5th Annual Water of Life Charity Event

Bill's review

If I, like Fred Astaire, happened to be wearing a top hat, I’d doff it to the Water of Life Ringmaster, all-around mensch Matt Lurin. (Unfortunately, if I were wearing a top hat, I’d look even more like a doofus than normal.) How do I love thee, Water of Life? Let me count the ways. 

First, what a great excuse for a whisky festival! Raising serious money for the Life Raft Group (LRG), a charity for people with the Gastrointestinal Stromal Tumor (GIST), makes drinking whisky a noble and unselfish act. The final tally isn’t in from this year’s event, but it should be close to, or even exceed last year’s contribution of over $12,000 to the LRG. There would have been an even larger donation, I believe, except that the original Thursday night Main Event venue canceled on Matt at the last moment! Matt’s work as an emergency room doctor came in handy, because he stayed preternaturally calm, and as such was able to pivot on a dime, find a nearby place, and still provide a great experience.

Water of Life organizer Dr. Matt Lurin and friends

Second, although the $1000 price tag for the Premium Pour on Wednesday, plus the Main Event on Thursday, sounds like a lot…

From early in the evening, when the whisky table speed dating format perfected by Dr. Lurin was still operative. Notice the lack of chaos, and the pleasant serenity of the aficionados and the brand ambassadors.

[John: It is a lot, Bill!]

…over the course of two nights I sampled over 60 rare and delicious whiskies, the least of which would’ve cost well over $40 at a bar, as well as many other whiskies that, if one were lucky enough to find for sale by the glass, would run well over $200 for a taste. Throw in charming people, great food and ambience at The Brandy Library, some nice Glencairns and other glassware keepsakes, good food at the Main Event, a couple of savory cigars, and a trove of stories to tell, it’s a fair price. Plus, it’s for a great cause!

Dr. Matt Lurin & Steph Ridgway of InterBev pregame strategizing at the Premium Pour at The Brandy Library.

Third, another master class at the Main Event led by Raj Sabharwal. (See below, too.) Last year, he brought Black Adders aged in different casks to taste blindly; this year, it was East meets West. We blind-tasted six Amruts and six Scotch equivalents. I did a stellar job distinguishing them, if by that it is meant that I essentially got every single thing possible utterly wrong. Hey, I’m an Impostor!

Fourth, at the Premium Pour, I literally had a Once in a Lifetime Experience. By that I mean, never before nor since have I drunk Ichiro Akuto’s 20 year old Once in a Lifetime, but that night I did, thanks to the generosity of Masachika Inoue, who donated the bottle. It was the first pour of the evening, and—personal taste—it was the best thing I drank during the two nights of the Water of Life.

Raj performs the (unpublished) Shakespeare soliliquy: Alas, poor Whisky Bottle, thy drink is drunk, and thy bottle contains more Airy Memory than Juicy Consolation, leaving me with an Abundance of the Former and much in Need of the Latter.
Part of the line-up at Wednesday night’s Premium Pour. One of the two stars in this show was the 10 Year Old Amrut Greedy Angels special edition released in 2015 (it had been in the crystal decanter). Matt Lurin and Jonathan Miller, the SVP at the Bank of America Private Bank, bought that bottle, and Raj S. brought another 1/2 bottle to ensure generous pours. Jonathan and the Bank of America also donated to the Premium Pour by sponsoring the food and space at the Brandy Library.
While it’s easy to be influenced by the number of years aged in a cask, my favorite Old Pulteney of the night was the no-age-statement Huddart.
Forbes McMullin, VP of Sales for the Loch Lomond Group, with the 25 Year Old Glen Scotia during the Main Event.
An obvious star of the show, which Brand Ambassador Simon Brooking generously poured, along with, among other things, a 23 Year Old Port cask-matured Bowmore and a 1994 Glen Garioch.
Simon holding revelers in rapt revelry

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