Whisky Live Singapore – go no go?

I need to make a decision… To go or not to go… that is the question.

It would seem obvious that a whisky lover would take advantage of every opportunity to explore. And with Whisky Live in Singapore convenient to us Mumbaikers, in a city that I’ve often called my “alternate home“, it seems a no brainer.

My first Whisky Live Singapore experience in 2016 was brilliant!

But here is where the challenge comes…. my 2nd experience in 2017…. wasn’t. I sincerely WANTED to enjoy it as much or even more than the previous year however…

What changed? In my exceedingly biased opinion…

  • Range – Less… far less…. mostly repeats… fewer “wow!” options. Granted I was a year further into my whisky explorations but surely the same distilleries would bring different expressions a year later? Not nearly as much as I had hoped…
  • Industry connect – Also far far FAR less… most booths were populated by local bartenders not folks actually directly associated with the distilleries or brands. Surface level schpeels which added little value to those keen to go beneath the marketing. There were a few with direct representation and some enthusiastic exceptions from the local team, but there is something completely different to chatting with someone actually FROM where the whisky is produced that makes all the difference. For me, that is the real advantage of such events… travelling to one place instead of many…
  • Crowds – Don’t get me wrong… there were crowds the previous year too however there was simply more room to wander around, to find a quiet corner to relax before heading back into the fray
  • Viva la venue? I really like the Robertson Quay area… once upon a time it was practically my home away from home… yet the venues alternated between sweaty outdoors and sweaty indoors as the A/C couldn’t keep up with crowd capacity then empty stretches of ‘gallery’ where you could neither sit and relax nor be more sociable… just stand… alone… and stare… at nearly blank walls
  • Cocktails king – Loads of opportunities to try different cocktails… which is certainly an industry trend. However call me a purest, I’m there to sniff, swish and savour my way through discovering the original dram not disguise it in a cocktail, however creatively that may be.
  • Drunken debauchery – You would think this is simply what to expect at a liquor event… however the emphasis and attendees seemed to care less about discovery and more about just drinking to get drunk. Not my cup of tea (so to speak). Clearly few followed a Whisky Live “Survival Guide” approach!
  • Collectors room – The separate seemingly rarified atmosphere of the 2016 collectors room contrasted completely with a sweaty bar just outside a raucous VIP room. And the collection seemed much smaller and pricier too. Dare I speculate the robbery that hit La Maison du Whisky in Paris not long before Whisky Live Singapore impacted the bottles on offer?

I could go on but you get the gist… it simply wasn’t for me… much as I would have wanted it to be.

Don’t get me wrong. I get that so much sincere intentions, work and sweat goes into pulling an event off like this. And am a huge fan of what La Maison du Whisky continues to contribute to the world of whisky – particularly through their Singapore store anchoring Asia.

However on a personal level, I still need to decide.. should I go to the 2018 event just a month away???

Time for a little website homework…

  • Hotel = A/C YEAH!!
  • Brands much the same but I’ve calibrated expectations and remain optimistic there will be some new and/or unique expressions not previously featured…
  • Introduction of a new 10 coupon limit… hmmmm…. While I would never over the course of a wander through the whiskies ever actually consume 10 drams, I’ve always enjoyed the lack of limit. You can find me shamelessly sampling some 20+ exceedingly small pours… speed “tasting” through a sniff, swish and spit of a few precious drops. I do appreciate needing some mechanism to reduce consumption to more reasonable levels… however it is a significant change to think of making a nodding acquaintance with a mere 10 options.
  • No collector’s room on the venue map…. surely that can’t be right?
  • And the master classes? While I’d welcome a chance to enjoy Old Pulteney, Bruichladdich & Octomore again, the one that caught my attention was the “Rare Malts” for a mere $250! (yikes!)

Decisions, decisions, decisions…. Hop on a plane in a month… “Should I stay or should I go now??” 

You can read more about my different Whisky Live Singapore adventures…

Whisky Live Survival Guide (2016) vs Whisky Live Singapore 2017

You can also find Whisky Lady in India on:

Aroma kit flirting…

All three of our whisky tasting groups in Mumbai have WhatsAp groups to informally exchange updates, insights, ideas, teasing and more.

A few years back, an image of a whisky aroma kit made its appearance… with a query “Should we try and buy one of these?”

If the hype is to be believed… using one of these kits will train you to “nose like an expert!!”

Now I don’t know about you, but I have no ambitions of being an expert. Neither do I want to spout “cookie cutter” impressions of a whisky.

What I enjoy most about tasting solo and with others is the journey of discovery. How an aroma reminds us of something else, evoking a memory, another context, another experience.

My nosing and tasting references also fluctuate wildly from early days in Canada to a long term sustained relationship with India, with a few dash of many other countries influences too.

My first introduction to a kit was in Winnipeg at the Whisky Bar where I was too engrossed in my whisky to want to mess it up sniffing a sample of ‘decay’.

