A TIPPLE or two (or even three) simply wouldn’t do. Not when there was a ballroom full of booths from where spirits were arrayed for sips or swigs.
This was the scene at the 2017 edition of Whisky Live Manila, held on the evenings of Oct. 20 and 21 at a Bonifacio Global City hotel. The second Manila staging drew 39 brands, some of which as ubiquitous as Google, others known only to a handful of enthusiasts. More than a couple do not even make whisky. Whatever one’s standing though, each offered guests a sampling of its best libations.
Comprising these are over 130 types of scotch, bourbon and other blends, and, of course, whisky (or whiskey; the spelling depends on which country a particular product comes from), so there was no lack of diversity at the expo. On one end of the scale sat a few well-known blended whiskies, with some of the examples commanding top-money price tags. Johnnie Walker’s Master Blenders Collection by Alexander Walker was one such scotch. A bottle costs some change shy of P500,000, but the amount includes a large trunk in which to store more than a few other bottles, plus the paraphernalia to enjoy these.
Keeping to the current trend, meanwhile, was the conspicuous presence of single malt whiskies, a number of which are priced south of P3,000, and thus offered compelling value for the buck. Besides excellent market-staple produce from The Singleton and Glenfiddich, malts from Bruichladdich, Highland Park and Teeling, among others, provided depth and scope to the choices available.
Even the nationality of whisky/whiskey makers were as varied; the Irish and the Scotch brigade were expectedly dominant, but lesser-known Japanese brand Akashi showed up as well. And then there was Kavalan, which in the last three years has made a habit of topping categories at the World Whiskies Award. The distillery, to the surprise of many people, is Taiwanese.
Apart from the tastings (guests were given eight chips that qualified them to as many drinks; they could get more after they finished these provided they were first cleared by medical personnel as still fit to drink), another attraction of Whisky Live were the master classes, essentially deep-dive sessions on particular brands or blends that were conducted by invited experts and brand ambassadors. A bartending competition also added interest to the event, as did the public voting for the best booth and people’s choice whisky – won by brands The Balvenie and Glenmorangie, respectively.
Certainly, the limited edition Glencairn crystal whisky glass was also well worth the admission price (it ranged from P3,000-P5,000, depending on when or where a purchase was made). As pretty as it was useful, guests lugged this from one booth after another, sampling each one’s produce. Notably, they shunned going on the rocks with their glasses, too, preferring instead to take their drinks neat. – Brian M. Afuang