Hong Kong loves its whisky bars and speakeasies — and if you go to enough of them, then you’ll start to notice that a lot of them seem to follow a general formula. There’s the aesthetic: Dimly lit interiors, complemented by splashes of dramatic backlighting to highlight bottles of booze and bits of quirky decor. The cool, contemporary furniture. Jazz music playing quietly overhead. Some of them have a quirky “theme,” too.
The newest bar of this sort, Whisky and Words, adheres to a lot of these stylistic standards, but there are some things that sets it apart from other watering holes in Hong Kong.
Like Nocturne, another speakeasy in town, it’s hidden behind a large wooden door, and its location is given away by the bold brass lettering at the front entrance. Like The Old Man, and Foxglove, the bar has a theme: In this case, that theme is travel books (that’s why you’ll spot stacks of fake books and bookcase-style wallpaper as soon as you enter the space). Like 001, it’s rather small and can fit about 25 people comfortably, at most. And, like Mizunara, it offers an impressive armory of whiskies.
But unlike most of those bars, Whisky And Words plays rap, hip-hop, and R&B music — loudly. The staff clearly loves and has a deep understanding of whisky, and talks to customers without the air of pretension that many whisky bars in Hong Kong can’t seem to shake off.
Whisky And Words’ co-founder David Sit tells Coconuts HK that this was the type of atmosphere they hoped to create — a space for people who already know their whisky, as well as people who want to try and learn about various whiskies in a laid-back setting.
The bar also serves up gin and whisky cocktails (each one ranges from HK$100 to HK$180), though Whisky And Words’ main focus is its selection of 300 whiskies, the majority of which comes from Scotland, Japan, and Ireland.
The collection also includes whiskies from countries you may not typically associate with producing great whisky (like France), and also some quirky limited-edition stuff like the Game of Thrones single malt whisky collection, and the 2011 special edition Royal Wedding whisky.
We tried five of their whiskies during our visit, from well-known names like Glenfiddich, Macallan, and Hibiki, as well as lesser-known (at least commercially) dram of Octomore (an extremely peaty islay single malt scotch) and Redbreast (a single pot still Irish whiskey).
These range in price from HK$130 to HK$340 for a glass of 30 ml — roughly the price you would expect to pay for a snifter of really good whisky. That’s especially worth it for the whiskies that are a bit trickier to find in Hong Kong.
We also tried the bar’s whisky highball (HK$120), made with Nikka whisky and presented in a tall glass with a long, rectangular prism ice cube. The flavors were beautifully balanced, and yielded a really refreshing, lightly aromatic whisky drink.
Whisky and Words is also doing a decent daily happy hour on selected drinks, from 5pm to 8pm. On the day that we went, we saw them offering a pour of Nikka from the Barrel for HK$60.
Whether you’re a whisky enthusiast or novice, this bar is the perfect place to chill with a small group of whisky-loving friends, or even if you’re rolling solo and want to squeeze in a cheeky nightcap before heading home. Note that the latter would be best for week nights — it’s quieter on those days, and weekend evenings get noticeably more packed and lively.
Whisky and Words is at 7 Shin Hing Street, Sheung Wan
Reservations: +852 9889 8590
Mon-Sun, 5pm to 1am
MTR: Central (approx. 5 minute walk)