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A Whisky Noob’s Whisky Live Manila Experience

Whiskey Live Manila 2016 happened last October 28-29 at Shangri-La at the Fort, and I got to go on the second day with my fiance, Dwight, and our friend, Psalm. I’m not much of a whisky addict yet, but the whole experience was pretty amazing. Here are some of the highlights of the evening!

It Starts with a Waiver, a Glass, and Some Poker Chips

Whisky Live 2016 entrance

After signing a waiver (remember: if you get yourself completely wasted, it’s not the event organizers’ fault) at the entrance, you get a goody bag with the following items:

  • a free issue of Whisky Magazine
  • an event map
  • a Whisky Live glass (for whisky tasting, of course)
  • a set of poker chips: 8 red chips to trade in for drinks, 1 blue chip to vote for Best Whisky, and 1 white chip to vote for Best Booth
Whisky Live 2016

Then we went inside and wow, I was not expecting so many people and so many booths! Serves me right for only looking at my event map after the event…aaaaaaanyway. I honestly had no idea where to start…

Did someone say Ardbeg?!

…but then Dwight mentioned that there was Ardbeg somewhere and I told him to take me to it My first encounter with Ardbeg was when I first tried The Blind Pig‘s Smokey Old Bastard, and I was really excited to taste it on its own.

Whisky Live 2016 Glenmorangie booth Ardbeg

But then I found out that Ardbeg was only available at specific times. We had to wait another hour or so before we could get our turn, so after sampling some La Santa and Quinta Ruban, we went off to find other things to occupy our time.

That Honey Whiskey, Though

I’m so happy to have stumbled upon the Teeling Whiskey Co. booth, where I found two of my new favorite alcoholic beverages of thus far:

Whisky Live 2016 Teeling Whiskey Co. The Dubliner and Celtic Honey

And this discovery was all thanks to this gentleman over here, who probably saw my eyes going wide upon glimpsing the word honeycomb on one of the booth’s display bottles.

Whisky Live 2016 Teeling Whiskey Co. booth

I remember hearing about honey-whisky from a friend who said I might like it. And as if on cue, the gentleman at the bar asked: “Would you like something sweet?” Of course, my immediate reaction was: YES, PLEASE.

I tried the Dubliner Whiskey & Honeycomb first. While I do enjoy sweet drinks, this went a little over the top. I could barely feel or taste the whiskey because the taste of honeycomb and caramel was overpowering. After I finished my sample and told the gentleman that I enjoyed it, the gentleman insisted that I try the Celtic Honey liqueur, which I ended up loving. The sweetness was just right; it was subtle enough to let the whiskey shine.

The gentleman was really nice and accommodating, so ended up going back to the booth toward the end of the evening to drop my white chip into their Best Booth glass.

Free Cocktails at the Main Bar

Whisky Live 2016 Mandalay bar

I’m not much of an alcohol-drinker, so Dwight advised me to try grabbing some free cocktails at the main bar next to the stage to help me pace myself. So I walked right up to the bar and was immediately served this concoction:

Whisky Live 2016 Mandalay bar Lagavulin cocktail

Not exactly sure what it was called, but it still used Lagavulin whisky as its base. It was light and refreshing, though. We started wandering around again after I finished my cocktail.

Pass the Test, Get Free Chips

Whisky Live 2016 Breathalizer Station

The Breathalizer Station was located close to the main bar, and there were a lot of people waiting in line. If you passed the test, you could claim an extra bag of poker chips.

Whisky Live 2016 Breathalizer Station success

This gentleman was seemed particularly proud to have passed the test. Funnily enough, when I showed my mother this photo a few weeks after the event, she said he looks like one of her staff members who likes to drink. Maybe I should’ve said hello?

Coffee + Whisky = BEST

Whisky Live 2016 Monkey Shoulder booth

Monkey Shoulder makes whisky specifically for mixing, and they had two drinks to offer us: the Tiki Monkey and Espresso Monkey. Dwight tried the Tiki, and I tried the Espresso. While both were interesting, the Espresso Monkey was particularly delicious.

Whisky Live 2016 Monkey Shoulder DJ station

Their booth had a spiffy DJ deck you could play around with (as demonstrated by Psalm above). They also had a large VR set-up right next to their booth. We said we’d go back and try it later that evening, but we never got around to it.

Finally, Ardbeg!

And finally, the moment I was eagerly anticipating all night…ARDBEG!

Whisky Live 2016 glass

Dwight and I both dropped our Best Whisky vote into Glenmorangie’s bowl of blue chips as soon as we finished our glasses of Ardbeg. Yes, it’s that good.

…I think, at this point, my head was kind of floating around a few inches above my shoulders. Or, at least that’s what it felt like. Dwight was mildly impressed that I was still managing to take photos to document the whole thing.

Off to Meet King Alexander III

Most of the last leg of the evening is a bit of a blur to me, but I do remember that the next thing we did was head toward the Dalmore booth to try the King Alexander III.

Whisky Live 2016 Dalmore Constellation Collection

The special Dalmore bottles on display were actually for sale, and I think the most expensive one was priced at 2.5M Php. Damn, son.

Whisky Live 2016 Dalmore Constellation Collection

We also ended up walking away from the booth with one extra Dalmore-branded whisky glass. Not sure if they gave us one on purpose, or if Dwight accidentally swiped someone else’s glass. Oh well. :p

Filipino Moonshine, Anyone?

Whisky Live 2016 Lakan booth

I was apparently sober enough to express delighted surprise upon seeing a lambanog booth at Whisky Live. I think I developed a taste for lambanog after Yoma Rivera handed two shots to us (one for me and one for Dwight) at The Curator a few years ago. Yoma referred to it as “Filipino moonshine”, and I’m afraid I’ve been referring to it as that ever since.

Whisky Live 2016 Lakan lambanog

The lambanog we sampled was warm and went down pretty smoothly – a bit of a pleasant break, even, from the stronger whiskies I had been trying.

At This Point, Everything was a Blur

I was down to my last chip, and was in the middle of lamenting this fact when we bumped into some of Dwight’s old officemates…who gave me FOUR extra chips. The funny thing is, I don’t remember exactly what happened to those four chips.

Let’s see…

I remember stopping by the Tomintoul booth and meeting their brand ambassador, Iain Forteath. I remember trying their 12 year-old Oloroso Cask Finish whisky. That’s the last of my original chips down.

Whisky Live 2016 Macallan booth

I remember visiting the Macallan booth and trying…something. So that’s the first of my four extra chips spent.

Whisky Live 2016 Glenmorangie booth

Then we went back to the Glenmorangie booth, since Psalm missed out on getting some Ardbeg with me and Dwight (I think he was lining up at the Balvenie booth for a free personalized coaster). Here he is asking the booth girls if he could swap his Whisky Live glass for one of the glasses on display.

I didn’t drink anything here, though. Sooo…where’d my last three chips go? Hmm.

think I used one chip at the Highland Park booth, one at the Akashi booth, and gave the last one to Dwight? Without any photo documentation, we’ll never know.

Totally Worth It

The ticket prices for Whisky Live Manila 2016 seemed pretty steep at first, but the whole experience made it well worth every centavo. Aside from getting freebies upon entering, you also got to taste a lot of different, high-quality whiskies. While everyone started out with eight chips to trade for drinks, you could even earn more as long as you passed the breathalizer test. If you like drinking whisky, I’d say that’s a pretty good way to spend 2750 Php (early bird price) or 3500 Php (door price).

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