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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    Chloe Wood – Bruichladdich’s Brand Ambassador

    Chloe with her bottle of Laddie Valinch 28

    Chloe Wood – the new brand ambassador from Bruichladdich, made waves in Singapore even before she arrived when news of her joining the Singapore team was released officially sometime last year. The community is excited to meet a young lady who has so much knowledge about the brand and who grows up in Islay. Everyone knew that Chloe has much to share with us about Bruichladdich and what they do.

    Fast forward to WhiskyLive Singapore 2017 in November last year – Chloe was there to lead the Masterclass for Octomore. We were there as well and got to know Chloe very quickly. Her friendly manners got all of us high and jolly (well, the Octomores played a part too) and we had a wonderful time with her.  We also learnt so much about Octomores from Chloe!

    We invited Chloe for an interview with WhiskyGeeks and finally got a chance to sit down with her sometime in mid-December at her office for a chat.

    Introducing Chloe Wood

    Chloe at Islay (Picture Credits)

    For a start, allow us to introduce Chloe Wood. She is Islay-born, and have grown up in Islay for much of her life. Chloe is into sports, and is a qualified coach in hockey, rugby, football, badminton and swimming! She was also a certified lifeguard before working with Bruichladdich. As a child, Chloe was not introduced to the whisky scene and never had much connection with whisky. However, she knows that whisky is part of life in Islay and as she grew up, her interests grew as well. As Chloe wasn’t keen to attend university, she escaped with a diploma and headed straight for work. When the job came up at Bruichladdich “Laddie Shop”, she jumped at the chance to join the big family.

    The Laddie Shop opened the world of whisky to Chloe. Her daily interaction with customers, her co-workers and the occasional chat with whisky legend, Jim McEwan, all gave her knowledge and grew her passion for whisky. Chloe did not look back since, and she is now four years with the company with much to give back.

    The Wood Family

    As an only child, Chloe is close with her cousins, who also works with Bruichladdich. Her family is deeply involved with Islay and Bruichladdich to be sure. Her grandfather owns Octofad Farm, which is part of the Bruichladdich family too. Her dad, Andrew Wood, who is in the construction business, built grain sheds on the farm in 2008/2009 to hold and dry the barley that the farmers are producing for Bruichladdich, and now, the operation has grown. Octofad Farm dried all the Islay barley used in the distillation at Bruichladdich. “30 tonnes of barley takes 12 hours to dry”, Chloe said.

    Chloe’s mum, on the other hand, runs a B&B on Islay. There are always Bruichladdich fans staying at the B&B, so the Wood family is consistently in touch with whisky and Bruichladdich.

    Working with Bruichladdich as a host in the Academy

    Chloe worked for The Laddie Shop for about a year and a half before she transferred to a role in the Academy. As a host in the Academy, she led educational tours for staff, distributors and wholesalers. Her vast knowledge in the brands came largely from her role as an educator. In the Academy, the host led highly-detailed tours for three tracks – Bruichladdich, Botanist and Remy Cointreau’s brands. As the educator for the Bruichladdich track, Chloe shared that the tours included visits to the barley fields and water source, an experience to cut peat and of course the distillery tour with a chance to taste whisky from the warehouses. It ended with a tasting session of the Bruichladdich’s core range of whiskies. The whole event takes place over two days.

    Unfortunately, it is only for staff, distributors and wholesalers. Visitors to the distillery can politely request to see the water source, but it is up to the distillery’s discretion to bring the visitors. If the weather is foul, it is likely not possible to hike to the water source.

    Bruichladdich Cask Sales

    Up until 2011, Bruichladdich sells casks to its fans and help them to store the whisky in their warehouse for a fee. There were over 4000 cask owners by the time the cask sales stopped. In 2001, each cask cost about £400 and the price increased to £1000 by 2011. The cost to store the whisky was growing, and Bruichladdich was finding it more difficult to upkeep the sales portion as there are just too many cask owners. Therefore, they stopped the programme in 2011.

