New Bar Alert – The Cooperage @ 42 Hong Kong Street

Picture from The Cooperage

We have many whisky-centric bars in Singapore. The vast choice creates a headache for the whisky lovers sometimes when they need to choose a bar to hang out with like-minded friends. As many whisky bars open, the need to be different becomes essential as each bar strives to build its clientele. We have recently come across one bar that brands itself rather uniquely from the rest, and we jump at the chance to have a chat with bar owner – Paul Tan.

The Cooperage Whisky Bar

One of the newest whisky bars in town, The Cooperage is a bespoke bar located at 42 Hong Kong Street. Paul and Ryan are the guys behind The Cooperage. We spoke to Paul for an exclusive interview with WhiskyGeeks.

Paul and Ryan often felt that whisky bars are intimating in terms of both environment and pricing. It puts beginners off whisky because the setting is not ideal for learning. The price of whisky is also steep in some instances, which makes beginners less inclined to try. Therefore, the duo set out to change that.

The Birth of The Cooperage

Paul and Ryan decided to open a bar that will encourage the general public to come and try a wide range of whisky at an affordable price. They also want to make whisky approachable through a friendly environment where patrons can speak comfortably to any of their servers and get to know more about whisky.

With the concept in mind, The Cooperage is a haven for the common man to start his whisky journey. On the menu, there are whiskies which are offered at friendly prices of $12, $15, $18 and $21. Each of these prices corresponds with a 12, 15, 18 and 21 years old whisky. We could even say that The Cooperage is the place where you bring a non-whisky drinker so that he or she can try a dram for as low as $12.

Whisky Flights that Paul recommends for the adventurous

For the more adventurous, there are various whisky flights available for order. One of the most popular whisky flights at the Cooperage is the Glendiffich Experimental Series. It features the Glenfiddich IPA, the Project XX and the creme of the crop, the Winter Storm. The Cooperage is the first bar to serve the Winter Storm by dram, and so far, this whisky flight has been very well-received.

The other two popular whisky flights are the Macallan Edition Series, featuring Edition No. 1, 2 and 3 as well as the whiskies around the world. The second flight includes the Tomintoul 12 years old, Iwai Mars Maltage Cosmo and the Limeburners Single Malt Port Cask. There are three more whisky flights available at the Cooperage, so if you want to know the whole range, you need to visit the bar!

The Vision for the Bar

In today’s business world, it is easy for an owner to lose the human touch in the F&B industry, especially when the establishment is bigger than what one can easily take care of. However, that is not a problem at the Cooperage, because Paul and Ryan believe in the human touch. Paul explained that having human contact in everything that a whisky bar does is vital as that creates engagement with the customers. If there is no engagement between the whisky bar and the customers, it is harder for the bar to help customers learn more about whisky.

“Some things just need to be traditional,” said Paul.

What is Different at The Cooperage?

Various elements are different at the Cooperage. First of all, the bar offers a “cage system” for its customers. A minimum spending within a month will open the door of a cage where you can put the bottles that you purchase at the bar safely without worry. Return to the bar for a dram or two, and the service crew will help you to retrieve your bottles. You can keep the bottles up to 6 months without charge!

Unlike a typical whisky bar, The Cooperage also offers a decent range of wines and beers to patrons who do not fancy a whisky. Nonetheless, the thing that impressed us the most is that The Cooperage serves excellent food! Now, how many whisky bars can you count that serves food? Besides The Wall SG, the Cooperage is the next one!

The Food at The Cooperage

You get an excellent selection of food at the bar. From canapes to cheese and cold cuts for a snack to a full meal of pasta, donburi and main courses, there is something for everyone.

Left: Salmon with spicy Mentaiko sauce topped with Ikura donburi, Top right: Black Angus Tomahawk, Bottom Right: Spicy Prawn and Scallop Aglio Olio

We had a try of the Salmon with spicy Mentaiko sauce topped with Ikura donburi, and it was simply excellent. The experienced chef cooked the salmon to perfection, and the ikura enhances the flavour in all the right amount. We also heard that the Truffle Black Angus Beef with Foie Gras donburi is fantastic and hence, we will be going back to try that soon! At $22 a bowl, it is an absolute steal!

As foodies ourselves, we had to ask for all the top sellers and here is a list of them! (You are welcome!)

