First, let’s get the big stuff out of the way: In my opinion, this was the best WhiskyFest San Francisco yet. Third time’s the charm!
- The room seemed bigger (this might have been due to a much improved layout)
- There seemed to be more vendors
- There was better food, and more of it — it lasted through the WHOLE event
- There seemed to be more women in the crowd
- The crowd seemed bigger overall
- There were fewer over-intoxicated people
I managed to taste a lot of whiskies (and whiskeys), most of which I have never had before. Here is my list of what I tasted, approximately in order (important note: my wife and I have a system, in which she takes notes and shares my drams while I talk to the folks at the table; I really appreciate her help, without which I would not have any idea what I had tasted!):
- Tomintoul Speyside Glenlivet “Peaty Tang”
- Caol Ila 1979 / Mackillop’s Choice
- Tasted the above with Lorne Mackillop — wow!
- GlenDronach (formerly Glendronach!)
- 12yr (Pedro Ximenez)
- 15yr (Oloroso)
- 18yr (Oloroso)
- Springbank Distillery
- Glengyle Distillery
- K&L Wine Merchants
- Tomatin 12yr
- Stranahan’s Colorado Whiskey
- Met the “Emperor of Stranahan’s”: Jess Graber
- Wemyss Malts (pronounced “weems“)
- The Spice King (Highland blend…)
- Cask (a retail partner associated with Bourbon & Branch, a bar in San Francisco)
- 15yr Scottish Oak (limited edition)
- Had a very pleasant conversation with Roderick Mackenzie, one of the directors of Glengoyne!
As you can see, I had a lot (24!) of different whiskies (and some whiskeys) over the nearly 3 hours that I was there. But more than that, I met some people who I have previously only met via email. It was a pleasure to finally meet Andrew Gray of Bruichladdich Distillery Company. Sometime I have to tell you all about the event we were working on this past March that didn’t happen. All’s well that ends well.
The thing that really hit home to me, after thinking over the great conversations of last night, was that there seemed to be a much higher presence of folks who flew in from Scotland for this event. The previous two years I only met distributors and local representatives (some of whom knew less about some brands than I did!). This year, I was talking to the people who operate the business. It was a real pleasure to learn from them, and I can’t wait until next year.
Finally, I managed to meet John Hansell in person. The last two years he’s told me to stop by and say hello, but I never managed to bump into him. This year, I spotted him just as I was leaving, so I was able to thank him in person. Since I work in Marketing for my day job, I can really appreciate how hard it is to plan for and to host an event of this scale. He said that this was their 23rd WhiskyFest event, and they really nailed it. Well done!!