When it comes to alcohol, I stick to what I know and like. I prefer wine, cocktails, and craft beer. I’m only a casual drinker of heavier liquors like rum, scotch, and whisky, so when I was invited to Whisky Live, the country’s most anticipated whisky tasting and sampling event, I was intrigued.
Whisky Live is a two-day event where enthusiasts can try more than 100 variants. The event also had 12 Master Classes covering different topics, including filtration processes and the different kinds of barrels that contribute to the whisky’s taste.
So with an open mind and an empty snifter (which you use to try the different drinks in the booths), I explored the Grand Ballroom of the Shangri-La Hotel in Bonifacio Global City.
First off, a little introduction to whisky. The beverage is made from fermented barley or in some cases, grain mash. It’s known for its bold flavor and for being the drink of choice for distinguished individuals. But because of globalization and the increase of high-quality brands and blends, more people are now able to partake of what is often called as the “water of life.”
The first night of Whisky Live was fun. I was given ten poker chips that I was supposed to give to the dozens of booths present. The blue one is for best whisky, the white one is for best booth, and the eight red ones are for drinking. If you think guests are only allowed to try eight whiskies, think again. Once you consume all red chips, you can get eight more if you pass the breathalyzer test.
There’s plenty of distilleries to choose from, like Ardbeg, Chivas, Dalmore, the Glenrothes, Tomintoul, Jameson, Glenmorangie, Jura, Remy Cointreau, Teeling Whisky, and more.
I first tried the Old-Fashioned from Monkey Shoulder, a malt whisky that’s said to be versatile enough to be mixed into cocktails. The Old-Fashioned had notes of orange, vanilla, honey, and spiced oak, which was the perfect start to my whisky journey. From there, I moved on to heavier fare from Dalmore, Roku, Lakan, Wakatsuru, and Cherry Ex.
Going through the different booths made me realize just how many varieties there are. There’s single malt, grain, blended, single pot still, bourbon, Tennessee, rye, and corn. Some of my favorites were the Japanese whiskies, like Wakatsuru’s Junenmyo whisky and Cherry Ex’s cherry whisky.
I also attended one of the Master Classes, hosted by Darren Hosie from Chivas International to discuss the iconic whiskies of Speyside, Scotland. Some of the brands he shared were the Royal Salute, Glenlivet Nadurra, the Aberlour 12, and the Aberlour A’bunadh. I liked the Glenlivet Nadurra, which had a smoky flavored tempered by a few drops of water.
Apart from Hosie’s, there were other intimate learning sessions from international whisky experts Murphy Chang, Yvonne Chou, Mark DeSimone, Matthew Ferguson, Hamish Houliston, Adam Knox, Martin Lynch, Keith Nair, Neil Strachan, Alex Whang, and Andy Williams.
Whisky Live also hosted bartending competitions, book signings, and the 2017 Whisky Awards.
I learned a lot from the Master Class and my biggest takeaway was: whisky is so delicious. Like wine, whisky has a complex taste and drinking it can be a sensory experience. Its top notes, mouthfeel, and finish vary depending on the distillery’s unique distillation and casking process. It’s also good for you: drinking whisky increases blood circulation and decreases feelings of stress and anxiety. To top it off, it’s a low-calorie drink with zero fat!
I was only able to finish eight chips that night, but it’s okay because I would definitely fail the breathalyzer. I walked away with a good buzz and a new favorite drink. Cheers to that!