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14 Sep 2017 By

Write this down in your little black book – there’s a new whisky bar in town. And we mean, right. In. Town. (Orchard, to be precise).

Don’t be fooled by the name ‘Writing Club’, because not a lot of writing goes on in here, and it’s not a club. It is, however, quite convivial, and you want to possibly confine the writing to your own whisky notes. Which could be considerable, once you see their selection.

The Writing Club is a whisky bar with a difference. The offering is curated, of course, and as space dictates, they only have 600 bottles in this cosy corner of Palais Renaissance. The range eschews the regular big boys, and instead is focused on independent bottlings – which comprises 80% of their stock (new releases make up the other 20%). Bar owner Tan Soo San is a bit of a whisky hoarder, and The Writing Club is a way of displaying and sharing some of his precious cargo.

Writing Club2

And while we are tasting whiskies, new bottles were brought in and being displayed on the counter top (above). “This just in”, and “this just came in,” Tan announces proudly. (The bar gets its stock from online sites, wholesalers, hunting trips and private sales. There is very little from the known big name distributors here.)

The bar’s Asst GM Fong Chan Teng walked me through some of their bottles, in particular their Gordon & MacPhail collection. (For the uninitiated, G&M is the largest independent bottler in the business. They also operate their own distillery, Benromach, and have one of the largest stock of whiskies around; a secret stash accrued since before WWII, and stored in a warehouse called ‘The Cathedral’, and which few are privvy to.)  

[ More on Gordon & MacPhail here ]

This Caol Ila, for instance, was distilled in 1977 and bottled in 1991. There’s been enough time for the peat to settle (it’s far from your modern day Caol Ila), so thus has a fruitiness and sweetness that might surprise you. Swirl it for a bit and you’ll discover a mossy and nutty undertone as well.

This is an easy-drinking eight year old Glen Grant that was bottled in the 70s. The Writing Club has cool surprises; you’d be hard-pressed to find gems like this elsewhere. This one has cherry and woody notes, with a creamy mouthfill. Glen Grant is now known for its lighter palate, and are great for highballs. But the old stuff, seriously worth investigating.

This 1966 Old Pulteney was bottled in 2003 (you do the math). At The Writing Club you can do a bit of time travel. I got notes of honey, brininess, and florals, with a hint of… ash. The finish is crisp and clean though, and like Halle Berry, it has aged well.

Fong says the bar can customise flights for punters who’re adventurous, or when you can’t decide – leave it to the experts. (His previous stint in La Maison du Whisky has garnered him valuable knowledge). You should definitely ask questions. The answer, as always, is “whisky”.

The Writing Club, 390 Orchard Road, Palais Renaissance, #02-10, tel: 9362-8626. (Facebook)

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