The Whiskey, Whisky, San Francisco WhiskyFest 2016 was successful and well attended. As the whisky VIPs eagerly awaited the doors to open at 5:30 p.m., they had their “to sample” listings in hand. Based on the whisky list for the event, the whisk(e)y aficionados had 375+ whiskies to sample. The VIPs had the opportunity to sample over 45 VIP pre-determined whiskies. The VIP whiskies I had the pleasure of sampling were:
- Aberlour 18 yr. and A’bunadh Scotch whiskies (approximate retail cost ~ $90.00 and $70.00 respectively)
- Forty Creek Founder’s Reserve
- Glen Grant Five Decades (approximate retail cost ~ $150.00)
- Glenfiddich 26 Year Old (YO) (approximate retail cost ~ $460.00)
- The Glenlivet 18 and 21 YO (approximate retail cost ~ $85.00 and
- Highland Park 18 YO (approximate retail cost ~136.00)
- The Macallan Reflection (approximate retail cost ~ $1500.00)
- Old Pulteney 17 and 21 YO
- Usquaebach’s An Ard Ri Cask Strength Flagon
The first hour was reserved for VIPs and approximately 300+ whisk(e)y aficionados partook of all the fine whiskies on offer. I did a good job of restraining myself during my first WhiskyFest. I would have joined the Old Pappy Van Winkle sample line but I saw how long the line stretched around the room. I would have to estimate the line was well over 50-75 feet in length. Since there was still 3 hours to go at this WhiskyFest, I definitely had to pace myself and ensure I sampled most of my pick of whiskies as well as fit in a couple of seminars. It was unfortunate that I was unable to do some pairings between the food and whiskies since there was much to choose from with the food provided at the Marriott Marquis Hotel. The spread of food was fantastic and it provided me with a solid food base for the whiskies ahead.
As far as the non-VIP whiskies went, I forced my taste buds to endure the following whisk(e)y samples. I also provided the approximate retail cost for a bottle of whisk(e)y.
- Aberfeldy 12 YO (approximate retail cost ~ $40.00)
- Blanton’s Single Barrel Bourbon (approximate retail cost ~ $57.00)
- Elijah Craig 18 and 23 YO Single Barrel (approximate retail cost ~ $150 and $230 respectively)
- Glen Grant 10, 12, 16, and 18 YO (approximate retail cost ~ $48, $49, $80 and $160 respectively)
- GlenDronach 12 YO
- Glenfiddich 18 and 21 YO (approximate retail cost ~ $200 and $460 respectively)
- Glenmorangie Extremely Rare 18 YO (approximate retail cost ~ $95.00)
- Glenmorangie Signet (approximate retail cost ~ $220.00)
- Glenmorangie Tarlogan (Travel Retail) (provided during seminar)
- Highland Park Dark Origins (approximate retail cost ~ $90.00)
- Kavalan Ex-Bourbon Oak (approximate retail cost ~ $120.00)
- Kavalan Sherry Oak (approximate retail cost ~ $150.00)
- The Macallan Rare Cask (approximate retail cost ~ $350.00)
- The Macallan Fine Oak 15 YO (approximate retail cost ~ $98.00)
- Masterson’s 10 YO Straight Rye (approximate retail cost ~ $60.00)
- Michter’s Bourbon (approximate retail cost ~ $48.00)
- Michter’s Rye (approximate retail cost ~ $46.00)
- Michter’s American Whiskey (approximate retail cost ~ $49.00)
- Usquaebach ‘s Old Rare Stone Flagon (approximate retail cost ~ $67.00)
- Usquaebach’s 15 YO (approximate retail cost ~ $88.00)
- Port Charlotte Islay Barley (approximate retail cost ~$55.00)
The ultimate sacrifice is when you give up the constant rush to get in line to taste the elixir of life. Set yourself up for success by including some educational whisky seminars to increase your knowledge. As I worked toward deciding upon which whisky seminar to attend, I figured another tasting would probably help me to decide. I looked up from the WhiskyFest Guide book and noticed the Glenmorangie table and headed over to check out their samples. As my eyes scanned the offerings, I noticed the Original Lasanta PX Sherry Cask 12 YO, Quinta Ruban Port Cask 12 YO, and Nectar D’Or Sauternes Cask 12 YO Finish whiskies. I was entranced by the Extremely Rare 18 YO and Signet Glenmorangie whiskies.
Brendan McCarron, Head of Maturing Whisky Stocks for the Glenmorangie Company provided an excellent introduction of the different expressions of whiskies by Glenmorangie. Since I was keen to try the Extremely Rare and the Signet, he explained the differences of the two and I’m happy to say that the flavors of the two whiskies were captivating and gave me a reason to invest in the two bottles. The velvety chocolate-orange notes of the Signet provided a smooth and flavorful palate.
As our conversation progressed, Brendan informed me that he was going to do an informative seminar entitled “Glenmorangie: Beyond the Finish; A tradition of Innovation at the Glenmorangie”. The presentation was excellent and we even had the opportunity to taste 6 of Glenmorangie’s whiskies as shown in the below picture.
Glenmorangie are also introducing 3 new travel retail whiskies that are a part of the Legend Collection. The whiskies are called Tayne, Tarlogan and Duthac; and based on the tasting these three whiskies will definitely be flying off the shelves at the duty free shops.
The San Francisco 2016 WhiskyFest was informative and a great opportunity to taste some fantastic whiskies from around the world. Next year, you can look forward to Washington, DC, on March 2, 2017 or Chicago on Apr 21, 2017. The WhiskyFest website will provide all the necessary details from the seminars being presented to the listing of the whiskies being served during the tastings.