Booze Banter

An Evening at the 1st Annual American Whiskey Convention


American Whiskey Convention Vendor Map

On Friday, March 25th, Limpd, his Pappy, his brother Sonny, his nephew Christian, and I attended the American Whiskey Convention. This event, which was all about American Whiskey (i.e. nothing from Scotland, Ireland, Japan, or any other whisky producing country), was held at the Hall of Fame Club in Citizens Bank Park (aka the home of the Philadelphia Phillies). We were super excited to attend this event because we’ve been longing for a large scale whisky event in our area ever since the Scotch Malt Whisky Society of America decided to scrap their Philadelphia Whisky Extravaganza.

Let’s break it down for you…

The Whisky

There was a wide selection of distilleries represented by well informed pourers that were enthusiastic and eager to talk about their products. In many cases, the actual distillers were pouring, not just some hired spokesmodel. With over 30 different brand represented, there was no shortage of libations to sample.

While we love the fact that there was a wide variety of Bourbon and Rye whisky on hand, it would have been nice to see some more diversity in the whisky styles on offer. High West, Stranahan’s, Westland, St. George’s Spirits, Lost Spirits, Balcones, Corsair, Koval, Few, and many other American distillers would have been great additions to this event. And while we were pleased that the major brands were well represented (Beam Suntory, Four Roses, Heaven Hill, Brown Forman, etc.), it would have been great to see more of their limited production items being poured (i.e. Buffalo Trace Antique Collection, Parker’s Heritage Collection, Four Roses Limited Edition Small Batch, etc.).

Dave PickerelThe Classes

VIP ticket holders could sit in on one of four whisky seminars that were led by a spirits industry professionals. These small, intimate sessions allowed for great interactions with the presenter. We sat in on the Dave Pickerell session which was equal parts informative, amusing, and engaging. While the session with Mr. Pickerel was great fun, we wish that it would have began and ended much earlier in the evening since it started a little late and ran a little long. By the time we walked out of there, we only had 45 minutes left at the event, and we still had the entire 3rd base side of the venue left to explore. Also, if these sessions are going to go long, some water and snacks would have been nice, especially since Mira Anne Bhaktra (she’s the sister of Whistle Pig founder Raj Bhakta as well as the brand’s Mid-Atlantic brand ambassador) kept filling our glasses with Rye whiskey. For next year’s event, perhaps a food and whisky pairing session and the opportunity to try a special “Seminar Only” pour is in order.

The Food

While I really enjoyed the pretzels, hamburger sliders, hot dogs, and cheesesteak egg rolls that were being served, Limpd was a little disappointed with the food choices. Since the event was held on Good Friday, and since Limpd considers himself to be a good Catholic, he was expecting a more varied selection of vittles given that the event was being held in the Hall of Fame Club. He would like to have seen some meatless options, i.e. pizza, grilled cheese, or even a bowl of pasta.

The Extras

There were numerous diversions on hand at the American Whisky Conventions…

  • Need a shoe shine?
  • Fancy a cigar?
  • How about a new wardrobe?
  • Would you like to buy a motorcycle?
  • Can we interest you in a watch?

They had all of that and so much more scattered throughout the venue. While we initially thought it odd that Sonny was texting Limpd to let him know that he was getting his shoes shined, in retrospect, we wish that we’d done the same. Lord knows our shoes could have used some TLC!

The Venue

Citizens Bank Park’s Hall Of Fame Club is a great place to see a baseball game, but for hosting a whisky event, its layout was a bit of a disappointment. As soon as you walk in you have to make a choice (i.e. 1st base side or 3rd base side). The good news is that the event never felt crowded, which helped keep the volume low so that you can actually have a conversation. The bad news is that you had to keep referring to your map to see what you were missing, as opposed to just glancing around the room. Limpd agreed with my assessment and thought the horseshoe layout was definitely a detriment. He would have rather had the event in a tented area on Ashburn Alley.

__________________________________________

Many thanks to Laura Fields of the Delaware Valley Fields Foundation for the media passes to this year’s American Whiskey Convention! We’re already counting down to next year’s event!

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