The Genesis of the Single Malt Whisky Club

What Seniors Who Really Live Do Differently

Some time ago, I read a very interesting book by Bob Buford titled: Finishing Well – What People Who Really Live Do Differently!  The book is based on his in-depth interviews with 60 remarkable and successful people in the United States.

The book details with amazing clarity a motivating set of best practices for those who are seeking to re-define their second lifetime, so to speak. This second lifetime is actually a wonderful opportunity to re-invent ourselves with a singular purpose for the post-retirement phase of our lives.

Downside of our Failure to Re-Invent Ourselves

Failure to re-invent ourselves at this juncture in our lives will certainly leave us that much poorer in spirit and quite lost in this fast-paced world of ours. Some seniors, unfortunately, have become grumpy, morose, irritable and quarrelsome individuals. They are a real pain to be with because they choose to focus on the negatives all the time. This is a situation of their own making but they are the last to realise this.

While in full-time employment, we often danced to the tune of our demanding employers and bosses, the reverse is actually true for us in retirement. In order to do just that, we have to get organised and plan for a variety of interesting programmes and activities. Nobody is going to do that for you if you are much too lazy or indifferent to do that for yourself!

Retirement, I say, is not the time for endless rests and siestas or even watching television programmes one after the other until we knock off in the armchair. Seniors too need to be proactive and stay active. And if a 93-year old doctor can answer the call to lead the Malaysian nation once again, we too must be up for the challenge.

Have Carefully Chosen to be Semi-Retired

This is our opportunity to plan for an enjoyable post-retirement phase.

In my case, I have carefully chosen to be semi-retired. I still enjoy the challenge of a tough management assignment; I also relish the chance to assist a friend or client with a speech; and I jump at the chance to conduct a training programme in my areas of expertise.

Most recently, I received an invitation to conduct a two-day training programme in Effective Public Relations sometime next month. I readily accepted the offer.

Then again, I also received an invitation a couple of days ago to conduct a training session on Business Writing Skills for a small group of women executives/managers in the Klang Valley. I have also signalled my acceptance in this case. Three months ago I was invited to address members of the Rotary Club of Damansara on the topic: Professionals and Professionalism.

All these activities and the fact that I blog regularly keep my mental faculties in top condition……….or so I hope!

Indulging in a Range of Physical Activities

On the other hand, I do not neglect the need for physical activities. I make it a point to go for brisk walks five times a week. Each walk lasts for about forty minutes in a small park in my neighbourhood.

In addition, my wife and I enjoy undertaking scenic drives to ‘ discover’ small towns and villages that we have heard about. We have undertaken such adventures to places like Fraser’s Hill, Kuala Kubu Bahru, Kuala Selangor, Port Dickson, Taiping, Kuala Terengganu etc.

In most cases, these are just day-long drives, but in some cases, we have stayed the night in the town. We did not have the luxury or the time to undertake such drives when we were working and the children were young. Our three adult children have flown from the nest and we are truly free to undertake such enjoyable trips on a regular basis.

On The Social Side of Activities

On the social side of activities, I personally like some variety.

I make it a point to attend at least three interesting tea talks or lectures on an annual basis. The most recent one was on the topic of “ Building Resilience – Ways to Draw on our Inner Strength “ by Maureen Goodman, programme director of Brahma Kumaris, United Kingdom.

In addition, I attend plays, musical shows and comedy programmes from time to time at Theatre Lounge Cafe in Sri Hartamas, Kuala Lumpur; at PJ Live Arts Theatre in Jaya One, Petaling Jaya; and also at KL PAC Theatre in Sentul, Kuala Lumpur. The prices of tickets to attend these events are reasonable and there are ample parking facilities at these centres.

There are also a few groups that I meet with on a social basis periodically. They are my associates from the public relations fraternity; my friends from the Kiwanis Club of Kuala Lumpur; my former colleagues from the teaching profession as well as some of my former students; and also my college mates from my days at a small La Salle college in Penang called St Joseph’s Training College in Pulau Tikus, Penang.

Drinks and Bites Events

An attempt was made to have a social gathering at a well-known club in Kuala Lumpur over drinks and small bites. Initially, only about four others were invited. The event proved very popular and more such events were held always at this social club but with an increase in the number of attendees.

