Tag Archive for: Whisky Events

WhiskyFair TAKAO Debrief – Day One

Geek Choc buying whisky samples at Omar Distillery Booth

We had such a wild time in Taiwan that we were quite reluctant to come home after a week. It has been such a fruitful trip, and we are thankful to everyone who had given us their time in Taiwan. With the excitement and tiredness from travelling behind us, it is time for us to give our field report to our faithful members who are eagerly awaiting our updates on WhiskyFair TAKAO.

A little background about WhiskyFair TAKAO

WhiskyFair TAKAO is the first ever whisky event to be held in Kaohsiung. It marks the start of a beautiful annual event for Asian whisky lovers to come together for a celebration. Held on 2nd and 3rd December 2017, it was the brainchild of Mr Li Chunfeng, owner of Drunken Master Whisky Bar and Mr Michael Hsieh, owner of ARen Trading Co. Ltd, in partnership with The Whisky Agency.  Many others are involved in organising this fair, but Mr Li and Mr Hsieh are the principal collaborators.
This event is also an investment into independent bottlers across Taiwan and the world. All of the exhibitors invited are independent bottlers or whisky bars which stock independent bottles. The exhibitors come mainly from Taiwan and Japan, but there are also a few independent bottlers from the Western world such as WM Cadenhead and Whiskybase.

What we think about the Event

We were impressed with the organisation of the fair considering that it was the first ever event in Kaohsiung. Despite the inexperience of the organisers, the whisky fair was well thought-out. The venue was at 85 Sky Tower, the tallest building in Kaohsiung. The exhibition overlooked the Kaohsiung port, and while visibility was near zero due to thick fog (air pollution), it was still a charming place. The fairground was well laid out, with plenty of space for visitors to stop by the different booths to buy samples of the whiskies on offer.

Whisky Transaction at WhiskyFair TAKAO

The mode of transaction is different for WhiskyFair TAKAO as compared to Whisky Live Singapore. In this event, the entrance ticket is a low 450NTD (SGD$22.50), and you get a Glencairn glass FOC. You will have to purchase coupons to exchange them for whisky samples at the fair itself. Of course, when we pay for the whiskies, the exhibitors brought out their big guns for the visitors to try!

WhiskyFair TAKAO (Day One)

We started the fair innocently enough – we avoided the crowds and only went in at 11 am even though the event began at 10 am. As we were not buying the first-day annual bottles (Bowmore 25 years old + Caol Ila 10 years old), we had the luxury of entering later. The first scene that greeted us at the venue was this.
Neat, artistically-placed tables stood side by side with the exhibitors eagerly engaging the different visitors who came into the fairgrounds. We were overwhelmed by the friendliness of these exhibitors! When they understood that we are bloggers from Singapore, they piled us with drinks – FOC! Their generosity touched us deeply.

Asian Palate Association

We got to taste three different bottles at the first booth. Interestingly, the owner of Asian Palate Association chooses only whiskies which are sherry-based and what he termed as “clean”. He clarified that it meant that he tried to select whiskies that are not sulphuric or tannic. We heard that he is looking for a distributor in Singapore, so if you are interested, contact us, and we can link you up!

Omar Distillery – Taiwan

Next, we headed to Omar where we quickly purchased our lychee whisky bottles! If you followed our Facebook post, you would have known that we visited Omar distillery and were disappointed that the lychee whisky was sold out at the distillery. Miracles happened sometimes, and we found them at WhiskyFair TAKAO! They were the last few bottles too! Yay!
We were so excited, and the exhibitors were rather amused by us. They made us more excited when they offer us a free pour of the lychee whisky! Now, how generous can they be?! We also tried their peated whisky and were genuinely impressed by it.

Omar Peated Cask Strength

The peat is aromatic and the bourbon cask influence that it was in enhanced the floral and fruitiness of the whisky. We will be doing a post or two on Omar, so we will not dwell too much here. 🙂

Swiss Alpine Whisky

After the first two booths, we went straight to whisky heaven. There were just too many to try, and we had to keep up with all the exhibitors looking to pour their whiskies into our Glencairn glasses. Walking deep into the middle of the fair, we found something that we had not try for years – Swiss Whisky!

Santis Malt

If you have not heard about Santis Malt, it is time you try them! We first tasted Santis Malt back in 2010, when we travelled to Switzerland and found a bottle in a tiny supermarket in Interlaken. We were not impressed back then, but we ought to say that the whisky has improved a lot! Santis Malt is matured in old beer casks and usually have a unique finish. To preserve our livers, we tried their most sought-after winter edition – Snow White and another bottle from The Whisky Agency only.

Snow White No. 5 is the latest edition in their winter release. Slated for their 2017 release, the bottles are going to be available in Taiwan only sometime in late January or even February. It is matured in old beer casks and then finished in APRICOT liquor casks! Woot! It was one of the most amazing whiskies we had ever tasted. The apricot aroma engulfed the nose and followed through on the palate and the finish. Wow…it was simply amazing! It was too bad that they were not selling it at the fair.

