Is it whisky? Or is it whiskey? If you don’t already know, the Scots, Canadians and Japanese spell it whisky, while the Irish spell it whiskey. Americans use an extra ‘e’, too, but calls their sweet firewater bourbons. Whichever region your heart gravitates towards, you’ll be sipping, or knocking back, the good stuff at any one of these bars.
Some days, we want the hard stuff, and other days we’re in the mood for something easy to drink. For the times when you’re feeling cocktails with your favourite brown booze, you can’t go wrong at St Regis’ fancy-ass Astor Bar. The moody, leather-and-velvet-clad watering hole is famous for its Bloody Mary (King Cole Bar at St Regis New York created the cocktail), but it also makes a mean Whisky Sour, amongst other whisky-infused concoctions. If, for some reason, you don’t find something you like in the 50-strong cocktail menu, there are also top-shelf spirits, single malt whiskies and a big list of fine wines.
Astor Bar, Lobby, The St. Regis Singapore, 29 Tanglin Road, t. 6506 6859
The Auld Alliance
Looking less like a bar and more like a 1920s’ gentlemen lounge complete with—you guessed it—warm wood and Chesterfield leather sofas, this place has a whisky list that knows no bounds. With over 1,500 whiskies lined up on its shelves and a book-thick menu, things can get a little overwhelming, but thankfully the bartenders are friendly and have an extensive knowledge of the pours available. This is where you should go for something you’ve never heard of. Pick a price point, then let the service staff do the rest.
The Auld Alliance, #02-02A Rendezvous Hotel, 9 Bras Basah Road, t. 6337 2201
The Beast Southern Kitchen and Bourbon Bar
Sometimes you just want a whisky and fried chicken. For that, make your way to this monster of a gastrobar, which specialises in the best food to come out of the American South: cornbread, bacon, country-fried steak, pimento cheese, and, of course, buttermilk fried chicken on top of a crispy waffle, drizzled with bourbon maple butter. The tough part will be figuring out which drink to pair it with: the Beast isn't only home to one of the largest collections of bourbons in the country; it also has a rather decent selection of American craft beers. In the Southern spirit of moonshining, the bar also makes their own SoCo (short for Southern Comfort, a whiskey-based liqueur flavoured with fruit and spice) and has a barrel-ageing program showcasing a rotating selection of classic cocktails.
The Beast Southern Kitchen and Bourbon Bar, 17 Jalan Klapa, t. 6295 0017
Is it a cigar spot, a whisky bar or a club? Well, those things don’t have to be mutually exclusive, because Zouk Singapore serves them all up at Capital. The swanky lounge consists of four different zones: an island bar, which serves everything from wine to your usual housepours; a whisky bar; a cigar room and a dance floor surrounded by plush seats. Since we’re on the topic of whisky, you’ll find an extensive list of more than 48 different types that you can sip by the glass, including rare, collector and limited-edition ones.
Capital at Zouk Singapore, The Cannery, Clarke Quay, 3C River Valley Road, t. 6738 2988
Obviously, a place with 80 percent of its 21-page menu dedicated to Scotch, bourbons and Japanese blends takes its whisky very seriously. Go neat or on the rocks with the brown stuff, but The Flagship’s specialty, the Old Fashioned, is on point and you can choose the whiskey that goes into your cocktail. If you’re feeling especially baller, order from the Buffalo Trace Distillery Antique Collection—a 45-ml glass that sets you back just SGD90. Scotch dominates the menu, followed by a solid list of American bourbon and a whole lot of whiskies from Japan, Ireland, Australia, France, Taiwan, India, Britain and Germany.
The Flagship, 20 Bukit Pasoh Road, t. 9011 8304
This Clarke Quay mainstay is a testament that people in Singapore love their Scotch. As you’d expect, the whisky list is substantial—there are over 250 selections available by the glass or bottle—but that’s hardly the end of the story: servers are dressed in kilts to complete the Scottish experience, and you can pair your single malts with a side of live music on all nights.
