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Thursday, January 23, 2014

SOP, Paradigm Mall - An Alcohol Tasting Adventure

SOP - short for Same Old Place, a restaurant and bar that serves mainly German-inspired cuisines has newly opened up at Paradigm Mall. Boasting an area of 3,100 square feet where 1,100 square feet dedicated to an alfresco dining area whilst the remainder covers the pub area and VIP corner.
But what intrigued me and got me excited the most when I was invited to have a taste of the German beers available there were their fine selection of rare, exclusive and not readily available (in Malaysia) beers and liquors.

And that is how SOP intends to differentiate itself, with over 30 of those brands of liquors and beers (including my fave, Sapporo Beer), SOP appeals to the likes of discerning drinkers and diners who are constantly looking for new and exciting offerings in the already saturated market.

Without further ado, let's take a look at some of those alcohol that are readily available here but rare or nowhere else in Malaysia.

Let's start with the 6 German beers that were highlighted.

Köstritzer Schwarzbier    ~ “All about taste
It's a black lager beer.
A mahogany color, and a lasting, a cream-colored, finely pored head are the defining features of Kostritzer black lager beer. Its expressive fragrance evokes a range of intense spicy aromas, including sage, roasted chestnuts, dark honey, bitter chocolate and fresh farm-baked bread. Dry on the palate, and marked by bitter-sweet herbal and toasting aromas. The intense aromas are balanced by the gently sparkling carbonation with freshness and elegance. With delicate bitter tones and malty sweetness, it finished slowly on the palate. A complex, many-layered black lager beer that tastes lean and refreshing with its abundance of flavors.
Kostritzer produces more than 400,000 hectolitres of Schwarzbier, making it Germany’s number ONE black lager beer brand, a position it has held for 20years now…..

Bitburger
Germany’s No.1 Draft Beer brand
Note first the bright, fresh golden color and rich frothy head so typical of this elegant Pilsner beer. Its refined herbal notes are delicately poised, followed by a nutty and honeyed aftertaste. The overall impression of this gently sparkling beer is one of deep harmony, with the unmistakable bitterness of the hops balanced and contained by an agreeable, mellow sweetness in the body.

König Pilsener
König Pilsener was the first German premium Pilsner beer to gain widespread acceptance wherever quality of the highest order sets the standard. No other brand combines success and excellence as perfectly as König Pilsener - the king of beers. The finest, carefully selected ingredients and the knowledge of generations of the best master brewers provide the basis for the success of the unique taste of König Pilsener. (Not available in draft)

Benediktiner
Like luminous amber suffused with orange highlights, Benediktiner Weissbier sparkles in the glass, with an opalescent appearance lent by the natural cloudiness of the yeast. Its rich, white head is characterized by a good density and fine texture. The potpourri of aromas combines strong caramel notes, with hints of honey and fruits, chief among them bananas and raisins. Each gently sparkling sip melts on the tongue and palate, bringing a distinct sense of refreshment. A full body, with a harmonious balance of sweet and a discrete bitterness in the background, creates a smooth, creamy mouth feel.

Wernesgrüner
Brilliant golden yellow with a light, white head – the unmistakable appearance of Wernesgrüner Pils Legende. This beer is characterized by an intense aroma of hops combined with a whiff of malt, reminiscent of the smell of ripe grain and fresh white bread just out of the oven. A lean, fresh flavor on the palate, with natural sprightliness. Subtle fruitiness reminiscent of apples and bitter-sweet hop aromas that linger harmoniously.
(Only available in 5 Liter keg).

Licher

Licher premium beers – a treat for every taste in beer with the highest standards of quality. With the classic varieties - Licher Pilsner, Licher Export and Licher Weizen wheat beer, and the low-alcohol and non-alcoholic variants Licher Leicht, Licher Isotonisch Alkoholfrei and Licher Weizen Alkoholfrei.
(Only available in bottle form).

Now onwards to hard liquor!

Label 5
Label 5 is a multi award winning blended Scotch Whisky from the heart of Scotland. One of the world's finest blended Scotch's, Label 5 has been matured in oak barrels under the constant care of the cellar master. This enables it to acquire its incomparable smoothness and lingering flavor. Label 5 Whisky is perfect for flavorsome cocktails including the '5th Street' which adds White Curacao and lemon juice with Label 5 to create a sophisticated, yet refreshing cocktail.

The Arran Malt - 14 Years
The Arran 14 year-old is quickly proving to be an immensely popular part of our core range of Single Malt. It is a perfectly balanced marriage of both first fill Sherry and Bourbon casks and is a righly rewarding Single Malt with depth of character and zest. It captures perfectly all the fresh character of the Arran 10 year-old with an added layer of intensity and fruitiness.
It's easy to down and smooth on the throat. I got hints of vanilla flavors and a little malty in the beginning and a vanilla leaning towards barley sugar taste on the aftertaste.

The Arran Malt 12 Years - Sherry Single Cask
The influence of the wood is immediately apparent. Sherry, dried fruits and vanilla are all evident. With a splash of water a mint-toffee character emerges with notes of hazelnut also appearing. Rich and creamy. Over the years of maturation the sweetness of the sherry has integrated beautifully and works in harmony with the intrinsic smooth, fruity character of the Arran Malt. Becomes drier on the long, lingering finish. An intriguing spiciness develops to balance the confectionary notes that dominate earlier. A classic sherry wood Arran.
Sweeter and spicier than the 14 years above and produces a strong oaky flavor on top of it's fruity sweetness.

