The Single Cask is a quaint little whisky bar tucked away in a corner of Chijmes. Upon stepping in, one’s senses is pleasantly assailed by the strong scent of hardwood which creates a feeling of cosiness and warmth. Being a weekday night, it was rather unhabited, lending it an attendant air of surreality. Truth be told, I was pretty ambivalent when I stepped into the store as all of my previous encounters with whiskey had ended up in a mad dash for the barf bucket.
Thankfully, whatever fears I had upon entering were quickly relinquished. There to soothe my fears was Brendan, our bartender for the day – a jovial, easy-going chap. My friend who had kindly accompanied me promptly told him that I was a newcomer to alcohol, to which Brendan whipped out Edradour 10, a whiskey with 40% alcohol content. Each whiskey was paired with its own chocolate (which was really good! Infuriatingly, Brendan wouldn’t tell us where he got the chocolates from – “Our competitive advantage,” he chuckled). The whiskey came with a small water flask and a dropper – one could add a few droplets of water to mellow out the whiskey’s burn and to bring out its subtler, milder flavours.
After the chit-chat, I was schooled in the ways of tasting whiskey – one is supposed to take an appreciative whiff, nibble on chocolate and sip the whiskey. Like a good wine, one does not swallow immediately, but instead swirls it around with the tongue while smelling the whiskey. Also, a proper whiskey tasting is done slowly as the flavour morphs over time as it oxidises.
Delightfully, my 40% Edradour 10 smelled rather sweet with notes of caramel, and was suitably paired with milk chocolate. The first gulp however, felt like I swallowed a live flame down my throat, where heat then slowly dissipated to the rest of my limbs. Nonetheless, it was a good burn – the kind of spirit one would like to have before going off to battle.
Feeling more adventurous than I, my friend had Glenfarclas 105 with 60% alcohol content, a huge leap from the 40% of Edradour 10. It could only be described as spicy, with the smell of it literally singeing the nostrils. Once swallowed, its heat alone dazes the drinker. Brendan helpfully explained that the difference in sweetness or spiciness originates from the cask the whiskey was left to age in.
To our luck, a fellow patron on that day was Brendan’s friend and also a member of one of the whiskey appreciation associations in Australia. The ongoing conversation between the both of them was illuminating, to say the least. I’ve never thought whiskey was something people felt so passionately about - they had a little friendly contest of guessing the distillery just from taking a whiff from the bottle. We got to smell some of the whiskies passed around – even to the undiscerning newbie, certain distilleries had their own distinctive flavour.
Prices for a serving of whiskey at The Single Cask ranges from $12 and upwards – seemingly pricey but worth every penny. Also, fret not as there is a discount exclusive to SMU students upon presentation of the matriculation card (15% off on Mondays and 10% off on others).
Final Thoughts: 4/5. The Single Cask is a good place to go to unwind after bouts of stress. The only con is that the establishment is rather on the small side, which might pose an issue if you’re with a large group of friends. On the other hand, it’s the perfect setting for relatively quiet, intimate heart-to-heart talks. If you’re up for a different experience, The Single Cask is worth a visit.
The Single Cask
01-25 Chijmes Caldwell House, Singapore, 30 Victoria St, 187996
Opening hours: 5p.m. – 12a.m. from Mondays to Saturdays.
Check out The Single Cask’s website, Facebook and Instagram.