If you haven’t heard of Club Qing’s whiskies you might be wondering what all the fuss is about. If you have, then probably you’re already obsessed.
When Club Qing first opened its doors in 2003 in central Hong Kong it was but a mere ‘fusion’ restaurant. Fortunately, over the years the owners developed an interest in whisky and in 2015, they decided to turn the restaurant into a whisky bar (Hooray!)
It was an ‘upscale’ bar focusing on single casks and specialist whiskies. Gradually the bar built up an extensive collection of fine and rare single malts, with a particular focus on rarefied bottles from the 1950s and 1960s and Club Qing soon developed a reputation amongst whisky enthusiasts for its inspired range. The club invested well too, and eventually sold a complete set of Hanyu Ichiro’s Card Series at auction for a world record breaking HK$11.89M (which was a lot of money back then).
In 2016, Club Qing started releasing its own private bottlings exclusively for the bar and its customers and has now all but transformed into an independent whisky bottler. So far there have been almost 20 bottlings including some collaboration editions.
Club Qing has has been a loyal enthusiast of local art and culture. Many of the bottles feature striking labels depicting playful, colourful and whimsical acrylic paintings created by Hong Kong artist KT518 (Katy Ku, pictured above). Below I’ve compiled a complete collector’s list of all the private bottlings with a custom label created by Club Qing, but first I asked Aaron Chan, founder of the club to explain a bit more about the story behind his highly collectable whiskies.
How did you select the whiskies you bottled?
Quality always comes first. As a small independent bottler, we believe the best way to promote our brand is via our products. We keep detailed records of maturing cask samples we tried over the years. This way we are able to see how a cask evolves over time and choose the best moment for it to be bottled. Once a cask is selected, we will decide how it will fit into our mini-series. We want every mini-series we release to have a mix of various profiles and ages so that they are more complete.
The Club Qing bottlings aren’t particularly well known in Europe. Why are they not available in the UK?
We are very fortunate to have a group of loyal customers here in Asia. Thanks to our distributors in the region, every release so far is sold out on the first day.
I’m intrigued by the choice of labels. What made you choose these labels for your whiskies?
Instead of saying ‘choose’, it is more like we ‘create’ these labels together with our artist Katy Ku. At the beginning of every project, we would discuss the concept together for weeks or even months. Once we decide on the concept, we will proceed to elaborate the concept into separate ideas for different paintings in a mini-series. Like all creative artists, Katy performs best when there is zero constraints. We give her full discretion on creative ideas and she always surprises us with her stunning creations.
Why did you choose the wonderful Whisky.Auction to sell library stock?
Simply put. I use Whisky.Auction myself so I trust the platform and the team behind it.
I’m looking forward to seeing the three remaining Scary Tales. What are your plans for the future?
All the remaining releases of our Scary Tale series have been finalised. We are currently working on a completely new idea going forward, it is a series about imagination. We are also busy preparing a special release for Club Qing’s 20th Anniversary in 2023.
So tell me, what are you most proud of?
We are most proud of the fact that even though Club Qing is a newcomer in the independent bottling scene, our products managed to get some attention not only from Asia, but also from Scotland, the United Kingdom and continental Europe.
Most of Club Qing’s labels are collaborating with local Hong Kong artists. This adds a local element to the bottles and creates a connection between Hong Kong and Scotch whiskies.
Scary Tale Series (released 2022)
The Scary Tale Series is the sequel to the Fairy Tales Series and will eventually include five expressions. It is about Life depicted as five familiar scary tales.
Bruichladdich 1991, 29 Year Old, Dracula Temptation Feast, cask #3037, 41.2% ABV, 216 bottles
Inchgower 1998, 23 Year Old, Medusa What’s Going On, cask #9992, 52.8% ABV, 150 bottles
Fairy Tale Series (released 2020-2021)
The Fairy Tale is a mini-series of five expressions. The idea originates from a local artist KT518. She wanted to tell stories about Love using fairy tales with a modern twist. All five expressions sold out instantly in Hong Kong when released.
Highland 1983, 36 Year Old, Alice In Wonderland Tea Party, cask #7751, 51.1% ABV, 163 bottles
Laphroaig 2006, 14 Year Old, The Little Mermaid Under The Sea, 40.5% ABV, 120 bottles
Distilled In Sutherland 2007, 13 Year Old, Pinocchio And The Beast, 52.7% ABV, 180 bottles
Irish 18 Year Old Single Malt Whisky, The Little Prince In Sunsets, cask #3354, 51.7% ABV, 227 bottles
Bowmore 1987, 23 Year Old, Snow White And The Forbidden Fruit, 43.7% ABV, 198 bottles
Club Qing (released 2020)
Secret Speyside Distillery Charlestown 1999, Be Safe and Well Always, 20 Year Old (Hong Kong Whisky Bars joint bottling 2020), 44.4% ABV, 120 bottles
Club Qing (released 2019)
Littlemill 1992, 27 Year Old, 50.4% ABV
Club Qing (released 2017)
Cragganmore 1989, 27 Year Old (joint bottling with The Mash Tun Tokyo), 48.7% ABV, 160 bottles
Speyside Single Malt 1973, 43 Year Old, Little Red Riding Hood (joint bottling with Shinanoya), 46.8% ABV, 125 bottles
Club Qing (released 2016)
Invergordon 1973, 42 Year Old, cask #10, 52.3% ABV, 120 bottles
Caol Ila 2006, 10 Year Old, cask #302870, 50.8% ABV, 119 bottles
Speyside Region 1975, 40 Year Old (Black Cat), sherry butt, 52.8% ABV, 96 bottles