Showing posts with label world_trade_center. Show all posts
Showing posts with label world_trade_center. Show all posts

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Taipei WhiskyLive Expo 2013


You know I love me a good booze-fiend expo, and I'm a bit of a whiskey dog, so Taipei WhiskyLive was right up my alley. Having no idea that there apparently were similar expos in 2011 and 2012, I excitedly rolled up to this one ready to try me some fancy rotgut.

We had a big Indian lunch, which was good - smart to start on a full stomach and delicious meal. Brendan joined my friend Joseph, my sister Becca and I for lunch and then saw us off - he's not so into whiskey.

I went with a budget of NT$3000 (about US$100), figuring with the discounts on offer that I could get myself a pretty nice bottle or two without breaking the bank, and also knowing that a budget was essential: I am quite aware that I am capable of spending that much and more on good whiskey.


For the cost of NT$500 (the price of one admission ticket), you get a free glass (it's lovely and tulip-shaped and is engraved with "Taipei WhiskyLive". Like at wine expo, you can try several different kinds of products, but while WhiskyLive is smaller than wine expo, it seemed to be more crowded. There weren't as many booths and there were far fewer "small booths of importers and distributors selling a curated selection of fine labels". WhiskyLive had a few of these, but it seemed anchored by lots of big "brand name" booths, in various degrees of fancy set-up.

You could even pay extra for special tastings or tastings of very expensive whiskeys - I felt that after paying NT$500 to get in that I wasn't going to pay for tastings once inside. There were also classes held and full-on tastings with professionals.

You could also pay extra for access to something called "Jim Murray's Inner Sanctum", which...well, maybe they need a new name for that. One thing I don't want to enter is Jim Murray's inner sanctum (or anyone else's for that matter).

Best line from the expo was from one such tasting - "and now let's try the twelve-year-old!"



Think novelty photos, whiskey ice cream (so-so) separately built spaces that you have to queue up or pay a fee to enter complete with fancy colored mood lighting, smoke machines, chrome and marble tabletops, leather sofas etc., and large signage for well-known whiskey purveyors - Suntory, Johnnie Walker, Macallan, The Famous Grouse, Glenmorangie and Ardbeg, Highland Park etc. etc..


Because whiskey has a kind of "businessman" vibe in Asia, not in quite the way wine does, this place wasn't geared toward foodies/gourmets/whiskey aficionados so much as businessmen who think they're aficionados but are really in it because it's expensive and an image boost.

So...smoke machines, fancy "VIP" areas, and booth babes.

Lots of booth babes.


But there were still some good things to try, and anyway one can't drink too much whiskey. I was quite taken with a brand called Ben Nevins...I tried some, immediately started calling it "Ned Bevins", and moved on to try some more kinds before making a decision of what to buy.


We tried some Japanese whiskies - "I still liked the Venn Beavis!"


We tried some samples of other alcohols - there were also booths for midori, rum and Svedka vodka - and something good called The Arran - "that was good, I'll probably buy some, but I also really liked that Len Kravitz." I've had Hibiki before but I was happy to enjoy some again, and plenty of distributors had various kinds of Laphroiag (spelling?) on offer. I can get that in Taipei, though, at a regular store, so I'm not too worried about it.


"OK, so you got your ridiculous photos with these Johnnie Walker people. Now let's go so I can buy some Zen Nebbits!"


Joseph: "It's Ben Nevis."
"Yeah, Venn Bobbit!"


"Bob Venus!"


Anyway, I got my Zen Levitz (13 year), and also tried a rather nice "heavily peated" whiskey from these fellows:


And a delicious NT$6000 (approx. US$200) whiskey that was just as expensive on discount...


And also got The Arran 12 Year, which has a nice caramelly taste.


I did like that while people seemed surprised at times when I asked to taste the peatiest whiskies and the oldest vintages with the strongest flavors, but I didn't have to literally wave away bottles of lighter, sweeter whiskies that I wasn't as interested in. At wine expo, I felt at times like people saw me (a woman) and picked up the light, fizzy, white or pink wines and I had to be more aggressive in demanding (nicely) what I really wanted samples of: the darker, spicier, woodier, drier wines.

I also appreciated that the crowd was mixed. No idea how 'into' whiskey the women where, but some sure seemed to be. A refreshing change from the common teetotalling, or "I'll drink one Taiwan Beer fruit flavor, that's all!". Which, of course, is fine - I'd never pressure someone to drink something they didn't want to or couldn't handle (I didn't pressure Brendan to come to this expo at all), but it's nice to be around others I can enjoy a nice whiskey with. Men and women.

All in all, a great way to spend a rainy Sunday in Taipei.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Taipei Wine & Gourmet Food Expo 2012

Honestly this one tasted like licking the butthole of a civet cat. Not that I'd know what that tastes like. It was a like a "civet cat butthole licking fantasy", if you will.
Taipei is a fantastic city for the sorts of big-venue "come and get a discount" expos that draw average consumers (unlike where I'm from, where you'd generally be a huge gung-ho hobbyist, dedicated pro or industry specialist if you were to actually go to something like that). When I have the time, I love "expo surfing" the various trade shows and events that pass through Xinyi and Nangang's exhibition spaces. 


So far I have to say that the wine expo we went to yesterday was the best one I've been to, even though it was also one of the smallest. Taking up only one portion of one hall in Xinyi's World Trade Center complex, it wasn't as packed as the travel expo, as chaotic as the pet expo or as bewildering as the book expo (I'll be honest, the book expo left me a bit cold. I love reading, but almost all of the booths sold books in Chinese. That makes sense, I've got nothing against doing that in Taipei where most expo-goers will be native speakers of Chinese wanting to buy books in their main language, but it meant there wasn't much for me there and we didn't stay long. I can read Chinese, basically, but I don't really want to shop for books written in it).

People sniff truffles

This was for a group, not just her

It cost 400 NT to get in, but it was worth it. There were crowds but few lines (unlike the open-to-the-public food events and restaurant fairs and "Taste of Wherever" events in cities in the USA, where you often line up for 30 minutes to get a little bite of something that isn't even as good as it would have been had it been served in the restaurant itself). You get a free wine glass - not a bad one, either - and you would go around and get free tastes of any wines you wanted from any booths. My sister was impressed - she said that in Portland you'd go to something like this and pay $10 to get in, only to pay 50 cents or a dollar per tasting once inside. 

The discounts were also pretty good - we got thousand-NT wines for maybe NT$500 and some other good deals (we came home with four bottles - three Portuguese reds and one Spanish white). The selection was impressive - some local companies, some importers - German, Slovakian, Spanish, Portuguese, French, Chilean, Californian, Australian, South African, Italian - all good stuff, with a wide selection from sweet frizzante moscato to super dry cabernet. 


They didn't just have wine - other than a booth full of women in Neoprene dominatrix outfits hawking delicious Dictador Colombian rum (and it was REALLY GOOD), there were booths featuring fine meats, cheeses, honey, jams and truffles, as well as coffee and fancy mineral water. They had booths selling wine storage devices, but we skipped those.

It was easy to take a break, which is good, 'cause we got pretty tanked and would have been far worse off without those other options.

All in all, this expo is my most highly-recommended one to visit in Taipei. Go, drink, enjoy, have fun, and take a taxi home.

The first rule of wine expo is "don't talk about wine expo"