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