Variety and high-proof passion: your first two WhiskyFest Chicago seminars!

February 26th, 2014


WhiskyFest Chicago’s seminars are shaping up, and we’ll be telling you about them as they finalize. Here are the first two.

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.

Heaven Hill’s Bernie Lubbers will encourage you to “Stay Bonded,” as he talks about a special 100 proof interest of his: bottled in bond whiskeys, and particularly, Heaven Hill’s little-known bonded range.

Variety and high-proof passion: your first two WhiskyFest Chicago seminars!

WhiskyFest Chicago Sells Out in Mere Hours!

November 26th, 2013

WhiskyFest Chicago is sold out.

Tickets went on sale yesterday, November 25, and people hit the Whisky Advocate website in unprecedented numbers (we set a site record for page visits and unique visitors in one day). VIP tickets sold out before noon, and by 4:00, every ticket for the April 25th event was sold. This event continues to be the quickest selling of the three; if you want tickets to WhiskyFest Chicago 2015, best be ready to jump next year.

Watch for more updates on the events. We’ll see you in April!

WhiskyFest Tickets on sale November 25!

November 18th, 2013

We’ve been teasing…

You’ve been asking…

It’s almost here…

WhiskyFest 2014 tickets go on sale on November 25!

Tickets for all three 2014 WhiskyFest events — Chicago, San Francisco, and New York — will be available for online purchase at 9:00 AM EST, with a limited time for early bird pricing.  Remember: WhiskyFest Chicago sold out in only a week last year!

The WhiskyFest dates for 2014 are as follows:

WhiskyFest Chicago: April 25

WhiskyFest San Francisco: October 3

WhiskyFest New York: October 29

To order your tickets, visit our web site on November 25.

For more information on the 2014 events, contact Joan McGinley, WhiskyFest Events manager, at joan@whiskyadvocate.com.

WhiskyFest™ New York returns to original format in 2014

October 30th, 2013

Whisky Advocate magazine’s WhiskyFest New York will take place in 2014 on Wednesday, October 29th, at the Marriott Marquis Times Square. The event will return to its original format: an evening grand tasting with seminars occurring simultaneously in adjacent breakout rooms. This original format will also continue at the WhiskyFests held in Chicago and San Francisco.

John Hansell, Whisky Advocate Editor and Publisher, explains:

We are taking a break from the more recent two-day program of grand tastings on two evenings and all-day seminars on the second day in New York City. Our primary reason for waiting is that we want the New York seminar day to be the best whisky event anywhere. To achieve this, we need to have substantial quantities of incredibly rare whiskies procured for an audience of several hundred whisky enthusiasts; this is extremely difficult to accomplish on an annual basis. Rather than hold an event that does not live up to the standards we have set, with whiskies that are not the best and rarest, we prefer to take a break in 2014 so we can properly plan our next seminar day and source the appropriate whiskies.

The WhiskyFest dates for 2014 have been established as follows:

           WhiskyFest Chicago:Friday, April 25

           WhiskyFest San Francisco: Friday, October 3

           WhiskyFest New York: Wednesday, October 29

Updated ticket and exhibitor information will be available in November. For more information on the 2014 events, contact Joan McGinley, WhiskyFest Events manager, at joan@whiskyadvocate.com.

WhiskyFest New York Delivers

October 22nd, 2013

WhiskyFest_Grand_Tasting-8029

We promised you a lot for WhiskyFest New York, right here on this blog, and now that it’s done, we’re here to let you know: we delivered!

We told you there would be over 300 whiskies at the grand tasting: over 375 were offered, by the master distillers, blenders, and global and WhiskyFest_01_wanted_dead_or_alive-8466national brand ambassadors! If that wasn’t enough, there were also whisky cocktails, a small selection of excellent beers and other spirits, and a ballroom full of fellow whisky fans.

We said there would be unique whiskies at the seminars, presented by some of the top names in the industry: you got 23 year old Kininvie, 21 year old Stitzel-Weller, cask strength 21 year old Aberlour, a 1968 Highland Park, 1973 Ardbeg, and a Balvenie blended malt. Top names? You heard David Stewart, Dr. Bill Lumsden, Richard Paterson, John Glaser, Ann Miller, and Tadashi Sakuma, and the Whisky Advocate writers, and you heard them ribbing each other, and revealing the deep knowledge they have of whisky and how it’s made.

