On Thursday, October 10th, Limpd and I played hookie from work so that we could head on up to Manhattan for the Jewish Whisky Company’s 2013 Whisky Jewbilee which took place at Zanger Hall on West 34th Street, just one block away from Madison Square Garden and Penn Station.
A couple days after the event, as I was trying to figure out how I would write up all that went down on 10/10/13, I had an idea. Rather than the usual event recap where I get to use the words “douche” or “douchey” ad nauseum, I decided that I would instead reach out to all of the whisky bloggers (aka the #WhiskyFabric) that we had the pleasure of spending time with before and during the event, and ask that they email me their thoughts about the 2013 Whisky Jewbilee. Below are the questions that I asked:
- What did you think of the venue?
- How was the food?
- What was your “get”, i.e. was there a whisky that you just had to try?
- What was your most memorable moment?
- What would you want them to improve for next year?
I am happy to report that everyone I contacted responded to my email and either answered my questions directly or went off in their own direction. Their email responses ranged from very straightforward to a wee bit off the wall. Here is what everyone had to say about the 2013 Whisky Jewbilee…
Awesome idea G-LO! I will gladly share my experience from the other side of the table (I was pouring My Baby, aka Brenne):
- The Venue: Perfect! It was big enough to fit a wide variety of brands on each floor. I like that there were 2 rooms, but only 2 for I think if there were any more, it would have been too much. The space was intimate enough to be able to meet people, but not so crowded that you felt like you had to stand on top of one another. From a person who has been to a bunch of these across the country this Fall, I really liked the acoustics in the room as well. It wasn’t too lofty of a space which kept sound reverberation to a minimum. This helps those who need to be talking and those who are trying to listen!
- The Food: I only tried the smoked/cured meats and they were exceptional!
- The “Get”: The goodies on the Jewish Whisky Company’s table, particularly their 15 YO Single Cask Bourbon that was the special event bottling. YUM!
- Memorable Moment: Being able to connect with so many of the bloggers at Keen’s before the event kicked off. The NYC whisky family (I’m including the BoozeDancing crew) is my “first family of whisky”, and it felt like a homecoming to reconnect with everyone. Totally elevated the excitement of the event for me as I was already really looking forward to the night.
- The Venue: The space was a little too small, and the stairs connecting the basement and ground floor rooms looked downright treacherous. I’m glad I hit the downstairs first, otherwise there may have been a Gerald Ford pratfall in my future.
- The Food: Since I rarely partake of kosher cuisine, I’m not exactly sure what I was eating. I did however dive in twice, so it was definitely tasty!
- The “Get”: Since we recently had the Ginger Liqueur from Koval, I was intrigued to try their whisky line up. For the record, I thought their Four Grain was the best. Other “gets” included Old Pulteney 21 (very tasty!), the Glen Garioch and Auchentoshan virgin oaks (not that different from their regular bottlings), the varied selections at @WhiskyRaj’s table (the English Whisky Classic was quite tasty), and the Hakushu Peated Cask.
- Memorable Moment: The Wemyss table! What a great example of whisky evolution as the 8 year olds mature into 12 year olds. I especially liked that each bottling was a good representation of the region that it was from.
- Possible Improvements: If the event is at the same locale next year, perhaps a little better direction as to where to locate the pours. I totally missed the Kavalan table and would have missed the Glen Garioch if G-LO hadn’t pointed them out. Other than that, it was a fantastic event!
- The Venue: Although smaller than I expected, it was quite lovely (the stained glass windows were truly beautiful!), and the flow of traffic worked very well.
- The Food: I’ve never had such deliciously prepared kosher meals, and the variety was particularly impressive. The traditional dishes were amazing!
- The Whisky: Such a great selection! I love how the organizers ensured that there was everything you could possibly imagine, i.e. Blends, Scotch, World Whisky, Rye, and even a Millet!
Just so you know, I purchased tickets for another “Big” whisky event that was taking place later that weekend. The ticket price was double what I paid to attend the Jewbilee, the venue was loud and very full, and the food was just meh. And as far as the actual Whisky on hand, although I can only think of one that I was truly impressed with, the selection wasn’t all that different from what was available at the Jewbilee.
If you are headed to New York City in October 2014, I would highly recommend the Whisky Jewbilee. For me, it was a case of David vs Goliath, and proof that bigger and more powerful is not always better. Congrats to the Jewish Whisky Company for pulling together such a great little gem!
It’s a rare day to be asked my humble opinion of anything, let alone whisky. Is this a joke? Will one of those Jackass jackasses pop out of nowhere and kick me in the bourbon balls as soon as I hit SEND? Oh, whatever. I could use the excitement…
The long trek to NYC from LA was well worth it on so many levels. One, I love getting up at 3:00 am to go the airport. Two, I love meeting folks face to face that I’ve only met via Twitter or e-mail. Just meeting all of these wonderful people that are part of the #WhiskyFabric made the weekend wholly enjoyable.
The boys at Single Cask Nation are friends and a great bunch. Our little group, South Bay Whisky Tribe out here in Southern California, was lucky enough to host a tasting that Jason and Joshua ran for us in June. We’re highly indebted, and highly supportive of their efforts. Heck, they had chopped liver, fried chicken skin and kugel at Jewbilee! This is enough to put them in the Hall Of Fame of Whisky Events (Is there a Hall Of Fame of Whisky Events???). The food from their Kosher cater was reminiscent of my grandmother’s Eastern European heart-attack making delights but there were enough other unique salads and caviar(!) to fake your cholesterol out to take away the guilt for a few hours.
