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Sheer, undiluted beauty of American whiskies

An American whiskey tops Jim Murray's Whisky Bible list for second year in a row

For the second year running, an American whiskey has topped Jim Murray's Whisky Bible 2018 list.

Kentucky bourbon Colonel E.H. Taylor 4 Grain Bottled In Bond Aged 12 Years is the Whisky of the Year, according to the renowned English whisky writer.

Last year, it was Booker's Rye 13 Year Old that took the title.

Coming in second this year is Redbreast Aged 21 Years, an Irish whiskey; Glen Grant Aged 18 Years Rare Edition, a Scotch whisky, is third.

This is the 15th edition of the prominent whisky expert's guide, which ranks whiskies from various key regions according to their style, age and other factors.

Produced by Kentucky-based Buffalo Trace Distillery, the winning bourbon is from its line of small batch releases that draws inspiration from Colonel Edmund Haynes Taylor Jr's time as a grain trader during the American Civil War.

Made using a mash bill of corn, rye, wheat and malted barley - the four grains of the name - and aged for 12 years, it was praised by Murray for its "sheer, undiluted beauty".

 

Topping his list typically sends bottles flying off the shelves and inflates prices of the prized spirit.

Mr Joe Alessandroni, "spirits evangelist" from spirits distributor Proof & Company, feels that such "best of" lists can bring attention to great spirits that most people may not have tried and serve as a resource for consumers to begin exploring a category or brand.

"For example, awards such as this have been a major driver of the boom in Japanese whiskies over the past couple of years, but the downside for consumers is that the price of these award-winning bottles gets artificially inflated to the point of ridiculousness," he says.

"A whisky which may be an amazing value at $100 a bottle is not nearly so appealing at $500."

He says the best way to find whiskies to enjoy at reasonable prices is to "develop a relationship with the experts at your local bottle shop".

That said, you may still be able to get your hands on some of the award-winning bottles here.

While expressions from the Colonel E.H. Taylor line are part of the portfolio of Robertson Quay whisky retailer La Maison Du Whisky (LMDW) Singapore, the 4 Grain depends on allocation and is currently unavailable.

The second-placed Redbreast Aged 21 Years is available at LMDW and The Proof Flat by EC Proof in Hongkong Street for $320.

Meanwhile, third-placed Glen Grant Aged 18 Years Rare Edition will be available to try soon at establishments such as Nutmeg & Clove in Ann Siang Hill.

The regular Glen Grant 18 Year Old, however, is already there at $28 a glass.

An American whiskey topping the list again is also significant, considering the last time a Scotch whisky won was when Glenmorangie Ealanta took the top spot in 2013.

Mr Alessandroni says this is an exciting time for American whiskey, "as new distilleries open and established brands continue to innovate with new mash bills and modern techniques".

"It's great to see bourbon getting well-deserved attention and recognition from a global audience."


Quality American whiskeys you can get in Singapore

While the top three whiskies on Jim Murray's Whisky Bible 2018 awards list will probably be harder to acquire, here are some other options for quality American whiskies you can get in Singapore by the bottle.

Mr Joe Alessandroni, "spirits evangelist" at Proof & Company, recommends:

• Noah's Mill Whiskey - $120•

• Four Roses Small Batch - $100•

• High West Rendezvous Rye - $150

• Willet XCF Rye - $273

• Michter's US *1 Unblended American Whiskey - $119

Go to www.ecproof.com or The Proof Flat, 43A Hongkong Street, tel: 8228-0113; open: Mondays to Saturdays, 11am to 7pm

Mr Mathieu Musnier, general manager of La Maison Du Whisky Singapore, recommends:

• Blanton's Gold edition - $155

• Buffalo Trace 2008 Single barrel LMDW 60th Anniversary - $170

• Sazerac Rye 6 year old - $145

• 1792 Ridgemont Bourbon - $125

• Eagle Rare 10 year old - $105

Go to www.whisky.sg or La Maison Du Whisky, 01-10 The Pier, 80 Mohamed Sultan Road, tel: 6733-0059; open: Mondays to Sundays, noon to 10.30pm

Mr Philip Bischoff, bar manager at award-winning bar Manhattan at The Regent Singapore, which has the Manhattan American Whiskey Embassy. Here are bourbons and ryes from its collection.

Bourbons (45ml shots, 30ml shots also available)

• Michter's 20 Year Old Bourbon Whiskey - $100++

• Pappy Van Winkle's Family Reserve Bourbon 20 Year Old - $220++

• Colonel E.H. Taylor Barrel Proof - $100++

• Willet Family Estate Private Cask 20 Year - $190++

• Eagle Rare 17 Year Old - $220++

Ryes

• Michters 25 Year Old Single Barrel Rye - $200++

• Sazerac 18 Year Old Straight Rye Whiskey - $180++

• Thomas H. Handy Sazerac Rye Whiskey - $110++

• WhistlePig 15 Year Old Rye - $80++

• Old Potrero 18th Century Style Rye - $49++

Go to Manhattan, Level 2, Regent Hotel, 1 Cuscaden Road, tel: 6725-3377; open: Sundays to Thursdays, 5pm to 1am; Fridays and Saturdays, 5pm to 2am

Anjali Raguraman

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on October 22, 2017, with the headline 'Sheer, undiluted beauty'. Print Edition | Subscribe