WhiskyFest_04_jim_mcewan-8964If that wasn’t enough, we had some very personal moments with three whisky legends. Master Distiller Jimmy Russell told us how things were when he started in 1954, and shared an unreleased 12 year old Wild Turkey. Bruichladdich master distiller Jim McEwan shared some stories, and led the audience in a boisterous Highland toast with this year’s Feis Ile bottling. And we saw Heaven Hill master distiller emeritus Parker WhiskyFest_08_parker_beam-9541Beam and Whisky Advocate publisher John Hansell struck speechless by emotion as Parker made what is likely his last WhiskyFest appearance, and led us in a toast with the unique Master Distillers’ Unity bourbon.

Seminar ticket holders were told they would taste seven Whisky Advocate Award-winning whiskies; you not only got to sample our top American, Irish, Lowland, Highland, Islay, Canadian, and craft whiskies, they were presented by the Whisky Advocate writers who chose them, with insight on why those whiskies won.

We promised you lunch with the seminars, and you got it, along with four Taliskers (including the 25 year old and the new Storm), with a rare bonus: Talisker new make. Then Dave Broom and Dr. Nick Morgan explained what makes Talisker unique, and why it can’t really be made anywhere else, a terroir tour de force. (Even if you couldn’t make the seminars, attendees of the grand evening tastings got a fantastic open buffet with something to suit every appetite.)WhiskyFest_Grand_Tasting-8260

There are other whisky events out there; you could spend your money on them and go to them all. But they aren’t like WhiskyFest New York. We promise you the world of whisky…and we deliver!

Get to WhiskyFest New York, and UBER Will Get You Safely Home!

October 8th, 2013

If you’re going to WhiskyFest New York, and you need a ride back to your apartment or your hotel room, have we got a deal for you! Uber, the taxi app, will offer new users $25 off their first ride by using the code WhiskyFestNYC (this deal excludes UberTAXI).

Just download the Uber app for the iPhone or Android, or text the code to 827-222.

(If you’re not familiar with Uber, it’s an app that connects riders and professional drivers, a high-tech, cashless alternative to traditional taxi services.)

If you want craft whiskey, WhiskyFest New York has it

October 2nd, 2013

Whisky is hot stuff right now, growing like crazy and piquing everyone’s interest. You know WhiskyFest is the place to try the latest single malts and bourbons, the Asian whiskies that are getting all the buzz — have you had Kavalan yet? — and yes, we’re finally seeing some of the high-end Canadians that usually don’t make it to the U.S.

But the hottest category, the one where anything goes and distillers are grabbing every grain out there to make whiskey out of it, is American craft whiskey. It’s crazy like craft brewing, and often features the same people or the same ideas: hopped whiskeys, whiskeys distilled from dark malts, pumpkin spiced whiskey. It’s where a lot of the innovation in whiskey is taking place right now…and WhiskyFest New York is the place to try the new American craft whiskeys, poured by the producers, without having to hunt for them.

Who’s going to be in New York for WhiskyFest? Few Spirits (with their Rye and barrel-aged gin), Anchor, High West, Hillrock Estate (try the Solera), Dry Fly, Hudson (of course), A. Smith Bowman, Defiant, Long Island Spirits, Koval (single-grain whiskeys), Widow Jane, Smooth Ambler, Redemption…and there’s more, too. You could spend the whole night just sampling craft bottlings if you wanted to, there are that many.

Get a taste of what’s coming up: craft whiskeys, at WhiskyFest New York!

WhiskyFest San Francisco and Uber: Perfectly (and safely!) Paired

September 27th, 2013

If you’re going to WhiskyFest San Francisco, you’re going to need a ride back to your home or hotel room. Have we got a deal for you! Uber, the taxi app, will offer new users $20 off their first ride by using the code WhiskyFestSF

You just have to download the Uber app for the iPhone or Android, or text the code to 827-222.

(If you’re not familiar with Uber, it’s an app that connects riders and professional drivers, a high-tech, cashless alternative to traditional taxi services.)

Day of Seminars Delivers at WhiskyFest New York

September 24th, 2013

You’re trying to decide whether to pull the trigger on the WhiskyFest New York seminar ticket, right? Hey, it’s not cheap, we know. But maybe this will help make up your mind.

