Whisky Live NYC 2011–A Review

Stephen ended up attending this event without John and Bill–and without intrepid photographer and all-around ass-kicker Laurel, who had planned on attending before discovering that it sucks being a manager at your day job when a significant number of underlings quit on short notice.  Fortunately for Stephen, good friend Joshua Hatton of the Jewish Single Malt Whisky Society was willing to attend a masterclass and otherwise pal around with Stephen, even if doing so called into question his reputation as a serious whisky blogger.  But in the process, Joshua only further cemented his status as an honorary Impostor–despite the fact that he is a budding whisky expert/superstar.
Stephen:  To start with, the event was in a lovely space within the Chelsea Piers:  one huge rectangular room filled with whisky tables and distillers and brand ambassadors that spilled into another huge rectangular room, running perpendicular to the first, filled with tables, food stations, and band space.  In the space where the two rooms overlapped, there were two (at least) brand new Jaguars on display and there was a table with whisky and chocolate pairings.  Tastes of whisky and of whisky and chocolate pairings would cost you a ticket or two (you get six with the price of admission and can buy more for $2 each).  The variety of whiskies and brands on display was dizzying, and I had to be selective.  While Yossi (Joshua Hatton) hit a number of the smaller distillery tables, I visited fewer of them, just so I could focus more on fewer drams.  But then again, as noted above, Yossi is an expert, and I am but a humble impostor.
     Early in the night, Yossi and I stepped out of the main room to attend a masterclass with Ricky Crawford from The Glenlivet.  Tasting the entire line, from the 12 to the 15 French Oak to the Nadurra to the 18 to the 21 and the 25 year-old, was thoroughly enjoyable, and Ricky was an entertaining and knowledgeable guide through it.  John, Bill, and I had tried the 18, 21 and the 25 all together at once before, and we all preferred the 21 (even over the 25).  This time around, I still found myself most strongly drawn to the nose on the 21, but Yossi just about convinced me that the more subtle and complex 25 was actually the best of the bunch, though I’m not willing to commit to that yet–nor does it matter a whit if I do.
Revelations from the night included, in no particular order:  the Compass Box Peat Monster Reserve (in a mondo 1.75L bottle), the Lark Tasmanian whisky at the Speyside/Scott’s Selection table, the whisky made with oats (and really everything else) at the High West table [see the incomparable David Perkins hawking his wares, pictured to the left], the Amrut, the Glengassaugh 26, the Black Adder Raw Cask Caol Ila bottling with charcoal dregs plainly visible in the bottle, the new limited edition Single Barrel Four Roses Bourbon (more on that one in the coming days), the Tomatin soon-to-be released Decades limited edition and the Tomatin 30 year old, and I couldn’t help but taste the Glenmorangie Extremely Rare 18 Year-Old again, as it’s one of my favorites.
     Another highlight for me was having the chance to meet in person some friends from the whisky community whom I’d only conversed with online, in particular Robin Robinson from Compass Box, Douglas Stone from For Scotch Lovers and The Whisky Explorers Club, and Ewan Morgan from Diageo.  And, of course, I made many new acquaintances and had the tremendous pleasure of meeting a few folks who were real fans of The Malt Impostor.  Here, I’ll be brief for the sake of other readers, but I can’t move on without giving a tip of the Groucho Marx glasses to David Perkins, Peter Zimmerman, David Blackmore, Master Distiller Douglas Campbell, Brian Johnson, Ellie and Greenie, Jonathan Bray, Raj Sabharwal, Karen Kushner, Daniel Eckman, Stephen Yorsz, and Brian Dvoret from the Speyside/Scott’s Selection 
[pictured just below to the right].  Very pleased to meet all of you!  And look for an email from me soon.
     The food I had at the event was quite good, and it was plentiful and easily accessible.  I did one whisky/chocolate pairing–a Laphroaig 10 with a dark chocolate raspberry truffle–and it was truly amazing.  Should’ve done more of those…
     One thing I did not end up doing was entering the Oban “tasting room”, which was really a bunch of Oban poster/screens bordering a space with some sectional sofa pieces on which to lounge, within which Ewan Morgan conducted a serial Oban flight tasting (that is, one after another, with folks waiting outside until the current tasting finished).  An amazing bevvy of beautiful women worked with Ewan to conduct the tastings and to keep the salivating people (ok, salivating men) outside at bay.  I considered taking on the phalanx of super models to see if I could gain entry, but ultimately, I directed my energies elsewhere.  Ah, choices….
     Overall, Whisky Live is a tremendous event.  The choices were amazing, the live band gave a rich background ambiance to the rooms, and I think that the ticket system allowed everyone a little more space than they might have had otherwise to talk to the folks behind the whisky tables and to learn more about the drams at hand.  I feel like I’m leaving out a lot here, and I am, but such is the nature of reviews.  If you want to know more, you’ll have to find a Whisky Live event near you.  And I recommend you do so, and do so soon.
See more pics from the event on The Malt Impostor’s Facebook page.  If you’re not a friend of The Malt Impostor yet….well, why the hell aren’t you?

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