News: Whisky Live Is Back In Cape Town - Here's What You Need To Know

By: Mandy J Watson
Posted: 20 June 2014
Category: News Comments View Comments


It's been nearly two years but the Whisky Live experience has finally returned to Cape Town. Here's a quick insider's guide as to what to expect, as well as some (secret) highlights from the opening night.

Whisky Live Is Back In Cape Town - Here's What You Need To Know

Last night I attended the opening of the Cape Town leg of the Whisky Live Showroom, which is being hosted at the Cape Sun for another two nights. It is a smaller event that distills the Whisky Live Festival, which hasn't been held in Cape Town since 2012, into a boutique experience.

I'll have a full report on the event on soon but for now here's a quick guide to what to expect - if you are attending this year. Unfortunately tickets for the two remaining nights are completely sold out so if you didn't pre book you will now be turned away at the door.

Overall I have to admit that the boutique experience is disappointing. While it was great to see familiar brands such as Glenfiddich, Glen Grant, The Macallan, Three Ships, and Johnnie Walker, among others, the appeal of the full Whisky Live Festival has always been the mix of familiar and new. There was also a notable lack of certain high-profile brands, such as Jack Daniel's, Bushmills, and Glenmorangie, as well as no obvious selection of bourbons or peaty whiskies.

It's not all bad news, however, and you can still have an educational experience that will use up all your whisky vouchers if you know where to look.

• The Kavalan stand is showcasing a selection from what is Taiwan's only whisky distillery. If you're interested in world whiskies this is an excellent opportunity to try something new, as Kavalan has only been in South Africa for a short time. The distillery has big plans for the future, and you can expect to see additions to the range soon, so now is a good time to receive an introduction to the brand as a baseline for the future.

• The whisky store has a varied and interesting selection of whiskies, including The Peat Monster, Monkey Shoulder, Edradour, and Port Charlotte, all of which, I believe, are available in this country due to the efforts of Aficionados and Paul la Cock, who you can track down in the store if you have questions about some lesser known premium whiskies.

• The Private Barrel Co., which is Checkers' in-house whisky label, has some interesting offerings at decent prices. Some are labelled with the originating brand or distillery, while others are intentionally kept under wraps, with only tasting notes to guide you. Talk to @letstalkwhisky (pictured below left), who will be at the stand, for some great info on the range.

• There are also knowledgeable experts all over the festival, including Ian Chang, Kavalan's master blender; Candice Baker, The Macallan's local brand ambassador; and Andy Watts, the master distiller at The James Sedgwick Distillery (Three Ships). Track them down and talk to them - you'll learn a lot.

Finally, two quick insider tips from last night:

• One of the stands was offering crackers, which will help to cleanse your palate (and head) but if you find the stand don't behave like some show visitors and just grab and move on: stop and talk to the people behind the desk and try the whisky - you might be pleasantly surprised.

• Another stand had a secret bottle of Laphroaig hidden under the desk, to the delight of passing peat lovers.

I'll leave you to discover which stands are hiding what but consider this an opportunity to engage with the brands and, above all, have a good time!

Tags: #cape_town, #whisky

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