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Five Whisky Bars in Singapore that WhiskyGeeks recommends

 

Some of our readers asked if we have a favourite whisky bar to go to in Singapore, while others asked for recommendations of the whisky bars that we frequented. We thought that instead of answering them one by one, we would do a little post to answer all these questions. 😀

As many of you already know, the whisky bar scene in Singapore is getting more and more crowded for a small country. As the number of whisky drinkers increases, the whisky bars popping up in Singapore are growing too. However, some of these bars may not always make the mark for a whisky lover.

WhiskyGeeks do not profused to visit all the whisky bars in Singapore, but this is something that we will try to do now and then this year. It is a perfect time to have an article on whisky bars in Singapore since our readers are asking and it is also the next article after our first bar feature.

Without further ado, let us start the journey then! Please note that we list the bars in alphabetical order.

 

Quaich Bar

Picture Credits: Quaich Bar South Beach

Quaich Bar is the oldest whisky bar in Singapore, having celebrated its 10th years anniversary in 2017. They have a fantastic history and one which you can easily find out more in our interview with the owner, Khoon Hui.

Quaich Bar has two locations. Their flagship store is over at the Waterfront Plaza, besides the Grand Copthorne Waterfront Hotel. The second bar is at the newly openly South Beach Avenue. Both bars offer whisky lovers a considerable choice of whiskies from Scotland as well as new world whiskies from South Africa and India.

Address: 

Quaich Bar Waterfront Plaza: 390A Havelock Road, Waterfront Plaza, #01-09/10, Singapore 169663

Quaich Bar South Beach Avenue: 30 Beach Road, #01-16, Singapore 189763

The Auld Alliance

The Auld Alliance (AA) impress us with its pure opulence of the place. Decorated like a grand British library of a wealthy man, the AA is the perfect place to wind down. In this bar, you find exquisite whiskies from official bottlings to independent bottlings. As the AA also bottles whiskies under its name, you will find a range of whisky that is bottled for the AA.

One of the most memorable dram that Geek Flora had in the AA was their bottling of a LittleMill. If you happened to be in the vicinity, you should visit the AA for a dram or two.

Address:

9 Bras Basah Road, RendezVous Hotel Gallery, #02-02A Singapore 189559

The Single Cask

 

The Single Cask, or TSC for short, is a cosy, little bar hidden in the corner of Chijmes. Brendan, the bar manager, runs the show with his trusty cocktail expert, Ronin. TSC offers you a home away from home with its cosy decorations and friendly bartenders. You wouldn’t go wrong if you pop by TSC for a dram or two after work because the bar offers comforting whiskies all around. What is unique about TSC is the fact that they are an independent bottler. The eye-catching square bottles that hold the golden nectar bottled by TSC are quite a sight to behold because they are going to challenge how you think whisky bottles should look like! Besides a massive range of independent bottling, TSC also offers up a killer menu of cocktails made by Ronin! If you are a cocktail lover, you need to head over too!

Besides, TSC is also an SMWS (Scotch Malt Whisky Association) bar so if you are keen to find out more about SMWS, chat with Brendan!

Address:

30 Victoria Street, Chijmes Caldwell House #01-25, Singapore 187996

The Wall SG

 

We featured The Wall SG in our monthly newsletter for January, and if you have yet to read the article, you can find it here. Jeremie Tan runs the show here together with his colleagues to provide not just whisky, but also food pairing. The kitchen packs a punch here, and if you are looking for a bar with REAL food, The Wall is your perfect place to go! This bar showcases an amazing range of Japanese whiskies as well as a healthy range of Taiwanese independent bottlings of Scotch. Jeremie is also a friendly guy who will ensure that you are super comfortable whenever you are in his bar! There are also exciting new events coming up for The Wall, so do check out the bar feature post for more details!

