Sunday, January 23, 2011
Japan's biggest whisky festival is changing locations this year, hopping a few miles northwest from Odaiba's waterside charms to the high-rise glitz of Roppongi's Tokyo Midtown. It is also expanding from one day to two (Sat/Sun, February 19-20), but perhaps the biggest change for this year's event is that it is going to be the culmination of a much wider national effort to promote whisky across Japan, called "Whisky Week".
Organiser David Croll says: "We often get asked why we can’t hold Whisky Live in other cities. The simple answer is that, given the amount of time that goes into organizing it (I’ve already been to Midtown about a dozen times this year) and where we are located, anywhere else would be impossible logistically.
"However, we’re really keen to have whisky lovers from all over the country enjoy something of the Live event, and Whisky Week is an attempt to make that possible," Croll said.
The basic idea is that a bunch of local promotions by bars, hotels, restaurants, retailers and distillers around the country leading up to the Midtown event will "all join together to promote whisky simultaneously”. Whisky Week will run from February 14 to February 20.
"We’ve had a great response so far with malt bars, luxury hotels, Michelin-starred restaurants, distilleries, department stores and airport lounges all signing up. We’re hoping for over 100 venues by the time we reach Whisky Week," Croll said.
During the week, there will be a big static display in the Midtown's outdoor Canopy Square area, with a giant manga banner explaining the whisky-making process. The banner was designed by a Scottish writer in consultation with the Whisky expert Dave Broom.
The Chichibu Distillery is holding a special Whisky Week tour from 2pm Thursday February 17th, which is limited to 20 places and is already over half full. There we also be four single cask, Whisky Live branded bottlings from Chichibu's operator Venture Whisky, with casks selected in consultation with Ichiro Akuto.
"The highball has started the ball rolling and we want this year’s Midtown-based Live to help make more whisky fans," Croll said.
I am glad to say that Whisky Live's Japan's website now offers full English language content and booking help if necessary.