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Guest Post – Whisky Live Paris Part 2

Editor’s Note: This is the second guest post completed by Ezra Toh, who is our newest correspondent on the other side of the world.  WhiskyGeeks is going global, indeed!

Written by: Ezra Toh

Whisky Live Paris scheduled a day, especially for the trade personnel to network over whiskies. It is an excellent opportunity for trade people to mingle with the brand advocates and understand the brands more. This year, it happened one day after the actual Whisky Live weekend.

Monday 7th October (Trade Day)

Whisky Live Paris 2019 reserved the longest day for professionals in the industry. There was open access to the VIP section and all areas of the exhibition. Masterclasses were also jam-packed throughout the day. Having visited most of the whisky stands on the main exhibition floor on Sunday, we headed for the VIP section straightaway. We were floored by the selection of whiskies from various independent bottlers, including but not limited to LMDW artist series, Spirit Shop Selection, Hidden Spirits and Sansibar.

From Left to Right (Clockwise) – LMDW Booth, Artist Bunnahabhain 40 YO, LMDW 20 Rue D’Anjou Range, Clynelish 1995 by LMDW

VIP Section

The selection available was mind-boggling. We started our day with a Bunnahabhain 40 Years Old from LMDW Artist Range and from there, we moved on to the rest of the Artist Range. We also had the good fortune to taste the various LMDW 20 Rue D’Anjou bottles. A special mention must go to the Clynelish 1995 as it was excellent with full-on waxiness and well-balanced sherry influence from the refill cask.

Asian Whisky was King

We soon found ourselves at the Asian whiskies section. The booth was swarming with eager whisky enthusiasts who were like kids in a candy store, except that they were all grown men. Most of them, including us, were waiting to try the various Chichibu and Kavalan expressions. However, the Yoichi and Miyagikyo 2019 Single Casks were the stars of the show. Besides their rarity, the price tag of 2750 euros made them the “must-try”.

We managed to taste the two rare bottles as we were right there when the bartender brought out the bottles. That moment became chaotic almost immediately, as everyone jostled their glasses through to get a sample. Bottled for the 50th anniversary of Miyagikyo Distillery, many whisky lovers around the world criticised the two bottles for their massive price tags. As Non-Age Statement (NAS) whiskies, people do have a view that these whiskies must be cheaper. Nonetheless, both whiskies made it to our top picks (see below). The Miyagikyo was woody with a right balance of dark fruit flavours and a hint of muskiness while the Yoichi had a buttery sweetness with lingering soft peat.

Other Impressive Drams

Besides the various Asian whisky, we discovered other gems in the VIP section. The 18-year-old Laphroaig bottled by Signatory Vintage for LMDW was surprising as the medicinal character of Laphroaig was not the first thing that surfaced. Instead, the Laphroaig was salty, gentle and subtle, with the leather notes kicking in only towards the end. It remained me of a much older Laphroaig in general, which was interesting. Meanwhile, the Caroni and Hampden bottles at the Velier booth were also extremely popular.

Taiwanese – Spirits Shop Selection

Spirit Shop Selection is an independent bottler from Taiwan. They work closely with LMDW and move many of their bottles through Paris. There is a huge following in France for their bottles. At the booth, we learnt that they typically chose casks suited to the Taiwanese palate. It explained why most of their casks leaned towards the sweeter side – Taiwanese tend to have a sweet tooth!

There was an incredibly sweet and pleasant Caroni 21 1997 available for sampling which did not have that bitterness in the finish. The Ben Nevis 22 years was excellent as well with the funky distillery character at the forefront. There was a Karuizawa under the table as well, but few have gotten the opportunity even to see the bottle, let alone taste it. We, of course, did not get to try it.

Italian – Hidden Spirits

After trying out Taiwanese independent bottles, we move on to Hidden Spirits, an Italian independent bottler.

To our knowledge, Hidden Spirits was the only independent bottler who brought out a Mortlach for tasting, and it was a cracker. This 17-year old whisky sits a full term in a first-fill bourbon cask. It was then finished for three months in a sherry cask which contained a peated Ben Nevis. Chock-full of leather, sulphur, funk and mild peat, in our opinion, this was such an underrated bottle given the hype around other bottles.