Address: 

76, Tanjong Pagar Road, Singapore 088497

The Writing Club

The Writing Club is one of the newest whisky bars in town, and we were invited to their closed-doors Christmas party last December. A posh bar with British decorations and super friendly bartenders, you can find a welcoming troop here! The bar offers a range of whiskies that is bound to please. There are the regular official bottlings, and then there are the rarer bottles from mothballed distilleries. The bar also serves up fantastic cocktails that wouldn’t let you down!

The bar owner, Soo San, also acquired some special expressions from Taiwanese independent bottlers, so if you are looking for something different, head down to The Writing Club!

Address: 

390 Orchard Road, #02-10, Singapore 238871

Some last thoughts…

While the above five bars are some of those which we go to most often, WhiskyGeeks is planning to visit new bars soon. We encourage our readers to try out new bars if you are still not sure of the whisky profile that you like. It is a better option to try whisky at a bar to decide if you want it instead of paying for a bottle only to realise that you do not fancy the taste profile.

That’s all for now, folks! Until the next time!

 

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    Whisky Review #48 – Bunnahabhain 12 Years (Quaich Bar)

    Bunnahabhain is a unique distillery located on the northeast tip of Islay. It is the only distillery on Islay that produces largely unpeated whisky. Due to the isolated location of Bunnahabhain, it earns a saying that goes like this: “You can take a trip to Islay, but it’s a journey to reach Bunnahabhain”. True to this saying, it is not easy to travel to Bunnahabhain as access is often limited to water passageway. The main road leading to the distillery was open only in 1993.

    The object of this review is a Bunnahabhain 12 years old. Unlike the official bottling of the 12 years old, this one is from a single cask. It is also bottled at cask strength of 55.5% abv. This liquid matured for 12 full years in an ex-oloroso sherry cask before it was bottled for Quaich Bar. The single cask yields 332 bottles.

    Let’s check out how it measures up!

    Tasting Notes:

    Colour: Amber
    ABV: 55.5%

    Nose: The deep sherried notes wafts up to the nose immediately that translate into caramel quickly. Soft oak and some smoke appear after nosing it for a while. The sweetness of the liquid blends well with the slight smoke to create a pleasant nose. (18/20)

    Palate: Sweet and slightly smoky with rich, dried cranberry with the first mouth. Caramel, chocolate and oaky richness appear shortly. Vanilla notes become pronounced at the end. (18/20)

    Finish: Long finish with notes of vanilla and dried cranberry and a light pinch of salt. The salt is a little pleasant surprise as it seems to complete the whole experience of an Islay whisky. (18/20)

    Body: Full-bodied sherry whisky with a balanced nose and palate. The slightly salted finish is also a great addition to make it a signature Islay whisky. (34/40)

    Total Score: 88/100

    Comments:

    Geek Choc: “This is a beautiful expression of the Bunnahabhain 12 years. Coming from a single ex-oloroso sherry cask, the flavours are pronounced. I am definitely buying more than 1 bottle of this whisky!”

     

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      Whisky Review #47 – Deanston 14 Years Old (Quaich Bar)

      Deanston has an interesting history. Established in 1785 as the Deanston Cotton Mill, it was responsible for employing 1500 people. A self-contained village formed as the mill flourished, with buildings that survived up to today. During the Napoleonic wars, the village even had its own currency called “Deanstons”.

      Deanston Cotton Mill closed in 1965 but it was not the end. A joint effort by James Finlay & Co, Brodie Hepburn & Co, and A.B (Sandy) Grant converted the mill into a distillery. Known as the Deanston Distillers Ltd, these guys instilled new life into the defunct cotton mill.

      Deanston distillery officially opened in January 1967 and started bottling in 1971. Deanston was largely used for blends at first. Invergordon Distillers purchased Deanston in 1972 and bottled its first single malt in 1974 bearing the name Deanston. In the years of low demand, Deanston was closed for 8 years from 1982 to 1990. It was bought by current owners Burn Stewart Distillers Limited (part of Distell Group Limited) in 1990 and production starts again.