    Funny Stories from Chloe’s days as an International Tour Guide

    Chloe worked as an international tour guide for Bruichladdich as well and hosted overseas visitors for distillery tours. One of the funniest stories that she remembered was the one time where she brought a group of huge, Swedish men around the warehouse, and she made the mistake of saying, “Well, if you can lift any of the casks in the warehouse, it is yours to bring home!” She was confident in her knowledge that the hogsheads and barrels in the warehouse were too heavy for a single man to lift. Unfortunately, one of the Swedish men found a small cask hiding in between the big guys. The small barrel is only 35 litres, and he lifted it easily! “I am bringing this home, Chloe!” Hollered the man jokingly.

    Chloe was so stunned that she did not know what to do for a moment. Thankfully, the men did not get rowdy and put the cask down quite willingly after she promised to give them an extra dram during the tasting session. What an adventure!

    A typical day as a Brand Ambassador

    For those of us who think that brand ambassadors have a fantastic job, think again. We ask Chloe what her day usually is like and the schedule is quite a hectic one!

    In the day, she has meetings with the marketing manager, training with bartenders or staff, designing her presentation and arranging the tasting sessions for her training. On top of that, she has to do supply planning for her travels as well as writing tasting notes and stories for the people she meets during her travels.

    In the evening, she attends meetings with bartenders and bar managers as well as with other brand ambassadors who might be visiting. Sometimes, she needs to host or speak at events too. Besides all these, Chloe travels a lot. Spending six to seven months of the year on the road can be tiring.

    Do you still want to be a Brand Ambassador?

    The Laddie Valinch 28 Chloe Wood

    The Laddie Valinch 28 Chloe Wood

    We asked Chloe about the Laddie Valinch 28 which was a special bottle for her. It got her name on it! The Valinch is a series of bottling by Bruichladdich to honour all the employees of the company. It can be a Laddie, or a Port Charlotte and each bottle is a single cask from the distillery. Currently, the Valinch series is at no. 31.

    The Laddie Valinch 28 is a Sauternes cask (#780) with an outturn of 444 bottles. It is a 12 years old with an abv of 48.8%. We got the honour of tasting it straight from a new bottle that day. Man, it was fantastic! The nose is full of fresh honey, pears and green apple, a little grassy and light spice in the background. The palate is sweet like a white wine with an oily mouthfeel. Lemon mixed with the pears and green apples to form a tropical feel. Pleasant spice tickled the tongue for a warm feeling. The finish is long with lemony notes and a tingle of spice. It gets a little dry towards the end, just like an excellent white wine. The influence of the Sauternes cask was evident but nothing that overwhelms the character of the spirit. What an impressive dram!

    Chloe’s Favourite Whisky

    We asked if the Laddie Valinch 28 is Chloe’s favourite whisky, to which she said, “Oh! No, not really. I remembered that my first taste of whisky when I started work at Bruichladdich was an Octomore 12 years old. I fell in love with it immediately! It was 9 am in the morning, and Jim told me that he wanted me to try something special. That was my favourite!”

    Besides that unattainable whisky, Chloe loves the Octomore 8.3 and the Bruichladdich Islay Barley bottlings! Those are her favourite for now. Are those your favourite too?

    The Future for Bruichladdich

    Bruichladdich has a bright future and one which we would like to be a part of. Besides her busy schedule, Chloe wants to expand the brand in the Asia and South East Asia region. She hopes to bring both Bruichladdich and Islay to the people here so that more people can experience the progressive innovation that is so prevalent in Bruichladdich. Chloe even wants to learn Mandarin so that she can communicate easily with Bruichladdich fans from China and Taiwan!

    Besides that, education is also a priority in Chloe’s list of “must-do”. She wants to show people what whisky is all about, tell stories about the different brands and to bring Islay to everyone whom she meets! It is a pleasure to talk about her home and to invite people to visit Islay and Scotland.

    What to look out for in Islay?

    Besides all our talk about whisky, we also took the chance to ask Chloe what we should look out for when international visitors go to Islay. Her reply? “Check out the beautiful beaches, farmland, wildlife and sanctuaries. Eat fresh seafood, drink all the whisky and don’t drive if you are visiting distilleries. Oh, and don’t book tours too close to each other. The journey from one distillery to another can take you longer than expected! Lastly, watch out for wifi problem! It is an island after all!”

