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The Story

 The shrine that is Atlas Bar towering over us...

 

Have you ever been to a whisky bar with gleaming bottles of amber liquid, filling you with such curiosity, only to have the bartender reply in what sounded to you like Sanskrit when you asked for a recommendation? Rather than ponying up double-digits for a shot of Glen-something-quiddich, you then proceed to order a safer bowl of onion rings?

Alternatively, you may have found yourself contemplating a bottle of single malt Scotch at a store, but after reading the insightful description that it “tastes of kippers” and ”smells like a garden bonfire”, found yourself leaving the store with the cheapest Johnnie Walker.

 

After some embarrassment, we decided to feed some geese by Hyde Park.

 

We've certainly had those experiences.

We are two friends from Singapore who decided to learn more about whiskies together after we got laughed out of a whisky bar along Soho, London. On our way back at Heathrow, we found ourselves with leftover change and decided to buy a bottle of Macallan at the duty free shop, rather than join the snaking queue at the money changer. 

You might say we came back as changed men - heads filled with curiosity about what the arcane concept of whisky would taste like. It was then that our love for whisky was born. Since then, we’ve been fortunate to uncork and try new bottles of whisky from just about anywhere!

 

Mr 305! From Kentucky through Dublin, we sample whisk(e)y from anywhere.

 

When Covid hit, that all dried up. No more nights out on a Friday, no more bar stories to share the following Monday; the little bubble of excitement we got from cracking open a new bottle was gone, and so did the laughter shared amongst friends sitting around a good flight.

We were back to reading about whiskies online, hitting that refresh button daily trawling for new releases, which slowed to a crawl with travel retail shut. You ever get hungry in the middle of the night and open your fridge repeatedly hoping food would magically appear? We were on Zoom meetings all the time, and organic conversations became more disparate.

 

Just like that, it was Zoom-mageddon. :(

 

Suddenly we had an idea. With bars shut, it felt impossible for whisky to ever be accessible to budding enthusiasts like ourselves. We thought about all the pain points we had in our own journey in learning about whiskies, and one key focal point emerged. We noticed a visible lack of whisky voices coming out of Asia.

Many times, we find ourselves scratching our heads over what are kippers (an oily and salty smoked herring) or what is the smell of garden bonfire (this was not possible to find via Google). We realised that the perception of taste is not culturally universal, and growing up in Asia gave us an entirely different set of reference scents from Europeans. We would like to give a voice to the Asian whisky palate.

 

 

European whisky drinkers may use terms like "kippers", "bonfire" or "figs" as reference scents. But we're not really familiar with these things.

 

Salty seaweed, haw flakes and temple incense. These are scents more familiar to people growing up in Asia.  

 

We knew we wanted to keep the conversation and interest in whiskies alive in this new normal, which led to the birth of 88 Bamboo, a platform for us to come together and learn about and share our love for whiskies. We live in the Internet age, so why should the good times stop just because we can't meet physically?

For us, good whiskies are a conversation in liquid form. We hope to provide you a source of whisky news, reviews, features and most importantly, a community that is closer to home and more relatable to whisky loves in Asia. Pour yourself a dram and settle in - the rest of us pandas are excited to have you here!

 

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The first and second pandas

             

  @111hotpot                          @charsiucharlie

What category of spirits/drinks would you like to see more of?