REAP­ING RICH RE­WARDS

A fam­ily that bonds over their love for whisky, the An­wars have de­rived much joy from their Cask of Dis­tinc­tion

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Most whisky cognoscenti will be able to re­late to Gar­reth An­war’s pen­chant for smoky and peaty whiskies with unique nu­ances. A part­ner of a ven­ture cap­i­tal firm in Hong Kong, the young whisky con­nois­seur ac­tively seeks out the so­phis­ti­cated fla­vor pro­files, long fin­ishes, and full bod­ies that only a hand­ful of dis­til­leries are able to achieve. After try­ing La­gavulin and lik­ing its taste, Gar­reth was in­tro­duced by his peers to Port Ellen and Caol Ila whiskies, and not long after sa­vor­ing them he de­cided to pur­chase a Cask of Dis­tinc­tion. His pick was a rare 1996 Caol Ila cask from the pri­vate suite of John­nie Walker House. A Gaelic name that means the ‘Sound of Is­lay’, bot­tles of Caol Ila have been known to go un­der the ham­mer for four-fig­ure fi­nal bids, more than dou­ble their ini­tial val­ues. To­day, Gar­reth re­ceives reg­u­lar up­dates from John­nie Walker House re­gard­ing his cask, in­clud­ing yearly cask re­view.

A PRI­VATE AC­CESS

Ex­tended ex­clu­sively to a lim­ited num­ber of buy­ers, Di­a­geo Casks of Dis­tinc­tion ini­tia­tive grants VIP clients like Gar­reth pri­vate ac­cess to the largest and most var­ied whisky stock in the world. Ev­ery cask in the Cask of Dis­tinc­tion pro­gram is care­fully se­lected by Dr. Craig Wil­son, the Mas­ter of Malt whose whisky ex­per­tise spans two decades, for its ex­cep­tional qual­ity, age, fla­vor and char­ac­ter of the dis­tillery – mak­ing them unique and rare. Each cask bot­tling can be fur­ther per­son­al­ized by ad­ding an in­scrip­tion of the client’s name or mono­gram on the la­bel.

Gar­reth lauds not only the im­pres­sive ap­pre­ci­a­tion of his cask’s value, which is main­tained and safe­guarded by Di­a­geo, but also its re­fined, one-of-a-kind char­ac­ter­is­tics. “Port Ellen is one of my fa­vorite whisky dis­til­leries be­cause there’s noth­ing like its whisky,” he de­scribes of the Di­a­geo-owned dis­tillery that was closed in 1983. “It’s so bal­anced but del­i­cate at the same time. Port Ellen’s whisky is for con­nois­seurs who like a grassy and smoky char­ac­ter. Ini­tially, it bursts with fla­vor, which is fol­lowed by a very long fin­ish af­ter­ward.”

A SHARED PAS­SION

Gar­reth’s love for whisky was first kin­dled by his fa­ther, Hen­dra, a semi-re­tired In­done­sian busi­ness­man liv­ing in Hong Kong, who is re­spon­si­ble for awak­en­ing Gar­reth’s palate to the many fla­vors of global cuisines and spir­its.

An avid glo­be­trot­ter and pa­tron of gourmet es­tab­lish­ments, Gar­reth shares that he has a

strong affin­ity for the fla­vor of sherry oak-aged whiskies, that he par­tic­u­larly en­joys the peati­ness of Is­lay whiskies, and that his in­vest­ment in spir­its has opened doors for him to an even wider ar­ray of di­verse ex­pe­ri­ences around the world.

Gar­reth con­sults Hen­dra, the knowl­edge­able con­nois­seur, on his pur­chase de­ci­sions con­cern­ing whisky. In turn, they both credit John­nie Walker’s House Pri­vate Client Sales Team for ex­pand­ing their hori­zons and im­part­ing keen in­sights about the var­i­ous whisky-pro­duc­ing re­gions of Scot­land, along with their dis­tinc­tive prod­ucts.

“I re­cently be­gan in­vest­ing in sin­gle-cask whiskies like Brora and Port Ellen. I en­joy see­ing their value go up, and I also en­joy them after a good meal. I have tried many dif­fer­ent whiskies, but I par­tic­u­larly en­joy Caol Ila sim­ply be­cause of its taste—full-bod­ied with a long, smoky fin­ish,” di­vulges Hen­dra.

He prefers to treat him­self to the tan­gi­ble grat­i­fi­ca­tion yielded from the fam­ily’s casks rather than re­sell them—even though they have sig­nif­i­cantly ap­pre­ci­ated in value. “The whisky cask that you own is unique; there is noth­ing else in the world like it, which is why you also get to de­cide its price if you ever wish to sell it.”

A JOUR­NEY OF DIS­COV­ER­IES

For 17 years after its clo­sure, Port Ellen re­leased its whisky in batches ev­ery year. The An­war fam­ily owns bot­tles from all 17 re­leases, which they ship to Hong Kong for their own con­sump­tion. Gar­reth’s sis­ter, Jes­sica, is an avid whisky en­thu­si­ast, too. She is the owner of a barre stu­dio in Sin­ga­pore named Barre 2 Barre, and the or­ga­nizer of a re­cur­ring barre-fol­lowed-by-drink­ing event called Barre to Bar.

A few years ago, Jes­sica was in­vited by the hus­band of her business part­ner, an em­ployee of

Di­a­geo, to visit Scot­land – a visit that taught her a lot about whisky and made her thirst for more knowl­edge. “To­day, I still en­joy dis­cov­er­ing more about whisky and hav­ing blind whisky tast­ings,” she shares.

A pas­sion­ate con­nois­seur, Jes­sica re­calls first learn­ing about whisky in­vest­ment while in col­lege. “I like good restau­rants and good whiskies, be­cause I like to ex­plore dif­fer­ent tastes and ex­pe­ri­ences,” she re­veals. Fol­low­ing her trip, her mother and fa­ther sub­se­quently toured Scot­land and learn more about whiskies, too.

“When they trav­eled to Scot­land for the first time, they en­joyed warm­ing up with dif­fer­ent whiskies in the cold weather. It was a jour­ney of dis­cov­er­ies; they got to wit­ness the whole process of mak­ing whisky, gained in­sights into the qual­i­ties that make the finest whiskies, and sam­ple a range of of­fer­ings from the John­nie Walker House Pri­vate Suite.”

Caol Ila Dis­tillery, Scot­land; bud­ding con­nois­seurs Gareth and Jes­sica Hen­dra (op­po­site)

TheAn­warsib­lings with their fa­ther Hen­drabond over their love for whisky

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