“Boy, That Escalated Quickly!”
~ Ron Burgundy (Anchorman)
Whiskey Network Magazine is earning more street credit! This virtual whiskey lifestyle magazine is advancing our whisky journey, through unanticipated experiences and unique opportunities. Recently, we were honored to receive VIP media access to Whiskey Advocate Magazine’s WhiskyFest Chicago. This amazing event took place at the Hyatt Regency Hotel Ballroom on Friday May 13, 2022.
As a first time WhiskyFest participant, with our amazing photographer James Archie, aka “Jimmy Snaps”, it was pretty surreal being ushered in before the 5:30 VIP hour start time. Hotaling & Co. Brand Managers Derrick Mosely and Bobby Wegusen were set up early and ready to go! We engaged in great pre-event whisky conversation, as we waited and salivated for the opportunity to sample their amazing Old Pulteney, Speyburn, AnCnoc, and Balblair expressions.
The extra ($375) VIP hour is special! Participants get the opportunity to try older expressions, not offered after the ($295) general admission 6:30 start time. The value of the aged whisky, available only during the VIP hour, definitely exceeds the ticket price. We started with Old Pulteney 25, which was incredible and an unforgettable starting point, one we circled back to before the hours end. Gordon & Macphail’s Head of Sales (Americas), Richard Urquhart, poured us a forty four year old (1976-2021), oloroso sherry aged “Private Collection” dram from Glenlivet. This whisky poured into the glass like maple syrup, it was extremely rich in flavor, and was tingly on the palate, like pops rocks candy. Ireland’s Bushmill Distillery was serving up their famous twenty one year expression, which was fruity and cotton candy like on the palate, the blue kind. Also enjoyed was Mortlach 20, BenRomach 21, AnCnoc 24, Balblair 25, Glen Moray 25, and Japanese Teitessa 30, which is uniquely aged in Spanish Oak, American White Oak, and finished in French Limousin Oak. Thank you Fuji Takasago Distillery owner, Yamamoteo Terumasa, for that perfectly oaked sweet tannin dram!
Among the endless rows of world whisk(e)y distilleries and expressions, Glengoyne Legacy and Tamdhu 15 were delicious eye opening drams. Fuji Whisky, “From the Peak of Mt. Fuji to Your Glass”, was an incredible experience. Their single grain whisky expression glazes over the palate, like a light fruity scotch, before transitioning into that classic caramel bomb bourbon note. Iowa’s Cedar Ridge American Single Malt, “The QuintEssential Signature Blend”, was delightfully fruity with the perfect hint of peat on the finish. Limavady Single Malt Irish Whisky was a fun one to discover, it had nice spiced vanilla and toasted dried fruit notes. For dessert, Glenmorangie’s coffee flavored malt, Signet, was the perfect follow up to the warming caramel almond finish on the Limavady. There were also many American bourbon distilleries, such as Buffalo Trace, Michters, 1792, Bowman Brothers, and Heaven Hill, on the floor, pouring great bottles. Heaven Hill’s Elijah Craig Toasted Barrel bourbon tasted like sweet marshmallows, very cool!
One distillery, which I had yet to experience, definitely took me by surprise. Oregon’s Westward Distillery blew me away with their purple labeled cask strength American Single Malt expression. Their Brand Ambassadors, Claire and Mike, were stunned when I called this whisky “liquid Cannabis in a whisky bottle”. Claire admitted the hash oil flavored whisky is commonly described as green and earthy by many. I highly recommend purchasing this unique dank bottle and exploring Westward’s entire line-up.
Things escalated quickly at this amazing event. The time and my ability to speak English quickly passed, as we continued to have an amazing and fun experience on the floor. We neglected the planned seminars, but earned a Whiskey Network “Top Fan”. Chicago native, Frederick Williams, wearing a very cool multi-colored plaid scally cap, atop his amazing whisky personality, joined us for many laughs as we navigated more whiskies. There were plenty of upscale buffet style dinner sections in every direction, which helped balance out the passionate whisky drinking. Everyone imbibed in great whisky and conversation, but were never over served. A very classy and respectable event!
Unexpectedly, we found ourselves dramming with Mike Miller, owner of Delilah’s, Chicago’s BEST whisky bar and host of the official WhiskyFest after party. This incredible joint features over 900 whiskies, all on display behind their old school and punk rock infused “dark bar”. Chicagoan Ayanni De León said she loves Delilah’s music and staff. Loyal customers, Peter Mott and Jessica Eisenbeis, won their VIP tickets to WhiskyFest at a recent Delilah’s whisky contest. This lucky cute couple are originally from Michigan, where they met at Grand Blanc Middle School, and now married for over twenty years and living in Chicago. The atmosphere and energy at Delilah’s is awesome, and their whisky selection will impress any whisky enthusiast.
WhiskyFest is an incredible whisky lover’s bucket list experience! It rounds up a very fun, welcoming, and spiffed up whisky crowd, in an environment that encapsulates “Whisky Culture”. Fortunately, Whisky Advocate is hosting three more WhiskyFests in 2022: San Francisco on October 28th at the Marriott Marquis, New York on November 3rd at the Marriott Marquis, and Las Vegas on December 2nd at Resorts World Las Vegas. For information and tickets, visit: https://www.whiskyadvocate.com/whiskyfest/.
Big thank you to Whisky Advocate Magazine and the Hyatt Regency Hotel Chicago for hosting this incredible event. Thank you Rosen Group’s Tara Glothi for the generous VIP press passes and assistance. We at Whisky Network Magazine are extremely grateful and look forward to teaming up for future events. Cheers!
Photography By: James Archie