    Advice for youths

    Before we left, we asked Chloe if she has any advice for youths. Her biggest answer was TRAVEL! Travelling was indeed what she did as a youth and she shared that there is much to learn when you travel. You get to learn about yourself and others; see the world and know what you like. These experiences helped when you start working. We have to agree with that!

    We wish Chloe all the best in her exciting journey for 2018, and we hope to see her again soon!

    Bruichladdich – Progressive Hebridean Distillers

    Bruichladdich – one of the most famous distilleries on Islay – happens to be one of WhiskyGeeks’ favourite distillery as well. While we have yet to visit this top-notched distillery, we just have to pen something about this progressive, Hebridean, distiller.

    History of Bruichladdich Distillery

    The history of Bruichladdich is comparable to a roller coaster ride. The Harvey brothers – William, John and Robert – established Bruichladdich in 1881 on the shores of Loch Indaal, on the Rinns of Islay. They built Bruichladdich stone by stone and designed the building with an efficient layout.

    They installed uniquely tall and narrow-necked stills and other state-of-the-art equipment that was unheard of in those days. Bruichladdich was one of the top notched distilleries in Islay. Sadly, the Harvey brothers were better distillers and engineers than they were businessmen. The distillery struggled against the bigger players, and soon, it fell into trouble. A fire broke out in 1934, and shortly afterwards, William Harvey passed away. The distillery was sold several times after 1936 before getting mothballed in 1994. The reason for mothballing was “surplus to requirement”.

    The Rise of the Modern Bruichladdich Distillery

    Bruichladdich distillery saw a gleam of hope when it was purchased by Mark Reynier of Murray McDavid with the funds from a group of private investors in December 2000. Official records said that he brought the distillery for £6.5 million, but in fact, he brought the 8,000 casks maturing inside the distillery for that amount! The buildings were practically free. Right after the purchase, Mark hired Jim McEwan, the whisky legend who was, at that time, working with Bowmore Distillery, as the master distiller and production director.

    The next few months saw Bruichladdich risen from the grave as Mark and Jim dismantled and renovated the entire distillery. While most of the exterior of the building was dismantled and renovated, they refurbished the old, Victorian equipment and restored them for usage. Mark was determined to retain as many of the Harvey equipment as possible, and they managed to do just that! Today, these old pieces of machinery stood proudly in the distillery as the hallmark of the history of Bruichladdich.

    In 2012, Rémy Cointreau bought Bruichladdich Distillery and remained as the owner today.

    Philosophy at Bruichladdich Distillery

    Production at Bruichladdich with Graham Hayes (Picture Credits)

    Bruichladdich is a non-conformist distillery, rejecting many of the “whisky production theories” of the day. Believing that industrialisation and self-interest have strangled the whisky industry, Bruichladdich strives to be different.  Instead of following the “rules” of the days, the people behind the distillery set their mind to be innovative and creative distillers.

    The people at the distillery believe that whisky needs a character to convey authenticity. They believe in variety, innovation and progress. Bruichladdich is not after a title of homogeneity; it is after a change. The distillers think that the world needs a challenger, one that will stand in the face of blandness and denounced it as such. Hence the distillery often surprises their fans with exceptional, new creations.

    Bruichladdich also produces a gin – The Botanist. Similar to what they do for their whiskies, they make sure that The Botanist is different from gins presented by other companies. If you have yet to try a Botanist, it is time for you to try!

    The Land, The Water and The Ingredients

    Bruichladdich works closely with the people living in Islay as well as the land that forms Islay. Islay farmers planted barley in response to Bruichladdich’s call for an Islay Barley, and others built sheds to dry the barley for the distillery. The land yields the barley; the mountains and lochs produce the water source for mashing, distilling and bottling. Most importantly, the people of the island come together to create whiskies that speak of its origins. It is also the largest, independent employer in Islay.

    Bruichladdich believes passionately in terroir – authenticity, place and provenance. That is a heritage that they are proud of.

