One of the hottest trends in the drinks world at the moment is creating products that borrow elements from each other, be it whisky, gin, or even shochu. Beer is aged in bourbon and rye whiskey barrels, whisky is aged in IPA casks, and wine is infused into gin. What section of a bar’s menu would be most suitable for an ambiguous juniper spirit that’s aged in sherry casks? The future for drinks is exciting, and we’re here for every step of the way. In Singapore, we’ve noticed new four alcohol crossovers that’s sure to intrigue any drinker willing to step out of their comfort zone — purists, be warned!
The Danish distillation experts at Empirical Spirits resist conventional categorisation, and rightly so. Launched in 2016 by Noma alumni Lars Williams and Emil Hermansen, they’ve been creating a line of unique distillates that use flavours as a starting point rather than a category. Ambiguously billed as ’spirit drinks’, their conctions are all about the raw organic materials, whether that’s freeze-dried gooseberries and oysters, or koji that they use to ferment Belgian saison beer. Empirical Spirits’ latests offerings include bottles like Charlene McGee, a smoked juniper spirit that’s matured in Oloroso casks for a brand new flavour experience with smoke and wood. Then there’s Fuck Trump and His Stupid Fucking Wall, a curiously-named habanero spirit made from pearled barley, Belgian saison yeast, koji, and habanero vinegar. It’s fruity, vegetal, and painlessly warm all at the same time — go figure!
The world’s highest urban microbrewery is already famous for its craft brews, so it’s almost a natural progression for it to venture into the world of distillations. Together with Brass Lion Distillery — the first full-fledged micro-distillery in Singapore — they’ve produced the exclusive LeVeL33 Hopped Dry Gin, a refreshing and mildly complex gin with a citrusy hoppy flavour and layered nuances. The hop of choice: Citra, a varietal rich in hop oils and notes reminiscent of orange and grapefruit. Built on top of Brass Lion’s Singapore Dry Gin, the base spirit itself boasts a fragrant juniper-forward profile with botanicals such as galangal, kaffir lime leaves, pomelo, mandarin peel, and lemongrass, resulting in a particularly harmonious end product. If it’s enough to blow their team away, it’s good enough for us.
The LeVeL33 Hopped Gin is available exclusively at LeVeL33, and can be ordered as a Gin & Tonic or neat. Bottles are also available for retail (S$160, 500ml).
Native x Young Master Thick Skin Stout
This one doesn’t exactly involve two different categories of booze, but what’s not to love about a little cacao action? Many craft breweries are zealously embracing coffee-flavoured beer, but Thick Skin Stout’s a tad special in the fact that it only uses cascara, or the husks of coffee cherries, from West Java coffee beans. And that’s not all — cacao husks from Singapore’s Fossa Chocolate is added into the mix, creating an extra sustainable brew with earthy notes and hints of dark fruit from the cascara. The low-waste concept ties in with the philosophy of Native (yes, that award-winning Singapore bar that uses ants), which collaborated with leading Hong Kong brewery Young Master to produce this highly sessional ale. We wouldn’t be surprised if this starts replacing our afternoon mocha.
Thick Skin is available at Native in 750ml bottles (S$35), and at The Guild in 450ml servings (S$19) to be paired with oysters from Pulau Ubin (S$3 each).
Ferdinand’s Riesling-infused Gin
Gin is one of the hottest and fastest growing spirits across Germany, but Grand Cru Riesling-infused gin is a different story. Ferdinand’s Gin is a collaboration between three old winemaking families from Sarr in western Germany, a region known for producing the best Riesling wines in the country (incidentally, Riesling is the lynchpin of the German wine industry). Hand-distilled and bottled at the Avadis Distillery since 2013, Ferdinand’s Saar Dry Gin is crafted from over 30 handpicked botanicals such as quince, apple mint, and lemon verbena before receiving a fruity flourish from an infusion of Riesling from the nearby Zilliken Estate — one of the top three estates for the wine worldwide, next to Egon Müller and JJ Prüm. There’s plenty going on to fascinate any serious gin drinkers: an intensely layered perfume, botanically rich palate, and a nice vinous finish.
Ferdinand’s Gins are available in Singapore through Malt & Wine Asia, and include the Saar Dry Gin (S$99, 500ml), Saar Dry Gin Cask Strength (S$118, 500ml), and Saar Dry GOLDCAP (S$210, 500ml).
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