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Drinks A Woman & Her Whisky: A Spirited Interview With Eiling Lim, Malaysia's First Independent Bottler

A Woman & Her Whisky: A Spirited Interview With Eiling Lim, Malaysia's First Independent Bottler

A Woman & Her Whisky: A Spirited Interview With Eiling Lim, Malaysia's First Independent Bottler
By Samantha Lim
By Samantha Lim
June 05, 2019
Eiling Lim dips into her wealth of knowledge to answer a slew of questions on the topic of spirits.
Whisky by Eiling Lim at Wholly Spirits, a KL-based distributor of premium craft spirits.
Whisky by Eiling Lim at Wholly Spirits, a KL-based distributor of premium craft spirits.

Some Say 'Old Is Gold,' But Does A Whisky Ever Go Bad?

Yes, but rarely.
 
Whisky is one of the easiest spirits to store. You don’t need strict acclimatisation as wine demands. That being said, some collectors like to save every drop of whisky, even if it’s the last dregs of the bottle; having that much air in a bottle often leads to oxidisation unless it’s a very high ABV whisky.
 
As for the value of whisky in relation to age? There are some expressions that whisky geeks as myself prefer in their ‘adolescence.’ Take Port Ellen Distillery’s single malt, for example; I much prefer young Ellen to old Ellen! It all boils down to individual preference. Very old whisky can have too much influence from the cask, which results in a very ‘woody’ product.

Because The Price Of Whisky Rises Exponentially Each Year, Is Sooner A Better Time to Buy Whisky Than Later?

It depends on your intentions. Today you get many collectors who buy whisky not to enjoy themselves but for the sake of flipping prices.
 
While it’s true that we’ve never seen a bigger growth in the Scotch whisky industry as now, I wouldn’t recommend buying whisky for the sake of reselling it at the highest price possible. Witnessing whisky auctions is mindboggling — I can’t even begin to describe what’s going on in the industry! But a bubble is inevitable. What goes up has to come down.

Eiling's vermouth labels were designed by Lianne Kocks, a fellow Malaysian artist based in Europe.
Eiling's vermouth labels were designed by Lianne Kocks, a fellow Malaysian artist based in Europe.

What Is An Underrated Spirit In The World Of Food Pairing?

Vermouth is something I’ve gotten into as of late. It makes a very good aperitif and pairs really well with cold cuts such as Jamón ibérico and mortadella.
 
While in Madrid and Rioja, my husband and I stumbled upon Spanish vermouth and we loved it. I wanted to create a vermouth good enough to be drunk on its own, namely a sipping vermouth — not one you’d mix into a cocktail. That’s how I started my single-cask vermouth; it’s made with white grapes and has been aged in an oak barrel for 14 months. It has a nice rounded balance of sweetness, herbs and spices.

Whisky aside, Eiling Lim has released one type of rum, two varieties of vermouth and three takes on gin.
Whisky aside, Eiling Lim has released one type of rum, two varieties of vermouth and three takes on gin.

My greatest passions all begin with the letter W – wine, whisky and watches.

Some Say Commercial Brands Still Make A Better Product Thanks To Their Deep Pockets. Can You Disprove This?

While it's true that big brands are better financed, I don't believe that they make a better product.

The reason why major distilleries bet on different casks is to meet volume; they need to produce hundreds or thousands of bottles. What makes a bottle from an independent bottler so different is this: what you’re getting is single-cask bottling. Therefore, you can expect something truly unique.
 
For example, if you bought a bottle of Glenlivet, you'd almost expect a fixed flavour. Whereas if you bought a bottle of whisky that an independent bottler acquired from a single cask at the Glenlivet Distillery, it might not taste like anything you’ve ever had.
 
Every whisky lover should absolutely delve into the world of independent bottling — it’s where you’ll find different vintages, casks, and expressions of whisky.

What Should We Know About Colour & Clarity In A Whisky?

Some customer buy with their ‘eyes.’ They might look at a bottle and go, “Oh, this is so dark! It must be very old whisky.” This isn’t true. Many distilleries use colouring to maintain consistency in their batches. While spirit caramel is allowed in the industry, there are arguments as to whether or not it changes flavour.

Chill filtered whisky doesn't go cloudy when you add water or ice, so some say it looks nicer. But the process removes some esters from your whisky, thus removing some fruity aspects. As an independent bottler, neither do I use colouring nor do I chill filter my whisky as the big boys do. I simply don’t believe in it as my aim is to give consumers the most natural taste possible.
 

Where To Buy & Try:

Wholly Spirits | 41-G, Wisma CKL, Jalan 23/70a, Desa Sri Hartamas, Kuala Lumpur | 03-5885 9144 | info@whollyspiritsasia.com

  • Photography Khairul Imran

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Drinks Eiling Lim whisky gin vermouth

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