The latest entrant into Singapore’s distilling scene, Singapore Distillery, launches with a range of six different gins using familiar local ingredients.
Singapore earlier this month saw its newest addition to its local gin making industry with the official launch of Singapore Distillery. Based out of a warehouse in Kembangan with its distilling operations at an industrial space in Ang Mo Kio, Singapore Distillery is the fourth outfit making gin in Singapore. While it may trail behind Tanglin Gin, Brass Lion Distillery, and Compendium, Singapore Distillery made known its lofty ambitions with the introduction with not one, but six different gin expressions into the Singapore market with its launch.
As you possibly derive from its (rather nondescript) name, Singapore Distillery approach gin making with a local lens. Like its contemporaries, they employ many familiar regional ingredients. Expect, for example, the use of the many different local limes in their Lime Garden Gin, or coconut and pandan leaves in its Coconut Pandan Gin. Its classic London dry-style Singa Gin too uses the likes of Sarawak pepper, Malaysian angelica root, and limau nipis limes in its making.
Singapore Distillery makes all its gins with custom-designed equipment in its Ang Mo Kio distilling facility. Head distiller Ashwin Sekaran – who holds a certification in distilling from London-based Institute of Brewing and Distilling – shares that he designed his distillery kit with the input from various mentors he’s met while studying distilling.
Instead of the usual column still normally used in the making of commercial gin, theirs is a 500-litre onion head copper still more commonly used to produce a heavier spirit such as those for making whisky. It is installed with two botanical baskets for infusing flavours at two different points; this allows them to be flexible in capturing different compounds – heavier notes in the first basket, and more volatile ones in the subsequent one – into the neutral spirit they source from Scandinavia as required.
Wouldn’t such a setup allow Singapore Distillery to also make whisky in the future, we asked 26-year old Ashwin. The young, strapping distiller flashed a big grin, but stayed steadfastly silent. He also remained cagey about the rest of his four-man team, only revealing that they comprised of three Singaporeans and a Malaysian.
Maybe he preferred to let his gins to the talking.
The Gins of Singapore Distillery.
Each of the gins from the new distillery are as varied as the different cultures that make up cosmopolitan Singapore. There’s the Singa Gin, which comes closest to commercial London Dry gins but made with 13 different regional botanicals that would be perfect in a highball like a Gin and Tonic or a Tom Collins. We’re big fans of the Lime Garden Gin, made with a melange of different local limes that we think would be perfect in a Gimlet. The Coconut Pandan Gin would be suitable too in a Gimlet – or a Gin Sour – with its sweet floral pandan and mealy coconut notes.
Rather interesting too is the Singapore Sling Gin, which borrows the flavours in the classic Singapore Sling cocktail – pineapple, cherry, and oranges – and fuses them into this gin. Also fun is Stolen Roses Gin, its heady rose petal notes we think would do well in a Negroni or a Martini.
The Kyuri Gin on the hand is probably the least local, infused as it is with Japanese cucumbers and Sakura cherry blossoms.
What was the biggest challenge in starting Singapore Distillery, we questioned Ashwin.
“I would say the most difficult part was actually learning how to actually make balanced gin. While there are many resources online on how to make gin I only managed to get the recipes finalised after close to a hundred distillations for each gin,” he mused.
What is surprising is the price on these gins. Singapore Distillery is currently selling its gins off its online shop at just $69.90 each for a 75cl bottle. This makes them the cheapest locally-made gin available in the Singapore market, and almost as affordable as the cheapest imported gins.
At that kind pricing it’s hardly a surprise that the Ashwin’s operation is currently distilling every day in order to build up stock to fulfil local and export orders which are currently being negotiated.
“We’ve definitely got an opportunity to release more interesting gins in the future, and expand out of just gin and move on to other uniquely created spirits,” he shared.
Sounds like we’re going to be seeing another Singapore-made whisky yet.
You can find out more about Singapore Distillery here.