Whisky Events Roundup (part 1)

November 15, 2011 § 9 Comments

To say I have been out and about these last few weeks is a bit of an understatement.  And while I haven’t been able to collect my thoughts and share them with you here until now, I will say that my twitter accounts (@whiskygirls and @localinfusions) have never been so active!

That said, I am sorry for my recent absence and not just from my own blog but from so many of the other great whisky blogger’s blogs in the community.

Let’s start, shall we?

Time Square NYC the night of WhiskyFest NY '11

Whisky Week NYC

WhiskyFest NY

The GOOD: Lot’s of fantastic brands, all under one roof.  Some interesting pours if you could get to those tables fast enough and then prove that you were worthy of such a pour (by the end of the night, this seemed to really come down to one basic fact: are you going to taste this or take it like a shot?) … though not in those exact words.

HIGHLIGHTS: Running around the first half of the night with my good friend (and fellow whisky geek) Jonathan Wingo of Brooklyn’s Whiskey Shop and together having a beautiful moment with Jonathan Luks of Mackmyra who shared with us a taste of their Special07 bottle (that will never be sold in the USA) and another taste of their Cask Strength whisky (whose proper name didn’t make it into my notebook – my apologies) but it is also a whisky that will not make it to the US market, sadly.  A proper review of this company will follow as they are most certainly worthy.

The other highlight for me was meeting Preston & Juilan Van Winkle (you know, of the Old Rip van Winkle brand).  Not only were they serving their incredibly limited and incredibly delicious products but, if possible, I was more impress with them as individuals.  Not pretentious, not stuffy – just easy to talk to, whisky loving, Southern boys.  I was honored to share a few laughs and a few sips with these two fine gentlemen.

The BAD:  Too many vendors in not enough time.  The food was awful and water was not easy to come by.  Unfortunately, this turned out to be a recipe for disaster.  People were frantically running around trying to drink every whisky they could and, aside from those in the industry, this seemed to have turned everyone into animals.  Sadly, the atmosphere quickly morphed into a post-college frat party.  Not. Cool.

Julian & Preston Van Winkle

Rodeo Bar Balcones Event

WHAT: Rodeo Bar in NYC is a Texas-style bar who has their BBQ (think Ribs & Brisket) flown in from Texas daily.  Head distiller, Chip Tate, of the Texas distillery Balcones, was in town and did a very cool pairing of his Texas whiskies along side of the authentic Texas fair.

HIGHLIGHT: The BBQ ribs with Balcones Brimstone whisky.  This is a blue corn whisky that has been smoked after coming off the stills and before going into the barrel with Texas Scrub Oak … the same wood that gives the meat it’s amazing smoked flavor.  Picking up what I’m putting down?  Heaven.

WHO: Lots of brand ambassadors, industry people, whisky enthusiasts and the NYCwhisky.com folks. Very fun!

Chip Tate of Balcones and Karl duHoffmann of Martin Scott

Balcones & Ellabess Fine Dinning Pairing Event

WHAT: The very chic NYC hip dining spot, Ellabess, threw a private soiree celebrating Chip’s unique whiskies.  Chef Troy Unruh and his team created an exciting pairing menu using Balcones products that were timed and served just as the appropriate Balcones spirit was being poured.

HIGHLIGHTS:  The evening finished on the roof with cigars and generous pours of Balcones extremely limited Rumble Cask Reserve (a cask-strength version of the Rumble, only ~200 bottles ever made).

Check out this video of the chefs hard at work with Balcones’ high-quality whiskies!

Balcones-inspired menu by Ellabess

Chef Troy Unruh of Ellabess and Head Distiller Chip Tate of Balcones


Chip Tate & the Whisky Woman, Allison Patel

Rumble Cask Reserve on the roof top of Ellabess in NYC

The following post (part 2) to include:

Remy Martin Event, Miami, FL & Louisville, KY for the Icons of Whisky Awards


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§ 9 Responses to Whisky Events Roundup (part 1)

  • G-LO says:

    Yo WW!

    You have been a very busy Whisky Woman! WhiskyFest sounds like quite the event and your conclusion is what I feared… it turns into amateur hour. The variety sounds fantastic, but the aftermath sounds irritating as hell. But then again, it will be spread out over two days next year (thanks to your Intel work while on the scene). Since it looks like my WhiskyLive dreams are fading fast (family/work conflicts as predicted), WhiskyFest 2012 is the new priority.

    And speaking of Balcones, listened to part of the Chip Tate interview from your Louisville trip on WhiskyCast. Sounds like a very laid back, smart, and modest guy. Gotta try some of their spirits!

    Looking forward to reading part two…


    • Hey G-LO!
      Always love hearing from you. It will be interesting to see how the 2-day weekend change affects the WhiskyFest NY atmosphere. We shall see!

      I’m sorry WhiskyLive NY (April 2012) isn’t looking like a real possibility. If anything changes, do let me know! As for the WhiskyCast episode, I had that on yesterday too 🙂 Chip is exactly how you described him to be. He’s really smart & generous and has become a great friend to me in the industry (which as a newbie, I couldn’t appreciate more!). He’s experiencing great success right now and I couldn’t be happier for him. In my opinion, his spirits are the best example of how to experience and understand the art that it takes to create something as truly complex as whisky can be when done right – which he does – and clearly I’m not alone given his sweep of awards he’s received since he first opened his doors. There are so many layers in his spirits I could be happy just nosing one for hours. You need to try this stuff… let me see what (if anything) I can do 😉

      • G-LO says:

        The way I see it, we get to live vicariously through you. Always happy to read about a fellow whisk(e)y aficionado’s journey through the wonderful world of fine food and drink!

        You and the rest of the whisk(e)y community have me totally intrigued by the Balcones whiskies. I appreciate your efforts in trying to score us some samples. Good luck!

        • That’s really sweet and the same is easily said about you and the BoozeDancing crew – I definitely “taste” vicariously through your reviews!

          I’ll twitter PM you for a mailing address. 🙂

  • Just an FYI, the conversation about the WhiskyFest NY event has continued over onto another site, The 3 Drunken Celts google + page.

    If you’re interested, you can read their comments (and some of my own) by clicking on this link:


  • […] follow up from the Whisky Events Roundup Part 1 post from last week, today, I give you Part […]

  • Wow, you have been busy indeed. Sounds like you’ve been having a great time. Just went back and read your Aug 2nd post on Balcones. Very interesting! Is this the only Texas based distillery? I’ll look out for these whiskeys on my travels. I’m particularly keen to try the smoked version – it sounds really innovative. Keep the updates coming!

    • Hey Patrick!
      Thanks for your comment. Balcones is not the only TX distillery (now) but they were the first in Texas to start legally producing whiskies since Prohibition and the first to produce a Texas Single Malt. I have tried product from some of the other TX distilleries and there’s a reason you have never heard/seen a mention of them in my blog. Texas has really dry heat all year long (storage areas for barrels can easily reach upwards of 110-125 degrees Fahrenheit) so it requires careful and continuous barrel checking & tasting. The distiller needs to be extremely aware of the aging products and pull them at just the right time. I have tasted one of the other TX distiller’s products who continuously keeps his whiskies in the barrels too long (just to cross that 2 or 3 year mark) and, yuck, what a disaster he bottles.

      I also wanted to ask you if you would you mind if I referenced your How Much is Too Much article in one of my upcoming posts?
      Thanks again!

  • […] conclude my Fall Whisky Event Roundup series, today I present to you Part 3.  (You can find parts 1 and 2 by clicking on their respective […]

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