Everyone loves Vodka. It’s simple, clear, easy to make and as most bartenders will tell you ‘Vodka pays the bills.’ All of it is true – no alt facts about it. Some clever bugger made a tee shirt with that phrase on it.
On the other side of the spectrum sits Bourbon, Whiskey, Rye, and Scotch. These dark Spirits often fall prey to – FODS or Fear of Dark Spirits. FODS keeps the average drinker away for many reasons – the color, a friend’s wild tale of a Bourbon fueled drunken night or the smell. Most of it based on half-truths and lies guys tell to impress other guys. But what if there was a place one could go to learn all about Whiskey, Bourbon, Rye and Scotch. A classy, relaxed setting where tasting is allowed, questions are encouraged, answers given and drunken rumors demystified. Thankfully, there is such a place and it’s called Whisky Live.
Whisky Live is a worldwide event hosted by Spirit friendly cities like D.C., Louisville and San Francisco. In NYC, it’s held annually at Chelsea Piers. It’s a primetime event for consumers, professionals and everyday drinkers. It’s Comic-Con for Whisk(e)y lovers. Each year all the brands you know (and a few you don’t) gather together to show off what they have in their portfolios and pour to anyone who asks. All to educate enthusiasts and teetotalers alike. Education, discovery and Spirits – all there for anyone who wants to drink (and think) outside of their sphere of imbibing.
Beyond the pouring, there are Master classes taught by brand ambassadors, bartenders and distillers that will enlighten and challenge the mind and palate. Learning about what makes a Whiskey a Whiskey (or a Whisky) is taught at a fun pace. Yes, there is drinking involved but that’s not the main goal – identifying aromas,
tasting the different malts and blends is the true purpose. The classes will leave you with a clear sense of what you in the glass. It’s a chance to steep yourself in whiskey education and step away from drunken hearsay.
Brands like Maker’s Mark, Bulleit and Four Roses put up displays, bring out their best ambassadors
and spend hours pouring Spirits for the sake of sales and education. Most in attendance are brand loyal and rarely stray from their favorites – The Johnnie Walker table is usually six to eight people deep throughout the night. But with over 70 tables of brands to choose from, no ticket holder will leave without tasting something new.
As mentioned, there are a few brands that the general public will not recognize – And that’s fine. This adventure is all about discovery – even for the well-traveled imbiber.
A prime example of this is a new batch of Spirits coming out of Sonoma County (Yes, California). They, and by they I mean Adam Spiegel the owner and Head Distiller, has crafted a delicious set of grain to glass West Coast Spirits. A Rye, a Wheat Whiskey and California Bourbon. Yes, you read that correctly a Bourbon NOT made in Louisville.
When I go to Whisky Live I look for the brands I haven’t seen before. Usually, I find a few that I must add to my personal collection.
Past the imbibing of old and new Spirits Whisky Live gives everyone to learn about Spirits at their own pace with the one thing most people tend to skip over – Books. If authors like Wondrich, DeGroff, Newman and Minnick are not a part of your growing Spirits library Whisky Live gives you a chance to adjust course, purchase books and meet the authors behind the page.
If you are one who loves to travel and experience new Bourbons Whisky Live’s next event is on June 10th in Louisville, Kentucky – Home to more distilleries than you can shake a stave at. It’s Summer fun in the House that Bourbon built. Buy early. Fly Safe. Drink Smart.
When you go to Whisky Live there are a few rules one should follow.
- You don’t have to finish every drink that’s put in front of you. Actually, that is a good bit of advice from a kick ass bartender, named Damon Bolte (Grand Army).
- HYDRATE. Water is free and your friend. Also, from Damon.
Whisky Live is best done with a group:
- The Uber Enthusiast – He or she is a Barrel Nerd or a Pappy Hunter.
- The Newbie – They don’t know good from bad but are willing to learn.
- The Drinker – Never met a jack and Ginger Ale they didn’t like.
- The Designated Driver – The one who makes sure everyone gets home in one piece.
That’s all for now. I’ll leave you with this thought.
I’m on a whisky diet. I’ve lost three days already.”