Highlander, #01-11 Clarke Quay, 3B River Valley Road, t. 6235 9528
La Maison du Whisky
What La Maison du Whiskey lacks in seats, it makes up for it with a staggeringly impressive whisky collection. We’re talking about over 700 whiskies, including some of the rarest Singapore’s ever seen. Any whisky lover who likes trying new booze will enjoy the monthly tasting session, and, if you like, training workshops are available upon request. Too overwhelmed by sheer volume of options? Just ask the highly knowledgeable team of barmen to help you dig up the Yamazaki or Dalwhinnie expression of your dreams.
La Maison du Whisky, #01-10 The Pier, 80 Mohamed Sultan Road, t. 6733 0059
It’s a no-brainer that one of the best places in town to get yourself some really good whisky is a place that has been around for a decade or more. Quaich (pronounced 'quake')—which takes its name after the traditional Scottish drinking cup—has been a purveyor of the brown spirit since 2007, before whisky bars became a thing in Singapore. Depending on your mood, you can find a spot at Quaich’s first outlet at the corner of Waterfront Plaza (next to Grand Copthorne Waterfront Hotel) if you’re into the rustic vibe, or you can saunter into its newest bar at South Beach, next to the JW Marriott Hotel if you want to be among the yuppies. Both watering holes stock more than 500 varieties of whiskies, mostly from Scotland, so you’d be well covered regardless.
Quaich Bar, #01-16 South Beach Avenue, 30 Beach Road, t. 6386 5366
The Single Cask
Sure, they’ve got the requisite 400-plus single malts on offer, but what separates The Single Cask from other whisky bars is their dedication to small-batch single-cask Scotch whiskies. In other words, the whiskies here are mostly from family-owned distilleries and independent bottlers, and usually in limited quantities. Look out for their masterclasses and special events if you want to brush up on whisky.
The Single Cask, #01-25 CHIJMES, 30 Victoria Street, t. 6837 0953
The Swan Song
If you’re hunting down an old, discontinued bottle, you just might find it at this well-stocked tasting room. It has about 450 whiskies, some of which come from closed distilleries such as Port Ellen and Brora. Sit at the long table in front of the bar and get a straight-up education on whisky. Whether you’re a newbie or a connoisseur looking to widen your worldview on the brown stuff, there’s a good range of tasting sets for everyone at every level.
The Swan Song, #02-01, 50A Prinsep Street
An underground brick-walled CBD spot that loves its Scotch and sumiyaki (or Japanese grill), The Wall holds more than 120 bottles of whiskies mainly from Scotland and Japan, with a respectable number of rare labels and vintages. There are tasting notes for everything on the menu, and the bar staff are on hand to answer your questions, so you know what you’re imbibing. For the best experience at The Wall, go for one of their whisky flights (you get to choose three varieties), which comes with four delicious grilled plates.
The Wall, 76 Tanjong Pagar Road, t. 6225 7988
The WoW – World of Whisky
The old Mövenpick Heritage Hotel Sentosa is now Le Méridien Singapore; the name may have changed but the bar hasn’t. It’s still a sanctum for single malts, with over 250 Switzerland-imported whiskies on its shelves. Though its list isn’t quite as exhaustive as the other bars noted here, many of its bottles are exclusive to the lounge and not available anywhere else in Singapore. If you’re peckish, there’s also a food pairing menu as well as a la carte tapas to go with your drams.
The WoW – World of Whisky, Lobby level, Le Méridien Singapore, 23 Beach View, Sentosa, t. 6818 3305
The Writing Club
What do you do when you have way too many whiskies in your personal collection? Well, you could open a bar, like husband-and-wife Tan Soo San and Sherin Ong did with The Writing Club, after amassing, what we’re guessing, hundreds of bottles over the past decade. The space isn’t big (just 700 square feet), but you’ll be privy to over 500 labels sourced from numerous distilleries, whisky shops, small run-down liquor dealers, and grocery shops in remote areas of Scotland and beyond.
The Writing Club, #02-10 Palais Renaissance, 390 Orchard Road, t. 9362 8626