The best wines, spirits, and liqueurs to bring to your Chinese New Year gathering
Impress friends and family with our picks of some of the best booze this Chinese New Year.
The Peak Team
Balvenie Stories series: A Day of Dark Barley
For any fine liquor, stories are half the experience. Balvenie clearly understands this, and has released a single-malt series inspired by storytelling. Each bottle comes an NFC-enabled tag on the bottle so drinkers can be serenaded by the whiskies' stories – recordings between the craftspeople and the brand's global ambassador; and guided audio tastings with malt masters David Stewart and Kelsey McKechnie. The apex of this series is "A Day of Dark Barley", a 26-years-aged expression that's distilled from dark roasted barley malt for a syrupy, smokey, dram with hints of citrus and sweet spices.
Available at bars and retail spaces including La Maison du Whisky, Straits Clan, The Connoisseur Divan, The Joint, The Wall,1855 and 75CL.
Cuvee Anne Gewurztraminer Selection De Grains Nobles 2000 magnum
Not every botrytised wine has to be Sauternes – Alsace also puts out some great stuff. Case in point, this grand cru Gewurztraminer from the two-century-old, family-owned Domaines Schlumberger. Youthful even for its vintage, the wine boasts plenty of candied fruit balanced by bright acidity and a touch of bitterness. We won't go into the benefits of large-format bottling – but this should be good for the festive blowouts.
The Glendronach 26 Years Cask 183 for Southeast Asia Edition 2
The existence of this bottle proves to be one of the rare instances when living in Singapore might be beneficial to a whisky habit. This particular single-cask (meaning there are usually no more than 450 bottles in circulation) expression has been specially selected by GlenDronach master blender Rachel Barrie for Southeast Asia, and is bottled at a whopping 50.8% ABV, so keep those water droppers on hand. The liquid is classic, sherry-heavy GlenDronach taken to the nth degree – rich, and layered with plenty of nuttiness, earthy flavours, sweet oak, and underlying lift of citrus.
If you've drunk every vintage of Chateau D'yquem – consider this Marsala that proves that this fortified Italian wine isn't just for cooking. Grillo grapes are farmed organically, hand-harvested, and fermented with indigenous yeast before being aged in a mix of chestnut and oak barrels in a solera system. Removed from the solera in 1987 to be fortified and sweetened, this exceptional wine was oxidatively aged for 26 years in the barrel before being bottled in 2013. Lightly sweet, incredibly rich with nuttiness, dried flowers, and citrus peel, plus a finish for days. One of the best examples in its category, with a 18/20 score on Jancis Robinson. 19% ABV and foritfied
$198 from Raw Wine SG. Email firstname.lastname@example.org to order.
Graham's Ne Oublie Port 1882
Port wine company Graham's, has released something of a family heirloom to the wider world: 656 bottles of a Port from a barrel dating back to 1882. Each handmade crystal decanter is individually numbered, and adorned with sterling silver bands produced by Scottish silversmith Hayward & Stott. The liquid itself is a wood-aged, tawny-style port from a single vintage. As expected from fine port, the liquid boasts rich dark fruit, dried figs, and molasses, but also velvety tannins and remarkably crisp acidity for something that's over a century old.
Cult Cabernet from Napa. Hundred Acre comes from celebrated winemaker Jayson Woodbridge, who's as fastidious about making the best possible wine. To paint just a small portion of the big picture: Woodbridge pays his picker by the hour (most producers in Napa pay by the weight of berries picked) so the picking isn't rushed; while his vineyards are equipped with electronic micro-misters that regulate the temperature. The result is wines that are, if not approaching, perfection – opulent, luscious and hyperbole-inspiring.
$840 from Grand Vin
Shui Jing Fang Jing Cui (Forest Green)
Purveyors of baijiu will have heard of Shui Jing Fang, a strong aroma-style from Sichuan. Distilled from a five grain blend (sorghum, rice, glutinous rice, wheat and corn), the Jing Cui stands distinct with an added step of filtration with Shunan bamboo charcoal. What you get is a cispy, grassy finish to go along with delicate layers of apricots, prunes and spice.
Not resting on his laurels, head distiller Patrick Maguire expands his coveted Old and Rare series with this limited edition. Bottled from a single ex-American oak barrel that once held bourbon, this floral dram delivers an explosion of tropical fruits balanced by vanilla, pepper and pine. The lingering finish draws you in for another sip with its gentle layers of coconut and cocoa. Available in less than 200 bottles worldwide.
While Tokaji Aszu might be the bottles making the wine lists, consider the ultra-exclusive eszencia as a rarefied stocking stuffer. Essentially the purest expression of Tokaji sweet wines, eszencias are made using the free-run juice of botrytised grapes, resulting in an incredibly concentrated wine that takes years to ferment – usually only to about three percent ABV due to its extremely high levels of sugar that can go beyond 500 grams per litre. This 2003 vintage comes from the "First Growth"-classified vineyards of Oremus, and features everything expected of Tokaji, and then a bit more – intense aromatics; honeyed, complex fruits, and a staggeringly long finish. Can be drunk now, or in 200 years if stored properly.
Blended with a combination of some of the best whiskies found in Scotland, Johnnie Walker Blue Label already makes an exceptional Chinese New Year gift – the icing on this particular cake is an ornately designed rat-themed bottle that "captures the wit, entrepreneurship, and adaptability of the intelligent creature".
Vintage editions of moutai – probably China's most famous spirit – are snapped up by collectors the same way whiskies or comic books are. The more pristine, rare, and old the bottle, the higher the price. While its said that age improves the flavour of the liquor, these examples of Moutai are probably better locked up in a vault since a bottle from the 1970s can fetch upward of US$17,000 (S$23,100).
Wakefield Taylors The Legacy Cabernet Sauvignon 2014
In celebration of Clare Valley Estate Taylors Wines' 50th anniversary, they've released an extremely limited flagship wine, The Legacy. A Bordeaux-style blend comprising a majority of Cabernet Sauvignon, with a small percentage of Merlot and Cabernet Franc, the wine is the estate's maiden foray into the super high-end wine market. Each bottle comes with a three-pillar sculpture, and is adorned with a silver-rhodium seahorse medallion. Only 1080 bottles worldwide.