Don Tay (1951 – 2021) left this world Sunday 11 July 2021. He was 70.
To a generation of Singaporeans, residents, and oversea foreign customers who frequented his shop – Bacchus – Don Tay was the go-to person for many a fine, but also more modest drinking, wine.
Don was in effect Bacchus himself.
When I first met him, Don was in charge of the wine section at Daimaru, the Japanese supermarket, in the basement of what was Liang Court.
We became friends instantly.
Don was as down-to-earth as a person as he was a dedicated wine retailer.
No snobbery full-stop.
By the time he started Bacchus, his shop was known for its remarkable range and depth of wine, fair prices, and personalized service.
Sometimes, the service was too “personalized”. It could even be exasperating if you were an impatient wine lover.
Often, his staff simply could not locate a particular vintage or bottle which Don had told his customers or friends about.
Unable to find the wine, the staff would call Don to ask where he had hidden it in the Aladdin’s cave that was Bacchus.
Bacchus was then in the basement of Paragon Shopping Centre in the middle of bustling Orchard Road.
Management 101 would say that’s not the way to run a modern wine shop, but it merely added to the charm and eccentricity of the man.
Dinner on 11 August 2020. From left, Kenny Leung, Vincent Leung, host Alfred Leung of Imperial Treasure Group, Don Tay, and Ch’ng Poh Tiong
Don was as much beloved as he was respected.
No one really dies unless people don’t remember them.
That will not happen to Don Tay.
He will be fondly remembered as a wine legend of Singapore, friend, inspiration, husband, father, father-in-law, and grandfather.
Editor’s Note: Don Tay’s wake at Singapore Casket is on till Thursday morning 15 July 2021