glenfiddich solera reserve

Glenfiddich is one of the most common single malt Scotch whisky there is out there. I believe I read somewhere that every 1 in 3 bottles of single malt sold is a Glenfiddich. However, just because it’s popular doesn’t mean it automatically isn’t good.

I *struggled* to choke that sentence out. I’m a huge Macallan fan, quite loyal to it since it was my very first single malt Scotch and I had it at a very special time.

glenfiddich 15 solera reserve gift box

Glenfiddich Solera Reserve can be had for around RM 245 – 285. There’s this promotional gift box that comes with a 700 ml bottle, a 30 ml miniature and a tumbler. The 15 year old is generally accepted to be a benchmark of sorts and has one of the best price-performance ratios. I first had it in 2006 and wrote about the Glenfiddich Solera Reserve which I got to celebrate a pay raise.

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whisky durian

Oh, I nearly forgot this photo.

trollface

british mulled wine

I’ve never tried British mulled wine before and I’ve heard a lot of good things about it. It seems rather hard to find, despite it being winter when I was there but I finally managed to track it down.

mulled wine

Mulled wine is red wine with spices like cinnamon added and served warm. It comes out of a pot – the glass of wine is filled by ladling the hot mulled wine into it.

mullet wine

The taste is quite extraordinary – the warm drink makes it perfect for sipping and the sugar and cinnamon tones makes it very palatable indeed…even for non-drinkers. It’s awesomeness in a glass during the cold days of winter! :)

oktoberfest arch

O’ zapft is!

oktoberfest band

The legendary festival in Munich, which is a celebration of the amber fluid in Bavaria, Germany is originally not about beer at all. The first Oktoberfest was a sombre (I think la, I wasn’t there since I wasn’t born yet) affair to commemorate the union of two royalty whose names are now relegated to the annals of Wikipedia (and historians).

However, it soon grew to become the beer festival we all know and love today! =D

oktoberfest tattoo

Oktoberfest was relatively obscure except to the ones who had more exposure but in recent years it has come to Malaysia and in a big way too!

It is not just about beer (although that is a main and important part of Oktoberfest) but the celebration of life! It has been a custom that Oktoberfest starts with a 12 gun salute and the tapping of the first beer keg to be presented to the Mayor.

oktoberfest us

Oktoberfest is all about entertainment, beer and more beer and I’m glad to see that happen in Malaysia now (so I don’t have to travel all the way to Germany to experience it).

I went to Souled Out for the first Oktoberfest celebration by GAB in Malaysia and it is a celebration that I’m proud to be part of – faithful to the Oktoberfest experience in Munich.

The best thing about Oktoberfest in Malaysia is that they have Paulaner! =D

oktoberfest paulaner

If you’ve been hiding under a rock for the past 6 years, Paulaner is the #1 German wheat beer in Malaysia and it’s all imported in all the way from…MUNICH!

Yes, the birthplace of Oktoberfest! It’s also one of the official beers of Oktoberfest.

oktoberfest german food

I’ve had Paulaner a number of times during Oktoberfest and the best part about it is the taste. If you’re a beer connoisseur, you’ll appreciate this brew – it’s not meant for the mainstream drinkers, but the more premium and discerning consumers.

oktoberfest food

The Oktoberfest event that I went to also had Munich inspired food which is always a good thing. Gotta line your stomach lest you become a bierleichen. There were sausages, pretzels and German food on offer – perfect to recreate the Oktoberfest experience.

I’m glad I managed to drink a real Munich produced beer during Oktoberfest in Malaysia.

oktoberfest jestina

Paulaner is an ale so if you’re a common Joe lager drinking person, it’s an acquired taste. I love ales since I’ve been studying abroad since I was 15 so I can appreciate a good one. Beer aficionados take note, Paulaner is going to be the next big thing!

oktoberfest girls

That’s the highest accolade I give to a beer. :)

bia hoi ha noi

Bia Hoi is a unique cultural experience in Vietnam that I thoroughly enjoyed. Fresh draft beer is delivered daily to bia hois and stored in a HUGE container. It’s served by the glass and each glass only costs VND 6,000 (RM 0.90). It’s icy cold and has a low alcohol content (reported to be around 3%), which makes it perfect for prolonged drinking sessions.

bia hoi draft beer

I was lucky to find an real bia hoi where all the locals in the Old Quarter go to just a street down from the place I was staying at. The best thing about the place is that they’re not used to foreigners – I got a lot of puzzled looks when I sat down and people started asking me where I was from.

bia hoi fresh beer

One other interesting aspect is that office workers would drop by during lunch and grab a quick glass of beer before departing again. I think this has something to do with the American occupation and the cultural vestiges left after that but I’m no sociologist so take this with a pinch of salt.

bia hoi ambience

Anyway, they were very surprised at the amount of beer that I can drink and on the second visit on my first day, the owner sat down with me and bought me a beer. This is a friendship that would last throughout the trip, sometimes I just sat down and he waved my money away. He was interested in me and I guess they don’t get a lot of tourists coz he was asking me a lot of questions.

bia hoi owner

He also had two peculiar traits – a fondness of working ladies (which he claims he can get for VND 30,000 but I never verified since I didn’t take him up on his offer) and an equal enthusiasm for photos (he kept wanting me to take photos of him) but he’s a really nice guy. He actually saved me from being pick pocketed – someone on a bike pulled up and discreetly opened by my backpack and he shouted at the dude in Vietnamese before I realized what happened.

bia hoi cigarette

Bia hois in Vietnam is places where the locals congregate to drink and shoot the shit. I managed to meet a lot of the locals there – from dodgy people of dubious career paths to real deal old communists complete with Viet Cong tattoos.

