Whiskey festivals are the perfect venue for exploratory drinker to widen their horizons. In this establishment, distillers and importers will gladly serve you a wee dram. It’s a great opportunity to sample something you wouldn’t typically be able to get your hands on or to finally crack open that bottle of whiskey you’ve been admiring.
It’s also a place where the whiskey culture stands out. When hundreds of whiskey fans gather together, magical things may happen. The spirit at most whiskey festivals can be summed up in one word: inclusive. Everyone, from total newcomers to grizzled old pros, is warmly welcomed. However, there are a few things to remember to make the most of your next trip to a whiskey festival.
Focus, because I’m about to share the single most useful piece of advice. Yes, drinking is the obvious choice. This is the primary motivation for holding whiskey celebrations. But the topic at hand is water. You can expect to receive a water bottle at the majority of events. Use it! Only in this situation is it acceptable to double-fist, with one hand holding whiskey and the other holding water. When it runs dry, immediately get a new one.
Schedule Your Tour
The reality is that you will never be able to sample every whiskey in existence. Therefore, it is essential to organize your trip in advance. A full drama list for the festival you plan to visit should be accessible if you’re lucky. If not, you can usually find a list of participating companies. You can use this information to plan your trip. Now we come to the next step…
Putting the best for last is just good logic. It’s how we finish off tutored tastings, where the last drama is usually the best. On the other hand, the best whiskies should be tried first on a day when you want to sample more than a dozen different brands. Waiting too long will leave your taste buds too numbed to enjoy the finer things in life. Make a beeline for the vendor selling Pappy, Karuizawa, or Port Ellen as soon as the show opens.
It’s Not a Race
There is no prize for the individual who consumes the most alcohol. Take your time sipping and savoring it. It’s perfectly acceptable to stop reading a sample if it’s not satisfying. You can even decant it into a sample bottle if that’s okay. A festival is not complete without spittoons. Use them without hesitation. The point of a whiskey festival is not to get smashed.
The Drinking Order
You can easily disregard this recommendation if you only plan on imbibing extremely potent peated whiskey. You should generally avoid Octomore and similar styles at first if you have a wide musical taste. While a whiskey at 120 percent could dull your taste receptors, the flavor of peat smoke can be quite strong. Don’t drink that kind of whiskey till the evening.
This is perhaps the second most vital piece of advice. While a whiskey festival may seem to be all about the booze, it’s more about the people who attend. I enjoyed catching up with old acquaintances, making new connections, and learning from some of the industry’s brightest minds. You can’t be blamed for not wanting to think about the proper whiskey-drinking sequence on a day like this. We just want you to enjoy yourselves. On the other hand…
Get Back Home Safely
Don’t get behind the wheel if you’ve been drinking. There’s no reason to fall into that trap, what with all the viable alternatives to getting home. Plan things out in advance. Take public transport, call for a ride, or organize a pick-up. Some whiskey festivals even provide free or discounted admission for designated drivers.
If you keep these things in mind, you’ll have a great whiskey party. Purchasing tickets is all that’s left to do now. We advise you to start looking immediately because some of these festivals sell out months in advance.
The Best Whiskeys To Look Out For
Worm Tub 10-Year-Old Batch 2
Intense alcohol content from a cask Sherry cask-finished Speyside single malts highlight the savory, hearty notes of oily nuts, cured meats, and dried fruit. You can use it in a Rob Roy, or serve it on the side of any chocolatey treat.
Ten-Year-Old Sherry from Oak Barrels, Aged in Seaweed Casks
Finished solely in sherry barrels and bottled at a powerful 56.4% ABV, this smoky Islay single malt is a fan favorite. It’s already comforting, but it takes a Hot Toddy to the next level.
Made with a high rye mash load, this Illinois-made bourbon has just the right amount of spice to counteract the typical sweetness. It’s rich and smooth enough to enjoy neat, and it mixes into a mean Whiskey Smash.
Kyrö Malt Rye
This is a unique Finnish whiskey made from one hundred percent malted rye and featuring the classic rye flavors of spice, brown sugar, and toasted oak. Delicious with lots of lemon zest in a Highball or Ryeball.
Teeling Single Pot Still
This whiskey, the first to be distilled in Dublin in nearly half a century, is a blend of malted and unmalted barley, yielding a smooth, chocolaty, fruity Irish dram. Whiskey Sour fans, this spirit holds its own in that classic cocktail.
Gold & Black Old 11-Year Bourbon
It’s not often that you come across bourbon with an age statement, let alone one that’s been aged for more than a decade, so this is quite the treat. It’s best savored neat or in traditional cocktails thanks to its rich maple syrup, vanilla, and apple pie flavors.
Organic Nc’nean Single Malt Whiskey
Organic Scottish barley is used to create this whiskey, which is then aged in red wine, American whiskey, and sherry casks to provide complex spices and fruity sweetness at Nc’nean’s carbon-neutral distillery. The distillery suggests serving it in a Whiskey Soda with mint leaves.