Top Selling Canapes:

  • Lobster Bisque
  • Duck Rillettes
  • Honey-glazed Chicken Lollipop

Top Selling Donburi:

  • Truffle Black Angus Beef with Foie Gras

Top Selling Pasta:

  • Spicy Prawn and Scallop Aglio Olio

Top Selling Main Course:

  • Duck Confit
  • Black Angus Tomahawk (Serves at least four pax; requires reservation)

The Cooperage welcomes children to dine with their parents and is a family-friendly bar. One thing to note is that the whisky bar does not have baby chairs, so young children who need baby chair may pose a slight challenge.

What to Drink at The Cooperage as a Beginner?

We asked Paul what he would recommend to a complete beginner who steps into his bar, asking for a whisky to try. He thought about it seriously, and finally, he said, “well, I would suggest three expressions for this person to choose from. These choices are based on taste and price. First, a Glendronach 12 Years Old because it is approachable and sherried (sweet). Next, it would be a Dalmore 15 Years Old, which is fruity and easy to drink. Finally, for someone who likes heavy flavours, I would recommend the Balvenie 14 Years Old Carribean Rum Cask.”

Sounds about right, don’t you think so?

Plans for the future

We always ask this question to all our whisky bar owners, and we popped the same question to Paul – what are his plans for the future?

Paul has quite a plan, in our humble opinion! His intention of opening the bar is to encourage more people to try whisky and hence, his first long-term plan is definitely to get more people to start trying whisky. He hopes to build a reputation where everyone knows that they can seek an approachable and affordable dram to drink at The Cooperage.

Paul also hopes to make whisky more accessible to the general public so that everyone can drink without hurting their pockets. He wants to eliminate the idea that whisky bars are only for the rich and famous, which I believe that some bars in Singapore are doing the same.

Paul also plans to expand their range of whiskies as they move along. The ideal plan is to change their range once every quarter so that there is always something new for their clients to try.

Events and Whisky Tasting

As an advocate to approachable whisky, The Cooperage is also looking into hosting events and whisky tasting for the general public. Such activities promote education as well as engagement for the general public, making whiskies less intimating. For October, the bar currently has two events coming up.

  1. Introduction to Welsh Single Malt Whisky – Penderyn. This event is a tied up with the distributor of Penderyn whisky in Singapore and will be held on 6 October 2018 from 7 pm onwards. The event will showcase three expressions of Penderyn single malt whisky, namely Penderyn Madeira Finish, Penderyn Sherrywood and Penderyn Portwood.
  2. 100 Years Dalmore Tasting. This event will be hosted by the global ambassador of Dalmore and will feature the 25 years old, 30 years old and 45 years old expressions. It will be held on 19 October from 7 pm onwards.

If you are free on either or both days, why not check out these events? A new whisky experience with Welsh whisky Penderyn is likely to open up yet another horizon while the 100 years Dalmore offers you luxury on an entirely different level!

 

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Event: Launching the Port Charlotte 10

 

The night was filled with wondrous music, joyful laughter and friendly banter as everyone gathered at Cargo39 for an evening of Bruichladdich, Port Charlotte and Octomore. A trade and media session was over earlier in the day and the evening was solely for the consumers by invite only. We went to the consumer session partly because of Bruichladdich’s lovely thoughtfulness of putting us together with our friends.

We arrived shortly before 7 pm, and after a little trouble, managed to find the venue. The first thing that caught our attention was the Rare Dram Bar. If you have taken a good look at our pictures, you would have seen a bottle of the Yellow Submarine Edition 3, as well as a bottle of OBA (Octomore Black Art). Coveted drams as such do not come by easily, and what’s more, at an event such as this! There were also bottles of the Rare Casks and a couple of Valinch bottles that we were keen to try.

Well, I digress. The event was not for the Yellow Submarine or the OBA, but for the long-awaited launch of the Port Charlotte (PC) 10. While some people stated that this is a relaunch for PC, I say that it is a launch. Port Charlotte gets a rebrand for the entry level bottle from the PC Scottish Barley to the PC10.

Port Charlotte PC10 Launch

The PC10 launch was a vastly different style from Bruichladdich usual launch party. Considering the bigger space at Cargo39, there was room for food, cocktails (with The Botanist) and games! It was also the first event hosted by Bruichladdich that mirrored the Islay Festival – Feis Ile! Music and malt always go well together, and the successful event on 21 Sep proved that it worked wonderfully in Singapore too!

The best part of the event was the appearance of Adam Hannett, live from Islay!

The event kicked off with Chloe Wood (Bruichladdich APAC Brand Ambassador) introducing the brand and announcing Adam’s role for the evening. After that, Adam took us through four different expressions during the tasting. The first on the line was, of course, the PC10. After that, we had the PC Islay Barley, MRC:01 (PC Mouton Rothschild Cask) and finally the MC:01 (PC Marsala cask).

