Malaysia now claims to have its own whiskey: Timah is a blended whiskey (consistently spelled with an ‘e’) produced by Winepak Intl, one of the pioneers in beverage production in the early 1980s. They are responsible for the contract manufacturing and bottling of Johnnie Walker and Old Smuggler in the region, as well as brandies, liqueurs, gins…
Timah is their own blend of two imported peated malts and a locally produced neutral (sugar cane) spirit. Two peated malts becomes double peated on the label, as if it becomes more peaty by using spirit from two distilleries. In any case the addition of sugar cane molasses pushes it out of the European definition of whisky.
On the bottle is Captain Tristram Speedy, the son of a British officer and explorer who brought peace to parts of Malaysia and became a symbol of enterprise. Apparently the name of the brand (which refers to tin mines) is a little controversial and made them issue a statement last week and even consider a name change in the future.
We’re here to talk about the whiskey itself though. I’ve read unofficial claims that the spirit is matured over 8 years, but this probably applies to the malt component and not the entire blend. How much pride is there in adding neutral alcohol to two existing Scotch whiskies and then calling it an award-winning Malaysian produced whiskey, infused with local heritage? Let’s not think about that too much…
Timah – Double peated blended whiskey (40%, Winepak Intl 2021)
Nose: basically what you’d expect from an 8 year old Islay malt, from Coal Ila let’s say. Clean smoke, quite mashy with some hints of geraniums and burnt grass. Hints of apple eau-de-vie and charcoal. Not much going on, it has a low aromatic impact compared to the unblended (and higher ABV) Scotch versions, but at least the Malaysian spirit didn’t hurt it.
Mouth: again, this falls within expectations, although you now feel both the low ABV and the dilution with neutral alcohol. It tastes like an Islay whisky ‘from a distance’. Lemons and lemon sweets, bonfire smoke, olives, grasses and a slight alcohol tingle.
Finish: medium, smooth with some toffee sweetness and light pepper.
The base components for this blend were proper Islay malts with a decent age, so it’s quite logical that there are no off-notes or typical start-up misses. It just feels young, overly diluted and very inoffensive (adapted to the Asian palate, they say). Nothing against the product itself, but I find the marketing really far-stretched. This is just as Malaysian as some of the Japanese whiskies that have now fallen out of favour (outlawed actually). A controversial product indeed. Sold for around € 40 in Malaysia, Singapore, Taiwan, USA and Dubai.