Excerpt from ScotchWhisky.com
First published 07 February 2017
By Angus MacRaild
Emmanuel Dron’s Singapore bar has gathered a loyal and thirsty fan base thanks to its 1,500-strong back bar – mostly comprising old and rare whiskies. But, like many, the collector is dumbfounded by the rising prices of collectible whiskies. Angus MacRaild delves into his collection.
Who are you and what do you do?
‘I am Emmanuel Dron, born in 1972 in France. I have lived in Singapore since 2008. I am the co-owner, with my business partner Wayne, of the Auld Alliance – a bar in Singapore that focuses mainly on whisky with around 1,500 bottles. We specialise in rare bottles and have become famous for offering very rare whiskies by the glass. We also bottle and distribute our own single cask bottlings (over 25 casks since our opening in 2011. One of our latest casks was a 32-year-old Port Ellen 1983).’
When did you first get into whisky?
‘Around 1994-95. There was a jazz bar in Lille that was offering 150 single malts by the glass. Over four months, my friend Sylvain and I went there – sometimes a few times a week – and tried them all. Soon after, we decided to go to London. We went to Milroy’s and The Vintage House in Soho. I tasted my first Port Ellen during that trip.
‘In 1996, I created a 10-page newsletter, La Part des Anges, about whisky, which I sent to La Maison du Whisky (LMDW) in Paris. Thierry Bénitah, owner of LMDW, contacted me and offered me a job. I worked for 13 years at LMDW before starting my own company in Singapore. This is my 20th year working professionally with whisky.’
What whisky do you collect?
‘Whiskies that speak to me. I like to get my hands on legendary bottles such as Samaroli bottlings from the 1980s; Laphroaig distilled before the 1980s; dumpy Signatory Ardbeg and Laphroaig; rare Japanese bottlings of Scottish whisky (Kingsbury, Mizuhashi etc); dumpy Cadenhead bottlings; whisky from 1972 (my birth year); Brora; Longmorn; Caperdonich.
‘I don’t have any Karuizawa in my collection but I like to collect very old Japanese whisky. I have many rare Nikka bottles from the early 1950s. Some bottles that you can find empty at the Nikka Museum in the Yoichi distillery, I have in full. The same goes for Suntory; I have some that date back to around the Second World War and some rare Suntory “private stock” from the 1950s. I also like to find very old Irish whiskeys.’
How did the Auld Alliance begin?
‘I opened the company in mid-2010. When I left LMDW, I wanted to focus on old and rare bottles and give the opportunity to more people to try them. I chose the name because I am French and I had always been asked: “Why are you selling whisky? You are French, you should sell wines.” I heard this hundreds of times...
‘The Auld Alliance, which is the historic alliance between France and Scotland in 1295, was a good name for me to link my country of origin with whisky. Ninety-nine percent of what we serve in the bar is whisky (from around the world) and products from France: Champagne, wine, absinthe, rhum, Cognac, Armagnac etc.’