    Bruichladdich Range of Whiskies

    Some of the whiskies made in Bruichladdich Distillery (Picture Credits)

    Bruichladdich produces three different brands of whiskies in the distillery. They have the Bruichladdich brand, serving up unpeated whisky. Then, there is Port Charlotte, a heavily-peated whisky at 40ppm. For the peatheads, there is Octomore, the most-heavily peated whisky in the world.

    Bruichladdich

    Classic Bruichladdich is unpeated, floral and sophisticated. It is a natural whisky which is non-chill filtered and colouring free. The whisky is made purely from Scottish barley, although there are some expressions distilled from Islay Barley and Bere Barley.

    This range of whisky is living proof that Bruichladdich rejects traditional labelling of the whisky-producing regions in Scotland. Produced in an area where peat is the norm, the Classic Laddie challenges the label of what constitutes an Islay whisky.

    Port Charlotte

    The range of Port Charlotte is a tribute to the men who once worked in Lochindaal distillery from 1829 to 1929. It is peated to 40ppm and still retains the classic floral complexity of the typical Bruichladdich. The most exciting nibbles about Port Charlotte is that the original stone warehouse of Lochindaal distillery in Port Charlotte still stores the maturing spirits now.

    Octomore

    Octomore is famous; or in the distillery’s own words, it has taken the world by storm. It was a “what if” idea that turned into a reality. Named after the Octomore farm on the hill above Port Charlotte, the whisky is a legacy to the farm that used to be a distillery. In 1816, Octomore farm was a self-sufficient distillery. It grew its barley, cut its peat and distil its whisky on the farm. While the spark burned only for a few years, Bruichladdich Distillery carried the legend till today through the Octomore range of whisky.

    Octomore is known as the world’s most heavily peated whisky. One of the latest expression, the Octomore 8.3, is peated to 309ppm! Contrast to expectation, the whisky is aromatic, floral and sophisticated. You will never expect something so delicious!

    Looking to the Future

    It is no secret that Bruichladdich continues to be a progressive distillery in today’s whisky world. We trust that Bruichladdich is striving harder than ever before to produce authentic, good-quality whiskies for the world.

    We look forward to new releases from Bruichladdich.  As always.

     

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      Whisky Review #73 – LMDW Glenburgie 18 Years Old

      LMDW Glenburgie 18 Years Old

      It has been quite a while since we last made a whisky review. It is time to do yet another whisky review for our readers! For the first review in 2018, we decided to dedicate it to a beautiful expression from the Glenburgie distillery, selected and bottled for La Maison du Whisky (LMDW).

      Glenburgie is a Speyside distillery. This expression is a single cask with a yield of 267 bottles from a hogshead. Distilled in October 1998, it is bottled in March 2017. The liquid spent 18 years maturing patiently in the hogshead.

      Let’s head straight to the review now without further ado!

      Tasting Notes:

      Colour: Gold
      ABV: 53.9%

      Nose: The first sniff brings sweet tropicals fruits – pineapples, green apples and sweet bananas. A second nose brings the pineapples and bananas to the forefront, with the green apples receding a little. The third sniff after 5 minutes reveals warm spices and hints of vanilla appears in the background. (18/20)

      Palate: Warm spice envelops the mouth in the forefront at the first sip. A quick second sip brings the expected tropical fruits – pineapples, bananas and green apples into the mouth with strong vanilla notes hanging around in the background. After 5 minutes, oak influences surface with a slightly drying mouthfeel. (18/20)

      Finish: It has a medium to long finish. Astringent oaky taste lingers in the mouth with pineapples and hints of green apples. (17/20)

      Body: There is superb balance in this 18 years old expression. The sweet tropical fruits are consistent from the nose to the finish. The influence of bourbon oak is also constant with vanilla notes and that slightly astringent mouthfeel. The only pity is perhaps the length of the finish. If it is longer, the whisky would be more excellent. (37/40)

      Total Score: 90/100

      Comments:

      Geek Flora: “This is a dram for the sweet tooths. The tropical fruits play their parts well, giving off the sweet scent that lures many into whisky. I love it!”

      Geek Choc: “Hmm…It is a beautiful dram for sure. However, it might not gel too well for those who are not into any kind of sweet whisky at all. I think this whisky should be drunk as quickly as you can once the bottle is opened – the sweet flavours might change if it is aired too long.”

