Last year, we attended WhiskyFest in San Francisco for the first time and were summarily overwhelmed. If you’re a whisky fan, a show like this is not to be missed. The entire show…hell, the entire week leading up to the show, I had this nervous, panicky feeling that I had to try every single item on offer, that I couldn’t miss even one taste. With over 200 beverages on display, there were many parts of my body that wouldn’t hold up well to 200 tastings; my palatte, my nose, my brain, and not least of all, my liver all screamed for restraint. Still, there was this little part of my mind that felt I had to sample everything. Luckily, for myself and all others involved, age and wisdom won out and I didn’t run around like a maniac with my Glencairn glass, forcing my way in for a quick nip, and shrieking tasting notes to unsuspecting strangers. Instead, we sauntered along with deliberate purpose, taking it all in and, in the end, tasting just about enough.
I thought the selection and breadth of whiskies was incredible. It was great to be able to taste several expressions from one distillery and definitely a treat to try some more obscure bottlings from independents. A highlight of the evening was the Highland Park seminar. Unless I come into a great deal of cash, I’ll probably not ever have their 30 year old in my collection (much to my dismay) so we felt pretty lucky to sample this incredible, near perfect malt. Our top picks from the whiskies sampled were the aforementioned Highland Park 30yr, the Laphroaig Quarter Cask and the Pappy Van Winkle bourbons. Other bonus items included a great reprint of an old cocktail book, graciously given by the amazing folks at Anchor Distillery and really cool glasses from Bulleit Bourbon.