Whisky Appreciation

Bar ShoutOut: Wala Wala Café Bar

Picture courtesy of Wala Wala

Mention Wala Wala, and most of the locals will go, “Oh yeah…” The iconic building that sits near the end of Lorong Mambong at Holland Village is drawing its crowds every night since 1993 due to a mixture of nostalgia, fun and lively atmosphere. It is one of those watering holes where most of us pub crawlers will visit at least once in our rebellious youth days. It used to be a place where you go to get your beers, basic bar grub and heavenly live music, but Wala Wala has evolved into an all-out venue for live music. The offers in the menu grown from one to two, so you can imagine just how much bigger and grander, it is now as compared to the 90s.

The Lure of Wala Wala

Wala Wala is helmed by Stanley Yeo and his wife, Lilis Yeo. The duo is often spotted at the bar, entertaining their regular customers with chit chat and drinks while enjoying the live music on stage. For those who have never stepped into Wala, you may wonder why the bar emits an almost magnetic pull for all its regulars. The reason is simple. Wala is like a second home, one where you can relax and chill with friends. Its simple but lively atmosphere makes for an exciting night out for the weekend and a chill, relaxing evening on weekdays.

Tuesday Band – Tabula

The iconic bar offers up live music every night, with a different style of music and bands every day. You could even declare the bar is THE place where Singapore’s live music scene reigns! The music ranges from acoustic to pop, rock, soul and even heavy metal! With different styles every day, you can choose to visit the bar on nights where your kind of music is playing. Here is the list of live bands:

From 7 pm to 9 pm (2 sets):
Thursday: Adia and Mark
Friday: Randolf Arriola

From 9 pm (3 sets):
Sunday: Jack and Rai
Monday: The Passerby
Tuesday: Tabula
Wednesday: The Lost Box

From 9.40pm (3 sets):
Thursday: Shagies
Friday: Reverie
Saturday: Peep Show

Opened from 4 pm on weekdays and 3 pm on weekends and public holidays, Wala Wala puts in a lot of efforts to keep its customers happy.

Food on Offer

Wala Wala also offers up a wide variety of western food and bar grubs. The beauty of the food is not just the quality of good, tasty food; it is also the fact that Wala Wala often updates its menu to bring new dishes to its customers. While the bestseller on the food menu will always be its chicken wings, Wala Wala does some impressive upgrades to its menu just recently. One of the newest dishes is the Deep Fried Chicken coated with Salted Egg Yolk Sauce. The chicken is crispy on the outside and tender on the inside. The salted egg yolk sauce is light and flavourful.

There are also numerous choices if you are a fan of sausages. New to their Grilled Sauage Platter is the Smoked Chicken Cheese, Smoked Chorizo Pork and Nürnberger Pork Bratwurst. There is also an exotic choice – Grilled Moroccan Merquez Sausage – which is a mix of lamb and beef.

Food Menu

Spirits on Offer

Now, this is the reason why WhiskyGeeks is doing a shoutout on Wala Wala. We are a whisky blog after all! The famous watering hole offers more than just beers and cocktails now – it serves premium whisky, rums, gins, vodka, tequila, cognac, sake and shochu too. With a wide range of brands to choose, you will be spoilt for choice. Some of the more popular whiskies include Balvenie, Macallan, Bowmore and Lagavulin. You will be pleased to know that it also serves Penderyn, the newly-imported whisky from Wales. The menu is a collection of brands that will wow and impress you all at the same time.

Spirits Menu

Besides the spirits on offer, Wala Wala also creates its signature cocktails using different spirits from their selection of brands. Most of their signature cocktails are designed in-house by their talented bartenders. A total of six cocktails sit proudly on page two of Wala Wala’s menu and with names such as Maiden’s Blush, November Rain and Sailor on Deck, you would want to try them all!

Signature Cocktail Menu

Special World Gourmet Summit Cocktail

Welshman

If you recall from one of our previous posts, Wala Wala collaborated with Spirits Castle on the creation of a new cocktail named Welshman. Made with Penderyn Sherrywood, Elderflower Syrup and Cranberry Bitters, it is extra barrel aged in the bar before getting served with a slice of dehydrated orange. We understood from Wala Wala that they would be showcasing this cocktail during the upcoming World Gourmet Summit! WhiskyGeeks had tasted it previously (of course), and we love it! The sweetness of the whisky blends well with the floral notes from the elderflower syrup and the dash of cranberry bitters added an extra dimension to the cocktail.

If you did not attend the World Gourmet Summit and missed out on the cocktail, fret not! Wala Wala Café Bar will be serving Welshman from 16 April 2019 for a limited time period! So, do go down and grab one before it is all gone.

Where can you find Wala Wala Café Bar?

Well, if you do not know where it is, here are the details.

Address: 31 Lorong Mambong, Holland Village, Singapore 277689
Phone: (65) 6462 4288
Opening Hours: Monday to Thursday – 4 pm to 1 am
Friday – 4 pm to 2 am
Saturday and PH Eves – 3 pm to 2 am
Sunday – 3 pm t0 1 am

 

Like what you have just read?

