A few blue moons ago, I caught up with Ian Logan, The Glenlivet’s brand ambassador at La Cave, Medan Damansara – not to be confused with another establishment bearing an identical name in Bangsar.
It took me some time to ascertain that I hadn’t gone to the wrong place.
Sequestered on the third floor of a row of shop offices whose ground floors were littered with posh wine bars, the staircase that led up to it was unassuming.
Only a towering, thick wooden door hinted at something more.
The bubbly Logan has a larger-than-life personality to match his stature. In a dimly lit room, seated on a plush leather sofa were us, engaging in a tête-à-tête about the brand.
He broached the subject of the distiller’s effort to adorn its whisky a more personalised touch.
Leaning back on the sofa, relaxed and occasionally motioning his arms up and down his sides, he spoke about how the brand was going down the localisation route, expounding how it was connecting with its audiences due to shared values.
Further building on that notion, the distiller has made available only for Malaysia The Glenlivet Single Cask Edition at an introductory affair held at the Bridge Bar, GTower Hotel.
Aesthetically, it bears no resemblance to The Glenlivet’s more affordable core range, instead it shares plenty of similarities with other special releases.
On the hand, there is a satisfying heft to it that offers reassurance and alludes to excellence.
A birth certificate-like label details which cask The Glenlivet Single Cask Edition was aged in, the type of oak casks used, the duration, the alcohol content, the date it was bottled, a signature of the master distiller and, most importantly, the birth order for bragging rights.
It’s like a vehicle registration number.
Nonetheless with only 174 bottles produced, exclusivity is assured.
Getting your hands on your preferred number may prove trickier than bidding for a vehicle registration number, however, as The Glenlivet Single Cask Edition is sold on a first-come-first-serve basis. Even a Glenlivet Guardian is restricted to only a single bottle.
The Glenlivet Single Cask Edition was aged in cask number 906283, which is American oak. It had been aged for a period of 15 years, before the whisky was bottled through non-chill filtration.
Typically, whisky is chill filtered prior to bottling as it removes compounds and impurities such as esters, proteins and acids produced during fermentation and maturation. The resulting clarity is desirable.
However, some perceive the filtration diminishes the overall richness and flavour.
Although to the naked eyes, a chill-filtered whisky and a non-chill-filtered whisky appear indistinguishable, upon adding water or ice, a non-chill-filtered whisky will gain a degree of murkiness.
Furthermore, and unlike other whiskies, The Glenlivet Single Cask Edition wasn’t watered down to a more customary 40 percent alcohol by volume (ABV).
It boasts a potent 59.7 percent ABV, which is cask strength.
With it, the initial whiff pulls no punches. It hits hard like the late great Muhammad Ali and if you nose it long enough, you may even be intoxicated by alcohol vapours.
At this stage, there is not much that can be described except it smells of intense alcohol.
But add a few drops of water or drop in a cube of ice, swirl it, let the ice thaw and the bouquet will gradually unravel itself, revealing a sweetness of pears and honeydews.
On the palate, it is vigorous yet smooth.
A dominant vanilla note jolts the senses, but underneath it, lies a faint layer of ginger.
The finish is lengthy, continuing to linger long after it has trickled down the larynx.