As private members’ wine club 67 Pall Mall opens its doors in Singapore next month, founder and CEO Grant Ashton shares how he’s mapping out its expansion to the rest of the world
Wine lovers will have more reasons to raise their glasses when 67 Pall Mall Singapore, the first Asian outpost of the renowned London-based private members’ wine club, finally opens its doors on the penthouse level of Shaw Centre in Scotts Road this month. Since the news was announced in 2019, the launch has been pushed back due to the pandemic, from the third quarter of 2020 to the fourth quarter of 2021, and it is now set to open on February 14.
Even though the long-drawn-out pandemic has taken its toll on the F&B industry, with the unpredictability of dining restrictions, founder and CEO Grant Ashton is confident of the Singapore government’s vision of moving towards a new normal of living with Covid-19. “People want to go out, they want to have a drink and a good time, and they want to be with their friends because we’ve been in limbo for so long,” he shares this observation—and how it is similar to what’s happening in London. Furthermore, the Singapore club has been nearly five years in the making since he first started scouting for suitable locations in 2017.
Spread across a 15,000-square-feet space, with a terrace overlooking panoramic views of the Orchard Road shopping belt and beyond, the penthouse was the former home of film mogul Runme Shaw. After Shaw passed away in 1985, the apartment was left empty for 20 years before a spa occupied the space for about a decade. Now that 67 Pall Mall Singapore has made the penthouse its home, “we stripped it back to what it was before”, shares Ashton. “[The interior design] has a kind of 1920s and ’30s Shanghai art-deco feel, very sensual and luxurious. The family gave us access to their archives, and we are using some of the objects such as lamps as accent pieces.”
At the heart of the double-volume space is a temperature- and humidity-controlled wine tower, which will house thousands of bottles from the club’s collection. The wine list at the Singapore club comprises some 5,000 different wines from 42 countries—and 1,000 of them will be available by the glass. “What we are bringing to the party is the broadest selection of wines by country, probably one of the biggest lists here, if not the biggest,” Ashton expounds.
Besides the traditional wine-making regions, members can also expect a list from “slightly more esoteric countries, including Georgian or Swiss wines, which wouldn’t necessarily be available here”. Membership starts at $200 per month, which is what a bottle of wine would cost at a restaurant.
And similar to the London experience, Ashton hopes the Singapore outpost will be the centre of wine appreciation, while building on the legacy of the well-established wine culture here. He also wants to challenge the natural inquisitiveness of wine drinkers in Singapore. “In London, everyone is focused on what they like, but what we’ve also learned is that when we do recommend something similar to them, they would say it’s really good. So now the breadth of what people are ordering is much wider—and they have expanded their wine horizons. I hope we can do the same in Singapore.”
More information on the wine list, along with the tasting notes and background of the winemakers, are loaded onto the iPads available at the club, and a team of master sommeliers and wine professionals is also on hand to make recommendations. The club’s calendar is also packed with member events, including masterclasses, dinners and tastings, which will be complemented with a wider cultural programme highlighting the art of living the good life.
And what is wine without food? The menu includes the signature 67 burger and steaks cooked on the Josper grill, as well as locally inspired cuisine. You may even find beef rendang —the dry curry is Ashton’s favourite local dish—elevated using Wagyu beef. “It’s very much a social club, wine is just the excuse,” quips the former banker and wine collector, who started the club in London’s St James’s in 2015, as a result of his burgeoning collection and a need to order wines without the exorbitant markups at restaurants.
Before Singapore, 67 Pall Mall opened in Verbier, Switzerland, in December last year, which will be followed by Beaune in Burgundy within the next year, and more locations already planned. “With lesser demand in the property market, we’re taking the opportunity to buy buildings in different places around the world. The plan is to open six or seven clubs in the next five years,” shares Ashton.
The club is also making inroads online, with the launch of its 67pallmall.tv channel dedicated to content about wines and winemakers, as well as tastings, from its studios in Singapore, London and Napa Valley in California, “so as to reach more people”.