Join WhiskyGeeks.sg as a member for FREE and receive our curated articles and videos in your mailbox every month!





[recaptcha]

New Bar Alert: The Exciseman Whisky Bar

Photo Credits: The Exciseman Whisky Bar

There are never enough new whisky bars in Singapore, despite our perceived “smallness” in size and population. The most recent whisky bar that we have been to is none other than The Exciseman. The whisky couple behind this bar are well-known figures in Singapore’s whisky industry, and they are known to carry quality whiskies.

The couple is Lewis Mitchell and Patricia Britton, the owners of Le Vigne Wine and Spirits. After running the shop successfully for 16 years, opening a whisky bar seems to be the next step in the natural progression of things.

WhiskyGeeks headed to The Exciseman to catch Lewis for a drink and a chat about his passion for whiskies and his vision for the bar.

The Exciseman

Photo Credit: The Exciseman Whisky Bar

If you think that The Exciseman is yet another “atas”, expensive and intimating whisky bar in Singapore, think again! The interior of the bar is warm and friendly, with a cosiness to it that invites you to melt into the beautiful armchairs and take a break from life itself.

The whisky selection is vast, with a menu that is bound to grow thicker as the bar matures. The quiet atmosphere, the warm lights, and the comfortable armchairs relax us as we waited for Lewis. The friendly bartender also made us some excellent Oolong tea, with the right temperature. 🙂

Inside the bar, there is a fireplace and a 140 years old piano! We were told that patrons who know how to play the piano are welcome to give it a go, but only after they ask for permission. Customers who wish to play the piano are also kindly requested to play only soft music and to treat the piano with care. After all, it is much older than all of us!

It is a Whisky Heaven

Photo Credits: The Exciseman Whisky Bar

Most of us know that Le Vigne is the importer for various whisky brands. The most famous is the Douglas Laing (DL) selection. The bar currently stocks many of DL’s collections, including the five popular blended whiskies in cannons! There are also premium whiskies such as the Xtra Old Particular that is sold by the dram. On top of their selection, The Exciseman is also looking at other brands of whiskies that are of excellent qualities. Once Lewis satisfies his strict selection process for each whisky, you will be able to get your hands on more whisky brands at The Exciseman.

Besides the great number of whiskies you can find, I think that The Exciseman satisfies my quest for peace. The whisky bar has on low music and invites its patrons to enjoy their whiskies in peace and quiet. If you do not wish to chat, Lewis and his team will leave you to enjoy your whisky privately.

In fact, the bar even states what it is not in their menu! By doing so, Lewis hopes that he can protect the peace of the bar and allow his customers to appreciate and enjoy their whiskies.

Photo Credit: WhiskyGeeks.sg

In a way, The Exciseman is a whisky heaven and a safe haven for those who wish to get some peace and quiet. Nonetheless, Lewis still encourages his patrons to chat softly amongst themselves and to ask questions about whiskies and spirits.

Charcoal-filtered Water

If you are one of those geeks like us, you may drink some of your whiskies with a few drops of water. At The Exciseman, you do not get the regular tap or distilled water. What you get is charcoal-filtered water. A clean, crisp water that does magic to your whiskies if you so fancy it to be.

However, what I really love is the tap! Just check it out!

Photo Credit: The Exciseman Whisky Bar

You can even fill water on your own, without asking them. Just go to the bar counter and operate the tap! Of course, if you prefer to be served, the team at The Exciseman will gladly serve you.

Lewis Mitchell – The Whisky Man

We have a little chat with Lewis while we were there at the bar and this was the result of our chat – an informal interview! We understood from Lewis that opening a whisky bar is the next progression he envisioned for Le Vigne. While the bar has an additional partner, Lewis is the man who oversees and runs the operation of the bar. When I asked him why he opens a whisky bar instead of a wine bar, he answered candidly, “Because I am a whisky man!”

Indeed, Lewis has his passion for whisky for a long time. He revealed that his love for the water of life started in his early days, and the love increases as he tried different whiskies. When he met Patricia, she was just the woman he needed to carry his passion forward into actions. When Lewis and Patricia started Le Vigne Wine and Spirits, both of them are professionals in their individual roles. Patricia is a wine lover and knows her wines; Lewis, the whisky man, knows his whisky!

Lewis is a straight-forward whisky drinker – he loves all kinds of whiskies. He judges whiskies not by the distillery, the brand, nor the age of the whisky. He ranks each whisky by the nose, palate, finish and balance. A good whisky needs not to be an old whisky; a good whisky can be young. The character of the whisky is vital in Lewis’ point of view. Without character, the whisky is boring.

