Booze Banter

Event Review – 2014 Whisky Jewbilee

Whisky Jewbilee 2014 was SOLD OUT!

The following is a series of emails about the 2014 Whisky Jewbilee (and other sundry topics) between myself and Limpd…


G-LO: Whew! Looks like we dodged another bullet. I thought for sure that baseball and softball schedules would interfere with our latest NYC Whisky Excursion! While I do feel a healthy dose of parental guilt for missing my eldest son’s final game of the season (a championship game no less!), I think dealing with the heat and humidity in NYC may count as penance, especially that last walk from Keens to Studio 450 where the event was being held. It’s like our forward progress through the city at rush hour was blocked at every turn.  Thanks Obama!

While the weather was pretty dreadful (Hazy, Hot, and Humid!), I am really pleased with how the day turned out. It was like a moveable feast all afternoon long. Lunch and a beer at St. Andrews. Snacks and a whisky at Keens. And then the icing on the cake: the 2014 Whisky Jewbilee!

Limpd: Dodged a bullet or just delayed the impending double tap? I felt a little guilty not holding a practice for tournament softball. Missing my kid’s championship game… I’m not sure anyone would have allowed that to happen. My Benevolent would have made a strong suggestion that I attend (see prior double tap reference).

Anyway, the train to NYC was swift and the weather not altogether unbearable. Of course, I could have done without the long sleeve shirt. If only I didn’t need the shirt pocket to hold my cheaters so that I could read the bar menus and bottles. Can we get large print bottles? I guess not. St. Andrew’s was a great first stop, and the fried oysters were pretty good. Then again, what isn’t good fried! What did you think of the Bellhaven?

I find it a bit of a challenge to hold any kind of a meaningful discussion at a tasting; too much to sample and too little time for chit chat. So it was great to meet up with Aaron, Mr. & Mrs. Shane, and Allison and her current intern for a little pre-game festivities.

After St. Andrews, the walk to Park Avenue Liquor was longer than I remembered (or maybe it was just hotter than last time). That place is amazing! If we had a few boxes, a Sherpa, and a larger budget, we could really do some damage there. And then we were off to see the lovely Miss Keens

I had my obligatory Dallas Dhu (that Signatory bottling was awfully good!) and I thought splitting our little snack (thick cut bacon and an order of fries) was a great end to the pre-game. And what a pleasant surprise to see Raj there. I guess all your social media douchery actually works! (Do you ever do any actual work???) And then there’s Sarah. That girl is crazy for Uber! While the AC in a sedan would have been nice, getting to the Jewbilee late would have been a big no no. Gotta admire her persistence though! And was it just me, or did Susannah pop in for a quick Scotch Egg pit stop on the way to the main event? My short term memory ain’t what it used to be!

I really didn’t mind the walk so much. It was definitely steamy, and blocking the streets at rush hour (thanks Obama!) is really inconvenient, but I needed to walk off some of the food (mostly the salmon club from St. Andrews, my earlier beer, and the Dallas Dhu). By the time we got to the venue, I was ready for some more liquid refreshment. What did you think of the venue? A little off the beaten path and in need of a new elevator, but the views were outstanding.

It took us much longer than expected to walk from Keens Steakhouse to Studio 450 thanks to a Presidential visit to NYC during rush hour. Thanks Obama!

It took us much longer than expected to walk from Keens Steakhouse to Studio 450 thanks to a Presidential visit to NYC during rush hour. Thanks Obama!

G-LO: Yeah. Payback for missing The Boy’s game is most likely in the works. As we like to say, sleep with one eye open! That’s what I’ll be doing from now on. Oh wait. I was doing that anyway.

Totally with you on the pregame summary! Lunch was superb and that Bellhaven was fantastic. I think I may prefer it over a Guinness as a session beer (think that comment will get me banned from Ireland?). As I’ve said to many people, St. Andrews is an oasis of food and drink on an otherwise dreadful block of Midtown Manhattan.

The food and drink was great at both establishments, but for me, the opportunity to have a wee get together where we can actually talk with everyone made it that much better. Great to see Aaron, Shane and Mrs. Shane, Allison and her intern Kelly, Raj, Sarah, AND Susannah (guess you don’t need to have that neurological work up just yet. But if you’re truly concerned about your short term memory, I know a guy…) in our travels. They are a super fun bunch! I’m still shocked that Aaron made it out. The West Coast Office (WCO) is cuckoo for Cocoa Puffs!

