Oh, What a Whisky Week!

23 Apr

Well, I am one lucky whisky fan. This week was the “perfect storm” of whisky — three events in one week, two on one night. I had to skip one.

There was a Glenfiddich event on Tuesday night at the Spanish Suite on the 15th floor of the Clift Hotel in San Francisco. The Clift is distinguished by its incredibly dark lobby with gargantuan furniture. When you step in off the street, you are blinded by the dark. It’s hella dark. And oh, so hip. Apparently Janet Jackson was staying there and if it’s good enough for her, I guess it will have to do. 🙂

Anyway, Glenfiddich is doing a really neat thing: They sent [empty] casks across the USA, so people can sign them. These casks will be returned to Scotland where they will be used as the final aging step (finishing) on a whisky that is currently aging. The finished product will be ~15 years old and 6000 bottles will be available in the US.

I think this is a pretty cool idea. Glenfiddich is the best-selling single-malt and they have a very stable product line. They don’t do special expressions very often. The Cask of Dreams idea is that you write your dream on the cask, which is used to make this special product. So your dream is associated with this very special and rare whisky.

Mitch (@GlenfiddichMB on Twitter) rolled that cask all around San Francisco, and they have a lot of awesome pictures. It was really cool to see what everyone wrote. I can’t tell you what I wrote, or if I wrote anything, because then it might not come true. As an aside, I think I’m already pretty lucky.

Speaking of luck, Brian Kinsman, Glenfiddich’s master blender, whipped up a special one-time-only-never-to-be-re-created expression for us that was a mix of 14- and 16-year-old spirit. It had a very spicy nose, with anise and other baking spices and it was very unusual for a Glenfiddich which tends to be softer and more refined. He created this special whisky to approximate how he thinks this Cask of Dreams expression will taste. We’ll have to wait and see until next year, but after tasting this, my sense is that Glenfiddich should do more of these experiments! I also quite liked the Snow Phoenix, which has apparently been selling really well for them. Slainte!

Then Thursday the 21st was the “Day of Double Trouble” — two events in one night.

The one I had to pass on was the Ardbeg “Release the Peat” party at the Foreign Cinema in the Mission District (a decent haul from Caltrain on the MUNI bus) — but I would have done it except that it was a Third Thursday and that means @whiskywall‘s informal private tasting club!). It’s really not @whiskywall’s club…there are a number of folks that I’m getting to know better each time. They are all very welcoming.

I’m so happy to have the chance to meet some fellow whisk(e)y enthusiasts and some of my new friends from the Richard Paterson lunch last month were there, too. I can’t keep a good thing to myself, and thanks to Chris for letting me invite some of my new friends. I’m very happy I met Chris at the Glenfiddich Snow Phoenix launch back in January, since I’ve now had the chance to go to a few of Chris’ events and I really am enjoying them.

Chris’ Third Thursday event had long been planned to taste not-for-export Japanese whisky. We tasted several (including a ridiculously awesome Hanyu Ichiro “Three of Hearts” that was finished in Port pipes and was the reddest whisky I have ever seen). I have detailed notes and pictures (mostly just impressions), but this is already too long. I’ll add another blog post as soon as I can with more details.

Oh, hell, here’s a picture. Normally I’d throw away a misfire like this, but this showed the ruby color of the whisky better than any of my other shots, so I kept this one despite it being blurry.

I hope I didn’t give a wrong impression…@whiskywall isn’t giving away free whisky! There is always a cover charge to offset the cost of the whisky and the food (which is very important so you aren’t drinking on an empty stomach).

This event was at Spire and while it could be a nice venue, this time it was way too noisy — it was difficult to hear over all the noise. It has the convenience factor in that it’s less than 10 minutes’ walk from the Caltrain station.

So to re-cap, I skipped a free Ardbeg event to go to a not-free Japanese whisky tasting. Boy, was that ever the right call! I guess the thing I missed out on at the Ardbeg event was meeting @ArdbegProject (Tim Puett) who probably knows more about Ardbeg than many people who work there. Tim said that there weren’t any gators at the Ardbeg event. I honestly have no idea what that means.


Posted by on 23-April-2011 in Barrels, Japan, Whisky2.0


Tags: , , , , , , , ,

4 responses to “Oh, What a Whisky Week!

  1. whiskywall

    24-April-2011 at 20:19

    Thanks for coming out Tom. It was good to have you join us. Hope to see you again soon. Cheers!

    • whisky2dot0

      25-April-2011 at 00:12

      Chris — It’s always a pleasure to meet more people who like whisky. If you had told me that more interesting whiskies were still there, I’d have stayed another hour. 🙂

  2. quicklymilktea

    24-April-2011 at 20:47

    You left too early! After the crowd thinned out a little bit, Chris opened a couple of small bottles of special Japanese whiskies. They were definitely interesting, definitely different…not sure if it’d be something I’d drink every night…someone described one as Novocaine flavored…

    • whisky2dot0

      25-April-2011 at 00:11

      Dai — I wish I could have stayed longer. All the folks that live in the city have an advantage…meanwhile, I have the Caltrain at 8:40 or 9:40. The difference is huge. Either train takes 53 minutes (best possible case) to get to Menlo Park, then I have a 10 minute drive home. I am bummed that I didn’t get to try the whisky that tastes like Novocaine! 🙂


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