News: Whisky Live 2015 Is On In Cape Town - Here's What You Need To Know

By: Mandy J Watson
Posted: 20 June 2015
Category: News Comments View Comments


The Whisky Live Showroom has returned to Cape Town with a more interesting selection of whiskies to explore, whether you're new to whisky or a long-time fan. If you're attending tonight, here's a quick guide to help you make the most of the limited time available.

News: Whisky Live 2015 Is On In Cape Town - Here's What You Need To Know

The 2015 Whisky Live Showroom opened in Cape Town on Thursday at a new venue - The Lookout in Granger Bay. I once again attended as a media guest to try new whiskies and talk to the experts, and here's a quick rundown of what to look out for if you're attending tonight.

Last year the Whisky Live Showroom, a smaller version of the Whisky Live Festival, was held for the first time at the Cape Sun after nearly 18 months of no events being held in the city. Unfortunately that event was quite disappointing, which was compounded by the choice of venue that didn't really suit the experience. There were gems to find if you looked hard enough, some of which I covered in my news report as a guide to help visitors, but on the whole it lacked any sort of educational experience for beginners and the selection of whiskies was generally uninteresting for long time fans of either whisky or the festival.

This year there's much better news and the boutique experience punted by the festival as being a selling point is really what's at the heart of this event, in a very satisfying way. This is not to say that I like the showroom concept better than the full festival, as I don't, but this year, at least, it really feels as if visitors get better value for money and more of an opportunity to taste whiskies that are otherwise hard to find as many more smaller distilleries, brands, and distributors have stand space.

News: Whisky Live 2015 Is On In Cape Town - Here's What You Need To Know

This includes The Arran Malt; Kavalan, which was one of the highlights of last year's showroom; Wild About Whisky, which imports brands such as Tomatin, Smokehead Islay Single Malt Scotch Whisky, Cù Bòcan, Tullibardine, and Tamdhu; Glenbrynth; Balblair; and Glendalough, Ireland's first craft distillery.

For those who are new to whisky or don't yet feel confident in their knowledge there's something to help you get started. Brandhouse, which imports and represents a significant number of well known brands in this country, has set up a large experience area to help people discover their taste preferences. You are guided with the help of a tablet app to one of four flavour profiles - vibrant, bold, rich, or fresh - and then can discover which whiskies suit that profile. A range has been selected for each, from inexpensive (around R100 a bottle) to high-end affordable (R700 and upwards), and you can try them out to learn more about the characteristics of what you prefer.

News: Whisky Live 2015 Is On In Cape Town - Here's What You Need To Know

If you're feeling more confident and would like to discuss the finer points of whisky with professionals there are once again a good selection of experts to seek out including Ian Chang, Kavalan's master blender; Bernard Gutman at the Brandhouse stand; Andy Bell, The Arran Malt's sales manager and brand ambassador; Andy Watts, the master distiller at The James Sedgwick Distillery, at the Bain's or Three Ships Whisky stands; Marsh Middleton, who represents the Checkers Private Barrel Co. at the Checker Liquorshop stand; and Jonathan Miles of The Whisky Academy at The Balvenie stand. Aficionados' Paul la Cock, who brings brands such as Kavalan, Edradour, and Balblair into the country, was also floating around the various stands on Thursday trying out whiskies, although I don't know if he will be attending tonight. I also think Candice Baker, who represents brands such as The Macallan and Highland Park, was there but I couldn't get anywhere near The Macallan stand.

This, in fact, is one of the problems with the showroom this year - there just isn't enough space. At times it was so packed that I could barely move around and I struggled to get decent photographs because there were so many people in the way. This does indicate, though, that there continues to be a consumer interest in whisky in Cape Town and hopefully there will be more events in the future but, for now, if you're free this evening, I highly recommend attending to explore new whiskies and expand your knowledge.

Tags: #arts_and_culture, #cape_town, #whisky

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