The very first whisky you’ll taste is a Glenury Royal 23 year old. Yup, right off the bat you’re tasting a 23 year old single malt from a distillery that last produced in 1983. Not rare enough? Okay, we also have a Stitzel-Weller bourbon. Right. The stuff that’s at the heart of the oldest Pappy Van Winkle, been locked up in the warehouses for over 20 years. We’ve got it, you’ll taste it. Don’t leave yet: how about a Kininvie. You know? The secluded “third distillery” that William Grant tucked in behind Balvenie, only a few, very limited single malt bottlings (and none released here)? Just for you, friend. Then there’s Sazerac 18 year old rye. So what, you’re thinking, that stuff comes out every fall! Not this bottling: this is the original, distilled in 1981, bottled in 2000.

And that’s just the first hour! How could we top that? Well, after a little interlude — just an intimate moment with legendary bourbon distiller Jimmy Russell and a one-off bottling of some of the oldest Wild Turkey anyone’s ever seen, no big deal — we will blow your minds with four unique, new, never-to-be-released-again whiskies. There’s an Ardbeg 1973 (presented by Dr. Bill Lumsden), the one-off Balvenie Offspring (presented by David Stewart), a Highland Park 1968 (presented by Gerry Tosh), and a cask strength 21 year old Aberlour (presented by Ann Miller). None have ever been bottled before; only these 12 bottles of each ever will be.

Remember…we haven’t even broken for lunch yet.

What else? Well, Jim McEwan has the last of this year’s Feis Ile bottling from Bruichladdich, and we have a sampling of three exceptional whiskies paired with exquisite chocolates (one presented by Chef Daniel Boulud). Then there’s that lunch, with four Taliskers and the lively repartee of Diageo’s Dr. Nick Morgan and our own Dave Broom, followed by a hot seminar on whisky trends, and a presentation of seven of last year’s Whisky Advocate award winners.

Still haven’t made up your mind? Wow, you’re a tough one. Well, there’s one more whiskey you’ll get to taste: Master Distiller’s Unity, a bourbon blended from whiskey donated by seven master distillers from their stocks to honor Parker Beam. Parker will present it himself, and the ten bottles we’ll be pouring — for you — will be the first and only tasting of the whiskey. There are two other bottles, which will be sold together the next day at Bonhams, with all proceeds going to the Parker Beam Promise of Hope Fund. But you’ll taste it first. With Parker.

So…ready to buy that ticket now?

WFNY the ONLY place to sample Master Distiller’s Unity bourbon

September 24th, 2013

ParkerLong-time and legendary Heaven Hill master distiller emeritus Parker Beam has made known his diagnosis with Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS) and bravely decided to leverage his fame and reputation to do everything he can to advance patient care and research to understand and cure the disease. Along with the full support of Heaven Hill, the Parker Beam Promise of Hope Fund is raising money to fight the disease.

But the bourbon industry has never been about going it alone. The master distillers get along like brothers, and they’re all behind Parker: Harlen Wheatley (Buffalo Trace), Jim Rutledge (Four Roses), Fred Noe (Jim Beam), Greg Davis (Maker’s Mark), Jimmy Russell (Wild Turkey) and Chris Morris (Woodford Reserve). Together, they’ve created Master Distillers’ Unity, a unique, once-in-a-lifetime bourbon blended from whiskeys donated from their distilleries, including, of course, Parker’s own selection from Heaven Hill.

Parker tasted and blended the whiskeys, and they have been bottled, unfiltered, at 50% ABV. But there’s not much. Two 750 ml crystal decanters with silver closures, presented in a silk-lined wooden case, have been signed by each of the master distillers involved, and will be sold at auction by Bonhams on October 13 in New York City. All of the parties involved, including the packaging suppliers and Bonhams, have waived all costs and fees: 100% of the proceeds will be donated to the Parker Beam Promise of Hope Fund.

WhiskyFest New York is proud to be the only place where you will be able to taste this unique bourbon (and on the day before the auction; perhaps a chance to try before you buy). Ten bottles have been set aside to be poured at our day of seminars, during a special interview with Parker Beam, one-on-one with Whisky Advocate publisher and editor John Hansell.

The Master Distillers’ Unity bourbon is only one of a number of rare and truly unique whiskeys that will be served at the WhiskyFest day of seminars…but it is perhaps the most important.

For a complete schedule of the entire day of seminars, click here.