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: https://resweb.passkey.com/Resweb.do?mode=welcome_ei_new&eventID=10861218  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: https://resweb.passkey.com/go/WhiskyFestoct2014. 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!

WhiskyFest Goodies Unveiled at Chicago

April 10th, 2014
Great new stuff!

Great new stuff!


Check out the new WhiskyFest merchandise we’re bringing to Chicago! There’s an aluminum water bottle (suitable for branch water, or the essence of your favorite Highland tarn), a mouse pad, our own WhiskyFest flask for filling with whisky, our sharp new WhiskyFest playing cards…and the new WhiskyFest hoodie, which notes how we make New York, San Francisco, and Chicago the WORLD WHISKY CAPITAL …for a day.

Get some WhiskyFest fun to take home, to remember, and to taunt your friends who didn’t go. We’ll have it all at the Whisky Advocate table — along with the usual books, glasses, shirts, caps, towels, and such, all at special event pricing — at WhiskyFest Chicago in just a couple weeks!

WhiskyFest Chicago: more homework for you

April 3rd, 2014

If you’re counting the days till WhiskyFest Chicago (April 25th is coming up soon!), here’s something you can do to pass the time more profitably. We have the program available online right here, in PDF format so that you can easily download it, read it, look at it on your smartphone while you’re waiting for a train (we know you will…), or print it out in oversized format and draw all over it with different-colored markers as you plan how to make the most of your evening.


Ian Chang of Kavalan

Your plans will, of course, collapse right about the time you and your friends run into that first really amazing whisky or truly engaging personality behind the table (like one of the people listed below, who will be at Chicago’s event), but hey, planning’s fun too. Just remember: when the plan collapses, it’s not a problem. You’re at WhiskyFest, the World Whisky Capital (for a day); how bad can it be?


Whisky Personalities Who Will Be at Chicago WhiskyFest  (a partial list, subject to change)

Craig Beam – Master Distiller, Heaven Hill Distilleries

Robert Birnecker – Founder, Koval

David Blackmore – Global Brand Ambassador, Glenmorangie & Ardbeg

Simon Brooking – Master Ambassador, Laphroaig

Ryan and Garrett Burchett, Master Distillers, Mississippi River Distilling

Ian Chang – Master Blender, Kavalan

Kent Fleishmann – Dry Fly Distilling

Fred Noe of Jim Beam

Fred Noe of Jim Beam

Chris Fletcher – Assistant Master Distiller, Jack Daniel Distillery

Stuart Hendry, Brand Heritage Manager, Glengoyne Distillery

Paul Hletko – Founder/Distiller, Few Spirits

David King – President, Anchor Distilling

Don Livermore – Master Blender, J.P. Wiser’s

Jamie MacKenzie – Morrison Bowmore Distillers

Iain McCallum – Master of Malts, Morrison Bowmore Distillers

Johnnie Mundell – Single Malt Specialist, Morrison Bowmore Distillers

Fred Noe – Master Distiller, Jim Beam

Kevin O’Gorman – Master of Maturation, Midleton Distillery

Iain McCallum, Bowmore

Iain McCallum, Bowmore

David Perkins – Proprietor, High West Distillery

Ken Pierce- Director of Distilling, 1792 Distillery

Steph Ridgway – National Brand Ambassador, Highland Park

Eddie Russell – Associate Distiller, Wild Turkey

Jimmy Russell – Master Distiller, Wild Turkey

Gerry Tosh – Global Brand Manager, Highland Park

Dan Tullio – Master Ambassador, Canadian Club

Alistair Walker – Regional Sales Director, BenRiach, GlenDronach, GlenGlassaugh

Julian and Preston Van Winkle – Old Rip Van Winkle

Wanlun Wu – Whisky RD and Global Business Development, Kavalan


New Whiskies List for Chicago

March 26th, 2014

Hey! Want to get a head start on your planning for Chicago WhiskyFest? We’ve got a pre-festival list of all the whiskies that are making their first appearance at Chicago WhiskyFest. Start mapping your route, and check off the beauties you plan to sample. It’s getting closer!


We’ll roll these VIP Hour-only pours first…

Aberlour 12 yr. Non Chill-Filtered, 18 yr.

anCnoc Peter Arkle 4th Edition, 22 yr.

Auchentoshan Virgin Oak

The Balvenie 15 yr. Single Barrel, 21 yr. Single Barrel

BenRiach Authenticus 25 yr.

Blue Hanger 7th Edition

Bowmore 23 yr. Port

Chieftain’s Glentauchers 21 yr., Littlemill 21 yr.

Compass Box The General

Dalwhinnie Distillers Edition

Elijah Craig 23 yr.

Few Spirits Single Malt

Four Roses 2014 Limited Edition Single Barrel

Glen Garioch Virgin Oak

Glen Grant 5 Decades

Glenfiddich 19 Age of Discovery

The Glenrothes 1995

Green Spot

High West A Midwinters Night Dram

Highland Park Freya

Jefferson’s Ocean Bourbon

Kilbeggan 18 yr.

