An Intimate Affair—What You Can Expect From This Year’s Whisky Live Manila 2019

Written by Howi Bakunawa

It’s that time of the year again. Christmas? Halloween? Well, sure, but if you enjoy a good drink like me, there are two more special days marked off in your calendar. Fellow whisky and spirit lovers alike, it’s finally here—Whisky Live Manila 2019 is back for its fourth year this October 18-19 at the Grand Hyatt BGC. 

Whisky Live 102017 12Whisky Live Manila 2017

RELATED: Check out the highlights from last year’s Whisky Live 2018

I love whisky. I think it’s a sophisticated kind of drink. But just recently, I learned that I only thought I loved whisky. I liked what the idea of what whisky represented more than I enjoyed the drink itself. To me, whisky was something people drank not only because of its admittedly rich and delicious taste, but also to give off a kind of allure; an aura of refinement. I never gave a second thought to where it came from or the people behind it. 

Things are often more than just meets the eye and, likewise, there is more to a good whisky than just how it tastes. I learned this from Johnsson Li himself, the man who brought Whisky Live to Manila, all within the span of a few minutes after meeting him. 

Johnsson LiCheers going out from the man himself, Johnsson Li

Not Just a Drink 

What sets whisky apart from all these other drinks, Johnsson Li goes to say, is that unlike wine that focuses on its terroir (where it is grown, the quality of the soil, the climate), or distilled spirits which focus on the specific techniques that are used in the distillation process, or beer whose fermentation process is far less complicated than distillation, whisky combines both the careful attention placed on the terroir and the engaging complexities found in the distillation process. Whisky Live Manila 2019 is an event that hopes to bring the more carefully crafted qualities of alcohol to center stage so that enthusiasts, novice and expert alike, can learn more and fully appreciate them for what they are beyond just a single sip. 

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An Intimate Affair

At the start of the event, a Glencairn glass will be handed out to the participants. There will be stalls across the venue at Grand Hyatt where 30-45 different brands will be giving out their own special blends of whisky. Going around will get you the chance to chat with the distillers themselves and whisky experts as they walk you through the steps of the distillation process. The point of this is to bring people closer to the brands and foster a growing love for whisky which, by all accounts, is a drink that has a deep and fascinating history to it. 

Whisky Live Manila 2019 also includes new additions. Something to definitely look forward to will be this year’s bar show which will showcase what some of the best ranked bars (“local rockstars”, as Johnsson Li puts it) in the country including The Curator, The Backroom, and ABV have to offer. For the learners among us, another addition would be the Whisky Mentorship Program which also connects the brands with schools that have programs directed toward restaurant-oriented pursuits like Enderun and CSB, a move that aims to nurture a sense of professionalism within the up-and-coming Filipino bar scene. 

whiskyLibations abound! 

Already impressed by the things he had listed so far, I asked Johnsson Li what he was looking forward to the most for this year’s Whisky Live as an organizer. He told me that, every year, even though he doesn’t get to drink as much as an organizer, he still looks forward to seeing how people make new friends all because of drinks. He even told me a story about two people who first met during one of the previous Whisky Live Manilas and ended up getting married.

After hearing that, you can be certain that I was convinced that what makes whisky special is the culture of sharing behind it, and I’m even more excited to see it firsthand at this year’s Whisky Live Manila 2019. I’ll either come out of it engaged (not likely) or slightly tipsy (much more likely), but one thing’s for sure: I’ll come out of it with a deeper, newfound appreciation for whisky—a drink that I’m already so fond of, alongside a community people that I can share that appreciation with. 

For ticket reservations and more information on Whisky Live 2019, check out their site at:

Whisky Live Manila 2019

October 18 – 19, 2019
The Grand Hyatt Manila, Bonifacio Global City
Instagram: @whiskylivemanila