World’s most expensive whisky?

Oct. × ’11

Marking another milestone in the transformation of whisky as a drink to whisky as a collectible, a Chinese businessman bought the last remaining bottle of 62 year old Dalmore at Changi Airport in Singapore for £125,000.

A 62 year old Dalmore had previously changed hands at the Pennyhill Park Hotel in Surrey, UK for £32,000 in 2005.

This represents a notional return of 390% in just six years, not bad by any measure!

But the Dalmore 62 is not the world’s most expensive whisky. Dalmore themselves have also released the Trinitas, a 64 year old expression (retailing at £100,000 a bottle). Beating that, the rather unknown Ruwa whisky sells at £3.8m. Ludicrously high for a bottle containing unknown spirit, even if it is covered in white gold and diamonds.

Tasting notes: I won’t pretend to have tasted the Dalmore 62, and from a brief search on the internet it seems that nobody else has actually written any tasting notes either. We’ll have to just make do with knowing that it was the “most beautiful thing” ever tasted by the bar manager of the Pennyhill Park Hotel. Slainthe!

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Reuters reports on Whisky in China

Sep. × ’11

Reuters published an article titled “Status in a bottle” on whisky consumption in China. Nothing much new – again reinforcing the often heard ideas about why whisky is becoming more popular over here. I’d like to see these views challenged from time to time, but can’t really argue with the overall view.

Key quote:

“In China there are 20 million new consumers which reach the legal drinking age each year,” he said. “There is a very big aspiration for international spirits.”

Gilbert Ghostine, Diageo Asia-Pacific

Read the article here

Award winners at the 2011 WhiskyLive Shanghai

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Chinese whisky

Mar. × ’11

Maltinchina has been continuously under the impression that whisky has NEVER BEEN PRODUCED IN CHINA. It turns out this is not true. After talking last night to Raymond Li of Beijing’s Single Malt Club it seems that whisky was produced a long time ago in Qingdao by the same company that produces Qingdao beer.

Some expert baidu-fu later on, and I found some reports on this somewhat dubious enterprise… as well as some photos. Seems like it was mothballed some time ago, but there is a lot of stock maturing in that warehouse. Time for a trip to Qingdao I think…..

The stills at Qingdao's distillery

The full article (in Chinese) is available here. I’ll do a translation soon.

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Happy New Year

Jan. × ’11

2011, may it be a wonderful year for everyone. MaltInChina took off to the Swiss Alps for a family holiday. Much snow, board games and of course some whisky made it a great start to the year.

Bruichladdich, Ardbeg and Risk

tough game, but I won in the end!

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WSJ blogs about the China Whisky Market

Nov. × ’10

China’s New Drink: Single-Malt Scotch

Note the quote from Bowmore’s regional sales manager:

“There are very few old-aged casks left to bottle”

This is true not only for Bowmore but for most Scottish distilleries. Looks like the market for old spirit will continue to be strong, and those independent bottlers that are sitting on large stocks can look forward to continued strong prices. Whisky auctions in Scotland are also beginning to notice increased demand from Asia.

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UK & China agree over Scotch

Nov. × ’10

China and the UK have announced an agreement to ensure that whisky sold in China can only be labeled ‘Scotch’ if it is actually produced in Scotland. Does this spell the end of the road for Red Labial (not a freudian slip…) in China?

red labial danwei

The truly revolutionary Scotch! Photo from

Most likely not. While it is a step forward for the promotion of whisky (note the spelling) in China, most Chinese citizens do not know much about the origin of whisky, nor care much for its taste (source = taxi driver interviews). Another significant problem is that “政府的应酬不用威士忌的” and “现在政府的应酬都是需要红酒的” (The government does not drink whisky at dinner parties, the government needs red wine!). This telling quote was from a conversation with a friend of mine in Nantong who was asking for advice on opening an alcohol shop in his city. I of course suggested whisky as a fine product to stock, but he doesn’t believe that whisky can sell, as the local leaders don’t drink it. Perhaps a smart move for Diageo and PR would be to adjust their ads to target those in charge over here? They might find inspiration from this advert for White Gold Vodka in their excellent Siberian airlines campaign of a few years ago:


Was he moonlighting to supplement his income?

