In the past 10 years, Knight Frank’s Rare Whisky Index – which tracks the auction results of a collection of rare Scottish single malts – has grown 586 per cent. Rare whiskies, whether bought to be drunk or as an investment, is becoming increasingly visible. Even as the craze for Japanese whiskies fizzles out, Scotch of the fine, single-malt variety continues strong.
Coincidentally or not, William Grant & Sons (WG&S) – a family-owned spirits company, which has distilleries like Glenfiddich and The Balvenie under its portfolio – has launched what it calls The Distillers Library: an invite-only space within its spanking new Singapore office that’s part museum, part tasting room, and all whisky. Within the space, guests will get the chance to explore everything from rare bottles, to even unreleased cask drawings alongside brand ambassadors and hosts. It’s even a great place to uncork any prized purchases for sampling – thanks to its luxurious interior, plush leather seats, and view of the bay area.
What the opening of The Distillers Library really heralds though, is William Grant & Sons’ first big step in creating a more holistic, exclusive experience for a growing client base of whisky connoisseurs with spending power. The Peak speaks to Satya Sharma, Regional Managing Director SEA and Australasia, about the Library’s opening.
Why was Singapore chosen for this space?
We’ve long been passionate about bringing our family archives and the stories that go along with them from Scotland to the rest of the world. Asia is a priority for us and over the years we’ve seen a high degree of interest in provenance, authenticity and quality of whiskies.
In 2020, Asia became the top region for luxury sales by value according to Bain & Company. Findings from Knight Frank’s The Wealth Report 2021 also show that Asia is predicted to see the largest percentage growth in the number of Ultra High Net Worth Individuals (UHNWIs) between 2020 to 2025, at 33%, above the global average of 27%.
In this region, Singapore is a lighthouse. As more consumers become connoisseurs, then collectors, we chose to launch The Distillers Library in Singapore to offer this growing community of passionate collectors access to ultra-rare liquids from our reserves.
Do you foresee other locations in Asia, or will Singapore function as a hub for the rest of the region?
This is our first and only Distillers Library in the world and we want to get it right before we expand further. We do have plans to commission more of The Distillers Libraries in key cities across Asia, bringing high-end discovery and retail formats in private spaces to more connoisseurs in the region.
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What kind of experiences can clients expect from the space? What will the programming be like?
We want to create, share and embrace a culture and community of thoughtful luxury, through soul, substance and storytelling. Organised in small, intimate group settings, invited guests to The Distillers Library will enjoy exquisite hospitality, reminiscent of what guests can expect when they are hosted by the Grant family themselves in Scotland.
Each session will be highly curated to ensure every guest enjoys a unique experience and can fully immerse themselves in the unseen wonders of the Grant family archive. They will be hosted by our Brand Ambassadors who have been highly trained and have spent a lot of time at our distilleries in Scotland. We also have the capabilities to hold virtual sessions with our Malt Master Brian Kinsman, all the way from Scotland.
Are there any investment opportunities with the collection?
While we don’t provide investment advice, we have a wide array of clients across different interest groups, all of whom share a common interest in limited-edition collections, exceptional bottlings and precious whiskies. Depending on the bottle and occasion, we’ve seen clients purchase whiskies for a variety of reasons, from commemorating anniversaries to collecting exceptional bottlings. Our goal with The Distillers Library is to provide our clients with a chance for exploration and learning. Guests who wish to purchase any of the rare bottlings they experience at The Distillers Library can reach out to James Ting, Head of Direct to Consumer, South East Asia at James.Ting@wgrant.com.
What are some of the highlights of the collection?
Pulled from the Grant family’s archive, each precious whisky at The Distillers Library tells a tale of heritage and tradition. Amongst the rare liquids exclusively available is ‘lost gem’ Ladyburn, a limited-edition collection featuring a 54-year-old liquid from the ‘ghost’ distillery.
The shortest-lived distillery in history, Ladyburn was only in operation for nine years between 1966 and 1975 and was one of the most technologically advanced single malt Scotch distilleries of its time. The distillery was forced to close due to the global crisis in the mid-70s, and its stills went to The Balvenie and Glenfiddich, along with all of its knowledge and learnings.
Today, no trace of this ‘lost gem’ remains, outside a very few precious casks (less than 200) maturing on the original site in Girvan, Scotland. A true capsule in time, Ladyburn Edition One is the first in a collection of strictly private releases of Ladyburn debuting in The Distillers Library.
In the upcoming months, The Distillers Library will also be releasing rare bottlings in very limited quantities.