Back in September 2019, local distillery Brass Lion and local brewery The General Brewing Co. teamed up to undertake the (at the time) unfathomable act of producing Singapore’s first whisky.
It required a collaborative effort for the brewery to produce the barley wash that ended up inside Brass Lion’s still, which in turn became the new-make spirit that then went into a specially procured barrel. After ageing for close to 4 years in a bourbon cask under Singapore’s tropical climate, the final product is now ready and bottled.
That pioneering, groundbreaking moment many moons ago has paid off. The newly launched Brass Lion Single Malt Whisky has made history by being the first of its kind to be 100% made in Singapore.
It is worth reiterating that the production process was, and still is, a trailblazing endeavour. A wash that could accommodate Singapore’s high humidity and equatorial climate first needed to be produced locally. The General Brewing Co. thus chose to use top-fermenting ale yeasts and Maris Otter malt for this purpose.
Fermentation of that wash was then done at local ambient temperature. According to the brewers, this was possible due to the thermotolerant nature of the yeast strain used.
With 2000 litres of wash on hand, the liquid then underwent double distillation at Brass Lion, going through many, many rounds (around 22 runs) to obtain a precious yield of 180 litres of new-make spirit at approximately 68% ABV.
This was then aged in a bourbon barrel and left to mature for more than 3 years. While Singapore has no law pertaining to the definition of what makes Singapore-made whisky, this stringent process adheres to many standards and regulations practised worldwide.
Ageing was also done in a sheltered but uncontrolled environment, allowing Singapore’s natural climate to influence the liquid inside the barrel. Given the equatorial climate, ageing is actually far accelerated compared to whiskies from the likes of Scotland, Japan, and the USA.
This has resulted in a whisky with much more depth and nuance than a usual 3 or 4 year-old bottling from the usual source countries might exhibit.
It’s interesting too that, according to Brass Lion, the flavour of the new-make spirit has changed dramatically over the course of the years. Tasting from the barrel every 6 months, they report a development from malty, fruity, and biscuity tones to a more rounded whisky full of vanilla, dried fruits, nuttiness, and nutmeg spice.
If you’re interested in getting your hands on a bottle, act fast. Only 427 bottles are available, of which 70 are cask strength expressions. Starting Sep 9, a highly limited number of bottles will be made available per day for online purchases directly on Brass Lion’s website.
But if you really want a guaranteed method of getting your hands on a bottle, then snagging a spot on the Making History: A Brass Lion Whisky Experience (S$78 per person), being held at the distillery at 40 Alexandra Terrace, is the way to go. Only four sessions are being held on consecutive Saturdays starting 23 Sep, and it has been confirmed that enough stock will be allocated for each attendee.
During the experience, guests will get to enjoy a welcome cocktail while freely exploring the working distillery, which now features an interactive pop-up exhibition detailing the journey of how Brass Lion Single Malt Whisky is made. A guided tasting of Brass Lion’s flagship Singapore Dry Gin, their Barrel Aged Gin, and of course, the Brass Lion Whisky, will be conducted too.
Tickets to the experience are sure to be snapped up fast (only 20 persons maximum per session), so round up your fellow whisky-loving friends, grab a spot, and head down to the distillery and have a taste of Singapore history for yourself.
And if you’re wondering whether Brass Lion will be making any more whisky after this batch, well, according to our conversation with them, the short answer is yes – we just don’t know when that might happen (ageing does take a long time), and it definitely won’t be the exact same whisky.
They are currently in the midst of exploring the option of using different barrels the next time. So just keep a lookout for further announcements. Until then, we have Singapore’s first single malt to enjoy.
Each bottle of Brass Lion Single Malt Whisky (48% ABV) retails for S$328, with the Cask Strength (65% ABV) bottling retailing at S$468. Purchase them online on Brass Lion’s website starting Sep 9, 2023 (pre-sales begin Sep 8).
About the Author
Dannon Har is the Managing Editor of Spill. Discovering his innate gift for drinking only at a ripe age, he spares no time trying to find more delicious drops to imbibe during his time on Earth. When he’s not minding every detail at Spill, he spends his time concocting luscious libations and sharing them with folks that visit his home bar.