It was a pity that we couldn’t try every whisky offered at the VIP section. Nonetheless, we went through at least 90% of them. Every booth had unique offerings, and the VIP ticket is worth the extra 60-65 euros! We will highly recommend you to get it if you plan on going next year.

Whisky Picks in the VIP Section (in no particular order)

  1. Ben Nevis 22 1996 56.2% for Spirit Shop Selection
  2. Caroni 21 1997 63.8% for Spirit Shop Selection
  3. Chichibu 2012 Cask 2058 Refill Hanyu Cask for LMDW
  4. Clynelish 24 Years 1995 Cask 2158 for LMDW
  5. Hampden 7 Years 62.8% for Whisky Live Paris 2019
  6. Hampden 9 Years 69.2% for LMDW
  7. Laphroaig 18 2001 Signatory Vintage 59.3% for LMDW
  8. Ledaig 10 2007 Artist Series 60.8%
  9. Miyagikyo 2019 Limited Edition 48%
  10. Mortlach 17 55.5% Cask MR219 for Hidden Spirits (First Fill Bourbon and 3 Months in Ex Sherry Peated Ben Nevis Cask)
  11. Westport 12 Valinch And Mallet 51.8%
  12. Yoichi 2019 Limited Edition 48%

Mars Masterclass

Information on Mars Distillery

We were lucky to get seats at the Mars masterclass led by the Distillery Director Hajime Kunai. The class was a showcase of three single casks (ages 3-4 years old) matured in different regions in Japan, each with different climates. The locations were Shinshu, Tsunuki and Yakushima.

The differences demonstrated the effect that the maturation environment had on almost identical whiskies. The Yakushima maturation is a peated expression at 20ppm and stood out as you could tell the difference of an island-style maturation practically immediately. It closely resembled the style of Highland Park with the saltiness in the finish. The class perhaps showcase the evidence of terroir most significantly. It is worth a side by side if you ever get a chance to do so.

The line up was –

  1. Shinshu – Single Cask #3320 3 Years Old, 61% abv, bottled for LMDW
  2. Tsunuki – Single Cask #5185 3 Years Old, 60% abv, bottled for LMDW
  3. Yakushima – Single Cask #2037 3 Years Old, 60% abv, bottled for LMDW

Compass Box Tasting

John Glaser, the founder of Compass Box, raised a few eyebrows when he founded the company. His determination in detailing all the whiskies and ages that went into each of his blends is at the heart of an increasing drive for transparency in the whisky industry today. Interestingly, this drive is also supported by Bruichladdich Distillery on Islay. John talked about each whisky in detail, explaining the recipe for each blend and stating the exact ages with the type of casks used.

The line-up consisted –

  1. Hedonism – Grain
  2. Balblair – Myths and Legends 1
  3. Glen Elgin – Myths and Legends 2
  4. Undisclosed Orkney, Glen Elgin, Caol Ila – Myths and Legends 3
  5. Affinity – Whisky and Calvados blend

The tasting started with the first-ever Compass Box creation – Hedonism – which not only provided nostalgic value but was a fantastic blend to boot. The lineup culminated in the Myths and Legends 2 and 3 which were driven by a robust Glen Elgin distillate, giving lovely rhubarb and Turkish delight notes. The Affinity is supposedly the first-ever calvados and whisky blend, making for an enjoyable last dram.

Before we go…

Group Photo with John Glaser

We had a fantastic experience at Whisky Live Paris 2019 and would return. The draw was the opportunity to meet fellow whisky lovers from all over the world and share our opinions over fantastic whiskies. The views of the whiskies were formulated based on what the writer and his companions felt were the most exciting and impactful. Writing detailed tasting notes was not practical, given the short amount of time. We also tasted 30-40 whiskies in 1 day (possibly more), hence we will not blame anyone for questioning our sanity and palate conditions and consequently, our top picks for the show. Whisky is subjective, after all.

Finally, WhiskyGeeks would like to thank La Maison du Whisky Paris for our invitation to Whisky Live Paris’ trade day. It included an entire day’s access to all areas, including the VIP section. Thank you for the great opportunity!

*Read Part 1 of Whisky Live Paris here.

