It’s that time of year in a Manila-based alcohol professional’s life when he/she willingly offers up his/her liver for the sake of having fun in many an alcohol event: The –ber months.
One of the things that I particularly look forward to during these months is Whisky Live, largely because of all the amazing spirits featured in the event.
This year’s event, however, was extra special… Mostly because it ended up being a family affair.
People close enough to me know that I am surrounded by really great (and often protective!) men: My husband Chad, and my kuya Leo. Apart from having me in common, they also share in my love of all things whisky.
Since kuya’s birthday fell remarkably close to this year’s Whisky Live, Chad and I decided to treat him to a ticket (so we could watch him go crazy over the whisky). This article ended up being a collaboration… With me in charge of the words, Chad in charge of the photos, and kuya choosing some of his favourites.
Here are some of our highlights of this year’s Whisky Live:
Remy Martin Master Class with Kévin Charuel
Because of the Metro Manila carmageddon (it’s getting worse and worse, ain’t it?) I arrived just a little before 8pm (despite targeting to be there by 7 because #introvert). When I hit the registration booth, the person behind the counter told me that I had a note on my invite saying that I needed to be in the Remy Martin Master Class… By 8pm.
Naturally, I made a frantic dash for it, securing the last spot.
I’ve written about the cognac’s different classifications from one of Charuel’s previous lectures, but may I just say that the guy keeps it fresh in every lecture (even if he has to break a glass to get people’s attention ;))
I needed to take a break with something lighter… And right across the Remy Martin booth was one of my all-time favourite gins (with one of my all-time favourite tonic water, Fever Tree), Botanist Gin. The booth allowed people to come up with their own mix using the fruits, herbs, and spices available. I was feeling the Christmas spirit (pun intended), so I went with a little clove, a touch of cinnamon, and a hit of lemon. It totally hit the spot.
Highland Park Valfather
I ran into one of the best people in the alcohol industry, Icy Mariñas of DrinkManila, who told me to haul ass to our friend Aids Tecson’s booth, stat. There were only four bottles of what seemed to be a mythical Highland Park whisky, and she knew I needed to have one.
It was totally worth the trip. It appealed to my geek side (Viking Honour sounded like something off a Thor movie, and my alcohol-loving side. I remember the drink tasting like fruitcake and smoke, with a little hint of orange.
The Glenrothes Speyside Single Malt Scotch Whisky Maker’s Cut
I was thrilled to see one of my good friends Hans Eckstein kicking it in the next booth, as the new Brand Advocate for Edrington, whose portfolio includes Glenrothes.
He gave me some of The Glenrothes Whisky Maker’s Cut. The bottle said it had flavors of “creamy vanilla, orange peel, and nutmeg,” which all checked out. I loved how Christmas-y the flavors were.
The Dublin Liberties Copper Alley Irish Whiskey
I rarely get to try Irish whiskey these days, so it was such a treat to have sampled some from my good friend Chester Cabrera. The Dublin Liberties has a pretty colourful history, and I’ll be the first to admit to being pleasantly entertained with the “celestial” meets “infernal” storyline.
Taste-wise, however, I loved that it was a welcome break from all the strong Scotch whiskies I had during the evening, with its malty, sherry-sweet flavors. I could totally imagine it as an after-dinner drink, or as an elevated base for Irish Coffee.
Fuyu Small Batch Blended Japanese Whisky
Confession: I wasn’t able to try this one, but I thought it was worth including in the list as a “promise.” I’ve been obsessed with all things Japanese these days (I’ll post an article about Japanese wine and the sake class I attended in Hong Kong soon), and the tasting notes the “Chaps at Master of Malt” was enough to whet my appetite (“rounded orchard fruit sweetness comes up against savory grains and subtle nutmeg warmth.”).
Extra points for the added romance of being a small batch whisky, and the gorgeous artwork.
Bomberger’s Declaration Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey
“Have you got anything new?” I asked the guy tending the Michter’s booth.
I didn’t mean to sound snobby, but I’m already familiar with the Michter’s line (I like it), so I was looking to try something new.
