Upon entering the 6th floor grand ballroom at the Marriot in midtown for WhiskyFest NYC, it was not unlike a scene from Charlie And The Chocolate Factory, but a better adult version; there was whisky as far as your eyes could see. Armed with gift bag, program and a free Glencairn crystal nosing glass, we headed out to find our everlasting gobstopper. With over 90 booths, 350 whiskies to taste and numerous buffet tables it was a bit overwhelming at first. Always up for a challenge, we caught our groove after filling our bellies with some amazing offerings such as bacon wrapped figs, pastrami rolls, fresh breads, pasta and paella.
After eating it was time to drink, there was no real strategy to it, but started with the shortest lines, you know – because we were thirsty. Bulleit, Jameson, Crown Royal, George Dickel and some other familiar names were first up. Then came the more interesting offerings such as whisky aged in wine/beer barrels or coffee infused drams. We took some tasting notes but after a few booths things got a little blurred, as you can imagine.
Some of our favorite hooches were in the small-batch variety and Jefferson’s “Ridiculously Small Batch” Bourbon was tremendous with caramel notes and an easy vanilla finish. Scotch was also on the menu and found the Highland Park 15Yr to be what you want in an aged scotch – peaty, smoky and very delicious.
Being of Irish descent, I’m always looking for something new to taste from the Emerald Isle and found the Kinahan’s Single Malt to be unusually light and refreshing. Not far away was one of the best things we tried from mixologist Colin Kelly, called the Irishman Sidecar Remix, which was light, lemony with a hint of honey using Founders Reserve Whisky.
The night ended in a responsible blur with many offerings such as the legendary Pappy Van Winkle’s 20Yr, which was tremendous, and a high-test burner in Boondocks Cask Strength American Whiskey at 127 proof.
All in all, WhiskyFest NYC 2015 was a well run and impressive event that any whisky lover would enjoy a tremendous amount. But without the condescending Willy Wonka at the exit to berate you for the night’s decisions.
Article: Shayne Hanley