Don’t Judge a Whisky by its Age

Lewis encourages his customers to look beyond the age of the whiskies that he carries at the bar. It is not the age that matters, but what goes on behind the production that matters. The care of each production cycle is crucial for every whisky distillery. It includes the type of barley used, the time for fermentation, the distillation methods, the cask selections and finally, the taste profile of each whisky made. While it is true that some whiskies are better with age, it does not mean that every whisky is better when aged.

Lewis concluded with a call to everyone to try whiskies and other spirits with an open mind. When we do that, we discover new profiles, and who knows, we might just like it better than we thought!

Visit The Exciseman Whisky Bar

If all these chat about whiskies is making you thirsty, head over to The Exciseman Whisky Bar and check them out! The address is 8 Raffles Avenue, Esplanade Mall #02-27, Singapore 039802. If you go up the escalator from the mall side, make a U-turn, and walk all the way to the back to find the bar!

Remember to ask Lewis for a recommendation if you are lazy to go through his extensive menu, he is more than happy to do that for you! The Exciseman also offers beer and other spirits such as gin and grappa. Ask Lewis for your favourite drink!

 

Like what you have just read?

Join WhiskyGeeks.sg as a member for FREE and receive our curated articles and videos in your mailbox every month!





[recaptcha]

The More We Get Together…The Happier We’ll Be

Singapore has a large number of whisky bars for its relatively small surface area, and each whisky bar offers its patrons a different atmosphere, excellent whiskies and fantastic customer service. Even restaurants are also jumping onto the bandwagon! Before I unofficially join the industry as a blogger, I often thought that the competition is too stiff. How can the bars survive when they are serving the same, small group of whisky lovers in Singapore?

Well, to the uninitiated, that appears to be a tough question to answer. The bars in Singapore are come up with the perfect solution though – instead of “fighting one another”, they choose to work together (hence my blog post title). All these collaborations have come to one remarkable result for four of our bars and restaurants – a joint bottling.

The Whisky Project

Friends and media gathered at New Ubin Seafood Restaurant at Chijmes on 22 October to witness and taste the joint bottling by Quaich Bar, The Swan Song, The Writing Club and New Ubin Seafood. It is a Cadenhead Linkwood-Glenlivet 28 Years Old. The evening, however, was not just a tasting. It was a gathering of friends, and for all of us, it was the friendship that got all of us together in the first place.

We understood that there was never an intention for a bottling that boasts either old age or a popular distillery. The focus of the four bars and restaurant was the taste of the whisky. However, from all the cask samples that the group tried, a Linkwood stood out. It was the obvious choice, for the 28 years old Linkwood-Glenlivet from a sherry butt performs better in every single way.

The Evening with Cadenhead

The Food

Now, before I delve into the tasting, I wanted to make a statement about the food that New Ubin Seafood served to us on that beautiful evening. I think that warranted more than a mention because it was just amazing.

I missed out an excellent dish in the pictures (because all of us delve into the food before we remember that we forget to feed our phones…). That excellent dish was SMOKED PORK CURRY. Possibly the best curry I have ever eaten. The other dish worth mentioning was the cup you see on the right. Inside contained half-boiled eggs and Foie Gras. No, it is not wrong, and yes, it is the best way of eating foie gras – Singapore style.

The Linkwood-Glenlivet 28 Years Old

I believe that many of my media friends have already made their reviews about the Linkwood-Glenlivet 28 Years Old, and I do not wish to add on to more formal reports. What I want to do instead, is to encourage everyone to go to one of these four places – Quaich Bar, The Swan Song, The Writing Club and New Ubin Seafood – and TRY THE WHISKY. It is worth your time, efforts and the usage of your liver. If you have not tried it, you must try it. To all my overseas readers, if you travel to Singapore, go to these bars, and try it!

To give everyone an idea of the whisky, let me say this – it is a sherry bomb that gives you a nose that is full of plums, dark raisins, chocolate and hints of espresso. The palate is sweet and creamy, with slightly roasted notes of coffee. Plums and raisins are prominent with some dryness towards the end, reminding me of tannins. The finish is long, sweet and slightly tannic.

Ok, that is all I will say about the whisky – you must try the whisky so that you are not missing out on the good stuff, and since you are going to try the whisky, why not try the food at New Ubin Seafood too?

The Guy behind the Gathering of Friends for the Tasting

Right, it is not the best picture I have, but this is candid, and therefore, nice. The handsome chap that you see in this picture is familiar to everyone, of course! He is none other than Matthew Fergusson-Stewart, the Chief Marketing Officier at The Whisky Store. While you may know Matthew from his previous life as the brand ambassador for Glenfiddich single malt, he has since moved on to this new role with The Whisky Store.

A tiny interview

WhiskyGeeks did a short interview with Matthew before the tasting, and we asked him some rather personal questions, like why did he move on from being an ambassador when he was doing the job so well. Matthew’s answer was heartwarming. He shared his reasons candidly, saying that he would like to spend more time at home with his wife and children and that being an ambassador means lots of travelling and lesser time at home. He also passed the remark that it can be tiring as a brand ambassador.

