Friday, November 11, 2011

WhiskyFest 2011 NYC



This year, I was fortunate to be able to attend WhiskyFest 2011 when it reached New York City. The event was three hours long and featured over 300 whiskies from America, Scotland, Ireland and Japan as well as some French Cognacs. For someone to taste all of them, you would’ve had to be able to sample around 100 whiskies per hour. Regrettably, someone of my advanced years is unable to attempt such a feat. As a result, I maintained a more reasonable pace given my already querulous condition and instead decided to make somewhat more eclectic choices in the few hours I had to experience these great many companies.

Among my “must try” list was, of course, Laphroaig – my go-to when it comes to Scotch. I tried their 10 year old Quarter Cask, which I don’t believe I’ve ever sampled. The reason why it is called Quarter Cask is because it is aged in a barrel that is approximately one-fourth the size of the barrel normally used in its aging process. The purpose of aging the Scotch in a smaller barrel is because it infuses more of the wood into the spirit, giving it a creamier, spicier taste. Sampling it, I found the Quarter Cask to be slightly gentler than normal with Laphroaig, but the “bite” is experienced on the side of the tongue.



Somewhat surprisingly – to me, at least – I spent a considerable amount of my time at the Wild Turkey booth. Was it the fact that we were so close to Thanksgiving or was it due to some other reason that I couldn’t fathom? Honestly, I still don’t know, but I’m glad that I invested the time because I came away with some rather interesting findings that I’d like to share with you. The first product I tasted was their American Honey, which was served out of one of those devices that chills the liquor and serves it in shot-sized portions. I asked about what exactly went into this product, I was informed that they started by taking their 101 proof whisky and put it in a tub filled with honey and a variety of fruits, including apricot, which reduces its alcohol content; it is aged for approximately 35 days and is sold at 71 proof. Normally, they recommend you serve it chilled and as a shot – however, if you do want to mix it into a cocktail, they recommend serving it with either iced tea or lemonade.

Another of their offerings was their 108 proof Rare Breed, aged in multiple barrels – all, of course, new American Oak. The label identifies this bourbon as “Barrel Proof”, which means that it is uncut with water as are most of the others in its line.

The 101 proof whisky I mentioned above that goes into the making of their American Honey is a product called Kentucky Spirit, which – in comparison to their Rare Breed -- is aged in a single barrel for its entire aging process.

In 2012, WhiskyFest New York will be a weekend-long event, so I look forward to be able to taste even more varieties. For those of you looking for an excuse to make a weekend trip to The Big Apple, this may just be the thing you’ve been waiting for. Maybe I’ll see you there next year.

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