What happens when an avid whisky enthusiast’s personal collection has grown to the point his home is bursting at the seams with bottles of precious single malt? Why, he opens his own bar to share that love for whisky of course.
One of the newest whisky bars to open up in Singapore is The Writing Club, strategically and conveniently located in the swanky Orchard Road mall of Palais Renaissance and carrying a range of some 500 hand-picked labels of rare and collectible whiskies and spirits from around the world. It is also a cosy and intimate space – it sits around 35 people comfortably – that, for all intents and purposes, is founder Tan Soo San’s personal living room and bar.
But unlike most other whisky bars that start off as spirits distributors going down the line, The Writing Club began when Tan’s burgeoning personal whisky collection had grown to a point where it was starting to become unmanageable. “It didn’t help that I would hang out drinking with friends – we called themselves The Writing Club so that our spouses wouldn’t catch on our drinking habits – and come back with even more bottles,” shares Tan, who adds that this is his first foray into F&B. When he finally broached the topic to wife Sherin about opening their own bar, she readily agreed.
But a good collection of whiskies a whisky bar does not make. To achieve his vision of a bar that could compete with the best of the rest, he knew he needed good men behind the sticks. To that end he landed veteran bartender Aron Manzanillo from Raffles Singapore as general manager, and also got on board Fong Chan Teng, formerly from the now-defunct grill house and whisky bar UsQuBa. Fong, of course, is especially knowledgeable about his whiskies thanks to a previous stint at La Maison du Whisky, and regularly assists Tan in selecting rare single malts from overseas to bring in.
Most of the selection of whiskies here are unusual, to say the least. They may not be as vintage as what you find at The Auld Alliance the other end of Orchard Road, or as experimental as with The Single Cask, but still offers a wide variety of expressions from whisky making regions around the world.
You’ll get the likes of the fruit bomb Gordon & McPhail Old Pulteney 1966 ($124++, 45ml), the mellow complexity of an old bottling of Glen Grant 8YO ($39++, 45ml), or the G&M Connoisseur’s Choice Caol Ila ($92, 45ml) distilled in 1977 but bottled in 1991; in fact you can find a number of hard-to-find independent bottlings here at The Writing Club, while original bottlings are scarcer.
You don’t have to limit yourself to whiskies. Both Aron and Fong put together some fabulous classic cocktails – the refreshing Dark & Stormy ($24++) explodes with a spicy bite from fresh ginger to offset the rich sweetness of the dark rum, while the spirit forward Old Fashioned ($24++) – made with bourbon and a touch of cognac – is comforting and hits all the right spots.
But the most amazing thing about The Writing Club – aside from knowledgeable whisky bar folk and an incredible selection – is the sheer fact that unlike most of its peers it’s actually open from 12 noon every day. So if you’re looking for a dram that early in the day it’s got you covered.
Address #02-01, 390 Orchard Rd, Palais Renaissance, Singapore 238871
Opening Hours Mondays to Saturdays from 12noon to midnight, Sundays 12noon to 10pm
Tel (65) 9362 8626