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The World of Whiskey versus Whisky: What’s Best?

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Brian Kennett

Brian Kennett

Amateur Chef and Boozy Traveling Foodie Extraordinaire

Whiskey and Whisky: The Fine Art From Classic to Contemporary

Whiskey and Whisky tasting become today’s perks of having a quite popular food blog that is friends with several Ambassadors, Trade Ambassadors, and Embassies: Spain, Mexico, the Philippines, recently Italy, and now Great Britain and specifically Northern Ireland. 

Myself and Spencer were both invited as our food blog, cum media, by our new BFFs Natalie Stevenson Regional Senior Officer, Trade & Investment, South East Asia for Invest Northern Ireland, and Fergus Burt, Food and Beverage Specialist for, and yes ex MaltHouse Siglap. Of that, we are both humbled and super-appreciative of our first foray into Great Britain. Thank you.

scottish whiskey irish whisky tasting quaich bar the 6 whisk(e)y

Whiskey vs. Whisky Content

Whiskey or Whisky? Who cares? Many do, in fact. This is an age old quandary and battle between the Scottish and the Irish, and tales of Giants Benandonner and Finn McCool (what a great name) crossing causeways. Welcome to Islifearecipe.net’s delectable journey through the world of whiskey or whisky – a spirited adventure on an invite from the British High Commission and our new BFF, Natalie.

There’s a dram for every discerning palate to savor. But, in this blog, we’ll explore the fascinating and diverse flavors of this beloved libation through a tasting session of three brand new Scotch Whisky’s and three brand new Irish Whiskey’s, delving into the spellbinding story behind each brand.

Along the way, we’ll celebrate the artisans and alchemists who have crafted these six new timeless spirits. So, grab your favorite tumbler, pour yourself a dram, and join Spencer and me as we raise a toast to the exquisite world of whiskey and whisky, this cherished elixir. Cheers to good company, great conversation, and unforgettable flavor and thank you to the British High Commission, Invest Northern Ireland and Scottish Development International for the chance to be part of this incredible evening.

scottish whiskey irish whisky tasting quaich bar ambassador

Alex Bamford, Deputy British High Commissioner, opens the evening with a detailed explanation of the importance of Scottish and Irish produce across the Globe, with, of course, then focus on new emerging brands in Scottish Whisky and Irish Whiskey. He then handed over to our compere and expert for the evening Matthew Fergusson-Stewart.

You know the evening is going to go well when Matthew stated in one of his 1st opening lines: “If a disti takes on all 6 brands tonight, they will get a reach around…”

Irish whiskey and Scotch Whisky: what’s the difference? The accent or the letter e. Also, Scottish Whisky tends to be twice distillation, and Irish Whiskey triple distillation. Also Irish Whiskey tends to be lighter.

Here’s a little-known fact for you. Singapore, yes our little Red Dot, is the THIRD largest export market for Scotch Whisky by value. That is worth a stonking GBP 316M of product entering the country every year. That is fo a country with approximately the same population as Scotland itself… WOW!!!

What should you or should not put in Whisk(e)y? Matthew says, drink it, however, you damn well please – just don’t add Coca-Cola: unless it’s a house pour. Also, Whisk(e)y cocktails must work with the flavor of a good dram, or, again, just use the sh!t house pour. Ice cubes yes/no? You should drink the dram at room temperature so in Singapore maybe one cube to bring the temperature down but not to ice cold. It’s almost like a science!!!

scottish whiskey irish whisky tasting quaich bar tasting ours

Let the tasting commence, just a wee dram is all you need as most of the six tonight packed a punch. Look at the colour differences of the Whisk(e)y’s. WOW!!!

Double Distilled single malt aged in ex-American bourbon casks will have a fruity aroma. Peated Triple distilled Single malt matured in ex-American Bourbon casks bring a smoky flavour and long finish to the overall blend. Triple distilled single malt matured in Sherry casks, give body to the drink and ripe vine fruit smells to the nose.

scottish whiskey irish whisky tasting quaich bar glasses

We tasted tonight in the rather splendid Quaich Whisk(e)y Bar in the Intercontinental Hotel. Loving the little glass covers. Details make all the difference.