      The object of this review is a special release by Deanston as an in-house bottle. This means that the bottle is available only at the distillery. The friendship between Quaich Bar Singapore and Distell translates into the availability of 200 bottles of this expression in Singapore.

      Let’s dive into the tasting notes now.

      Tasting Notes:

      Colour: Soft Gold
      ABV: 57.9%

      Nose: The nose is a pleasant surprise. At 57.9% abv, the expected nose is spice, but what wafts into the nose is light and fruity with a slight grassy note. Honeyed notes appear after a while, giving the nose a slight sweetness. Spice lingers pleasantly in the background. (17/20)

      Palate: Honeyed notes settled in the palate immediately with light, fruity notes of green apples. Gentle spice combines perfectly with the sweet honeyed notes to create an immensely pleasant palate. (18/20)

      Finish: Medium to long finish with green fruits and pleasant spice lingering in the mouth. (18/20)

      Body: Light and well-balanced whisky! It is a pleasant and easy to drink whisky even at its high abv. The appeal of the whisky is heightened by the contrast of high abv and gentle spice. Definitely a worthy dram! (34/40)

      Total Score: 87 / 100

      Comments:

      Geek Flora: “I love this expression. The brandy finish has given the whisky the unique character of being light and fruity despite the high abv. The fact that the spice is gentle and soft is also a big selling point for me. I am keeping at least 2 bottles of this, if not more.”

       

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        Media Event: Quaich Bar launched Deanston 14 Years and Bunnahabhain 12 Years

        Quiach Bar and Distell invited WhiskyGeeks for a media launch of Quaich Bar’s Deanston 14 Years old and Bunnahabhain 12 Years old Single Cask on 4 October.

        Mr Steve Campbell, the retired Managing Director of Distell’s Asia Pacific invited us to taste 4 different whiskies. They were Deanston 12 years old, Deanston 14 years old (Quaich Bar’s special), Bunnahabhain 12 years old and Bunnahabhain 12 years old Single Cask (Quaich Bar’s special).

        Deanston 14 Years Old (Quaich Bar special)

        Deanston 14 years old matured in refill whisky casks for 9 years before it was finished in Spanish brandy butts for 5 years. As a Highland whisky, it is an easy dram to drink with pleasant honeyed notes even at a high abv of 57.9%. Deanston 14 years old is usually only available at the distillery. The first batch sold out quickly five years old. The current expression at Quaich Bar is the second batch. 1664 bottles are produced in this batch. 200 bottles are available at Quaich Bar with a bespoke label just for its 10th anniversary while the rest are available only at Deanston distillery. With a history such as this, it is no wonder that this bottle is definitely going to be precious to every whisky lover in Singapore.

        Bunnahabhain 12 Years Old Single Cask (Quaich Bar special)

        Bunnahabhain is an interesting distillery. Located in the northern part of Islay, it is the only distillery in the region to produce mostly unpeated whisky. The 12 years old Single Cask is bottled at cask strength of 55.5%. The expression matured in an ex-oloroso sherry cask for 12 years before getting bottled for Quaich Bar. The single cask yields only 332 bottles of this precious malt. The uniqueness of this liquid gold coupled with its status as the only Bunnahabhain bottled for Singapore makes it extra special.

        Quaich Bar X Distell

        Quaich Bar is Singapore’s first whisky bar and has won awards internationally. In the past 10 years, Distell and Quaich Bar has forged a strong friendship. Distell’s full malt profile is available at the bar. Deanston, Bunnahabhain, Tobermory, Ledaig, as well as South African whisky Three Ships and Bains Cape Mountain Whisky, are all part of the profile.

        Exclusive Interview with Khoon Hui, owner of Quaich Bar

        WhiskyGeeks is on the roll! After an exclusive interview with Bar Manager of The Single Cask, we are now back with another exclusive interview. This time, we spoke to Khoon Hui, owner of Quaich Bar.

