Limited edition bottles worth your hongbao money

Updated: Sep 5, 2019

Originally published by Epicure Magazine

by June Lee

Act quick, because Pirate Life’s first Hindmarsh Collection barrel-aged stout, and M&E Drinks’ Singapore-exclusive 10-year old Islay whisky are running out fast, among other special drinks to look out for this month.

Singaporean collectors and drinkers are renowned for their tenacity in sniffing out the most prized whisky, wine and beer bottles.The year has started on a promising, spirited note, thanks to several limited editions not to be missed. Here’s what to spend your shiny new notes on.

Celebrating the Boar

Castiglion del Bosco is back this year with its Zodiac-themed Brunello di Montalcino Riserva, a prestige selection of the top grapes from some of their esteemed vineyards. Each vintage in their Zodiac series, which started in 2013 with a 2006 Year of the Horse edition, celebrates the current Chinese zodiac as well as an Asian artist who brings the label to life.

This year, the Brunello di Montalcino Riserva 2012 Year of the Boar is illustrated by Hong Kong artist Tse Yim On, known for his pointedly political, satirical and quirky works. The boldly coloured label depicts the boar at home in nature with its offspring, showing their co-existence with mankind (and the artist). The wine itself is a silky, earthy offering of Sangiovese from a stellar vintage, showing persistence and harmony. Sour red cherries and pronounced tannins on the profile leas to a lingering, complex finish that will age for many years. The limited edition is made only in large format, with 688 magnums and 15 of 5L bottles.

$1,750 (magnum) and $10,800 (5L), by order from

Age-worthy beer

In a flash of inspiration, two of Australia’s leading brands – four-year-old Pirate Life Brewing and 14-year-old Limeburners Whisky – have teamed up to release the first in the Hindmarsh Collection, a Whisky Barrel Aged Stout Vintage 2018 bottled in 750ml edition. With numerous awards under their belts, Pirate Life’s Michael Cameron and Limeburners’ Cameron Syme discovered an affinity for each other’s products, leading to the start of this collaboration in 2016. Limeburners have since provided over 30 bourbon barrels that once matured their Western Australian whiskies to the Adelaide-based Pirate Life brewery, where its stout then resides in the barrels from three to 10 months. In a kind of solera-style blending system, Pirate Life then decides on the final complex blend of aged stouts that goes into each vintage.

The 2018 opens on the nose with whisky malt notes, vanilla and dark chocolate with a hint of smoke, then leads to a structured palate that’s umami-rich with Marmite, caramel and toast. Thanks to the structure and tannins from the barrels, these stouts are expected to age further in the bottle for up to 10 years. With just 60 beautifully boxed bottles for Singapore out of the total production of 480, this is a beer worth collecting for a vertical tasting down the road.

$46.30 from Temple Cellars (

Fly away at Changi

Changi Airport’s Terminal 3 Departure Hall has scored a bit of an exclusive with its Hennessy pop-up experience, the only one in the world. The booth features digital games, gifts with purchase and bottle engraving services, all of which are united under the theme of “A Joyful Reunion” by contemporary Shanghai artist Guang-yu Zhang. His bold colours and spirited forms – including a cheeky flying pig – translate to the box packaging as well of three bottles: Hennessy X.O ($349), Hennessy V.S.O.P ($100) and James Hennessy ($198.90). Even if you’re just browsing, you’ll still be able to enjoy complimentary tastings of their Firecracker cocktail – a Hennessy V.S.O.P, jasmine tea infused sweet vermouth, lemon, cranberry and bitters.

Till 19 February. From $180 at Changi Terminal 3 Departure Hall (

A Singapore dram

A collaboration between M&E Drinks and Porcine Partners, the Singapore Exclusive Islay Single Malt 10 Year Old single cask bottling is a Caol Ila distilled in 2007 and bottled in 2018. The partners who initially sampled the cask were convinced by its young and vibrant nose, displaying starfruit and green apple, overlaid by the signature elegant peat of Caol Ila. The resulting 150 bottles have a full mouthfeel and intense oak, citrus and medicinal flavours, at 57% cask strength bottling with no chill-filtering. The label is as eye-catching as the finish is long; in their words, “a romantic reimagination of East meets West, with the distillery façade and Scottish coast rendered in Japanese ukiyo-e style and a few Singaporean elements thrown in.” Indeed – spot the Merlion and a stylish swash of orchids in there. Each bottle is hand-numbered, and over 100 have been snapped up.

$270 from M&E Drinks (

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