We might be on a steady incline towards peak craft in the local drinks industry. Hot on the heels of its fellow locally distilled and branded gins, Tanglin Gin and Sons of Tippling, a new contender has joined the market, hauling in tow a unique freshness in both concept and taste.
A six-year effort, Brass Lion Distillery is Singapore’s first full-fledged micro-distillery—tucked in a corner of the Alexandra Terrace industrial estate. More than just a distillery though, the multi-concept space combines the distillery with a tasting room, R&D lab, and even an on-site herb garden that provides many of the botanicals used for the gins. The cherry on top of this local marvel: a modern aesthetic that’s both inviting and luxurious, even in the pits of the South.
Brass Lion Distillery, guarded by a brass lion
The brains behind the innovative space is Managing Director Jamie Koh, who more might know as the founder of iconic shots bar Chupitos. It was Koh’s passion for spirits that first sparked her six-year journey, during which she packed a suitcase of 40 local botanicals, somehow made it past Customs, and transported them to a master distiller in Germany to work on the perfect Singaporean recipe. For the prize product, the focus is on distinctly Singaporean gin that draws from the island’s history and sense of place—the flagship Brass Lion Singapore Dry Gin is a tropical spirit marrying 22 botanicals that allude to Singapore’s illustrious history as a trading hub; the name itself a nod to our national beast.
Whatever Koh cannot pluck from her herb garden she forages from the distillery’s surroundings and local markets. Only the Juniper berry used to flavor gin, which doesn’t grow natively, is imported. And if the list of ingredients—kaffir lime leaves, blue ginger, lmeongrass, and tangerine peel, among others—sounds intimidating, rest assured they come together for a clean, refreshing gin that makes for easy sipping.
Nala, hand-crafted in Germany
On the ground floor of the standalone building, a gorgeous, hand-crafted copper still named ‘Nala’ churns out high quality craft spirits in small batches. Everything is then hand-bottled and hand-labelled—an arduous process requiring many man hours. You can buy your bottle to-go, order it online, or take the boozy revelry upstairs to the elegant tasting room.
There, old-school elements like tiled flooring and wicker-inspired chairs are paired with more contemporary decor like high chairs and the sleek marble countertop. A gin-based cocktail or regular G&T will cost you $16—definitely try the original, as well as the variations made with blue pea flower gin and pink pahit gin. Each G&T is refreshing, with floral accents that don’t betray the complex permutations of spices that go into their concoction.
If you fancy yourself an aspiring craft afficianado, the R&D lab also doubles as a gin school. For $160 for a two-to three-hour class, guests can craft and customize their own bottle of gin, using a netural base spirit, little brass distilling pots, and the library of botanicals available both in the room and from the herb garden. Aside from the bottle (and an astounding sense of achievement, let’s hope), you get to enjoy a complimentary tipple after.
Koh has said that Brass Lion does intend to branch out into a full cocktail menu, bar snacks, and eventually other spirits crafted specially at the distillery. For now though, there’s the fruits of her six-year-long labor to enjoy.
Brass Lion Distillery is located at 40 Alexandra Terrace. It launches officially in mid-Nov, but you can book a tour or pre-order a bottle now here.