PH joins Robert Burns Day celebrations with Fable Whisky launch

Jeeves de Veyra

Posted at Mar 07 2022 06:28 PM | Updated as of Mar 08 2022 01:53 PM

Liquor Ph's Frank Kona Shrope with the first five expressions of Fable Whisky. Jeeves de Veyra
Liquor Ph's Frank Kona Shrope with the first five expressions of Fable Whisky. Jeeves de Veyra

MANILA -- T’was a great evening of stories, poetry, food, and whisky as Liquor.ph brought together Scotch lovers for a belated celebration of Robert Burns Day at the Astbury in Poblacion, Makati.

The late Robert Burns is Scotland’s national poet and is venerated by whiskey lovers the world over for his verses on Scottish culture, food, and whisky. Normally celebrated on January 25, this party had to be postponed in accordance with Level 2 IATF restrictions back then.

Frank Shrope, CEO of Liquor.ph, is known for hosting Zoom tasting sessions where he sends tasting samples to registered guests and brings whisky experts from abroad to talk about their brands and bottles. This year's Robert Burns Day was extra special because this was the first hybrid event they’ve done where they had in-person guests at the venue, and participants over Zoom.

This dinner marked the introduction of Fable Whisky into the Philippine market. This relatively new edgy independent bottler takes selected spirits from different Scottish distilleries and then ages them in carefully curated casks. 

This new label has some of the most revered names in whisky behind it, most notably whisky author Dominic Roskrow, who along with Fable international sales director Kevin Griffin, joined the party over Zoom to talk about Rabbie Burns,and their whisky. 

Bottles of Fable Whisky. Jeeves de Veyra
Bottles of Fable Whisky. Jeeves de Veyra

Fable Whisky is inspired by the Scottish folktale “The Ghost of Clanyard Bay” and each of the expressions is a different chapter in the story. On the whisky tasting menu that night were the first five expressions that are currently locally available.

“They were wanting to do something different. These were wonderful even for 9, or 10-, or 11-year-old scotch, which is usually younger. But it's about how you choose the barrel. These guys have done well and some of these younger whiskies that will blow your mind,” explained Shrope.

Shrope and his team collaborated with chef Edward Bugia for the whisky-pairing dinner. Bugia admits that he’s never done Scottish cuisine before but there were dishes that he always wanted to try. What he came up with was a thoughtful 3-course dinner that was respectful of the soul of Robert Burns day with a touch of Filipino cuisine.

A meal during Robert Burns Day usually starts with dried fish. Bugia noted that if he used local dried fish like tinapa, the saltiness would overpower the whisky. Instead, he served salmon gravlax, which is essentially dried salted salmon, accented with dill mustard crème fraiche with rye bread.

Salmon gravlax. Jeeves de Veyra
Salmon gravlax. Jeeves de Veyra

Paired with the first course was the Chapter 2: Folk and the Chapter: 3 Moon. While these whiskies were a bit harsh probably due to the high ABV, they showed a lot of character. The Folk was a great way to introduce Fable as this had distinct bright green apple and spearmint on the palate, while the Moon was a fruity somewhat richer whisky.

A Robert Burns Day dinner would also typically have haggis, a dish made out of chopped up liver, lungs and heart of sheep. Bugia noted that Filipinos should be comfortable with this as we have our very own bopis. But just to be on the safe side, Bugia mixed in beef and port to make meatballs. 

Haggis meatballs. Jeeves de Veyra
Haggis meatballs. Jeeves de Veyra

Make no mistake, the crunchy innards are unmistakably there, but in a friendlier form. To balance out the offal flavors with some sweet notes, the chef mashed up cabbage and camote to make his interpretation of a “bubble and squeak” mash, a traditional British dish that gets its name from the sound it makes as its cooked in the pot, and added a bit more Scottish flavor with his sweet bitter gravy made out of stout.

Sips of these Fable Speyside whiskies: Chapter 4: Bay and Chapter 5: Hound definitely added more character to each bite of the haggis meatballs. The Chapter 4: Bay’s nose was relatively tame and didn’t betray the high ABV. The Chapter 5 was a nice thick whisky. In both cases, a drop of water opened these two up with creamy sweeter notes.

At first sniff, the smoky peaty Chapter 1: Clanyard Bay and Bugia’s Sticky Toffee Pudding for dessert was an unconventional pairing. The nosing on this whisky was distinctively peaty and smoky. But when sipped, the funky flavors giving way to more sweet honey and slight spice ended up complementing the dessert’s burnt butter ice cream, mango bits, and rich caramel sauce.

Sticky toffee pudding. Jeeves de Veyra
Sticky toffee pudding. Jeeves de Veyra

After more toasts, more poetry, and more whisky knowledge from the special guests from overseas, customers were invited to spend the enjoy the cool Poblacion evening at the Astbury’s rooftop, with the hope that next year’s Robert Burns Day celebration would be in the company of more whisky lovers sipping drams of more good whisky.

The first five expressions of the Fable Whisky are now available at Liquor.ph.