I mean seriously, he took the red-eye in from LA on the day prior to the event and then flew back home on the morning after the event. That’s what I call a true whisky lover! MADNESS!

Re: Keens, you do love your Dallas Dhu. I’m surprised that they don’t have your name engraved on the bottle at this point. Have you ever NOT ordered it?

Studio 450 was really interesting. Agreed on the walk, location, and elevator: all three were a bit odd, but well worth it once you made it upstairs. I loved the layout and thought that it was a big improvement over the last venue since there was plenty of room to wander and explore what was being poured. The two level layout and outside space worked really well, and with 350+ people on hand, it never felt crowded.

There was SO much to try during the event and so much that was new to me! Where do I even begin? Thankfully, running into some of our other friends proved to be a huge help when it came time to pick my next whisky. Mark Gillespie of WhiskyCast and Stephen of The Malt Imposter blog were particularly helpful since they guided me through the Laphroiag and Tomatin offerings.

Did you have any favorite whiskies of the night?

LimpD: You get to sleep with one eye open. I just lay there and pretend to sleep just in case.

The camaraderie among the bloggers is really amazing. You’d think there would be some sort of competition, but instead we seem to be much more about the actual whiskey rather than the number of hits that our respective blogs get. And I concur, Aaron is a loon (unless of course, that kind of comment is offensive to loons – then I apologize wholeheartedly to any offended loons and then refer to Aaron by some other, less offensive ornithological name; perhaps a blue footed booby would be better).

For taking a red-eye, Aaron was in rare form. I’m not sure if that is the result of sleep deprivation or if he really is a bit unbalanced; either way, it was great to see him. And, it was really nice to meet up with Sarah, Susannah, and Raj before the event.

I order the Dallas Dhu for two reasons: (a) Keen’s is one of the only places where I have found the now shuttered distillery, and (b) it is really really good! I had the Dun Beagan bottling last time and the Signatory this time. I’ll have to see if they find another bottle the next time we go.

Studio 450 was a really nice place (elevator aside). I like the two levels as it seems to spread the crowd. I do not like the steps. Old, creaky bones and lots of whiskey are a recipe for disaster. Fortunately, I was driving later so I had to hold myself in check. And I really enjoyed the outdoor section with the cigars. Open air with an expansive view and a good cigar. What more could you ask for? I should have loaded up a glass and done a little dipping, but I was trying to pace myself and decided to hold back.

Outside, I really enjoyed the Talisker Storm and the two that I tried from the Single Cask Nation (a Glen Elgin 18 and the Catoctin Creek). I think my winner was from Raj. I liked the 23 yr. old Strathmill from Blackadder so much that I bought a bottle (and no, you can’t have any!. It’s going under the house for safe keeping). Although I really enjoyed the offerings from Bruichladdich (even the Octomore 6.1!), Tomatin (the Cu Bocan, the 18 and the 30 were all good), Elijah Craig (the 23 and the Barrel Proof) and Evan Williams (the Single Barrel Vintage 2004), I wish I had more time to savor each one or the opportunity to pour off a wee sample for later. But this was more of an event than a blog post (although this appears to be a blog post), so I will have to note my favorites and try them all again later.

I’m sure you had a favorite or two. Let me guess, something charred and smoldering?

G-LO: Geez. So much to say! Here’s my reply…

Lay there and play possum? Interesting strategy. I’m one step away from making like an ostrich and burying my head in the sand. Safety first!

It really is a great group of people. It’s all about the banter, whisky, and shared experiences. The whisky is fabulous, but the excellent company takes it to the next level. I’m already contemplating the next gathering, whenever that happens to be. And Aaron is neither a loon nor a blue footed booby. He is a hawk, much like the one owned by Luke Wilson in The Royal Tenenbaums. He too shall be called Mordecai!

The greatest cure for jet lag and lack of sleep is whisky and non-stop conversation with excellent company. That’s what kept Mordecai going for those 48 to 72 hours. Everyone knows this! Where you been?

