“The future is crafted”, reads the tagline of The General Company. The boutique craft agency is founded by Colin Chen, who also owns The Refinery — a multi-storey F&B space and creative workshop housed within an old industrial building in Jalan Besar. The serial entrepreneur cum leather artisan was recently approached by the landlord of the unit next door, which was the grounds of a shabby hardware store that unfortunately had to close down. When Chen finally decided to take over the space, he completely gutted it, stripping the whole place to its fine bare bones. And for four weeks in September 2018, the pared-down interior will become the perfect spot to host The Balvenie House of Craft, an open house showcasing local craftsmen and artisans.
“The idea is to share the spirit of craft with people,” says Chen, during a Keynote-like presentation at the unit’s mezzanine as he introduces the concept of The Balvenie House of Craft to select members of the press. With the much needed support of William Grant & Sons’ The Balvenie, known for its artisanal and handcrafted whisky, The General Company can cherrypick from its prolific portfolio of talented local makers to give the public a better insight into their crafts at this pop-up event.
Expect expert heritage hands-on craft workshops, whisky tastings, supper club dinners, film screenings and community talks over the four September weekends, Friday to Sunday. Meet and greet the participating local craftsmen, including marquage painter Cherin Sim, embroidery artist Teresa Lim, hand-lettering artist Ewe Jin Tee, and floral artist Josephine Lau, to name just a few.
There will also be a bar featuring cocktails concocted using The Balvenie. Top local bartenders Peter Chua of Junior and Gabriel Martin Escoto Carlos of Manhattan Bar will be on duty to pour you some tipples on Friday evenings.
“The concept is to have an open house, within a house. It’ll be in a more intimate and cosy environment — not like an exhibition, where it’s too curated and almost too perfect. The thing is that there are always imperfections in craft and it’s always the subtle differences that make it come alive,” Chen further explains.
The Balvenie House Of Craft in Singapore coincides with the Scotch brand’s 25th anniversary of The Balvenie DoubleWood, aged 12 years. The Balvenie also just launched a 3,600-bottles-only anniversary expression in an attractive special design that’s now sold out. The 25th Anniversary Edition contains the same whisky as the standard bottling, which is first matured for at least 12 years in traditional casks — American oak barrels and hogsheads — and then aged for an additional nine months in Spanish ex-Oloroso sherry casks.
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Singapore-based Neil Strachan, The Balvenie brand ambassador for Southeast Asia, says, “At The Balvenie, we pride ourselves on craftsmanship and the traditional ways of making whisky. At the distillery, we still produce whisky in the same way for 126 years. At every stage of the process, we have dedicated and skilled people working to ensure the consistent quality of our spirit because we believe that passionate people make all difference in our whisky.
“Over the last three years, I have had the pleasure to work with The General Company to connect with craftsmen in Singapore, and better understand the challenges that they faced. Through The Balvenie, I hope to help create a better platform to better showcase their works and help people understand the value of craftsmanship in Southeast Asia.”
Apparently after The Balvenie House of Craft has run its course, the space will be fully converted into a woodworking workshop, where Morgan Yeo, second-generation head of Roger&Sons, and his younger brothers will work to keep their late founder-father’s legacy alive.