Tuesday night marked the very first WhiskyFest held in my hometown, San Francisco. Those in the know have been enjoying this event in New York and Chicago for a decade. I was very eager for this event and I was not disappointed. Where else are you going to find over 200 whiskeys in one place (and a brandy, rum and gin thrown in for good measure)?
The event was one of the best I have been to. Not only were there tons of whiskeys, there was great food and some extraordinary break out sessions. I went to a session on whiskey and chocolate featuring the Dalmore and Laphroaig combined with Scharffenberger chocolate. The results are amazing. They brought together Simon Brooking, the Dalmore and Laphroaig’s Master Ambassador and Raymond Major, Senior Scientist (that means Chocolate Maker) at Scharffenberger. That made for a ton of information, chocolate and whisky packed into 45 minutes.
This event is about more than whiskey; it is also about the people and tradition of the spirit. In the span of 3 hours I met the distillers of the first Welsh whisky made in 100 years, a guy from Pittsburgh who followed his roots back to Scotland and is now making some real fine scotch. There were the guys from Suntory, who featured the only Japanese single malt and I tasted “Colorado whiskey” made in the shadow of the Rockies.
However, the best moment was my chance encounter with Jimmy Russell, Wild Turkey’s Master Distiller. He’s been making Whiskey for over 50 years and is still innovating.
If you get a chance, attend one of these events. Chicago and New York are coming up.