Alcohol tasting is not only a lifestyle, but also a form of art. Even for those who can afford the best items in the world, it is important to know how to identify the most suitable ones for themselves.Look no further than The Whisky Library if you are going after top-notch whiskies.
日本羽生蒸溜所的撲克牌系列，向來是威士忌收藏家趨之若騖的珍品。Vanda說，由於早年羽生蒸溜所只是一間小型蒸溜所，當年日本威士忌亦不流行，所以全套 54 瓶的撲克牌系列，在推出之初飲家都是現買現開，很少會留作收藏之用，再加上每款撲克牌均是單桶威士忌， 據聞產量最少的一款只出產了122瓶，代表著這世上只存在122套完整的撲克牌威士忌，故能保留至今天的可算少之又少，要集齊一整套 54 款當然難比登天。在2015年8月的邦瀚斯的威士忌拍賣會上，一套54瓶羽生蒸餾所撲克牌威士忌以3,797,500港元成交，是歷來最高價賣出的日本威士忌系列。要集齊一套撲克牌當然困難，但要個別買一、兩瓶還是有的，如下圖的羽生黑桃A市價約30萬港元、方块King及紅心Queen每瓶市價約10萬港元。
Playing Cards of HKD 3.8 Million
Hanyu Ichiro’s Card Series has always been well sought after. According to Vanda, the Hanyu distillery was operated at a small scale. Japanese whisky was not popular at the time, so many people bought the Card Series whiskies for their own consumption, instead of collection. Each playing card represents a single cask of whisky, and only 122 bottles came out of the least yielding one.This implies that there existed only 122 complete sets of the series in the world at most. Not many have held onto their whisky to this date, so it is extremely difficult to obtain the entire set of 54 bottles. In a Bonhams auction in August,2015, a full Card Series was sold at HKD 3,797,500, setting a new record for Japanese whisky series. Although a complete set is too rare to acquire,individual bottles are still available. For example, the Hanyu Ace of Spades in the picture below costs around HKD 300,000, while the King of Diamonds and Queen of Hearts are priced at about HKD 100,000.
阿爾巴尼亞人，葡萄酒釀造學博士，並且為香港大學研究生。三年前兼任置地廣場The Whisky Library發展及市場部經理，曾品嚐超過二千酒種。
With a PhD studying in the effect of malolactic fermentation in the quality wines, she is an Albanian research at the
University of Hong Kong. From 3 years ago, she has also assumed the position of Business Development Manager at The Whisky Library at The Landmark. Over for career, she has tasted more than 2,000 types of alcohol.
麥卡倫威士忌級別極多，最難得的是每個級別的出產性價比都很高，所以雖喝不起天價的1926年麥卡倫普普藝術大師彼得．布萊克和瓦雷利奥．阿達米版本，還有很多其他選擇；Vanda說若是麥卡倫的拥护者，已試過一般在市面買到的18、25年雪莉桶；則可以進階試嚐他們的舊酒，如1959或1960年的麥卡倫80 Proof Pure Malt Scotch，市價約20萬港元，想比起1926年的，實在便宜得令人發笑。只因1962年是麥卡倫的分水嶺，62年前麥卡倫入瓶程序由著名酒商“ Hope and King”代工，62年後則是麥卡倫自己包辦所有入瓶工作，Hope and King的名字自此在招紙上消失。這兩瓶還是62年前的麥卡倫，有歷史意義之余，醇厚與複雜度也不是新酒可比。
Macallan: Going Beyond the Basics
Macallan’s whiskies span a wide price range, but each of them is worthy for what it is.Therefore, even though not everyone can afford the extravagant 1926 Macallan whisky with a label by pop artists Sir Peter Blake or Valerio Adami, there are still plenty of other choices in the market. Vanda suggests Macallan enthusiasts go beyond the popular 18 Year Old or 25 Year Old Sherry Cask whiskies, and try their old bottles. For example, The Macallan 80 Proof Pure Malt Scotch of 1959 and 1960 cost only around HKD 200,000, incredibly cheap compared to the 1926 version. 1962 was a watershed year for Macallan, when the distillery took over the bottling process of their own whisky from famous brewer Hope and King. The name of the latter has since disappeared from Macallan’s whisky. These two pre-1962 whiskies are not only historic, but their mellowness and complexity far exceed newer ones.
Samaroli’s whiskies has become more famous and price has increased since his death in February last year.
除了一些大品牌，Vanda極力推介獨立裝瓶商西爾瓦諾的出品。“ 若亨利 ⋅ 賈伊爾是葡萄酒之神，西爾瓦諾就是威士忌之神，只因他獨具慧眼，除了成立第一間沒有英國背景的獨立裝瓶廠外，他所選的原酒質素都極高。在網上“ 威士忌資料庫”之中，有史以來最好的威士忌排名前10位，有6瓶就是西爾瓦諾的出品！”
多年來西爾瓦諾推出超過400款不同的作品，全是極高品質的珍品，如下圖中的雅柏1974 西爾瓦諾版及 Glen Cawdor 1964。兩者背後皆有故事：“ 由於當年還未盛行單一麥芽威士忌，西爾瓦諾曾說這瓶雅柏1974 要以極低價才能出售，現在市場上就要約20 萬港元一瓶。至於Glen Cawdor這個名字取名自《王子復仇記》內的一座城堡，西爾瓦諾故意不把蒸餾酒廠的名字、陳年年份等寫在招紙上，是希望顧客相信他所選的都是好東西。這些年來，很多人推測Glen Cawdor是格蘭奧德或雲頂蒸餾所的作品，但最重要是大家都說這個品牌是極好喝的雪莉威士忌。”
From the “God of Whisky”
Apart from the well-known brands, Vanda highly recommends products from independent bottler Samaroli. “If Henri Jayer is the ‘god of wine’, then Silvano Samaroli must be the ‘god of whisky’.His unique insight led him to establish the first independent bottler without a British background. The caskstrength whiskies he chose are all of extraordinary quality. 6 of the 10 best whiskies in history listed by Whiskybase are from Samaroli!”
Samaroli has launched over 400 products over the years, all of very high quality, such as the Ardbeg 1974 and Glen Cawdor 1964 in the pictures below.Both of them are full of stories: “Single malt whiskies were not popular at the time. Samaroli once said the Ardbeg 1974 would have to be sold at a very low price. However, it is now priced at around HKD 200,000 per bottle. For Glen Cawdor, it was named after a castle in “Hamlet”. Samaroli did not put the distillery’s name and cask year on the label, because he wanted the customers to trust his choice. Over the years, many people have speculated that Glen Cowdor is from Glen Ord or Springbank, but the most important thing is everyone agrees that it is an extremely good sherry-cask whisky.”
The Whisky Library
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