Advertorial in Portfolio magazine for Johnnie Walker Cask of Distinction
Originally published in December 2018 in Portfolio: https://www.portfoliomagsg.com/article/reaping-rich-rewards.html
Reaping Rich Rewards
A family that bonds over their love for whisky, the Anwars have derived much joy from their Cask of Distinction
Most whisky cognoscenti will be able to relate to Garreth Anwar’s penchant for smoky and peaty whiskies with unique nuances. A partner of a venture capital firm in Hong Kong, the young whisky connoisseur actively seeks out the sophisticated flavor profiles, long finishes, and full bodies that only a handful of distilleries are able to achieve.
After trying Lagavulin and liking its taste, Garreth was introduced by his peers to Port Ellen and Caol Ila whiskies, and not long after savoring them he decided to purchase a Cask of Distinction. His pick was a rare 1996 Caol Ila cask from the private suite of Johnnie Walker House. A Gaelic name that means the ‘Sound of Islay’, bottles of Caol Ila have been known to go under the hammer for four-figure final bids, more than double their initial values. Today, Garreth receives regular updates from Johnnie Walker House regarding his cask, including yearly cask review.
A Private Access
Extended exclusively to a limited number of buyers, Diageo Casks of Distinction initiative grants VIP clients like Garreth private access to the largest and most varied whisky stock in the world.
Every cask in the Cask of Distinction program is carefully selected by Dr. Craig Wilson, the Master of Malt whose whisky expertise spans two decades, for its exceptional quality, age, flavor and character of the distillery – making them unique and rare. Each cask bottling can be further personalized by adding an inscription of the client’s name or monogram on the label.
Garreth lauds not only the impressive appreciation of his cask’s value, which is maintained and safeguarded by Diageo, but also its refined, one-of-a-kind characteristics. “Port Ellen is one of my favorite whisky distilleries because there’s nothing like its whisky,” he describes of the Diageo-owned distillery that was closed in 1983. “It’s so balanced but delicate at the same time. Port Ellen’s whisky is for connoisseurs who like a grassy and smoky character. Initially, it bursts with flavor, which is followed by a very long finish afterward.”
A Shared Passion
Garreth’s love for whisky was first kindled by his father, Hendra, a semi-retired Indonesian businessman living in Hong Kong, who is responsible for awakening Garreth’s palate to
the many flavors of global cuisines and spirits.
An avid globetrotter and patron of gourmet establishments, Garreth shares that he has a strong affinity for the flavor of sherry oak-aged whiskies, that he particularly enjoys the peatiness of Islay whiskies, and that his investment in spirits has opened doors for him to an even wider array of diverse experiences around the world.
Garreth consults Hendra, the knowledgeable connoisseur, on his purchase decisions concerning whisky. In turn, they both credit Johnnie Walker’s House Private Client Sales Team for expanding their horizons and imparting keen insights about the various whisky-producing regions of Scotland, along with their distinctive products.
“I recently began investing in single-cask whiskies like Brora and Port Ellen. I enjoy seeing their value go up, and I also enjoy them after a good meal. I have tried many different whiskies, but I particularly enjoy Caol Ila simply because of its taste – full-bodied with a long, smoky finish,” divulges Hendra. He prefers to treat himself to the tangible gratification yielded from the family’s casks rather than resell them – even though they have significantly appreciated in value. “The whisky cask that you own is unique; there is nothing else in the world like it, which is why you also get to decide its price if you ever wish to sell it.”
Casks of Distinction: The Connoisseur’s Choice
Once in a rare while, Johnnie Walker House Singapore extends an exclusive invitation to a select group of individuals to participate in the Casks of Distinction program. This privilege accords them the rare opportunity to purchase a cask of single malt Scotch whisky from Diageo’s renowned reserves.
The opportunity is indeed rare: Each cask selected for the program undergoes rigorous rounds of assessments. Eventually, a few of them make the shortlist vetted by Diageo’s Master of Malt, Dr. Craig Wilson, whose experience in identifying the finest casks spans two decades.
The privileged circle of cask owners can claim possession of the rarest whiskies from Diageo’s extensive collection. Distinguished by outstanding quality and rare stocks, these casks are understandably in great demand.
For instance, when the first bottle drawn from one privately owned cask – a 1981 Port Ellen – was auctioned at Bonhams, it fetched more than double the price estimate. Port Ellen, a key brand under the Casks of Distinction program, is among the world’s rarest and most sought-after single malt Scotch whiskies.
The whiskies that make up the Casks of Distinction program symbolize the ultimate in taste profile, regional diversity, cask age, value and price – qualities that true whisky connoisseurs will continue to seek and never compromise.