How many different whiskies can I drink in 2.5 hours?
Answer: A lot, if my evening at Whiskey Live in NY is any indication.
Whiskey Live is kind of what I imagine whiskey heaven would be like. At the entrance, someone hands you a glass. You walk into a room filled with whiskey and unlimited pours (nobody seems to use or care about the tickets they hand you). And people everywhere want to talk about whiskey. Throw in some bagpipes and chocolate, and it’s kind of perfect.
I was able to taste some exceptional whiskies, including the Barry Crockett edition from Midleton, a charming Limited Edition Lagavulin, and a very drinkable Tomatin 30-year aged 3 years in a sherry barrel.
I also happily nerded out with the lady at the Jameson/Midleton/Powers table to learn all about how temperature affects evaporation, followed by a conversation with the lady at the Breckenridge table about how altitude affects evaporation.
Whiskey people tend to be friendly anyway, but Southern whiskey people are very friendly. They couldn’t tell me enough about the bourbon trail and Kentucky whiskey vs Tennessee whiskey. I tried a nice Double-Oak Woodford Reserve that the gentleman said he had to buy in New York because you can’t even find it in Kentucky.
There was also a nice showing from local whiskey distillers, including Widow Jane in Redhook (and they started out as a chocolate factory? I will be heading there soon for a Saturday afternoon tour) and Lion’s Pride, which prides itself on the dark millet whiskey, which is gluten free and focuses on the grain taste more than the alcohol taste.
Since it was my first whiskey conference, I took away some important tips for next time:
· Peruse the list of whiskies first to make sure you have time for everyone you really want to visit.
· Go for the older/rarer expressions on the table even if they try to pour you the cheaper stuff first. This is a chance to try whiskies you don’t normally get.
· Ask questions – the good table hosts have interesting information to share and are more than happy to talk about their whiskey. This is especially true of local whiskies where the people working the table are often the distillers themselves.
· Beware the people who don’t know about whiskey, like the lady at the Lagavulin table who told me all Scotches are smoky and peaty.
· Use the pour buckets. I rarely do, but discovered that my taste buds and brain buds can only process so much before the flavors and information start to blend.