Monday 22 September 2014

The Whisky Library - Hong Kong Whisky shop

When Steph and I moved to Hong Kong back in July, I dropped into one of my favourite shops The Armoury (in Landmark Men) in the first few days for a look around, and picked up a free magazine advertising some of the local shops. My eyes were instantly drawn to a feature on one called "The Whisky Library", in the very same building.

So next visit to Landmark Men I walked around, and around, and around, and couldn't find the shop anywhere. I asked in The Armoury who gave a vague response, and I eventually worked out (from the shop's Twitter account) that they'd closed for Summer, and were re-opening in another shopfront in the same building.

Fast forward to September and we dropped by after work one day (having seen the construction of the shop underway over the previous weeks), and managed to pick the opening day. Timing!

A quick chat to Marlon, the store's manager / whisky specialist, and it was clear this was a bloke who knew his whisky (somewhat a rarity in Hong Kong, it seems). We agreed to meet up for a dram and a longer chat the next week, when I brought the camera along and decided to snap a few photos.

The selection, whilst not huge (though certainly not small, and definitely the best we've seen in Hong Kong), is a well-curated mix of both Original and Independent Bottlings (some definitely on the rarer side), with a few Douglas Laing & Co staples (Big Peat, Scallywag) and Kilchomans as the core products.

Marlon explained the shop isn't just about "shifting bottles" and they only stock whiskies they've personally tasted and approved. Walking around with a dram of 22yo Littlemill in my hand (and later a G&T made with the excellent Bar Hill Gin), I took a look around the store and noticed some pretty impressive bottlings, including a number of Samaroli whiskies and rums (Samaroli being an Independent Bottler that I'd always heard good things about, but that we never heard much of in Australia). Other interesting independent bottlings included:
  • 22yo Ardbeg (Hunter Laing & Co "Old & Rare")
  • 21yo Ardbeg from 1992 (Hunter Laing & Co "Old Malt Cask")
  • 31yo Caol Ila (Hunter Laing & Co "Old Malt Cask")
  • 23yo "Dunyvaig" from Silver Seal ("Dunyvaig" being the name used to mask the real distillery, which may or may not be a distillery which is closest to Dunyvaig castle...)
  • 30yo Port Ellen (Douglas Laing & Co "Executive Decision")
  • 40yo Glen Grant from 1973 (Samaroli)

All of which were impressive, but it was the Original Bottlings that I was most impressed by, including:
  • 40yo Ardbeg OB from 1965 (one of only 261 bottles)
  • 35yo Talisker
  • Ardbeg Lord of the Isles
  • Glenfarclas 1971 Family Casks (bottled for Independent Bottlers Silver Seal, but still an OB)
  • ..and some very old Macallans!

Not bad for day 1! The prices of those latter bottlings were, as expected, up there, though considering Hong Kong's 100% tax on anything over 30% ABV, the prices in general were reasonable, especially considering the rarity and quality of a number of the bottlings. The "core" range of Kilchoman, Big Peat, Scallywag and Double Barrel etc... were all the price you'd expect in Hong Kong (and there was even a 4.5L Jeroboam of Big Peat, if you just can't get enough of the stuff!)

After sufficiently touring the store, Marlon took me to visit their smaller, more private store a few blocks away ("The Gentlemans' Library") which houses an equally good selection and is conveniently located right next door to a fantastic cigar lounge. Match made in heaven? I think so.

Anyone looking for a unique, rare or just downright good quality bottle of Whisky in Hong Kong could do well to drop by The Whisky Library and pay Marlon a visit.



  1. Impressive collection, how did he manage to source all those original bottles?

  2. Built up over a while I think...and some good relationships I'm sure help too!