A Spirited chat with SELECTS Singapore co-founder Michel Lu

Michel Lu cofounder SELECTS Singapore


Online alcohol boutique SELECTS Singapore scours a premium selection of booze – spirits, sake, wine, and craft beer – for our easy perusal and purchase. We speak to co-founder Michel Lu on what makes SELECTS different from other such platforms.

Starting a business at the height of a coronavirus health pandemic seems like madness, but for certain businesses it can be very opportune. Take for example SELECTS Singapore, an online alcohol purveyor that curates some of the more interesting quality selections available in Singapore. It was launched just two months back as Singapore moved into its circuit breaker phase of coronavirus containment, and when restrictions closed bars and forced drinking indoors. Obviously SELECTS didn’t plan it that way, but the timing probably couldn’t be better for them.

SELECTS was founded as a community-driven collaborative effort between Zaran Vachha and Alfred Castillo, co-founders of events and talent agency Collective Minds Asia, and Michel Lu, founder of beverage company Liquid Assets; they wanted to differentiate from the competition by building their offering with a focus around independent alcohol producers in Singapore and the Asian region. So while while there’s no dearth of alcohol delivery services in Singapore, the founders didn’t want to just start another site with a myriad of product listings with no real theme.

It’s why you can find Singapore-made products from small batch distillers from Singapore such as Brass Lion Distillery and Tanglin Gin listed on SELECTS. From Hong Kong there’s Sunday’s Spirits​ – ​created by the same people behind famed contemporary izakaya Yardbird – as well as Fernet Hunter​, which makes a version of the Italian amaro using a recipe that dates back to the early 1900s. Even its international selection has a modern hipster vibe, with Copenhagen’s ​Empirical Spirits – ​unique spirits that defy classification by ​two Noma alums – ​and ​Wolfburn Whisky​, one of the newest whisky distilleries to have popped up in Scotland.

We sit down (virtually) with SELECTS co-founder Michel Lu – who’s also behind gypsy spirits brand The Orientalist Spirits – to learn more.


Share with us the inspiration(s) behind starting SELECTS Singapore, and the team behind it.

SELECTS was started by Zaran Vachha and Alfred Castillo of Collective Minds and myself. We felt that there was a gap in the market for a highly curated online platform for unique and interesting drinks, particularly when it comes to brands that you see on the backbar of a venue but not so much in the homes of discerning consumers.

The great thing is, we were already working together prior to starting SELECTS, including running the beverage programmes at Collective Minds’ events at their new venue in Bras Basah, 222 Arts Club.

What makes Selects different from other online alcohol delivery services?

The range at SELECTS is picked with great care and will be constantly evolving to present consumers with fresh experiences. Our products are sourced from the finest producers from Singapore and in the region, and are supplemented with independent brands around the world that have a message that we believe in.

We don’t promise the cheapest products available, nor are we the quickest to get them to you, but we do assure you that every one of the products we stock are of the highest quality and made by producers that connect with us emotionally.

How does SELECTS go about – pardon the pun – selecting products for listing on its platfom?

The curation is done by our team, with a long history and experience in the F&B space. SELECTS started out with the goal of highlighting local and independent brands, but we also seek out products that are interesting, tasty, and come with a good backstory.

A great example would be Fuck Trump And His Stupid Fucking Wall by Copenhagen’s Empirical Spirits. The base spirit of distilled koji barley, pilsner malt and saison yeast is distilled further with Habanero peppers and mixed with Habanero vinegar for a spirit that is sweet, fruity, malty, and acidic at the same time.

Not only is it delicious, it might be the most relevant bottle on SELECTS at the moment, with protests against racism sweeping across the United States yet again.

What’s the biggest challenge in starting up an alcohol delivery service during this coronavirus period? And what do you think are the opportunities?

Nothing out of the ordinary, in my opinion. It’s same as starting up a business during any other time. There will always be challenges but that’s part of the fun of being an entrepreneur.

How do you think the landscape for imbibing alcohol is going to look, post COVID-19?

I personally think that it will be a lot more interesting as people now have many more new options of where and when to consume alcohol. For instance, the ease of deliveries and innovation from bars and bartenders have intrigued a wider – and perhaps more mass – market of consumers looking for new experiences at home. It’s an exciting time!

Where do you see SELECTS in a few years’ time?

Same as it is today hopefully, just better and tighter. We don’t aim to scale. Something like this needs to be really selective, no pun intended!

 

SELECTS Singapore is currently shipping within Singapore. Same day delivery is available for orders checked out before 4pm. There are two delivery slots daily: 1pm-5pm, 5pm-9pm. You can check the online alcohol retailer here.