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Wood, Wheat, and Blind Irish: more NY seminars

September 30th, 2014

To help you decide which seminars to attend at WhiskyFest New York, we’re giving you a preview of them here in the blog. If you haven’t been to WhiskyFest before, or if you haven’t taken advantage of the seminars before, here’s the deal. You take about 50 minutes out of the hustle of the main tasting floor and sit down in a quieter, cooler room. Very knowledgeable people — master distillers, global brand ambassadors, master blenders — tell you about the in-depth secrets of their whiskies, and you taste with them, often whiskies that are not available in the main tasting, the VIP tasting, or maybe anywhere other than the distillery. Relaxed and informed, you head back to the tasting.

Here are three more choices for your informational interlude.

Johnnie Mundell

Johnnie Mundell — Morrison Bowmore

Johnnie Mundell will be presenting for Morrison Bowmore distillers. In this seminar, he’ll be sharing the huge influence the wood of the cask — different types of oak, from different parts of the world, seasoned in different ways — has on Scotch whisky. (This seminar description has been updated to reflect changes in staffing; the seminar topic is still subject to change, but you can count on Johnnie bringing something great to the table. We’ll be announcing the final topic at the event; stay tuned.)

Bernie Lubbers

Bernie Lubbers — Heaven Hill

Heaven Hill brand ambassador (and whiskey author) Bernie Lubbers will be talking about an underappreciated whiskey grain: wheat, in the form of wheated bourbon and wheat whiskey. He’ll be joined in this discussion by a few special guests, including the new 7 year old Bernheim wheat whiskey, this year’s Parker’s Heritage Collection 13 year old wheat whiskey, and a rare tasting of a Heaven Hill Select bottling of wheated bourbon finished in cognac barrels. Only in the seminar!

Gerry Graham -- Bushmills

Gerry Graham — Bushmills

If you’re up to the challenge of a blind tasting, Gerry Graham (national brand ambassador for Bushmills) will take you through the various styles of Irish whiskey, along with a discussion of how Irish is making its way onto cocktail menus. He’ll be very ably assisted by Whisky Advocate contributor Dave Broom and Jack McGarry, bar manager at cocktail-crazed New York nightspot The Dead Rabbit Grocery & Grog.


New York: More Seminar Choices

September 23rd, 2014

To help you decide which seminars to attend at WhiskyFest New York, we’re giving you a preview of them here in the blog. That way, when you get to the show, and hear Lew Bryson’s dulcet tones announcing the next round of seminars, you’ll know just what to do and can save valuable sampling time by not having to check your program. At least…that’s the plan. Here are three more choices.


Don Livermore, Wiser's

Don Livermore, Wiser’s

J.P. Wiser’s master blender Don Livermore brings the history and craft behind the Canadian whisky renaissance. He’ll show you how whisky blending’s done — Canadian style! — and then lead you through blending your very own expression of J.P. Wiser’s Canadian whisky. A unique hands-on experience of what goes on behind the blending process.


David King, Anchor

David King, Anchor

Anchor Distilling president David King will be talking about his company’s portfolio of own-make whiskeys and imports, justly bragging that it’s “The Most Interesting Whisk(e)y Portfolio in the World.” He’ll make his case with six unusual whiskies…and he’s brought along a panel of whisky folks to help: Tadashi Sakuma, master blender, Nikka; Alistair Walker, regional sales director, BenRiach; Emerson Lamb, president, Westland; Ian Chang, blender, Kavalan.


Gardner Dunn, Suntory

Gardner Dunn, Suntory

The Art of Japanese whisky lives somewhere between the artisans and nature of Japan. The word “Hibiki” refers to the harmony between these two forces. Suntory brand ambassador Gardner Dunn will lead you through some of the component whiskies used to create the Hibiki line of blended whiskies, including the 12, 17, and 21 year old.

What Are YOU Going To Do at WhiskyFest New York?

