SO much went down at Whisky Live on Wednesday night. We traipsed over to Pier Sixty in Chelsea and with Titanic-esque ice chunks floating in the Hudson, we stayed toasty with a huge selection of spirits. We swirled, we tasted, we munched, we chatted. Distilleries were out representing their brands, from local distilleries like Kings County Distillery (their Chocolate Whiskey: big hit) to a distillery called K5 that’s located in the Himalayas (who knew that the Bhutanese were such big whiskey enthusiasts!?). A few local cocktail bars were there too, like the Flatiron Room, who even brought their own ultra-swank red velvet tent, replete with live jazz.
The spirits were mostly dark, but one thing was clear (ba-dum-chh!): popularity of spirits is on the rise. Distillers are seeing booms in consumption of old favorites but also rolling out new lines to appeal to a wider variety of tastes. Sweet accents like maple and honey give whiskey novices a gentle introduction to the world of spirits, preparing young palettes for more sophisticated whiskeys. Crown Royal had a maple whiskey that is mind bogglingly good – you don’t know whether to drink it straight, or pour it on your pancakes, or drink it with your pancakes. The Crown Royal folks were also mixing a specialty cocktail, The Royal Steel Wheel (recipe below), which was this writer’s pick of the night. Bushmills Irish Honey whiskey, the newest member of the Bushmills family, is a honey whiskey made for whiskey drinkers – the sweetness is mostly on the nose and the taste has only the slightest hint of honey.
As I sipped, I kept on my journalist hat and asked around about people’s favorites. Ardbeg, a Scotch whiskey from the isle of Islay, was a popular choice. Suntory’s Japanese Whisky got a lot of attention, as did the Balcones Distillery’s whiskeys, coming to us from Waco, Texas. I’d say their Baby Blue Corn Whisky was the most unique whiskey I tasted all night. It has an instant, spicy kick and a smooth, lingering finish. I heard rave reviews for Kings County Distillery’s whiskeys, distilled over in the Brooklyn Navy Yard. And another noteworthy guest was the White Pike Whiskey, a clear whiskey that’s distilled up north in the Finger Lakes and aged for a mere 18 minutes. I see a great Bloody Mary being made with this whiskey.
We made some friends throughout the night. Like the ladies from the spirits website, Wherksy, run by and for women who love whiskey (but men are welcome to join too!). We also met the guys behind For Whiskey Lovers, a whiskey exploring club, membership to which gets you blind whiskey samplings… look out for a write-up on our first blind tasting, coming soon…
All in all, we were impressed by the passion and expert craftsmanship we saw at Whisky Live. Even the ice was top notch (made by Okamoto Studio, an ice sculpture carving studio based in NYC). Thanks Whisky Live and Whisky Magazine for having us and hope to see you next year!
The Royal Steel Wheel
created by Joshua Fossitt
1 oz Crown Black
1 oz Ramazzotti Amaro
.75 oz Apple Cider
.75 oz Lemon Juice
.25 oz Angostura Bitters
.25oz Demerara Syrup
.25 oz Cinnamon Syrup
Garnish: Lemon Wheel
Technique: Shaken and double strained
Article by: Caitlin Gunther