 

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Whisky Live Singapore 2018

The exciting times are upon us once again as Whisky Live Singapore 2018 comes around. This year event promises to be bigger and better than last year as the venue switches back to a hotel once again. After the fantastic experience we had at Capella Hotel, we are certainly looking forward to Whisky Live 2018! Hosted by Andaz Hotel located in the heart of town over the first weekend of November, Whisky Live Singapore 2018 is going to be a smash for everyone!

What is Whisky Live Singapore?

If you are new to Whisky Live, it is an annual event held by La Maison du Whisky (LMDW) to celebrate whisky and other spirits in Singapore.

“To taste and experience whisky is as much art as it is science. Whisky Live Singapore has established itself as a highly sought-after annual show that celebrates all things whisky, and a platform to encourage whisky appreciation in an approachable way,” said Mr Mathieu Musnier, General Manager, La Maison du Whisky.

Every year, Whisky Live Singapore brings an immersive experience to visitors as they discover a large selection of world-class whiskies and spirits. Visitors also learn more about whisky appreciation through their interactions with brand ambassadors. It is also an excellent platform for new brands to introduce themselves to the market as well as for established brands to launch new products.

Experience a multi-sensory world of Whisky Appreciation

Five exclusive experiences await you at Whisky Live Singapore 2018. The Whisky Room & Spirits Room, La Boutique, The VIP Area, The Masterclass Rooms and The Cocktail Terrace are designed with visitors’ experiences in mind and promise to indulge your senses to the maximum.

The Whisky Room & Spirits Room showcase new brands and products and visitors get to experience a wide selection of whiskies and spirits in a friendly atmosphere. Brand ambassadors and distillery experts will be on hand to share brand’s histories and offer you a wealth of knowledge about their products. The La Boutique provides everything that you can buy and more as you step into the largest shop ever found in Singapore. By experience, grab a bottle that you wanted to buy immediately after tasting it, or it would be sold out!

VIP Area and Masterclasses

To cater to the growing community of whisky connoisseurs, Whisky Live Singapore expanded the VIP Area this year to allow avid fans of exceptional whiskies to gather and experience prestigious new releases, single casks and limited-edition whiskies and spirits. The Masterclass Rooms are also increased to offer visitors more opportunities to attend different classes. With 14 Masterclasses to choose from, it can pose a challenge of what to choose.

Cocktail Terrace

Finally, for those who are interested in cocktails, the Cocktail Terrace offers a fantastic open-aired space where some of the world’s best mixologists offer their creation to delight your palate and senses. Featuring internationally coveted bars – Monkey 47 Bar and New Colours Bar, be prepared to enjoy excellent cocktails during Whisky Live Singapore!

What to expect on November 3 & 4?

We understood from LMDW during the media preview that this year’s Whisky Live is going to showcase some of the world’s most exquisite and first-rate whisky brands available in the market. There will also be some exciting new launches coming your way too! The event features over 60 exclusive whisky and spirits brands from across the industry, including Bruichladdich, Kavalan, Old Pulteney, Benromach, Benriach, Gordon and MacPhail as well as new brands such as Penderyn Whisky from Wales, U.K and Blanton’s Bourbon Whiskey from the USA. There are many more brands, but you need to be there to know them!

Tickets and how to get them

There are many types of tickets to choose from. Here is a complete breakdown.

Ticket Categories

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Early Bird Price 13 Aug-17 Sept 2018

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Regular Price 18 Sept-4 Nov 2018

Saturday, 3 November 2018 (5.30pm – 12.00mn)

Saturday Standard

10 whisky tasting coupons (10ml each) at The Whisky Room & Spirits Room
1 Glencairn tasting glass
S$15 dining vouchers at Andaz restaurants
10% discount at Whisky Live Singapore La Boutique
Whisky Live Singapore 2018 tote goody bag

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S$ 99

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S$ 119

Saturday VIP

10 whisky tasting coupons  (10ml each) at The Whisky Room & Spirits Room Exclusive access to The VIP Area to enjoy unlimited rare whiskies
1 Glencairn tasting glass
S$25 dining vouchers at Andaz restaurants
10% discount at Whisky Live Singapore La Boutique
Whisky Live Singapore 2018 tote goody bag

S$ 179

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S$ 199

Sunday, 4 November 2018 (1.00pm – 8.00pm)

