The epic whisky showdown that is Dram Club


It was a fight of epic proportions. Two whisky brand ambassadors on a stage challenging to see whose whiskies were better. Whose brand had a more prestigious legacy. And whose insults were more below-the-belt. Dram Club – where the better whisky (and name-calling) wins.

This week saw Singapore’s first-ever Dram Club instalment take place, in a near-deserted Tuas warehousing complex amidst abandoned machinery and rolls of sheet metal with an unclear purpose. The kind of setting perfect for a clandestine meeting between gang bosses, an illicit transaction, or a hostage negotiation.

Not that night. That night was more sinister. That night a rowdy crowd had gathered to watch and cheer as two whisky brand ambassadors take on each other in a makeshift ring to fight it out for ultimate bragging rights.

In one corner was the tall and lanky Matthew Fergusson-Stewart, regional brand ambassador of The Glenfiddich, and recent awardee of Whisky Magazine’s Icons of Whisky (Rest of World) Scotch Whisky Brand Ambassador of the year. In the opposite corner, his stouter and more compact William Grant & Sons colleague Neil Strachan, regional ambassador of The Balvenie.

dram club first

And both came with a score to settle.

Fergusson-Stewart had won the coin toss, and came out with hypothetical guns blazing. He had a longer reach after all, and alternated between waxing lyrical about Glenfiddich’s roll of prestigious award wins and insulting his colleague’s surname. Unfazed, Strachan retaliated. He pummelled the Australian-born Fergusson-Stewart with taunts of the latter’s convict heritage, and proceeded to expound of The Balvenie’s history of innovation.

And so the fight dragged on as both refused to cower beneath the other’s withering assaults. The crowd watched on, savouring the whiskies both challengers were elucidating on – the Glenfiddich 12YO, the Balvenie 12YO, the Glenfiddich 15YO Solera, the Balvenie 14YO Caribbean Cask, a 25YO Glenfiddich aged in bourbon hogsheads that was not commercially released, as well as the 21YO Balvenie that has seen some additional time in a port pipe.

dram club neil and matthew

At one stage the fight got ugly as Fergusson-Stewart exposed Strachan’s striking similarity with Samwise Gamgee from Lord of the Rings, only to have Strachan point out Fergusson-Stewart’s potential as a body double for Tilda Swinton. In the end, it was a very close call as the tougher Strachan finally prevailed to the wild cheers of the crowd.

But the next Dram Club contest is already set in motion. We understand that two other brand ambassadors have already taken up the challenge.

Who will they be? Who has the gall to face each other under the unsympathetic scrutiny of the Dram Club crowd, and risk humiliation and utter whisky damnation?