The Tasting Session

For the record, I love the PC10 so much that I bought a bottle home to enjoy. However, I will not do any form of whisky review for the drams that we had that night, mainly because I hope that you will be encouraged to try it without knowing what to expect. Please try not to read any reviews before trying, because you will be pleasantly surprised at what you will get when you try it without expectations.

The experience with Adam leading the tasting was exciting, but a little rushed. The key factor probably remained at the fact that the serving for the whisky was slow. Quite a fair number of people did not get the last dram (including us) until after the tasting was over. The crowd was also too excited and we couldn’t hear Adam clearly. Quite a number of “shhh!” needed to be given! Haha! Nonetheless, we enjoyed our drams and that was all that matter!

Rare Dram Bar

The tasting was not the only thing that excited us that night. We headed to the Rare Dram Bar straight after we enjoyed the four drams. The idea was to purchase rare dram coupons and exchange them for drams at the bar. We zero in on the drams we wanted…

I must say that our favourites are the two bottles in the middle – The Bruichladdich Organic 2009 and The Distillery Valinch Bourbon Virgin Oak Cask 2004.

Besides Whisky…

The event was Whisky Festival style, so naturally, I should not linger on the whiskies only. The band of the night was fantastic! I heard that Chloe found the band and they are named Craic Horse! An interesting name with awesome music is what I would call the band!

The band is based in Singapore and it is a group of talented musicians made up of Singapore’s established traditional Celtic musicians, rock and indie artists to create a “folk-rock-punk-funk hybrid”.

There was also food from various partners such as the Cheese Ark, and game stations hosted by industry friends such as Brendan Pillai from The Single Cask and Sarah Thallon from the Vagabond Club!

We had an amazing time at the party! Port Charlotte was reborn on 21 Sep in Singapore and it came with a loud bang! Congratulations to Bruichladdich Distillery and we look forward to the launch of Black Art 6.1 at Whisky Live Singapore 2018!

 

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Whisky Live Singapore 2018

The exciting times are upon us once again as Whisky Live Singapore 2018 comes around. This year event promises to be bigger and better than last year as the venue switches back to a hotel once again. After the fantastic experience we had at Capella Hotel, we are certainly looking forward to Whisky Live 2018! Hosted by Andaz Hotel located in the heart of town over the first weekend of November, Whisky Live Singapore 2018 is going to be a smash for everyone!

What is Whisky Live Singapore?

If you are new to Whisky Live, it is an annual event held by La Maison du Whisky (LMDW) to celebrate whisky and other spirits in Singapore.

“To taste and experience whisky is as much art as it is science. Whisky Live Singapore has established itself as a highly sought-after annual show that celebrates all things whisky, and a platform to encourage whisky appreciation in an approachable way,” said Mr Mathieu Musnier, General Manager, La Maison du Whisky.

Every year, Whisky Live Singapore brings an immersive experience to visitors as they discover a large selection of world-class whiskies and spirits. Visitors also learn more about whisky appreciation through their interactions with brand ambassadors. It is also an excellent platform for new brands to introduce themselves to the market as well as for established brands to launch new products.

Experience a multi-sensory world of Whisky Appreciation

Five exclusive experiences await you at Whisky Live Singapore 2018. The Whisky Room & Spirits Room, La Boutique, The VIP Area, The Masterclass Rooms and The Cocktail Terrace are designed with visitors’ experiences in mind and promise to indulge your senses to the maximum.

The Whisky Room & Spirits Room showcase new brands and products and visitors get to experience a wide selection of whiskies and spirits in a friendly atmosphere. Brand ambassadors and distillery experts will be on hand to share brand’s histories and offer you a wealth of knowledge about their products. The La Boutique provides everything that you can buy and more as you step into the largest shop ever found in Singapore. By experience, grab a bottle that you wanted to buy immediately after tasting it, or it would be sold out!

VIP Area and Masterclasses

To cater to the growing community of whisky connoisseurs, Whisky Live Singapore expanded the VIP Area this year to allow avid fans of exceptional whiskies to gather and experience prestigious new releases, single casks and limited-edition whiskies and spirits. The Masterclass Rooms are also increased to offer visitors more opportunities to attend different classes. With 14 Masterclasses to choose from, it can pose a challenge of what to choose.