        We spoke on many things, but Khoon Hui’s journey as a bar owner is one which truly inspires us. The story of Quaich Bar did not start with the bar’s existence, but some years before that. Here’s a lowdown of what we find out about this exquisite bar in Singapore.

        Khoon Hui is an ex-auditor. Yes, he was one of those scary auditors who come around to companies to nose if there is some hanky-panky in the accounts once a year. Khoon Hui got tired of being the bad guy, and he thought that having a cafe or a bar might turn him into someone more welcoming. So, in 2002, Khoon Hui and his wife, Joyce, left their jobs and started their own business.

        Khoon Hui and Joyce thought hard about what they wanted to do and finally decided on a cafe and bar. They leased a place in Winsland House and started their entrepreneur journey. For the next three years, Khoon Hui and Joyce poured all their efforts into their business and discovered that their bar was doing so much better than the cafe. Before they could change the direction of their business, they got to know someone who was working in the Bowmore Distillery in Scotland. This person introduced them to the world of single malts. It was that defining moment that Khoon Hui and Joyce decided that they have found their direction.

        The couple took one of the biggest business risks that they had taken at that point of time and travelled to Scotland to learn more about whisky. They visited big and small distilleries to discover the secrets of whisky-making. Along the way, they also learned how to identify good whiskies when they taste it.

        The Scottish journey started the predecessor of Quaich Bar. Khoon Hui and Joyce set up their first whisky venture in the form of a pushcart in Tanglin in 2005. They called their shop, “The Whisky Store”. After a year, they moved to Cairnhill where they continued the same operative model.

        In 2007, the couple decided to scale up the business. With their experience in running a bar, they decided to set up their very first whisky bar. They moved into the premises at Waterfront Plaza (located at Grand Copthorne Waterfront Hotel), where they set the standard of whisky bars in Singapore till this very day. In fact, Quaich Bar has been recognised by The Whisky Magazine to be a “Great Whisky Bar of The World” for their outstanding presentation, promotion and knowledge of great whiskies from around the world.

        Quaich Bar is celebrating their 10 years anniversary this month. Weekly events have been arranged for the next one month and everyone is invited to join in the fun! More details about the anniversary can be found here.

        Khoon Hui and Joyce also set up another branch of Quaich Bar at South Beach, the newly built office tower opposite Suntec City. They have another bar, named Cask 81, in Myanmar too!

        Khoon Hui’s Idea of the Modern Whisky Industry

        WhiskyGeeks decided to pick Khoon Hui’s brain about the whisky industry since he is an experienced bar owner in Singapore. We asked him how the whisky industry has changed from 10 years ago when he first started his journey. He frankly told us that 10 years ago, it was easy to buy whiskies but hard to get people to try. In modern times, the challenge has swapped. Now it is easy to get people to try, but hard to convince the distilleries to sell the whiskies. This is especially true for the smaller distilleries as they do not produce enough volume to sell to everyone who wants to buy their whiskies. At the same time, the big boys such as Glenlivet and Glenfiddich demand large contracts that smaller bars may not be able to afford.

        Khoon Hui’s single wish for the Singapore Whisky Market

        We ended our interesting interview with Khoon Hui by asking him what his wish for the Singapore whisky market is. He said,”I wish for more whisky bars to open in Singapore so that whisky drinkers have a wider variety to try. It is only through our collaborative efforts as whisky bars that we can encourage more people to understand this wonderful drink we call whisky.”

        Wow, what a wonderful sentiment! We certainly hope for that too.

        Whisky Events in Singapore: Quaich Bar 10th Anniversary Celebration

        Quaich Bar 10th Anniversary Celebrations

        Quaich Bar Singapore is celebrating their 10th Year Anniversary this September! To celebrate this awesome milestone, Quaich Bar partnered various whisky distilleries to bottle special expressions for the Singapore market.

