The biggest international whisky event in the world returns to Manila for its second year. The Grand Cru Wines and Spirits, Inc. organizes Whisky Live Manila at the Shangri-La Hotel for this highly anticipated whisky tasting and sampling event. This year, taste over 131 different types of whisky, scotch, bourbon, and blends from all over the world variants of premium whisky, including the award-winning Kavalan whisky from Taiwan. 12 master classes are the highlight of the event with a series of talks from whisky brand ambassadors and prestigious Keepers of the Quaichs — an exclusive select society dedicated to greater appreciation of Scotch whisky.

We created a guide for people who are new to navigating the festival. Here are 10 tips for making the most of the biggest whisky tasting event of the year.

1) Have a plan. Before you go to the festival, do a little research about the exhibitors and brands under each company. Make a list of spirits you want to try again (note: some people recommend not sampling anything you’ve had before), hard-to-find brands that you may not see outside a whisky festival, and anything new to you that you’re interested in sampling. Figure out what you want to try during the crucial first hour (when your palate and mind are clear) and head to those booths first.


2) Explore. Participating brands include Akashi, The Balvenie, The BenRiach, Bruichladdich, Chivas Regal, Tomintoul, Cutty Sark, The Dalmore, Dewars, Glencadam, Glendronach, Glenfiddich, Glengoyne, Glenmorangie, Highland Park, Jura, Jameson Irish Whisky, Kavalan, The Macallan, Mounkey Shoulder, The Singleton, Teeling Whiskey, Tomatin, Yamazakura, The Belgian Owl, Duncan Taylor, Johnnie Walker, Mars Whisky, The Glenrothers. Other Participating spirits also include Don Papa Rum, Tanduay Asian Rum, and Unguva Canadian Premium Gin.

Glenlivet, Royal Salute, and Chivas

Each of these companies will be sampling different bottles under their portfolios. If you don’t see your favorite brand on the list, check if they’re affiliated with a larger company. Who knows, they might open up your favorite bottle or surprise you with a better one. For example, the blended malt Monkey Shoulder is under the family-owned William Grant & Sons, which also owns Hendrick’s Gin, Glenfiddich, and Balvenie; The Dalmore is under Whyte and Mackay (owned by Philippines-based Emperador Inc.), which also carries Jura and other brands of liqueurs and vodkas; Bruichladdich also has peaty bottles of Port Charlotte, Octomore, and The Botanist gin; Diageo owns Johnnie Walker and many other whisky brands, such as Oban, Talisker, Lagavulin, Crown Royal, Cragganmore, Singleton, and Haig.

The Dalmore
The Dalmore King Alexander III
Bruichladdich Classic Laddie, Port Charlotte, and Octomore

3) Eat before you drink. We’ve learned our lesson well. Don’t attempt to navigate a festival of this size on an empty stomach, trust us, you will regret it.

4) Drink water. All pass holders receive a bottle of Evian. You’ll need this to add water to cask strength whiskies and to open up the flavors of the pours you sample. But the drops of water you add to your whisky won’t be enough to keep you hydrated. Make use of the water stations inside the venue or buy more Evian from the sponsors’ booth as you make your way through the festival. You’ll enjoy yourself a lot more and you’ll probably feel better the next day. Rule of thumb: your water consumption should at least match your spirit consumption.


Evian Water Station

5) Pace yourself. Take small, slow sips of each sample. Take breaks in between pours to drink water, eat, and talk to exhibitors and attendees. There will also be a bartending competition participated by different school contenders and mentors from different brands. Festival attendees will get to taste the concoctions that they will serve for the night. Here are the list of participating brands and schools:

  • Diageo X Endurun College – Mentor Rian Assidao and apprentice Mari Montenegro; Mentor Royce Pua and apprenticeMaria Carina David Gonzales
  • Pernod Ricard x Lyceum Manila – Mentor Sam Webster and apprentice Jairra Poltrias; Mentor Jay Natividad and apprentice John Paul Zedri
  • Bacardi Martini x College of Saint Benilde – Mentor Niño Cruz and apprentice Brianna Buencamino; Mentor Jason Ranario Hussinali and apprentice Kathleen Bernadette Flores
  • William Grant & Sons x University of Sto. Thomas– Mentor Kenneth Reyes Bandivas and apprentice Marv Justin Garcia; Mentor Poch Ancheta and apprentice John Henley Cortez
  • Remy Cointreau x Center for the Culinary Arts– Mentor Joey Cerdinia and apprentice Arminel Joy C. Montiague; Mentor Mark Herrera and apprentice Lyka May C. Sinfuego

6) Drink Responsibly. The Whisky Live Manila organizers are monitoring consumption by using a coupon system to serve the drinks. Coupons are unlimited, but they must be procured from the in-house license nurse, who will run a series of tests (walk a straight line, breathalyzer, etc.) to make sure it’s safe for the attendee to continue sampling. For the safety and enjoyment of all participants, the organizers of the exhibition reserve the right to remove any person who is behaving irresponsibly from the venue. 

The organizers test blood alcohol levels before giving people additional tasting tokens

7) Choose your masterclasses carefully. There are 12 masterclasses and two Keepers of the Quaich will be there: Glenmorangie Regional Brand Ambassador Murphy Chang will talk about Best of Both Worlds- Highland and Islay, and Diageo Regional Brand Ambassador Alex Whang’s masterclass will cover Diageo Classic Malts. If you can reserve all 12 classes, go ahead (we recommend it).

8) Take photos and notes. Your memory about the tasting notes of everything you tried may not be reliable by the end of the day.

9) Don’t finish every sample. Just like a wine tasting event, Whisky Live will have stations for buckets so you can spit out the whisky samples (or pour them out, if you can’t bring yourself to spit). We know that every drop of whisky is precious, but no one will force you to drink it all, especially if you want to taste a lot during both days of the event. The samples will at least be in 15 mL drams, so if you can imagine tasting 100 drams, well, do the math.

10) Be ready to shopWhisky bottles from most brands will be available for purchase during the tasting event. Some will be sold at lower than the normal retail price. So, dear imbibers, ready your wallets. This is the best place to shop if you’re loading up for your home bar.

Whisky Live Manila 2017 is organized by Grand Cru Wine & Spirits, Inc. Visit to purchase tickets and view the full list of master classes and participating exhibitors. Follow @drinkmanila on Instagram and Twitter for our Whisky Live event coverage. is your learned drinking buddy who can tell you what to drink, what you’re drinking and where to drink. Learn about the coolest and the latest bars in the metro, or the newest beverage or new product out in the market, or have fun creating enjoyable drinks from our features and videos within the comfort of your homes.

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