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12 March 2015

The Bee's Heart of the Run Whisky Festival Post-Event Report

One of The Bee's event posters which I thought was cute and deserved a repost. :D

The Bee held (what was probably) the first (and biggest) whisky fair in Malaysia just last Sunday, 8 March 2015 at their Solaris Publika outlet.

If you had any interest in whisky at all and weren't there (without a good reason), kindly proceed to give yourself a nice good kick in the behind. And then read on while I explain to you WHY you deserved that nice good kick.

The event featured different types of whiskies from all over the world - Scotland, America, Japan, Taiwan, single, pure, blended, independent & conglomerate owned, big & small distilleries, new and old.

The Thai-pore booth, where their Aberfeldy 21 was also available for tasting.

The brands that showed up were:
  1. Aberfeldy
  2. Ardbeg
  3. Arran
  4. Bunnahabhain
  5. Cutty Sark
  6. Dewar's
  7. Glencadam
  8. Glengrant
  9. Glenlivet
  10. Glenmorangie
  11. Glenrothes
  12. Highland Park
  13. Kavalan
  14. Lagavulin
  15. Oban
  16. Nikka
  17. Singleton
  18. Talisker
  19. Tiger's Eye
  20. Tobermory
  21. Tomintoul
  22. Wild Turkey
That's 22 brands with over 50 expressions under 1 roof! It's really kind of impossible for this event to not appeal to anyone remotely interested or curious about whisky.

The Glenlivet booth. 1 of 2 brand-owned booths. As you may have noticed, the photographer was too captivated by the girls that he lost focus on the Glenlivet 12,15 and 18 lol.  

I can hear you gripe from way over there that you feel like RM180 is a little to steep as an entrance fee. Well, let me break it down for you:
  • With about 50 expressions available and if you tasted them all only once, it's a mere RM3.60 per 15-20ml dram.
  • You get to try every single expression available at the event 
  • You even get refills if you asked politely!
  • The Bee provides you with a decent lunch 
  • AND tea 
  • Plus unlimited amount of water to keep you hydrated. 
  • The event was held for FIVE hours.
  • Not forgetting event-only promo prices for the bottles available for sell on the day
  • You even get to take your very own whisky tasting glass after the event! 
How now? Feel like kicking yourself in the butt again or not? Well, don't let me stop you. :D

The Single & Available booth, featuring some of the more uncommon labels in the local market.

There were 7 booths in total. Out of 7, 2 booths were ran by brand owners while the rest were managed by local distributors. While it may not make a difference to the average Joe who was at the event, but to me, I would like to see more brand owners participating - just as a show of support to our local market.  We may be a small market, but I believe we do not have a lack of curious & serious whisky drinkers.

There was also a whisky cocktail bar set up outside - manned by 4 bartenders who took shifts showcasing 4 different types of signature whisky cocktails. Who would've thought you could actually make whisky cocktail taste more than anything but oak? At RM20 a glass, it was quite a good price too!

Hello Karl & Janice (of O+A), Hello Ash! Hello Eric (of 44 Bar)! 

There were what seemed like hundreds of people who came and didn't want to go until they really had to - I guess that pretty much shows you that this sort of alcohol event, while may only attract a minute percentage of the country's population, Can still pull a really good crowd.

I want to give a shout out to each and every distributor and brand owner for doing this. You guys spared no expense and provided more than sufficient whisky for us to try once (.. twice... three times..). Despite the maddening crowd, the booth keepers even had all the patience in the world to explain and clarify their brand stories to anyone who asked (and didn't ask!). Muchos kudos to the participating teams for doing this for us.

The TWE booth was the only one showcasing Japanese whiskies, surprisingly! 

For someone who's already had a good try of a lot of these whiskies (and loved them) prior to the event, there were still some interesting highlights & observations:
  • I was most surprised to see Ardbeg Uigeadail because we only get it in very limited quantities here. A little bird told me that distributors were only allocated 1 bottle for every case of Ardbeg 10 years.
  • For someone who doesn't have a penchant for Islay in general, I was shocked at myself for being able to palate the Lagavulin 16.
  • The Kavalan and Nikka - were the only Asian brands at the event. 
  • We  could sample the Aberfeldy 21, the OLDEST whisky at the event.
The AsiaEuro booth which also carried some new, interesting stuff.

  • Being able to sample the Highland Park Dark Origins - an expression which until last Sunday, I've ONLY heard and read about.
  • The booths with the hottest brand ambassadors had to go to Glenlivet (PRM)  and Glenmorangie (MHD) - who incidentally, were the only 2 brand owners managing their own booths at the event. 
  • Glenrothes, a relatively new brand to the market, "debuted" its for-domestic-market vintages which I enjoyed.
  • Seeing whisky based liqueurs being featured here too - Arran Gold and Wild Turkey American Honey. I overheard many girls enjoying them! 
The MHD booth won't be a MHD booth without Glenmorangie.

If you asked me which was the most popular booth of the day - I won't be able to give you an answer. I did however, observed that each booth had a fair share of the crowd's time, and were all very well visited.

Embarrassing confession: only after the event ended did I realise that I had no idea what "Heart of the Run" meant.

I asked the organiser what it meant and he explained,

"Heart of the run is the "heart cut "of the distillation process. Usually the "head" and "tail" parts of the distilled liquids are discarded. The "heart cut" is the one used for premium liquors - this applies to ALL distilled liquors.

The "head' usually has a strong alcohol taste with the least flavour, whereas the"tail" usually has a very strong metallic taste [which isn't a good thing]"

TLDR: the Heart of the run is the optimum/best parts of the distilled spirit that goes into bottling. 

The Sunrise booth was the only booth which featured American bourbon.

Is there going to be another one?

Why yes, very likely! They have plans to run more "heart of the run" events featuring other types of alcohol, or cocktails even - but it's still in its conception stages for now.

All in all, I had a 150% good time. It was an exceptional first-time effort. I wished we had more consumer-friendly events like these. Who knows, with enough enthusiasm from us drinkers, maybe one day we'll even have our very own "whisky live" type of scale where all the brand owners clamor among themselves to showcase their finest, or most special produce. 

Let's hope together! :D

Meanwhile... Hey The Bee, I'm all sobered up and ready for the next Heart of the Run event! Please make it happen ok!

Me posing with some happy shining people. All still maintain control because this picture was taken at the START of the event. :P

Some pictures above shamelessly nicked from The Bee's Facebook Album.
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