       

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        Switzerland Whisky – Säntis Malt

        View of the Distillery from the Mountains

        When it comes to whisky production, most people immediately link their thoughts to Scotland and Japan. These two countries are possibly the most popular whisky-producing regions in the world. However, do you know that there is whisky produced in Switzerland?

        If you have not heard, let WhiskyGeeks show you Säntis Malt – the Swiss Alpine Whisky!

        Säntis Malt

        History of Locher Family and Brauerei Locher AG

        The legend of the Locher family and their beer-crafting skills began in 1886. The family took over a brewery in Appenzell, Oberegg in that year, and started a family-operated brewery named Brauerei Locher AG (BLAG), producing good-quality beer for the region. Years passed, and BLAG grew in production. As their fame soared, people from far and wide began sourcing for the Appenzeller beer produced by BLAG in their local bars and taverns.

        The brewery began transporting their beer in casks that sealed with pitch. As popularity grew further, these casks became a vital transportation tool for the precious ale. As a result, some of these casks did not have the chance to get repaired regularly, and the pitch used in the casks cracked over time. Beer soaked the barrel staves. Due to the high demand, the brewery did not replace these casks immediately, but instead, reapplied the pitch to the staves.  The casks continued to transport Appenzeller beer all over the country. Thus, the beer extract and flavour was locked efficiently into the staves for years.

        History of Säntis Malt

        Old Beer Casks

        Säntis Malt was the brainchild of Master Brewer, Mr Karl Locher, the fifth generation of the Locher family to manage the brewery. In 1999, the authorities lifted the ban on the distillation of spirits from grains in Europe, and Mr Locher began to think how he could make use of this newly amended law to create new products for his brewery.

        The old beer casks used for beer transportation before the 1970s were still around, and Mr Locher began to think if he could make use of these matured aromas and beer extracts to make whisky. With creativity and innovation in mind, Mr Locher started to repair the casks. The BLAG team expertly removed the pitch, and experts examined the casks for their suitability as whisky casks. Upon investigation, it became apparent that the beer-soaked casks were perfect for whisky maturation!

        Mr Locher began to distil barley in his brewery using spring water from the Alpstein and poured the new-make spirit into the old beer casks for maturation. That is the birth of Säntis Malt – the unique beer-aged whisky from the Swiss Alpine.

        The coming-0f-age for Säntis Malt

        In Scottish laws, spirits need to mature in a cask for at least three years before it is “whisky”. The BLAG Distillery followed this rule and released the first Säntis Malt in 2002. Säntis Malt, therefore, entered the history books as the first Swiss whisky ever produced.

        Locally-Grown Barley

        Barley field and Plough

        BLAG further strengthens its whisky production procedures by growing barley locally at high altitude. The barley is subjected to harsh weather conditions in the Alps and emerged with vitality and strength. These qualities help to make excellent new-make for Säntis Malt whisky production.

        Säntis Malt Range of Whisky

        Over the years, BLAG produced a range of Säntis Malt that is available in selected parts of the world. Each whisky is unique on its own. Currently, there are a few whiskies which are in the core range and many others which are limited releases by the distillery. Let’s take a look at some of them.

        Dreifaltigkeit

         

        Alpstein

         

        Sigel

         

        Himmelberg

        The four whiskies that we have above are all award-winning whiskies from Säntis Malt. Each of these beautiful expressions is given recognition at IWSC, and some are praised and awarded by Jim Murray as well.

        Dreifaltigkeit

        The Dreifaltigkeit is a slightly peated whisky. BLAG distillery used peat taken from the Appenzell high moor to dry the barley during the whisky production. The gentle peat translates into a smoky, earthly mixture that is slightly oily on the palate. Fruitness is coupled with mild spices to tingle the tongue and leaves you wanting more.

        Alpstein

        Alpstein is a series of single cask, limited whisky by Säntis Malt. While it is not a discontinued product, each batch of Alpstein is different as each series matured in a different cask finish. The finish can be in a port cask, wine cask (red/white), bourbon or sherry cask. Other special casks are also possible. The Alpstein is an ever-changing series and one which promises to surprise whisky lovers around the world with each limited release.

