While Mike Soldner has always been a whisky connoisseur, he’s never done any business in whisky — until he opened Bar Vault in 2009. One of Singapore’s first specialist whisky bars, the intimate, basement space on Ann Siang Road brought together aficionados who appreciated the craft, just as Soldner did since he was 19.
“I had my first single malt whisky in age 19 for my birthday,” recalls the Southeast Asian-raised Soldner, a son of missionaries. “After that I bought everything I could, read everything I could, talked to all the people and tried to get as much knowledge and experience as possible.”
When the opportunity presented itself, Soldner left his role as a franchise manager for NYDC, a well-loved casual dining chain, and decided to remain in Singapore to start his first whisky bar, Bar Vault. After it closed, a reincarnation of sorts was born — this time, it was called B28. Soon after, B28 Seoul was founded, becoming the capital’s premier whisky bar. In 2013, Soldner established The B28 Whisky Fund in Singapore, an investment vehicle to acquire and distribute rare whiskies.
“The most common misconception is that I drink till 2am everyday. That’s completely not true,” shares Soldner, who likens himself to the characteristics of a Port Ellen single malt whisky. Contrary to popular belief, whisky is also not a man’s world, he says, and that it’s not an industry that’s as traditional as it purports itself to be — even if whisky itself has been around for more than 400 years.
Now, Soldner’s in the final stages of creating the world’s first monetary authority registered and licensed investment product, with whisky as the underlying asset base. A historic move on his part, it’ll see whisky as an investment grade asset class, with a trust hedge fund registered with MAS.