Over the past decade Singapore has seen its stature skyrocket to the summit of the global cocktail scene. For years, if you were talking about drinks, the city-state was associated only with the cloyingly sweet Sling that bears its name. A popular tipple, to be sure, from an iconic location: the Long Bar at the legendary Raffles Hotel. But this was the only game in town, and it’s not as if this was the most sophisticated of alcoholic preparations.
Fast forward to today, and Singapore is home to dozens of world-class drink venues, many of which feature prominently on the list of World’s 50 Best. The annual competition is actually being hosted here in the city this month, marking its first foray outside of Europe.
And, it turns out, this boomtown is pretty well-versed not only in cocktails, but the sensational spirits which are used to build them. Since 2019, it’s also been home to the Singapore World Spirits Competition, an annual judging put on by the Tasting Alliance (the same folks responsible for the San Francisco World Spirits Competition). It is now regarded as one of the most prestigious events of its kind in all of Asia, where hundreds of spirits across all major categories are evaluated by some of the region’s most respected palates.
Earlier this year the Singapore World Spirits Competition announced its list of winners for 2023. And when it came to bourbon, the title went to a bottle that remains relatively obscure to most American whiskey drinkers: Peg Leg Porker. If you consider yourself a fan of the category, it’s time to take note.
The prizewinner at SWSC is actually a “Tennessee Bourbon,” aged for eight years in virgin charred oak. Its unusual name was coined by its founder, award-winning pitmaster Carey Pringle. He purposefully brought to bottle a whiskey he felt would pair best with barbecue. So you’ll detect some strong caramel and honey in the nose, as well as smokey, tangy notes across the palate. All of it rides a decidedly nutty mouthfeel, meaning you’ll have plenty of flavors to ponder as each sip slowly fades through the finish.
Although it doesn’t officially say on the label, the liquid was most likely sourced from George Dickel distillery in Tullahoma, Tennessee. Its signature 84% corn mashbill is almost a dead giveaway. So it also would have undergone a charcoal mellowing process prior to entering the barrel, eight years ago. This would help account for some of the whiskey’s easy-drinking essence, pouring out at a proof point of 90.
As of now you can find Peg Leg Porker Tennessee Straight Bourbon sitting on shelves at around $40 a bottle. It pairs effortlessly against pulled pork and cornbread, of course. But if you find yourself sipping on some in Singapore, it also fares surprisingly well against laksa and chili crab.