The Single Malt Amateur Club, India’s first Single Malt Club, completed the first-ever overseas whisky trail for a group of Indian whisky aficionados last week. Coined after the famous cocktail ‘Singapore Sling,’ this whisky trail encapsulated curated whisky flights at some of the best whisky bars in Singapore.
While Scotland has been the pilgrimage for most Whisky enthusiasts, not many know about the fabulous whisky bars of Singapore, observes Hemanth Rao, Founder of the Single Malt Amateur Club. “My previous encounters at these bars were something that I truly enjoyed as a whisky enthusiast and wanted club members to experience the same.”
“The tour was tailored to cover six specialty bars over three nights at an easy pace; Unlike pub-hopping where folks want to conquer as many bars as possible, whisky trails are more about spending time with the spirit,” says Harsha Thimmiah, Partner at SMAC.
The Auld Alliance is one of the best whisky bars in the world, and one can only stand in awe of the stupendous whisky collection it offers. Yet, Singapore has more to offer than this landmark bar; The Swan Song, The ExciseMan, The Quaich Bar, and The Single Casks are relatively lesser-known whisky hot spots that will provide an unforgettable experience. The Signature Reserve added elements of opulence and luxury, and La Maison Du Whisky was a great pit stop to buy rare bottles.
Each bar rolled out the red carpet for the group as this was the first ‘Whisky Delegation’ from India! Hemanth selected pre-set whisky flights in consultation with the bar owners to provide the members a tasting experience beyond the brands and names that one would find in India. The group ended up tasting over 50 whiskies during this trail, quite a few of which were served with compliments by the owners of these bars, who were infected by the enthusiasm of the visitors.
Krishna Nukala, a judge at the collective called Malt Maniacs, says “This tour has been a life-changing epic dram. While I have been on many such whisky expeditions, this one stands out for the unbelievable spread of whiskies tasted and the exuberance of the club members. It was coordinated with precision, and the reception by the whisky bars was unbelievable. Truly defining moments in the whisky journey. The highlight of the trip was meeting Arun Prashant of the Swan Song and Ben-Cheng and Natasha.”
Some of the ultra-rare whiskies tasted:
65-Year-old Glen Grant by Gordon & MacPhail
25-Year-old Brora bottled in 2008
36-Year-old Caol Ila bottled for the Kingsbury’s club
37-Year-old Lochside bottled for the Auld Alliance
A 23-Year-old Highland Park from the Silver Seal Whisky Company
A full Proof Macallan 10-year-old from the 1970s
20-Year-old Clynelish from 1965
Scotts Selection Port Ellen from 1977
St. Magdalene 19 Years Old Rare Malts
Any whisky fan across the globe will tell you that some of the names on that list are the best whiskies ever made. “My objective was to change the baseline of whisky tasting in India due to the limited availability and commercial considerations available to us in India,” says Hemanth Rao. This tour aimed to ensure the participants were exposed to whiskies of different eras and creation styles. Some of the whiskies were produced from distilleries that have shut down and are referred to in the whisky world as ‘silent stills,’ and some of these drams cost hundreds of pounds for 15 ml.
Speaking about his experience Guruprasad Agavane, a club member, said, “All these days, I was aware of different locations worldwide for Whisky Bars, but Singapore was never on that list. After the Singapore Sling, I believe Singapore is the only place where one can find, see, taste, and buy exclusive and very rare Single Malts from different running and closed distilleries. Not only at the best price, but also the Bartender takes pride in explaining the Whisky. In almost all the Bars, I felt like I was in a private bar where I was free to pick, open and nose any bottle, whatever its cost and exclusivity may be. To sum it up, knowledge, exposure, and tastings the Finest Single Malts was my highlight.”
Another member, Joy Ghosh, Regional Vice President – Hospitality, Indian Subcontinent, said, “The experience was like a surreal painting or poetry, still feels like a dream… bullets have already been fired in the trip.”
True to the club’s inclusive spirit, Harsha Thimmiah adds, “We had members attending this as their first SMAC event and veterans who have been associated with the club for years. We will make this a regular offering from the club to allow members to benefit from our associations with the bar owners in Singapore.”