Spirited away: When Singapore’s opinion leaders bond over dialogue and drams
CNA Luxury and Singapore Tatler kicked off the first Gentlemen’s Series last Monday (Nov 4) with an evening of sparkling conversation and merrymaking, fuelled by rare whiskies.
When men who aren’t acquainted with each other meet for the first time, ice-breaking topics typically revolve around National Service, cars, sport or women. Of course it helps if there are refreshing beverages on hand to help drive the conversation.
With that in mind, CNA Luxury and Singapore Tatler sought the expertise of the world’s second-largest distiller, Diageo – in particular its specialist arm Diageo Rare and Exceptional – when it came to organising a boys’ night out – The Gentlemen’s Series – at Vineyard, a French-Italian restaurant set amid the lush greenery of HortPark.
The 31-strong guest list comprised businessmen, opinion leaders, and tastemakers. Present were prominent members of society like Tan Puay Hiang, Chairman and CEO of Contemporara Holdings; noted watch collector, CEO and partner of Lifeline Medical Group Dr Bernard Cheong; and Vikna Rajah, Partner at Rajah & Tann.
Creative types like Mervin Wee, Jean Yip Group's Artistic Director, and Hunn Wai, Creative Director of Lanzavecchia+Wai Design Studio, along with several members of the Ferrari Owners’ Club – including hedge fund manager and property developer Henry “Happy” Mok – were also present.
Over the four-course whisky-pairing menu, guests indulged in a selection of rare whiskies specially curated by Diageo’s Whisky Specialist James Walker. Many present were ardent whisky connoisseurs, with Cheong commenting that with the right company, it was “very easy” to polish off a few bottles of Scotch in a single night.
“I chose the whiskies as they show flavours and styles from the four corners of Scotland, showcasing different cask types, distillation styles, ageing processes and geographical factors,” said Walker.
“All are limited releases from our rare and collectable range, three of which are at cask strength. I also wanted to start the dinner with a lighter style and get on to more full bodied whiskies as the dinner progressed.”
The Starter of Bouillabaisse Salad by Ah Hua Kelong was matched up with the Pittyvaich 28 Year Old, a Speyside whisky from a ghost distillery (the distillery ceased operations in 1993). Aged in American oak casks, the dram was light and floral, with botanical notes and a tinge of sweetness and spice.
This segued into the Glenkinchie 24 Year Old, a lowland whisky distilled near Edinburgh, which was paired with the Chicken Consomme. A rare treat, as Walker explained: “This whisky has been aged in European oak which adds warmer spice and fruiter notes and is the oldest official release from this distillery with less than 6,000 bottles being produced.”
To sync with the main course – guests had a choice of Black Bean Braised Short Ribs, Local Soft Shell Crab, or Char Siew Quail – Walker opted for a whisky with savoury notes. “The Inchgower 27 Year Old is from a coastal distillery in the North of Speyside, giving slightly more savoury notes with a hint of salinity and a more waxy mouthfeel,” he said, adding that only 8,544 bottles were produced from refill American oak casks.
Capping the evening with the Strawberry dessert was the Talisker 30 Year Old, a limited release from one of the most iconic Scotch whiskies. “Signature peat and spice is mellowed slightly over the 30 years in oak, intense red fruits combine with cacao and chili notes. A perfect whisky to round off the dinner,” said Walker.