WhiskyLive NYC 2011 – it’s almost here folks! Next week, April 6th and I have a 10% discount for you.

It’s that time of year again!  WhiskyLive NYC is nearly upon us (less than a week away)!!

This is your chance to taste more than 150 of different types of whisk(e)y – Scotch, American (Bourbons, Rye, Single Malt, Wheated), Japanese, Irish and Candian whiskies will all be represented there.  A full list to follow.

Don’t forget, if you’re going to be tasting a lot of whisk(e)y, you’re going to need a lot of food in your system!  Thankfully, WhiskyLive will be a catered event with some fine, fine food.

I’ve been working with these good people and they are extending a 10% discount on any ticket to WhiskyLive NYC if you use the code “jewmalt2011″ (which is case sensitive, by the way) in the “Redeem Voucher” section of the WhiskyLive shopping basket.

I went to WhiskyLive last year and was very impressed by it.  Not too big, not to small – a really good, manageable event that gives you the opportunity to taste hundreds of different whiskies and enjoy some fine masterclasses (for all of my whisky geeks).

So, here are the details (I hope to see some of you there, please let me know if you’re going.  I’d love to meet you):

Whisky Live New York on April 6, 2011 at Pier Sixty.

People drinking whisky

Whisky Live New York allows you to sample over 150 scotches, bourbons and whiskies from around the world this year.

This coupled with fantastic masterclasses offering more of an insight into specific brands, a full buffet and excellent entertainment makes this New York’s Finest Whisky Experience.

WhiskyLive has limited spaces for the following brands which are currently for sale at $20 per person:


Starts at 6pm

Johnnie Walker

Starts at 7.30pm


Starts at 9pm

Full information on the masterclasses are on the show website www.whiskylive.com

Book tickets button And don’t forget to claim your 10% discount using the “jewmalt2011” voucher code in the “Redeem Voucher” section of the shopping basket!

Single Malt and Scotch Whisky Extravaganza 2011 – my experience (and what a damn good one it was!)

Whisky events are always a treat, this much I know.  Each event, be it this Extravaganza, WhiskyLive or WhiskyFest (plus the many other ones out there that I’ve not been to…yet) offer both the casual and experienced whisky drinker/connoisseur/enthusiast a variety of ways in which to learn about, drink and experience whisky as well as the camaraderie we all feel as we muscle our way through the show floor from one table to the next; from one masterclass to the next, etc…

Each show has it’s own feel, flare and vibe that goes along with it.

For instance, WhiskyFest is a larger-than-life event that (in my opinion) one should plan out the night prior to actually getting there to make sure you do not disappoint yourself.  There is a lot to see, learn and do and not enough time to hit every table.  You should not, however, go there to drink all you can drink and get piss drunk.  You can go to the bar and do that.  Like all whisky events, you should have fun but you should use the opportunity to A) taste the stuff you’d never find in a bar and B) learn more about whisky, the process & history so you can teach others.  Ok, I’ll get off my soap box.

So, if WhiskyFest is a behemoth, what’s WhiskyLive?  A smaller, more manageable event yet with a similar feel (outside of the US you can get special show bottlings which is great but, US liquor laws suck and don’t allow the sale of alcohol on the showroom floor.  On the upside, there are stores that have booths at WhiskyLive events in the states and they often offer special show pricing and special bottlings for sale that you can pick up from their stores or they can ship to you – that works for me!).

And now onto the story at hand: What is The Single Malt and Scotch Whisky Extravaganza?  Well, you may remember my report from last October’s Boston show.  If not, I can tell you it is very different from the first two events I mentioned.

“How so, Hatton?” you may ask…

The Single Malt and Scotch Whisky Extravaganza, now in it’s 18th year, is a show put on by the SMWSA (Scotch Malt Whisky Society of America).  The SMWSA is an exclusive society (that you can join for a fee) and they somehow pass that feeling of exclusivity onto the show.  While anyone and their grandmother is welcome to attend, you sort of feel like you’re in “The Inner Circle” when you’re walking the room.  You FEEL like you’re part of something somehow bigger and in a very cool way.

To kick off the show they had a Q&A panel that was made up of many various well known brand ambassadors such as Simon Brooking from Laphroaig, Evan Cattanach from Diageo, Ricky Crawford from The Glenlivet, Gardner Dunn from Suntory and others.  The discussion lasted about an hour and there were some great questions asked.  Also, it wasn’t just “learning”.  It was fun & funny.