Personally, I loved the venue at Zanger Hall. I’m partial to old architecture and history and the West Side Jewish Center is all that. I could have taken pictures of that place all night. But there was whisky to try so go find your own pictures!
My Whisky hit list included the Suntory line, Angel’s Envy Rye, Kilchoman Single Cask, Talisker Storm, Loki, Peat Monster, and Delilah’s. All were highly enjoyed. I may have to gets me a bottle of the AE Rye, though it’s shape is really going to screw up my liquor cabinet. Note to Industry: Space management is important for the end user. Single Cask Nation’s special bourbon bottling was BIG. It had YOWZA written all over it. Only 87 bottles and all were pre-sold that night. Going… Going… Gonzo! Happily I got on the list. And the Still Waters cask strength Single Malt shocked many by its taste for its youth. Thanks to @WhiskyRaj for letting us sample that one!
The amazing moments were many, but easily led by meeting many of the #WhiskyFabric. Ladies first: Johanne McInnis (my favorite Canadian), Susannah Barton (a true nut; in a good way) and Allison Patel (distiller extraordinaire). Shane Helmick (they don’t make them any nicer), Limpd (packaging, packaging, packaging. Just put it on the Underhill’s tab), Josh Feldman (learned more from him about whisky in 30 minutes than all the reading I’ve ever done), G-LO (name withheld due to legal issues; my bro from Philly was the fireball of fun I fully expected). Basically, this is the ’27 Yankees of the whisky twitterverse. I bow in your presence and hope not to hit my head on G-LO’s camera. Also, nice to meet Severin Clemens form Mora’s Fine Wine & Spirits and get a retail view of the goings-on.
I can’t say enough about Jason, Joshua and Seth from Single Cask Nation. I go to trade shows big and small and can’t fathom how hard it would be to SET one up…when it’s NOT your day job! And to knock it out of the park like they did for the Whisky Jewbilee makes your mishpacha (look it up) from LA proud. Mazel Tov!
- The Venue: I had difficulty navigating the two room/two floor layout, going from the brightly lit downstairs to the dark and moody upstairs. On the other hand, it was nice to have two different rooms in which to spread out.
- The Food: Food was pretty good overall, especially the nice salads. And bonus points for the trays of whole roasted garlic! One minor quibble: I would have liked a menu or cards identifying each dish.
- The “Get”: So many whiskies, so little time! I particularly enjoyed the Compass Box Delilah’s and the 125th Anniversary Four Roses.
- Memorable Moment: As is always the case at events like this, I really enjoyed meeting a whole lot of cool whisky people, i.e. industry folks, media/bloggers, and regular enthusiasts. The relaxed and laid back atmosphere is what really made this event special. It wasn’t a typical “corporate” whisky event with a lot of rules and rituals that get in the way of the dramming. I really appreciated that everyone—from event staff to vendors to attendees—was having such a great time! And the staff were all very helpful!
- Possible Improvements: A program with a list of vendors and (if possible) what they would be pouring would have helped to maximize my time so that I could find those extra special whiskies. Also, PLEASE have more water available since one bottle per welcome bag is not enough. Some large water coolers, refillable pitchers, or a table in each room with extra water bottles would be great.
- The Venue: I really liked the two room set up since it gave the 325+ attendees the opportunity to spread out and explore a wide variety of whisky without ever feeling overcrowded. My only gripe is with having to navigate the concrete steps to get from the main room on the ground floor to the second room in the basement of Zanger Hall, especially after having a plethora of whisky samples. Two words: liability nightmare!
- The Food: Between taking photos at the event and talking to vendors and friends, I didn’t eat all that much, so I can’t really comment on the food. I will say this, I did try some of the cured salmon and some of the kosher salami. Both were delicious! All I want to know is, how the hell did I miss the fried chicken skin and caviar???
- The “Get”: In addition to the social aspect, i.e. chatting with industry people as well as the other aficionados, my main objective when attending these types of events is to try something new and exciting. The Whisky Jewbilee definitely did not disappoint on that front! Here are just a few of my “gets” that night: Stalk & Barrel, the Koval line up, the Four Roses 125th Anniversary Small Batch Bourbon, the Wemyss line up, Glengarioch, Parker’s Heritage Collection, Hakushu Heavily Peated, the Jewbilee 15 YO Heaven Hill Bourbon bottling, Highland Park Loki, Compass Box Delilah, and so much more! With all of that variety, how the hell can you narrow it down to just one “get”?
- Memorable Moment: So many wonderful things happened on 10/10/13! Here are just a few of them: a surprise visit by Johanne “The Whisky Lassie” McInnis that nearly gave Josh “The Coopered Tot” a coronary; meeting Jennifer and Shane Helmick, Steve “The Smoky Beast” Zeller, and Aaron Krouse; getting together again with Susannah Skiver Barton, Allison Patel, Josh Feldman, and the Jewish Whisky Company founders; watching Jim Rutledge of Four Roses rinse my smoky dram coated glass with Four Roses Yellow Label Bourbon and then having him fill it with their 125th Anniversary bottling so that I could taste it; and so much more!
- Possible Improvements: Having the event in one big room would be my number one request, but if that means moving far away from Penn Station, then I say leave it where it is (for purely selfish reasons of course). Other than that, I wouldn’t change a thing. Well done Lads!
Halfway though the show I saw Josh chainsaw a shark in the face!!! What the fuck was that about?! Best. Jewbilee. EVER!