Sunday Standard

10 whisky tasting coupons (10ml each) at The Whisky Room & Spirits Room
1 Glencairn tasting glass
S$15dining vouchers at Andaz restaurants
10% discount at Whisky Live Singapore La Boutique
Whisky Live Singapore 2018 tote goody bag

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S$ 99

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S$ 119

Sunday Standard & Big Breakfast at Andaz Singapore

10 whisky tasting coupons (10ml each) at The Whisky Room & Spirits Room
1 Glencairn tasting glass
S$15dining vouchers at Andaz restaurants
10% discount at WhiskyLive Singapore La Boutique
WhiskyLive Singapore 2018 tote goody bag
Big Breakfast @Alleyon25, AndazSingapore (11:30 am to 2:30 pm)

S$ 119

S$ 139

Sunday VIP

10 whisky tasting coupons (10ml each) at The Whisky Room & Spirits Room
Exclusive access to The VIP Area to enjoy unlimited rare whiskies
1 Glencairn tasting glass
S$25 dining vouchers at Andaz restaurants
10% discount at Whisky Live Singapore La Boutique
Whisky Live Singapore 2018 tote goody bag

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S$ 179

S$ 199

Sunday VIP & Big Breakfast at Andaz Singapore

10 whisky tasting coupons (10ml each) at The Whisky Room &Spirits  Room
Exclusive access to The VIP Area to enjoy unlimited rare whiskies
1 Glencairn tasting glass
S$25 dining vouchers at Andaz restaurants
10% discount at Whisky Live Singapore La Boutique
Whisky Live Singapore 2018 tote goody bag
Big Breakfast @Alleyon25, Andaz Singapore (11:30 am to 2:30 pm)

S$ 199

S$ 219

Saturday & Sunday, 3-4 November 2018 – 2-Day Pass

2-Day Standard Pass

2 days access for one person
1 Glencairn tasting glass
10 whisky tasting coupons per day at The Whisky Room & Spirits Room
S$15 dining vouchers at Andaz restaurants per day
10% discount at Whisky Live Singapore La Boutique
Whisky Live Singapore 2018 tote goody bag

S$ 188

S$ 218

2-DAY VIP Pass

2 days VIP access for one person
Unlimited and exclusive access to The VIP Area for tastings of rare whiskies & spirits
1 Glencairn tasting glass
10 whisky tasting coupons per day at The Whisky Room & Spirits Room
S$25 dining vouchers at Andaz restaurants per day
10% discount at Whisky Live Singapore La Boutique
Whisky Live Singapore 2018 tote goody bag

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S$ 338

S$ 368

page5image3708080 Whisky Live Singapore 2018 Staycation Package – 2-Day Pass

Standard Weekend Staycation

2 days access for two persons
2 Glencairn tasting glass
2 x 10 Whisky tasting coupons per day at The Whisky Room & Spirits Room
2 x S$15 dining vouchers at Andaz restaurants per day
10% discount at Whisky Live Singapore La Boutique
2 Whisky Live Singapore 2018 tote goody  bag
2 Big Breakfast@Alleyon25, Andaz Singapore (11:30 am to 2:30 pm)
1-night staycation at Andaz Singapore – Standard Deluxe Room

S$ 688

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S$ 749

 

VIP Weekend Staycation

2 days VIP access for two persons
Unlimited and exclusive access to The VIP Area for tastings of rare whiskies & spirits for two persons
2 Glencairn tasting glass
2 x 10 Whisky tasting coupons per day at The Whisky Room & Spirits Room
2 x S$25 dining vouchers at the Andaz restaurants each day
10% discount at Whisky Live Singapore La Boutique
2 Whisky Live Singapore 2018 tote goody bag
2 Big Breakfast@Alleyon25, Andaz Singapore (11:30 am to 2:30 pm)
1-night staycation at Andaz Singapore – Standard Deluxe Room

S$ 988

S$ 1,049

Whisky Live Singapore 2018 Masterclasses (per session per person)

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From S$ 35

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From S$ 35

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We heard that the early bird tickets are selling fast, so grab yours before it is sold out!

See you at Whisky Live Singapore 2018!

 

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Whisky Live Singapore 2017 Debrief

It has been a week since Whisky Live Singapore 2017 came to a close. The excitement has died down, and everyone is happy with their soul filled with precious liquid gold. Now is the time to look back and share our feelings about the event.