September 18th, 2014

Remember: WhiskyFest New York is back to the one-day format. That means fewer tickets available, but it also means that everyone can go to the seminars, without any additional cost. Given that, it’s not too early to start thinking about which seminars you’ll want to take in this year. We’ll be telling you about them over the next few weeks, just a bit of additional information.


Steph Ridgway

Steph Ridgway, Highland Park

Highland Park’s Steph Ridgway teams up with Goose Island’s Russell Woelfel for perfectly paired nips and sips of whisky and beer in a presentation they call A Tale of Two Islands…Orkney and Goose. Very popular presentation at Chicago last Spring.


Brian Nation

Brian Nation, Midleton

Brian Nation, the master distiller at Midleton, will take you to the heart of theirportfolio and discover what makes these whiskeys unique: single pot still Irish whiskey, the power of raw barley, resurgent on the world whiskey stage. Even with the huge excitement over the rebirth of Irish whiskey, the return of this type from near death is phenomenal.


Georgie Bell

Georgie Bell, Mortlach

Mortlach has stepped up their single malt game, and you can learn all about it from Georgie Bell, the distillery’s luxury global malts ambassador. You’ll taste all three new expressions (which are not available in the grand tasting room).

Less than three weeks until San Francisco!

September 16th, 2014

Are you ready, San Francisco? This, our 8th annual event in San Francisco, is turning out to be our very best event yet.

The line up of outstanding speakers and the entertaining, yet educational, seminars they will be presenting is worth the price of admission. Add in the more than 350 whiskies, and WhiskyFest San Francisco becomes the place every whiskey lover wants to be.

What kind of seminars, you ask? How about a blind tasting of single malts, or a look into Single Pot Still Irish whiskey, or how wood influences flavor. Not enough? We can include a discussion about wheat whiskey, or a comparison of spirits from Orkney and Oaxica. We have Scotch malts that go beyond the standards, and a portfolio that will take you around the world. Or there’s the blind tasting of unusual and rare single malts, and a dynamic duo… we’ll let you figure out who. You’ll learn about harmony and whiskey styles and Brooklyn! See for yourself, and visit our seminar page for more details about the twelve (yes, twelve!) seminars and the whisky experts who will present them.

While deciding which seminars you want to attend, you may as well browse through the event program, too. The complete program, the same one you’ll receive when you register at WhiskyFest, is available now online, so take a look! We know you want to.

Can We Tease You, New York?

September 11th, 2014

If you’re still on the fence about WhiskyFest New York…let us push you over. If you’re thinking about whether it’s worth getting your geek on, whether there’s going to be anything interesting, well, the heart of it is what whiskies will be there, right? You know about the great food, the seminars, the whisky celebrities, the trinkets and goodies: but it’s not FoodFest, or IndustryFest, or KeychainAndGlassFest, it’s WhiskyFest.

So we’re just going to smack you between the eyes with some of the more interesting, new, and notable pours you’ll see next month at the Marriott Marquis on Broadway. These are the whiskies you may want to try before you buy, maybe ones you just want to see what all the fuss is about. And before you even think it…none of these are VIP pours. That wouldn’t be fair, because we’ve already sold out of VIP tickets. These are all whiskies you can try all night long, just like everyone else.

You ready? Check it out.

Are you in? We're in.

Are you in? We’re in.

Angel’s Envy Rye Caribbean Cask Finish

Blue Hanger 10th Edition

Four Roses Limited Edition Small Batch

George Washington’s Rye Estate Edition

Glenglassaugh Torfa

Glenmorangie Extremely Rare 18 year old and Signet

Great King Street Glasgow Blend

Hakushu 18 yr. old

Highland Park Dark Origins

Kavalan Ex-Bourbon Cask

Nikka Coffey Grain

Old Forester Birthday Bourbon 2014

Parker’s Heritage Collection 2014 Wheat

Powers John’s Lane and Signature

Van Winkle 10, 12, 15, and 20 year old

Woodford Reserve Double Oaked


If that’s not enough…you can check out the whole list via the link up above (or just click here, we make it so easy). If this still doesn’t do it, we’ll be back soon with the full seminar line-up.

