1. Actually spend a few minutes making a serious game plan as to what to taste instead of talking about making a game plan and then running around like an idiot.
2. Eat more.
3. As nice as everyone is, Don’t talk to anyone for the first hour – hour & a half. Taste whisky and concentrate on sticking to the aforementioned plan.
4. Don’t drink cask strength whiskies after 1:00 AM, you’re not as young and hardy as you like to think you are, you lightweight jack-ass.
So, alas, WhiskyFest SF has come and gone for another year, and while I tasted a lot of great whisky this year, the best part for me was getting the chance to meet and spend time with quite a few people I’d previously only known in that vague internet-y way. The liquid highlights this year included the Glenfarclas 25yo (great, rich waves of oak and sherry), The Pappy Van Winkle 20yo (I still love wheated bourbons), Templeton Rye and perhaps the biggest surprise, Jameson’s Rarest Vintage Reserve. This is a rich, unexpectedly fruity Irish that has been aged a bit in Port casks giving it a complexity well, well beyond its expected grain and pot still qualities. Other standouts included the Gordon & MacPhail Connoisseurs’ Choice Caol Ila 10yo, Whistle Pig Rye and the Longrow CV which I’d been looking forward to trying for some time.
There were a few lowlights but mostly they were the result of my own stupidity: missed all the Glenmorangie, The Balvenie, and the AD Rattray selections…still kicking myself for that. Also, it sounds like there were some stellar things being poured at the VIP hour this year, I didn’t drop the extra cash for that so I missed out. Next year…
Like I said, though, the real highlights for me were spending time with some fellow whisky fans. It was great to meet Jason Johnstone-Yellin of Guid Scotch Drink in person finally and have a good chat over some spectacular drams. I had a nice talk with Signatory’s Ed Kohl about the eyebrow raising potential of Kilkerran’s Work in Progress #2, and got the lowdown on the locally based Old World Spirits’ upcoming rye from distiller Davorin Kuchan.
The night before, at an Ardbeg event, I had a chance to talk a while with Ardbeg’s Rachel Barrie and bourbon legend Lincon Henderson as well as catch up with local whisky cats Chris & Nate from Whiskywall, Tim from the Ardbeg Project and DG Blackburn of the American Distilling Institute. So, all in all a great whisky weekend, I can’t wait for next year. My liver, on the other hand is glad these events are fairly well spaced out on the calendar. Lastly, hats off and well done to John Hansell and Malt Advocate for putting on such a great event, it was a pleasure to be there and worth every penny. Thank you!