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

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Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Whisky Fest NYC 2013 - Part Three - The Favorites

After touching upon the fantastic people involved in this event, and some of the cool surprises they brought with them, I am now going to take on listing out a few favorite drams/booths of the night.

This is not an easy task. 

Picking your favorite whiskeys from WhiskyFest NYC 2013 is like picking your favorite child.

That being said, I will step up to the challenge and select a few that really stuck out to me.

Please note, there are a few fantastic ‘standard’ offerings that I will not list here.  Everyone that knows me is aware that I think Lagavulin 16 is the bee’s knees, and that I feel the Balvenie 21 PortWood is divine.  In this post, I’m going to focus on items that stood out and that are kind of off the beaten path.


I was really hoping to get to sample a bit more of the ‘World Whiskeys’ this year, and I feel that they were slightly underrepresented overall.  Perhaps I missed a table that was there, but I didn’t see too many things like Mackmyra or anything from Tasmania.

Nikka's Fantastic Expressions

However, I did get to frequent both the Kavalan and Nikka tables.  (Kavalan had some really nice items too, but Nikka just hit the spot for me on many levels)
Tadashi Sakuma, Chief Blender, was at the Nikka booth, and I have to say that every single dram I had there was stunning.  I mean literally every single one of them.  Brilliant.

The two here that really stood out above the others? 

The Taketsuru 21YR was absolutely stunning.  Very well rounded.  It gave my nose and mouth everything from fruits (plums) and cinnamon to Hershey's Chocolate.

The Yoichi 15YR was also a scene stealer.  This one has the potential to grow into a 'daily dram', it is that fulfilling.  Nutty and creamy, this one was rich and gorgeous.


For Balvenie I am going to have to go with the TUN 1401 Batch #9.  This was just so silky and exquisite that it has to make this list.  Phenomenally complex, and when you have a living legend like David Stewart presenting it to you, alongside the charismatic David Laird, it is tough not to be blown away.

For Glenfiddich I am going to applaud the first effort by new Malt Master Brian Kinsman.  Their Malt Master Edition was wonderful and smooth, and much more rich than I had envisioned it to be.  If this is his first effort at a special bottling, something tells me we have a lot to look forward to from Glenfiddich's sixth Malt Master in the future.


An Epic Lineup
Buffalo Trace is one of my favorite US Distilleries.  Again, this is a list full of winners.  There is simply not a bad whisky in this lineup.  It is a virtual ‘who’s who’ of bottles that collectors and imbibers alike chase after.  For me, it was a neck and neck race to #1 between Stagg and Weller.

Let’s call it a draw.  A mouthwatering & breath taking draw.


Another successful bottling from Wemyss.  It is my understanding that this is essentially 30YR old Caol Ila, and man it is a stunner.  Smoky and deep in all the right places.  As the name implies, there was a delicate floral cloud lingering the whole time.  Really nice dram.


John Glaser is gifted.  Period.  While there are some folks that turn their noses up at blends, I really applaud them as a craft unto itself.  It is an art form that can be squandered and cut with other things leaving me disappointed (most Johnnie Walker expressions), or can be blended together seamlessly creating a sum greater than its parts.

Cue Compass Box and their excellent lineup of bottles.  Towards the end of the evening, having already swam in the seas of the light and delicate whiskeys, I was ready for peat.  The Peat Monster 10th Anniversary edition did not disappoint.  I’d love to try this side by side with the original Peat Monster, but needless to say, if you are a peat-head you should seek this out in either form.


A quick nod to our neighbors to the North.  While I love me a nice Canadian Rye whenever I can (see also WhistlePig) there is a wide array of great whiskeys up there.  I was really impressed by how Oaky this one from Black Velvet was, while still being quite balanced.  The Oak just kept departing and returning, I love the depth.

I could keep going on and on forever about some of the great things I got to sample that night, but please accept the above as some of the finest I was fortunate enough to enjoy that evening.  It is worth noting that there were a couple mentioned in earlier posts that could have been here.  Both the HighWest Bug Juice and SamaroliTomintoul 1967 deserve a place here too. 

As I have mentioned in previous posts, these types of events are a great way to broaden your palate, and to experience some truly unique and rare items.  When it comes to trying out some new whiskeys I also highly recommend visiting a nice bar close to home and trying some things you’ve never had before…you just may be surprised how much you like them.

Perhaps I will get to see some of you at WhiskyFest next year, I can’t wait!!!

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