I only really go out once a year and that’s for Whiskey Live

Hello there. It’s true. I’m sleepy by 9PM and loud music is just .. loud. I believe I have evolved into my final form, a true blue Tito. I have evolved from San Mig Light buckets in my 20’s to walking around trade hall with a Glencairn glass in my late 30’s. The notion of a conference lanyard that can hold a whiskey tasting glass appeals to me, because I care not much for appearances, and it is precisely how my fellow titos (and titas) feel stumbling about the biggest whiskey even of the year. For the price of a good bottle of scotch, I get to sample more than 80 whiskeys (and a bit of rum and gin) from around the world. If this doesn’t appeal to you, dear reader, then you’re probably in your 20’s. You’ll get there.

Because I get it. In the same way that I used to hate the smell and taste of coffee in my teens — and suddenly having it appeal to me in my late 20’s, the same goes with whiskey. We had a staff member from our online department join us. She’s 20. And she told me she drinks anything (good I said). “This is where you learn to enhance your palate,” I also said. The challenge of the night is to try to remove the taste of alcohol and go for the nuances of each whiskey. They all taste different. It’s like going to a huge festival where everyone serves longganisa but they all come from different regions. What’s inside is different. How it’s made is different. It’s like trying to identify the nuances between Vigan and Lucban longganisa. Same but different.

I’m not going to go deep into the finer points of Whiskey Live — like how the Auchentoshan booth had Philip Bischoff from The Manhattan Bar (Asia’s Best Bar!) make amazing highball cocktails with hazelnut liquor and vermouth. Or how I got to experience Hamish Houlston’s deconstruction of the Chivas Regal 12, allowing us the privilege of blending and bottling our own single malt components to approximate their flagship release (and taking it home!). I definitely cannot go into the finer details of Matthew Westfall and Full Circle Distillers — his grandfather is responsible for Royal Tru-Orange, with Matthew taking botanicals to a new level with the distillery’s flagship — ARC gin (short for Archipelago), a rare sipping gin that is light on the nose and easy on the palate. I can’t, because words won’t suffice when spirits are involved.

I will tell you the worst part though: leaving. But yeah yeah how cliche right? Absence makes the heart grow fonder right? Let us stop with the cliches, guys! Actually, it’s more like abstinence makes the heart more healthy. Tito me wishes for a palate in my late 30’s with the bodily fortitude of my 20’s so my literal heart doesn’t get a heartburn from all that alcohol (I am a responsible adult, hear me!).And yes, being a responsible adult, I left close to midnight (just when it seemed like the party was really happening) because I have been sipping whiskey since 6PM. Crowds make me cranky.

Whiskey Live Manila — 11/10 would go again next year.

This article originally appeared on print inside the Manila Bulletin’s lifestyle section.


Whiskey Can Be Paired with Anything, Even Lechon

There’s nothing like pairing good single malt with Pepita’s Truffle Rice Lechon.

So yeah, we were in for a treat at Mimi & Bros last night with the Glenfiddich 12, 15, and 18 year olds, all supposed to be paired with different parts of the pig. From last recall, the 12 was supposed to be paired with the skin, the 15 with the fat, and the 18 with the meat, with the tastes and texture of the lechon complementing the tasting notes of each whiskey.

I, being a dude, forgot to listen to Glenfiddich’s brand ambassador and just ate everything in three bites. Not sure if that was elegant, but I know it all ends the same way in your stomach.

Side note: I love whiskey pairing events. It’s only in these types of events where the host—usually the brand ambassador—will ask everyone to shout out their favorite brand. The evening always ends with an agreement that “all whiskeys are fantastic, but tonight let’s drink this one.”

Naturally, the 12 was my favorite, and as we journeyed to the older whiskeys hints of caramel and star anise were more prominent. But really, I’m fine with the Glenfiddich 12. It’s actually the whiskey I grab off the shelf from Changi Airport the most when friends ask me to grab a bottle for them. It’s also the most affordable of the lot. But yeah, cheap doesn’t mean “cheap.” Glenfiddich after all is the world’s most awarded single malt whiskey from the Speyside in Scotland.

This post originally appeared in MBites, by The Manila Bulletin.