“Are we seriously drinking at 3PM?” I asked the folks at the Johnnie Walker Luxury Boutique in Greenbelt 3. “It’s not exactly a problem, but this is whisky we’re talking about…”
More than a week ago, Johnnie Walker invited us to sample a stellar portfolio of single malts and blends at their pop-up. It was an intimate affair—only three guests and the organizers behind the event. Perhaps that made us more than comfortable to drink and be merry, never mind that the whole of Greenbelt 3’s gardens saw us downing glasses of whisky in broad daylight.
“Small tasting sessions like these allow guests to appreciate whisky beyond its smokiness and ‘Tito’ appeal,” Ryl Beltran-Ginete, one of Diageo’s marketing managers, told me. “When an expert is there to guide you as you sample the whiskies, you can discern the complexities of single malts and blends better.”
Whisky drinkers—and most especially whisky beginners and non-drinkers—would understand well what Ryl alluded to. For most of our childhoods (our quaint group was mostly composed of millennials), we associated Johnnie Walker (and whisky, for that matter) with our dads or uncles. (Chances are, you also know a middle-aged man who has a special Johnnie Walker bottle or collection stashed in a special wooden spirits cabinet.)
Moreover, whisky can come across quite strong at first whiff and sip. Ryl was friendlier when she described its primary taste as smoky; when I first tasted whisky several years ago, I thought it tasted like paint.
I’ve since refined my palate (and vocabulary, thank goodness),but I still consider myself a beginner in the world of whisky. That’s why as Diageo brand ambassador Rian Asiddao proceeded with our whisky tasting session at Greenbelt, I kept asking questions about beginner-friendly or introductory whiskies for the curious spirit.
We sampled four brands from Diageo’s portfolio—the Johnnie Walker Blue Label and the three malts that comprise the blend: Talisker, Mortlach, and Cardhu.
As a rare and prized whisky, the Johnnie Walker Blue Label has complex layers of fruit and spice, blanketed with a smooth smokiness. It’s crafted using hand-selected casks of some of the rarest and most exceptional whiskies from Scotland.
The brand shares that only one in every ten thousand casks makes up the blend of Blue Label, carrying that elusive quality, character, flavor, and signature taste.
Meanwhile, the Talisker begins gently before becoming peppery and spicy, with bitterness, salt, and a little smoke to form a good balance.
The Mortlach brings deep, rich notes of fruits, sticky toffee, raisins, and honey, along with a range of oak spices. All of these individual notes come together and complement each other perfectly, creating a balanced and delicious dram.
Finally, the Cardhu is a well-matured single malt from Speyside that combines its characteristic smooth character with greater complexity and richness. It’s pleasantly sweet with rich fruit and chocolate flavors and complex aromas of pears, plums, currants and a hint of pineapple.
Without asking, I told Rian that the Cardhu seemed the “friendliest” among the four, to which he agreed—given the chance to introduce whisky to a non-drinker, he’d go for something lighter and fruity like Cardhu.
“You know, in the context of legal-age drinking, I’ve seen that many young professionals are getting into whisky drinking,” Rian explained, jumping off from our “Tito” drink discussion earlier. “The cocktail and highball culture, bartenders trying out new things, and bars offering new blends—all these are making whisky drinking more appealing to younger audiences.”
Sessions like ours at the Johnnie Walker Luxury Boutique have also helped broaden whisky’s reach, he shared. “After all, the best way to appreciate whisky is to keep trying a wide variety of bottles. I recommend those interested in whisky to keep going to bars, exploring their portfolio of drinks, reading books on whisky, and even eating more food so you can expand your flavor profile.”
Drink responsibly. Visit the DrinkIQ.com site to learn more about alcohol facts.