Well, this post has been a long-ish time coming. WhiskyFest NYC was only 8 days ago but it feels like it was a month ago.
Before I go further, I must extend my thanks and gratitude to Gal & Kfir for not only allowing me to use Whisky Israel as an outlet for my ramblings but…they actually asked me to write. Very thoughtful of them. Thank you both!
I’ve been anticipating WhiskyFest NYC for almost 10 months – a long time to wait indeed.
The attendees were myself, and three friends who were whisky-newbies – never really touched the stuff. I was, for the night, the official ambassador to whisk(e)y for the night. Both empowering and scary.
I had booths I needed to visit; whiskies I needed to taste. On my list were:
- Ardbeg – Had to try the Corryvrecken & Supernova after hearing so many good things from Gal.
- Glenrothes (for the 1991, 1985 & 1975)
- Laphroaig (basically to get past my pure dislike of the 10 year stuff)
- Buffalo Trace (Had to try this years’ George T Stagg @ 70.4% ABV!)
- Strahan’s Colorado Whiskey
- Highland Park (to try the 25 & 30 year stuff)
- Charity booth (to try the Highland Park 1964 & 1968 (I think it was ’68))
- Suntory (to try the new Hibiki)
- Old Pultney & Balblair (OP30 & older Balblairs)
- Balvenie (just because – I f-ing love Balvenie!)
- Really, the list could go on…
Let me start off with the whole “holy crap, that’s a lot of people” experience:
Then, there was the amount of Mishpuka (Jews! Tons of them!) I was expecting more kilts than Kippot (yarmulkes) but there were a lot of us Jews there.
Then, the amount of women struck me as odd too. If you think whisky is a “man’s drink”, think again. There were a lot of women and they loved the whisky!
The food service was fantastic. I’m a vegetarian and I had no worries whatsoever. There were also some very nice meats, crabby stuff and even a kosher option for those who keep. Top-notch stuff and much needed for the amount of whisky me and my friends were about to taste!
The place was loud too. Let’s face it; people get loud when they drink. That’s why there are signs like this:
(Note: I will not be giving notes one each whisky. I didn’t write them down and, if I did, this would be the longest blog in the history of blogging.)
So, upon getting in, they give you a Glencairn nosing glass and send you in. Ok, now to the whisky. I had a lot on my list and nowhere near enough time to try it all and, I wanted to try it and taste it, not just get drunk so with each dram I had two sips and dumped the rest that was poured (which is sad if you think about dumping perfectly good whisk(e)y!)
First stop was Highland Park – had to try the 25 year, had to introduce the 18 year to my buddies (one of which was a woman). My friends had HP for the first time and I was amazed that they were able to pick out flavors and not just say “ohh, this is smooth” or, “this is strong” or, “man, this is burning the shit out of my mouth!”. No, they paid attention to my suggestions on how to taste and the suggestions paid off. Cool! All LOVED the HP 18. The HP 25 was…good but, I’d take the 18 yr over it any day – amazing stuff and I am officially announcing here on Whiskey Israel that the HP 18 has surpassed the Glenmorangie Nectar D’or as my favorite scotch!
OK, after this I said, “screw my plan, let’s just go table to table and try what we could try”. Also, I wanted to show my friends some stuff I knew would blow their minds. Off to Ardbeg!
First thing first, I demanded all my friends try the Uigidael. My friend Jeff, after nosing it with the eyes wider than Moses seeing the burning bush, then sipping and chewing the stuff announced – “Josh, I’ve found what I’ve been waiting for all my life!”, “I’ve never tasted anything so…” then, silence. G-d bless Islay!
The Ardbeg corry was great but I’d take the Uigy over it any day. The Supernova, though…sweet fancy Moses…That’s one of my next bottles. Fabulous stuff. Peaty as all heck but it goes beyond peat. It’s a toasty fire on the Oceanside in the dead of winter. I could stay there forever.
Right next to Ardbeg was Glenmorangie (a match made in heaven). The Nectar D’or wowed them all; they tried the Signet too (which I think is beyond amazing). The Astar, if you’ve never had it, is a must! It proves that you don’t have to be peaty or filled with sherry to knock your socks off!
OK…realizing that this is a lengthy read so I’ll try to close soon!
Things I did not get to do:
- Try the Highland Park ’64 & ’68 – (too much to drink, too little time)
- Go to the Balvenie table (kicking myself in the ass because, as it turns out, Dr. Whisky was in the house and I could have met him. He’s helped me so much along my whisky journey and I would not be where I am now without him. If you do not know him or his blog, check it out.
- Try the HP 30 – next year!!
- Say hello to Ronnie Cox (Master Distiller for Glenrothes). The man is a genius. I saw him but he was in a conversation and I didn’t want to bug him
- Try Johnnie Blue Label. I’ve had the stuff a couple of years ago but now that I know how to “taste” whisky, I wanted to see if I could see why it costs so G-d damned much!!
I did get to meet John Hansell (Editor of Malt Advocate and host of WhiskyFest):
I look like a ventriloquist’s dummy but he looks good. Nice guy. Wish I had a chance to talk more with him.
I did get to go to the Laphraoig Table and, I have to say…I’m in love! The Laph Quarter Cask is both astounding and totally affordable. The 18 year is a sneaky little dram!! To nose it, you expect a salty peat bog, to taste, you get a little peat but a ton of sweetness and oak, raisins and dried fruity goodness. Yum! I also got to try some Laphroaig “new make” which was like the strongest smoked beer I’ve ever had. Here’s the Laph table:
The guy hosting the table was a total riot and let us all taste some raw barley. Good sales guy, he knew how to run a show booth!
OK, I think I need to end now. I’ve written a lot and have just finished a dram of the Longrow 10yr 100 proof (57.1 ABV) so, I’m going to start misspelling stuff and swearing more than I normally do. I did get to do the rest on my list above and would be happy to answer any questions you may have. Message me on twitter – I’m @yossiyitzak.
Again, a big thanks to Gal and Kfir! You guys are great!
it was great whisky experience and we will going to attend the Whisky live event in London at Feb’ 2010.
Many thanks to Joshua Hatton (@yossiyitzak) for this great post, Yossi is a good friend of ours, we drink whisky together over the Twitter network.