The Whisky Travels: Hong Kong, The Pawn, Port Ellen Tasting Notes and Oliver Stone
Hong Kong at Night: An absolutely breathtaking sight.
The last official stop on our trip was Hong Kong, and I absolutely loved it. When you fly into the airport, you basically fly into rural jungle on an island, and then after passing lots of motorbikes and construction-looking vehicles hauling materials or things (I’ve tried hard to come up with a word here. ‘Things’ is the best I got to describe the amalgamation of building materials, chickens, furniture, boxes, etc. that on my later travels realized could be summed up as Asian transport and travel, but for Hong Kong right now, especially since it was to a lesser extent than I saw on later travels, I’m going to use ‘Things’), you take a bridge over a lengthy amount of water and arrive in a just as beautiful and awe-inspiring as the jungle, thriving city. At night, the city reflects on the surrounding sea, and though English is spoken, wander down any back alley and the most you’ll get is a few english words, but mostly Chinese. The city is like New York in that it’s alive at 5 in the morning all the way up to 3 in the morning - it’s just the characters who are out and about that change.
Trolleys at Night : Like miniature double deckers!
It was in wandering one of these back alleys with some friends that I came upon The Pawn. As had happened the night before and the night before that, we were finishing up our evening with a foot massage. I had never heard of a foot massage before Hong Kong, and was slightly weirded out when it was first suggested, but let me tell you, it’s amazing. Putting your dogs up after a long day of walking around and having someone massage the living hell out of them (and your calves) for an hour after soaking them in a hot bath all for about $15 USD is a luxury I wish I could have all the time. Plus, like Taco Bell, the massage parlors stay open until late. So, on this particular night, the foot massage purveyor we had been frequenting was all booked up. We had about 30 minutes before we could experience foot nirvana. So, we walked down the street to try and find a bar and we came upon some white lanterns hanging on stone and a simple yet well designed sign mounted to the stone presenting “The Pawn.”
And Wow! From the upbeat jazz music that greeted us upon entering, to the waiters all dressed in the same, baggy striped pants and solid shirts that were more Ratatouille then Footlocker, this place and its candlelit tables and soft couches ruled. After surviving most of Asia with nothing but Johnny Walker Red to drink and viscous-y tapioca and corn starch covered meat and vegetables to eat, I was ecstatic. We sat down at a slightly lumpy couch, I asked for a menu. It was then that I was really floored. I reproduce the menu here, if only to demonstrate how exceedingly rare it was/is to find a place like this in America let alone Asia. The menu had 54 single malt scotches listed. The prices were also pretty reasonable - it’s about 7 Hong Kong dollars to 1 US dollar.
The Pawn’s Single Malt Menu - An Oasis in Hong Kong
Speyburn 10 Years Old (Highland) 45
Balblair 10 Years Old (Highland) 46
An Cnoc 12 Years Old (Highland) 46
Tomatin 12 Years Old (Highland) 48
Highland Park 8 Years Old (Orkney) 50
Macallan Sherry Oak 12 Years Old (Speyside) 54
Talisker 10 Years Old (Island) 55
Glenmorangie 10 Years Old (Highland) 58
Glenfarclas 12 Years Old (Highland) 59
Old Pulteney 12 Years Old (Highland) 59
Dalmore 12 Years Old (Highland) 60
Laphroaig 10 Years Old (Islay) 60
Isle of Jura 10 Years Old (Island) 64
Springbank 10 Years Old (Campbeltown) 66
Brackla 10 Years Old (Speyside) 72
Auchentoshan 10 Years Old (Lowland) 74
Royal Lochnagar 12 Years Old (Highland) 76
Glenrothes 14 Years Old (Speyside) 77
Linkwood 15 Years Old (Speyside) 78
Clynelish 16 Years Old (Highland) 79
Dalwhinnie 15 Years Old (Highland) 83
Glen Ord 12 Years Old (Highland) 84
Bruichladdich 15 Years Old (Islay) 86
