Thursday, April 10, 2014

WhiskyLive 2014 New York City



After missing last year’s event, I was fortunate to return this year to New York City’s annual springtime whisky celebration, WhiskyLive, held at The Chelsea Piers.

As the popularity of the brown spirit seems to grow by leaps and bounds every year, one thing that never ceases to amaze me is the number of players who wish to enter the manufacturing game, both nationally and abroad. While we have been long accustomed to whiskies from The United States, Canada, Ireland and Scotland, recent years have seen other countries make their own offerings; by now, many whisky aficionados know well the quality of Japanese products, but there are other countries you would least expect that have come to the market. WhiskyLive 2014 in New York City gave me the opportunity to taste whiskies from France, India and Bhutan!



Brenne Whisky has a unique flavor to it and is a whisky which I highly recommend you try if you’re looking for something different; if you’re also a brandy drinker, you might enjoy Brenne as well. The reason I say that is because Brenne is made in the Cognac region of France; French Cognac is considered to be among the best types of brandy in the world, due in part to its manufacturing process, which is as strict as that of Champagne. When tasting Brenne, the primary distinguishing factor is its finish – you can really get a sense of the Cognac influence on the back of your palate. Aged for eight years, it starts out spending five years in French Oak barrels, then is moved to Cognac barrels for its final three years. Specifically, they use XO Cognac barrels since XO Cognac is the most mature form, spending 10 years or more aging in the barrel.



Amrut is a single malt whisky made in India – with occasional help from The United Kingdom. On this evening, they were pouring their original product in addition to three others: their peated version, an expression called Fusion and concluding with something called Old Port Deluxe. Their original product is aged for three years in American Oak and ex-bourbon barrels, which becomes immediately apparent both on the nose and on the tongue. Their peated version uses peat imported from Scotland; although it’s peated, it doesn’t have the overwhelming smokiness to it that you might expect. This is due to the fact that the time it takes to transport the peat from Scotland to India allows it an opportunity to mellow a bit. Fusion is a combination of their original product with the peated version; specifically, 75% is the single malt and 25% is peated. Old Port Deluxe contains butterscotch and vanilla notes; aged in new oak barrels, its taste is influenced by its location – at 3,000 feet above sea level, the heat and humidity make the aging process similar to that of whiskies made in Kentucky.



And now for something completely different: a whisky from The Himalayas! Spirits Of Bhutan has a product called K5 Premium Spirit Whisky. Made in Scotland, it’s actually distilled in Bhutan, where they add natural spring water from The Himalayan Mountains at a distillery nearly 9,000 feet above sea level. A blend of vatted malts aged anywhere from eight to 12 years, it spends a significant amount of its time in casks formerly used to age sherry. This entire operation is completely supervised by The Army Welfare Project (AWP), the commercial arm of the Royal Bhutan Army (RBA); according to Wikipedia, AWP provides benefits for retired RBA members (e.g., employment, pensions, loans).


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