Awards & Events

Tokyo calling

Amazingly, Japan's Whisky Live event is now in its sixth year
The sixth Whisky Live! in Tokyo earlier this year saw record numbers of exhibitors and participants, with close to 3,000 people attending on the day.Signs that the recent boom in Japan’s domestic ‘shochu’ spirit are coming to an end, and a definite pick-up in the economy, have resulted in renewed interest in the whisky market, in particular single malts, which are currently being heavily promoted by domestic producers and importers alike.The stage was set for Live! with a week of radio broadcasts beforehand, culminating in an on-air tasting for DJ Guy Perryman, conducted by Dave Broom.Guy and his charming assistant Keiko then MC’d the main Live! event, which was again held at Tokyo Big Sight, a purpose-built event and conference centre.The British Ambassador, Sir Graham Fry, also very kindly hosted a Whisky Reception at his residence prior to Live!, attended by press and customers, as well as visiting overseas panellers and representatives of the local whisky industry.The day itself followed the same format as last year, with a total of 24 masterclasses, many of them sold out, running concurrently with the main tasting room, where cigars, chocolates and Scottish food were available as well as several hundred varieties of whisky.Domestic whiskies were, as always, well represented, and we also saw some interesting new bourbons for the first time.The thirst for knowledge amongst the Japanese consumers is intense and expectations for the masterclasses were very high.Even connoisseurs were not disappointed by the many ‘Live!-only’ cask samples and special bottlings that were on offer.Entertainment this year was provided by Caledon, Scotland’s Three Tenors, whose four sets ranging from a James Bond Medley to Flower of Scotland were filled with power and passion.The number of first-time participants and particularly the number of young women in the audience was commented upon by many of the visiting panellers, reflecting the growing base of interest in single malts.Anecdotal evidence since Live! suggests that interest in whisky continues to grow and while nobody is suggesting (or hoping for) a return to the ‘bubble era’ of the late 1980s, the more positive economic outlook has led many to predict that Japan will regain its place as one of the major whisky-consuming countries in the years ahead.Thanks are due to all exhibitors and participants at Whisky Live! this year and in particular to Scottish Development International and the Commercial Section of the British Embassy for their sponsorship.Plans are already underway for the seventh Whisky Live! in Tokyo, which will be held in February 2007.Details will be posted to www.whiskylivejapan.com