As the Chief Marketing Officier, Matthew also gets to work with more brands as he is in charge of all the brands under The Whisky Store. With a much bigger portfolio, Matthew can grow in his journey as a whisky man. The role is also attractive because Matthew still gets to host tasting events (such as the one we went to) and yet get to do a job that is more or less flexible to let him spend more time at home.

Going back to his roots in Marketing

Matthew also shared that his first passion is marketing. He studied marketing as a student and loved every bit of what he did. While he chose to become an ambassador for quite some years, he decided to return to his roots in marketing with this new role that he takes up with The Whisky Store. Building marketing and brand plans come a little harder now, but it is coming altogether pretty quickly for Matthew! From now till the end of the year, Matthew shares that his focus is on his brand plans so that things get going in 2019. It was a lot of work when he started work, but now as things settled down, Matthew began to formulate what he wants to do next year as the CMO of The Whisky Store too.

I understand that his first and foremost target is to understand all his brands and get them in order. Once done, he will begin to develop each brand further. Matthew promises more tasting sessions, and also a better distribution plan for all the 27 brands that he looks after. There is also the bar side of things, which Matthew is looking into creating more synergies with. All in all, it seems like a hectic year ahead!

I am looking forward to Matthew’s work and believe that he would bring each brand to greater heights.

Future Joint Bottling?

Frankly, we do not know if the bars and restaurant gathered for this joint bottling will do yet another project, but it is with the hope that they may consider doing it yet again to benefit the rest of us whisky lovers! It was a lovely evening spent with friends who matter. Coupled that with amazing drams, and nothing else can be better than that!

Quaich Bar is the oldest whisky bar in Singapore, and we pretty much owe our whisky growth in Singapore to Khoon Hui, Joyce and their team at the bar. With Matthew joining the team at The Whisky Store, we can be sure that exciting times lie ahead of us as we move into 2019!

 

Like what you have just read?

Join WhiskyGeeks.sg as a member for FREE and receive our curated articles and videos in your mailbox every month!





[recaptcha]

Launch: The Vagabond Club & The Whiskey Library

The Whiskey Library

Have you heard of The Vagabond Club? With a tagline that invites you to get into trouble at their premises, you can expect nothing but fun when you visit. Housed in a 1950s heritage Art Deco building, The Vagabond Club is a luxurious boutique hotel in the heart of Singapore. Situated near to Little India and Kampung Glam, it is near to tourist locations such as the Singapore River and the Marina Bay enclave. For business travellers, it is also convenient since it is not far away from the Central Business District (CBD).

If you are wondering why I put up a picture that states “The Whiskey Library” and babble on about a heritage hotel, it is because The Whiskey Library is located right inside The Vagabond Club! Yes, this is not a simple hotel lounge; it is a full-fledged whisky bar!

The Whiskey Library

Bartending under the Golden Banyan Tree

The Whiskey Library is spelt with the ‘e’ as an attempt to differentiate itself from the other “Whisky Library”. Housed in The Vagabond Club, it serves as the hotel bar, lobby lounge and a whisky bar all at the same time. The bar counter has numerous official bottlings from various distilleries such as Penderyn, Bruichladdich and Macallan. It also serves the usual Johnnie Walker and Chivas. Cocktails are also available at the bar.

Independent Bottlings

The Whiskey Library also stocks many different bottles from independent bottlers. At the back of the bar, you can see a grand glass shelf stock full of independent bottles. The labels there are astounding. When I visited, I saw bottles from Douglas Laing, Hunter Laing, Gordon & Macphail, Carn Mor, and Signatory Vintage. These are the typical independent bottlers we know. The shelves also contain hard to get bottles from The Boutiquey Whisky Company and Berry Bros and Rudd. Importantly, as The Whiskey Library, it also holds stocks of boutique independent bottlers such as The Single Cask and The Drunken Master!

The Artist behind the Decorations

Artworks

The artworks in the various pictures so far portray a flamboyant and lively atmosphere, and it reminds one of the Indian arts. The artist responsible for the interior design of the bar is Jacques Garcia, a man fascinated by the Indian arts. His idea stems from the proximity of The Vagabond Club to Little India, where the Indian heritage is showcased in abundance. Hence, his designs incorporated Indian artworks and its heritage beautifully in every detail of the hotel and bar. From the elephant at the entrance to the various golden Banyan Trees at the bar, Garcia works with the landscape to create art within the boundaries of an old Art Deco House.

Some Interesting Artworks

The Captured Elephant and the Golden Banyan Tree

Some of the artworks in the hotel belong to the owner of the Vagabond Club. His passion for the art has given him a compassion towards local artists and he houses various artists under his “Artist-in-Residence Program”. You can find out more about it from here.

You can also find unique art pieces within The Whiskey Library, such as the two below.

