April 10, 2014

Whisky Live 2014 - Highlights, Low Lights, and Get Ready for an HFSM!!!!

Last night was WhiskyLive 2014 in New York City. Shout out to Mia Swatkowski and everyone at WhiskyLive for the amazing hospitality!! Highly highly recommended that if you missed it this year you make sure to sign up early for next year or check out one of their other shows around the world.

There were some awesome highlights, a few newsworthy new releases, a total FAIL, and then there was an HFSM. That stands for a "Holy F*cking Sh*t Moment". The kind of once-in-a-lifetime whiskey experience that we'll never forget.

First the Highlights

This guy was there...

That's Bernie Lubbers from Heaven Hill.  Badass.  And he wasn't just there to look pretty.  He poured us the "Devil's Bottling" of one of our favorite whiskies, Elijah Craig Barrel Proof.  So named of course because of it's 66.6% ABV.  

It's every bit as good as the first edition which was 134.2 proof.  Big sugary bourbon flavor-bomb of vanilla nutmeg, caramel, oak, and barbecued meats with unreal smoothness at the monster proof.  An unbelievable bourbon especially at the price (should retail $40-$50).  

Speaking of Elijah Craig, our favorite bourbon of the night was probably this gem from Brandy Library.  Look how happy Jeffrey looks just to be holding it.  Do you think he'll let us have any??

One of the last remaining stock of their Elijah Craig 18-year Single Barrel (a private barrel pick they did with Heaven Hill some years back).  Look at the color on that sucker:

It had everything we love about Elijah Craig Barrel Proof, but upped the ante with a maturity level that was off the charts.  Think: all those flavors we mentioned above, but with the wood both more dominant and much mellower (yes those two things can happen at once).  And with all the flavor components melding together more completely (sweetness, richness, spice, and wood less separate and becoming part of one complete taste).

Ardbeg had a wacky looking new release called Auriverdes (Green & Gold).  

Actually just kidding, they just had a really Game of Thrones looking empty bottle chained up and weren't actually serving it.  Next...

Our buddy (not to mention hands down the greatest American craft distiller) Chip Tate's beard has grown even more impressive:

As have his spirits.  He's been playing with combinations of our favorite Balcones whiskies.  They make a concoction called Rumble which is a sugar cane based spirit.  We still hope to review Rumble Cask soon.  But what we tasted last night was Chip's award winning single malt, then taken further aged in Rumble casks: Balcones Single Malt Rumble Cask Finished.  It was out of this world good.  The great finesse of Balcones malt with an edge of sweetness and syrup that gives it a dynamite finish.  Our favorite of Chip's creations is the Brimstone Resurrection, a Frankenstein-ian creation born from a badly burned batch of corn whiskey.  So to put a twist on things, Chip also shared the Single Malt Resurrection Cask.  This time the finish was smoldering, completely unique, a well-balanced sweet malt ending up in a campfire smoke pit.  One of the best whiskies of the night without a doubt.

New & Newsworthy

Two new and newsworthy bottles were produced:

Yes the new 2014 Four Roses Limited Edition Single Barrel!!  So fresh out of the oven it doesn't even have a proper label yet.  We loved last year's batch so much, an OBSK.  This one is an 11-Year OESF.  We hadn't tried that recipe yet.  It's a higher corn mash bill so we expected it to be even sweeter.  That wasn't the case, it's not quite as sweet and rich as the '13 SiB, but it's more delicate and has an awesome crisp wood on it combined with a very elegant perfumy spiciness.  Honestly it's a little difficult to really judge something like this after tasting so many other whiskies, but we're pretty confident that it's a winner and can't wait to go hunting for a bottle when it comes out in June!

And another (LONG ANTICIPATED) new release:

2014 Michter's 10-Year Rye!!!!   (queue trumpets).  We've been so patient, rationing the last drops of our 7k rye to half a glass a month and then quietly sobbing ourselves to sleep.  First reaction, sadly it doesn't have the dynamite vanilla nose of the old version.  It's still quite tasty, but again we'll reserve final judgement for a more careful (read: sober) tasting.  Still very excited that this one's on the way.  Also expected in stores this summer.


Bomb of the night:  Widow Jane "Heirloom Varietals".  

We tried both the "Wapsie Valley" and the "Bloody Butcher".  These slim and tall 375ml half bottles go for around $150, and they're only a year old!  Could they by some magic be worth that redonkulous price tag?  In a word: no.  They taste like burnt popcorn and rubber cement.  Sorry dude.  Love the hat though.


Everyone's talking about The General from Compass Box.  

Robin Robinson explains that it is a blend of two blends.  One of them at 33 years of age and the other at 40.  This was a very nice dram.  We're not 100% running out to buy one at $300, but it was very cool to try.  Incredibly smooth at cask strength 53%, with all kinds of good old scotch goodness like old leather, aromatic pipe smoke, and maybe a hint of sweet port wine.  We would have liked a little more smoke to really put this one over the top.  We went back to Robin to end the night with Peat Monster Tenth Anniversary, which is awesome, touching all the right notes of Islay smoke (there's got to be some Laphroaig in there!!).  

Robin's daughter Rose was also there, pouring for Glen Grant.  

We've pretty much spoiled ourselves drinking 1970's Grants last year for our birthdays, but the Five Decades is a really nice thing if you're a fan of the Grant.  It's less of a sherry bomb than the older guys and runs smooth and down the middle.

Last but not least our buddy Raj from Purple Valley was in the house.

We got to try English Whisky Company Classic Malt.  Both this one and their Chapter 11 Heavily Peated version are definitely worth trying.  English single malt is giving scotch a run for it's money!  

Thanks again to everyone at WhiskyLive.  What could be better than seeing awesome friends, drinking out of this world whisky, and talking the night away.  

Oh yeah, and now for that HFSM.  Actually, sorry, we're out of time, you'll have to wait for tomorrow.  here's a teaser...



  1. Looks like a great time!!! Could you reccommend 3-4 Bourbon Shows that are yearly in the United States? I would love to attend one. I don't really care for scotch but I love bourbon. Thanks in advance.

    1. There are a bunch of national whiskey shows: whisky live, whisky fest, http://www.whiskyguild.com/, http://www.whiskylive.com/, http://whiskyadvocate.com/events/whiskyfest-new-york/. All of these usually have a great selection of all kinds of whiskey - malts, bourbon, rye, irish, etc. I don't know of any national shows exclusive to bourbon, but there are definitely local ones:

  2. Awesome post about an awesome show. Had great fun with you last night!

    1. Totally. Word to the wise, if you see this guy at a whiskey event, follow him around. it's like being on a french farm with a truffle pig. http://s2.quickmeme.com/img/5a/5ad7f9f16b24872437ec88cfc166280faa6ef99d6c487ed2daad0e1c9688f777.jpg