One of the highlights to the discussion was not just the Q&A but, it was the company I had next to me.  To my left were my friends from Malt Impostor: Stephen, John and Bill and to my right was none other than Malt Maniac and New York’s Jazz DentistPeter Silver.  I’ve been Facebook friends with Peter for sometime but this was the first time I had a chance to have more than a 2 minute conversation with him.  Smart, funny, charming… you name it.  A great guy!  Thanks again for the conversation, Peter.  Bill (of Malt Impostor fame) by the way, is the Author of a book entitled “The Unimaginable Mathematics of Borges’ Library of Babel“.  I’m about 20 pages in and loving it.

Another highlight for me was an odd one.  And an insanely unexpected one.  Three days before the show my wife texted me and told me that one of her closest old high school buddies friended her on Facebook and looking at his profile, she noticed that he was a Brand Ambassador for The Macallan, Highland Park and Famous Grouse (what are the odds?).  He told her that he was going to be at the show and that I should look him up; he wanted to meet & talk.  Man-o-Maneschewitz it’s a small world!  To put it lightly, Jeremy (the aforementioned BA for The Macallan) was just as nice as can be.  We had a great discussion and he shared some fun high school stories that I will not post on this here blog.  I wouldn’t want him to pick it out and get embarrassed…  Jeremy, looking forward to connecting with you again soon!  You have to come over next time you’re in Guilford!

A new item added to this show is what’s called a “Super Pour”.  At around 8:30, certain participating booths would break out super high-end, old or rare whiskies for people to try.  For instance, Laphroaig broke out their 25yo cask strength whisky.  It was damn brilliant!  I hope they continue this “Super Pour” for these shows.  My only suggestion would be that they do the “Super Pour” a bit earlier in the night.  Being so late in the show I’d expect that peoples’ taste buds are a little shot and some folks might be a little too tipsy to fully appreciate what they’re tasting.

I also got to meet up with Joshua Wortman.  You may know him from A Whiskey Rebellion or perhaps from the “Make it a Bushmills” contest from last year.  It’s nice to meet mishpucah (that’s Hebrew for “family” or, in this case “a fellow Jew”) at whisky events.  I wish I had more time to talk with him, it was just at the end of the night.  Joshua, I look forward to connecting with you again soon!

The SMWSA table had some incredible whiskies to try.  These are whiskies you can’t find anywhere else, unless you’re a member of the society (here is a link to their site if you wish to become a member and you can find your country’s arm of the society there).  Aron Silverman (another good Jewish boy) was manning the table and pouring five different expressions.  The best of which, and I’m not just saying this because this whisky is from my top distillery of choice, was a single cask (all SMWSA bottled are single cask whiskies) 16yo Glenmorangie which was matured for that full amount of time in Pedro Jimenez sherry casks.  “Mouthwatering and delicious!” — Sammy Davis, the Candy Man.

One of the more popular tables was the Usquaebach table.  I was speaking with Noah Goldstein (the Usquaebach BA, and a Jew 🙂 ) for a while and he was amazed as to how busy his table was.  After all, the focus is more on single malts…  I think this speaks to the general public’s excitement that the brand is back and… they’ve got some solid, solid blends.

Another popular table was the Suntory table and they were pouring both the 12 & 18yo Yamazakis as well as the 12yo Hibiki.  It’s so nice and refreshing to Americans becoming more and more receptive to Japanese whiskies.  I’m looking forward to seeing more Suntory (and hopefully Nikka) whiskies in the US soon!  While at the table I had a chance to talk with my friend Yoshi Morita (Salesman for Suntory in the US).  Yoshi is a complete gentleman and as of late, a new daddy!  His eyes didn’t look as red as expected, what with having a new born in the house!

Oh, there’s more… (Like I said, this was a damn good experience!)  Another cool thing about this show is that the society’s president, Alan Shayne (who I interviewed last year), is a very hands-on type of guy.  He also helped to man the SMWS table which gives people an opportunity to talk with the man behind it all here in the US.   Speaking with him is always a treat.  He’s got my sense of humor (which is a bit scary, but cool!).  And yes, another fellow Jew!!  I love it!

