With Whisky Live Beirut launching into its second edition from 19-21 October, an exclusive masterclass to dispel the myths surrounding whisky drinking took place at the Eau de Vie restaurant of the Phoenicia Hotel Beirut yesterday (October 18), setting up the excitement for the three-day festival.
“Somebody I knew once said that when you add water to your whisky you should add it slowly so not to bruise it. This thing is 64 per cent alcohol; nothing is going to hurt it,” joked Rob Allanson, the youngest and longest serving editor of Whisky Magazine and global ambassador of Whisky Live.
“But do add water because it unlocks all the long-chain esters, the flavor chains, so you’re getting the full effect.”
A select group of bloggers and journalists gathered to sample four whiskies: a 12-year-statement Japanese blend by Nikka, a King Alexander III Scotch by The Dalmore and two single malts by Kilchoman, Islay and Jura, Prophecy. With three of the drinks having no age statements, Allanson noted that the belief of older whisky being better is rapidly disappearing internationally.
“Older and darker does not mean better whisky,” he said. “A lot of whisky is being used and drunk; it depletes your stocks. It also allows you to play with your whiskies a bit more and create something where you’re not bound by an age statement because young whisky is quite fresh and exciting, particularly if you’re making a blend.
“You’re not bound by having to use really expensively old whisky so it’s a trend we’ll see for a little while longer,” he added.
The whisky scene is picking up globally and becoming more experimental, with a market for new and interesting creations. Over the next five years the industry is set to grow exponentially with Irish distilleries taking the lead.
“We’ll continue to see Irish whisky grow phenomenally; it’s the fastest growing sector in the whisky world right now,” Allanson explained. “We’ll see American bourbon and rye continue to grow, they are ramping up production as we speak and are making a lot more whisky, so I think we’ll see the interest in that continue grow, particularly as they push into new markets.”
With the market always looking for next new hit, non-Scottish producers are making a niche for themselves. “You’ll also see whiskies from non-traditional producing nations,” he continued. “Sweden and India are producing some great whiskies at the moment and so is Australia. We’re only just discovering what they’re up to and they’re making some incredible whisky out there.”
“I think in America there are 5 new distilleries opened every hour. People are learning more, drinking more and looking for different flavors and the next big thing.”
Allanson is hosting a number of tastings, workshops and classes with unique bottles and brands at Whisky Live Beirut, alongside the 40 specialist whisky producers from around the globe.
“It allows you to taste an incredibly vast array of different whiskies under one roof and talk to the people that make them and explore,” he said. “If you’ve never tasted a Japanese whisky and can’t afford one where else are you going to taste it? Whisky Live gives you that option and it has done across the world.”
Whisky Live Beirut is running from 19-21 October at Le Yacht Club-Beirut, Zaitunay Bay, from 4-10 p.m. daily.Add to Favorites