        From this week until the end of the year, a total of 6 new bottles from 5 different distilleries and 1 independent bottler will be showcased. All of them are selected single cask bottlings that are only made available here. Each expression is a limited edition.

        The 6 bottles are as follows:

        1. Tomatin 1983
        2. Springbank 17 Years Old
        3. Bunnahabhain 12 Years Old
        4. Deanston 14 Years Old Spanish Oak
        5. Tomintoul 1977 (Details to be announced)
        6. Cadenhead (Details to be announced)

        All 6 bottles will have their own individual tasting sessions as a way to introduce them to Singapore whisky drinkers. An exciting lineup including master classes and chit-chat sessions with the distillery representatives are arranged to make the most out of the 3 months long celebration.

        Details for the various Tasting Sessions and the Anniversary party:

        1. 13 Sept 2017 – Tasting Session for Tomatin 1983

          Graham Eunson, Tomatin’s distillery General Manager will grace the event to officially introduce this special expression. He will be hosting a master class at Quaich Bar South Beach from 7-8pm before going to Quaich Bar Waterfront Plaza (at Hotel Grand Copthorne) for an intimate chit-chat session with the guests.

        2. 18 – 19 Sept 2017 – Tasting Session for Springbank 17 Years Old

          The tasting sessions are held over 2 days for Springbank 17 Years Old. Quaich Bar South Beach is hosting the session on 18 Sept 2017 while Quaich Bar Waterfront Plaza takes its turn on 19 Sept 2017. An interesting detail for the Springbank is the fact that the cask belongs to an investor of Springbank and Quaich Bar’s owner, Mr Khoon Hui, persuaded the investor to sell him half of the cask. Therefore, this expression is especially precious!

        3. 25 – 26 Sept 2017 – Anniversary Party

          We look forward to the Anniversary party on 25 – 26 Sept 2017 as Quaich Bar opens its doors to welcome all its members and supporters from the public. They are keeping a little secret here over what is going to happen at their party. We heard it is going to be pretty awesome, so keep the dates free and head down to Quaich Bar for a great time! The party is hosted at Quaich Bar South Beach on 25th Sept 2017 and Quaich Bar Waterfront Plaza on 26th Sept 2017.

        4. 2 – 3 Oct 2017 – Tasting Session for Bunnahabhain 12 Years Old

          After the party, there are more tasting sessions to attend! Bunnahabhain 12 Years Old will be introduced to the public over 2 days as well. Steve Campbell, the managing director of Burns Stewart (who owns Bunnahabhain) is gracing both sessions. Again, the tasting sessions are split with 3 Oct 2017 at Quaich Bar South Beach and 4 Oct 2017 at Quaich Bar Waterfront Plaza.

        5. 5 Oct 2017 – Dinner with Steve Campbell and Tasting Session for Deanston 14 Years Old Spanish Oak

          This event is especially interesting because you get to eat and drink with Steve Campbell. The event is held at Pimpan by FOC in Orchard. Deanston 14 Years Old Spanish Oak will be introduced to the guests during the dinner. More details will be announced by Quaich Bar and WhiskyGeeks once the details are firmed up. Keep checking back for more!

        6. Tasting Sessions for Tomintoul 1977 and Cadenhead

          As the details for both tasting sessions are still in progress, we are unable to post the exact dates. What we know is that both expressions will be released sometime at the end of the year. Once we get the details, we will announce the dates on WhiskyGeeks!

        All the events listed above are priced at $30/pax for non-members. For Quaich Bar members, entry is free.

        Quaich Bar Membership

        If you are wondering how you can become a member of Quaich Bar and enjoy all the wonderful events for free, here’s how.

        Spend a total of $800 and above with a maximum purchase of 2 bottles and you can become a member! It is that easy! Not only do you get to taste 2 exceptional bottles, you get access to members benefits too! You can keep the bottles at the bar so that you don’t have to carry them home. Interested parties can head down to Quaich Bar for more inquiries!