Last week we posted a crowdsourced review of the 2013 Whisky Jewbilee, an event that takes place the day before the two day whisk(e)y-palooza that is Whiskyfest New York. Although we didn’t attend WhiskyFest New York, one of the people that chimed in on the Jewbilee (i.e. Aaron M. Krouse of Los Angeles) did attend WhiskyFest and was kind enough to write up his experience. Below is what our man from LA had to say…
Hell, I was in town so I might as well as hit the big one too, right? A much more corporate feel is a nice way of describing WhiskyFest. I thought I was going to be patted down on the way in with all the guys with earphones in one ear I saw. I’m sure I saw something flying around one of the chandeliers that had to be a drone. This was the big boys’ territory and not necessarily a bad thing. But it was a bigger event, crowded and generally harder to get to the whiskies and pourers without waiting in line. Luckily, after walking the 12 blocks from my hotel and seeing a cross section of the world I’m not sure how to describe, I was partially numbed to the crowds inside the Marriott Marquis. In that size venue, running into someone you know is a crapshoot at best. Running into someone and spilling your dram is much easier. I did much more of the latter. Sorry, guy in the suit with the wife with too much jewelry. Send me a dry cleaning bill.
At any trade show, I always feel a bit sad when I see one of the “little” guys standing quietly in their booth waiting for someone to come by, as they sit in the shadows of the “big” guys’ booths. Happens in every industry and whisky is no different. I tend to gravitate to the little guys because in my mind they’re doing something generally counter to the tide or nuts. Or both. I’m fully aware some of these “little” guys really are part of some “big” guy conglomerate but I’m a romantic at heart so I play the fool. I really liked the Irish varieties from The Irishman. And the Kavalan’s drams were wildly interesting. The Balvenie’s Doublewood 17 and Single Barrel (first fill and really vanilla-y) were huge highlights. And I had to try the Frank Sinatra Jack Daniel’s because it’s Frank and he’s probably being exploited in death, but I don’t care because it’s Frank. And the sales guy had a ream of Frank stories that bordered on dubious or urban legend but I was sucked in. I hate myself.
A big highlight was watching Jim McEwan in front of the Bruichladdich booth teach two lovely ladies how to drink whisky. Amusingly, he used Octomore 5.1 as the sample. The lovely blonde’s head almost exploded as Jim told her to keep the whisky in her mouth for a count of 5. Except his count of 5 must have been a metric system 5 instead of a standard 5 since it lasted long enough to melt her face. I’ll never get melted blonde goop off my shoes but it was worth it, as Mr. McEwan was kind of enough to take a picture.
Picking up the books of Dave Broom and Davin de Kergommeaux, and having them signed by the authors ranks right up there on the highlight reel. There just aren’t two nicer, knowledgable fellows around.
The downside of the big boy show is always the price. Wouldn’t want to make a habit of this kind of thing. I got kids who suck most of the dollars right out of me! The Whisky Exploit-sion continues and that means upward arrows next to dollar signs for the emoticon illiterate.
The post-WJ party continued with the Single Cask Nation boys and Highland Park 18 and Rittenhouse Rye before heading to St. Andrew’s Pub for more fun and meeting more of the #WhiskyFabric. SCN’s Seth is one funny MF’er! I could drink with that future Connecticut mayor for a long time. And seeing Joshua’s awesome rolling multi-bottle carrier up close just cost me $80+ on Amazon.
It was a wonderfully fun weekend with almost no sleep, meeting plenty of friends, and trying some drams I never have. And I succeeded in not having any dram I’ve ever had before! It’s important to have goals.