Whisky Advocate

Notable whiskies at WhiskyFest San Francisco

October 13th, 2010

WhiskyFest was this past Friday. With more than 250 whiskies to choose from, I narrowed my tasting to a small handful of whiskies that I (for the most part) hadn’t tasted before.

I think the one that I liked the most wasn’t even on the pour list. It was a sample of The Glenrothes John Ramsay Legacy expression (pictured on right). Only 200 bottles are coming to the U.S.  I was very impressed with it–very complex and well-balanced.

Some  others I enjoyed: Old Pulteney 30 yr. old (coming to the U.S. in Q1 2011, and nicely bottled at cask strength), Amrut Intermediate Sherry (coming to the U.S. soon–very smooth), Pappy Van Winkle 23 yr. old (most recent bottling, didn’t taste tired or woody at all), Angel’s Envy bourbon (for its richness and creaminess), Glenfarclas 40 yr. old (okay, I tasted this one before, but I would be a fool not to drink it again!), an A.D. Rattray 18 yr. old Bowmore (single cask, cask strength), a Duncan Taylor Lonach Strathisla 42 yr. old, a Gordon & MacPhail Strathisla 1963 vintage, and a 1975 Vintage Ardbeg from a sample bottle that Master Blender Rachel Barrie was carrying along with her .

I also enjoyed sampling the diversity of the offerings from the craft distillers. And it’s only the beginning of this new movement.

WhiskyFest New York is on November 9th (and is completely sold out). I am already looking forward to trying more new whiskies (and making new friends).

23 Responses to “Notable whiskies at WhiskyFest San Francisco”

  1. gal says:

    Hey John,

    the J.R is indeed a fine dram. Just had it in a big GR tasting.

    see attached link (posted only today) :

  2. Gary says:

    I’ll see you at Whisky Fest NY. Can’t wait to try some new whiskies. 🙂

  3. Louis says:

    That’s a nice group there. I note that the scotches are almost all older expressions. Hopefully a few of them will be quasi-affordable.

  4. Chris says:

    The Old Pulteney and Amrut Intermediate Sherry were at the top of my list as well. This was my third WhiskyFest San Francisco and as expected – a great event that was organized and run very very well. Already looking forward to next years!

    • John Hansell says:

      Thanks Chris. See you next year!

    • Third the Old Pulteney and the Intermediate Sherry. I think Nate from Whisky Wall and Jason from Guid Scotch Drink turned me on to the Intermediate Sherry and it was killer.

      I’d also like to add the Snowflake from Stranahan’s to the top of the list party. I thought it was delicious – though if anyone knows which Snowflake it was, I’d be obliged….

      Thanks again for a great event, John. It was good to meet you albeit briefly.

      • Jason JY says:

        Did any of you try the Yamazaki 1984? Amazing nose, good palate, long sherried finish. The Compass Box Peat Monster Reserve was one of the best I tasted all night. I agree with you, John, that the Lonach Strathisla was very, very, very good!

        I was thinking about trying the Old Pulteney 30 Year Old but, without sounding like too much of a wanker, I’m going to be tasting that at the distillery next month so decided to try others, instead.

        Really was a great event, though, and has me very excited for the inaugural Glasgow’s Whisky Festival on Nov 13.


        • Jason – I tried to get there after you told me about it, but unfortunately the bottle was empty.

          To throw another contender into the ring, I really enjoyed the Forester Birthday Bourbon.

          Have an awesome time at the distillery, Jason. Maybe we should talk about presents upon your return 🙂

        • Jason – I tried to get there after you told me about it, but unfortunately the bottle was empty.

          To throw another contender into the ring, I really enjoyed the Forester Birthday Bourbon.

          Have a great time at the distillery, Jason. Maybe we should talk about presents upon your return 🙂

        • Chris says:

          Jason, I tried the 1984 Yamazaki. It was good, but to be honest I think it got too hyped up in my head and I wasn’t wow’d by it, especially at the price point. Have a great time in Scotland!

          • Nate says:

            I was surprised by that Intermediate Sherry… some flavor combinations that were new and pleasing. It was great to put faces to names and to shake some new hands, as well.

  5. sku says:

    Hey John, how about a WhiskyFest Los Angeles? Right now, all of LA’s whisky tastings seem to come in the fall. A WhiskyFest in the early part of the year would be a great way to tap into our thousands of whisky fans (and the weather’s great!).

  6. John Hansell says:

    There’s always a possibility of us doing a 4th event. Not sure yet where it will be though.

    • Dutch says:

      If it’s in the December – April time frame it would be great to see one in Yuma, AZ.

    • Brian Bradley (Brian 47126) says:

      I suggest Florida sir–Key West would be an ideal location me thinks!
      Do you know the tentative date for Whiskey Fest Chicago? I have to come back to the area for a wedding and I had them have it the 23rd of April as I was hoping you would hold it on approximately the same date.

  7. Tim M says:

    Bring it HOME, John. I hear they ask you to run the Philly event (sponsored by Philadelphia Mag) every year, and every year you turn them down. Please reconsider!

    • John Hansell says:

      Tim, they (the PLCB) approached us at the beginning, and we did indeed turn them down. (We didn’t feel comfortable partnering with “big brother.” We haven’t had any discussions since.

  8. mongo says:

    if the rattray 18yo bowmore is the one d&m liquors in san francisco already carry i completely endorse your enthusiasm of it.

  9. John Hansell says:

    Here’s a few more new releases this fall, from GlenDronach and BenRiach:

    Glendronach 14 yr old Sauternes Finish
    Glendronach 14 yr old Virgin Oak
    Glendronach 1995 15 Yr Old Pedro Ximenez Cask #2045
    BenRiach 1995 15 Yr Old Pedro Ximenez Cask #7165

  10. DavidG says:

    Did anyone get the opportunity to try Koval’s Lions Pride. I should be released into the Chicago market in the next few weeks and it was supposed to debut in SF at WhiskyFest.
    I was hoping for some try before I buy advice.

  11. DavidG says:

    Lark is supposed to be coming soon as well

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