The Santis Malt from The Whisky Agency was another exciting bottle. Matured in a sherry cask, it had a different character when compared to the standard Santis Malt. Again, the bottle was sold out so we couldn’t bring it home. Nonetheless, it was a fantastic journey with Santis Malt, and we got to admit that they have improved tremendously since the last time we had it in Switzerland.

Rare Whiskies from Japan

When we talk whisky, how can we not think about Japan and their unique offerings? Whiskyfair TAKAO had some distinctive Japanese exhibitors, such as Toru Suzuki-san from The Mash Tun Tokyo. The bar owners in Japan have many rare whiskies, including Port Ellen and Karuizawa. We even had our first Karuizawa, recommended by Suzuki-san!

Since it was our first time tasting Karuizawa, we had to document that sweet moment with a photo!

Geek Flora and Geek Choc with our Karuizawa sample

Taiwan Independent Bottlers

We did not forget the independent bottlers from Taiwan of course. They are the main reasons why WhiskyFair TAKAO could take off. We visited Spirits Salon and Aqua Vitae amongst others. By this time, we were ready to surrender to our alcohol intake, so we took out our trusty sample bottles and bought some samples to bring home instead.

Geek Flora has a special love for Blair Athol, and we had a taste of it. Allen Chen is the founder of Aqua Vitae. He is a passionate whisky lover and entrepreneur from Taiwan. His company is newly set up and currently have only four expressions. We are sure that there will be more whisky expressions from him next year!

Drunken Master Whisky Bar / Independent Bottler

Finally, we are dedicating the last portion of Day One for Drunken Master Whisky Bar – the organiser of WhiskyFair TAKAO. Drunken Master is both a whisky bar and an independent bottler. The owner, Mr Chunfeng, is also the chairman of Formosa Whisky Society. He did the labels for his bottles on his own and managed much of the operation at his bar too.
For WhiskyFair TAKAO, he brought casks for four individual bottles. There is a Bowmore 25 years old, a Caol Ila 10 years old, a Littlemill 1988 and a Springbank 1994. While we do not have the picture for the Springbank 1994, here are the other three bottles!

Besides these bottles, we also bought samples of Drunken Master’s other bottles. Some of you might have seen the first two bottles below. The other two are not yet released as they are bottles for Formosa Whisky Society. We will post our reviews of these bottles once we have tasted them.

End of Day One

It was a fruitful day at WhiskyFair TAKAO Day One! It was a roller coaster journey as we walked through the exhibition hall. We will continue with Day Two in another post for this is already getting too long. Click here for the next one and thank you for reading all the way here!

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    Whisky is brewing at Manhattan Bar!

    We are back with Edition 3 of What’s brewing at Manhattan Bar and we are sure that most of you are excited to know how the whisky has evolved. After sharing our updates for the past two weeks, we are now ready to share Version 3!

    Sazerac Rye Whisky

    Before we move on to the tasting notes and changes on version 3, let’s recap the previous posts. When the experiment first started, we tried the Sazerac rye whisky as it is and after it was aged in the barrel for six days and we compared the difference in their characteristics. Then last week, we updated the changes in the whisky after 13 days in the barrel. Today, we are bringing you version no. 3. How has the whisky change after 19 days?

    The whisky after 19 days

    After ageing the whisky in the barrel for almost three weeks now, the whisky has changed its characteristics again. The cane sugar, floral and herbaceous notes come back to the whisky. It is now richer and more elegant as compared to version 2 at 13 days. The palate is fuller in flavours, with cinnamon cough syrup with sherry. It almost tastes like a sherry rye whisky now. Spice tingle at the corner of the mouth to complement the sweet and herbaceous notes perfectly. The finish is also fairly long now with sweet cinnamon forming the aftertaste.


    The main difference between version 3 and version 2 is the richer, more intense and elegant flavours found in the whisky. Now it tastes like whisky again with its slightly more complex profile and the reasonably long finish.


    Exclusive Invite to The Dalmore X Amex Whisky Tasting Session


    An exclusive whisky tasting session held by The Dalmore in collaboration with American Express was hosted by Singapore’s luxury airport terminal JetQuay on the evening of 24th August 17. As this event was meant to be cosy and intimate, only 20 participants were invited.

    This was the second event that The Dalmore had held in Singapore in the recent months. The previous one was the special 50th-anniversary celebration of their Master Distiller, Mr Richard Paterson.

    The evening started off with a dram of The Dalmore 12 years old as fellow whisky geek, Mr Benjamin Tan from Whisky Butler, waxed lyrical on the history of The Dalmore. The esteemed guests thoroughly enjoyed the story of how the 12-pointed Royal Stag came about.

    Benjamin also initiated the guests into the process of whisky-making. Whisky is made using only 3 ingredients – barley, water and yeast. There are 5 steps to the whisky-making process.

    1. Barley is malted by soaking it with water and drying them either with hot air or with a peat fire.
    2. The malted barley is milled and then mixed with hot water in a process called mashing to extract the sugar content into a sugary liquid called wort.
    3. The wort is then fermented by adding yeast in a large vessel called a washback. The yeast converts the sugar into alcohol, known as a wash, which is around 8% abv.
    4. The wash is then distilled in different heated pot stills. The heart of the spirt from distillation is then collected for use.
    5. The new spirit is filled into oak casks – for The Dalmore, they use American white oak bourbon casks and exclusively aged sherry casks. The spirit is then left in the casks for maturation.

