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