Cocktail Terrace

Finally, for those who are interested in cocktails, the Cocktail Terrace offers a fantastic open-aired space where some of the world’s best mixologists offer their creation to delight your palate and senses. Featuring internationally coveted bars – Monkey 47 Bar and New Colours Bar, be prepared to enjoy excellent cocktails during Whisky Live Singapore!

What to expect on November 3 & 4?

We understood from LMDW during the media preview that this year’s Whisky Live is going to showcase some of the world’s most exquisite and first-rate whisky brands available in the market. There will also be some exciting new launches coming your way too! The event features over 60 exclusive whisky and spirits brands from across the industry, including Bruichladdich, Kavalan, Old Pulteney, Benromach, Benriach, Gordon and MacPhail as well as new brands such as Penderyn Whisky from Wales, U.K and Blanton’s Bourbon Whiskey from the USA. There are many more brands, but you need to be there to know them!

Tickets and how to get them

There are many types of tickets to choose from. Here is a complete breakdown.

Ticket Categories

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Early Bird Price 13 Aug-17 Sept 2018

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Regular Price 18 Sept-4 Nov 2018

Saturday, 3 November 2018 (5.30pm – 12.00mn)

Saturday Standard

10 whisky tasting coupons (10ml each) at The Whisky Room & Spirits Room
1 Glencairn tasting glass
S$15 dining vouchers at Andaz restaurants
10% discount at Whisky Live Singapore La Boutique
Whisky Live Singapore 2018 tote goody bag

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S$ 99

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S$ 119

Saturday VIP

10 whisky tasting coupons  (10ml each) at The Whisky Room & Spirits Room Exclusive access to The VIP Area to enjoy unlimited rare whiskies
1 Glencairn tasting glass
S$25 dining vouchers at Andaz restaurants
10% discount at Whisky Live Singapore La Boutique
Whisky Live Singapore 2018 tote goody bag

S$ 179

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S$ 199

Sunday, 4 November 2018 (1.00pm – 8.00pm)

Sunday Standard

10 whisky tasting coupons (10ml each) at The Whisky Room & Spirits Room
1 Glencairn tasting glass
S$15dining vouchers at Andaz restaurants
10% discount at Whisky Live Singapore La Boutique
Whisky Live Singapore 2018 tote goody bag

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S$ 99

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S$ 119

Sunday Standard & Big Breakfast at Andaz Singapore

10 whisky tasting coupons (10ml each) at The Whisky Room & Spirits Room
1 Glencairn tasting glass
S$15dining vouchers at Andaz restaurants
10% discount at WhiskyLive Singapore La Boutique
WhiskyLive Singapore 2018 tote goody bag
Big Breakfast @Alleyon25, AndazSingapore (11:30 am to 2:30 pm)

S$ 119

S$ 139

Sunday VIP

10 whisky tasting coupons (10ml each) at The Whisky Room & Spirits Room
Exclusive access to The VIP Area to enjoy unlimited rare whiskies
1 Glencairn tasting glass
S$25 dining vouchers at Andaz restaurants
10% discount at Whisky Live Singapore La Boutique
Whisky Live Singapore 2018 tote goody bag

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S$ 179

S$ 199

Sunday VIP & Big Breakfast at Andaz Singapore

10 whisky tasting coupons (10ml each) at The Whisky Room &Spirits  Room
Exclusive access to The VIP Area to enjoy unlimited rare whiskies
1 Glencairn tasting glass
S$25 dining vouchers at Andaz restaurants
10% discount at Whisky Live Singapore La Boutique
Whisky Live Singapore 2018 tote goody bag
Big Breakfast @Alleyon25, Andaz Singapore (11:30 am to 2:30 pm)

S$ 199

S$ 219

Saturday & Sunday, 3-4 November 2018 – 2-Day Pass

2-Day Standard Pass

2 days access for one person
1 Glencairn tasting glass
10 whisky tasting coupons per day at The Whisky Room & Spirits Room
S$15 dining vouchers at Andaz restaurants per day
10% discount at Whisky Live Singapore La Boutique
Whisky Live Singapore 2018 tote goody bag

S$ 188

S$ 218

2-DAY VIP Pass

2 days VIP access for one person
Unlimited and exclusive access to The VIP Area for tastings of rare whiskies & spirits
1 Glencairn tasting glass
10 whisky tasting coupons per day at The Whisky Room & Spirits Room
S$25 dining vouchers at Andaz restaurants per day
10% discount at Whisky Live Singapore La Boutique
Whisky Live Singapore 2018 tote goody bag

