husband, father, whisky lover, blogger, freelance whisky writer, and head of the New Jersey Whiskey Society & leading the USBG NJ efforts...currently the New Jersey Whisky Ambassador for Diageo & therefore leave the recent writing duties to guest bloggers, primarily that Bourbon loving fella named Gerard

average Joes on a whisky journey...all views are our own

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Whisky Fest NYC 2013 - Part One - The People

Just as every whisky has its own personality, there are people behind them with just as much character.

This three-part write up on the epic adventure that is the New York City Whisky Fest will begin with the people.  I have received a bunch of requests about some of the cool whiskeys & my thoughts on them, and we will get to that, but for now let us focus on one of my favorite parts of whisky…sharing it with people.
I was fortunate enough to attend the Saturday Grand Tasting this year, and enjoyed it to its fullest.  The attendance was excellent, and I got to meet many fantastic people throughout the night.  I was honored to rub Noses with Richard Paterson, meet the legendary David Stewart of Balvenie, chat Canadian whiskey with Davin de Kergommeaux and a great many others.

Upon arrival at the lovely Marriot Marquis on Broadway, it looks like any other hotel.  But, a quick trip up an escalator or two and you begin to realize that you are in a first class establishment.  Tier upon tier of large scale event halls and gorgeously decorated details helped you let go of the hustle and bustle screaming outside in the heart of NYC.

After check-in, many of us were anxious and waiting for the moment to be allowed into the event.  There we were, lined up like extremely classy and thirsty race horses.  Once the very muscular guard gave us the blessing, the flow of everyone into the event was calm & controlled but giddy & excited all at the same time. 

There was a buzz.

Heading straight up the middle, my eyes immediately caught a familiar face in a suit:
Enjoying some Dalmore with The Nose

Turning to the right, anxious to try the latest Batch #9 of The Balvenie Tun 1401, I couldn’t believe who was there!

David Stewart of Balvenie created things that made me fall in love with Scotch!

Later on, I had a near embarrassing situation when a lovely lady became part of a conversation a bit late and overheard some questionable words.  Well, what could’ve been an awkward moment in a food line revealed itself to be a blessing in disguise!  It turned out to be the whisky fabric weaver Johanne McInnis herself! (known on Twitter as  @whiskylassie)  Let me just say that she not only handled the ensuing conversation with humor, she handled it with a rare quality these days…grace.

We wound up chatting with Davin de Kergommeaux and had a few laughs:

Honored to enjoy the Whisky Fabric love in person

In my recent craft whiskey journey, one of my favorite surprises has been FEW Spirits.  I really enjoyed their Bourbon, Rye & Single Malt and will be featuring them in an upcoming post, but it was great to meet the engaging Winston Evans, he is just as bold as the whiskey in his hand! (in a good way):
Winston has a contagious personality

Again, these photos are just the tip of the iceberg for this event.  Plenty of great folks that I met and chatted whisky with that are not pictured.  I got to pick Dave Pickerell’s brain at the Hillrock booth, I got to meet the Distiller at the Nikka table while falling in love with Taketsura & Yoichi which was super cool.  Chatted with Matt of Widow Jane and got to try some unique things he’s working on.  Plus I got to drink some ‘Bug Juice’ with David Perkins of High West.

All in all, Whisky Advocate does a phenomenal job and if you can make it next year, I highly recommend it.  The people at this event are outstanding and truly passionate about the water of life.  It was joy to spend time with everyone.

Jeez Joe, that’s great and all that you met some people, but this is Whisky Fest…how about the juice?

Ah yes…the next post will focus on just that…before I hand out my ‘Whisky Fest Favorite Drams’ of the event type of post, I’ll start it off with my ‘Whisky Fest Pleasant Surprises’ write up.

After all, almost every booth has some type of surprise...


  1. Our visit was just amazing, five stars plus. Though it was funny how some people were in rush for catching some movie. I believe it was a treat to be here.
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  2. Agreed Roberto, John Hansell and his team certainly put on a 5-star show.

    I know what you mean about some folks that were seemingly in a rush a to leave. While they were certainly in the minority by far, I know of a few folks that would've loved their tickets!

    Definitely a treat to be there, and in front of some of those whiskeys, it was a downright honor.