Well, that was fun. WhiskeyFest came to New York, and all I got was drunk. It was my first WhiskeyFest, and everything I had been told about it was true: the cheek-to-jowl crowds, the lovely ladies in short skirts pouring samples, the caligulan spreads of food. And of course, the rows and rows of whiskey. But while all the plebes lined up for a few drops of Pappy — it was the only brand with a tensabarrier — there was some pretty cool stuff going on elsewhere.
I mostly went for the American brands, so I’m going to leave aside all the great Scotch and other whiskeys on offer (Jura Brooklyn was nice, if a bit tame; Kavalan Sherry Cask was good-lord good). And what I noticed, right away, was how much malt whiskey there was sloshing around. Oh, sure, there was George and Jack, and Heaven Hill and Jefferson’s. But the really interesting stuff didn’t have a kernel of corn to its name, and there was a lot more of it than I’d have expected. Among others, there were malts from Defiant, Rough Stock, Stranahan’s, Long Island Spirits and FEW.
The Stranahan’s was a real treat because they brought some of their limited-edition “Snowflake” whiskey, which this year was aged in cherry-wine barrels (I know, right? But it was actually amazing).