Expensive Alcohol At Reasonable Prices: Justin Lim of The Chamber

Justin Lim | The Chamber Starhill | Food For Thought

The Chamber, purveyors of fine spirits, is one of the latest unique offering at Starhill Bukit Bintang, luxurious chambers for you to taste spirits before you buy them, but also private rooms and a mobile bar. While many may think that a place like that would be severely out of reach, the wide range of offerings at The Chamber is really, very affordable. We speak to Justin Lim, one of the Co-Founders to find out more.

Facade | The Chamber Starhill | Food For Thought

The Chamber Starhill

The Chamber is a founded by 6 partners, namely Justin Lim, Robert Lim, Michael Chai, Chua Sai Men and Joseph Yeo, and is a one stop shop for all your spirit needs. The Chamber functions both as a retail space but also has private rooms afforded to members at different tiers, where additional perks such as mobile cart rentals and invitations for exclusive events.

Cigar Room | The Chamber Starhill | Food For Thought

What is your background and how did you get into this?

So my background is I’m a retailer. We retail lots of different brands, 23 different brands across a range of sportswear all the way to convenience store. So this this naturally fits into what I do every day and my team does. We’re very proficient in retailing and I guess why we started this is because there was a gap in the market. I didn’t feel that Malaysia had any place to buy or experience alcohol properly. Most of the other spaces are like, supermarkets or the wholesalers, which are all like factories or shop lots. So it’s not a pleasing experience, personally speaking, because I also buy alcohol. We wanted to create something that was more pleasing to the consumer, a place where they could shop comfortably, where they could experience the tastings that we do, the masterclasses that we offer, like tonight, there is Octamore. So we have lots of these events that the brands want to feature their product, so they do lots of tastings, lots of masterclasses and so our customers and members obviously, get invited back for wine dinners. The last one we did was Pichon Baron. So we did the dinner that’s we invited 30 of our top clients to experience Pichon Baron because Xavier flew in from Bordeaux with bottles of Pichon Baron which we paired it, that kind of experience.

Retail | The Chamber Starhill | Food For Thought

So what is the Chamber and what specific experience are you trying to deliver that a lot of other places that are similar is not doing?

Like I said, I think the masterclass and the experiences are what the customers appreciate, we also have the back rooms, the private chambers, where our clients, our customers, the members can have a drink here. They can book up the rooms, have their meetings.

Is there a minimum spend to use the room?

So the membership start 100,000 of accumulated spend. Then you get to be a Silver member. So entry level is 100,000. Because our rooms, we only have three, and they get quite full. So we need to prioritise members for the room.

Hennessy Room | The Chamber Starhill | Food For Thought

Are there any specific expressions that is uniquely carried at the Chamber?

Yeah, there’s lots of products that only we carry. For example, the Hennessy Richard. Only the Chamber has that. We are the only retailer. We have some more exclusive wines, exclusive champagnes that only we carry. Lots of launches like Singleton 39 or the high aged products only we carry.

For your wine selection, is there any specific ones that is exclusive to the Chamber?

There is a few that only we carry. We also do lots of Lafite vertical sets. I think we sell quite a bit of Lafite vertical sets, 18 years, 48 years.

Wine Chamber | The Chamber Starhill | Food For Thought

About your cognac selection, is there any specific expressions that is very high in demand?

Hennessy is one of our biggest sale. So, between Hennessy and Remy Martin, I think we are the only people that have the engraving machine for Paradis. And Paradis is actually quite hard to find in the market already. But we have a big collection of Paradis and that engraving machine is the only one in Southeast Asia called Hennessy Hands.

You probably carry one of the more exclusive stocks in Malaysia?

Hennessy Richard, for example, gets sold nowhere by us. Richard is Hennessy’s top end cognac. We also carry all the Louie XIII, the jeroboams, the bigger sizes that also are not available anywhere.

Sake | The Chamber Starhill | Food For Thought

You have quite a sizeable sake collection here, so which are specific expressions that you actually highly recommend?

We highly recommend some of the smaller houses. So like Phoenix, we have the Black Whale, so the more unique ones, although we do have Dassai 23. We have all the popular ones, but I think the ones that are interesting to us are the smaller houses, that and also we have the most expensive ones, which is the Juyondai, but we’ve sold out some of the more expensive ones, those are RM29,000 a bottle, but we’ve sold that out already, so we currently only have the regular Juyondais.

You offer a mobile bar service for private events. Can you tell us a bit about it?

We call it the mobile chamber. We’ve done events like BMW, we’ve done some property gallery events, park events, birthdays, Chinese events this is what it’s used for. Generally, when someone throws a party, they don’t want to worry about the alcohol because if you only bring one or two bottles, that might not be enough. We bring everything. You don’t pay upfront for it. It’s on demand so we’ll bring the bottles, the gins, the extras.

Mortlach Room | The Chamber Starhill | Food For Thought

Are the drinks also included in it or are they you pay for the drinks in addition?

The setup is only free for members. As you go through your memberships you get these as they are free once or twice or three times depending on what memberships you have you get free service of the mobile chamber. The bartenders, the bus boys, the waiters, they’re all included.

Will they also do cocktails?

Yes, you can request cocktails. We have one that’s happening in Desa Park on Saturday, which requested for cocktails, so we’re servicing that. But basically, you can rent it. Some of the corporate clients rent it like UOB and some of the banks rent that service from us. But personal members get it for free.

Entrance | The Chamber Starhill | Food For Thought

Can you tell us a bit about the Hennessy special edition bottles that you can handcraft with?

It’s called Hennessey Hands. We’re the only ones that have it. It’s a personalization of the bottle. So, you can do laser engraving on the bottle itself, your name or whatever you want to put on it. You can choose the colour that you want to engrave again. It’s either bronze, silver or gold. And then there’s neck labels. There are different neck labels you can choose. There are four different neck labels that you can choose. The leather neck labels, which you can engrave your initials, are very popular for this is gifting, birthdays, or Christmas. So, lots of people buy this for birthday gifts because it’s unique. They usually and engrave the person’s name. Then they do ‘Happy Birthday’ on the neck labels. Even if you have Paradis, you don’t have a personalized bottle, so it’s nice to have. On your bar, it looks good, right?

Louis XIII Room | The Chamber Starhill | Food For Thought

Can you tell us something about the Chamber that a lot of people would not know about or is a misconception?

I think people think we are expensive when we are not. We carry expensive alcohol, but at very reasonable prices. So we follow basically what the brands’ recommend retail price. So we are market retail price. So, although the space looks expensive, our products are not expensive. We don’t do the crazy markups like the bars or the restaurants or other retailers. Our markup is quite thin, but we intend to service you in volume. So you buy to bring home, you buy for dinner, you buy for gifting. That’s the intended purpose. It’s a real retail store.

The Chamber
Starhill Gallery,
181, Jalan Bukit Bintang,
55100 Kuala Lumpur
+6012 271 5236
Opening Hours:
Daily, 11.00 am to 11.00 pm


Nicholas Ng

Nicholas Ng is a restaurant critic and drinks writer and is the editor of independent publication Food For Thought. He has been a freelance journalist for the 15 years and has previously worked as a lawyer and in digital marketing. He currently is the Principal Consultant of A Thought Full Consultancy, a food and beverage marketing consultancy.

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