NOTE: When I originally planned this article, I had intended to include an extensive review of the whiskies that I had tried during my prior visit as well as the whiskies that I had tried at the Grand Opening. However, upon further consideration, I have decided to provide a standalone review for those whiskies which will be published in due course.
On the evening of the 7th of November, I was invited for the Official Grand Opening of The Single Cask whisky bar at CHIJMES. 2 weeks prior to the event, I visited the bar for the first time and met up with Fab Arm, who is the bartender and part owner of the establishment.
The bar has been operating since September and can seat 30 people comfortably, although it can certainly accommodate a larger crowd if standing patrons are taken into consideration. It is tastefully decorated and showcases a multitude of bottlings, both official and independent in nature.
During my visit in late October, I spoke to Fab and perused the menu at the bar, which is rather extensive and contains an impressive selection of independent bottlings from various bottlers as well as in house bottlings from The Single Cask.
I found Fab to be a very engaging and friendly person who sought to find out more about the person’s individual preferences before making a suggestion on which whisky to try and also asked his opinion regarding the flights that he served on the menu. He went through each of the selections and provided some insight on the bottlings which I found very useful in terms of making my choice.
I settled for the Horizontal Laphroaig flight, which was a selection of 4 different expressions ranging from 7 to 20 Years Old and from different independent bottlers as well. My mates opted for the Glenfarclas flight, The Spice King from Wemyss Malts and a Caol Ila 17 Years Old which was bottled by Signatory Vintage respectively.
I immensely enjoyed the flight and spoke further with Fab and his associate regarding the flight as well as the bottles around the bar. At the end of the night, Fab invited my mates and I back to the bar on the 7th for their grand opening and we graciously accepted.
Before I delve into the night itself, here are some interesting bits of information that patrons will find of use when intending to visit the bar.
The Single Cask has a few different whisky flights which are designed to educate patrons about the various nuances of a whisky which has been interpreted differently by a variety of independent bottlers (e.g. the Horizontal Laphroaig flight), the progression through the whiskies of a particular brand (e.g. the Glenfarclas flight) or a progression through the different flavour profiles of same age whiskies from different distilleries (the 18 Years Old flight).
Some of the flights at the bar are as follows:
There are other flights but these three would probably be the most high profile of the lot. The Single Cask also operates a membership system with two tiers: $2888 and $8888 respectively. Both these tiers provide 25% off the list price of the bottles at the bar, credit based on the membership amount which is meant to be used to purchase bottles as well as a private locker in which a member’s bottles can be stored for future visits.
The $8888 membership tier is also limited to the first 4 people as it provides an additional perk of being a part owner of a cask of whisky that is currently maturing in one of the distilleries in Scotland. The name of the distillery escapes me at this particular moment but I will endeavour to find out and amend this article accordingly.
Another interesting thing is that The Single Cask does not charge GST on their whiskies, instead charging a 10% charge for services rendered while absorbing the GST component entirely. The bottlings that they stock are from a wide range of independent bottlers such as Signatory Vintage, Carn Mor, Old Malt Cask, Dun Bheagan and Coopers Choice, to name a few.
And so on the night of the 7th, I headed down to the bar with my mates Clarence and Kenneth. The event was to commence from 7pm onwards and Fab mentioned that there was a free flow component which lasted from 7-9pm or until the whisky had run out (whichever came first basically).
As Clarence and Kenneth were running late, I arrived at the bar first and it was already noticeably packed. I greeted Fab and took a seat at the bar and perused the menu with the intention to order something from the menu before the festivities kicked off.
I settled on a Mortlach 17 Years Old bottled by Coopers Choice which set me back SG$33 (rather reasonable if I were to be honest). It was from a refill sherry butt which had been filled in 1995 and then bottled in 2013 at an abv of 46%. It was rich, meaty, savoury and fruity in equal measure and a bloody good pick if I were to say so myself.
Fab paired the Mortlach with an intensely rich chocolate ganache filled truffle, which brought out the various nuances and complexities within the whisky and basically kicked it up a few notches. I enquired about the truffles and was told that they were custom made by Fab’s friend and that there was quite a lot of demand for them from some of the patrons.
Soon enough, Clarence and Kenneth arrived and we decided to settle down and sample some of the whiskies which were part of the free flow. There were 5 whiskies to choose from and they are as follows:
- Arran 10 Years Old
- Arran 14 Years Old
- Glenfarclas 8 Years Old
- Glen Moray 12 Years Old
- Smokehead (which I believe is a Laphroaig)
We took our time and sampled all of them one after another, stopping briefly to indulge in a wonderful cheese and cold cuts platter ($19) which went really well with the whisky selection.
The Arran 10 Years Old was grassy and probably a little untamed whereas the Arran 14 Years Old was sophisticated and matured, showcasing the quality of the spirit which clearly benefitted from the additional 4 years of aging.
The Glenfarclas 8 Years Old was sherried and sweet but not as complex as its older siblings whereas the Glen Moray 12 Years Old was solid with honey, freshly cut grass and a touch of citrus. As for the Smokehead, it was as big and brash as I had remembered it, but once again the low abv of 43% hindered the spirit from living up to its potential even though it is a great dram.
As the night continued, I spoke with some of the other patrons such as Keith (whom I had previously interacted with on Facebook but hadn’t met in person until that night), who provided me with a stellar sample of Bowmore’s The Devil’s Cask II at a bloody good price to add to my collection, as well as Gabriel, who is the Founder and CEO at BlackBookAsia Group, and his friend Elson.
Along the way, I ordered another dram from the menu and it was a dram from a distillery that I had been putting off for quite a while: Clynelish. It may seem absurd now, but I put it off as I had tried the Gold Label Reserve from Johnnie Walker (Clynelish is the signature malt within this blend) a few years ago and didn’t enjoy it.
The mineral-like nature as well as the waxy mouthfeel also didn’t really appeal to me and I had therefore put it to one side ever since then and had not much interest in it. But my attention was piqued by the various reviews I had seen online which raved at some of the independent and official bottlings and so had resolved to giving the whisky a proper shot.
I perused the menu and picked out a 16 Years Old Clynelish which had been bottled by Carn Mor for the Strictly Limited range. It too was from a refill sherry butt, bottled at a similar abv as the Mortlach and set me back SG$30. I was pleasantly surprised at just how flavourful the whisky was and it showcased the fruity, meaty and mineral side of the spirit but all done so in harmonious balance.
Fab saw what I had ordered and passed me a small dram of the Clynelish 15 Years Old bottled by Old Malt Cask in order to provide me with a way to compare the whiskies. He also provided me with a ginger infused white chocolate truffle which once again brought out the various nuances of both whiskies. Those truffles are magic surely!
Soon it was time to call it a night and we bade farewell to Fab and his crew before taking our leave. It was an enjoyable night and definitely a hugely successful Grand Opening as the place was packed from the very beginning till the end from what I heard.
I can’t thank Fab enough for the wonderful event invitation and wish him and his crew the very best for the future. Needless to say, I foresee that I will be making many more trips down to CHIJMES for some quality whisky and great conversations in the near future!
The Single Cask can be found at the following address: 30 Victoria Street, CHIJMES, #02-15 Singapore 187996 and is open 7 days a week from 11am to midnight. They do accept walk-ins as well as reservations and can be contacted at +65 6837 0953.
Alternatively, patrons can choose to email Fab (firstname.lastname@example.org) if they have any enquiries and he will definitely respond to you as soon as possible.