When you talk about finishing or extra maturation, naturally, you’d think of The Balvenie’s Sir David Stewart or Glenmorangie’s Dr Bill Lumsden. These pioneers figured out a process that gives whiskies an added dimension while respecting the inherent character of the original spirit.
Extra maturation is typically done by commercial distilleries simply because there is economies of scale; it also requires in-depth expertise and resources. So, to find this process being done in-house at a bar is pleasantly surprising, to say the least.
The Other Room, located in a nondescript corner of Singapore Marriott Tang Plaza, offers extra matured bourbons, gins, rums and whiskies.
Award-winning Master Bartender Dario Knox is the person behind this audacious undertaking. He had to oversee the entire process – getting in casks from the cooperage, seasoning the casks with a beverage (may be fortified wines, rums or liqueurs), emptying the casks and refilling them with a spirit. The finished spirits are then poured out, ready to be sold at The Other Room. One can only imagine the amount of wastage during the trial-and-error phase, as we’re sure not every single experiment worked.
“The Other Room was 13 months in the making,” exclaimed Dario. “I started with 890 recipes, but ended with 170 products.”
Question is, why have extra matured spirits in the first place? Dario said that the idea was inspired by the Prohibition era, the theme of The Other Room. “Resources are limited during Prohibition and you tend to keep your favourite bottles. But yet, you want a little variety.”
He added: “Some folks told me that by finishing them in seasoned casks, you’re not experiencing the spirit as intended by the master distiller. But all I am trying to do, is pay tribute to the master distillers.”
At least from the expressions that we tried at The Other Room, Dario definitely paid homage to our favourite whiskies by giving them an extra edge.
I tried the Balvenie 12 DoubleWood that was finished in casks seasoned with Ron Abeulo Anejo rum. We could still get the balance of vanilla, honey and sherry notes. But with the extra maturation, it enhanced the whisky’s sweeter elements.
Similarly, the Kavalan Ex Bourbon finished in Albarino and Moscatel seasoned cask delivered a creamer note on the palate. And somehow, the extra maturation plumped up the mouthfill.
We’ll surely be back to try the other finished spirits.
Most certainly, the experience was really eye opening and I’m sure even those of you who are seasoned whisky drinkers will find a visit to The Other Room fascinating.
The Other Room