Sessions is a series of get-togethers of whisky lovers in Singapore. An initiative by The Swan Song and Friends With Drams, Sessions stems from the Singaporean concept of ‘gotong-royong’: to build up a spirit of neighbourliness within the local whisky community.
We hope to work closely with partners in the industry. Every bottle of whisky enjoyed will help forge the bonds of friendship in the Singapore whisky community.
Sessions in 2020
Sessions Edition 013 featuring Carn Mor was a blast! Held on 12 Feb 2020, participants enjoyed 5 delicious drams from the Limited Series and Celebration of the Cask ranges, and gained insights to the differences between a single distillery release, and a single cask release.
Even more insightful was Timothy "Rusty" Barnes talking about his vast experience in the Food & Beverage industry, including how he managed to snag the role as distributor for Morrison & Mackay in Singapore. He also kindly extended an invitation to Burnt Ends Cellars to all participants, and his name cards were eagerly sought out.
1. Glencadam 2011 (Carn Mor Strictly Limited Series
2. Glenburgie 2011 (Carn Mor Strictly Limited Series)
3. Linkwood 2009 (Carn Mor Strictly Limited Series)
4. Glenrothes 1996 (Carn Mor Celebration of the Cask)
5. Benrinnes 1996 (Carn Mor Celebration of the Cask)
This Sessions was be led by Singapore’s very own unofficial Mars “ambassador” Loh Chin Hui. Chin Hui’s reputation in the whisky circles is such that if he calls himself Singapore’s number one expert on Mars whisky, nobody will dare challenge that! We were thrilled that he took participants on a journey through the history of Mars whisky across 7 different drams.
1. Mars “Old Whisky”, bottled in the 1970s
2. Mars “Maltage aged 12 years”, estimated to be from the late 80s
3. Mars “Sherry 452” single cask, 12yo, distilled 1986
4. Mars “Phoenix and the Sun” single cask, bottled for Whisky Talk Fukuoka 2016
5. Mars “Komagatake Tsunuki Aging Commemorative Edition”, bottled 2016 to commemorate the opening of the Tsunuki Distillery
6. Mars "Komagatake Bourbon Barrel", bottled for Mitsukoshi Isetan
7. Mars "Komagatake Minamishinshu Beer IPA Cask finish"
Sessions in 2019
The inaugural Sessions was held on Wednesday, 17 Oct 2018. It featured Independent Bottler Dramfool.
Fuelled by his 20-year passion for whisky, Bruce Farquhar is the one man operation behind Dramfool. His motivation behind every cask chosen is to ensure whisky nerds like himself can continue enjoying quality whiskies at great prices.
1. Port Charlotte 15yo - Islay Whisky Festival 2018
2. Octomore 6yo - Islay Whisky Festival 2018
3. Bowmore 21yo
4. Avian Gull Too 9yo
5. Cola Ali 9yo
Each dram of Ledaig brought them to a different period of the distillery's history. Participants enjoyed themselves, and we saw a couple of familiar faces too!
1. Ledaig 1974 official bottling
2. Ledaig 1992 official bottling, 7yo bottled for The Shareholders of The Spirit of 1992 plc
3. SMWS 42.28, 9yo bottled for Bar Selene's 25th anniversary celebrations
4. Ledaig 2008, bottled for Potstill Austria Painter's edition
But what everybody agreed upon, based on the warmth and joy in The Swan Song, was that Home Need Wine & Spirits is aptly named!
1. HNWS Flight and Feather Series #2 – Glentauchers 2008 9 Years Old
2. HNWS Flight and Feather Series #1 – Benriach Peated 2011 6 Years Old
3. SHNWS Glenrothes 2005 13 Years Old
4. HNWS Cameronbridge 1984 34 Years Old (13th Anniversary Bottling)
The outcome was a rousing Sessions Edition 004, with a smile on every face.
1. Littlemill 22yo, bottled for WhiskyBase
2. Glenlochy 32yo, bottled by Signatory Vintage
3. Brora 19yo, bottled by Chieftain's
4. Port Ellen 23yo, bottled by Wilson & Morgan
Because it is the Year of the Pig, Sessions Edition 005 was all about "Boar-ing" Whisky. The whiskies in the line-up were all "born" in the year of the Pig, with the oldest distilled in 1971 (4 cycles ago)!
The four drams poured showed how each Pig could hold its own, and excel in different ways. The crowd was split between which was the best of the night. But everybody enjoyed the roasted pig served at dinner.
Friends With Drams also pulled out a bonus mystery dram for all the lucky folks there: A brand new bottling from Dramfool.
As always, we will let the smiles speak for themselves!
1. Glen Elgin 19yo, distilled 1971, bottled by Cadenhead's
2. Coal Ila 32yo, distilled 1983, bottled by Signatory Vintage
3. Clynelish 21yo, distilled 1995, bottled by Scotch Malt Sales Japan
4. Ledaig 9yo, distilled 2007, bottled for Spirit & Cask Range
Rum and whisky are very similar - both are the products of fermentation and distillation. Both boast of a wide variety of flavours influenced by raw ingredients and maturation process, and both possess a rich heritage across its many distilleries. Like whisky, each rum can arguably lay claim to its own provenance and character.
The participants at Sessions Edition 006 stepped out of their comfort zones to learn more about rum. Throughout the tasting, they actively asked questions, and learnt from each other. Views were divided, but everyone was thirsty for knowledge.