Self Portrait of Jacques Garcia

 

The Lonely Fox Awaits

The artworks are different, for the first one is a video art (it moves!) and the second one a sculpture. Each artwork inspires in its little way and patrons to the bar can enjoy all the artwork within the lovely space. Do note that the names of each art piece are my own interpretation of the art pieces. They are not in anyway, representing the actual artwork.

The Whisky Library Membership

There is a membership which is offered to anyone who wishes to explore The Whiskey Library. Here are some details that I gathered:

Membership includes

  • 10 nights in the Classic Room at the Vagabond Club
  • 15% off bottles
  • Exclusive invites to the hotel events (whisky related, of course)
  • Buy any 2 bottles at the bar, and you can bring one of your bottles to leave it at the bar, without corkage or storage charge

Each membership cost $3000/year. Sounds rather steep, but that 10 nights at the hotel should be able to cover the cost.

The Official Launch Party

The Vagabond Club and The Whiskey Library held its official launch party on 26 October 2018 and it was a tad disappointing when I discovered that the only whiskies available are three expressions from the Old Malt Cask – a Tobermory 21 Years, a Glenallchie 16 Years and a Bowmore 21 Years. The bar had free flow beer, wines and champagne instead. It appears to have a very different crowd from our usual whisky bars in Singapore as well.

With the party officially over and done with, serious business resumed. We wish The Whiskey Library success and may their whiskies grow! Check them out at 39 Syed Alwi Road, Singapore 207630 or click here to go to their website.

 

Like what you have just read?

Join WhiskyGeeks.sg as a member for FREE and receive our curated articles and videos in your mailbox every month!





[recaptcha]

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!

 

Like what you have just read?

Join WhiskyGeeks.sg as a member for FREE and receive our curated articles and videos in your mailbox every month!





[recaptcha]

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.

 

Like what you have just read?

Join WhiskyGeeks.sg as a member for FREE and receive our curated articles and videos in your mailbox every month!





[recaptcha]

Is there such a person as a whisky noob?

During a recent BYOB (bring your own bottle) event at a friend’s place, one of his friends got to chatting with me about the length of our whisky adventures. “I am a whisky noob,” she said. “I only started drinking whisky about three to four years ago.” When she knew that I have been drinking whisky for the past ten years, she exclaimed, “Wow! Then you must know a lot about whisky!” I said no, for there are still way too many things that I do not know. We soon moved on to other topics, but her comments stayed with me. It makes me uncomfortable because I believe that nobody is truly a whisky noob.

Getting to know Whisky is a Journey

I do not know what all of you think, but for me, drinking whisky is a learning journey. It is almost like a new friendship that I forge with someone whom I do not know. When a complete beginner starts the journey, it is likely that the person does not know what she is drinking and follows what her friends are drinking. The exploration begins that way for most of us, and we slowly but steadily move forward on our journey.

If we are lucky, we meet someone who is far advanced in his or her journey with whisky, and this person can guide us in our learning journey as a beginner. While we may not know as many things about whisky as the other person, both of us are on a trip of discovery. We are just on a different level.

Everyone learns at a Different Pace

It is hard to tell how long a person has been drinking, even if he or she is spouting tasting notes like an expert. As whisky drinkers, all of us learn at a different pace because we start at varying levels. A person could learn a lot about whisky in less than a year and improve his or her knowledge at an alarming pace while another person could be drinking whisky for ten years and still be clueless about many things.

Be Open to Try

I think being open to trying the various type of whiskies is one key factor in our learning journey. When we want to discover new things, the best way to do so is to try it. Therefore, a person who is willing to try different whiskies all the time walks along the whisky path faster than someone who is always drinking the same thing. Of course, the openness to try should be coupled with the willingness to learn from others, as well as the diligence to read some excellent whisky books.

It is also about the Passion

If you wonder why some people move faster than the others in their whisky adventures, it could also be the fact that they are more passionate about whisky. I know of someone who hates whisky for a large part of her life and then gets introduced to a whisky which suits her palate. The hate melts instantly into love, and the passion she has for whisky develops into an almost intense relationship. Her desire to learn more, the willingness to keep trying made her practically geeky to some extent. Sometimes, she scares me with the tons of questions she has. I am inspired though because her passion for the liquid gold makes me ever so keen to drink with her. We explore whiskies and discover new things together. Her enthusiasm was contagious!

Time does not always measure your knowledge of whisky

Most of us think that time measures our knowledge of whisky. To some extent, it is true for some people as they explore different whiskies all through their lives. However, it is not for some of us. A person drinking the same few brands of whiskies for the past 30 years will not know much beyond what they drink. Their knowledge is similar to someone who just started drinking whisky and sharing the love for the same few brands. Conversely, a person who is drinking whisky for five years, but have been trying different brands of whiskies, and exploring independent bottlings, will probably know more about whiskies in general. Therefore, time may measure the depth of your knowledge for one brand of whisky but does not measure the general understanding that you may have for whisky as a drink category.