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S$ 338

S$ 368

page5image3708080 Whisky Live Singapore 2018 Staycation Package – 2-Day Pass

Standard Weekend Staycation

2 days access for two persons
2 Glencairn tasting glass
2 x 10 Whisky tasting coupons per day at The Whisky Room & Spirits Room
2 x S$15 dining vouchers at Andaz restaurants per day
10% discount at Whisky Live Singapore La Boutique
2 Whisky Live Singapore 2018 tote goody  bag
2 Big Breakfast@Alleyon25, Andaz Singapore (11:30 am to 2:30 pm)
1-night staycation at Andaz Singapore – Standard Deluxe Room

S$ 688

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S$ 749

 

VIP Weekend Staycation

2 days VIP access for two persons
Unlimited and exclusive access to The VIP Area for tastings of rare whiskies & spirits for two persons
2 Glencairn tasting glass
2 x 10 Whisky tasting coupons per day at The Whisky Room & Spirits Room
2 x S$25 dining vouchers at the Andaz restaurants each day
10% discount at Whisky Live Singapore La Boutique
2 Whisky Live Singapore 2018 tote goody bag
2 Big Breakfast@Alleyon25, Andaz Singapore (11:30 am to 2:30 pm)
1-night staycation at Andaz Singapore – Standard Deluxe Room

S$ 988

S$ 1,049

Whisky Live Singapore 2018 Masterclasses (per session per person)

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From S$ 35

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From S$ 35

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We heard that the early bird tickets are selling fast, so grab yours before it is sold out!

See you at Whisky Live Singapore 2018!

 

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Whisky Review #102 – Austria Single Malt Keckeis

If you have yet to hear about Austria single malt whisky, this is a post that you can spend some time on. Flora and Choc visited our friend, Daisuke-san, at his bar La Terre recently and discovered this gem of a whisky. The uniqueness of the malt excited Flora almost immediately and the good price point at the bar added the appeal. So, we ordered a dram of this to see where it will take us.

Unfortunately, my friend Google has not been very helpful in helping me understand this distillery well, as there is hardly any information available online! Whatever I can find are mostly in German, and I can’t read the language. 🙁

Keckeis single malt comes from a distillery named Harald Keckeis. Located in Rankweil, Austria, it produces whisky, gin and beer. They should have about three expressions, with the core range named Keckeis Single Malt, and two distillery bottlings with cask names Forever No. 1, and Forever No. 2. Well, that’s all about it that I can understand. Hahaha!

Anyway, let’s get on with the review. The bottle I had is a single cask distillery bottling. The cask name is Forever No. 2. It is kinda weird to call a bottle “forever no. 2”, but I suppose it could be an issue with translation?

Tasting Notes:

Colour: Rich Gold
ABV: 42%

Nose: Intense cherry and flowers mixed with a slight Nippon paint note hiding behind. Interestingly, the paint note does not make the nose bad, but on the contrary, it is pleasant and inviting. Slight spice lingers in the background, but it wafts in and out, never overpowering the sweetness that goes on and on. There is a fruitiness to it as well, almost like baked apples. Overall, it has a fantastic nose. (18/20)

Palate: Thick and rich palate, almost syrupy. Baked apples, boiled sweets and cherries coat the palate nicely. There is a pleasant warmth too; nothing sharp. As I swallow the whisky, I taste sweet cherry jelly and an amazing burst of cherry fruitiness! Wow! (18/20)

Finish: Long and sweet finish with a superb cherry sweetness and slight astringent note. The sweetness lingers all the way to the end. (17/20)

Body: This is an interesting whisky, especially when it is not a traditional Scotch. I am very excited to try and it does not disappoint. Wow! Considering that it is only 42% abv, the delivery is nothing short of fantastic. Nonetheless, it is a simple whisky without too much complexity. I believe the distillery will do well moving forward and I look forward to trying more of what this distillery can offer in the future. (35/40)

Total Score: 88/100

Comments:

Geek Flora: I am happy with this whisky. Simple and easy to drink with an excellent delivery of uniqueness. I would look forward to other expressions in the future. 

Geek Choc: Flora decided to try this whisky before I could say that I wanted a dram, so we shared the dram instead. It was purely for a trial, but we were glad that we did try. Excellent dram to conclude our night at La Terre!

 

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New Bar Alert: 1927 – So Sofitel’s Rooftop Bar

So Sofitel Rooftop Bar

It was an awesome Thursday night as Flora and Choc went to the Grand Opening Party of So Sofitel’s rooftop bar, named 1927. Located on the 6th floor of the hotel, it was home to a bar, a pool and plenty of comfortable seats. When we reached, the party was already in full swing, with jazz music from a live band and plenty of cocktails making their rounds.

