Single Malt Vault
A whisky repository might not be the most obvious way to describe Bangkok, but that undercover nature is what makes the burgeoning “uisge beatha” bar scene here all the more exciting. In a riot of hidden venues and tucked-away gems, it never hurts to have a spirit guide or two… say a gent from Scotland and one from Japan, homes of the world’s best single malts, unlocking the door to a whisky experience that ranks as the Thai capital’s most intriguing.
Edinburgh-raised travel scribe Duncan has been conducting extensive–if not entirely scientific–research on his native nation’s most famous export. The writer left the cozy bars and rain-soaked glens of Scotland for warmer climes more than a decade ago, but he hasn’t let the tropical weather deter him from seeking out new places to sample Scotch. Having swept Southeast Asia for darkened man-caves in which to hunker down with a dram or three, Duncan says his personal happy place is Hailiang, a speakeasy-style venue buried behind a small garden and an unmarked wooden door. Here, Osaka-born owner Junichi Yasuda (or Jay-san to his customers) presides over a collection of hundreds of bottles encompassing bourbon, shochu and a breathtaking array of single malts, some of them, like the $100-a shot 23-year old Ichiro’s Malt, extremely rare.
You’ll be picked up from your hotel and whisked to this hidden realm in style. There, far removed from the neon glow on the street outside, Duncan will introduce you to Jay-san. Sink into your leather armchair and sip the night away. A former engineer who helped build Suvarnabhumi Airport, Jay-san is also an accomplished jazz bassist and fascinating conversationalist in several languages, the perfect renaissance man to guide you to the perfect tipple for your taste.