Exposure to the “right” people

Just as how we should mix with the “right” people for our career, our profession and even our moral characters, exposure to the “right” group of people when drinking whisky is also a factor. It sounds slightly weird, but when we are exposed to people who know more than us about whisky in general, these people inspire us to learn more. At the same time, they guide us with their knowledge as they are more advanced in their whisky journey than us. We shorten our journey because of these beautiful people whom we call friends and learn faster because they bring us up to their advanced level by journeying with us.

Conclusion

There is not one person in this world who knows everything about whisky. There is too much to learn for one person, and everyone is an expert at some subject matter of sorts. Even the master distillers at the various distilleries have something new to learn about whisky; sometimes, they learn something new from a beginner too!

Therefore, if you are just starting out on your journey, be happy that you have someone who drinks with you. It is a beautiful journey, so enjoy it and ignore people who may call you a noob. Nobody is a noob. We are each on our journey to learn more about whisky.

鋐釀酒坊 – Home Need Wine & Spirits

鋐釀酒坊, or what is better known as HNWS in this part of the world, is a popular whisky shop in Taoyuan, Taiwan. In a small, unnoticeable shop along the street, a wealth of whisky treasures sits. Ranging from official bottling from countless Scottish distilleries to independent bottling from various independent bottlers across the world, the shop is a haven for whisky lovers.

Behind these treasures sits the man who makes the vault available and affordable for the common man. He is a veteran in the whisky industry in Taiwan, with more than 15 years of experience under his belt. His name is Tony Chiu, and today, we tell his story.

The Birth of HNWS

Tony breathes life into HNWS in September 2005 as a young man who was ready to take on the world head to head. He started his whisky journey when he joined Maxxium Taiwan (current day Edrington Taiwan) in 2001. In his four years in the company, Tony evolved from a man who doesn’t drink into a whisky lover. As his passion for whisky deepens, Tony took the plunge and opened his own whisky shop – HNWS – in Taoyuan, Taiwan.

Tony’s Adventures in the Early Days of HNWS

As an entrepreneur and a whisky lover, Tony feels that drinking whisky that one likes is more important than drinking every whisky in the market. Due to this belief, he promotes whiskies to his customers based on what they like, not what he wants to sell. His reputation as a fellow whisky lover soon reached the ears of the matured whisky market in Taiwan, and HNWS slowly but steadily becomes popular. Tony also entered the independent bottlers (IB) market, where he believes that quality whiskies existed.

The IB journey was exciting as Tony researched intensely to find high qualities products with interesting flavours profiles. The hard work paid off, and his shop becomes synonymous with good quality products. His IB journey eventually brought him into a circle of friends who love IB brands and encourage him to launch his own brand.

The launch of HNWS as an Independent Bottler

Tony took the next step forward in 2014 and launched his own independent bottler brand – HNWS. With his determination and passion, his humble shop becomes more than just a shop. It becomes a brand; an independent bottler. In the four years since he started this journey, Tony kept his initial vision for his shop in mind – to only sell good quality products. Every HNWS bottling was a quality-assured product and his fans around Taiwan and the region agree!

To make his success even more prominent, we only have to look toward the international stage to see the various awards that Tony’s bottling have won.

Malt Manics Awards (MMA)

We know that awards are further assurance that a whisky is of a good quality. Tony’s bottles have won various awards in the MMA since 2016. Considering that he only started his brand in 2014, the achievements are impressive!

2016 MMA Awards

Gold Award

Kavalan Solist Port Cask #O090615011A abv 58.6% (Chosen for his corporate client 3RD)

Silver Award

Kavalan Solist Sherry Cask for HNWS Taiwan #090608021A abv 57.8%
Glenfarclas 1990 Sherry Butt for HNWS Taiwan 10 Year Anniversary #4710 abv 54%
Douglas Laing Old Particular Laphroaig 19 Years Old for HNWS Taiwan #DL10720 abv 53.3%

Bronze Award

Strange Ways Port Charlotte 10 Years Old Madeira Cask for HNWS Taiwan #2005001572 (Chosen for his private client)
Kavalan Solist Bourbon Cask for YKE Taiwan #B080825038 abv 54% (Chosen for his corporate client)

Best Sherry Award

Kavalan Solist Sherry Cask for HNWS Taiwan #090608021A abv 57.8%

2017 MMA Award

Gold Medal and Best Peated Whisky in Premium Category
Cadenhead Ledaig 12 Years Old 2005/2017 for HNWS Taiwan’s 12thanniversary, abv 61.1%

Tony’s Cask Selection Process

When an IB is successful in a short period of time, we often wonder what its owner’s secret is. We are just as curious, so we ask Tony. It turns out that he has a strict cask selection process and he sticks to this method for every cask that he chooses. Due to the stringent process, each of HNWS bottling is a success.

Tony’s Criteria for Cask Selection

Tony is particular in his cask selection process. He believes in BALANCE, which determines his choices and leads to the “quality assured” reputation that HNWS bottlings gain over the years.

There are four “NO” in Tony’s cask selection process.