Ahh… The Bomberger’s. Made to honour the original Michter’s distillery (Bomberger’s, which dates back to the 1800’s), the mahogany coloured cask strength bourbon was a beautifully creamy, slightly smoky, dark fruit flavoured whisky infused with hints of spice and dark chocolate.
Mars Komagatake Whisky
I admit I sauntered to Jorge Joseph of Philippine Wine Merchant’s booth for this whisky, mostly for old times’ sake. I remember my first drink from my first Whisky Live being Mars Komagatake, and I was glad it was still as pleasant as I remembered.
I know that its distiller, Mars Shinshu, isn’t as popular as some of its Japanese cousins (especially in the United States or Europe) but they make really good whiskies worth exploring.
Glen Moray 30 Year Old Elgin Classic Speyside Whisky Sellout
Speaking of Jorge, he told us over a couple of slivers of Mars Komagatake that his entire inventory of Glen Moray 30 Year Old Elgin Classic Speyside Whisky sold out that night.
The distillery’s claim to fame is the authenticity of malt whisky distilling, which on its own is a pretty interesting experience for those keen on exploring different whisky styles. Admittedly, I’ve never had the 30 year old before, but here’s to hoping I get my hands on some soon!
Diplomatico The Distillery Collection Rum Flight
Kuya and I were treated by our friends Simon Côté of Apotheke Spirits and Ulysse Jounneaud of Buccaneers to a rum tasting that featured Diplomatico Rum.
Kuya and I couldn’t agree on which one we liked most, but here’s a rundown on the featured rums:
- No. 1 Batch Kettle – A fruity, floral, vanilla rum
- No. 2 Barbet Rum – With tropical fruit and toasted oak notes, I thought it was a great rum for scotch aficionados
- No. 3 Pot Still – I thought it was a good rum to recommend people in love with peaty whisky (like kuya) with its deep chocolate and woody flavours
Single Malt Whisky Society’s Funky Named Whiskies
Hailing from Leith, Scotland, Single Malt Whisky Society (or SMWS for short) is an international member’s club dating back to the 1970’s, who bottle “the world’s widest selection of exceptional and rare single casks, single malts for discerning whisky lovers from all corners of the world.”
It sounds serious (and they do mean serious whisky business), but they clearly know how to have fun, as evidenced by their funky named whiskies, as seen below:
Chivas Regal 25
Okay, I have to admit… The people behind Chivas Regal weren’t planning to let people taste the 25 during the event, but proper timing and the right people really do pay (meaning, I ran into Leonard of The Whisky Society of Manila Philippines at the absolute right time that night), and I managed to get a little in my glass.
Theoretically, aging tends to reduce the harshness of a whisky significantly, and having sampled that baby was proof of that concept.
Speaking of family, my sister is slowly getting into the brand when she found out Chris Evans endorsed Chivas Regal at one point.
“You have to try the Sagamore,” my friend (and kick-ass mixologist) Kath Eckstein told me the moment I saw her during the event.
Naturally, I trusted her taste and made a beeline for the booth. The Sagamore Double Oak was a delicious play on baking spices and oranges (I thought it would be amazing with holiday ham), and the Signature Sagamore Whiskey was a gentle foray into the brand.
The Sagamore Cask Strength Rye Whiskey, however, completely blew me away… And not just because of the alcohol (at 112 proof, or 56% ABV!), but the flavors of dark chocolate, brown sugar, and cinnamon. It was incredibly pleasant for something so potent.
Enderun Winning the Bartending Competition
So, there was a Whisky Live Mentorship Program and Cocktail Competition, right?
May I just point out that our girls, Rose Amor de Guzman (mentored by Vanessa Rabadon of Nokal) and Ophelie Bueno Lopez (mentored by Shinichi Itoh of OTO) won both the second place and the championship awards respectively?
This, BTW, after one of our students (and one of the blog’s fans!) Thirdy Ramirez won the previous year.
My boss/mentor Bel Castro and my fellow “wine tita” Chie Gatchalian of Five and a Half Twists had a blast cheering the kids on that night.
I mean, look at our kids winnings things. 😉
Indeed, the last Whisky Live for me was all about the family I chose (and love), plus the friends, colleagues, students, and partners who are like family to me. To the next Whisky Live. Cheers!