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Quaich Bar Wanderlust: We Explored 15 Single Malt Cocktails At Whisky's Gateway Bar!

 

Before I delved into the world of whisky, it felt like an exclusive club - one of those scenes where the doors remain closed until you master the secret handshake. Unless you’ve tasted enough whisky, you might struggle to understand why enthusiasts go out of their way to taste a certain expression, or go ape when certain brands announce a new release. But here I was, stepping into Quaich Bar Wanderlust, a place that promises to show you what the fuss is all about.

 

 

This is actually the Quaich Bar brand’s third outfit; the first Quaich Bar outlet which opened in 2007 is widely recognised as Singapore’s first specialist whisky bar. But the Wanderlust bar offers something different. This place is a metaphorical bridge between worlds. One that connects the serious, specialist whisky bars to the lively, spirited cocktail lounges.

 

 

Located in a cosy corner of the refined Intercontinental Hotel Singapore, it's a rewarding spot to find. What got me interested? Not only do they know their whisky and have an extensive collection, they have a knack for crafting cocktail riffs that seamlessly incorporate whisky. For those of us still wading into the deep pools of whisky appreciation, a cocktail-first approach is very inviting. It's like easing into a warm bath, one cocktail at a time.

Settling in, I noticed the space around me. It is warmly lit with an upscale and polished ambience, but without any stuffiness of a highly exclusive space – instead, it has an old colonial clubhouse's charm that fits right in with the vibe of the heritage hotel.

Rather than typical lounge music that might lull you to sleep, the music has an eclectic dance feel, with traces of tropical house beats. There’s even a DJ selecting the music on Fridays. Chatting with the staff, I learned that on Fridays the DJ would throw you into a nostalgia trip with jams from the 90s and early 2000s.

And the drinks? True to its brand, Quaich Bar Wanderlust has an extensive collection of whiskies, with a focus on Scotch. But what stands out at this location is their 'Whisky Done 15 Ways' concept. This means you can buy a bottle of whisky, and boom, you've got the option of trying it in 15 different cocktail avatars. In fact, 9 of these cocktails won’t cost you any extra dime if you order them on the same day you buy the whisky. Bottle keep service is also provided, so you can leave this bottle at the bar for the next time you decide to return and continue drinking it, or revisit the cocktails made with it.

 If you're not up for a whole bottle, their reasonably priced whisky flights are absolutely worth trying – great for people getting into whiskies who’re looking to try a wider variety without getting too tipsy on one bottle.

So, let's talk about my tasting experience. I opted for the 15 Ways of Serving Whisky and selected the Tomatin Legacy – a decent entry-level single malt that nobody would complain if you make a cocktail out of it.

I kicked off the evening with a neat pour of Tomatin Legacy, straight out of the bottle. The single malt is made with a combination of 85% ex-bourbon cask whisky and 15% virgin oak whisky which gives it more pronounced vanilla notes and spices. Tasting it, this is a Scotch that dances on your palate – bright, fruity, and very clean. Opens with a burst of apple juice notes, sweet pineapple gummies, a touch of cream and a light zesty spiced finish. For someone who has tried many bourbon cask single malts, this is a very very solid entry-level expression as I would expect from Tomatin.

 

 

Then I shifted gears to the cocktails on the 15 Ways menu – don’t forget, most of these cocktails are free since I got myself a bottle of whisky! I began with a refreshing Whisky Super Dry (or just Whisky Dry) made from the Tomatin I got. It’s a straightforward mix of whisky with dry ginger ale. It’s reminiscent of a highball but the spice and fizziness of the ginger ale really compliments the inherent spiciness of the Tomatin as well as the pure fruitiness. Nice and refreshing…

 

 

Because I’m here on an empty stomach, I ended with a Paloma cocktail. Typical Palomas are made with tequila or mezcal being the spirit base. But of course, this is a riff on the original using whisky, and it works very well too! It’s juicy, zesty and refreshing, but more neutral without the usual herbaceous notes from the agave spirit. That said, they used fresh grapefruits in this, which lends it a mild bitterness that perfectly balances the cocktail’s sweet notes perfectly. Right up my alley!

 

 

The service I received was definitely excellent with good attention to detail. Bernard, the bartending manager, was not only friendly but also possessed a depth of knowledge about whiskies that added richness to the experience, and he took the effort of popping the cork of the whisky I got in front of me. He also tested my whisky knowledge by asking me what a “quaich” was, and then handed me an actual quaich. I’ve done my research so I already knew that the quaich is some kind of archaic 2-handed cup used in ancient Scottish Highlands.

 

 

Bernard added that this cup was designed to be 2-handled to promote trust and friendship between drinkers from the cup. Ancient Scotland saw a tumultuous history of clan feuds and battles, and having both hands occupied with a cup when toasting a fellow warlord might have been seen as a gesture of peace. Engaging with the staff here isn't just transactional; it's educational and fun!

Wrapping up my thoughts, as a spirits enthusiast, I appreciate Wanderlust's approach. It genuinely welcomes both spirits enthusiasts, as well as whisky newcomers by introducing them to allure of single malts via accessible cocktails. It ain't just lip service. It’s a clever concept that I wish I was exposed to earlier in my whisky-drinking career. Oh, and a pro tip for anyone considering a visit: Please don't miss the food menu. It looks every bit as delightful as their drinks.

@CharsiuCharlie