haig club whisky
Possibly three of the world's best things put together. I am having difficulty placing my focus in this picture.

About Haig Club

Haig Club is a bud waiting to bloom in Malaysia. Produced in Scotland, the single grain scotch whiskey embodies the mellow taste of butterscotch and toffee. Remarkably smooth and rich, it is no surprise that Haig Club has been the talk of the town in the recent months, notably after being chosen as the alcohol to be incorporated in the Diageo Reserve World Class Malaysia Finals that is taking place on the 9th of June.

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Square, blue and devoid of a label - the Haig Club bottle is distinctive and eye-catching

You'd need a big name to match another big name. Newly added to the exclusive list of Haig Club influencers is Bryan Loo, the CEO of Chatime Malaysia and a multifaceted entrepreneur. Rolling Grace has had the opportunity to have a Q&A session with Bryan, and is very glad to share Bryan's secret to success, as well as his exclusive experience at the Haig Club London Market Influencer Night.

How would you describe yourself in three words?
Passionate… Active…Visionary…(Because I’m always on the move, always thinking)

I see a Chatime branch in almost every street that I go to. Have you ever imagined that it would be expanding at such a rapid rate? Additionally, can you tell me a little bit more about how Chatime came about?
Five years ago (in 2010), I first graduated from Monash University in Melbourne, and then worked in the biotech industry for 3 years. It was difficult as I had a feeling of starting a business of my own, enterprising at a very young age. Hence at the age of 24, I decided to venture into the F&B industry. I decided that cold beverages would be ideal for our Asian market. Discovering a loophole in the Malaysian market, I decided to go to Taiwan in search of ideas in the tea industry. I found out that there are bubble tea outlets everywhere – 25,000 outlets nationwide. I wanted to introduce the bubble tea culture in Malaysia. After a long process, I managed to acquire the Chatime franchise for the Malaysian market, and ever since then, Chatime has been growing across the country and in our neighbouring countries, achieving over a 100 outlets by 2013. It has been a pretty amazing journey so far.

Besides Chatime, what are your other current business ventures?
SodaXpress, Malaysia’s first and only sparkling water making machine; Tino’s Pizza

Are you also eying at other potential business ventures? If yes, can you give all the excited Malaysians a brief sneak peek into your plans?
Business extension is one of the missions behind our expansion, and it is a continuous process. Each year we aim to add on two portfolios into our organisation. Last year, we added on SodaXpress and Tino’s Pizza. And this year, we’re planning to add on Hacha Mecha, a Japanese gastro-bar and Ikki, which would be Malaysia’s largest Speakeasy bar. We are also looking at other overseas potentials, particularly from Europe, with a yoghurt company: at this stage of negotiation, I’m unable to reveal more details. However, I do know it will be another added milestone to our organization. I believe that we always intend to travel to other countries to observe and enjoy their cultures, and some we have yet to experience which I’d like to bring to Malaysia. Through such collaborations, we will be come the medium to mobilise cultures between Malaysia and other regions – to bridge international cultures. This would be my biggest vision so far, because as a Malaysian myself, our country is multiracial, multicultural and is able to absorb a lot more cultures. With my own passion for traveling, I am able to bring a lot more other portfolios to incorporate in Malaysia, thus providing more choices in the F&B industry, in terms of experience, and something that is truly out of the box.

It sure is an honor to be chosen as one of the influencer of Haig Club. How did this exciting phenomenon come about?
At first, it was unclear to me why I was chosen considering the nature of my businesses. Then it came to my understanding that the reason why I was chosen among many others is because, similar to the traits of Haig Club of being bold and different, I suppose I was chosen because they were honouring an individual who would be bold enough to take up a challenge and start something new from nothing.

haig club influencer malaysia
Bryan Loo - Influencer of Haig Club Malaysia

What is your role in the collaboration with Haig Club as an on-ground social influencer?
Being part of the influencers for HAIG CLUB™, we got to meet David Beckham twice, celebrate dinner at HAIG CLUB™ London and meeting other influencers from other parts of the world – I think it doesn’t get any better than that. In foresight, I’m in the midst of a new venture called Ikki (Malaysia’s largest Speakeasy bar) that will have a significant and exclusive collaboration with HAIG CLUB™; we will introduce newly curated cocktails with HAIG CLUB™, and hoping that Ikki could be one of the “representatives” for HAIG CLUB™ in terms of original cocktail recipes. It is my hope and honour if I could get David Beckham to be here to grace the opening of our concept in Malaysia, whether in person or a video conference. That would be really great.

What was it like to meet the global icon, David Beckham?
David Beckham is very humble, and I am grateful to have met him in person – twice. Each time we have met feels like we get closer as friends, and we are always talking about our families. Considering that he is a global icon (and I thought he’d be “cool” and difficult to speak with), I never knew that he is such a down-to-earth person. It was an honour to meet him and socialize with his group of friends and influencers from around the world – it also opened up my view of the world in a way.

How was the atmosphere at the Haig Club London Market Influencer Night?
Inside the Wellington Arch, I never imagined that they were able to create a “secret room”, exactly like the British 1920s’ social club. The creative team completely transformed the arch to make it feel very close and intimate – with optimized space that caters to a small number of people. The ambiance gave a very intimate experience which I think the other guests also felt at the event. There were 2 levels – the hidden bar was downstairs, and upstairs was where the banquet took place. You can hear people talking and laughing upstairs while you’re downstairs at the bar. The intimate environment truly reflected the original British social club scene. They successfully transformed it to give us all a feeling of going back into time – a heritage-like feeling.

Who are the other important guests who attended the event?
Sue Lynn/BangsarBabe (the other Malaysian influencer), Kate Walsh (US Actress Grey’s Anatomy), Lee Seo-jin (South Korean actor), Simon Fuller, Ewan Gunn, and many more.

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Bryan with (from left) Benjamin Kheng, Seo-jin Lee, Sue Lynn, Toc Tien, and Ho Ngoc Ha

How was Haig Club incorporated in the cuisine and the cocktail menu and what is your take on the food pairing mix and match, from the perspective of a successful entrepreneur in the F&B industry?
Because HAIG CLUB™ can blend with different cocktail ingredients, the team of mixologists came up with a variety of different cocktails that was inspired by HAIG CLUB™. My personal favorite is the Haig Clubman – a thin slice of ginger dropped into the whiskey that leaves a lingering taste – which I can still taste when imagining it. They also paired up many different dishes to different cocktails and it was all really good. The food was prepared by great chefs (Michelin star chef & chef from China). The food pairing with cocktails were excellent.