I also learned a method of smoking which is like the Tim Tam Slam. Basically you dip the filter of your cigarette into the glass of cold beer and suck up the amber fluid through the other side. I was surprised that it would light at all but it did and the end result was a cigarette that tastes cold and you get a sip of beer with every puff.

I cannot stress the importance of visiting a bia hoi when you’re in Vietnam. It is where you meet the locals and talk to them. Communication barriers abound but after a few glasses you’ll be using a mixture of gestures and basically speak the same language. smirk

The bia hois are usually adorned with the stools and tables common in the Old Quarter of Hanoi and it’s a great place to hang out before and after you’re done with the day. The fresh beer comes in right in the morning so be sure to catch that batch – it’s a refreshing breakfast to start your day!

bia hoi pipe

I also learned how to smoke their tobacco pipes in the local bia hoi. I was sitting with this bunch of people passing around a communal pipe and one of them offered me the pipe. It’s not like smoking a bong at all – the trick is to inhale and sorta blow out the excess burnt tobacco and inhale again.

bia hoi local pipe

The tobacco pipes is filled with…you guessed it, fresh beer and it’s guaranteed to make your head spin after a couple of hits if you’re not a heavy smoker. Heh!

bia hoi me

If you’ll ask me to name a place where I felt most at home while on vacation in Hanoi, Vietnam – it would be hands down the local bia hoi. No contest.

snake head wine jars

There are a lot of weird and wonderful creatures served with wine as a “tonic” in China. I had the chance to sample snake head wine in Guilin. It costs RMB 30 (which works out to about RM 15) per glass.

snake wine jars

It is not “wine” in the classic sense of the word. There is no fermentation here. The Chinese word “jiu” means alcoholic beverage. These snake heads are actually preserved in some sort of liquid. The snake head is taken out, along with a tablespoon of the liquid inside those jars to produce:

snake wine

Snake head wine!

snake head wine

It’s topped up with the legendary “kao liang jiu” – very high proof alcohol (in excess of 57% alcohol) and downed in a single shot. You’re not supposed to eat the snake head though – I enquired about the reason behind that and it seems that it’s quite poisonous.

This is the first of many snake posts from Guilin. ;)

tragic weekend fun

I went out drinking with Jan, Sam and Shawn on Saturday night after dinner at Bubba Gump. During the course of the night, I consumed enough ethanol to kill a small horse but somehow managed to maintain my sobriety.

tragic weekend absinthe

It was a night of Bloody Mary’s, absinthe, frozen martinis, shooters, Flaming Lamborghinis and various other cocktails and at the end of the session (and after racking up a staggering RM 566.96 bill); Jan got rather inebriated and fell down while puking on my shoes.

The problem is she fell flat on her face into the tarmac outside Telawi Street Bistro.

tragic weekend face

I tried to grab her, but missed and scraped my hand instead. Thus, I bundled her into my car sans seatbelt on the front seat while I drove back.

tragic weekend hand

Thank God, Allah, Buddha, Confucius, Gaia, Sol Invictus et al that I didn’t run into any road blocks that night.

tragic weekend end

I cannot imagine talking my way out of a failed breathalyzer test with a passed out girl in my car. I think it would be a catastrophe of epic proportions if I were stopped by the police. Since I didn’t get apprehended, the damage level has been downgraded to merely tragic. ;)

angela beer

Sharing 5 pints in the afternoon…

angela flaming

…and having a Flaming Lamborghini at night. :)

138

13.8% alcohol. I stared at it in the 24 hour convenience store. I was getting some detergent after a late night at work and thought to myself: “Hmm…I don’t mind getting shitfaced tonight, since it’s a Friday and it’ll be a reward for the long hours I pulled the past two days”. It is the highest proof alcohol I’ve ever seen in a readily available beer – it’s actually “more than 13.8%”.

I opened the can, gulped down a few mouthfuls, grimaced and looked at the label. Made in GuangZhou, China. It tastes like rice wine mixed with beer. It doesn’t even have carbonation! Rice wine in China can be in excess of 40% alcohol with a few renowned brands weighing in at an impressive 70-80%. 95% alcohol is the highest proof alcohol possible in non-laboratory conditions before the ethanol starts to re-dilute itself from the moisture in the atmosphere back to 95%.