We got ourselves a great seat in front of the pool with our media friends and took our time to capture the right photos. With the setting sun, the pool was brilliantly lit, but with no overwhelming sun rays reflecting into the eyes.

Pool Side Seats

Look at that inviting water! With the heat going on in Singapore right now, it would be the perfect place for some drinks while chillaxing!

The 1927 Bar

Well, Flora is not here to recommend swimming pools, so let’s move on to the real deal – the bar. As this is the grand opening of So Sofitel’s rooftop bar, we are naturally curious to know what kind of whiskies they have at the bar. We spied some Laphroaigs, Glenlivet and Monkey Shoulder on the shelves, so we walked over to the bar and requested for some whiskies.

We discovered that the bar is still on its mission to stock more whiskies but in the meanwhile, they are making up with some fantastic cocktails and champagne! I am sorry that I cannot tell champagne apart, but it was good stuff in my opinion. To do justice to the bartenders at the 1927 bar, here are some cocktail pictures we took.

The Cocktails of 1927

Vodka/Gin-based Cocktail

I was not paying too much attention to the details of this cocktail, to be honest, as I was busy trying to get my pictures of the bar. However, the cocktail reminds me of vodka or gin-based cocktails with lemon. It was refreshing and perfect for a hot night. It might be a little sweet, but I think it is the best starting drink.

Rum-based Cocktail

The coconut husk attracted us, and it turned out to be a proper cup! This cocktail is a rum-based cocktail with coconut (apparently) and pineapple. It is a tropical drink and pretty much sums up the beach holiday that we all dream about at work. It is quite suitable for an after-work drink to relax before heading home.

Absinthe-based cocktail

The absinthe-based cocktail is the créme of the crop for me. Made with coconut milk and plenty of mint leaves, the minty taste combined with the coconut milk to makes this a perfect drink. The absinthe within also gives a stronger kick, which suits me well. It is a must-try if you head to 1927 bar!

The Cosy Setting

1927 is cosy and reminds me of a 1920-1930s bar setting, with retro jazz music and plenty of low sofa seats.

Cosy Area

The decorations are simple, elegant and understated. Nothing is out of place, but nothing is extravagant too. The whole atmosphere is like a luxury resort, complete with the wood and trees all around it. It is enjoyable to sit around and do nothing! If you are feeling stress, you only need to head to the bar for some refreshing cocktails or a dram of fine whiskies that the management will be stocking soon!

Details of the bar

Name: 1927
Address: 35 Robinson Road, #06-00, So Sofitel, Singapore 068876

Let us know if you visit the bar! We will love to hear what you think about it.

 

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Whisky Event: The Lost Distillery

The seven Lost Distilleries expressions

29 August was a night of rare whiskies, or what we would expect from whisky distilleries long gone if they had survived. The Wall SG invited Flora and Choc to the tasting session, and of course, we just had to go! Tasting seven expressions of whiskies were the first for us, and we were prepared to get tippy!

We arrived at The Wall SG shortly after 6.30pm and were pleasantly surprised to see that Chris Marshall, co-owner of Distilled (they import The Lost Distillery bottles) were already there. After a short introduction, we made ourselves comfortable and began chatting with Chris.

The Short History of Distilled

We understood that Distilled was established just a short 12 months ago, and will be reaching the first milestone soon. Chris was an engineer in his previous life and enjoyed his work very much. However, he got into spirits and began to explore the idea of setting up something of his own. The time came when Chris decided that it is time for him to pursue his passion and his wife supported him. Hence, with his co-founder, Stephanie, Distilled was born.

Distilled represented many brands, but only two whisky brands. One of them is none other than The Lost Distillery.

The Lost Distillery Company

The Lost Distillery Company (TLDC) believes that it is a pity that many distilleries of the past were gone and buried. Many of these distilleries do not even get a mention in current times. To bring back the memories of these long-gone distilleries, the research team at TLDC worked hard to understand these lost distilleries to find the style of whisky they might have produced. With the knowledge, they re-build the flavour profiles by blending single malt whiskies to create what these lost distilleries might have produced if they are alive and distilling today.

The research includes the barley type, water source, type of stills and yeast. They also used black bottles to replicate the black bottles used during the 18th and 19th century.

