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Whisky Reviews

The Malt Affair (Singapore) Quick Impressions: Imperial 1998 for Club Qing, Mortlach 20 Year Old (Darkness), Bowmore 2002, Unpeated Akkeshi Ghost Series Stefan van Eycken & WhiskyMew, Willett 6 Year Old Bourbon, Michel Couvreur Overaged



I managed to make it to The Malt Affair for the second year running and had a blast. The Malt Affair is an annual community-led whisky fest in Singapore with particular focus on IBs of all price levels and the crazy old and rare stuff to tempt anyone who wishes to enjoy and learn more about whisky. Drams started from 3.50USD/5SGD per 2cl with 80 per cent of bottles at the fest priced below 35USD/50SGD per 2cl, plus a nominal entrance fee to keep crowds manageable. I already reviewed in detail on r/Scotch the Oban 1969 32yo I managed to snag a dram of. I also took home a 2cl sample of a 1948 Glenlivet 20yo Baretto import. This year, I ended up getting more mid-priced drams, with my most expensive drams (the old Oban and Glenlivet) each costing less than half of a mindblowing Springbank 1980 20th anniversary fino sherry cask I drammed last year.

Friends also kindly poured some really nice samples for me, and I shared the Secret Highland/Clynelish 2000 19yo I recently procured with them. Thanks to u/DuhMightyBeanz for the Ben Nevis Batch 1 and sorry I went off -- was bringing my partner around, picking out pours for her and talking to other whisky friends! Hope you enjoyed the Clynelish. I'll just run through quick impressions of the other whiskies I had beyond the marquee pours.

Drams pictured:



  • Imperial 1998 25yo bottled for Club Qing. Quite unusual. My first sherried Imperial and the first 1998 vintage. I've had several 1995s, a 1997 and a 1992 IIRC, but all in bourbon. Floral-tart-sweet. Strong notes of hibiscus and roselle syrup with a touch of raspberry jam on the finish. Alas a bit too tart for my tastes but we quibble.



  • Darkness Mortlach 20yo oloroso finish. I was bracing myself for brash sherry of no depth, but this is really good as far as modern sherry goes. Some of those really dark fruit leather (blackberry, cranberry) notes with just a small touch of mushroomy dunnage funk, a touch of candied orange peel and minimal sulfur.



  • Bowmore 2002 17yo private cask. I finally get why 2002 Bowmore has the reputation of being among the best modern Bowmore years. Luscious smoky grapefruit and Earl Grey tea with a very nice note of bergamot unfolding across my palate and a bit herbal on the finish, like monkfruit and heather.



  • Unpeated 3yo Akkeshi from Hokkaido, which Hideo Yamaoka from Whisky Mew brought. Syrupy ice lemon tea note with ludicrous viscosity at all of 3yo. Shocked all who tried it.



  • Willett 6yo. The event is extremely Scotch centric, which could explain why there was no attention to the Willett 6yo sold for an incredibly good price (barely more than cost in the local market). I was told I was the only one to get a dram of it at the event! Think jelly doughnuts smoked with cherry wood and sprinkled with cinnamon. I'm not that experienced with bourbon so I came in with no preconceived notions. Accessibility and secondary market BS aside, this is up there with a 2021 or 2022 (can't recall) WLW I had, edging out CYPB and Stagg (think 2021?) to my tastes. I would even take this over WLW on some days due to the sugary pastry note.



  • Michel Couvreur Overaged - I've tried this once a long time back. What I didn't like about this was a slight unpleasant sharpness I associate with copy paper and bad grain rather than whiskey of such reputation and provenance. This was accentuated by the very restrained profile of walnuts, dried pear, dried fig and green peppercorns that is not quite the style of earthy syrupy sherry that shocks and awes from the outset. There is a touch of nice blueberry as it goes down but it is not quite in balance or cohesive with the whisky as a whole.

Not pictured:

  • Secret Highland (implied to be Clynelish) 12yo bottled for the festival in collaboration with Whisky Mew - Strawberry shortcake, milk chocolate before a touch of wax tablet.

  • Secret Orkney 16yo bottled for the fest in collaboration with Michiel Wigman - Wow! Vanilla and castor sugar, then persimmon. Only a hint of the coastal character right when you swallow it down.

  • Tormore 2011 11yo Ex-refill sherry Hogshead #8003 & 8004 bottled by Dalgety - I love Tormores. Floral, fruity, yet not wispy distillate that is really well-sorted considering its workhorse reputation. This had poached pear tart and a light sencha fragrance all over it.

  • Dailuaine 12yo Old Particular - Earthy. Cinnamon, palm sugar, pecans and a wisp of apple.

  • Cragganmore 1995 27yo Hunter Laing Old and Rare - the ripest, sweetest mangoes, sweet lemonade and green bananas. I will be looking out for this on auction.