The Arran Malt - Amarone Cask Finish
After initially maturing in traditional oak casks over a number of years The Arran Single Malt in this bottling was ‘finished’ in a selection of Amarone wine casks sourced from an artisan producer of this iconic Italian red wine. Master Distiller, James MacTaggart, has carefully monitored this period of secondary maturation to ensure the perfect balance is struck between the Amarone casks and the intrinsic sweet-fruity character of The Arran Malt. The end result is a Single Malt full of charm, complexity and quality.
Tasting note:
Colour: Burnished Copper
Aroma:
Poached pears and honey followed by toasted almonds and a subtle touch of cranberry. With water a coffee note appears together with chocolate orange and mellow butterscotch.
Palate:
Dark chocolate, cherry and Turkish delights are evident as are stewed fruits and toffee. Muscular notes of dark plum wrestle with bitter-sweet apricots and a hint of cinnamon.
Finish:
A well-balanced combination of the finesse of The Arran Malt and the restrained fruit and oak from the Amarone casks. Concentrated and elegant this malt delivers on all levels.

The Arran Malt 10 Years and 12 Years - Cask Strength


Here's my fave whisky of the night:
Bruichladdich 20 Years 3rd Edition
 
Matured for 20 years on the Celtic Island of Islay in Bourbon barrels, then decanted into Malmsey Madeira hogsheads to complete the journey. The perfect fusion of two Atlantic Islands - Islay with her windswept, rocky coastline and Madeira`s more tranquil, sub-tropical warmth. The result is a dark, alluring, decadent malt. Intensely rich, with raisins, black cherry, vanilla pod, burnt orange and fruit cake flavors that linger seductively. To maximise this flavour, they neither chill-filter to clarify, nor add caramel to colour the whisky. Bottled in this natural way it will become opaque when water or ice are added.
I just love it's consistent taste all throughout the time I nose it till the aftertaste. It contains a nice peaty, musky or burnt kind of taste all throughout that very pleasantly stays in my mouth and down to my throat. Unfortunately, one bottle costs RM765.00 at SOP. This is certainly my new favorite Single Malt Whisky!

Bruichladdich 15 Years 1st Edition (Greenish) and 15 Years Link (Yellow)


Part ten in the Golf themed Links series from Bruichladdich. Each bottle is made up of whisky from casks specially selected by Jim McEwan, the Laddie master distiller. This 15 year old features a golf themed label with a painting of Valhalla by the famed golf artist Graeme W. Baxter.

Meukow VSOP and Meukow Vanilla
Unfortunately, it's not that much to my liking, maybe because I'm not really a Cognac kind of person. Meukow Vanilla tasted like vanilla extracts to me rather than an alcoholic drink. The VSOP has a harsher, spicier stronger taste to it. At least the ambassador gave me a nice genuine smile. First and only of the night. LOL. Ya, I know. I have face problem. :P

Meukow XO Cognac
The unrivalled Gold Panther expresses the perfect harmony of Meukow XO Cognac, fruit of the traditional art of double distillation, the long ageing process and the complex blending of delightful "Crus de Cognac".
Fiery like and mahogany colour with perfect clarity and very attractive texture. Floral with jasmine and iris. Fruity with prune and peach, chocolate and vanilla flavours with tawny port and candied fruits fragances, nutmeg, spices and warm cigar box.
(Awarded silver medal at the International Vinalies Challenge Paris, 2004.)

Others available for tasting throughout the night were Godet XO and Godet VSOP, Davidoff XO (costs a whopping RM1,032 for one bottle here!) and Davidoff VSOP and a clear colored Cognac like vodka called Godet Antarctica.

Besides cognac and whisky, there were also some other forms of alcohol that were available for taste test for the night.
From left to right, Grande Absente (Absinthe Originale), Henri Bardouin Pastis, Absente, Absente La Crème and Grey Goose Vodka (which I tried before).
Now the brand Absente which originally is Absinthe used to be a banned alcohol in many countries but because it was legalized again in 2007, it's now readily available and has made it to Malaysian shores. :D
This drink was highly enjoyed by some famous people with the most significant being Vincent van Gogh and others like Ernest Hemingway and Oscar Wilde.

In preparing the drink for me, they put a shot in a glass, sat an Absinthe spoon on top of the glass with a sugar cube on it and set the sugar cube aflame so that it drops on the concoction!
It's finished off by running ice water onto the sugar cube, dousing it and into the mixture in the cup.
There you go! Absinthe. Drinking it, I tasted of some herbs and the sweetness of it as if you're drinking soda pop or sugar water. You won't even feel like it's an alcoholic drink.

I decided to drink the Grande Absente neat which is 69% alcohol and comparing it with the Absente, 55% alcohol. I almost choked when I drank the 55% but as for the Grande Absente with 69% alcohol, it's really smooth and goes down easy and feels as if it's lighter than the Absente 55% alcohol.

After chatting awhile, I was off to home.

SOP has live soothing Jazz music performances and operates daily from 11am to 1am. SOP also features eclectic mixes by guest deejays from 8pm onwards. It's located at Lot 07, Ground Floor Boulevard, Paradigm Mall, Kelana Jaya.

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