Come on, you know you want to go: what does it take with you people?! Here’s the ticket link; don’t wait any longer, or you’ll be on the outside, looking in…smelling the peat.

367 Reasons to Get Excited about WhiskyFest San Francisco

August 5th, 2014

Yes, you DID read that correctly: there are 367 reasons to get excited about WhiskyFest San Francisco! It’s coming in just two months, and it’s not too early to start planning.

What are those reasons? Glad you asked!

Reason #1: you’ve got a ticket to the best whisky event on the west coast! Solidly backed by Whisky Advocate and our parent company, M. Shanken Communications (who do a few other events you may have heard of), you can be sure that everything will run smoothly, on time, as promised. We’ve done this so many times — and in two other cities — that this is second nature to us now, and we focus on making it even better every year.

Reason #2: whisky is the hottest spirit on the market right now, and you know there are going to be new whiskies at this event. WhiskyFest is the showcase for the industry, where the whisky makers strut their stuff…for you.


One more reason: the people!

Reasons #3-12: the ten craft distillers who are going to be at the event, some of the best and most respected of the country’s small distillers, who have produced some of our best-rated craft whiskeys.

  • Charbay Distillery
  • Sonoma County Distilling
  • Few Spirits
  • Westland
  • Dry Fly
  • High West
  • Long Island Spirits
  • Koval
  • Old Potrero
  • Craft Distillers

Reasons #13-15: the three barrel-aged cocktails we know are going to be there, all excellent…and there may be more added before the event.

Reasons #16-367: The 351 whiskies/whiskeys we’ll be pouring that night! You’ll see them all in your program that night (keep in mind that a small number of these whiskies will only be poured during the VIP hour), or you can look at what we have confirmed for now here, but you can see a few of the top selections below, just to whet your thirst.

Ardmore Traditional Cask
Blue Hanger 10th Edition
Bowmore Small Batch
Port Charlotte Scottish Barley
Charbay “S” Whiskey
Compass Box Great King Street, Glasgow Blend
Elijah Craig 23 yr. (VIP hour only)
Kavalan Ex-Bourbon Cask
Forty Creek Confederation Oak (VIP hour only)
Old Forester Birthday Bourbon 2014
Old Rip Van Winkle Pappy 23 yr. (VIP hour only, in limited quantities; might want to run right there)
Four Roses 2014 Limited Edition Small Batch
Glenmorangie Extremely Rare 18 yr.
Yellow Spot (VIP hour only)
Dry Fly Distilling Straight Triticale
Glen Garioch 1994 Vintage
Ardbeg Corryvreckan
Wild Turkey Diamond (VIP hour only)
Glen Grant Five Decades (VIP hour only)
Glenglassaugh Torfa
Glenlivet Nadurra Oloroso
Hibiki 17 yr.
Highland Park Dark Origins
Jura Brooklyn
Lagavulin Distiller’s Edition (VIP hour only)
Parker’s Heritage Collection Original Batch
Westland American Single Malt

Who knows? By the time this happens, there may well be even more reasons! See you in October!

Special Room Rates — don’t miss ‘em!

June 5th, 2014

It’s always a good idea to get a room for WhiskyFest. Why spend the night thinking about how you’re getting home when you can just go upstairs?

WhiskyFest San Francisco 2013

Relax, enjoy, and stay over.

We even make it easier for you with special room rates. The special rate rooms are limited, though, so the earlier you make your reservation, the better.

