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Having missed the holiday rush after vacating their previous location at Chijmes, whiskey bar The Auld Alliance is back in business at its new Rendezvous Hotel digs. Located on the quiet second floor with odd tenants like Teo Heng KTV as its neighbour, the bar’s out-of-the-way surrounds should suit the crowd averse malt sipper.
The library-like experience of the old Alliance is still in place – with the move, they’ve even increased their offerings with 300 additional labels to pick from (bringing the total to over 1,350 bottles). The labels are collected from all over the world (including one of the most extensive collections of Japanese whisky outside of Japan) and the history on show can definitely be intimidating for budding connoisseurs – the enhanced 70-page book-like menu certainly doesn’t help much either. But once you take a seat – either at the bar or on one of the chesterfield button couches – the friendly staff and knowledgeable service unfurls a bit of the perceived stuffiness of the space, making Auld Alliance welcome for beginner and expert noses alike.
You can detail your drink preferences to bar manager, Arun Prashant – himself a big whiskey drinker, having first picked up a love for the malt eight years ago – for a recommendation, or just go straight for a whiskey you’ve had in the past that you particularly liked. We found the staff highly accommodating to all budgets and tastes and Prashant, in particular, was adept and judgment-free at finding us a lower-priced alternative to an independently-bottled Caol Ila 18 ($52/40ml) with another 18-year-old Caol Ila ($30/40ml) bottled by the distillery itself.
A good four pages of the menu is dedicated also to themed and distillery-specific tasting flights ($35-$170) for more studied sipping, and the back of the book features the rare occasion whiskies, with prices peaking at $45,000 for an incredibly rare 52-year-old 1960 Karuizawa whisky – only 41 bottles were ever produced. Non-whisky-drinking companions will still find a selection of cocktails ($18-$24) on offer, an extensive choice of absinthe ($16-$26) and a sweetish cask-aged ale ($14) made by Scotch producer, Tullibardine.
And perhaps testament to The Auld Alliance’s aims of delivering a thoughtful learning experience, your final bill comes itemised, detailing the vintage, abv and bottler of the malt. Also appreciated is the policy allowing customers to bring in their own food from elsewhere, giving them more time to take in the staggering array of bottles on display on its many shelves.
It’s clearly easy to get carried away with such a strong show of whiskies on offer, but it’s nice to know that The Auld Alliance, as always, wants you to take away more than just a happy high at the end of the night.
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