But first... is it Whiskey or Whisky?

What about the ‘E’? In the 1800’s, some of Ireland’s distillers began to use the ‘e’ to differentiate their ‘uisce beatha’ (water of life) from their Celtic Whisky cousins across the Irish Sea. Scotch had become a major player in the export market, and some thought by adding the letter ‘e’ to the Irish category it would make it stand out versus Scotch. How about that…

And the three Scotch Whiskys and three Irish Whiskeys that we are trying tonight are...

scottish whiskey irish whisky tasting quaich bar beautiful 6 whiskeys
titanic premium irish whiskey whisky

Premium Irish Whiskey, distilled on the actual Titanic dry dock where the ship was built. This is part of the heritage and history of this Whiskey, even including some hidden gems in its bottle labeling. Blended: 72% grain and 28% single malt. Titanic Distillers Premium Irish Whiskey is a blended Irish Whiskey consisting of 5 whiskies made up of grain and single malt whiskey with different barrel aging in ex-Bourbon, New American Oak, and Sherry casks. 40$ ABV, non-chilled filtered Whiskey.

Start with the nose. Peat overtones are not typical for Irish Whiskey. The smoke is in there deliberately to be reflective of the docks. Tasting Profile. Smooth and well balanced. Notes of vanilla, peppery spice and rich vine fruits such as raisins, dates and sultanas. And the finish with sherry notes tapering off, but a lingering peat.

Titanic Single Malt is a Triple Distilled Grain whiskey aged in a New American oak cask that will give the whiskey its amber colour as the new wood will impart colour over the 3-5 years of ageing. The new American oak will give the whiskey sweet vanilla notes.

The bottle itself has some interesting details: 1/ 401: This number is the number that was allocated to the ship Titanic, it was part of a fleet of ships called the White Star Liners. It is also our cask investment club number. Only 401 people will be able to purchase casks and be part of this exclusive club. 2/ 1911: This was the year the building of Titanic was completed in the city of Belfast. 3/ The logo has a White Star which references the white star liners. The logo also looks like a ship’s mast. It is also a ‘T’ and inverted ‘D’ for Titanic Distillers.

mcconnells irish whiskey whisky

McConnell’s Irish Whiskey was first established in Belfast in 1776 and was a hugely successful brand for over 150 years. A series of industry changes and company misfortunes including the introduction of prohibition in the USA and a warehouse blaze in Dunbar Street, Belfast, saw a decline in Irish whiskey and McConnell’s as a brand.

Now the brand is thriving again and the team at this Belfast Distillery Company are immersed in “Restoring The Legend”. Brothers John and James McConnell would be happy that the business they built in Belfast years ago, is once more in excellent spirits (I like that).

McConnell’s Sherry Cask Finish is aged for 5 years in 1st fill select Bourbon barrels. It is then finished in the finest Oloroso Sherry Casks which bring out rich aromas of dried figs, dark chocolate and lingering spice. I picked up Christmas spices on the nose akin to mulled wine, and that surely resonates with the Asian palate. McConnells Irish Whiskey is bottled at 46% ABV, and is non-chill filtered.

HinchIrishWhiskey10YearOld

Hinch Distillery is producing this 10-year sherry cask top 10 Irish Whiskey now. Renowned as the biggest Irish Whiskey you’ve never heard of. The company is only 5 years old but this Whiskey is 10 years old: how? Pure genius is that they bought 5 years old stock when they bought the distillery. They currently have 8000 casks of Whiskey laid down each year. It’s punchy, and I loved it. Honch Irish Whiskey is bottled at ABV: 46%, and is non-chill filtered.

Hinch Irish Whiskey is a small Batch Bourbon Cask, that is a premium blend of Single Malt and Single Grain Whiskeys. Hinch Irish Whiskey is then paired together in small batches to give a classic smooth Irish whiskey. Hinch Irish Whiskey is matured for 3 – 4 years in the finest first fill bourbon casks for hints of fruit, vanilla and caramel, and is light hazel in appearance.

