WHISKY LIVE 2015 - ALL YOU NEED TO KNOW
12 Nov 2015 By David Fuhrmann-Lim
We’re here to help, because you can’t sample all 500 spirits. (No. You. Can’t). If you like rums, or strong whiskies, or want a gateway dram – where do you start? And what are the big trends this year? Here’s our Cheat Sheet to Whisky Live.
Whisky Live just keeps getting bigger. This year marks a few firsts: The event leaves mainland Singapore for Sentosa (Capella), and it’s now held over two days instead of one. There’s also a Night Package ticket should you choose to stay overnight and have access to the Collector’s Room. (Cos usually we just stumble home).
So you’ve got your tickets, choped the masterclasses, arranged for a drinking buddy (naturally), and figured out transport home (DO NOT drink and drive), here then is our Cheat Sheet on some of the trends to watch for, the brands to eye, and the specific whiskies we recommend according to your taste. Remember, Whisky Live is a chance for you to try new drinks (loads of cocktails from Singapore’s top bars will be available), instead of the old familiars. If you like Japanese, check out Kavalan (Taiwan) and Paul John (Goa) as well – expect to be surprised. So here goes.
TREND 1: Rum is Humming
According to Mr. Mathieu Musnier, General Manager of La Maison du Whisky, the growth of cocktail culture in Singapore and the region has seen a concomitant rise in the demand for rum: “In a mature market like Singapore, demand for fine rum, which is considered an affordable luxury item, has been on the rise with double digit growth.”
Concoct a daiquiri with quality rum and you’ll realise that’s how it’s supposed to taste like when it was invented.
Parched says: The Rum Masterclass is full, but if you’re lucky maybe have a word with rum legend Mr. Luca Gargano (the man who brought transparency to rum appellation/production worldwide). And also try Thai rum– wait, come back! You’ll be surprised by how good Chalong Bay tastes. And look out for the ‘Agricole’ rhums by Mr. Gargano (made from pure sugarcane juice).
Trend 2: Blends are not Boring
“Compass Box has wonderful blends, and we have the whole line-up for tasting, from Hedonism to Peat Monster,” says Musnier. “They’re celebrating their 15th anniversary, and their motto when they started was to transform the world of blends. (Blends were known to be not so exciting, as far as flavours are concerned). And Compass Box has achieved that, and they’re spearheading that movement. Definitely worth visiting their booth.”
Parched says: Beware the Peat Monster, the label does not lie, so don’t start with it.
Trend 3: Independence Yeah!
Look out for the independent bottlers (not beholden to any corporate overlord). Two to watch are Gordon & MacPhail and Signatory Vintage. Known to have the highest quality spirits, guests will be able to try a very wide range of whiskies from light and fruity to heavily peated (more than 20 expressions).
“Independent bottlers have this quality, and they don’t have to fit any flavour profile. They pick a barrel when it’s ready to drink, when it’s good, but then it doesn’t have to fit a certain style, category. You’ll find very unique and very high quality whiskies. And at retail they have a very affordable price point,” explains Musnier.
Parched says: The new collection from Signatory Vintage is a Must.
Trend 4: Tee up for Teeling
Teeling is the first and only serious competitor to arrive in the Irish whisky ring in 100 years (it’s otherwise dominated by Jameson). It’s the first time an Irish distillery has opened in Dublin in decades, and what the Teeling Brothers have accomplished is extraordinary.
“In terms of flavour profile, many people come here and ask for Japanese whisky, but why? Because it’s very smooth. The original smooth whisky is the Irish whisky, which is smooth, creamy, and flavourful. It doesn’t have that punch that Scottish malts have, and Irish whisky is a wonderful gateway whisky,” says Musnier.
Parched says: The Small Batch is finished in rum casks and is very enjoyable, and a great introduction to whisky for newbies. The bottling also tells you they’re modern.
Mathieu Musnier of La Maison du Whisky recommends…
For those who are new to Whisky Live/whiskies in general (or those who love a smooth gateway whisky):
Balvenie 12 yrs
Compass Box Great King Street: Artist’s Blend (below)
The Dalmore 15yrs
Nikka Coffee Malt
Teeling Small Batch
For those who like whiskies that pack a punch:
Benromach 10 yrs
Compass Box Oak Cross
Dry Fly Bourbon
Glendronach Cask Strength
Kavalan Solist Ex-Sherry
For those who love their dram smoky and peaty:
Ballechin 10 yrs (above)
Benromach Peat Smoke
Compass Box The Peat Monster
Gordon & MacPhail: Caol Ila 2004
Signatory Vintage: Caol Ila 2008 Very Cloudy
The Best of the Rest: Landier Cognac; Vestal Vodka; Clarin Rum.
Whisky Live 2015 is on Nov 28-29 at Capella Singapore, Sentosa.
Facebook updates here. Drink responsibly and enjoy yourself!
Like this? Check out India’s best single malt Paul John