The Malt Vault

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Fishball was introduced to a little place in Ann Siang Hill that specialised in single malts. The Single Maltoholics congregated at the very aptly named Malt Vault. It’s a small place, cosy with soft seats round low tables and some space by a short bar; all augmented nicely by nostalgic jazz videos playing on two screens behind the bar.

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The whisky menu was staggering. It was divided into the requisite regions of Scotland: Islay, Speyside, Island, Lowland and Campbeltown, each section replete with an eyeboggling array of whiskies. Faced with the paradox of choice, we asked the owner for recommendations. To his question of what sort of whisky we liked, the responses “peaty,” “smokey,” and “Islay” all came up. We started name-dropping our favourites from Ardberg and Laphroaig to Lagavulin. Three of us girls were very taken by the recommendation of the 1979 Caol Ila, while Mfluder had the Bunnahabhain, Jeff the Ardberg 15 and DC the Laphroaig 1998.

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Our drams arrived in proper tulip-shaped glasses that I thought very pretty. We then merrily tasted each other’s whiskys, the proceedings getting merrier the more we tasted. The Laphraoig didn’t disappoint with its characteristic wood and hospital (!) nose, smooth smoke and salty finish. My favourite of the evening was my own Caol Ila. At a whopping 60%, this fella came with a sledgehammer alcoholic kick, but oh the vanilla, honey and spice start. Chased by refined smoke and finishing off with mild salt, this was definitely a keeper. After a few sips, some orange peel came through. Such a good one to savour.

Tricia, Jeff and I scored a coup. As we tasted Jeff’s Ardberg 15, Tricia thought it tasted like cheese, while Jeff thought it was more like smoked bacon. I detected vanilla. When the owner came over to give us some pointers on the tasting, he gave exactly the same words right back to us! Now all we need to do is keep drinking together!

Aside from whiskys, Malt Vault also does exclusive Scottish beers. James and his girlfriend had Belhaven Scottish Ale, which according to Tricia is probably the smoothest, creamiest ale she’s ever tried. When Fishball finally turned up, he asked for his bottle of  Bruadar whisky liqueur. It was honey and sloe berries spiked with whisky and at first sniff was something like a body wash from The Body Shop! It was straightforward (the expected honey and berry nose and sweet taste) and very easy on the palate. Not a bad way to end the evening.

Malt Vault
Basement No. 12 Ann Siang Road
Tel: 9026 3466
mr.malt@maltvault.com.sg

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My First F1

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It was the first time for both of us at an F1 race. Miraculously, DC knew someone who knew someone who had tickets to give away. We got Pit Grandstand tickets for the Saturday race. Being a complete F1 newbie, DC had to brief me on exactly what happens at one of these dos. I found out that the cars don’t all start at the same time and definitely not in a straight line with a gun going off to signal the start of the race. Saturday night was to be for pole position for the final on Sunday: they all raced individually and whoever had the best timing would start in front for Sunday’s final. It was quite different from my mental image of a car race. (I’d obviously not paid a whole great deal of attention while playing Daytona at the arcade.)

When we got our seats, I realised that we could only see the last turn and not the finish line! There wasn’t much to see except cars whizzing by at random intervals. I couldn’t even get two cars into the same frame, nothing was happening.

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So I tried a zoom shot on sports mode. At least I got a nice blurred picture of a Ferrari streaking by.

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Soon I gave up, and popping the ear plugs out of my ears, I demanded nourishment. DC rose to the occasion by getting me horribly overpriced $12 Hokkien mee with scallop (the scallop was fake, some kind of small faux abalone that was nothing even close to scallop). At least it tasted pretty decent.

The heat became unbearable and we ducked into the Red Dot tent for beers and a 7 inch Italian sausage hot dog. In a rare instance, DC chose the wrong beer. He got the Weizen, a wheat beer that was light and, well, simply too light that it hardly had any flavour at all. My summer ale was much better. It was grassy with an aroma of floral honey, and bitter hoppy finish. Very refreshing especially when cold, probably the best part of the evening.

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So the F1 was a disappointment, but at least it was free. Oh well. And there was good beer to be had.

Burps at the Beer Fest

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I was late to attend Beerfest Asia 2009 mainly because I was out diving for most of the time. (Will update on that in a while.) Finally made it on the last day, on a Sunday afternoon when all the fun was pretty much over. No matter, we made up for the lack of good music (and Vertical Horizon) by downing more beers.

We limbered up on the Turkish Efes which was surprisingly light for a 5% and tasted of… nothing at all really. This was swiftly chased down by our very own local Archipelago Travellers Wheat that had a very unique taste. I couldn’t place it until I looked it up on the website. It was tamarind and ginger together, so it was spicy and warming yet with a very pleasant tang.

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I’d originally planned to stop at a couple of beers, but I’d already paid $27 for entry only to pay more money to get my hands on some beer. So I wasn’t a particularly happy camper and proceeded to instigate my drinking companion to buy more beers.

The American Doggie Style Pale Ale (5.5%) was more packaging than good beer. We were not impressed. Another friend joined us with a Dog Schwarz (7.8%) and was similarly underwhelmed. No matter, onwards to better things! DC liked the Chimay Tripel (8%) from Belgium, proclaiming that it was complex, dark and… like a stew. I thought it was bitter and moved swiftly on to my favourite of the session. The Silly Saison (5%) was also from Belgium and was redolent of thick , buttery and almost salty caramel. It was smooth and amazingly good.

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Then came a silly in-joke as we drank to a friend called Calvin. Unfortunately the Calvinus Blonde (5%) from Switzerland lived up more to the second part of its name. Despite the pretty label, it was another one of those bland forgettables in the ocean of beer. John Calvin must’ve been rolling in his grave, more because it was such a bad beer, methinks.

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Next up came a short and rather ill-fated interlude with some cider. Magner’s Irish Cider (4.5%) from (you guessed it!) Ireland was, according to DC, metallic and tasted like rotten 500-year old cheese. I thought it was OK, but not worth the carbs and burps, so we moved swiftly on.

I don’t remember trying the Pompey Royal (4.5%) from the UK but DC said that it was malty and full-bodied with lots of hops. It was well-balanced and smooth, worth the $10 price tag. I remember scribbling some notes, but ended up losing them, so fat lot of good that did me and this blog post.

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And last of all, we dreg up the Swiss Schwarzer Kristall (6.3%) from the depths of my memory and all I remember is that it was a terrible letdown that tasted like the insipid Flying Dog stuff from the US.

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The conclusion really was that there are good beers and there are expensive beers and the two are not necessary the same. Oh and there are bad beers too. And beer makes me tipsy. And gives me a headache. So no more beer for a while.