  1. NO sulphur: Too much sulphur in sherry matured whisky affects the nose and palate of the whisky and could also lead to a less than desirable finish. Such influences reduce the original profile of the whisky. Of course, there is an exception when a little bit of sulphur can improve the whisky.
  2. NO overwhelming sweetness: When a whisky is too sweet, it influences the finish of the whisky. Tony believes that the finish in a whisky is enticing; having an overwhelming sweetness that influences the finish is a big no-no.
  3. NO extreme oakiness: Oakiness, or what we call the astringent note in a whisky comes from the cask itself and the liquid from before. When a whisky is extremely oaky, it could mean that it has over-aged in the cask or the cask was not suitable for maturation in the first place. That denotes a whisky that is not at its optimal. An over-aged whisky tends to retain a strong bite on the tongue and affects the drinker’s ability to taste the whisky properly.
  4. NO overwhelming bitterness: This is mostly a problem with sherry casks. The sweetness sometimes turns bitter and create an unpleasant experience. Bitterness is split into the bitterness of medicine and the bitterness of a charred cask. Too much of either is bad.

One Final Consideration for Cask Selection is…

These four points lead back to one big consideration – BALANCE.

A balanced whisky is one which changes over time. This is Tony’s standards for his cask selection. When he is making a choice, he often asks himself many questions in order to answer all of the above. However, one vital question is not included above. That important question is “How much do I like this whisky?” While everyone’s preferences are different, he makes use of his 17 years of experience to determine the best flavour profile that his patrons love best.

Recent HNWS Bottling

Tony visits Scotland yearly to source for casks to bottle under the HNWS brands. Some of his recent bottlings include the Flight and Feathers Series – a collaboration between HNWS and a Taiwan photographer. Here are some pictures of the HNWS bottles.

Flight and Feather Series 3 – High Coast (Box) 2012 5 Years Old

Picture taken from www.spiritscastle.sg

High Coast Distillery (formerly known as Box) is a Swedish boutique distillery in the Northern part of Sweden. Tony bottled this expression from a 40 litres cask, which yields only 63 bottles. It is precious considering its status as a single cask and the limited number of bottles available. What makes it more valuable is the HNWS logo on it.

Flight and Feathers Series 4 – Speyside 1995 23 Years Old

Picture taken from www.spiritscastle.sg

We did a review for the Speyside 1995, which is from Speyside Distillery, and definitely not a secret Speyside bottle. This bottle is special because it was finished in a Caol Ila cask! How unusual is that?! If you want to know how it tastes, follow this link.

Flight and Feathers Series 5 – A Kilbride Distillery 1989 28 Years Old

Picture from HNWS

This mysterious bottle is an undisclosed Laphroaig matured in a bourbon cask for 28 years old. In order not to spend unnecessary money to buy the rights to use the distillery’s name (it will push final cost higher for customers), Tony uses his creativity to find an alternative name for his bottling. The Kilbride Dam is the water source for Laphroaig, and hence, “A Kilbride Distillery” is a fitting name for this bottle.

Future bottlings

With HNWS’ anniversary coming up, we are looking forward to more bottling from HNWS in the coming month. Watch this space if you want to have the first dips on what HNWS is coming up with!

 

Like what you have just read?

Join WhiskyGeeks.sg as a member for FREE and receive our curated articles and videos in your mailbox every month!





[recaptcha]

New Whisky Bar – Tipple and Dram

 

Have you heard from Tipple and Dram Bar? Located at 24 Ann Siang Road, the appearance is that of a wine bar when you first walk into the bright and cheery place with rows upon rows of wine. However, if you go down the stairs to the basement, you walk into a completely different place. Tipple and Dram Bar hides its whisky bar from view, which gave it an air of secrecy and a sense of cosiness when you sip a dram there.

Visiting the “Underground Whisky Bar”

Once you step off the staircase and around the corner, there is a big table with armchairs just inviting you to lounge in them with a Glencairn glass in hand. Continue to walk in, and you will find another table and armchairs to your right, and the bar right in front of you!

Behind the bar, there is yet another table and armchairs just waiting for whisky lovers. If you are not in a big group, the best place to sit is, of course, at the bar. You get a full view of the bottles, and you can just pick the bottles that you want by looking instead of using the menu!

Whisky Selection at Tipple and Dram

Tipple and Dram Bar has a wide selection of special official distillery bottling on offer by the dram. Think of special releases like the Laphroaig Cairdeas (meant only for Friends of Laphroaig) and Bowmore Islay Festival bottling (the bar has an entire range from 2014 to 2017). There are also a series of Cadenhead bottlings to whet the appetite of those who prefer independent bottling.

Geek Choc had a couple of drams from Islay – a Bowmore Islay Festival 2014 and the Laphroaig Brodir. I had an Edradour Fairy Place and a Cadenhead Bladnoch. Our friend, Fab, who went along with us despite a tiring day, comforted himself with a Cadenhead Cragganmore. While we did not get to try a lot of whisky due to time, the drams we had were excellent.

