Distilled: Exploring the city’s best Scotch list at Wing’s Restaurant

From the March 28, 2013 edition

“I love Scotch. Scotchy, Scotch, Scotch. Here it goes, down, down in my belly.”—Ron Burgundy

While I might not love Scotch the way Ron Burgundy does, it’s definitely an impressive spirit. Even more impressive is the Scotch list at Wing’s Restaurant in Bexley. Some might be surprised to know a Chinese restaurant has the best Scotch list in Columbus — and probably in Ohio — but that’s the case.

And it’s all due to one man’s love for Scotch, specifically single malts. Kenny Yee, owner and operator of Wing’s Restaurant, has long loved Scotch, and it slowly became part of the mystique of the classic haunt.

“It’s a hobby of mine that integrated into the business,” Yee said. “I never thought about being the Scotch guy, but when someone shows a passion people will follow.”

Back in the mid-1980s Yee’s passion for the Scotland spirit was just beginning. As time passed, varieties from all regions of Scotland — Highlands, Lowlands, Islay and Speyside are the most predominant producers — became available through Yee’s diligent efforts.

Yee works with American — Jeff Topping, aka the Wild Scotsman — and Scottish — John McDougall, the most respected Scotch authority in the business — distributors to secure the product his restaurant offers. It can take up to two years to get a particular product, due to overseas shipping and working within the guidelines of the Ohio Division of Liquor Control.

It’s worth it, as anyone who’s laid eyes on Wing’s list of more than 150 scotches can attest. A 33-year-old Macallan and a 38-year-old Bunnahabhain represent the most impressive. Yee even purchases whole barrels directly from Scotland that he bottles and sells exclusively in his restaurant. Those barrels start — start! — at $22,000.

This may sound a little outlandish to the average drinker, but Wing’s and Yee are the best way to explore Scotches. He’s always happy to assist in choosing the right one and customizes each flight (three Scotches) to the particular customer. And you don’t have to be a millionaire; many range from $7-$25 and most flights are $30-$50. If you want the best of the best, Yee has that too.

Photo by Tim Johnson