Meet Gautam Kapur, youngest of two siblings and a father of two. He started his horology journey while on a business trip to Singapore in early 2000 and finally moved to sunny Singapore in 2005. He plays tennis during his free time and occasionally takes his music mixer out for a spin to jam out some tunes. Apart from all that, he also loves collecting (and drinking) scotch & Japanese whiskies. He then co-founded a side business out of his hobby and created Whiskyhaven.com – Let’s get to it!
Hi Gautam, thanks for being our third Luxe Montre Man of Month! Now tell us 2 things about yourself.
I’m an avid whisky drinker and I love travelling!
What are you plans this year? Do you have any goals?
I don’t believe in specific goals, I think life is a journey and one should enjoy the ride. I would like to remain active throughout my life doing things I enjoy, spending time with people I care about.
Do you have any life heroes? who are they and why?
It’s very hard to pin point just one person who is my life hero, I think several people some of whom I’ve met and some whom I’ve read about, are the people I look up to. My grandfather was a keen investor in the financial markets and his principles continue to inspire me on that front. My dad taught me the invaluable lesson of doing things with passion. Andrew Carnegie’s story from an office boy to being the richest man at his time inspires me to believe that possessing a passion and an astute business mind will ensure you achieve your goals.
We heard you love your whiskies so much that you actually started a side business with it. Tell us how it started?
WhiskyHaven was born over several rounds of drinks with friends almost 10 years ago. It was the whole idea of following your passion. In the summer of 2013, my previous firm closed their Asia operation so I had 6 months to explore. Finally my partners and I put our idea into action and started our e-Commerce website Whiskyhaven.com
As someone who isn’t a whisky expert, what makes a good whisky?
You don’t need to be a whisky connoisseur to appreciate the finer flavours. I have been drinking whisky for years now and still consider myself to be a novice eager to learn more in this space. So to answer your question, it’s based on your individual palate which determines what’s a good whisky and what’s not. I don’t necessarily believe in whisky bibles and awards. Not because I have anything against them, it’s just that my taste palate could be far away from the next person’s. You could have someone who enjoys a sherried whisky which is relatively easy to drink, it’s sweeter and has dark chocolate notes. Then on the other spectrum there are the peaty whiskies which have a smoky bite to them. So the whisky which appeals to your palate is the right whisky for you. I would say get a glass and pour some drams and try as many out there as possible!
In terms of price, whiskey definitely have a big price range. Tell us what’s the best value for whiskey? And what should people look out for in terms quality?
Recently whisky has become more of an investment commodity. The price of whiskies range from $50.00 to $350,000.00, so there is a very wide spectrum there. When we speak of value, I reckon we need to first see what’s the investment goal.
There are 2 type of investors:
- Those who buy the whisky for their own consumption and are looking for value. These are similar to people who buy art; if you like a painting, you want to hang it on the wall, admire it and if it appreciates in value, then happy days. For these investors I would recommend buying whiskies with the taste profile of what they like to drink. For me personally when I’m buying sherried whiskies then I pick special, limited runs of Bunnahabhain and Balvenie and I move towards the special releases of Talisker and Laphroaig for my peaty taste buds.
- Those investors who are really looking at whisky as an asset class, they are in it for drinking a bit and looking at real dollar returns. These investors are very savvy as they know auction prices and have a decent quantum of cash to deploy & go after unicorn bottles. In this segment it’s all about exclusivity, rare / closed down distilleries and aged whiskies. The key here is the year of distillation, as we know whisky makers over time can produce enough of 30year old whiskies; however it’s not possible to make a 1981; 26year old whisky again once the limited run of bottles are consumed. In this segment looks for labels such as Macallan, Kuruisawa, Brora and Port Ellen
Tell us what you know about whiskey pairing and what is your favourite?
I love experimenting. A 10 year Talisker with fresh oysters is a must. I enjoy eating dark bitter chocolate with Laphroaig and other peaty whiskies. For me personally, I enjoy Japanese cuisine with whiskies the most, though it doesn’t necessarily need to be paired with specifically Japanese whisky. If it’s not food and after a heavy meal I definitely love a dram or 2 paired with a nice Cuban cigar.
Do you have a favourite whiskey bar in Singapore, where can we go for good whisky options here?
Singapore is a great destination for several amazing whisky bars. I’ve been visiting Olde Cuban and Quaich for many years. Apart from those, there are several bars for whiskies by the dram such as Auld Alliance, The Wall and Maduro. I am sure there are several other great bars which I may have missed mentioning.
What is the deal with ice & whiskey? Do you have a preference?
This is always a touchy topic with whisky enthusiasts. Personally it’s a personal palate so I do not and choose not to judge. I prefer not adding a mixer perhaps some ice or a few drops of water if the whisky is cask strength and has a high ABV% (Alcohol By Volume). Ideally try the whisky neat and then add based on how you would like it on your palate.
Favourite Whiskey mix drink?
A 100% favourite Whisky Highball! I’ve been very fortunate to learn this at the Hakushu distillery tour. I think Hakushu whisky makes the best highballs for me. I also like a hot toddy in Hong Kong over winter at a bar called Stocktons.
Now let’s talk about your watch collections. How did you start and when did you get your first luxury watch?
Quite a vivid memory. I was travelling to Singapore on a business trip and walked past one of the larger boutiques here. The blue face on steel and gold Rolex did speak volumes to me. I bought it before I flew back, this was years ago. I’ve been living in Singapore since 2005 so perhaps early 2000. I still have that watch with me but I seldom wear it as I’m now more into full steel watches.
Do you have a favourite watch? Any timeless story (pun intended) you’d like to share with us?
It’s hard to pick a favourite watch, but I’ll tell u a story about one of my precious ones. A friend of mine years ago sent me a picture and in the background was the Rolex boutique. On display was the Rolex 50th anniversary in full steel. I had been hunting for this piece for many years and then suddenly there it just shows up! Now this friend was on holiday and had left the place, so we had to hunt for a third person to visit the boutique, get pictures and make an international transfer…then finally I had that watch! A lot of steps and a few favours but it all proved worthwhile…this friend of mine now never sends any pictures to me though!
Oh wow it must be fate! That’s awesome you went such great lengths to hunt the watch down. Apart from this all steel Rolex, do you have any other timepieces currently on your wishlist?
I am hunting 2 timepieces now again both from the Rolex family. The much sought after Rolex GMT belovedly called the Pepsi dial and also the Rolex yellow gold green face GMT Master. For me it’s the red on the bezel which works best for me. I know I will get a lot of slack for getting a yellow gold watch from my friends but then again, the combination of yellow gold and the green is hard to beat!
You’re right on the yellow gold & green, we’d love to see that on you soon! Besides colours that pop out, what else do you look for in a watch?
A watch for a man is probably his most important accessory. Of course accuracy is a given. For me, I look at the design and the colours. I look for a good sturdy watch and again Rolex and Audemars Piguet stand out as battletanks.
Now the hard question, if you can have ANY watch in the world right now, what would it be and why?
It’s hard to nail down just one watch but let me try. I know for certain the movement I would want on the watch would need to be a tourbillon, not because of anything else but it looks amazing and showcases true craftsmanship from the watch maker. I am currently torn between 2 tourbillons; the Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Offshore model and the Richard Mille RM 022 Blue version as I love blue watches a lot.
Describe your watch style in 3 words!
Sexy, sturdy & reliable
Thank you so much Gautam for your time today!
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*This interview was held in January 2020 before the Covid-19 outbreak in Singapore.