The night ended on such an “up” note – I was greeted with some samples of SMWSA whiskies to review (special thanks to Aron S!).  Four in all.  Expect to see reviews of those whiskies in the coming weeks.

This is a show that you really should try to get to if it’s in your area.  Below is a listing of the upcoming Extravaganzas for 2011.


Joshua “Yossi” Hatton

When opportunity knocks…

So a short while back I received an email from Ben (of ‘Master of Malt’ fame) that had the subject line “An opportunity…”

Talk about a smart way to ensure your email gets opened and read without hesitation!

Can I tell you how pleased I was to understand, after having read Ben’s email, that I was being asked/chosen (as part of a select few) to participate in a blending and retailing exercise with Master of Malt.  Something called “The Blogger’s Blend”.  Being a Jew, this is like being part of the Chosen People x 2!

Master of Malt has chosen ten whisky websites/blogs/podcasts/magazines to create a new blend. Each of us chosen will receive multiple/various samples and blending equipment to construct our own, unique blend.

Once the blend has been perfected (in the eyes of the individual blender) MoM will reproduce all ten recipes and make fun ‘Drinks by the Dram’ sized samples for the general public to try.   Then you, dear reader, will get to pick which of the ten whiskies is the best of the bunch.  That winning whisky will then be mass produced into a standard, yet Master of Malt Exclusive, full size bottle of whisky available to anyone who shops at the Master of Malt online shop.

The guys at Master of Malt have more smarts than they know what to do with!  Or as my Great-Grandma Betty would say: they’re smarter than two books!

The ten blenders (that’s me and the folks listed below) will get to design the label & branding of it all.  Cool, cool stuff!  The ten blenders are:

Now some details (but only a few):

  • There will be both malt and grain whiskies provided for mixing purposes.
  • We don’t know any of the names or ages of the whisky samples Master of Malt is providing.
  • We were provided with a pricing calculator for the whiskies to help us figure out how much the final blend we create will cost.  This will allow us to blend based on price, quality and/or a mix of the two.  The suggestion from MoM is to go for quality first.  Noted.
  • All of the blends that you’ll be tasting, when it comes to voting time, will be blind labeled – you wont know who made what blend when you’re tasting it.
  • That’s really about it.  There will be more details but right now, I’ll leave you to let your mind go wild! 

A big thanks to Ben and the rest of the Master of Malt crew for asking me to participate in this endeavor!

Bruichladdich Black Art 2 – Whisky Reincarnate!

Islay region – 49.7%ABV – $170 | £84 | €97

Truth be told, one of my favorite posts here on the JSMWS blog was for the 1st Edition of the Bruichladdich Black Art.  I was able to touch on some of the things that helped shape me as a kid: Black Sabbath, The Ramones, Lord of the Rings & Advanced Dungeons & Dragons.

Hold please, need to push my horn rimmed glasses up the bridge of my nose…

OK, I’m back.

While I’m not sure I can top that previous post, maybe I can tell you what’s shaping me as an adult:  First & foremost, my kids.  It’s bloody f%$&ing amazing to be a dad to two wonderful little girls.  It beats any adventure I had slaying dragons (oops, see image above).  My girls are both life changing and affirming.  Also, I’ve got a great wife/life partner who I can share this adventure with.  She’s like me only smart and funny…  and has boobies.

Music helps shape me to.  You may or may not know that I am a musician in a band called Kimono Draggin’here’s one of our videos – here’s some of our music.

The music I play really has nothing to do with the music I listen to (for the most part).

The people & bands that top my list are: Bonnie ‘prince’ billy, Joanna Newsom, Dr. Dog, The Sparks, David Bowie, Jobriath, Neil Diamond, Slayer (and many other metal bands), Gentle Giant, Yes, John Fahey, John Coltrane, Miles Davis, Frank Zappa, Captain Beefheart, Talking Heads, Iggy Pop.

Any recording with Jascha Heifetz!

And the list can go on and on…

Lastly, whisky has shaped me and continues to shape me.  If it weren’t for whisky I would not have met some many amazing people & new friends.  I’d not have this great society which is growing in ways I never imagined (most of which I can’t even talk about right now!).  It also helped me to change the way I approach the world.  I stop to smell the roses a bit more (hey, they could be a tasting note after all).  The subtleties of whisky have helped me to better appreciate the little things in life that often get missed.  It might sound stupid but, it’s true.  There are food & wine aficionados that will say the same thing.  The only difference here is that this is booze and not wine & food.

