A spirited discussion with the experts at Whisky Live Beirut

A spirited discussion with the experts at Whisky Live Beirut

Whisky Live Beirut took place at Seaside Pavilion from December 1 to 3. Bringing together 60 specialist producers, distributors and suppliers, the event offered visitors a rare opportunity to sample some of the finest international whiskies, including premium single malts, bourbons, Scotch, Irish and Japanese whiskies. Hospitality News Middle East had a chat with some of the experts at the show, and here is what they had to say.

Sustainability behind the bar
Sustainability has become a crucial element in bar strategy, which is why Pernod Ricard launched “The Bar World of Tomorrow” — a training program that promotes a better, more sustainable, responsible and convivial bar culture.
The concept is centered on the five Rs: rethink, reuse, recycle, respect and reduce.
Rethink: Sourcing fresh ingredients and coming up with alternatives. For example, if you don’t have lemon juice, what can you use instead?
Reduce: Exploring what a bar can do to minimize the use of ice.
Reuse: Minimizing and preventing waste creation by reusing products.
Recycle: Managing any waste produced by the bar by recycling in an effective manner.
Respect: Respecting the environment and the customer by creating a balance between what a client needs and what is good for the environment. For example, making sure guests are served the right amount of water to stay hydrated.

Yiğitcan Gençer
Co-owner of Twins Cocktail

Whisky trends
Generally speaking, quality whisky is on the rise. People might be drinking a little bit less, but they are opting for higher quality. Japanese whisky is considered among the best in the world. Indeed, there are a number of new distilleries popping up all over Japan, including craft ones. It feels like it is the big comeback of Japanese whisky. Nikka has officially announced that, as of next year, it will launch its Single Malt Yoichi 10, which is a big thing and it goes to show that even the big names are coming back with some new stock.

Didier Ghorbanzadeh
Product expert at La Maison du Whisky France

Bringing coffee to the whisky table
A significant number of people are enjoying coffee flavors in whisky. There are many aromas and flavors in coffee. Every single origin has its own aroma and sensory experience. Mixing whisky sensory aromas and coffee flavors together leads to a very intriguing match, as each has its own process and aromas. The challenge is to ensure that neither overpowers the taste of the other.

Rana Hassanieh
Coffee consultant and founder of Barista Hustle Arabic


It’s all about the barrel
The barrel is key to the production of whisky, as it contributes to the whisky’s flavor. When it comes to Scotch, for instance, the barrel contributes to up to 80 percent or more of the flavor. Whisky starts off as distilled bear, a pale and transparent liquid mildly flavored, so it really needs some wood to add flavor and color to it.
Classic whisky flavors range from caramel, toffee and fruits to licorice — all the things that whisky lovers actually like. The maturation of whisky in wooden casks greatly improves its flavor and influences its color; that’s why you have a different range, from gold to brown to copper. It depends on the length of time it has spent in the barrel.

Dr. Jacopo Mazzeo
Journalist, photographer, consultant, and Whisky Magazine contributor



Knowing whisky
When it comes to the golden liquid it is essential to understand the grade, the barrel and the terminology on each and every bottle. The more you understand about whisky, the greater your appreciation for it.

Walid Merhi
Founder and beverage consultant
Forward Creative Consultants (FCC)




Mixing whisky is the latest trend
Whisky is not about sipping from a glass. These days, you can drink whisky however you want. For example, one of Johnny Walker’s experience bartenders had guests drinking whisky as a highball with ginger beer. You can add lemon and syrups because the new trend of drinking whisky involves mixing it. Having a neat liquid and drinking it on its own or on the rocks is the classic way, so now is the time to experiment. For example, Johnnie Walker with Irish coffee and salted caramel is sensational.

Paul Sfirlea
World Class winner (Romania) and head trainer Diageo Bar Academy

Japanese whisky perfection
For 21 years, I have been in the whisky business, so I am able to distinguish Japanese whisky from the rest. The perfection that the Japanese apply in every aspect of their lives is also evident in the way they produce whisky. It is a craft they excel in.

Alexander Sourmpatis
Whisky portfolio ambassador for Tsaknakis Premium Brands


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About author

Rita Ghantous

Rita Ghantous is a hospitality aficionado and a passionate writer with over 9 years’ experience in journalism and 5 years experience in the hospitality sector. Her passion for the performance arts and writing, started early. At 10 years old she was praised for her solo performance of the Beatles song “All My Love” accompanied by a guitarist, and was approached by a French talent scout during her school play. However, her love for writing was stronger. Fresh out of school, she became a freelance journalist for Noun Magazine and was awarded the Silver Award Cup for Outstanding Poetry, by The International Library of Poetry (Washington DC). She studied Business Management and earned a Masters degree from Saint Joseph University (USJ), her thesis was published in the Proche-Orient, Études en Management book. She then pursued a career in the hospitality industry but didn’t give up writing, that is why she launched the Four Points by Sheraton Le Verdun Newsletter. Her love for the industry and journalism led her to Hospitality Services - the organizers of the HORECA trade show in Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Jordan, as well as Salon Du Chocolat, Beirut Cooking Festival, Whisky Live and other regional shows. She is currently the Publications Executive of Hospitality News Middle East, Taste & Flavors and Lebanon Traveler. It is with ultimate devotion for her magazines that she demonstrates her hospitality savoir-faire.

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