The attendees were all former teachers and former students who had studiously taken the trouble to stay in touch with a few of their former teachers. The initial group was made up of three former teachers and three former students.

The event would last for about three hours or so. The joy of fellowship was the key driver for these events and the subjects for informal conversation were usually topical issues of the day! This club also has a conducive ambience and a comfortable setting for the gathering.

Single Malt Whisky (SMW) Club

After about three such Drinks and Bites events, someone in the select group suggested that the group ought to morph into a ‘ Single Malt Whisky Club ‘. It was to be on a ‘by invitation only’ basis. There was unanimous agreement to the idea and soon, we had our first Single Malt Whisky Club gathering at the same club.

We would meet initially for a couple of cold beers in one part of the club and after about two hours, adjourn to a Chinese restaurant within the club for a leisurely dinner. Each member of the group would take turns by bringing a bottle of a SMW of his choice. The bill for the drinks and the dinner would then be split equally among the attendees.

Octogenarian, Septuagenarians and Sexagenarians

This has now been going on for about three years. The group has increased to eight individuals.  There is an octogenarian, a couple of septuagenarians and the youngest are sexagenarians.

Occupation wise, the attendees are a retired senior manager with a Swedish multinational, a retired general manager of a prominent US hotel chain in Malaysia, a retired but re-employed editor of a mainstream newspaper, a retired entrepreneur with a love for quality German cars, a gung-ho entrepreneur still in harness in a technology business, a retired senior manager, commerce with an established embassy, a passionate geographer and a semi-retired accountant who shuttles between Malaysia and Australia. The actual numbers attending a session may vary due to health or travel reasons but the group remains deliberately small for proper interaction.

Whisky Grand Master & the Rituals We Go Through

One among us is a true whisky connoisseur and he likes to surprise us with a range of expensive whiskies that he is familiar with. He will also normally brief us on the history of that particular liquid gold as well as advise us on the correct way to sip the first drink! He enjoys, by popular acclaim, an exalted Whisky Grand Master status among us.

Now, who says seniors do not know how to live and enjoy life? For this small group in the Klang Valley in Selangor, Malaysia, it is the fine art of living well but in moderation that holds great promise and excitement for them.

Moreover, good friends take on an even greater role and meaning in a post-retirement phase because we share a common past and a diminishing future. But for three or four glorious hours, we can all take a fun trip back to the past, share forgotten and hilarious stories and enjoy the warm fellowship and easy camaraderie. C’est la vie.

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8 thoughts on “The Genesis of the Single Malt Whisky Club

  1. Ben,

    The class of 69 is following your footsteps and we are now meeting in small groups either for lunch or dinner. We had our first lunch without drinks at Premavilla (former location of Rumah Ku) along Jalan University opposite the UH. Only 9 of us met about 12 noon on the 9th of September. Mohan, Rokk, Bala, Visva. and his son, Yoga, Ramani, Mr and Mrs Balasingam. The food was average but but it was the company that made that Sunday afternoon a good one. Primavilla is not a place i we would visit again as the food was averge and price not befitting the the Indian vege and non vege food served us..

    Cheers

    Peter

    1. Thanks for this update Peter. Yes, do meet whenever you all can. Small groups can be fun and there will be better interaction. Friends become even more important in our later years.

  2. A very eloquent piece of writing, Ben! And especially relevant with our growing greying society.
    You’re spot on regarding the importance of staying connected with good friends and having a positive mindset with a willingness to face challenges.
    Personally, I’ve derived great inspiration from that classic poem Ulysses by the Victorian poet Alfred, Lord Tennyson. Let’s share the last stanza from Ulysses :

    Tho’ much is taken, much abides and tho’
    We are not now that strength which in old days
    Moved earth and heaven, that which we are, we are;
    One equal temper of heroic hearts,
    Made weak by time and fate, but strong in will
    To strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield.

    1. Many thanks Mark. The last stanza from Alfred, Lord Tennyson ( See Denis Armstrong’s response ) poem is what we are all about………or at least we TRY to strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield as we go off into the sunset!

  3. An excellent insight on how to handle post retirement blues.A well written narrative by an eminent personality of whom I had the privilege of being a student.

    1. Appreciate your feedback Nalliah. You are a person of goodwill and you possess the milk of human kindness……..not just for the comment you made but for your other acts of compassion. I respect that quality in an individual..

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