Scent of a whisky

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THE MACALLAN Edition No. 3 single malt whisky is “all about the aroma,” said Adrian Tecson, who as brand advocate for The Macallan presented on Feb. 27 the Scottish distillery’s newest limited edition product to Manila’s liquor enthusiasts. At the activity, Mr. Tecson asked some guests to rub a small amount of the whisky on their hands: “That’s the smell of the casks,” he said, explaining the readily identifiable woodsy scent on people’s palms.

Edition No. 3, introduced in other markets in September 2017, was concocted by The Macallan’s master distiller Bob Dalgarno with master perfumer Roja Dove of Roja Parfums. This latest whisky is the result of using various European- and American-made casks. The Macallan said it still relied on casks from Spain’s Tevasa cooperage for the Edition No. 3’s base — as it does with the majority of its single malt produce — but “balanced” the liquid with the “fresh cut oak and citrus of Hudosa casks, the vanilla ice cream and sweet, crisp green apple flavors of bourbon casks, and the dry, floral and vanilla notes from oak refill casks.”

It was in choosing the various casks where Mr. Roja’s nose proved effective; he identified the distinctive aromas present in particular oak casks, and “nosed” several whisky samples. Such expertise, according to The Macallan, allowed Mr. Dalgarno to “select dominant notes to help shape the final character of Edition No. 3.”

So where Edition No. 1 relied mostly on eight kinds of sherry and bourbon casks for its flavor, and Edition No. 2 — while also using a mix of casks (four types) — was the result of a collaboration with chefs and restaurateurs, Edition No. 3, a product of six different casks, is focused on aroma.

Though fragrant, Edition No. 3 is not to be trifled with. It is bottled at 48.3% ABV, which may be only slightly higher compared to the previous Editions, but is quite more robust than Scotch whiskies’ minimum — and common — strength rating of 40% bottled ABV. In fact, Mr. Tecson advised guests to temper their shots with a small ice cube or a few drops of water to “cut” Edition No. 3’s spirit a little.

While not divulging volume allocation numbers, Mr. Tecson noted Edition No. 3’s release in the Philippines forms part of Asia’s growing influence in the global Scotch whisky market.

According to freshly released figures by the UK’s Scotch Whisky Association, export value and volume of Scotch whisky grew 8.9% and 1.6%, respectively, in 2017, translating into almost $6 billion (converted from British pounds), or the equivalent of about 1.23 billion bottles. Exports of single malt whisky grew bigger, however, at 14.2% for the same period, or to a value of $1.6 billion. Of the top 10 destinations in terms of value for Scotch whisky last year, two are in Asia — Singapore and Taiwan.

Taiwan, sixth on the list, saw a drop of 8.6% in value. But Singapore, behind only the US and France, posted a 29.4% rise in export value to $400 million. Though only about a third of the value which the US commanded, Singapore’s growth is far more vigorous than the US’s 7.7% and France’s 2.1% gains in 2017.

When it comes to Asia, it seems the Scotch whisky industry is following its nose. — Brian M. Afuang