Images by Noel Pabalate
Anyone who is passionate about a hobby can trace the origins to a vivid memory. For me, it was about two years ago when I wanted to elevate my whiskey game by understanding exactly what went inside a bottle—from distillation to barrel aging and, most important, appreciation. After scouring through the YouTube rabbit hole, you eventually get led to videos of a man named Richard Paterson, known in the industry as “The Nose,” master blender for Whyte & Mackay.
“The Nose” was enthralling. His videos are often formulaic, yet always entertaining. The spiel is popular in the drinking circles, that it has been transcribed. This is how he always begins:
So how do you nose and appreciate great whiskey?
First of all, you need to have the right glass —this is so, so important
This is, of course, the copita nosing glass
So you need to make sure that the whiskey goes in the glass, swill it around, get rid of it, because the glass has to be clean
Then you go back to it. Now, pay attention
This is the way you hold it
Not this way
Definitely not warming it this way
But if I ever see you nosing it like this, I’ll kill you
So first think I want you to do: swirl the whiskey round
Take it up and say: “Hello”
Then you go back to it and say: “How are you?” Do it slowly
Then you come back and say: “Quite well… thank you very much?
When Andrew Tan’s Emperador bought Glasgow-based distillery Whyte & Mackay in 2014, it came with a history of Scottish whiskey that dates back to 1844. With it also came their master blender, Richard Paterson. So technically speaking, “The Nose” now works for a Filipino firm. I attended one of the tastings of The Dalmore whiskey, which forms part of Whyte & Mackay’s luxury line, and I was intrigued to find out that the local brand ambassador, Adam Knox, trained under Paterson himself, which left me completely starstruck. “Richard changed my worldview of whiskey,” I told him and next thing you know, the Emperador Group gave me his email address.
“Send him an email. He will appreciate it.”
“Really? That easy?”
I wasn’t expecting a reply, of course. Until I actually got one. The legend, who has his nose insured for £1.5 million, replied. To me, of all people! “Greetings from Scotland,” he started. I will keep the contents of our correspondence confidential (because you know, in the age of social media, privacy is power), but he did send me a gift that, to this day, makes me rather giddy: a sealed vial with 20 milliliters of a tasting of The Dalmore 50, made to commemorate his 50th year in the industry. A quick Google search shows that there is only one bottle made per country and this sampling was almost literally liquid gold. This was in 2017.
I tell you this story, dear reader, because two years later, I am now writing this article having come from the launch of the frozen bar to commemorate another whiskey journey, albeit more impact to the modern world.
In 1907, Sir Ernest Shackleton led the first of three Antarctic expeditions to literally go where no man had gone before and forayed deep into the Antarctic snow, an age known as the Heroic Age of Antarctic Exploration. He brought with him 25 cases of Mackinlay’s Rare Old Highland Whiskey and, due to the horrible conditions that caused frostbite and death, these cases were abandoned in 1909 in their makeshift forward base, only to be rediscovered in 2007 and brought back to thaw.
Mackinlay’s Rare Old Highland Whiskey no longer existed in the modern world, so this rare preserved on ice sample was an amazing find. Although the whiskey no longer existed, the parent company still did—in the form of Whyte & Mackay, and who better to recreate the whiskey from over 100 years back than Richard Paterson himself?
There is a National Geographic documentary showing the painstaking process of recreating the scotch from a small 20-centiliter sample. Using only his nose, Richard Paterson attempted to replicate the blended whiskey using today’s modern single malts. And what you get is the Shackleton Blended Malt, a very accurate representation of whiskey from 1907 and now of course, proudly owned by the Emperador Group as well.
The whiskey is surprisingly affordable for its caliber, at only P1,2xx. xx for a 750-milliliter bottle. It has a very approachable palate of vanilla, toffee, and honey, and a bit of smoke in the finish. Almost like extinguishing a vanilla scented candle. This is why it goes well neat, with a bit of ice or as a sweet cocktail. I recommend a highball with ginger beer and hazelnut liquor or even with cold brew coffee. For flair, you can garnish it with torched meringue or marshmallows. Just imagine yourself sitting around a bonfire during a cold winter and instead of hot chocolate, you have a glass of whiskey to keep you warm.
The Emperador Group cannot emphasize more the journey this whiskey has taken. It was 100 years in the making, with the odds all against this ever happening.
I write this so that you, dear reader, will appreciate the finesse and diligence put into every bottle. To heighten the experience, Emperador Distillers has partnered with Landers to recreate the Antarctic experience with having a huge frozen ice truck outside every Landers store in Metro Manila. You can check the social media accounts of Landers for the full schedule. It’s super worth it, especially in this Manila heat!
Banner photo courtesy of The Shackleton Whiskey’s official Instagram page.
The original article was first published here.