        Sigel

        Edition Sigel is a light and sweet whisky which promotes the purity of the barley used in Säntis Malt. The distillery simply matured the whisky in old beer casks before bottling. The pure malty taste, sweet vanilla, and juicy fruitiness make the Sigel as a popular choice for the ladies.

        Himmelberg

        The Himmelberg is matured in beer casks before being finished in various unknown wine barrels. The result is a light and fruity whisky that opens into woody spice on the tongue. The aromas from the Himmelberg is unique and different from the Sigel as the spiciness of the liquid lends a high complexity to the whisky.

        Säntis Malt Special Winter Release

        Santis Malt – Snow White No. 5

        We mentioned Säntis Malt Winter Edition – Snow White briefly in our article on WhiskyFair TAKAO. Snow White is Säntis Malt’s best expression in our option, as each edition matures in old beer casks before finishing in different fruit brandy casks. Launched for the first time in 2013, Snow White has received such overwhelming fame that the distillery is releasing an edition every year.

        The Snow White No. 5 Marille is the latest edition and one which we fell in love with immediately. That sweet apricot taste is heavenly indeed!

        Säntis Malt Non-Whisky Products

        Sántis Cream

         

        Apricot Malt Liqueur

         

        Plum Malt Liqueur

        The distillery also produced some non-whisky products using the Säntis Malt brand. Three of these prominent products are the Säntis Cream (or Edition Marwees), Apricot Malt Liqueur and Plum Malt Liqueur. All three products are well received by the market as well and form part of the Säntis Malt range of products today.

        Distillery Visit and WhiskyTrek

        Lastly, let us talk a little about visiting the distillery in Appenzell if you are keen to do so. The actual brewery and distillery are closed to the public but there is a huge visitor centre at Appenzell that you have to visit if you are keen to learn more about Säntis Malt. You will have an experienced guide to share in-depth knowledge with you and after that, a chance to taste both the beer and Säntis Malt whisky. Find out more about the distillery here.

        The WhiskyTrek is another interesting activity that you can do. Trek to 27 mountain inns deep in the mountains of the Alpstein and collect 27 different Säntis Malt expression in a beautiful collector’s box. The whisky must be purchased with vouchers so make sure you buy at least one booklet at the distillery or the Appenzellerland Tourist Office. If you forget, you can still purchase these booklets at the mountain inns.

        WhiskyTrek Collector’s Box

        Such an experience is only available at Appenzell, so if you are visiting, be sure to contact the distillery to find out more about the trek!

         

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          A chat with Michael Hsieh – Founder of ARen Trading

          WhiskyGeeks with Michael

          Geek Flora and Geek Choc had the pleasure of meeting Mr Michael Hsieh, founder of ARen Trading Co. in Kaohsiung when we attended WhiskyFair TAKAO in early December 2017. ARen Trading Co. is the official trading partner of The Whisky Agency as well as Säntis Malt. Mr Hsieh is also one of the organisers of WhiskyFair TAKAO, alongside with Mr Li Chunfeng, founder of The Drunken Master.

          Michael is a man of many talents. He is not only an independent bottler in Taiwan. He is also an avid whisky lover, an author of amazingly detailed whisky tasting notes for his own bottlings and the author/translator of the Chinese version of the book, Whisky Rising. Whisky Rising is a book written by Stefan van Eycken. It talks about Japanese whisky and is considered to be one of the most comprehensive books ever written on the subject.

          WhiskyGeeks’ copies of the English and Chinese versions

           

          WhiskyFair TAKAO’s Inspiration

          The photographs of Michael’s visit to Limburg (the birthplace of the famous WhiskyFair Limburg) created WhiskyFair TAKAO. His pictures and stories of Limburg inspired Mr Li Chunfeng to suggest holding a whisky fair in Taiwan. Back in 2016, Michael attended WhiskyFair Limburg and came back with photos and stories of the whiskies he drank and the people he met. Chunfeng reciprocated Michael’s passion and enthusiasm and suggested holding a similar whisky fair in Kaohsiung. That was the beginning of their collaboration for WhiskyFair TAKAO that resulted in the highly successful show in December 2017.