San Francisco, October 3

We have a special room rate available at the San Francisco Marriott Marquis for the nights of October 2 through October 4. The rate is $279 per night (single or double occupancy). To make your room reservations, call Marriott reservations at 1-800-228-9290 and mention the WhiskyFest room block, or make your reservations online:  The room block will be available until September 5, or until it is sold out. The room block is of a limited size, so make your reservations early. Reservation requests received after September 5 will be based on the hotel’s prevailing rates.

New York, October 29

We have a special room block rate available at the Marriott Marquis on the nights of October  27 through 29. The rate is $399 (single or double occupancy). To make your reservation, call 1-877-303-0104 and ask for the WhiskyFest October 2014 room block, or, reserve online: The room block will be available until October 7, or until it is sold out. The room block is of a limited size, so make your reservations early. Reservation requests received after October 7 will be based on the hotel’s prevailing rates.

We’ll see you at breakfast!

Dads Love Whisky!

June 3rd, 2014

Dad2Here’s a friendly reminder for you: Father’s Day is coming up quickly, on June 15th.

You know what Dad likes? Whisky! But do you get him his favorite? Or something new? Or something rare? Or something completely different? Decisions are so difficult!

Why not get him over 350 bottles of it by getting him a ticket to WhiskyFest New York or San Francisco! You can still save $25 on his ticket (and yours, too; you’re going along, right?) if you buy now; early-bird pricing is good through the end of June. (That’s true even if you’re just buying tickets for yourself, of course…)

Imagine the scene. You, Dad, The Envelope: “Wow, WhiskyFest tickets? Thanks, kiddo!”

Who’s the best kid, who’s Dad’s favorite? YOU ARE! Thanks to WhiskyFest!

WhiskyFest Chicago Date Announced: Friday, April 10, 2015!

May 16th, 2014

_DSC7856We have a date!

WhiskyFest Chicago will be held on Friday, April 10, 2015, so mark your 2015 calendars.

Tickets will go on sale this fall. Be among the first to find out when tickets are available by signing up for WhiskyNotes, our bi-weekly newsletter. Simply click here.

We’ll see you there!

WhiskyFest Chicago: 16th annual is the best yet!

May 7th, 2014

_DSC8212WhiskyFest™ does it again! Our 16th annual WhiskyFest Chicago sold out in only seven hours, and ticket buyers clearly knew what they were doing; this was a great event! Close to 2,000 whisky lovers got to mingle with the top people in the whisky industry — master distillers, distillery managers, global brand ambassadors — and sample whiskies (and whiskeys!) to their heart’s content._DSC7237

It was a grand tasting indeed, starting with the VIP hour and some very special pours from some distillers, and progressing into the wide open general tasting event. Attendees had their choice of 315 whiskies, as well as excellent examples of beer, gin, rum, vodka, cognac, and tequila from a roomful of 86 exhibitors.

There were whiskies from all over. The usual types were well-represented, of course: single malt and blended Scotch whiskies, Irish whiskeys, bourbon, rye and Tennessee whiskeys, Canadian whiskies. But this is WhiskyFest: we also delivered Japanese whiskies, an array of American craft whiskeys, and the great new whiskies from Taiwan._DSC8320

Smart WhiskyFesters took the opportunity to get some in-depth whisky education at a variety of seminars presented through the night. There were talks about bonded whiskeys, whisky and oyster pairings, whisky and beer pairings, whisky blending, and tastings from various points during the whiskey-making process, all presented by experts from various distilleries.

What else? Why, the fantastic buffet presented by the Hyatt Regency, with hand-carved beef, salmon, an array of Asian and Mediterranean dishes, plentiful vegetarian options, and the always-popular desserts at the end of the night. There were also WhiskyFest totebags, our newest WhiskyFest merchandise (including playing cards, water bottles, and a great hooded sweatshirt), and mini-flasks, glasses, and other cool stuff handed out by some exhibitors.

It was a great night, and if you’re still thinking about whether you should get your ticket for our San Francisco or New York events…just ask Chicago!_DSC7517


For more WhiskyFest Chicago 2014 photos, click here!