Dallas Dhu. I’ll be sure to put it on the suggestion list next time somebody approaches me with the “What can I get Limpd as a gift?” question. Dhuly noted. Ha!

Agreed on the stairs situation at Studio 450. It’s a recipe for disaster with the wrong crowd, but thankfully, as far as I could tell, this was a well behaved and “serious about their whisky” kinda crowd, so it definitely wasn’t amateur hour. I loved the view and outside area too. Even though I don’t really care for cigars (I like them, but they don’t like me. Especially the next morning!), I was oh so tempted to try one that night. Maybe next time.

There was a plethora of really special whisky on hand! Between the photodouchery and the talking, I barely scratched the surface of what was being poured. And quit trying to pigeonhole me! I love the smoky drams, but that’s not all that I love when it comes to whisky. Here are my highlights: Blackadder Strathmill 23, Octomore 6.1, Tomatin 30, Talisker 18, Highland Park Freya, Laphroiag PX cask (and a couple others that I can’t remember), the new Tamdhu (no longer a Tam-don’t!), Arran Amarone Cask, Bowmore 25, Brenne, Compass Box Peat Monster 10th Anniversary, GlenGarioch Founders Reserve, Kilchoman Sherry Cask and 100% Islay, Smokehead, a couple of Single Cask Nation bottlings, and last but not least, the Westland Single Malt. Ok, so maybe that’s pretty much everything I tried that night. Sue me!

Seth, Jason, and Josh pulled together a really spectacular event. A great selection of whiskies in a relaxed and comfortable environment. No jackets or ties required. Gotta love it! Just so you know, the 2015 event is already on the calendar for 6/9/2015. Start scheduling the softball and baseball practices NOW cause you’re going whether you like it or not!

One last thing…

This was our 4th or 5th NYC whisky excursion, and we once again made it back to our neighborhood by almost exactly 1AM (give or take a few minutes). That’s kinda weird right?

LimpD: So, we call Aaron Morty? Sounds like an old guy selling carpet remnants, but if that’s the way you want to go with it, it’s ok with me!

Wow! For someone who had (by his own admission) at least 20 samples, that is some kind of recall. I cut my list a little short as I omitted the Highland Park Freya, the Laphroiag PX cask and the Westland Single Malt. I was particularly surprised by the Westland. Only two years old and really good.

The fellers at Single Cask Nation did another fine job. My only gripe (like I only have one or rarely have one) is the swag. The Nation gives me nice bag of stuff and yet we “only” get samples from the tables. I was hoping for another Glen Cairn or a flask or something. I know; “they pour out an almost unlimited amount of whisky so quit being greedy”. But my Pappy raised me to look for more. I should have taken the tactic of the one pourer I saw in the elevator on the way out. She had a number of bottles in her bag. Probably flashed her smile (or something else) and suggested that rather than ship an open bottle back, she would “help” them out and take it off of their hands. I say well played!

As respects the 1AM arrival, you seem to forget about the magic of whisky time. I think if we drink enough, some sort of time portal must be opened. In this portal, time accelerates to 1AM and then seems to stop. This has happened after multiple trips to NYC and many times on The Barthenon. Maybe we should have Stephen Hawking take a look at this phenomenon.

G-LO: You just won’t quit will you? Fine. Here are my final thoughts (as if we haven’t rambled enough!)…

Morty? Interesting. Reminds me of the guy from Goodfellas that tipped off Henry and Jimmy about the Lufthansa heist. He sold rugs. The kind that I need on my head to help with my follicular challengedness (grammar and correct spelling be damned!). Morty it is! Or was that Morrie???

Regarding my memory, I kinda cheated, i.e. I went over the 2014 pour list and played the “had it, had it, had it…” game. No duds to be had by me that night, so they all made my list! And yes, that Westland was delicious. Gotta revisit that one fo’sho!

You have gripes??? Seriously? And what the f#%$  is a feller? I’m not gonna dignify your “lack of swag” comments with a response. You greedy bastard! And yet somehow I’m always the douchey one cause I take a few hundred pretty photos or write an elaborate tasting note (or should I say 500 elaborate tasting notes?). Life just isn’t fair.

I forgot all about “whisky time”. Silly me! Until next year…

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