On the nose you immediately detect notes of zesty orange marmalade, orange peel and apricots, which are balanced by a creamy maltiness and an earthy vanilla pod. The aroma is completed with a subtle hint of buttered toast: I kid you not.
On the palate, the Whiskey delivers a rich and smooth experience after the first rather more punchy hit, with creamy vanilla being the dominant flavor, followed by a delightful combination of syrup and gula melaca, floral honey, and dried fruits. The whiskey also showcases a burst of fresh citrus notes.

As your tasting experience comes to an end, the finish is characterised by a decadent combination of flavours: chocolate-covered almond notes provide a satisfying sweetness, complemented by a delightful vanilla shortbread flavour. The finish is prolonged with a final burst of honey, adding a pleasant and sweet aftertaste to the whiskey.
Dried figs and currants followed by Christmas spices such as nutmeg and cinnamon and cloves: yes, more mulled wine, dark chocolate, and a hint of fresh leather.

Man_O_Swords_2015_Ex-Bourbon_whisky

In the 2020 Whisky Bible cask #470 of this production of Man O’Sword from the Annandale Distillery was given an incredible 96.5 points and awarded: Best Single Cask Single Malt – 10 years and under. It is bottled at 57.9% ABV. This whisky is not for the faint of heart and truly packs a punch, but then mellows on subsequent sips. You’ll dig this if you appreciate a peated dram.

The appearance is an alluring pale gold. On the nose you’ll get a burst of fresh tart apples, and then subtle hints of fresh tropical fruits, caramel, vanilla and some slight peat smoke. On the palate you’ll get lingering smoked caramel, melon and mango, tart apples and freshly chopped wood. It’s complex, believe me.

Fresh bourbon casks play a vital role in the maturation of Man O’Sword single cask single malt whisky from the Annandale Distillery. These casks, made from new American oak, bring a symphony of flavors to the spirit. As the whisky rests in these pristine containers, it absorbs the rich, sweet vanilla notes imparted by the oak. The casks also lend a warm, golden hue to the liquid, enhancing its visual appeal.

Over time, Man O’Sword’s peated spirit imbibes with the wood, extracting deep caramel, toffee, and butterscotch tones that infuse the whisky with layers of complexity. The porous wood allows for subtle oxidation and evaporation (the Angel’s Share), concentrating the flavors and creating a unique, individual character in each cask. The result is a single cask single malt whisky of unparalleled depth and quality, cherished by connoisseurs for its distinct, full-bodied taste and aromatic charm. So say Man O’Swords – and I completely concur great work from the Annandale Distillery.

Nc'Nean Organic Single Malt Scotch Whisky

ncnean single malt organic whiskey

Smooth and elegant, Nc’Nean Organic Single Malt Whisky is easy-going and delicious. I really liked this one on the night. I found it had flavors of citrus, peach, and light spice, maybe even malty in there somewhere too. Nc’Nean is bottled at 46% ABV, is non-chill filtered, has only natural colour, is vegan friendly, and gluten-free. Check that bad boy out!!!

Nc’Nean Organic Whisky is made from organic Scottish barley whose natural yields and rich soils contribute depth of flavor. Their gentle fermentation and distillation accentuate the delicate, fruity flavors in the spirit. Matured in specially treated red wine and American whiskey barrels, alongside a small number of sherry casks, to develop Nc’Nean’s Organic Whisky’s signature body and sweetness.

Nc’Nean Whisky makes a big impression with the smallest footprint. Every bottle is certified organic, made in their verified net zero distillery (scopes 1 and 2), and bottled in a 100% recycled glass bottle. Good for the palate and good for the planet. I like that.

Deliciously balanced, supple dram with notes of pear tarte tatin, pineapple and lemongrass, creamy Horlicks and then a dry finish with peppery ginger and spicy bracken” – Alice Lascelles, Drinks Writer and Presenter.
“A fruity whisky with a maturity beyond its years and attractive fruity cereal notes” – Simon Difford, Founder – Difford’s Guide.
“Wow, that is exceptional, that is a delicious whisky.” – Blair Bowman – Whisky Consultant and Author.
cane and grain single malt whisky

Peaty, with some serious Mezcal tones. Cane and Grain are an independent bottler formed during COVID-19. As an independent bottler, they have access to lots of casks and distilleries, a unique ability to customize the bottle, and can even tailor the flavor to local palates. Cane and Grain Single Malt Whisky is bottled at 56.5% ABV, is a non-chilled filter, and is aged for 9 years in Oloroso hogshead casks.

