Monday, November 12, 2012

WhiskyFest New York 2012

I know I haven’t written a lot lately, but when I get to attend an event like WhiskyFest New York, my first ever whisky tasting, with over 250 expressions, it’s time to bring back the blog.

WhiskyFest is a combination seminar and tasting held annually in New York, Chicago and San Francisco.  It is organized by Whisky Advocate Magazine and its editor John Hansell.  My good friend Dave was celebrating his 40th birthday with his wife at the event, so my wife and I decided to tag along.

Gather. Taste. Discover. Share. OK.

It’s basically set up like any other convention hall.  But where you walk into a home show or IT conference and see samples of gutter guards or computer servers, here you see Oban 18.  About 95 booths-worth.  Needless to say, it was overwhelming.  Before we even entered the hall, my friend grabbed both Dominic Roskrow, noted author, and Dr. Bill Lumsden, chief distiller for Glenmorangie for a quick chat.  In both cases, I was speechless.  The guys were both extremely friendly and down to earth, but I acted like I just met Bruce Springsteen.  Dominic stayed and talk to us for about five minutes.  He had certainly sampled what was behind the doors of the convention hall and he was in a good mood.

Chris, Dominic Roskrow, Dave
When the doors did open, it was all too much.  We made our way over to the Diageo table for samples of Oban 14, 18, and Distillers Edition.  At the same table, we tried Talisker 10 and Distillers Edition and Lagavulin 12, 16, and Distillers Edition – all owned by Diageo.  It was a one-stop shop!  The Oban 18 and Lagavulin Distillers Editions were the stand outs at this table.

It was at this point – only ten minutes and eight whiskies into the evening – that I knew I needed a game plan.  I knew I wanted to hit old favorites, like Ardbeg and Highland Park.  But I really wanted to experience something new.
Dave, Bill Lumsden (gracious enough to pose in front of Ardbeg), Chris

And so I did, we looked for whiskies from around the world.  We tried whisky from four continents.  We met Dave Perkins, the owner and founder of High West Distillery in Park City, Utah.  It's the only ski-in gastro-pub in the world (of course it is).  He shared some of their excellent Rye Whiskey (OMG Pure Rye was phenomenal).  Then, he grabbed us by the shoulders and told us to come with him.  He took us over to a private bottler (Samaroli) who had some amazing samples.  "If you guys really like whisky, you can't leave here without trying this Tomintoul '67."  And he was right, just a perfectly balanced Speyside whisky, one of the most mature I've ever had.
With that, he was gone.  And I realized that even though he worked with rye in the Rocky Mountains, and there were countless Bourbon booths, and guys in kilts peddling scotch we were all just whisky fans - and that made it a great night.

<Look for more entries from WhiskyFest, including some of my favorite samples, more about the four continents, and maybe a guest entry>

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