My next opportunity was at a fellow whisky adventurers home, which began with a guessing game – sniffing “blind” to see if we could figure what it was supposed to be.

Since then, has that same kit been pulled out, used to hone our skills at recognizing different aromas?

No, We’ve just gone back to our original style of simply sniffing and discussing without referring to an aroma kit. So much for using it to train us into experts!

Here’s what others have to say:

You can also find Whisky Lady in India on:

Context is everything… Discovering your Daily Dram

I must admit that normally, I drink whisky only during tasting sessions… where my palate preferences are pre-primed for a range of sensations and kinds of whiskies. I can fully get behind a peaty punch same as a rich sherry bomb or a full-on cask strength dram. Curve balls are welcome. Even something that isn’t ‘good’ but pushes the boundaries or introduces a new experience is given a chance.

But a funny little thing has started to happen.

As we worked at emptying the various ‘nearly done’ bottles as part of the whisky ‘house cleaning‘, I realized that for simple enjoyment, my preference has turned to primarily ex-bourbon, more nuanced and dare I say it? Accessible drams.

When did that occur??

It seems for me at least, context is everything. And when the context isn’t a tasting session – structured and formal, or impromptu and casual – I’ve veered away from inviting those crazy outliers and gravitated instead towards something simpler.

Perfectly hitting that “preferred style” dram was Shelter Point’s Single Malt – 1st Batch from 2016. Which repeated a year later with the next batch. Awaiting a chance to grab the next to meet this “sweet spot”!

You can also find Whisky Lady in India on:

The Auld Alliance, Singapore

In terms of whisky, the absolute highlight of all Singapore “watering holes” was an evening spent at The Auld Alliance a few years ago.

I was joined by one of the original member of our Mumbai based whisky tasting club. Since his move to Singapore a few years ago, he’s been much missed.

We were taken on a tour of the remarkable collection by Arun who shared insights and tales about the remarkable collection – from ship wreck rescues to historically unique bottles – traversing the world of whiskies.

We returned post a delightful dinner to sit down and enjoy two custom created sample sets featuring four whiskies each:

Arun challenged us to go ‘hard core’ blind where we sipped from black glasses so could not even be influenced by the whisky colour.

It was a perfect evening and a complete treat!

Since then my whisky sampling companion and I have tried other places yet tip date, nothing tops that particular evening in June 2015.

You can find The Auld Alliance at:

  • 9 Bras Basah Road, RendezVous Hotel, Gallery #02-02A, SINGAPORE 189559 
  • info@theauldalliance.sg Tel: +65 6337 2201

Whisky Lady – May 2018

May had some terrific sessions! All three Mumbai based tasting groups met plus we had a few extras too! Plus I had a chance to catch-up on previous tasting sessions notes as well.  Read on…

All three tasting groups met, with most notes to follow next month…

The Whisky Ladies enjoyed a theme of “Northern Lights” exploring:

Whereas our original group tasted two Highland drams and an Irish pot still whiskey:

For our Bombay Malt & Cigar gents, I took them on a European Tour with:

In addition to our normal tasting evenings, we were fortunate to have a few industry extras in April and May with:

  • An evening with Caitlin Hill, Brand Ambassador for Bruichladdich and Botanist over a  quartet of cocktails and food pairing*
  • An evening with Stuart Harvey, Master Blender for IBHL with Balblair 05, 99, 00 and Speyburn 15 year*
  • An evening with Samantha Peters, Digital Marketing for IBHL with Speyburn 10 year 43%, Balblair 05 46%, Old Pultney 12 year 40%*

Which was augmented by a terrific evening at KODE with Keshav Prakash featuring a trio from the Vault Collection – Compass Box Asyla, Kilchoman Machir Bay and Edradour Caledonia.

In May, tasting notes were shared for our original club’s April session featuring The Vault Fine Spirits Collection, ably penned by our Guest Writer Nikkhil:

There was also a Minis evening playing around with finishes:

An informal evening with a few friends resulted in revisiting a few drams and sampling for the 1st time Shelter Point Cask Strength 2017 Winter Release 57.2% (Bottle 594/1088)

And for a final bit of “catchup”, back in March, the Whisky Ladies took a  remarkable “Trans Tasman Tour” to New Zealand and Tasmania, Australia:

Curious to know more? Check out recent Whisky Lady’s monthly missives:

You can also find even more Whisky bits ‘n bobs on:

Whisky Lady – April 2018

Another marvellous malty month! Where all three tasting groups met… and I unforgivably missed one! However made up with more whisky adventures.

So what all mischief did we get up to in April?

Photo: The Whisky Barrel

The absolute highlight was a once in a lifetime opportunity to try a 64 year old whisky!