Cane and Grain state that Single Casks are the pinnacle of Scotch Whisky exploration, offering a true insight into a distillery style and heritage in strictly limited editions, never to be repeated. Cane and Grain offer their single casks just the way the distiller intended, with no chill filtration, natural colour and natural strength. With an extensive array of single casks across all age ranges and regions along with Cane and Grain’s exacting first-fill wood policy and bespoke labelling, they offer something that is uniquely unrepeatable around the world.

Islifearecipe.net looking like a pro, amongst the actual pro's...

scottish whiskey irish whisky tasting quaich bar roaving reporter

Quaich Bar at The Intercontinental

Sounds like something out of Harry Potter would do on his broomstick. Quaich Bar is a renowned destination for Whisk(e)y enthusiasts, located in Singapore. Established in 2006, it holds the distinction of being the first dedicated whisky bar in the city-state. With a focus on offering an extensive selection of whiskies from around the world, Quaich Bar provides a unique and immersive experience for patrons seeking to explore the diverse flavors and profiles of this beloved spirit.

scottish whiskey irish whisky tasting quaich bar barrel

Nestled in various locations across Singapore, including InterContinental Singapore, Quaich Bar caters to both casual drinkers and connoisseurs alike. Its inviting ambiance and knowledgeable staff create an atmosphere conducive to discovery and enjoyment.

scottish whiskey irish whisky tasting quaich bar interior

At Quaich Bar, patrons can expect to find an impressive array of whiskies, ranging from single malts to rare blends, sourced from distilleries worldwide. The bar’s commitment to quality and authenticity ensures that each pour delivers an unparalleled tasting experience. Whether you prefer Scotch, Irish, American Bourbon, or Japanese Whisky, Quaich Bar provides a haven to celebrate this timeless spirit.

Our conclusions of Whiskey and Whisky Tasting with the British High Commissioner's Team

As Brits, it was an honor for Spencer and I to be invited by the British High Commissioner, Invest Northern Ireland, and Scottish Development International Singapore Teams to support these new brands of Irish Whiskey and Scotch Whisky in the Singaporean/Asian markets.

Some small world stuff though. Even though we had not worked prior with the British Ambassador and/or High Commissioner we have been indirectly involved with them. I won a British Roast Dinner cooking competition sponsored by British Beef and the British High Commissioner to Singapore during Covid and virtually cooked with Kara Owen, the British High Commissioner, at a cooking masterclass with Tippling Club.

The introduction of new Whiskey and Whisky brands and/or products to the Asia market offers an exciting opportunity for enthusiasts and novices alike to expand their palates and explore the diverse and evolving world of spirits. As consumers, embracing these new offerings not only allows us to savor unique flavors and craftsmanship but also supports the innovation and creativity of mew distillers and blenders.

With each new taste, Spencer and I were presented with a story, a tradition, and a distinct character that adds to the rich tapestry of the Whiskey and Whisky landscape. Whether it’s the smooth notes of these new Irish Whiskey’s or the peaty richness of these new fresh Scotch Whisky’s, these additions bring fresh perspectives and experiences to the ever-growing community of Singaporean and Asian Whiskey and Whisky aficionados.

So, let’s raise a glass to the arrival of new brands: Titanic, Hinch, Nc’Nean, Man O’Swords, Cane and Grain, McConnells and drink to discovery, appreciation, and enjoyment as we savor the aromas and flavors of these exciting additions to the world of Whiskey and Whisky. Cheers to embracing the new and celebrating the timeless allure of a dram (or six)!!!

Disclaimer: This is not a paid-for blog post. Some of the photographs within the blog were kindly shared by the British High Commission. Individual product photos were taken from the brand’s Facebook and/or Websites.

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