Ardbeg 10 Years Old (Islay) 90
Tullibardine 1988 18 Years Old (Highland) 94
Laphroaig 15 Years Old (Islay) 96
Aberlour 15 Years Old (Highland)
Deanston 17 Years Old (Highland) 98
Auchroisk 10 Years Old (Speyside) 102
Bowmore 18 Years Old (Islay) 110
Oban 14 Years Old (Highland) 114
Glenfarclas 21 Years Old (Highland) 118
Glenglassugh 22 Years Old (Speyside) 127
Lagavulin 16 Years Old (Islay) 132
Glenmorangie 18 Years Old (Highland) 127
Benromach 21 Years Old (Highland) 132
Longmorn 25 years old (Speyside) 149
Bruichladdich 20 Years Old (Islay) 154
Macallan Fine Oak 18 Years Old (Speyside) 171
Gordon & Macphail Rare 34 Years Old Distilled at Tomintoul (Speyside) 182
Port Ellen 28 Years Old (Islay) 193
Bunnahabhain 25 Years Old (Islay) 215
Glen Grant 1965 38 Years Old (Speyside) 220
Old Malt Cask 26 Years Old Distilled at Macallan (Speyside) 226
Glengoyne 32 Years Old (Highland) 231
Bowmore 25 Years Old (Islay) 242
Signatory 1964 26 Years Old (Highland) 286
Benromach 39 Years Old (Speyside) 319
Girvan 1964 37 Years Old (Lowland) 330
Talisker 30 Years Old (Island) 360
Lagavulin 25 Years Old Cask Strength (Islay) 395
Glenburgie 1964 41 Years Old (Highland) 410
Isle of Skye 1952 50 Years Old (Island) 450
Glenglassugh 1960 44 Years Old (Speyside) 495
After reading through the menu, there was no doubt what I was going to get. I ordered a dram of the Port Ellen that I had wanted to try for so long. The waiter then brought me a glass of port. Really. No exaggeration. After explaining to him what I wanted and pointing at the menu, I then asked for the bottle to be sure. The picture of my dram and the bottle are at right. The tasting notes on the Port Ellen are below. They are from when WhiskyParty and I finished off his 20cl bottle from the Islay Collection.
Port Ellen 7th Release - Tasting at The Pawn
c: copperish yellow
l: medium, slow
n: smoke from a bonfire, some phenol, tinge of vanilla
p: strong smoke from both a coal fire and a brush fire, burnt sugar, little seaweed, little pork
f: long, smoke til the end
0: this is just delicious. the smoke is there, but it doesn’t overpower. it’s just amazing. 95
The next night I went back to The Pawn to get dinner there (as I said, vegetables covered in corn starch and tapioca thickener are not my thing). The meal, like the bar menu, was amazing. Really great. I enjoyed a dram of Highland Park 8 year old on this night along with some nice British lagers. Interestingly enough, the place is apparently not as much of a back alley joint as I had thought. Oliver Stone was eating there with some ludicrously good looking women. Three of them to be exact. I tried to follow Oliver into the bathroom to ask him how it was hanging, but they were single rooms only. He also left before I could ask him to take my picture (with the video function on, obviously), so I could have an Oliver Stone directed film of myself. Oh well. When our time in Hong Kong was done, I continued by boat to Macau where I expected to really see what luxurious was. That will be the next episode.
Batman climbed this tower. Then jumped off of it.
- ScotchHobbyist loved it and basically only wished that the nose was less muted. He likened it to a vatting of Caol Ila 12, Laphroaig 15, and Talisker 18. Not bad.
- Here’s WhiskyParty’s tasting. Both he and scotch hobbyist got more heat than I did, but I guess since it’s above 50% ABV, that’s expected. He also loved it though, and is quite happy that he has a full bottle stashed away.
- Serge at WhiskyFun gives it 92 points and 5 stars. He also gets some orange and marzipan on it that I didn’t get, but I’m guessing his palate is way more developed. He does think that the finish isn’t as much of a monster as it could be (says its a vampire) and I guess I’ll have to disagree. I found it to be strong yet subtle. Delicious.
- And John gave it a seemingly unenthusiastic 90, thinking that it paled in terms of vibrancy to earlier bottlings, thus showing its maturity.