Following a long absence, WhiskyPLUS was finally held, and the sold-out event drew enthusiastic whisky aficionados from Greater KL and beyond.
For the better part of two years, the ongoing coronavirus pandemic has either shelved innumerable events around the world or pushed them into the digital domain. Even whisky shows in Europe and Asia tried keeping things going virtually, but for the best experience, of course there’s just nothing like being there in person.
The last WhiskyPLUS event in Kuala Lumpur was held in mid-2019, so aficionados here have had a long wait indeed. After a number of hopeful dates were set in 2020, then promptly cancelled, with the cautious cycle repeated earlier this year, finally, on December 11, 2021, TEG Media and Pavilion Hotel Kuala Lumpur Managed by Banyan Tree welcomed back hundreds of enthusiastic whisky lovers to sample, learn about, and increase their appreciation of the whiskies of the world.
WhiskyPLUS was launched in 2018 and quickly established itself as the biggest whisky show in Malaysia. Successful follow-up editions in Kuala Lumpur and Penang took place in 2019 before the pandemic shut everything down, but with careful planning, full vaccination required of all guests and participants, and adherence to event-related SOPs, the show was able to go on – finally! – in December 2021. And it’s safe to say that people were ready and eager to welcome WhiskyPLUS back.
THE MAIN EVENT
A completely sold-out event, WhiskyPLUS comprised two tasting sessions over a full day at the 6,800-sq ft Pavilion Ballroom at the five-star Pavilion Hotel in the heart of Bukit Bintang. Held at this prestigious venue for the second time, the event attracted the exhibition of whiskies and other spirits from near and far, with over 60 brands on offer ranging from the comfortably familiar to the delightfully obscure.
The VIP Lounge was sponsored by the chaps at William Grant & Sons, with their popular Scotch whisky brands The Balvenie and Glenfiddich taking centre stage in the nearly 3,000-sq ft lounge. Guided tasting sessions, brand experts, and of course plenty of whiskies on offer gave the VIP Lounge a real air of panache!
In the main tasting room, meanwhile, major global names like Dewar’s, Chivas Regal, Highland Park, Hennessy, Glenmorangie, Jack Daniel’s, Monkey Shoulder, and others joined smaller but equally beloved brands like Bruichladdich, Aberlour, Glenglassaugh, Royal Salute, Ardbeg, GlenDronach, BenRiach, Woodford Reserve, Glenrothes, and many more.
Additionally, lesser-known brands, along with an array of outstanding independent bottlers, were exhibited, too, including Tullibardine, Waterford, Lower East Side, Aberfeldy, Four Styles, Elements of Islay, Berry Bros. & Rudd, Aultmore, Craigellachie, Artist Collective, Douglas Laing, Port Askaig, The Scotch Malt Whisky Society, Concept 8, and plenty more. A small range of craft gins, rums, and vodkas were also featured at exhibitors’ booths, including Shanghai’s Peddlers Gin, Diplomático Rum, Belvedere Vodka, Iron Balls Gin, and others.
Guests wanting to take a break from tasting were able to indulge in refreshing mocktails from Monin or a pick-me-up jolt from Mister Coffee, along with some booze-laced ice cream treats from the gang at Boozeat. Hand-rolled cigars (along with a side of cigar education) were provided by Cigar Bar and Habanos-certified cigar sommelier Jay Walia. Sales of both cigars and bottles of whiskies and spirits were reported to be brisk, with scores of guests taking advantage of special event pricing just in time for the festive holiday season.
THE GOOD TIMES CONTINUE
The fun didn’t end with the second session, either, as the WhiskyPLUS Afterparty powered by Dewar’s was held in The Cove, the whisky lounge at Pavilion Hotel, generously hosted by the whisky brands of Bacardi Martini Asia Pacific. Superb local musician Gerard Singh delighted and entertained the small crowd, while Bacardi’s SEA Whisky Ambassador Daniel Elphinstone and his team served a free flow of cocktails and whiskies from the Aultmore, Royal Brackla, Craigellachie, and Aberfeldy single malt distilleries, and of course, some great Dewar’s blended Scotch whisky, too. It was the perfect way to conclude a fun and successful event.
Following the sold-out event, TEG Media’s Group Editor Chad Merchant, who serves as the WhiskyPLUS Event Director, said, “It’s extremely gratifying for us to be able to put together an incredible event like this that shows just how vibrant and enthusiastic the whisky-drinking crowd in Malaysia really is. There was such a great cross-section of people at the event: older and younger, different races and cultures, locals and expats, men and women… all drawn by the appeal of quality whisky and spirits. In the whisky industry, a lot of the attention for Asia goes to Singapore and Taiwan, but Malaysia has a growing voice and a big role to play in the market. There are a lot of serious whisky lovers here, and quite frankly, we feel that Malaysia deserves an event like WhiskyPLUS.”
He added a note of thanks to all the companies and exhibitors who participated, explaining, “Some of these exhibitors have been with us right from the start, and like many of us, have endured a lot of challenges since the pandemic began. This year, in our fourth edition of WhiskyPLUS, for them to come out in the big way they did, especially in such uncertain times after months of lockdowns and restrictions, really says a lot about their trust in WhiskyPLUS and their belief in the quality and depth of Malaysia’s whisky market.”
Meanwhile, TEG Media CEO Andy Davison expressed his satisfaction at a smooth and successful event, noting the unique challenges posed by the ongoing pandemic. “We required everyone attending to be fully vaccinated, of course, and we were careful to comply with all the requirements and SOPs set forth by the Ministry of Health, and overall, we think we were successful at this. Everyone was cooperative and understanding, and it seems the measures that were put in place didn’t hurt the event at all, and we were able to do it safely. What’s more, the comments we’ve gotten show that everyone appears to have had a great time.”
To all the event participants, partners, exhibitors, suppliers, crew, and attending guests, WhiskyPLUS toasts you and gives you a hearty thanks for making the event a roaring success once again!
To learn more about WhiskyPLUS, Malaysia’s Premier Whisky and Spirits Tasting Event, or to sign up to be notified about the next event, visit www.whiskyplus.my.
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