Self-proclaimed “whisky geeks”, Whisky & Alement’s Brooke Hayman and Julian White, and Heirloom’s Kelvin Low, are combining their impressive collections for a pop-up Japanese whisky bar. Or as they put it, a “consumable exhibition”.

Bar White Oak will operate out of Whisky & Alement for six months from May 18. It will offer the biggest collection of rare and celebrated Japanese whiskies by the glass.

“We have invested quite heavily in creating a separate bar, which will give the feel of an actual Japanese whisky bar,” says Hayman.

The pop-up will include a classic Japanese Highball tap, which will serve palate-cleansing whisky and sodas via a draught system.

Hayman says their collection of Japanese whiskies is the biggest publicly available in Australia.

“We have close to 200 whiskies,” says Hayman. “It wouldn’t be economical to open them all, so initially we’re opening 150, but in total, it is definitely the largest collection.”

Hayman and White acquired their collections during trips to Japan every two years. During their most recent trip they realised how hard it is to get your hands on Japanese whiskies these days.

A dedication to quality means that distilleries are no longer producing huge segments of their lines, such as Nikka, which has stopped producing 18 of its whiskies.

“They value quality so much,” says Hayman. “Demand has gone up, and prices in some cases have inflated up to 1000 per cent in a year.”

This gave them the idea to make Bar White Oak with long-time friend and fellow collector, Low.

“It is a little disappointing seeing people put them [whiskies] in cupboards as investments,” says Hayman. “We just want to celebrate Japanese whisky at an affordable price.”

These “affordable” prices range from $11 dollars a shot, to upwards of $130 for a nip.

“In the scheme of things it’s affordable,” says White, who explains that some of the rarer whiskies are valued at around $3000 a bottle.

During the pop-up White and Low will run tasting sessions where they’ll tell the tales behind the tipples. Such as the stories behind the bottles in their rare collection from the demolished Karuizawa distillery.

“There are only 400 to 600 remaining, and we have 11,” says White.

Bar White Oak opens on May 18.

Bar White Oak
(Inside Whisky & Alement)
270 Russell Street, Melbourne

Sun to Mon 4.30pm–11pm
Tue to Fri 4.30pm–12.30am
Sat 7pm–12.30am