I’m talking crap. I drank without eating dinner. Supper beckons.

beer 5l 1

This is the (in)famous Hoegaarden 5 liter glass of beer available at Brussels Beer Café. It’s so huge, it takes no small amount of effort to even lift it. The size and girth of this “glass” is staggering! It holds 5 liters of the good stuff and it made me wonder…

beer 5l 2

…can a person drink (scull) 5 liters of beer?

beer 5l 3

I’ll just preempt you by saying it’s possible, but not recommended. You’ll live to regret it. :p

TGIF people! w00t! It’s been a super long week for me since I’ve been working my ass off. I’m thinking about paying homage to the 5 liters of goodness after work. ;)

six

I’ve always been a big fan of single (and available) malt whiskeys. I guess it appeals to the more refined side of me (yes, you have to squint, but it’s there :p). I’ve had Glenfiddich Solera Reserve before and I loved it. Thus, I jumped at the chance when Kim invited me to a Glenfiddich whiskey tasting session.

kim

It’s tantalizingly called Glenfiddich – Taste The Future and I was told that we’ll be sampling several Glenfiddich products, including some that are not available in the market (!). How could I refuse and still sleep at night? The ethanol connoisseur in me (no, you don’t have to squint to see this part) arrived promptly at 3 pm to meet up with Mr. Ong (Kim’s dad).

tables

The tasting session was held at elle six art gallery and it was conducted by Mr Ludoviq Ducrocq. I love names I can’t pronounce – Mr Ludoviq Ducrocq is the Global Ambassador for Glenfiddich and he travels around the world to conduct tastings. I want his job. :(

food

There was a righteous spread of food before the whiskey tasting started. I’m not one to eat before drinking since I like drinking on an empty stomach. Just to torture my body, ya know. ;) However, I grabbed a plate and nibbled on some food just to be polite. Heh!

glenfiddich

The highlight of the evening started with a presentation by Mr Ludoviq Ducrocq. There were 7 glasses in front of each seat. The glasses were on a paper liner detailing the age of the Glenfiddich single malt. Present in the parade was:

Glenfiddich 12 year old
Glenfiddich 15 year old
Glenfiddich 18 year old
Glenfiddich 21 year old
Glenfiddich 30 year old

…and two mystery glasses labeled “New Make Spirit” and “Future Glenfiddich“. Intriguing. I like!

presso

I’m lovin’ it already. :)

tasting

Mr Ludoviq Ducrocq taught us the proper way to taste single malt. You swirl the liquid around and smell it before sipping it. The whisky is rolled around your tongue while you breathe in to capture the notes of the whisky before swallowing.

intro

We started off with the Glenfiddich 12 year old and progressed throughout the years. Each time before we taste the Glenfiddich, we were shown a video of what happened during the year the aged single malt was made.

salute

I can recognize scenes from 1997 (12 year old), 1994 (15 year old), and 1991 (18 year old). My memory started getting hazy during the 1988 (21 year old) video since I was only 7 then and I can’t relate to the 1979 (30 year old) video at all. I was still a good year away from swimming into my mother in 1979, accounting for the incubation period of 9 months so I don’t remember anything at all.

smells

The Glenfiddich – Taste The Future session also had covered items on the table in front of us. The glasses contain items ranging from honey to figs. You’re supposed to compare the single malt with the items so there was a lot of sniffing and touching going on. Okay, that sounded wrong, but you catch my drift.

Glenfiddich 12 year old has pear and subtle oak notes.
Glenfiddich 15 year old has warm spice, honey and rich fruit notes.
Glenfiddich 18 year old has oak, apple and cinnamon notes.
Glenfiddich 21 year old has vanilla, rich toffee and new leather notes (!).
Glenfiddich 30 year old has sherry, fig and dark chocolate notes.

me kim

It’s a bit disturbing to actually be able to taste the notes in the whisky…especially the new leather. :S

ducrocq

Mr Ludoviq Ducrocq told us to close our eyes and think back to what happened when a particular whisky was bottled. It should be noted that a Glenfiddich 15 year old (for example) could be much older than that – it just means that it’s aged for at least 15 years prior to bottling.

us

I particularly liked the New Make Spirit. Weighing in at a staggering 70% alcohol, it’s Glenfiddich before it goes into the casks for aging. It has a really strong bite – reminds me of this 95% alcohol I had back in Melbourne.

sa team

The Future Glenfiddich is intriguing as well. It’s 7 years old and a good 5 years away from bottling. However, you can taste hints of this Glenfiddich-to-be. It’s only going to be sold in 2014 at least so in 2014, when you drink a Glenfiddich 12 year old, I’ll be there to say “Hah! I drank that 5 years ago!” in a smug manner. :p

…if I’m still alive in 2014, of course. ;)

glen

I liked the Glenfiddich
30 year old the best. It has
character and I can appreciate the aging process it went through. It’s as old as my sister and retails for RM 1,430.

group

There is also a bottle of Glenfiddich Rare Collection 40 year old on display, which we unfortunately did not get a chance to taste. This bottle retails for an astounding RM 8,455.

I got to hold it though. =D

drink

I hear it’s the next best thing. :p

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