|The new whisky club seems indifferent to its whisky product. (GT)|
A copper-plated compass on the floor of the entrance to the Johnnie Walker House reads "Keep Walking" after the famous whisky brand's slogan. But the Johnnie Walker House is not a bar. It prides itself as Beijing's first luxury whisky club, although inside, it looks more like a villain's lair.
Officially open to the public since January 16, the Johnnie Walker House on Tiananmen Dongdajie, Dongcheng district, is the place you'd expect to find a cunning mastermind from a Bond film plotting his or her next move.
The club's underground floors feel more conspiratorial the further down you go. The club's three main rooms are a nod to old money, conjuring the image of top hats and men plotting world domination. Each clink of glasses in the Striding Man Room, the club's main drinking den, could be over a maniacal plot. The Blending Room, buried deepest of all, contains a display cabinet of special Scottish single malts that looks like it could trigger a revolving wall into the decaying basement of what used to be the US embassy.
The club's biggest conspiracy however appears to be that it has little to do with whisky after all. Unlike every other place that serves whisky in Beijing, managers of the Johnnie Walker House claim it's not the whisky that matters here. Rather, it's the promise of luxury.
Qu Baojun, 40, the club's operations manager, says the Johnnie Walker House is designed to imitate the success of its Shanghai branch by bringing luxury culture to Beijing's wealthiest elites.
But Qu says the club has no relation to the enjoyment of good whisky.
"If you want to acquire a taste for whisky, this isn't the place to come," he says. "Our club is about the experience of a luxury brand. There are plenty of other places where you can experiment in Beijing."
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