By the end of the night, we were pleased that we had successfully dispelled the myth that all rums are sweet. We were even more pleased when we overheard terms like "dirty", "gasoline", "bananas", and "fwah" being used to describe the drams -- the same way they would describe whisky. This shows that even though the production methods of rum are truly varied, it is still a spirit to be taken seriously.
All in all, it was another great Sessions with great food and great company.
1. Jacsi Martinique Rum (circa 1950s)
2. Monymusk 12yo bottled by Berry Bros
3. Hampden 2000 bottled by Kingsbury
4. Ultivlugt 1997 single cask rum
The Swan Song and The Single Cask are among the best whisky bars in Singapore. One specialises in old and rare whiskies, whilst the other selects and bottles their own casks. To satisfy our own curiosity, Friends With Drams (a distributor of independent bottlings) cheekily tried to see which was better through a head-to-head. But the two bars were cheekier still, and showed true class and camaraderie.
Rather than a competition, bar owners Kelvin and Brendan used the opportunity to teach participants how to spot and appreciate the beauty that each whisky had to offer. They showcased the individual characteristics of Ledaig and Bruichladdich with the four drams served that night. Accompanied by a hearty meal of local Hainanese curry rice, the bar reverberated with laughter.
The winner that night? The participants.
Round 1: Bruichladdich
-The Single Cask bottling (8yo)
-Signatory Vintage (24yo)
Round 2: Ledaig
-The Single Cask bottling (10yo)
-Brass & Mining collection (15yo)
A closed Scottish distillery. Legendary for producing a fruity and floral malt. Bottles that only a top-class whisky bar would have, much less have by the dram. An intimate evening with fellow connoisseurs. It was pure bliss for the lucky few who got their hands on a ticket. The chance to try such rare whiskies was not to be missed.
Each dram drew its share of fans, but the Rosebank 1966 bottled by Cadenhead's won over the majority of participants. In fact, it was such a gem that silence descended upon the bar once the nosing began. But let us not get carried away.
1. Rosebank 1966 bottled by Cadenhead's
2. Rosebank 1978 bottled by Douglas Laing
3. Rosebank 1989 bottled by Cadenhead's
4. Rosebank 1990 bottled by Chieftain's
Back in April 2019, Edition 007 featured a friendly contest between two of the best whisky bars in Singapore. The participants loved it so much, they asked us to have another round.
Once again, the Single Cask and The Swan Song each picked two bottles of Ledaig from their respective collections. We conducted two rounds of blind tasting where participants decided which dram was better.
While The Swan Song won the vote in both rounds, the true winners that night were all the participants. They enjoyed their four drams of Ledaig with a delicious Nasi Padang. Kelvin and Brendan also spent time taking many questions from the participants. The most surprising answer was when we learnt how choosing which cask to bottle is actually a rather tiring and strenuous experience (even though it sounds like pure joy). Look at all the happy faces!
Round 1: The Single Cask bottling (26yo) vs van Wees The Ultimate 2004 (10yo)
Round 2: The Single Cask bottling (26yo) vs The Swan Song × Friends With Drams bottling (11yo)
Springbank is yet another distillery with very many die-hard fans. They have fallen in love with the dirty, funky notes of the distillery. This Sessions featured some amazing drams from one of the last surviving producers of single malt whiskies in Campbeltown.
It was truly bespoke experience for the Springbank lovers that made the trip to Swan Song that evening. They got a taste of Springbank from the 60s and 70s, and were able to compare it with a "younger" 15 year old as well. Truly another enjoyable evening soaking in the atmosphere and getting to know other Springbank connoisseurs.
1. Springbank 1967 bottled by Murray McDavid (31yo)
2. Springbank 1970 bottled by Secret Treasures (37yo)
3. Springbank 1996 bottled by Claxton’s (22yo)
4. 15-year-old Rum Cask, 2019 Official Release
Established in 2018, INTERCO-MLE aims to introduce interesting independent bottlers to Singapore, and it distributes a range of such bottlings in Singapore. Blackadder International is one such independent bottler, which has won many awards for the whiskies and rum they have selected.
Whiskies from both Scotland and Japan were poured, followed by some amazing Guyana rum. As a surprise, Jeremiah, the founder of INTERCO-MLE, also pulled out a gorgeous cognac so participants could experience for themselves the high bar for quality that Blackadder set for itself. In short, it was another delightful edition of Sessions.
1. Linkwood 26YO 1987
2. Bruichladdich 26YO 1991
3. Eigashima 3YO 2014
4. Black Snake VAT 2 Fourth Venom
5. Guyana Rum 14YO 2013
6. Cognac Brugerolle 25YO 1989
Sessions Edition 012 raised a total of $12,370. Every single dollar raised went directly to Daughters Of Tomorrow. This money will give 20 women access to DOT's Confidence Curriculum which will kick-start their back to work journey.
1. Springbank 1968, 35 YO bottled by Berry Bros (donated by a Private collector)
2. Ardbeg 1978, Official Bottling (donated by a Private collector)
3. Caol Ila 1982, 26YO, bottled by Duncan Taylor (donated by The Swan Song)
4. Bowmore 1994, 25YO, bottled by Adelphi (donated by Friends With Drams)
5. Springbank 2000, 11YO, Warehouse Sample (donated by Quaich Bar)
6. Kavalan Solist Port Cask (donated by LMDW)