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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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Bar Feature: The Wall SG @ Tanjong Pagar

View of The Wall Bar

The bar scene in Singapore is vibrant, and many new bars are popping up almost everywhere in Singapore. While most of the bars serve all kinds of alcohol, some distinctive bars are serving mostly whisky and whisky cocktails. We have featured Quaich Bar – the first whisky bar in Singapore and The Single Cask – one of the cosiest whisky bar ever. Today, we want to present to you, one of our newer bars in Singapore – The Wall SG.

Introduction to The Wall

The Wall is an interesting name for a bar, don’t you think so? It is a quaint, bespoke bar nestled in the shophouses along Tanjong Pagar Road. Operations of the bar started on 31 December 2016, and it celebrated its first year anniversary just some weeks ago!

Jeremie Tan, the bar manager of The Wall, is not an unknown person in the industry. He started bartending at a young age back in 2002 and got into the whisky scene as early as 2005. His passion for whisky grew, and so did his collection. By the time he was headhunted by The Wall to work as their bar manager, he already has an impressive whisky collection.

The Wall and its history

The Wall may not have a long history, but it has a fantastic story to tell. An import-export company called Hao Fung International, who has a considerable presence in China, Hong Kong and Macau opened it. Hao Fung International imports and exports high-end whiskies (especially from Japan) as well as 100-pointers wine. They have retail shops in China, Hong Kong and Macau as well as a presence in most of the popular alcohol fairs in these areas.

One of the reasons for opening The Wall was because the boss ran out of storage space from his Singapore warehouse and decided that he has a large enough collection to start a bar. With that in mind, he hunted for an excellent location and came upon the shophouses along Tanjong Pagar Road. Wanting to protect his assets that he wants to leave in the bar, he bought the whole unit instead of renting because he did not want the landlords to step into the bar as an owner at all.

With the location set up, The Wall is ready to hire a capable and knowledge bar manager to handle it. That’s where Jeremie comes in. Headhunted from a local restaurant, he set up shop for The Wall and has not looked back since.

The Whiskies available at The Wall

Jeremie Tan behind the bar

Here’s Jeremie, beaming happily behind the bar as we chat about the whiskies that are available at The Wall. As you could see in the picture, there is a row of Ardbeg, and hiding behind Jeremie, is a row of Laphroiag. Besides these, there is a prominent row of SMWS bottles.

Yes, The Wall is the second SMWS bar in Singapore, after The Single Cask. 2018 is the start of their showcase for SMWS bottles. So now, you know another place where you can enjoy some SMWS bottlings. Amongst the bottles in the bar, you can also find Taiwanese independent bottler – S Spirit Shop Collection as well as German independent bottler – Sansibar. Here’s a range of S Spirit Shop Collection that WhiskyGeeks got to try.

S Spirit Shop Collection

If the unique labels attract you, you are not alone! We love them too! These whiskies are affordable and very well suited for the Asian palate. Soft, elegant and gentle are three words to describe these whiskies. We are sure most ladies and whisky beginners will love these whiskies! Do note that these whiskies are Scotch, but S Spirit Shop bottles them.

For the robust whisky lovers, there are always the Scotch and the Japanese whiskies that appeal to you. In the bar, there are various famous Japanese whiskies such as the Yamazaki 18 Years Old. (They have the most substantial number of Yama18 in Singapore! Latest amount is more than 150 bottles). There is also a variety of Chichibus and Nikkas. If you are wondering if they have the Yama 18 Mizunara, the answer is YES!

Rare Whiskies on Display

The Wall has a range of exceptional whiskies on display. These are personal collections of the boss, but customers who are interested in buying can inquire within. Nestled within the wall of the staircase to the second floor of the bar, there is a window which is known as the “Million Dollar Window.”

The Million Dollar Window

The bottles inside this window are worth millions, hence the name. Jeremie shared that there were more previously, but some bottles were sold earlier in 2017.

On the second floor, there are also various rare bottles which are personal collections of the boss. We took some photos.

Rows upon rows of rare bottles

 

Hibiki

As you can see, there are so many good-quality bottles available at The Wall. It is a beautiful place where whisky lovers can attain whisky heaven quite easily!

Plans for 2018

The Wall has many exciting plans for 2018. Besides their collaboration with SMWS, Jeremie shared that The Wall is also tying up with Sansibar and S Spirit Shop to bring more decadent whiskies to the bar. We can expect more good bottles are coming our way this year!

They are also introducing a new idea called “The Whisky Passport”. Acting like a real passport, the whisky passport is a way to document the different whiskies which customers have tried at the bar. There will be around 50 to 60 whiskies in the passport, all of them available at the bar. The price range for these whiskies is kept affordable, from $14 to around $100 a dram. Every time a customer tries a new whisky in the passport, Jeremie or one of his co-workers at the bar will stamp the passport, documenting that the customer has tried the whisky. When the passport is completed, the customer gains a spot of their hall of fame and can choose to keep the passport at the bar or to bring it home. It is a journey or a tour perhaps, and one that helps the customer to understand whisky better.

There is no time frame or expiry date to complete the passport, and all you have to do is order three drams at the bar to get started with the passport. It sounds like an exciting way to try whiskies, isn’t it? Hop down to The Wall to get your passport soon!

Location Details

We believe that it is vital that you know how to get there, so here’s the address of the bar.

The Wall SG: 76 Tanjong Pagar Road Singapore 088497

Directions:

By car: The nearest car park is the parallel parking available right out the bar along Tanjong Pagar Road, but it is often full due to the sheer number of Korean restaurants along the same road. What you can do is drive to Duxton Hill, and park at the open-air carpark before taking a short walk back to the bar.

By Grab/Uber: Watch out for the signage of The Wall when you are near. You should be able to spot it easily.

By Bus: Take bus 80 or 145 and get off one stop after Tanjong Pagar Plaza. The Wall is almost just right at the bus stop.

By MRT: Get off at Tanjong Pagar MRT, and walk towards Tanjong Pagar Road. Cross the road to the hawker centre/wet market and walk towards the shophouses. You will find The Wall easily.

Have fun at The Wall!

 

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