The Range of Products

TLDC creates three different ranges – from the Classic Selection to the Archivist Collection and finally the Vintage Selection. The classic selection holds expressions generally aged around 12 years old, and bottled at 43%. The Archivist Collection showcased expressions around 18 years old and bottled at 46%. The Vintage Selection is the most expensive and feature expressions about 30 years years old and also bottled at 46%. Do note that all of them are blended malts made by the talented master blenders of TLDC.

Currently, only the Classic Selection is available in Singapore as they are more approachable and offers an excellent choice for many drinkers.

The Classic Selection

Taste Profile of the Seven whiskies

There are seven whiskies in the series which represent Scotland’s five whisky regions.

Highland: Auchnagie, Jericho and Gerston
Lowland: Stratheden
Speyside: Towiemore
Campbeltown: Dalaruan
Islay: Lossit

As there are too many expressions to share our tasting notes, we will share two of our favourite.

Jericho

Details: 12 Years Old, 43%, Highland, remote area with no access to other parts of Scotland, one of the first to use sherry cask for maturation

Nose: Dark raisins, chocolate and hints of spice all the way

Palate: Dark raisins, cherry at the forefront before milk chocolate appears in mid-palate before dried prunes turn up at the back of the throat.

Finish: Medium to long, with raisins and dried prunes. It turns oaky after a few seconds.

Both of us like this expression because it reminds us of a sherry bomb that is not overly sherried. The beauty of this dram is the sherry influence without the sulphur that tends to be associated with sherry bombs.

Lossit

Details: 12 Years Old, 43%, Islay, a rough area with pirates and dangerous thugs, was isolated due to bad association.

Nose: Lemon peels, sweet fruits, some spice and very light peat.

Palate: Lemon, sweet fruits, some peppery spice, oily and some light peat.

Finish: Short to medium with smoke, lemon and oakiness.

We love this expression because it is peaty. It is also an easy to approach dram for new potential peatheads.

Where to find these drams

If there is anyone who wishes to try these drams, you can find them easily at The Wall SG. You know that you can find rare whiskies, affordable drams and fantastic service there!

 

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State 38 – Boutique Distillery from Golden, Colorado

Ask me which part of the USA I have been to, and the answer will be none. My globe-trotting adventures stopped in the United Kingdom, and I have yet to visit the USA. Frankly, the one thing that indeed puts me off from the USA is the long flight. Flying 12 hours to London had been an absolute nightmare to me and all the flight attendants onboard the particular A380 I was on, and trust me, flying to the USA was such a daunting thought that I have not yet considered a trip there – even with three connecting flights perhaps?

Nonetheless, I think I might be enticed to do that soon, what with my small victory in loving my first ever bourbon! Yay! If you know me well, I am not a bourbon lover. I cannot accept the sweetness that comes with corn distillation, even though I had come close to liking one from Westland Distillery.

Welcome to Golden

State 38 Distilling stays at one of the western states of the USA – Golden, Colorado. As Colorado is the 38th state to be recognised in the USA, the owner decided to name his distillery State 38 Distilling. Part of being patriotic, the owner also wants to associate his distillery with the land that it sits on.

Golden nestled between Denver and the Rocky Mountains and is well-known to be a gold rush town in the 19th century. Gold once flowed in its river, and the town is filled with rich history. It is also home to the Lookout Mountains and the Red Rocks Park.

History of State 38 Distilling

State 38 Distilling opened its doors in March 2013. The owner, Sean Smiley, hand-built all the distillery equipment by hand and also the old western style tasting room that you can find at the distillery. Sean comes from a long lineage of patriotic and loyal men and women, with roots all the way from Scotland.

Sean’s ancestor first crossed the continents from London to the USA in 1850. D.C. Loveday was a Londoner who went to the USA looking for more than just a job. The allure of entrepreneurship guided him forward as he settled in the small town of East Jordan, MI. Loveday became a legendary and honourable statesman in his life, and his independent character became the cornerstone for his descendant, Sean Smiley, owner of State 38 Distilling.

Sean’s great-grandfather, W.I. McKenzie served as a war crimes prosecutor during World War II and received letters from the FDR for his services. He drew strength from the Scottish blood flowing through his veins and ploughed on even in the face of ultimate challenges.

The man behind State 38 Distilling

Sean Smiley in his warehouse

The man behind State 38 is none other than Sean, the great-grandson of W.I McKenzie. He gained his passion for distilling at a young age. With the encouragement from his family, he built his first home still from various part found at the local hardware stores. After graduation, Sean worked in the oil and gas industry. From Global Sales Managing roles to Director of a small engineering company, Sean sees the world through the lens of the good, old oil and gas industry.

