu Air" paired with ice-cream but this is an epic failure at GYT.
The taste doesn't jive and it's bitter. Not recommended at all times.

Overall, the dining experience is always good at GYT despite the failed dessert. The wonderful company & drinks never failed to live up any evening of ours. Thanks to my friend calling my sisters and I for dinner as it has been quite sometime that 3 of us actually sat down together for a proper dinner. If we don't read each other's blogs, we won't know what's going on! Lol...

My other post on Gu Yue Tien here.


KY said...

luxury, luxury

Sean said...

i've always wondered what kind of booze goes best with chinese food. so maybe it's whisky, eh :D

Cruel Angel said...

u really know how to enjoy life...


Nikel Khor said...

wah...OMG...relax moment

Nikel Khor

eiling lim said...

KY: ah yes...

Sean: yeah whisky is the best!

Cruel angel: I always do... it's what you put into life!

Nikel Khor: Yeah.

TY said...

So you are more of a whiskey person then a congec but i would prefer add a bit of water then ice.
A glass of whiskey and a cigar would be a great moment anytime of the day.

Anonymous said...

Your 'Friend" in your blog refers to your potental bf? ;)

Anonymous said...


CUMI & CIKI said...

wow, i learnt something new.. how cool:) nice shots woman..

charles said...

The Loh mee looks decent eeiii

Anonymous said...

Ziling has put on a lot of weight. Is she on pill?

ahhup said...

Hi Eiling,

some correction here, a 30 YO whisky doesn't mean that it only contain all 30 years old whisky, infact, 30 YO is the youngest used in the blend, for example, a Royal Salute 21 can use whisky of 30, 40 or even may be 50 in the blend, we will never know, but one thing remain for sure, the youngest in it is 21 YO.

for you case, this is a single cask, it means it's unblend and all the whisky used to bottle can only be from that particular cask, so how old is the cask reflects the age label on the bottle, cask strength means no water is added during bottling. But single cask doesn't mean it's cask strength, like wise, cask strenght doesn't mean it's single cask. Blending is the soul in whisky world, the same applied to brandy, aged tequila and sipping rum.

D.Laing is independant bottler, what they do is that they buy the whole cask from HP and bottle it, if you really want to taste the soul of HP, get the official bottling from them, but again, from what I know, HP don't have SC in their 30 YO

ahhup said...

I don't buy the idea of independant bottler, because I admire and celebrate the technique of blending and want to taste the original "soul" of each distillery, what IB usually offer is usually high proof, cask strength or single cask which most of the official bottling don't. Why? most of us love Char Koay Teow and don't we all just love Penang's or even that particular stall in Penang???

the original uisge beatha, or water of life back then (ard 1500) is some what like fire water, basically distilled from fermented grain mash, just like our local moonshine rice liquor, why it evolved into the whisky we know today is because the local official want to impose hefty tax to alcohol, hence they store the so call uisge beatha in oak barrel and sell is secretly, some barrel kept for years were discovered by people that the content inside turn mellow and golden.

All I can say is that the liquid gold that we all enjoy today had been through rough time and wars over it, so do cherish your dram.

I am not trying to teach how you should enjoy your glass of whisky, it's a vey personal thing to me, but I am here to maximise your fun of drinking it...

eiling lim said...

TY: I'm more of a whisky person to cognac. I like to have my whisky on the rocks since Malaysia is kinda hot an I like my whisky cold.

Anon: I wished I knew.

Cumi & Ciki: Hey thanks babe.

Charles: It's niceeeeee....

Anon: It's only fair that I asked that Would you like the honest truth or the disguised honesty? The rude or the not so rude answer?

Ahhup: What I understand is that a 30 yo whisky means that the whisky has spent 30 years maturing in a cask. This bottle is a single cask, single malt and bottled in natural cask strength. I do know that natural cask strength doesn't mean single cask but this bottle I had is from a single cask and thus the limited bottles. Actually I don't mind independent bottlers like Douglas Laing & Co and Old Malt Cask. I think it's up to each individual's liking and preference. Thanks for the info and cheers to the water of life!

ahhup said...

Hi eiling,

"What I understand is that a 30 yo whisky means that the whisky has spent 30 years maturing in a cask" this is ONLY true when u r refering to a whisky bottled from a single cask.

First you have to understand that we have blended whisky, which involve the blending of grain and malt whisky, the famous one are JW, CR, FG, Dewar's... they are ard 95% of the Market.

then blended malt, which involve the blend of SM from few SM distiller, like green label from JW and Ballantine's have a pure malt too.

and we have our SM, which involve only SM whisky from a distillery.

of course there are some other like single grain, blended grain, but put those a side.

all of the above involve blending, and have age statement in most of their bottle, for example, a 10 YO Ardbeg involve blending of various barrels from at least 10 YO to ages of we won't know, in Ardbeg's distillery, like wise for a CR 18.

Why blending? simple reason, most of the barrel are not that perfect, some may hv superb nose, but tasted flat, some are too spicy in the finish or less attractive on the nose but palate wise is outstanding. Blending brings everything together in "harmony".

eiling lim said...

Ahhup: Thanks! But I've never liked blended. Maybe only a few but definitely not the commercialised ones.

ahhup said...

something u need to know, there is nothing so "old and rare" about single cask whisky, there are at least few hundreds millions of filled barrel in whole scotlands ranging from different age, everyone of them is unique.

anyone of us can go to certain distillery to choose any barrel that we want and purchase the whole thing from them if we want and this is what independat bottler good at, further more they don't have the say from the begining of whisky making, well, may be maturing it, as they can buy new filled barrel from distillery too.

If you study the history of JW, back in those days, people are drinking whisky from barrel straight, so lucky of them, all SC for them rite? but this is not the case, cause the quality of each barrel are just not consistant, that's why JW have the idea of blending them them together to obtain better yield in flavour, and it was a instant hit back then.

for IB, after they finished bottled the barrel, what happen to it we may not know, but there are barrel that been re-charred and refill in the distillery, usually barrel are use until it could yield anymore. You also might want to know that most of the barrel used for scotch (unless stated on the label) are ex-bourbon cask, it means it's first filled bourbon for ard 4 years in US then ship to Scotland for second fill of the scotch. recycling of barrel is very common.

hope this help


eiling lim said...

ahhup: Wow... thanks for the lengthy explanation. I guess you do have your points.

ahhup said...

me too not so prefer the commercialised brand, however some of their premium range are not bad because of the higher proportion of SM in it. I guess those are among some of you fond of.

for single cask, the Balvenie have a range call 'single barrel', it is a good example of single cask but not cask strength, it got bottle number and cask number on it, each bottle is non-repeatable, do keep an eye in duty-free or any whisky shop

eiling lim said...

Ahhup: I've tried Balvenie but forgot which bottle I had. shall keep a lookout for it. thanks.

Anonymous said...

Keep posting stuff like this i really like it

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