Where to Find the Finest Whiskey Distillery
Distillery of Glenmorangie
A product of the Scottish Highlands, Glenmorangie Single Malt Scotch whiskey is produced in the country’s highest malt whiskey stills for a more refined spirit, aged to perfection in the best oak casks for a richer flavor, and crafted by the Men of Tain. The Distillery has been around since 1843 and has become an industry leader thanks to its ability to successfully blend history and modern technology.
A bottle of Glenmorangie’s 1996 Grand Vintage Malt
This limited edition whiskey, the sixth in the Bond House No.1 series, gets its smooth flavor from the Missouri oak cask it was aged in before it was used to age bourbon. The Grand Vintage Malt has a nose of sweet baking spices like vanilla, cinnamon, and toffee, while the flavor is rich and velvety, with hints of smoke, mint, and a lasting caramel aftertaste.
Spirits Distillery in the Balcones
It all began in a shabby welding shop beneath a suspension bridge in Waco, a city in Texas. Since that time, Balcones Distilling has introduced a slew of innovative spirits that have gone on to earn prestigious accolades throughout the world. Every bottle of Balcones whiskey is made entirely from scratch in the distillery, from the mashing and fermentation to the distillation, guaranteeing the highest standards for excellence and workmanship. They never buy whiskey from different distilleries to resale under the Balcones label, and they don’t use whiskey from other barrels in their blends. This single malt whiskey is the real deal.
One Hundred Proof Balcones Texas Rye
To mark its tenth year in business, Balcones Distilling Company introduced Texas Rye in 2020 as part of its main line of whiskies, which has won numerous awards. Texas Rye is manufactured from 100 percent rye and has been pot-distilled twice. Elbon rye in the northwest and north of Texas accounts for 80% of the total, with smaller amounts of Crystal, Chocolate, and Roasted rye also present. It has a rich, buttery toffee flavor that evolves into pepper spicy notes, traces of roasted coffee and nuts, and a finish of creamy peanut butter and dark cocoa thanks to its time spent aging in new, charred American oak barrels.
Distillery in Ardbeg
Ardbeg, which has been producing its finest Islay single malt whiskey since 1815, is often considered by whiskey aficionados to be the peatiest, smokiest, and most intricate of the various Islay malts. Ardbeg has earned the nickname “the peaty paradox” due to the widespread belief that, despite its smoky flavor, it contains a wonderful sweetness.
The House at Ardbeg an Oa
Ardbeg Distillery is located on the Mull of Oa, which gives the drink its name. Whiskey is uniquely well-rounded thanks to its time in the unique oak Gathering Vat, in which whiskey from various casks (including Pedro Ximénez casks, virgin oak, and ex-bourbon barrels) is allowed to slowly blend. The end product is a wild single malt. An Oa is perfect for those who enjoy smoky malt whiskies because of its rounded and gently smoky smells, which are a reflection of the contrasts found on the Mull of Oa.
A Whiskey Festival Tasting Guide
To completely appreciate the subtleties of an excellent whiskey and the technique of tasting it properly, you need not be a professional. Choosing the right glass is the first step.
The Glencairn Glass has been designated as the “Official Whiskey Glass” by the Scotch Whiskey Association. The design is one-of-a-kind and attractive, and it was made specifically to maximize the pleasure of drinking whiskey. It has a thistle-shaped base that’s easy on the hands and a tapered mouth that traps smells for maximum enjoyment. The broad bowl provides optimal viewing of the whiskey’s color. If you follow Glencairn’s detailed whiskey-tasting instructions down below, you’ll soon be sipping whiskey like a pro.
Is your whiskey light gold, dark copper, gold, or rich sienna? The sort of barrel the alcoholic beverage was aged in can be deduced from this.
Does your whiskey have a smokey, fruity, chocolatey, or another aroma that you can identify when you nosing it? Don’t rush, because the aromas in the tumbler will shift as you drink. You can dilute it with water if you like. However much you feel is necessary to alleviate any stinging or burning in your nose is fine. Repeat your sniffing. Is the soul receptive or closed off?
What is the Whiskey’s Body Like?
Is it thin, medium-bodied, or full? How well does your whiskey stick to the sides of the glass when you swirl it, and how swiftly do the legs slip down? Legs that are thick and move slowly are indicative of a thicker texture, while legs that are thin and move quickly suggest the reverse. It’s a win-win!
How Does the Whiskey Feel on Your Palate?
What flavors do you pick up on? Start by drinking the whiskey neat. Find out where on your tongue the sweet, salty, and sour sensations are about the bitter, dry, hot, and smoky flavors in the back. Then dilute it with some water so you can savor the beverage for a longer period. If one can control yourself long enough to let some liquid sit in the tumbler for twenty minutes or so, you’ll be rewarded with a more nuanced flavor.
The Final Question
Will the Taste Last? Think about how long the flavors last around, how much they shift, and how quickly they disappear.