What we think about the event

We believe that Whisky Live Singapore 2017 was a great success! The event was well organised, and every exhibitor had their space that allowed visitors to stand around as they sampled the whiskies on offer. The VIP / Collectors’ room was tastefully decorated with natural light to make the whole area bright and cheerful. All of us were comfortable and did not feel the space constraints despite the smaller venue this year. While we had to walk to the masterclasses and the pop-up store, and yes, even climbed a short flight of stairs, it was all acceptable. (We saw some negative comments about the staircase on Whisky Live Singapore Facebook page). The venue is a rustic and charming place, well worthy of the whisky we drank.

The VIP Experience (Day One)

We took the VIP ticket for the first day, where we had a great variety of whiskies. Check out some of the pictures below!

These bottles were incredible! While we did not sample a lot of the whiskies on offer, we picked some of the most popular bottles which were “trending” quickly through the VIP ticket holders.

The Bruichladdich (Octomore) Masterclass

We could not go to all the Masterclasses, so we picked the one that we wanted to go the most. The Bruichladdich Masterclass was the most popular one at Whisky Live – its tickets sold out pretty quickly! The presenter was none other than the newly arrived Brand Ambassador Chloe Wood! Chloe is from Islay, Scotland, and has been part of the Brand Academy at Bruichladdich before coming over to Singapore. While we were sad to say goodbye to Richard (the former brand ambassador), we are delighted to meet Chloe and share Singapore with her!

Chloe presenting Bruichladdich to us at the Masterclass

The Octomore masterclass showcased four different Octomore in Series 8. There were Octomore 8.1 to 8.4. The surprise was the 8.4 because it was hand-drawn from the cask and brought to Singapore by Chloe! The expression was not released yet when we had a taste of it, so technically, we were the first people (about 20 of us) to taste it!

These fellows are top-notched whiskies – every bottle has its character and charm. However, many of us shared the same sentiments when we tried to rank these bottles. We came to a consensus that the ranking is Octomore 8.3, 8.4, 8.2 and 8.1! While this does not mean that 8.1 is not good, it just means that 8.3 has performed better than our highest expectations. We will encourage you to try an Octomore, especially for someone who has not tried.

Octomore has a reputation for being heavily peated, and thus, many whisky drinkers who are not peat heads avoided it. Geek Flora avoided it at first too, until she had her first taste of it. The rest was history!

Whisky Live Cocktail and Food Street

We went for a walk and had some delicious food at the Whisky Live Cocktail and Food Street after the Bruichladdich masterclass. It was crowded and rainy, but people were happy to share tables, and we had a plate of shockingly good pineapple rice and basil leaves fries. We were quite done in by then because the Octomores have high alcohol content. After food, we went back to the VIP room where we had one last whisky before leaving the event.

Scapa 2005 – 12 Years Old

The Standard Ticket Experience (Day Two)

As we wanted to experience both as a VIP ticket and standard ticket holder, we bought a regular ticket for day two. Sunday proved to be less crowded, and we had access to the first floor of the venue only. We had to stop by the Bruichladdich booth first because we wanted so much to try their fabulous whiskies again. Chloe was there at the booth, and so was Brendan, the whisky expert from The Single Cask!

This time, we had the chance to taste some fantastic Octomore 7 Series! We just could not resist the lure of Octomores! There was also a Port Charlotte – Scottish Barley that we had!

The ever-friendly people at Bruichladdich also gave us some premium whiskies that they had hidden under the table. These whiskies are only for people who asked nicely! However, we couldn’t get pictures of them. Anyhow, we tried a Bruichladdich Black Art 5 and the Octomore 7.4!

Oh, we got to chew on the roasted barley that made Octomore, Port Charlotte and the Classic Laddie too! Yums! We love the Octomore barley! Beautifully roasted, the barley was smoked just right for the whisky distillation process.

The Glendronachs and the Glenglassaugh

Moving on, we had our fair share of both the Glendronachs and the Glenglassaugh. Personally, we think that the Glenglassaugh are worth exploring – we tasted some reasonably decent drams! As for the Glendronachs, we already feel that they are great to start with.

