Absolut-ly nuts about vodka
STEPPING into flight-simulator specialist Joe Yang's home, one is greeted by a peculiar sight that raises the question: "Is he an alcoholic?"
Bottles of Absolut vodka with varying designs are lined up on wall shelves built specially to display them. Others decorate the floor of his maisonette in Punggol.
And that's not all. In the storeroom on the second floor are many more bottles and Absolut vodka merchandise which did not make it to the "hall of fame".
But, no, Mr Yang is not an alcoholic. In fact, the 34-year-old said he is not much of a drinker, preferring to prepare cocktails for his friends instead.
Mr Yang is actually an Absolut vodka collector and is one of more than 220 active members of an Absolut Collectors group in Singapore.
His passion for the drink even won him the title of Absolut fan, which saw him fly to Sweden for the Absolut Collectors' Meeting, held at the Absolut Atelier - a place that is accessible only by invitation - together with 99 other collectors from all over the world.
Mr Yang said it all started when he was 17 years old, when he was gifted his first Absolut vodka bottle by his father.
After falling in love with the shape of the bottles and the unique text on each one, he decided to make a hobby of collecting the iconic bottles.
He started by collecting the core flavours, then the limited-edition bottles, before going a bit "crazy", buying even bar wares, lightboxes and postcards.
"Basically, everything I could get my hands on," said Mr Yang.
Now his collection is valued at $20,000 to $30,000, made up primarily of 200-odd vodka bottles - many of which are limited-edition city bottles - bought or traded with more than 100 collectors from all over the world.
He ranks in the top 30 per cent of all collectors here in terms of quantity, making additions to his collection at least twice a month.
But while he may have amassed a huge and comprehensive collection, Mr Yang's ultimate goal is to put Singapore on the Absolut vodka map, with its very own limited-edition city bottle.
"It is every collector's dream to have something that belongs to his country," said the avid hobbyist.