Food at Tipple and Dram

We cannot have this post without talking about the bar food available. We ordered a “Half Half Platter”, which consisted of some hams and cheese.

These were some of the best hams and cheeses I had, especially the cheeses! The French Brie was my favourite as it was incredibly creamy with a super soft and smooth texture. I like the spicy salami as well. The spiciness is well-balanced and pairs well with whisky.

Then, there is the complimentary bread bowl. Flora loves French pastries so you can imagine her excitement at the sight of the bread bowl! Hahaha…The bread complimented the cheese beautifully!

 

What We Hope to See in Future

Tipple and Dram is a very new bar with barely just two months in operation. There is room for improvement definitely, such as leaving the whisky bottle with the customer for a short while so that we can take a picture. It is unfortunate that we only managed one picture of the whisky bottles, but seeing that it is our first time at the bar, we did not wish to encroach on their policies of not having bottles at the bar too.

The selection is broad but not extensive. There is also room for improvement on this one, but the current collection is enough to please a whisky drinker who loves to try the special releases from official distillery bottlings. We understand from the bar manager, Chris, that more will come shortly. They are also working hard to make the whisky bar a haven for everyone to relax and enjoy a dram!

We look forward to seeing whisky flights and more whisky selections at Tipple and Dram. For now, we encourage you to visit them and see the place and the fantastic offer of special distillery bottling that they have available by the glass.

Does the alcohol contents (ABV) really matters?

When whisky nerds get together, sensitive topics that hold dear to our hearts can sometimes be raised and debated. These sessions can get rather heated if not controlled, and more often than not, we agree to disagree with one another. A recent whisky event held at a bar raise this question between Geek Choc and me, and hence the debate began.

What does the ABV do to the whisky?

ABV, or alcohol by volume, is the measurement of alcoholic content within a beverage. In the simplest of terms, I would describe the effects of abv as creating a fuller picture of the whisky. There are more flavours; the whisky is more complex and robust when the abv is above a certain value. The optimal abv for each person varies, as it depends on how far the person has journeyed in his whisky adventures.

The Classic Debate

It appears that the classic debate amongst whisky drinkers is often the abv of a bottle. What constitutes a high abv? Some of us may have heard people saying, “Less than 50% abv, cannot drink lah!” Others may rebut and say, “60% abv? You might as well drink ethanol la!”

In an attempt to understand the debate, Geek Choc and I studied the effects of drinking high abv whisky (above 50% abv) and lower abv whisky (49.9% and below) by judging how our noses and palates react to the whisky. Over the course of a few weeks, we drank whiskies that were 40%, 43%, 46%, 50%, 55.7% and 60%. We also take into consideration the type of cask used for maturation as well as the age of the whiskies.

Here’s what we discovered.

It is not about the abv all the time

It’s true. The profile of a whisky does not depend on the abv all the time. While the abv does affect the nose and taste of the whisky, the production methods play a more vital role in the profile. Not all 40% whisky is under the “cannot drink”  category, and not all 50% and above whisky are pleasant too. At the end of the day, it really depends on where the person is in his drinking journey and also the experience of the particular drinking session that he is after.

Cask influence is more crucial

Our conclusion is that cask influence is a more crucial element than the abv itself. The cask plays an integral part of whisky maturation, and the flavours imparted from the cask to the whisky determine the final product. An ex-bourbon matured whisky differs from an ex-sherry matured expression; the same goes for those matured in other types of casks. For example, a 46% abv ex-bourbon matured whisky may not taste as good to me as a 40% ex-sherry matured whisky because the flavours from the cask are different. The body and character of the individual liquid help to determine the final profile of the whisky, not the abv.

Light-bodied whisky is perfect for blending

This seems like an off-topic but no, I am still on the topic. We discovered at a light, ex-bourbon whisky of about 46% is perfect for blending. The medium abv coupled with a light-bodied character accepts the addition of a more flavourful and yet lower abv whisky easily, making a new, robust whisky that has an abv of an in-between. We blended a Scotch (46%) with a Taiwanese whisky (40%) and the blend is better than either of the single malts. Well, maybe it only tasted better to us, but the idea is there! Therefore, it is not true to say that a whisky with a standard abv is a weak or bad whisky.

Taste is subjective

Finally, I want to say that taste is subjective. While one low abv whisky may taste bad to you, it does not mean that every low abv whisky will taste bad. Be open, and explore the world of whisky. Try not to turn up your nose at a whisky that is 40%, but try it. You never know when you may like one! The same goes for high abv whisky – not every one of them is nice. I had tried some really horrid ones to be sure!

I hope this article sits well with all of you. I know some of you may disagree, but we can always discuss it in details again! 😀 May all of us get to drink as much as whisky as we want!

 

Like what you have just read?

Join WhiskyGeeks.sg as a member for FREE and receive our curated articles and videos in your mailbox every month!





[recaptcha]