Congratulations all round to those who brokered this deal (and I hope their hangovers were worth it) but I’d like to see them negotiate a reduction in whisky import duties. Perhaps in return for duty free imports of baijiu to the UK?

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Amilal – another great whisky hangout in Gulou

Nov. × ’10

More evidence that whisky is not all about high-end bars and expensive prices.

Tonight I went back to the area around Beijing’s Nanluoguxiang to re-visit a bar introduced to me by Tom O’Malley (have a read of his great article about the dark side of Beijing dining).

Amilal is tucked away down a tiny hutong, hardly wide enough for two people to walk down side by side. It’s safe to say that unless someone takes you there, you would never find it by yourself. The entrance is through a double wooden door through which a small courtyard reveals itself. The bar itself is in the rooms that lead off the courtyard and the decor and lighting make the place feel like that hutong home you always wanted but never found – furniture is mismatched, the shelves are stacked with books and the walls are hung with photographs taken by the owner, Aluss. Aluss is from Inner Mongolia and has been in Beijing for many years, finally opening Amilal two years ago, to provide a space for his friends to hang out.

Amilal Whisky Beijing China Single Malt

Aside from a wicked beer selection, Aluss has a few shelves stacked full of scotch that are steadily growing in number. He’s a huge fan of the peat, hence most of Islay is represented (including my favourite Bruichladdich), and he also has some odd blends that have come in via Japan. I drank my first glass of Tavalan there – Taiwan’s only single malt. Easy on the palate for sure. Aluss has also taken the bold (and perhaps dubious business decision) to price all his whiskys the same – 50rmb a glass. So a shot of Chivas is the same as the 16yo Laphroiag. Keeps the maths simple for him and encourages customers to explore the menu!

Anyway, for maps and more check out the Beijinger’s page.

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Can whisky save the UK?

Sep. × ’10

With whisky exports counting for 25% of UK food and beverage exports. This NPR podcast looks at the whisky industry and whether it will be able to continue to grow while the rest of the economy still faces stagnation.

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Malt in China returns, with a Lagavulin 16yo

Aug. × ’10

Over half a year since the last entry – you’d think that there had been nothing to report on the whisky scene in China. Couldn’t be further from the truth, however laozi has been busy traveling between Beijing, Shanghai, Zhejiang, Jiangxi and Hong Kong. Some good whiskys along the way, but too little note taking….

Enough of the excuses, this post is coming to you from the excellent Cafe Alba (formerly Cafe E.A.T., formerly Lugar) where I have arrived early for a friend’s return to Beijing drinks. The whisky selection is still excellent, and new Danish manager Henrik is keen to expand further. Expect an interview with him some time in the future.

So I’m drinking a delicious 16 year old Lagavulin and wondering why I have ignored this distillery for so long. Last time I drank a Lagavulin was in 2006 in Shenzhen, when my colleague pulled a bottle from his suitcase and expounded the merits of this whisky. I’ve put some short tasting notes below, but in case you can’t be bothered to read further go to Alba and drink some!

Nose: oak, leathery, oily, not as smoky as expected or remembered – maybe too many other Islays have passed my lips since the last taste.
Mouth: smooth smoke, with sweet caramel hints. This is a very balanced – nothing like Ardbeg or Bowmore where the smokiness almost overpowers
Finish: liquourice flavours, dry, slightly numbing in a sichuan style. 麻酒? maybe a good adjective to use in China…

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Wed 13 Jan - Club Glen whisky pairing dinner 威士忌品酒品菜活动在Club Glen

Jan. × ’10

在三里屯南路去年开的Glen是北京的一个专门的吧。现在Glen的老板香港人Wilfred Kwok开了一个全新的酒吧叫Club Glen

the bar at Club Glen

the bar at Club Glen

Club Glen是一个私人的酒吧,所以如果你要加入需要花几万块钱。当然这样会保证只一些高等的威士忌爱好者可以来。加入的价钱不少但是也包括几万块钱的费用。谁知道这个美丽的城市有钱的威士忌爱好者!无论如何今天晚上在Club Glen有一个特色的品酒品菜活动让大家来阅历这个各别的聚氯步。明天MiC给同学们介绍一下这个活动的结果。

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