So, to broaden my horizons more, Bruichladdich has released a new whisky in their Black Art series: Black Art 2.  Thank you Bruichladdich!

On the nose Crushed cherries and toasty coconut shreds.

I’m not sure of the make up in this whisky as it’s a closely guarded secret but there’s a sense of “new wood” here; like a freshly charred barrel which is offering up some of that coconut I got plus some vanilla and fried walnuts.

A spiciness which can be confused as effervescence (or perhaps vice versa…).

Pear drops, a touch of hay and an absolute thread of smoke…

Cranberries and fried banana.

With water: the focus is more on the banana but now with added custard notes.

On the mouth Spicy, tannic and winey – think red raspberry, blackberry, fresh soil, black pepper, black cherry and cranberry (basically everything deeply red, dry and sweet).

Black cherry skins.  With water, like the first Black Art, all of the red fruits just got incredibly juicy.

Softer, less spicy but also slightly artificial.

An added note of watermelon – fantastic!

Finish It’s all on slightly salted watermelon and spice.  Long, dry and fruity.

In sum Surely this whisky is of the same “spirit” and genre of the Black Art version # 1.  Strong character, truly unique and inspiring.  It’s a whole new game that Bruichladdich and Jim McEwan have created here and I doubt anyone would be able to follow suit.  Kudos x 2 Mr. McEwan!  This is one to discuss amongst friends – a great way to start an intriguing conversation.

As an aside, I think I liked the 1st edition of Bruichladdich Black Art just a touch more than this.  Like Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, I will always love the Gene Wilder version more than the Tim Burton/Johnny Depp version more.  PS.  That’s me with a full beard (and at least as full as this Jew will ever have) and Mr. Willy Wonka himself!

Ardbeg Supernova, 2010 Edition “SN2010”

Islay region – 60.1%ABV – $130 | £80 | €92

A couple of nights ago I mentioned to the folks in a post on the Friends of the Jewish Single Malt Whisky Society Facebook page that I finally got around to reviewing the Ardbeg Supernova SN2010.

What seemed like it could have popped up 2.3 seconds before I posted my announcement, my friend Jason from the Guid Scotch Drink blog commented saying ‘Bout bloody time. 2011 will be along here shortly!”

Point taken.  Yeah, I’m a bit late on this but there are reasons for that.   To be very honest with you, it’s taken me many, many tastings to actually appreciate this stuff.  I’m not sure if I had a series of “off nights” where my nose was not working correctly or perhaps I was not in the right mood… Not sure.  I can tell you this is intense whisky – and deserves 100% of your attention.

On the nose Knock your socks off peat smoke, iodine and grapefruit or pomelo.

Lemon custard and buttery pie crust.

I am reminded of the show Alice with the head “chef” Mel cooking bacon while, and perhaps this is just a false memory, smoking a cigarette – match those two scents and that’s what I’m getting here.

Also salted pork and nori wraps.

On the mouth Soft and oily mouth feel with a strong bite of alcohol.

We’ll keep this to tiny sips… A bit tough to get past the heat, peat and lemons (strong with the lemons) but, it is a bit spellbinding.

Some red berries are in there as well.

Dry, dry cardboard and sugared rhubarb.

More on the lemons and a bit on the grapefruits – marmalades and candies rinds.  Yum!!

Wet ropes, fishing rubbers and salted caramels.

Lively yet not “young” – this seems to be bottled at maturity.

Vanilla now and a good deal of it.

Finish Long, hot and filled with a new note of plums (think slivovitz).

In sum The good news is: I loved this whisky.  Bright and energizing and balanced wonderfully between the fruits, drying qualities, salt and smoke.

The bad news is, as mentioned above: it’s taken me 66% of my bottle to come to this conclusion.  Is it me or the whisky… tough to tell.  It’s highly upfront and potent.

Overall, insanely enjoyable but it was hard to break through and unravel all of its many joys…  One to drink when you’re pissed off!  Its a mood changer for sure!

Let’s pray Jason is right – let’s hope there is a 2011 version of this whisky.

One of my favorite reviews of this whisky was given by Sarah Bergfeld (long time guest contributor to Guid Scotch Drink) – her review of the Supernova SN2010 (plus other Ardbegs) can be read here.