Wednesday, December 4, 2013

A Taste of Japan Down Under

At Uncle Ming's, a bar "Down Under" on Sydney's energetic York Street, you can experience a little bit of Japan. The continent, and especially Sydney are crawling with bars that cater to the country's stereotypical drinking culture - but what makes Uncle Ming's more alluring than the flourish of other bars on every intersection? Its not about savvy architecture, glamorous interior (although the bar is decked out in attractive traditional Chinese interior design), or prime location. Nor is it about status - "The Bar To Be Seen In" (even though it is constantly packed). Simply, the bar is one of only a handful of establishments in Australia that I know of that stock an array of Japanese whiskies, which you'd struggle to find in any other bar in the area. As of writing the bar has fifty two Japanese expressions, and the range is always increasing (a shipment will in fact arrive this week according to staff).

Uncle Ming's opened in August 2012, and started out as a Chinese themed bar (hence the name) selling Tsingtao and bespoke cocktails served in elegant ceramic Chinese teapots. Sticking to this theme however meant the bar had limitations so over time it became more about celebrating Asian influence, and with a big emphasis on Japanese whisky. The transition was brought about by a local who began working at the establishment over a year ago, and at a time when there was only 4 Japanese whiskies at hand. The local: Flynn McLennan, found himself where he is today when he was in search of something independent from your commonplace speakeasy bars that liter the city and suburbs.

Flynn's position as Head Bartender and his taste for Japanese whisky is the blue print for today's Uncle Ming's. His own love of Japanese whisky actually began in Japan in a bar in Asakusa, so for him it made sense to focus on whiskies from Japanese distillers and expose his customers to the pleasures of local spirit. Flynn tells Whiskies R Us it's not easy for him to source unique whisky from Japan while living in Sydney, therefore at times he's physically made the trek to Japan to pick up some goodies for the bar... and his personal collection. The current line-up consists naturally of blends, pure malts, and malts (including single casks) from the distillery giants, as well as favourites from Chichibu, Hanyu, Karuizawa, and White Oak (Akashi). If your homesick for Japan and its whiskies (also beer/Sochu/Sake) you know where to call in. This place I presume will only get better. For an excellent description, along with basic info and address details take a look at Uncle Ming's Facebook page (here).

Images courtesy of the establishment

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