Five years ago, Sean decided to change his fate and his life. After ten years of home distilling, he believes that it is time to do something about it. Hence, Sean built his distillery by hand and opened its door in March 2013. With his roots firmly planted in the USA, he commits himself to use local ingredients to produce tasty spirits using his customised copper pot stills.

State 38’s raw ingredients

As we know, whisky is made from only three ingredients – barley, yeast and water. For bourbons, it is a little more complicated, but the main theory still holds. Producers made bourbons from three main ingredients too – grains, yeast and water. The only difference is that they are allowed to use different grains for their mash.

Sean wanted to create unique spirits when he decided to open a distillery. With his roots in Scotland, he was determined to make spirits that are reminiscent of Scotch but yet, wholly American. Therefore, he embarked on a journey to make his whiskeys special.

State 38 uses different grains for their bourbon. While the main ingredient is still corn, the distillery also uses 5% rye, 5% wheat and 20% heavily malted barley. The different grains help to create a unique flavour profile for the DC Loveday bourbon, differentiating it from the others.

Sean also made a peated whisky in which he imported 100% peat-smoked barley from Scotland. Using the barley from Scotland, he combines yeast and water from the melted snow on the Rocky Mountains to create a new and special whisky – one that is not found anywhere else in the world.

Distillation Methods in State 38

Sean’s handmade copper pot still

Distillation in State 38 follows a strict rule – all raw ingredients are processed onsite. The distillery buys local grains and hand milled them with a small roller mill. Once done, the grains mixed with approximately 500 gallons of fresh Rocky Mountain water in a mash tun. The mash is heated to convert the starch to sugar before turning the heat up to caramelised some of the sugars. The process helps to produce a creamy caramel, chocolatey and coffeey note to the finish spirit. They cool the mash after the caramelisation before transferring it to the fermentation tanks.

The fermentation process is extra long at State 38. They use a specialised, proprietary yeast to convert the sugars to ethyl alcohol. The entire process takes 14 days per tank, which is extremely slow, even by Scottish standards. At the end of the fermentation period, clean, sweet alcohol materialises.

New Make running off the tap from the pot still

The wash then transfers to a 250-gallon copper still hand-built by Sean. They distilled the liquid twice, once to create a low wine and twice to get the heart at around 77.5% abv. Now, here’s where things differ. The completed white whiskey is cut to 62.5% abv using fresh Rocky Mountain water before getting barreled in brand new 52.8-gallon American oak barrels, charred to level 3. These barrels are independently staved, which makes them premium barrels to begin with.

After maturing for two years, the whiskey is cut down to bottling abv at 45% using the same Rocky Mountain fresh water before bottling.

Each small batch made at the distillery is labelled with bottle number clearly shown on the bottles.

Sean’s beliefs in Whiskey Making

Barrels maturing in the warehouse

We wanted to understand Sean’s beliefs in whiskey making, so we asked him how whiskey should be made. “I believe that whiskey should be made with great attention to details in all the processes and with respect for the time in maturation in barrels.” He also shared that he spent time studying and testing for the best methods to create the end products he wanted. The intention to caramelise sugar during the mashing process and the extra-long fermentation period are both results from his study.

Sean also shared that he created the Scottish Peat-Smoke Whisky to honour his roots in Scotland. He aimed to bring about an Islay-style whisky, but not overwhelming in smoke. Thus, he decided to go for a peaty whisky that falls somewhere between a Highland and Islay peated whisky.

With his innovative mind, Sean creates stunning whisk(e)ys expressions to rival the booming American whiskey companies. Being a boutique distillery, the small batches of whiskey made are often sold out quickly too!

State 38 Products

Products line up

State 38 products range from bourbon to rye to peaty whisky. The distillery also makes 100% organic agave tequila, vodka and gin. Each product carries the State 38 logo proudly. Currently, the products are slowly making their way out of Colorado and into other countries.

In Singapore and its South East Asia neighbours, the distillery is starting with the DC Loveday Bourbon and the WI McKenzie Peat-Smoke Whisky. It has plans to import its gin, vodka and tequila to Singapore in future.

Future of State 38

With its 5th anniversary celebration over, State 38 is expanding its production equipment, storage and bottling plant. The 5-year milestone is a testimony to its great-tasting spirits and Sean’s enduring dedication to creating only quality products. Sean is now looking at expansion into the Asian market, with Singapore as its first stop and the rest of South East Asia should follow soon after.

 

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