By Cesar Cruz Jr.
Whisky Live fans may have experienced a dry spell the past two years due to the Covid -19 pandemic restrictions, but thankfully, Whisky Live, the biggest whisky event in the world, was back in Manila for the 5th time to quench their thirst for all things whisky. The said event was held at Shangri- La at the Fort last November 4-5, 2022. “This year’s Whisky Live is a gamble. So far, here, right now, people are very relaxed. The crowd is not rowdy. Everybody is enjoying it. It is about time we have such a kind of an event,” Johanssen Li, CEO of Grand Cru which organized the Whisky Live Event, said.
Whisky Live, which is featured in cities such as London, Paris, Tokyo, and New York, brought together liquor newbies and aficionados, as well as industry professionals, with its assortment of superb and well-thought-of offerings that catered to the taste of discriminating attendees.
The liquor. The main draw of the premier tasting event was the sampling of over 183 different types of whisky, Scotch, bourbon, and even other kinds of liquor, Who would not feel giddy of having access to tasting hard-to-find and expensive liquors? Participating brands such as Aberfeldy, Ardbeg, Aultmore, Chivas Regal, Pernod Ricard, Douglas Laing, Bruichladdich, Maison Ferrand, Don Papa Rum, ARC, Luisita Rum, Remy Martin, Koval brought to the table their classic bottles as well as new releases through their inviting booths. New participants to the Whisky Live event such as Wolfburn Distillery, the most northernly whisky distillery on the Scottish mainland, and Duncan Taylor, a family-owned business producing quality Scotch whisky, gin, and rum- certainly brought excitement to the event. It is worth highlighting that Dewar’s won the awards for Best Booth and People’s choice for Whisky this year.
The masterclasses. Time to level up your whisky game! International whisky masters graced the event to generously share their in-depth knowledge of whisky in the eight masterclasses it offered during the two-day event, each being an hour to one and a half hours long. It provided an intimate setting for a limited number of guests to sample rare and older bottles. Speakers for the event were Ewan Gunn, Diageo Senior Global Ambassador; Owen Roberts, Chivas Regal Brand Ambassador; Chris Ong, Scotch Malt Whisky Society Liaison; Lee Watson, Headmaster of The Spirit Library, Spiritual Advisor; John Go, Intrinsic Spirits; Paul Wang, Asia Regional Sales and Keeper of the Quaich; Matthieu Gouze, Sales Director for Maison Ferrand.
Bar shows. Those who were willing to pay attention to this “water of life” were treated to an up close and personal experience of whisky workshop programs. The activities consisted of “The Art of Blending” headed by Chivas Regal’s Owen Roberts, “ Follow Your Senses, a blind-tasting guide from spirits expert John Go, a DIY- How to Make Whisky Sour using Benchmark Bourbon Whiskey led by renowned mixologist Richie Cruz, and Easy Cocktail with Regional Remarkable Malts initiated by John Hung.
Mentorship Program and Competition. The energy of the crowd was in full swing as they cheered on young bartenders strutting their stuff in the bartending challenge. Jouielyn Vidal of Enderun College emerged victorious in this department with the supervision of her mentor Mark Kevin Ramores.
The Whisky Live series never fails to make lovers of fine liquor feel like a kid in a candy store. The much-anticipated event has always been packed to the brim with wonderful things to savor. Those who can pace themselves well will be rewarded with amazing stories of an unforgettable night. Be sure to check out Whisky Live next year!
Whisky Live Finds:
Highland Park Valfather: In the mood for some peated Highland Scotch ? Highland Park Valfather holds the reputation as the peatiest release from Highland Park.47 % ABV. It exudes aromas of honey, vanilla, malt, and pepper. On the palate, its gives off taste of honey, orange, pepper, and cinnamon. The finish is long with echoes of floral smoke.
Don Papa Rum Port Cask : The limited edition rum is aged for 2 years in ex-bourbon American oak barrels then stored for 5 years in a ruby-hued port cask. 40% ABV. It has the smell of liquorice, cacao, and the undeniable scent of muscovado sugar. This rum has a wonderful mouth feel with tastes of coffee, toffee, cinnamon, and vanilla. The long finish is accompanied by traces of cacao powder and dried figs.