For those of us who aren't Harvey Specter from Suits with a bottle of Macallan at our desks, turn to the city's top whisky bars for an after-work tipple. Whether you're a fan of smoky and peaty Scotch or sweet and oaky bourbons, these leather-chair saloons have all your dram dreams covered. Visit The Exciseman Whisky Bar for limited edition bottles of Scotch or stick with the ever-reliable La Maison Du Whisky, which stocks a wide variety of bottles from around the world. Whatever your pick, these bars are the places to be for some sipping and savouring.
Named after the British tax official that imposes duties on alcohol, The Exciseman is a whisky bar that harks back to the good old days with its antique brass ceiling tiles, vintage lamps and a 140-year-old grand piano, just to set the tone. Owned by Patricia Britton and Lewis Mitchell, who also co-founded alcoholic beverage company Le Vigne, this bar houses some of the most exquisite and rare bottles on the island. The selection leans towards special editions and artisanal bottlings from Scotland’s best distilleries including Douglas Laing’s Single Minded Speyside 15 Year Old ($14) and Old Particular Speyside 21 ($48). It's also the only bar in Singapore to stock Douglas Laing’s Big Peat Singapore Edition ($16), a blended Islay malt whisky. Only 600 bottles of this special bottles were produced so get your hands on it while you can. Better yet, make it a double – at The Exciseman, the standard pour comes in a 30ml shot but doubles are priced at 50 percent more than a single.
On the second level of Regent Singapore sits a portal to 19th-century New York City, where ladies are decorated in pearls and gentlemen dressed to the nines. Under lowered lights, large leather armchairs and sofas gather around tables to offer enough privacy for a clandestine rendezvous. While Manhattan is known as one of the city's best cocktail bars, it also stocked over 200 bottles of American whiskey from Kentucky as well as lesser-known craft distillers. We're talking everything from entry-level Maker's Mark ($21) to big boys like the coveted Pappy Van Winkle's Family Reserve 20 Years ($290). It's not just bourbons on the menu – there's Amrut Fusion ($25) from India, Kavalan Single Malt from Taiwan ($25) and classic Scotch for the purists as well.
Located on the quiet second floor of the Rendezvous Hotel, the bar’s out-of-the-way surrounds should suit the crowd-averse malt sipper. The library-like experience of the old Alliance is still in place from its old digs in CHIJMES – except it's increased its offerings to about 1,500 whiskies including 1863 (yes) to 2000 vintages. The labels are collected from all over the world, and the history on show can definitely be intimidating for budding connoisseurs – the book-like menu certainly doesn’t help much, either. But once you take a seat – either at the bar or on one of the chesterfield couches – the friendly staff and knowledgeable service unfurls a bit of the perceived stuffiness of the space. More than 30 flights of spirits – there are rum and cognac sets, too – ensure even the newbie will walk away with an enlightening experience. It’s clearly easy to get carried away with such a strong show of whiskies on offer, but it’s nice to know that The Auld Alliance, as always, wants you to take away more than just a happy high at the end of the night.
Do you have room for more? Then climb up to the third floor of this house on Harding Road for whiskies and cigars. The latest addition to the Illido Group, Room For More is a contemporary salon that feels more welcoming than most. Get comfortable on one of its many couches and swirl through whiskies from Scotland, Japan, India, France and more uncommon curations from Switzerland, Sweden, Germany and the Czech Republic. If you're not a smoker, you don't have to worry about smelling like a chimney – the space is thoughtfully sectioned off into two areas so just pick your side and your poison.
With over 1,000 bottles of whiskey – from the ultra rare to the award-winning favourites – on its shelves, The Whiskey Library is one of the best places in Singapore to sip and savour a dram. Housed in The Vagabond Club, the luxurious boutique hotel with its red velvet banquettes, a stunning collection of art and locally handcrafted furniture, the bar oozes sophistication to the highest degree. Enjoy a pour of your favourite Scotch – its collection comprises mostly limited-edition single-cask bottles, including some from independent bottlers like Gordon and MacPhail and Signatory Vintage Scotch.
Here's one for the connoisseurs. The smartly furnished outlet of this institution, in South Beach, stocks over 500 expressions, 90 percent of which are Scotch. It also specialises in ultra rare bottles, like the Yamazaki 50, which costs in excess of $120,000, and small-batch bottlings from Kilkerren (from $37/dram), one of only three distilleries in Campbeltown. For the newbies, take it from us and order an introductory flight. A member of the bar team will also walk (or drink?) you through the flight, explaining the subtle differences between whiskies from the Scottish regions.
You'll be spoilt for choice at The Single Cask, which houses 350 varieties of whisky and other spirits – most of which are small-batch, bespoke exports. Managed by Brendan Pillai and bartender Prathip Nambiar, the 400-square-foot bar promises a laid-back experience – the pair is more than happy to chat with novices and whisky enthusiasts alike – that comfortably sits around 25 people. The stock is replenished every six weeks, and starts from $15 a glass for a Glenfarclas Heritage. If you’re unsure where to begin, leave it to Nambiar to pick you a poison based on whether you prefer sweet, spicy or smoky flavours, for example. Each 40ml dram is paired with one of nine chocolates available depending on the flavours of your spirit. Better yet, embark on a whisky flight (from $45/four 25ml shots), or join one of The Single Cask’s weekly dram classes. It also serves bespoke and classic cocktails ($22 each), including the Scotch Old Fashioned. Don't forget to peruse its retail area, which offers 350 expressions of whisky.
More a bottle shop than bar, La Maison du Whisky eschews the masculine, leather-clad digs you'd expect of a whisky joint for rather spartan and functional interiors. A U-shaped bar dominates the small space in Robertson Quay, around which novices and experts alike gather to sample whiskies and whiskeys from all over the world: the many regions of Scotland, Ireland, Japan, Taiwan, the US, England… even the Czech Republic and Australia are among the hundreds of expressions stocked here. And prices are pretty affordable, too. They begin at $40 for a 20cl bottle of Kavalan single-malt, and rocket up to $20,800 for a Karuizawa 1969.
With some of the world’s rarest bottles of whisky lining its walls, The Wall isn't playing around. The whisky and sumiyaki bar welcomes connoisseurs and novices alike, offering whisky flights from $37 and 45ml pours from $14 per glass. Instead of relegating the whiskies to after-dinner enjoyment, the Wall serves a comprehensive sumiyaki menu meant to be paired with your dram. There are whisky and sumiyaki sets from $49, and a chef’s omakase menu served with whisky priced at $168.