    The guests were treated to a tasting of The Dalmore 15 Years Old after the short introduction. In this segment, Benjamin taught the guest how to taste a whisky. While there is no “correct way” to drink a whisky, it is a good learning journey to find out how we can find out more about a particular whisky by following the few steps below.

    1. Hold the whisky up to the light and observe its colours.
    2. Swish the whisky lightly to open the nose and palate of the whisky
    3. Hold it to the nose and sniff it
    4. Nose it again, this time with the mouth slightly open
    5. Sip the whisky; coat it around your palate and chew on it
    6. Take a bigger sip; hold it in the mouth for a while before swallowing
    7. Observe the aftertaste of the whisky in your mouth

    It takes some practice to decipher the flavours and characteristics of the whiskies, but practise it regularly and you will soon get the idea!

    The guests had a great time trying the steps above and some of them began to get some tasting profiles by the time The Dalmore 18 Years Old was served. A healthy debate began between some participants with regards to the various flavours they got.

    Benjamin took the chance to explain the complexity of whisky and how a dram of whisky could change according to the way a person drink it. He informed the fascinated crowd how water, ice and soda water change the aroma and palate of a whisky. He also shared how the simple act of aeration could change the experience of drinking whisky. Benjamin taught the guests how to differentiate a balanced whisky from an unbalanced one as well.

    The crown jewel of the night – King Alexander III was served right after the short but insightful information about the complexity of whisky. Guests were eager to try their new-found skills on the last dram of the night.

    King Alexander III is the pride of The Dalmore’s Master Distiller, Mr Richard Paterson. Nicknamed as “The Nose”, it was said that he could smell anything in a dram of whisky! An interesting fact was “announced” by Benjamin – Mr Richard Paterson’s nose is insured for £2.6 million!

    As Benjamin introduced Mr Richard Paterson to the guests, he also mentioned about his 50th-anniversary celebration in Singapore and the exclusive Dalmore 50 Years Old. The guests got so excited that they requested for a taste of this exquisite liquid. Alas for them, the beautiful liquid was not available that evening. Nevertheless, they were not disappointed with King Alexander III as Benjamin put them through the tasting process again.

    A group photo was taken right after the tasting session ended, and guests were invited to mingle with Benjamin and the rest of the staff.

    WhiskyGeeks had the chance to mingle and speak with the guests as they lingered around in JetQuay after the event. We spoke to several guests, all of whom said it was a wonderful evening.

    One particular enthusiastic guest, Mr Joel, commented, “Please tell The Dalmore that this was the best whisky tasting session that I had ever been to! Most of the other tasting sessions were conducted in uncomfortable chairs and freezing conditions. Tonight’s session was conducted with comfortable armchairs, food and wonderful whisky! I also liked the way Benjamin presented the history of The Dalmore. There was so much information that I could take away.”

    Another participant, Mr Steven, said that he is not a whisky drinker. However, his son is an avid supporter of whisky, so he helped his son to collect some of them. He mentioned that he had never heard about The Dalmore before, but now that he has, he would be trying more. Mr Steven bought 4 bottles that evening – the 12 YO, 15 YO, 18 YO and King Alexander III.

    We also spoke to Mr Larry, who is an avid fan of The Glenlivet. He prefers older aged whiskies and dislikes peaty ones. He has not tried The Dalmore before, as he prefers to stick with what he likes. However, he likes the King Alexander III and showed his support by buying a bottle home. He also said, “The Dalmore is pretty sweet and is something that I like. I will be trying The Dalmore more often in the future!”

    Before the guests left for the evening, WhiskyGeeks managed to catch hold of Dr Jimmy just as he was filling in his purchase form. He is a regular Dalmore drinker, having tried not just the 4 bottles offered that evening, but also The Dalmore Cigar Malt. Dr Jimmy was delighted as he said that the presentation helped him to understand The Dalmore better as a brand and also as a drink. He bought a bottle of the 18 YO. “It is my favourite expression. I am buying yet another bottle even though I already have more than one at home.” He quipped, laughing as he filled in his credit card details for the purchase.

    It was indeed a wonderful evening filled with laughter, enjoyment and a transfer of knowledge from Benjamin to the invited guests. We certainly hope that The Dalmore will host more events in the future to share their wonderful liquid gold with more whisky drinkers in Singapore.

    More About The Dalmore

    The Dalmore is founded by Sir Alexander Matheson in 1839, in the Scottish Highlands. A restless entrepreneur and international businessman, Sir Alexander Matheson wanted The Dalmore to go above and beyond in creating luxurious single malt whisky.

    For over 100 years, The Dalmore has continued to realise Sir Alexander’s dream by creating an unbroken chain of exceptional whisky through their whisky makers. Mr Richard Paterson, their current Master Distiller, is one of them. For nearly 50 years, he is the Master Distiller at The Dalmore, creating luxurious and much-coveted whiskies for the community. He is the man who, together with The Dalmore, created a category of super luxury single malt, that continues to impress the world up till today.