          The Chance to Drink Rare Whisky

          Michael attended the yearly WhiskyFair Limburg, and he shared his experiences with us freely during our chat. When WhiskyFair Limburg first started, it had 20 stalls. In the latest one in 2017, it has doubled to 40 stalls. The good thing about Limburg is the affordability of rare whiskies that you get to try. By paying a fraction of what you need to pay for in a bar, you get to taste good and rare whiskies at the fair. WhiskyFair TAKAO used the same system, and it was an excellent way to filter out the real, serious drinkers and those who were there to look for free booze. Michael shared that he first drank Karuizawa at WhiskyFair Limburg and his first Port Ellen was similarly from Limburg too.

          Paying for the drams also ensures that visitors control what they drink. Serious drinkers are likely to pay for good drams that they want to try, while the beginners will seek those which are affordable. It prevents overdrinking and discourages drunkards at their fair.

          ARen Trading Co.

          Mr Michael Hsieh is the President of ARen Trading Co. He set up the company in 2013 and has since, been a trading partner of The Whisky Agency and Säntis Malt from Switzerland. The company started partly because of Michael’s passion for whisky, but it is his talents for the business that got the company to where it is today.

          Labels and Whisky Bottles

          Taiwan IBs have beautiful labels on their bottles. When we quizzed Michael regarding labels, he said, “To us, labels are free. Most IBs do not use a back label because it cut costs, but to me, that’s not true! Because you can use the back label to advertise almost anything! Of course, you need to ensure the liquid inside is good.”

          Independent Joint Bottling

          ARen Trading Co. functions as an independent bottler (IB) and buys whisky casks from The Whisky Agency (TWA). The reasons that Michael wanted to work with TWA are numerous, but one of the biggest reasons is their flexibility in allowing Michael to use his independent labels on the whisky bottles. Similar to Chunfeng’s desire to have his individual labels, Michael wanted to use his labels as well.

          Michael’s unique positioning stems from the fact that he is always looking out for innovative ideas to help others. Looking at other IBs, he realised that not many IBs make use of labels at the back of the bottles that they released. In a burst of creativity, Michael came up with the idea of using labels as a way of advertising.

          With the idea of promoting new bars in Taiwan, Japan, Hong Kong and other parts of Asia in his mind, Michael approached bars in Japan to check if they are interested in doing joint bottlings. His idea was highly appreciated, and hence, the series of World Bars Tour from ARen Trading Co. was born. Here are some pictures of the bottles available at The Drunken Master Whisky Bar.

          Success after Success

          These initial joint-bottlings became so popular in Japan and Taiwan that other bars around the region wanted to be part of it. Other bars began to approach Michael for joint bottlings, and the World Bar Tour series expanded. The latest one was a joint bottling with six different bars across Japan, Taiwan and Australia.

          Such joint bottlings are win-win solutions for the bar and the consumers. On one end, the bars get the necessary promotion. On the other end, the consumers get to drink good whiskies!

          A Whisky-Loving Businessman

          How did Michael succeed in such a challenging environment? His secret lies in being humble and from learning all the time. Michael loves whisky. His business is flourishing because of his passion for whisky and his determination to provide the best service to his customers. He has a faithful following of whisky drinkers who trust him to bring them good-quality bottles. Why do they trust him? Well, that’s because he has been steadily writing detailed tasting notes for his customers from day one and has not stopped doing so whenever there are new bottlings. All his customers have come to trust in his notes and know that what they buy are bottles that they will love – based on Michael’s tasting notes. Nowadays, Michael’s bottles sell out before they arrive on Taiwan’s shores because his customers pre-ordered them.

          On Writing a Book

          Michael is the author/translator for the Chinese version of Whisky Rising, a definitive book about Japanese whiskies. While he is considering to write his own book, he is not keen to start it yet. “I need more time, and more experiences,” he said. Nonetheless, he welcomes the idea of doing a translation of another popular whisky book into Chinese so that more Taiwanese can enjoy it.

          Interest in Michael’s book and Whisky

          If you are interested in buying Michael’s book and whisky, drop us a note at slainte@whiskygeeks.sg, and we can help you to find out how we can ship them over to your country of residence!

           

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