Monkey Shoulder ?
This is a new-age Scotch ’triple malt’ that has been reinvented for playfulness, whether you want to drink it neat, on the rocks or mixed. The ’triple’ means a combination of three single malt whiskies matured in Bourbon casks for a mellow, vanilla roundness. It’s made from the same company as Glenfiddich, the world’s most awarded single malt.
Taste: Hints of honey, a nose of marmalade and malt, and some sprinkle of Christmas spice such as nutmeg and cloves, makes Monkey Shoulder really stand out in a cocktail.
Plays well with: Just about everything–it gives a stronger malt backbone in enhancing cocktails. For a really refreshing slug, try Something Like A Lassie ($28) at Bar Naked, with orange bitters, lime and ginger beer to activate your taste buds.
Bar hangout: Bar Naked, 95 Club Street. Tel: 9620 6719
Hakushu Distiller’s Reserve ?
Looking for fresh, crisp whisky with a light peatiness? Look to Japan, and its misty green forests. This new range combines the best characteristics of a young malt whisky along with a heavily peated aged whisky, to create a versatile, no-age statement whisky.
Taste: A herbal character uplifted with peppermint and melon on the nose, and palate-tickling yuzu on the palate, with a subtle smoke overall.
Plays well with: Mint and sparkling water, for a very refreshing highball.
Buy from: Meidi-Ya, #B1-50 Liang Court, 177 River Valley Road. Tel: 6339 1112
Bombay Sapphire East ?
It’s Bombay Sapphire with a new recipe–adding Vietnamese black pepper and Thai lemongrass into its existing 10 botanics mix. Bombay is usually everyone’s first foray into premium gin; it’s complex because of the pure botanicals that are captured in a vapour infusion process. \
Taste: You’ll notice the punch from slightly higher alcohol content along with the spicy kick from black peppercorn, mingled with the familiar fragrant, mild and citrusy Bombay Sapphire.
Plays well with: Lemon and grapefruit; citrus fruit really brings out the brightness of the spices.
Bar hangout: Canvas, 20 Upper Circular Road. Tel: 6538 2928
Sipsmith London Dry Gin ?
Small and crafty, this quintessentially British gin is distilled in copper stills for that round character that makes drinking so much more enjoyable. An independent company, Sipsmith takes the time to handcraft each batch of 300 bottles–the gin is made after they’ve taken the first run of spirit for their vodka.
Taste: A dry juniper palate with lemon tart zest, very rounded and mouth-filling, topped with floral notes on the nose.
Plays well with: All kinds of tonic for a perfect G&T, smooth enough for a Martini, and versatile enough to be made into the Karagin ($18) at NUVO, which incorporates Asian flavours such as coconut milk, spiced berry puree and egg white.
Bar hangout: NUVO, #02-100 Marina Square, 6 Raffles Boulevard. Tel: 6822 2098
The only vodka that’s distilled in Iceland proves to be crisp, clean and thoroughly balanced. The secret is in the Icelandic spring water that naturally undergoes lava rock filtration.
Taste: Lightly creamy, elegant, not sharp or burning the palate. It’s full-bodied so you could drink it on its own with ice, which brings out its aniseed and vanilla flavours.
Plays well with: Yuzu or cucumber for lighter cocktails; chilli or chocolate bitters for more intensity.
Bar hangout: Sauce, #01-10/12 Esplanade Mall, 8 Raffles Avenue. Tel: 6837 2959
Snow Leopard ?
This philanthropic drink was created in 2006 to help conserve the endangered Himalayan snow leopard, with the aim of raising US$1 million annually.
Taste: The super-smooth finish comes from being filtered twice over charcoal, lending it a clean, peppery finish to complement the nutty, creamy vanilla tones.
Plays well with: Any classic vodka cocktail, such as a dry martini. Wintermelon tea is infused to create a subtly herbal martini, shaken and strained in the Snow Melon Martini ($25 for 2).
Bar hangout: 5 Emerald Hill Cocktail Bar, 5 Emerald Hill Road. Tel: 6732 0818