Even as they share a glass of John Walker during our meeting, it’s clear that second-generation businessman Andrew Teo dotes on his wife Angela Ng. He quietly fixes her hair between shots, clears the path as she scuttles about the room in her stilettos, and defers to her multiple times with affectionate “right, dear”s.
The Teos have known each other for more than two decades, and though their lives have changed over the years — especially after the arrival of their three children — one constant has remained: Their mutual love of fine whisky.
But above all, they are a family, and it becomes apparent that leaving their children a legacy beyond material goods is at the forefront of their minds. Read on and find out how the couple embody the enduring spirit of John Walker and the exceptional blended whisky named after him.
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One needs to look no further than the Teos’ residence to see their appreciation for all forms of art — from the clean lines of contemporary architecture to Chinese watercolour paintings and fine wine. Their ever-growing collection of premium liquor has even warranted the installation of a new cellar.
“Collecting spirits is a very different experience from buying designer clothing and jewellery,” Ng, who admits she’s partial to collecting designer bags, says. “But it is still about looking out for good craftsmanship.”
It is therefore natural that the couple are drawn to the John Walker, a complex and balanced whisky also known as the Founder’s Blend.
A staggering amount of work is required for each bottle, starting from the sourcing of every whisky that goes into the blend — an especially difficult task, given that several distilleries that existed in the founder’s lifetime (1805-1857), are now silent. The whiskies must then be blended by hand to achieve the best flavour possible, and married in a cask made of oak over 100 years old. Even the sleek lacquered cabinet that houses the Baccarat crystal decanter takes 60 hours to complete.
And as Ng affirms, a bottle is “best enjoyed at home, with family, or close friends”.
Teo and Ng’s high-flying lifestyle belies their down-to-earth, familial disposition. The couple and their kids spend Fridays together, while weekends are set aside for the extended family, with Ng helming the kitchen.
A prolific home chef known for traditional favourites, Ng’s signature dish is cartilage soup — a recipe from her late mother. This Chinese delicacy even played a significant role in the couple’s courtship.
“My father-in-law told his wife to give a bigger bowl of soup to Angela’s suitor, but only if she approved of him,” recalls Teo, who predictably received a large, hearty serving.
Recipes weren’t the only thing handed down from the elders. Life lessons imparted to the next generation include honouring the past and cherishing the present. “I think we managed to inculcate in our children a sense of filial piety from a young age because we often invited our parents over for dinner, and that was how the children learnt the importance of family,” says Teo.
There’s no moment during our shoot where Ng is sitting still. Seemingly all at once, she’s answering questions while the crew fusses over her hair and make-up, replying to WhatsApp messages from her sick daughter, and gamely offering to change into different outfits for a better shot.
Teo, on the other hand, is more reserved as he takes time to warm up to the camera, content to let his wife take the spotlight.
But it is when the duo come together that sparks literally fly. The chemistry is palpable, as husband and wife complete each other’s sentences while checking in with each other on anniversary dates, favourite memories, and such.
As they exchange yet another tender gaze for the camera, even our photographer can’t help but comment that “it’s beginning to feel more like a wedding shoot.”
While the Teos are very much accomplished individuals on their own — much like the Founder’s Blend they bond over — it is together that they become an indomitable force.
The only times Teo talks with the same adoration he uses for his wife are when he talks about his children. Listen to the way he talks about his brood (“I think my daughter wants to be a doctor. She’s taking triple Science, you know!”), and you know he is one proud papa. He also sheepishly confesses to “downing cups of coffee” so he could ferry his daughter to and from a nightclub on her 18th birthday.
Aside from a collection of vintage timepieces, the couple believe they have greater things to leave their children. “We instilled many values in our children since young. That’s part of the legacy we want to leave behind,” says Teo.
He draws yet another comparison to his whisky of choice, which lingers on and gets better with age. “It’s about patience and hard work. The people who are doing the cask now might not get to taste it, they might not even live to see it — but it’s for the next generation. It always is,” he adds.
“That’s what we’re doing now. Whatever we do now is for our kids.”
THE JOHN WALKER
There is no finer blend than the John Walker, the epitome of the Johnnie Walker family of Scotch whiskies. Created in memory of the label’s founding father, each bottle is a tribute to the man who started it all.
The John Walker is also known as the Founder’s Blend because it utilises whiskies that John Walker loved during his lifetime. Just nine distilleries contribute to the blend, including some that are no longer in production. This makes each bottle of John Walker that much more precious.
As a blend, the John Walker is exceptionally complex yet retains a natural harmony that lingers pleasingly on the palate. Full-bodied and elegantly structured, the John Walker brings with it a host of malty flavours bound together by the smoothness of its Speyside whiskies.
Each single barrel batch is blended by hand before being married together in a 100-year-old cask, to ensure that the final product is an unforgettable experience that John Walker himself would have loved.
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