Our Bombay Malt & Cigar group explore Lost Distilleries Trio from the Classic range:

  • Towiemore 43% The evening favourite – think apple crumble meets malt!
  • Gerston 43% Seaside brine, bitter sweet, peat and spice
  • Stratheden 43% Humid, citrus, chocolate… long finish

Whereas our Whisky Ladies Islay Adventures

Plus a few interesting evenings:

Plus a set of no less than seven Gin gin gins!

The balance of the month’s posts were all catching up on earlier tasting sessions…

Our Bombay Malt & Cigar gents explored whiskies from Japan:

Our original club’s revisited:

And the last fleeting impression from Whisky Live Singapore 2017:

Curious to know more? Check out recent Whisky Lady’s monthly missives:

You can also find even more Whisky bits ‘n bobs on:

Whisky Lady – March 2018

It is time for a malty monthly round-up! Where all the sessions marched in order, one after the other wish a special bonus evening with Malt Maniac Krishna Nakula.

So where did we begin?

The Whisky Ladies took a  “Trans Tasman Tour” to New Zealand and Tasmania, Australia:

Followed the very next evening by the Bombay Malt & Cigar gents exploring whiskies from Japan:

Our original club did a revisit with:

Evenings with Krishna Nakula, India’s Malt Maniac are always a pleasure. This time we ambled through…

March also was a month to catch-up on a few earlier tasting experiences… beginning with our Bombay Malt & Cigar gents  Compass Box Quartet!

And more fleeting impressions from Whisky Live Singapore 2017:

*Tasting notes coming soon…

Curious to know more? Check out recent Whisky Lady’s monthly missives:

You can also find even more Whisky bits ‘n bobs on:

Whisky Lady – February 2018

Time for the monthly round-up of malty adventures and more! February was a quieter month with just two whisky tasting sessions, providing an opportunity to share impressions from WhiskyLive Singapore.

Photo: Rashmi Dhawani

As the Whisky Ladies had joined the gents for a round of independent blends, we decided to have a completely random evening of “Contributor’s Choice” at the close of January:

This was followed by our original club being overwhelmed by the inventive packaging while being undwhelmed by the whisky:

Our Bombay Malt & Cigar gents are becoming rather regular in their sessions – no mean feat consider most members can be more easily be found loitering in London, Dubai, Munich, Singapore and various US and other airports. What did we explore? A Compass Box Quartet!

Photo: Keshav Prakash

What a remarkable trio! As I could not make it to the session, the samples reached home to enable us to compare our guest writer Nikkhil Shirodkar’s notes with the group with my independent impressions of our Kavalan Solist Cask Night:

I also kicked off the first batch of a series sharing fleeting impressions from Whisky Live Singapore 2017:

Photo: Nikoulina Berg

Beyond the tasting group meetings, there was an impromptu gin evening with a few friends

Curious to know more? Check out recent Whisky Lady’s monthly missives:

You can also find even more Whisky bits ‘n bobs on:

Whisky Live Singapore 2017

So here we are in February 2018… and I’m only now getting around to sharing observations from November 2017 Whisky Live Singapore….  Why the delay?

Because I found it really hard to put into words that after such a terrific experience at Whisky Live Singapore 2016, the 2017 edition simply wasn’t for me. Which seems exceedingly churlish to admit when the organizers were kind enough to extend a day pass.

However rather than dwell on disappointments, let me focus on the key benefit of attending any Whisky Live anywhere in the world – the whisky!

There definitely were highlights and I captured a few fleeting notes on my sniff, swish (and mostly spit) experiences… And before you gasp in dismay about not savouring and swallowing, I firmly adopt a “Survival Guide” approach to explore to the max and over-indulge to the min.

There is a price to such a “speed dating” method. Notes cannot be complete and lack in-depth insights. Instead, they are just quick surface impressions… like a teaser… merely giving a sense of what might come… if only…

So with that caveat in mind, welcome to explore with me Whisky Live Singapore 2017:

Whisky Live Singapore’s Collector’s Room picks for 2017:

And what did I walk away with? You may be surprised:

You can also find Whisky Lady in India on:

Whisky Lady – January 2018

Everyday Asia

January was nearly travel free!!! Til the 31st Jan when I hopped on a plane to Bangalore…

However I still couldn’t join all whisky related sessions…. sigh…  thus is the life of a working gal, even if the Whisky Lady element remains!

All our Mumbai based whisky groups had an opportunity to meet.

It kicked off the Bombay Malt & Cigar gentlemen hosting with the Whisky Ladies for an evening of three Douglas Laing blends and one Sansibar blend:

As the Whisky Ladies had already joined the gents for a round of independent blends, we decided to have a completely random evening of “Contributor’s Choice” which resulted in:

  • Mars Iwai 40%
  • Glenrothes Manse Reserve 43%
  • Glenmorangie 19 year 43%
  • Bunnahabhain Ceobanach 46.2%

Our original club met however I alas…

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