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WhiskyFest Report

So, WhiskeyFest went down last week. As usual, the giant trade and consumer show had a ton of scotch, bourbon, Irish whiskey and more, arrayed on table after table in the ballroom of the Hyatt Regency.

There were lots that I’d tasted before, but standing out for me was a new distiller’s edition from Lagavulin, Stranahans Colorado whiskey, and the wheated malt from Buffalo Trace.

I also sat in on a couple of seminars. First, we tasted three different vintage scotches from the Glenrothes with its director, Ronnie Cox, an irrepressibly witty and graceful gentleman with a good knack for selling scotch.

The other seminar was a fun tasting of rare, export-only items from Heaven Hill distilleries with its master distiller Parker Beam. We tasted rare brands like Virgin bourbon and bottlings like the 23-year-old Evan Williams Blue Label that only goes to Japan, the UK and France. Beam, a relative of Jeam, was engaging and ornery, speaking with an accent as thick as molasses.

To me, the seminars are the highlight, as they’re a great opportunity to taste in a focused environment, which the main showroom—as great as it is—is not.