$105,645 for SG50 whisky

Whisky label The Dalmore is taking Singapore's 50th year of independence seriously. The Scottish distillery is unveiling one of its oldest single malt whiskies, aged for slightly more than 50 years, to commemorate the Republic's Golden Jubilee.

Called The Dalmore Affinity, the whisky underwent a double maturation process. It was first matured in a bourbon-seasoned American white oak cask for 48 years, before being transferred to a sherry cask for 2 1/2 years.

The Dalmore's master distiller, Mr Richard Paterson, 67, says: "It is rare for a distillery to have whiskies that have been aged for more than 50 years, so we want to use them in special ways, such as celebrating Singapore's 50th birthday. Besides, Singapore is an emerging and vibrant market for single malt whiskies in Asia."

Only one bottle of The Dalmore Affinity has been produced and the 700ml bottle is priced at $105,645 . The ornate crystal decanter, which bears the distillery's emblem, a silver stag, is on display in the lobby of Hotel Michael in Resorts World Sentosa until Saturday. Those interested in buying it can approach the hotel's staff.

The Dalmore has received at least 15 inquiries and offers across Asia to put deposits on the bottle since it was launched last month .

The Dalmore Affinity has notes of caramel orange, dark chocolate, marzipan, liquorice, figs and black Maraschino cherries, reminiscent of a rich Christmas cake.

Transferring the whisky into another cask was the biggest challenge that Mr Paterson faced in its production process.

The Briton says: "I needed to find a way to smoothen the woody notes of the whisky, as it had been in an oak cask for a very long time. With a sherry cask, I can finish the whisky off with a gentle note.

"Aged whiskies are like grandparents. When you change their environment, it takes some time for them to adapt. You need to be gentle with them."

He hopes the eventual owner, instead of having the bottle sit pretty, will savour the whisky in good company, especially after celebration dinners.

He says that drinkers should swirl it in the mouth to release its multi- faceted flavours.

"Since the whisky is 50 years old, give it 50 seconds in your mouth," he quips.

He adds that the whisky is best enjoyed with two mouthfuls of Java coffee and dark chocolate to accentuate its flavours.

Whisky is in his blood, as he comes from a family of whisky blenders. His grandfather started a now-defunct whisky label, W.R. Paterson, in Glasgow in 1933.

As a child, he remembers smelling whisky in his father's breath when he kissed him and his twin brother goodnight after coming home from work.

Mr Paterson had his first nosing experience at the age of eight, when his father took him to his whisky warehouse.

He recalls vividly: "It was heavy and fleshy like my grandfather, and had sweet tones at the end. That instilled something in me."

He went on to work as a production assistant in a whisky house at age 17 and joined The Dalmore's parent company, Whyte & Mackay, in 1970.

These days, Mr Paterson, who is known as The Nose in the whisky industry, smells up to 300 whiskies daily, figuring out when the different spirits reach their peak.

Naturally, his nose, which was once insured for more than $3 million, is a vital part of his job. Besides taking a daily dose of vitamins, he needs to sit in a warm bath for about 30 minutes to clear his nose after long-haul flights.

Mr Paterson, who has three children aged between 30 and 40, is a walking whisky ambassador. He carries a briefcase filled with tools such as gloves, whisky glasses and a map of Scotland, among other things. He gives this reporter an on-the-spot crash course on nosing whiskies, plunging his nose into a whisky glass and taking long sniffs.

At 67, he is showing no signs of slowing down. He hopes to achieve his Golden Jubilee with Whyte and Mackay in five years' time.

He says: "You are only as old as you feel, I like to think that I have as much energy as someone younger than me."

This article was first published on August 9, 2015.
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