Geek Flora thinks that the Evolution is the best out of the three Glenglassaugh that we tasted. It matured in an ex-Tennesse cask, something that was different from the rest. Geek Choc believes that the Revival is excellent though, the colour made us think sherry of course! As for the Torfa, we felt that the peat could be a little more aromatic since it is a peated whisky.

The Independent Bottlers

By now, we knew we had to stop soon, but we couldn’t resist visiting both Gordon and Macphail as well as Sansibar! At G&M, we had some fantastic Bunnahabhain that was only an eight years old, one that is heavily peated. Ohhh…we know that Bunnahabhain does not do peated, so this was something good!

We were quite disappointed with the Macallan though, it felt flat, and the whisky did not impress us the way the other IB Macallan did. As for the Ardmore, we thought it was pretty alright, but the heavily peated Bunnahabhain overshadowed it.

The Sansibar gang was another level yet again. We had everything except for the Sansibar Laphroaig 18 Years Old because it was all gone. We only get to nose the bottle, and we wept silent tears in our hearts that we did not manage to taste it.

Event Wrap Up

After all the whiskies we had, the team had to head home to rest as we were flying off to Taiwan that every night! It was an adventure to be told in another post as we share our experience in WhiskyFair TAKAO. In the meanwhile, we hope you had lived vicariously through our pictures for Whisky Live Singapore 2017. Until the next year! Slainte!

 

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More about Whisky Live Singapore

Whisky Live Singapore is happening in about a month’s time! Have you bought your tickets yet?

Organised by La Maison du Whisky (LMDW), it is a yearly sold-out event where whisky aficionados get to taste and appreciate premier whiskies at a relatively low cost. This year, Whisky Live is trying out something different with an immersive and expansive experience for all.

What we love about Whisky Live is not just the passion for good whisky, but also the dedication that goes behind the event every year. “We are constantly looking into ways to alleviate the experience (of Whisky Live)”, said Mr Mathieu Musnier, General Manager at LMDW. “Whisky and spirits appreciation is an art.”

In line with his vision, Whisky Live Singapore 2017 has a theme of “Rare, Share, Pair”. The different approach is refreshing as the event brings not just whisky but also the taste of other fine spirits such as gin, tequila, rum and much more in the form of cocktails. There are also different cuisines available at the event.

In addition, there will be an art gallery that showcases whisky and spirit art through the years. Expect to be awed by label designs, marketing art and bottle craft. The exhibition is featuring art pieces from well-known artists such as Stranger & Strangers, Neisson and Velier.

What to Expect at Whisky Live Singapore

The tickets for Whisky Live are almost sold out, so for those who have yet to buy the tickets, hurry over to Peatix to purchase your tickets! For those who have gotten the tickets, congratulations! You are going to enjoy yourselves!

Expect premier whiskies from various distilleries such as Old Pulteney, Balbair and Bruichladdich and for those with VIP tickets, hit up the rare whiskies in the VIP room. We heard that there are going to be some vintage whiskies from Old Pulteney (hint: a 25 years old), so be sure to visit their booth! If you have bought your tickets to the Masterclasses, expect the unexpected as you are going to be blown away by both the information as well as the spirits prepared just for you.

Oh, and do check out the Nikka Masterclass. The Nikka Coffey Malt has just won the Best Japanese Whisky in Jim Murray’s Whisky Bible 2018. We understand that Nikka is now experimenting with a Coffey Gin and Coffey Vodka and will explain more in their Masterclass.

Whisky Live Singapore Important Dates

Dates: 25th and 26th November 2017.
Time: Doors open from 1.30pm. VIP ticket holders can enter one hour earlier to explore the tasting area.
Venue: 7213 Mohamed Sultan Road, Singapore 239007

More about Whisky Live

Whisky Live aims to bring together the finest whiskies and spirits, great food and a range of education and entertainment to the participants around the world. Organised annually, this event offers the rare opportunity to sample whiskies from around the world as well as to discover exciting new spirits and distilleries. At the same time, it is the perfect chance to mingle with the experts in the field – producers, distillers and ambassadors.

More about La Maison du Whisky Singapore

La Maison du Whisky is a family-owned company founded in 1956 in the French capital. It is the specialist of rare whiskies, niche spirits, importation and distribution in France. La Maison du Whisky came onboard Singapore in 2006, bringing with them the passion and love for fine spirits and the distribution of rare and collectible products.

 

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