Whisky lovers in Singapore usually tend to fall into two distinct categories: Those who purchase their whiskies from various sources to be enjoyed in the comforts of home, and those who purchase their whiskies either by the bottle or the dram at whisky bars across the red dot.
Interestingly, recent years have witnessed the emergence of a third category: Those who purchase their whiskies from various sources in order to enjoy them with friends at private tasting sessions.
It is this third category which most experienced whisky drinkers tend to fall under, primarily due to the fact that it allows for a communal enjoyment of different expressions while ensuring that the costs are shared among the many rather than born by the few.
But what if you were a discerning drinker who preferred to enjoy various drams on your own without having to fork out a small fortune in order to secure a nice variety of expressions from a multitude of distilleries?
Well, there is Flaviar, which provides a subscription package of 3-4 sample bottles containing a variety of spirits (not restricted to whisky) which is delivered to your doorstep for a mighty reasonable €15.99 for the first month (including free shipping) before recurring at €21.99 thereafter.
But the fact remains that while the figures quoted above are reasonable, they do not include the additional imposition of customs duty and GST that are levied on alcohol products upon their arrival in Singapore, and that just complicates things further.
But what if I were to tell you:
- That there was a similiar service in Singapore
- That concentrated only on whisky
- That contained a wonderful variety of whiskies young and old
- That originated from a multitude of celebrated and unheralded distilleries
- That delivered whiskies directly to your doorstep
And what if I were to tell you that their monthly subscription price of $88 includes a 10% discount for your first order month?
This subscription service, which launches from this month, is called Whisky Butler. It is the brainchild of a group of friends who put their shared love for the Water of Life to good use by channelling their entrepreneurial spirits to make it a viable business concept.
The premise is simple: Whisky Butler allows customers to subscribe for one of three tiers based on their respective finances:
- Pay As You Go ($88 per month)
- Half-Yearly Advance Purchase ($498 for 6 months, or $83 per month)
- One Year Advance Purchase ($888 per year, or $74 per month)
Customers who subscribe to any of those tiers will receive four 20ml samples of whisky from various distilleries around the world every month in order to sample at their leisure.
The intention would be to bring the customer on a journey through whisky by showcasing either different periods of whisky production, the impact of different geographical locations or even different house styles.
Each whisky sample will also be provided with detailed tasting notes so as to provide the customer with an idea as to what they could expect.
The idea behind the sample packs would be to provide whisky drinkers with a reference point for their respective nosing and tasting notes, while also allowing novice, intermediate and even expert whisky drinkers to explore different flavours and styles in order to find their favourites.
Whisky Butler even takes a page from Flaviar’s book by allowing customers to cancel or freeze their subscriptions at any time (with prior notice of course) so as to suit their individual needs and comfort level.
I met up with one of the co-founders of Whisky Butler, Benjamin Tan, at the Auld Alliance for a chat and he explained the vision of the business to me in detail.
Benjamin mentioned that one of the reasons for starting Whisky Butler was so that they could share the joys of nosing and tasting different types of whiskies with everyone who was keen to try.
Benjamin also mentioned that he believed in the idea that “the more we drink, the more we know and therefore the more enjoyable the experience of whisky becomes”.
As the conversation delved deeper, it became increasingly apparent just how much preparation had gone into putting this entire business venture into place.
Benjamin mentioned that his team had collectively nosed and tasted over THREE THOUSAND different whiskies in order to put together a definitive list of drams that were worthy of being shared with their potential customers.
Over time, the team has grown from a group of friends who were looking to try as many whiskies as they could to include a network of industry professionals, collectors and even an aspirational distiller!
When I asked Benjamin about the pricing strategy behind the subscription model, he was rather candid and informed me that the monthly charge of $88 for 4 drams was largely to cover for whisky acquisitions, sampling bottles, any applicable duties and taxes as well as miscellaneous expenses.
This also allows the team to operate with a small profit margin which would then be ploughed back into the business in order for them to continue as a going concern.
It is abundantly clear to me that going through such a process is one that only the determined few would be able to tolerate over a long period of time and it clearly shows just how much Benjamin and his team view this as more of a labour of love than a business venture.
As the discussion continued further, two fundamental aspects of Whisky Butler came into focus: The goal/direction of the business in the immediate future as well as the intended future direction.
Benjamin mentioned that both these aspects were intertwined with one another as one was dependent on the success of the other.
Therefore, he believes that the direction of the business in the immediate future is dependent on creating the necessary awareness among the whisky community in Singapore with regard to their product and gaining enough traction and support in order to allow for the business to grow.
As for the future? Benjamin said that while they have some ideas in mind, they would prefer to keep these close to their chest for the foreseeable future.
However, he did give me a glimpse into that potential future direction by mentioning that the goal was to eventually emulate the SMWS. Considering the high regard I have for the SMWS, I couldn’t help but feel a small tinge of excitement at such a prospect.
I believe that Whisky Butler is poised to capitalise on what is essentially a vacuum in the whisky market by providing discerning customers with access to a wide variety of whiskies from around the world at relatively affordable prices.
The idea itself is sound, but every idea also needs to be executed properly and be provided with the necessary support system in order to thrive.
I, for one, am very keen to see how Whisky Butler establishes itself in the Singapore whisky market and it goes without saying that I am 100% committed to ensuring that they receive the necessary support that they require in order to succeed.
Dear readers, if you are looking to acquire access to affordable and diverse whisky samples from a multitude of distilleries, regions and house styles, then please seriously consider signing up for Whisky Butler’s subscription service.
As it also is the festive season with Christmas fast approaching, Whisky Butler is also offering a very special Christmas Advent Calendar which comprises 24 different types of whiskies for an immensely affordable $299!
I would highly recommend that customers consider buying this as the list of whiskies being offered is brilliant to say the least:
- K5, Bhutan
- 1907, Bhutan
- Amrut Intermediate Sherry Cask, India
- Paul John Brilliance Whisky, India
- Kavalan King Car, Taiwan
- Hakushu 12, Japan
- Nikka Coffey Malt, Japan
- 1987 Touch Pause Enjoy, New Zealand
- Lark Single Malt Cask Strength, Australia
- FEW Rye Whiskey, USA
- Kings County Chocolate Whisky, USA
- Hammer Head 1989, Czech Republic
- Eddu Silver Buckweat Whisky, France
- Mackmyra First Edition, Sweden
- Penderyn Madeira Single Malt, Wales
- Bushmills 1608 400th Anniversary, Ireland
- Green Spot Single Pot Still, Ireland
- Auchenstoshan Three Wood, Scotland
- Deanston 12, Scotland
- Hazelburn 12, Scotland
- Tomintoul 16, Scotland
- Ledaig 18, Scotland
- Laphroaig 18, Scotland
- Cadenhead’s Royal Brackla 1984 30, Scotland
As can be seen in the list above, the Christmas Advent Calendar provides a nice variety of international samples, some of which are increasingly hard to find or even downright rare.
There are only limited quantities of the Christmas Advent Calendar available for sale and I would suggest that you get in there as soon as possible as it definitely wouldn’t be available for long.
More information about Whisky Butler can be found at the following link: http://www.whiskybutler.sg/
Alternatively, please feel free to contact Benjamin via email for more information about Whisky Butler as well as the Christmas Advent Calendar at firstname.lastname@example.org