Here's What Went Down at the First Whisky Live in Manila

October must be quite unforgettable for whisky lovers. On the 28th and 29th of this month, the first-ever Whisky Live took place in Manila—the fifth venue of the biggest international whisky tasting event in the world. Following its successful runs in Paris, London, Tokyo, and New York, Whisky Live brought this spectacular exhibition to our shores, having witnessed Manila’s growing appreciation for whiskies and rare bottles—yes, for brands beyond Jack Daniels, the ever-present party bottle. The event took place in no less than the newly opened Shangri-La at the Fort.

Over 121 whiskies awaited aficionados and first-timers, from distilleries coming from different parts of the world such as Spain, USA, Japan, Taiwan, Ireland, Australia, and of course, Scotland. Each participating brand had its own booth to showcase their best products. From the regular whiskies to the hard-to-find ones—as well as 12-year-olds to 45-year-oldseach booth had something to delight every guest.

Upon entry, each guest will be given a special Whisky Live tasting glass, which shall be used for nosing and sampling quarter-ounce pours of your chosen whiskies. Along with this were 10 color-coded chips—8 red chips for sampling, 1 white chip to vote for the Best Booth, and 1 blue chip to vote for the Best Whisky (which was won by The Macallan). You can still get more red chips if you consume all eight—but after you pass the breathalyzer test. A bottle of Evian was in the kit as well, so guests could add some water into their whiskies as they drank the night away.

Stepping into the exhibition hall was such a bliss for whisky fans. To the left of the grand ballroom, there was Dalmore; Jameson; Chivas; and farther inside, The Macallan and Highland Park (to name a few). To my right, a lineup of Asian brands (like Kavalan); Glenfidditch; The Balvenie; Glengoyne; and the coolest booth, Monkey ShoulderThose who love smoky beverages were more than happy with the unlimited drams of peated whiskies like OctomoreTaliskerArdberg, and many more! Guests who couldn't get enough got to purchase these bottles at rates lower than the usual retail prices.

I dropped by each booth and sampled more of the older whiskies and more of the brands I wasn’t too familiar with. I especially liked The Glenrothes, Dalmore (15 years, King Alexander, and the PhP2.5M, 45-year-old Constellation ... kidding), Highland Park (Dark Origins!!!), Tomintoul (one of the top-rated whiskies in the world), and Monkey Shoulder (great for mixing). I drank so much (finished all 8 chips and drank some more) before settling into one corner of the Monkey Shoulder booth, getting multiple refills of their espresso whisky cocktail, LOL!

A cocktail competition was also conducted and it was participated by some of the best bartenders in the city (this also meant that the free-flowing drinks were exquisite). I hung out with a couple of friends from the media and tried a variety of libations—two of my favorites being the Highland Park 12 (stout reduction syrup, lemon juice, Amara Ciociaro, Highland Park 12) and Akashi Blended (homemade ratafia, house blend Angostura bitters, Akashi Japanese Whisky), both made by Lester Ligon, who won the competition.

Aside from the tastings, another highlight of the 2-day event was the series of Master Classes conducted by world-renowned whisky masters Jim Murray (author of the Whisky Bible) and Dominic Roskrow (author of the World’s Best Whiskies), along with other whisky experts from different parts of the world.

Indeed, the first-ever staging of Whisky Live in Manila was an incredible success! I had such an awesome time tasting whiskies and learning more about each of them. Congratulations to Grand Cru Wines and Spirits, Inc. and to the whole Whisky Live Manila team!

Whisky Live

Do you love whisky? What's your favorite brand? Will you go to Whisky Live 2017?

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