The two day event, held at the impressive Exhibition Hall in downtown Shanghai, was packed as malt drinkers turned up in their thousands to discover the best this spirit has to offer.
Many stands, including Duncan Taylor, Bruichladdich, Dewars, Speyside Distillers and The Balvenie, were constantly busy, and many stands became five or six deep with whisky lovers eager to try new drams.
Maybe we were at a different event!
I brought an advance ticket for the event and was so disappointed I spent a total of only 1 hour there, despite the fact of that unlike London I did not require vouchers for my whiskies and could drink as much as I wanted.
I am not sure what image whisky live in China was trying to portray it felt like I was at a clothes show rather than a whisky fair. I have never seen so many models parading around in masks and kilts in my life, the whole event was completely about image, glitz and glamour and not about whisky, most of the whiskies were poured by models in pig tails dressed in tartan who obviously knew nothing at all about what they were serving. There was no where to sit and the venue was boiling. I am not sure what the Chinese learnt about whisky at the event with the exception that they should buy Johnnie Walker because the stand and bottles look cool (certainly the number Chinese posing for photos next to a bottle of blue label suggested this was the case). For me whisky is about provenance, heritage, craftsmanship, flavour, diversity and character. I am not sure how many loyal fans of whisky invest there money because they think it is stylish? Or maybe I am just naive and being too romantic. A lesson could be learnt from the case of real ale in the UK, which is bucking the trend of falling beer sales by staying traditional and promoting local craft brewers rather than trying to associate itself with sexy models.
And yes, I would completely agree that you are mostly right to call out the Chinese as about status and glitz, not whisky.
That said, there are certainly whisky-lovers to be found. If anyone is in Shanghai, get on Line 1 of the subway, get off at Changshu Rd. Take a left out of the station. The first building has a whisky bar in the first floor. Obviously they won't have everything your heart desires, but it's China. Tell them that çŽ‹æ°æ˜Ž sent you :-)
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