Newly developed South Beach Avenue (Near City Hall) is home to Quaich Bar’s second outlet, and man, it is one swanky space. It’s been nine years since its first bar opened at Grand Copthorne Waterfront, and we could see why they are hailed as ‘…a Great Whisky Bar of the World’ by Whisky Magazine.
Quaich (pronounced ‘quake’) refers to the drinking bowl that serves as a Scottish Gaelic symbol of welcome and friendship — very fitting for a whisky bar with over 90 percent Scottish labels that champions a friendly environment for whisky appreciation.
With over 500 labels, you can expect the same level of service and choice in an equally refined setting. Similar to its first bar, Quaich Bar at South Beach concentrates on boutique distilleries so you won’t find the usual brands of whisky here.
To promote whisky knowledge and encourage proper whisky appreciation in Singapore, Quaich Bar regularly conducts tasting sessions, which we were lucky enough to be invited to one. We were seated under a pot-shaped lamp, aptly suited for a whisky tasting session, basking in the low light for a comfortable tasting.
Quaich Bar offers many whisky tasting sets, which vary from a basic to an in-depth understanding of the spirit. We were treated to the opening special: an Introductory Tasting Set of five whiskies that you can experience for only $25++, instead of the usual $40++ (until the end of October 2016).
Everyone has their own preference when drinking whisky, I’m personally a whisky dry kinda girl, but drinking it neat is obviously the best way to identify the differences in flavour. Occasionally, a few drops of water can be added to break the whisky up for better tasting.
We started with a 10-year-old Scottish Ledaig, which immediately hit me with its strong smoky flavour, common to Island whisky. The peat is quite dry with an earthiness that compliments its notes of barley and malt extract.
We were told that this is one of the saltiest whiskies. Unsurprisingly so, given the coastal location of the Tobermory distillery.
Price per dram: $20
The 12-year-old Bunnahabhain on the other hand has no smoky flavour to it. Being the gentlest of Islay whiskies, this was probably my favourite.
It smelt like honey and has a little sweetness to it, making it the easiest to drink. I personally liked it even better after adding a few drops of water, and was starting to imagine what it would taste like on the rocks.
Price per dram: $19
The 12-year-old Tomintoul came close to second favourite for me. Matured in Oloroso sherry casks, there is a fruitiness that reminded me of raisins and winterberries.
It very light and well-balanced — an interesting alternative to my usual mainstream go-to brands.
Price per dram: $23
The 10-year-old Springbank’s reputation precedes it, produced in the Campbeltown region which used to be the whisky capital of the world. It is 100% made in the Springbank distillery, which is the only distillery that does that.
Consistently ranked at #10 in Whisky Magazine, I had high expectations for this traditional whisky, but found that it has too strong a flavour for my liking. The peat is quite pungent and earthy with a trailing dryness. Probably more suited to experienced whisky drinkers.
Price per dram: $19
Usually marketed as the mystery malt, the Paul John Edited is the only non-Scottish whisky in the Introductory Tasting Set. Produced in Goa, India, this variety is usually very popular in blind taste tests and are often ranked highly by whisky connoisseurs.
The single malt uses Indian 6-row barley as well as peated Scottish barley, giving it a woody and spicy taste. At only 6-years-old, the unique blend makes it comparable to any of the other 12-year-old whiskies.
Price per dram: $22
We ended our tasting session with an extra special treat to a 12-year-old Cadenhead Bowmore (not included in the Introductory Tasting Set). Quaich Bar also offers a Buy Your Own Cask Service where you can bottle your own whisky and Quaich Bar has done just that in celebration of their 8th Anniversary last year.
Price per dram: $33
Only a handful of places in Singapore will be able to offer you the same whisky experience that Quaich Bar can. If you’re a whisky novice like myself, the Introductory Tasting Set will get you steadily acquainted with the wonderful world of this spirit.
Do take note to call in advance to arrange for a tutored tasting so that a whisky ambassador can walk you through the session. If you fancy popping by just for a dram or two with your buddies after work, Quaich Bar at South Beach is not only ideally centrally located, but also has an atmosphere that would most certainly help you unwind from the humdrum of the daily grind.
Expected Damage: $20 – $50 per pax