Blog: Whisky Live New York 2015
The traveling road show that is Whisky Live made its annual winter stop in New York City on Wednesday night, transforming the Pier Sixty waterfront space into a walkable journey through some of the world’s finest spirits. Backed by live music and a full dinner buffet, using a tasting glass as our passport, we traversed through the more than 300 different bourbons, scotches, whiskies and beers from around the globe, sharing our likes and dislikes with our fellow drinkers throughout- and gaining a fuller more thorough appreciation for the art of distilling whisky and perhaps more importantly, the art of recognizing each distinctive taste.
For more than four hours, exhibitors, media members and attendees paraded around the sprawling setting with frozen hunks of the Hudson River floating through a window in the distance during the particularly chilly February evening. Though most in attendance seemed to prefer the warm sensation of tasting the many different varietals served ‘neat,’ a finely crafted cocktail always seems to do the trick for us. Crown Royal’s “Royal Steel Wheel” was among our earliest favorites, prepared with apple cider, bitters and some syrup to counteract any of the Crown Royal Black with subtle sweetness. New York City’s Daddy-O was also on site serving up their signature “Daddy-O” cocktail replete with two styles of Wild Turkey drenching orange bitters and drunken cherries- a slightly superior drink to White Pike’s “Old Fashioned,” though it was still an equally refreshing take on the traditional cocktail.
Smooth as silk premium pours from the likes of Johnnie Walker “Blue Label” and The Glenlivet “Reserve 18 Years” were pleasantly also available on site, which for more casual drinkers was reason enough to purchase a ticket. Though the sticker price of each bottle might scare off some more conservative folks, the all-inclusive ticket to the event allowed plenty of repeat visits to each table- and these were two of the evening’s most sought after pours. Local New York City restaurants like Flatiron Hall, whose pouring station was transformed into a makeshift speakeasy and Midtown’s American Whiskey, which was doling out four different cocktails, managed to somehow enhance the already festive atmosphere with a group of friendly mixologists that were both outgoing and seemingly as knowledgeable as some of the distillery representatives. With so much activity going on throughout the space, we managed to chat with some of the bigger named brands like Four Roses, Glenmorangie and George Dickel as well as lesser known producers like Barrell Whiskey and the Finger Lakes’ own McKenzie, giving us the opportunity to taste some new whiskies for the very first time.
Fortunately, you didn’t necessarily need to be a spirits conosseuir to truly enjoy Whisky Live New York as there were also a handful of beers being poured on site as a nice change of pace to the evening. Samuel Adams had a selection of five different brews from their “Rebel IPA” and “Cold Snap” to their traditional “Boston Lager” which still sips as deliciously as the very first time it hit our lips. Olde Barnside’s “Hop’t Scot Ale” was another immediate favorite with its earthy nose and medium body, not all that dissimilar to Bellhaven Brewery’s “Twisted Thistle,” recently repackaged in amber bottles and nicely approachable for an authentic English IPA. Though the three breweries weren’t necessarily Whisky Live’s drawing card, they were perfect additions to wash down the heaping portions of piping hot brisket, stuffed chicken and the selection of cheeses that were being served buffet-style for the hungry crowd.
In all, some 1200 people trekked out to Chelsea Piers for Wednesday night’s Whisky Live. The annual tradition seems to have become more grandiose with each passing year. Though New York City’s event has now passed, the 2015 tour is just beginning with stops in Washington DC, London, Tel Aviv and Australia slated as the year progresses. It’s an affair that caters to both casual and expert drinkers alike and each and every year without fail, Whisky Live always seems to renew our love for the good old brown stuff.
- Dave Gendelson