Few who know me will be surprised that I had fun at WhiskeyFest. I have been exploring the world of whisky with a hunger that has been enjoyable and fairly in depth. Before WhiskyFest I estimate that I had tasted over 200 different whiskies, which is not very easy to do.
My trick for trying lots of whiskys:
- attend whisky tastings (bars, distilleries, liquor stores)
- give a lot of whisky as gifts
- swap little bottles with fellow aficionados
- start “whisky Fridays” at work
- go to bars that have interesting whiskies
- drink something new whenever you go to a bar
- go to WhiskyFest
This is the view of the registration line as you come down the escalators. It took about five minutes to wait in line, where they take your ticket and give you a wristband and a gift bag, which includes your own Glencairn whisky glass.
After getting the wristband and bag of goodies, the crowd moved on to the appetizer tables. There was endless meat, cheese, fruit, and veggies as well as dips, mustards, and breads. Almost everyone was loading up in preparation for the marathon of tasting that was to come.
The reason why I like WhiskyFest is because there are almost 100 booths of distilleries pouring new and interesting whiskies. But there are also seminars, such as this class given by Jura about how they crafted their newest scotch, Jura Brooklyn. They were kind enough to give ample pours and chocolate bars while they walked through a selection of Jura single malt scotches.
The Glenrothes had a good showing, but were out of the vintage 1992 by the time I found their table. I was able to taste the 1998 and 2001 vintages, which were delicious. They also had the coolest keychains that are in the shape of their bottle and weigh around one ounce.
One of my favorite blended scotch whiskies is Buchanan’s. It is smooth with a touch of peat and lots of good flavor. At WhiskyFest they were pouring the Red Seal, as well as their Special Reserve 18.
Four Roses makes one of the best bourbons I’ve ever tried. They sell a lot of single barrel bourbons in the Bay area for a reason: their comparatively low prices are far below the quality and craftsmanship, leading to one of the best bourbon values. They were pouring Single Barrel, Small Batch, Yellow Label, and a 2014 Limited Edition Small Batch.
Highland Park is a perennial favorite with excellent distribution and an honest to goodness smoke. They were pouring Freya, but were out by the time I got there. I’m looking forward to tasting it another time.
Definitely the most creative name was WhistlePig. A delicious rye whiskey that was sweet and tasty. At 100 proof it’s how to end an evening.