Sydney’s most discreet nightspot Magazin is the launchpad for one of the world’s most exclusive whiskies. It’s a robust $210 for 375ml of Kininvie 23 Years Old Batch No. 3. So to afford it you need to be as well heeled as the clientele of Magazin, the hangout of celebs, bankers, industry leaders, sports stars and globetrotters. Tonight I’m one of them too.
Even billionaires need an invite to Magazin, which has no street sign at all. That’s part of its allure. And the front door is a battered metal thing more suited to a building site. Entry is invitation only, with clients referred by existing members. The address is 113 William Street, Darlinghurst – the noisy main drag between Kings Cross and the CBD – but it’s hushed booths and clinking glasses when you descend to the basement bar which is all mid 20th Century chic and leather.
As you go downstairs, take note of the sign which says NO PHOTOGRAPHY ALLOWED because owner Martin O’Sullivan means it. His clients are there to kick back in complete privacy. Customers pay a membership fee something like a private golf club.
Discreet membership bars – away from prying eyes and the lynch mob of social media – exist in New York City, London and Tokyo, so it was only a matter of time before Sydney caught on.
William Grant & Sons’ Kininvie 23 Years Old Batch No. 3 is the first Kininvie released in Australia. This single malt Scotch has been created by William Grant & Sons’ sixth Malt Master Brian Kinsman from liquid taken from casks that were laid to rest in 1991. The Kininvie distillery was opened in 1990 by Janet Sheed Roberts, who was the last remaining granddaughter of William Grant. In 2013 the Kininvie 23 Years Old Batch No. 1 launched exclusively in Taiwan, this was followed by Batch No. 2 in the UK, USA and mainland Europe in 2014. Batches 1 and 2 completely sold out at launch.
The Kininvie 23 Years Old Batch No. 3 is a product of careful maturation and marrying of the product in hogsheads and sherry butts for nearly a quarter of a century. It has a distinctive Speyside character, boasting rich, fruity, floral aroma and an ABV of 42.6%. Kininvie 23 Years Old Batch No. 3 boasts the beautiful signature Kininvie style of Batches 1 and 2. On the nose the Batch No. 3 has slightly less toffee than Batches 1 and 2 and more fruity, spring meadow, and floral notes.
The taste profile, though very similar to Batches 1 and 2, exhibits less buttery vanilla and oak notes and instead displays more elegant tones of orange fruit and blossom.
Every bottle of Kininvie 23 Years Old Batch No. 3 will display the year of distillation, batch number and individual bottle number. The minimalist packaging and bottle have been inspired by Kinsman’s efforts to produce a whisky of rare quality.
At the launch we are handed an Old Fashioned on entry, and then proceed to taste four Kininvie whiskies. The constant murmurs of approval show Kininvie is seducing Sydney’s most discerning whisky drinkers without even trying. In keeping with Magazin style, the lighting is so discreet the whisky and the food become a delicious, giddy, candlelit blur.
- Rich and vibrant aroma with ripe, fleshy fruit notes overlaid with creamy vanilla toffee sweetness. A more subtle floral, leafy summer blossom note develops over time.
- Beautifully soft and mellow with a luxurious silky texture. The rich vanilla oakiness resulting from 23 years of maturation gives a sophisticated depth of flavour and sweetness. Woody spices such as cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves are layered with zesty citrus and candied orange peel.
- Enduringly sweet, and totally unforgettable.