Koval Charred Barrel Wheat whiskey

Michters US1 10 yr. Single Barrel Bourbon

Mississippi River Distilling Six Shooter Smoke

Redbreast 21 yr.

Redemption Rye Barrel Proof

Tullibardine 25 yr.

And now, new to Chicago in the Grand Tasting:

Anchor Distilling Single Malt Straight Rye, Hophead Vodka

Arran 12 yr. Cask Strength

Auchentoshan American Oak

Balblair 2001

BenRiach Septendecim Peated 17 yr., Horizons 12 yr. Triple Distilled

The Black Grouse

Bowmore Small Batch, 15 yr. Darkest, Dorus Mor

Bruichladdich Scottish Barley, The Botanist (Islay-sourced gin)

Cedar Ridge Bourbon, Wheat Whiskey, Single Malt

Clyde May’s Alabama Style Whiskey


Crown Royal XO

Cutty Sark Prohibition Edition

Elijah Craig Barrel Proof

Evan Williams Single Barrel 2004 Vintage

Filibuster Bourbon, Rye

George Dickel NO. 1

2 Gingers

Glen Garioch 12 yr., Founder’s Reserve, Vintage 1994

Glen Grant 10 yr., 16 yr., The Major’s Reserve

GlenDronach 15 yr. Tawny Port Finish, Cask Strength Batch 2

GlenGlassaugh Evolution, Revival

Glengoyne Highland Malt 12 yr., 15 yr., 18 yr., 21 yr.

Glenmorangie Extremely Rare 18 yr., Signet, Quarter Century 25 yr.

The Glenrothes Alba Reserve, 2001, 1998

High West American Prairie Reserve Bourbon

Irishman Founders, Single Malt, 12 yr.

Isle of Skye 8 yr.

Jack Daniel’s Rested Rye, Sinatra Select

Jim Beam Single Barrel

Kavalan Concertmaster, Vinho Barrique, Conductor

Kilchoman Machir Bay 2013, 2007 Vintage

Koval Limited Edition Cask Strength

Long Island Spirits Bull Moose 3 Barrel Rye, Rough Rider Straight Bourbon, Pine Barrens American Single Malt

Longmorn 16 yr.

Mississippi River Distilling Cody Road Bourbon, Cody Road Rye, Queen Bee Honey

New Holland Bill’s Michigan Wheat, Hatter Royale, Cask and Smoke Small Batch, Walleye Rye Small Batch

Nikka Whisky Pure Malt 17 yr., Pure Malt 21 yr.

Oban Distillers Edition

Old Pulteney Navigator

Port Charlotte Scottish Barley

Redemption White Rye, High Rye Bourbon

Riverboat Rye

Scapa 16 yr.

The Scotch Malt Whisky Society

Tamdhu 10 yr.

Tap Whisky Tap Rye Port Finished

Temptation Bourbon

Triple Crown North American Blend

Tullibardine Sovereign, Cuvee 225 Sauternes, Cuvee 228 Burgundy, Cuvee 500 Sherry, 20 yr.

Usquaebach Old Rare Flagon, 15 yr., Reserve

Western Spirits Bird Dog, Lexington Bourbon, Calumet Bourbon, Sam Houston American Straight Whiskey

Westland American Single Malt

Woodford Reserve Masters Collection

Oysters and Irish: Chicago seminars wrapped up

March 19th, 2014
You say 'oyster,' I say 'whisky!'

You say ‘oyster,’
I say ‘whisky!’

“Discover the Original Irish Whiskey” is the title of Midleton’s seminar about single pot still whiskey, “the quintessential style of Irish Whiskey.” Their master of maturation, Kevin O’Gorman, will lead you through a Redbreast tour de force, including Redbreast 12, 15 and the newly launched Redbreast 21 year old.

Bowmore encourages you to “Sea the Difference” by tasting shellfish and whisky together. The “gentle men of Bowmore,” master of malts Iain McCallum and Johnnie Mundell (“master of naught”) partner with the Pearl Tavern to bring you “the Bowmore Oyster Luge.” Fun, oysters, and some newly release Bowmores.

And that wraps up the seminar list for Chicago (see them all here). Coming soon: new whiskies and new exhibitors you’ll see there!

WhiskyFest Chicago is only six weeks away

March 13th, 2014
All smiles for WhiskyFest!

All smiles for WhiskyFest!

It’s getting closer all the time…

Here are three more of the seminars we’ll be offering in Chicago.

Glenmorangie De-constructed is the topic for brand ambassadors Dan Crowell and David Blackmore. Taste the sherry, port, and sauternes wines that season the casks that influence the Extra Matured Range (and taste the whiskies, too, of course).

Like craft distillers? High West’s David Perkins presents An Organoleptic Journey to illustrate whiskey regulations, cut points, yeast, and distilling mistakes…by taste. It’s a peek inside the back room at a small distillery; smell it, taste it, and learn.

Only in Chicago! 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.

Wine, beer, whisky, and plenty of insider information at WhiskyFest Chicago!