Every year, hundreds of Vancouverites line up to get into the year’s most coveted whisky event at the Rocky Mountaineer Station, Whisky Global.

Organized by Adam Bloch (Feaster) and Dax Droski (Parade Agency), the pair were as cool as a cucumber overseeing the success of bringing back the event after a cold Covid-hiatus. “It’s a really great feeling coming back,” Adam says, “and it’s awesome seeing familiar faces having a good time after what we all just went through.” Whisky Global is typically held at the end of February but with the ever-changing climate those first few months of the year it was pushed forward for the first year in April.


If you were one of the lucky ones who purchased their tickets in advance, or won tickets from title sponsor Mile’s End Motors, the hour before the rush is extremely worth the extra. Over 140 premium whiskies from 35 vendors do not disappoint: tasting notes of caramel; coffee; oatmeal cookies; deep chocolate; corn; honey; vanilla and so many other tasting notes left guests craving a much-deserved break with a slow roasted dinner from Cocktails & Canapes and a snack by Vancouver Island shuckers Jess Taylor and Kevin Phelan from the Wandering Mollusk.

What is a Global event without trying a whisky from the Northern region of Korea? I was passed a glass of single distilled 100% rice whisky along with a story, “this is from a region that’s really famous for having a lot of artisans: all kinds of artisans, spirit makers, people that really care about the rice that they make, and there’s also people that make pottery. This company that started this distillery calls itself a Korean cuisine company. So, they make pottery as well; they also have a Michelin three-star restaurant! After this, they built the distillery. So, they make the food that goes in it and they also make the liquid that goes with it,” explained Jiyun Chung, director of Moose Imports. The regions altitude is high but surrounded by low mountains, so, it becomes really cold at night and that hot in the daytime: a very unique rice growing region to surrounded by these mountains and still receive warm sun all day.

The bottle of the Hwayo 41 is beautiful, a sleek black with gold lettering, upon picking up the bottle I felt how the bottle was modeled after the clay pots: slightly imperfect. “The bottles are modeled after 16th century Goguryeo, the Korean dynasty at the time, the traditional celadon that they had,” said Michael Manchakowski, co-director of Moose Imports.

The spirit is aged in beautiful dark black clay pots for over 36 months, “it’s groovy” Jiyun laughed, “these are a blend of 3-10 years in experiment barrels and virgin white.” We learned that the Hwayo whisky is oak aged and distilled at a much lower temperature of 39C, whereas typically spirits are at a higher temperature of about 90C, this is where we are explained the intricate but delicate floral and fruitiness flavour comes out, a perfect accompaniment to a sushi dinner.


I hopped over to another side of the world to experience The Benriach, single side single malt scotch whisky from the Forgue valley, where I met Joel Virginillo, luxury spirit specialist, “we have about 30 different types of barrels, long-term aging, and we can play with those in different variations. Everything from Marsala wine, Madeira, we’ve got a French Bordeaux in here, we’ve got Olorosa sherry, Pedro Ximénez sherry. You name it, we’ve got all sorts of different styles. We have a term here we like to call cast-ology.”

I came to get in on the juicy bits here, the Benriach is the cornerstone of three distilleries, with Brown Forman. Joel made a stirring motion with an imaginary ladle, “kind of like adding flavors into a soup, you can create your own ultimate complex flavors. The Glendronach’s are definitely not an everyday whiskey! Super hard to find. I would definitely go chocolate and figs for this one, dried figs. Glendronach has got such a bramble or blackberry tone to it naturally. In the Valley Ford where we make this stuff, we’ve actually got a lot of brambles all around the distillery. That flavour profile really works its way into the whiskey through the age.” Their VIP display was a 21-year aged premium spirit, to get to this complexity they take a bit of peated and unpeated barley, friended distill that off the whisky base in four independent barrels for 21 years each, and then marry them back together! “That’s rare,” said Joel, “Benriach’s are barrelled on the mainland of Scotland, you typically don’t see peated whiskey, only see whiskey barley that’s been dried with hot air or cold.”

Just past Batman’s weekender, the Ferrari 812 Superfast,and close to a parked Hellcat is a Canadian vendor I quickly grew fond of, Cirka. A collection of premium spirits (two vodkas, three gins and a whisky) all 100% kosher, gluten free and vegan, was music to my ears! Mike Mcconnell, Senior Vice-President of Sales and Marketing said, “We went to a lot of effort on the kosher side of things. That’s sort of funny story. We had a rabbi in and said, ‘I can make all your products kosher’; then [after realizing the first rabbi was a fake] we had a second rabbi come in and said, ‘Who the heck was that guy? No, we need to go through a huge process!’ The whisky was the most complicated, because it’s in a barrel with a bung.”

On display Cirka had two whiskies, a corn-based bourbon (finished in a Solitaire barrel from France for two months) and a chocolate rye whisky (finished in a barrel made of American oak, then done in a stage three char finished in an Oloroso sherry barrel).

Taylor Thodos, Cirka’s Western Canadian Sales representative, poured me a swig of their Whiskey No3, the chocolate rye. No3 is a combination of 93% Quebec rye, 7% German chocolate rye, “It’s four years old, it’s on chill filtered, and there’s no color at it, the [caramel] color that you see here is directly from the barrel!” Taylor said. “No4 just came out yesterday in Montreal, and No4 is one year older than No2. We produced only about 3000 bottles of No2 and they sold out in 72 hours.”

Two days; eight hours; seven oysters; eleven fantastic conversations; a swag flask from Ezra Brooks; a new gym shirt from Woodward Reserve for a workout after a night out at Opus; and not sure how many generous pours of whiskies – I left being just that much wiser about what has been going in my whisky sour all these years. Cheers to 2022 being off to a brilliant start!



Thank you to our sponsors:

Mile’s End Motors, Parc Fermé, Murrick Insurance, K.Ko Hair Studio, Cocoa Tanning