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.