Whisky lovers will descend on New York’s Marriott Marquis on November 16 for the 20th anniversary of WhiskyFest. With nearly 500 whiskies (and even a few other spirits and wine) available, there will be something for everyone, whether you’re a scotch lover, a craft whiskey fan, a whiskey veteran looking to try the next big thing, or a bourbon aficionado. If bourbon is your drink of choice, you’ll have a vast array to choose from—so where do you start?
Many folks will head straight for the Pappy Van Winkle table—especially since the 2017 releases are just coming out. If you’re thirsting for a chance to taste this legendary bourbon, step behind the velvet rope and enjoy. And close by will be the Buffalo Trace Antique Collection, another must-try for new drinkers and old fans alike.
And there’s so much more! It’s impossible to call out every great whiskey that’s being poured—it’s definitely not possible to drink them all—but we’ve selected a few highlights you should aim to try.
If your mouth is watering just thinking about this, there are still a few tickets left for WhiskyFest New York 2017. Can’t make it this year? Tickets for the 2018 WhiskyFest events in Chicago, Washington, D.C., San Francisco, and New York go on sale November 9.
Old Forester Whiskey Row Series
Old Forester has been making bourbon for over a century, and when you do something for so long, you get pretty good at it. The Whiskey Row Series honors key moments in Old Forester history. 1870 Original Batch nods to the batching process used by founder George Garvin Brown when he started the Old Forester brand. 1897 Bottled in Bond recalls the Bottled-in-Bond Act, key legislation that ensured a whiskey’s quality. 1920 Prohibition Style celebrates the fact that Old Forester Distillery was allowed to remain in operation during the dry years of Prohibition. Setting aside the history, these are great whiskeys and well worth a taste or two.
Basil Hayden’s Rye
Earlier this year, the high-rye bourbon brand Basil Hayden’s branched out into rye whiskey, which will be poured at WhiskyFest New York. Basil Hayden’s Rye is a mix of whiskeys that includes 4 year old rye that was finished in new charred quarter casks for seven years. This is a great opportunity to try a whiskey that, as a limited edition, won’t be around for very long.
Time and again, Elijah Craig delivers great flavor and excellent quality for a fair price, especially the Barrel Proof bourbon, which is a 12 year old powerhouse. At WhiskyFest, you can taste up the ladder from Small Batch and Barrel Proof all the way up to the 18 year old and 23 year old Single Barrel bourbons. Each age shows a different side of the rich, assertive whiskey made at Heaven Hill Distillery.
Rebel Yell Single Barrel 10 year old
Some people spurn Rebel Yell as a bottom-shelf whiskey, but those people clearly haven’t tried the Single Barrel. A full ten years old and 100 proof, this bourbon packs in a ton of flavor that’s classically sweet, oaky, and rich. Every barrel is a little bit different, but they’re consistent and high-quality: the most recent review, in the Fall 2017 Buying Guide, rated this whiskey 92 points.
Savvy whiskey lovers know that Russell’s Reserve is one of the best bang-for-your-buck bottles. The bourbon and rye are made at Wild Turkey, but tend to fly a bit under the radar. If you haven’t tried them yet, don’t miss the opportunity to sample the 6 year old rye, and then the 10 year old bourbon and single barrel bourbon side-by-side. Master distillers Jimmy and Eddie Russell may just pour it for you themselves!