I’m a WhiskyLIVE-Wire, or, “The damn good time I had at WhiskyLIVE NYC”!!

WhiskySCHOOL is in session.  Please make your choices from the below courses offered to you.

The school?  WhiskyLIVE NYC.  The subjects?  Whisky, whiskey and other brown spirits (also some new make spirit/white dog, vodkas, beers… you get the idea; booze).

The basics:

WhiskyLIVE 101 try to go with a friend or group of friends CHECK!

That's Stephen on the left, Noah Goldstein of Usquaebach in the center, yours truly on the right and Greenie D. McGee on my shoulder

I was blessed to have Stephen Mathis of Malt Impostor with me to pal around with and experience the festivities – Thanks for helping to make the night a blast, Stephen!

WhiskyLIVE 102Make sure you attend at least one MasterclassCHECK!

Ricky Crawford toting the 'Livet wares!

Stephen and I joined in on The Glenlivet Masterclass with host and Global Brand Ambassador extraordinaire: Ricky Crawford (pictured right – please forgive the blurry picture)!

Ricky did a great job of taking us through The Glenlivet line (12yo, 15yo, Nadurra, 18yo, 21yo & 25yo; the Nadurra and 25yo shining like crazy diamonds!) as well as a history of The Glenlivet.

The Masterclass started at 6:30pm and there were drunken hecklers in the crowd.  Seriously folks?  You’re already drunk at 6:30?  Children.  To Ricky’s credit, he is a total pro and muscled through it all.  This one run-in with the hecklers was the ONLY bad experience I had the entire evening.

WhiskyLIVE 103 TALK with the brand ambassadors, listen to them, learn from them – you just might be able to taste some special, special stuff if they know you give actually care for, and are passionate about, whisk(e)yCHECK!

Brian Dvoret showing off one of the many great Scott's Selection Single Cask whiskies - G-d bless independent bottlers!

One of the first stops made was at the Scott’s Selection/Speyside table.  We met up with Brian Dvoret (who you might remember from this here postStephen, I had to steal you picture.  Sorry & thanks!) and talked with him for a quite a bit.  Brian was very excited about a new product he’s bringing into the US and was kind enough to share a sip of the Lark whiskies coming from Tasmania.  Crazy stuff; very unusual and very good.  A review of those whiskies three are forthcoming…  Brian, thanks so much for the samples!

David Perkins, holding some of the finest Rye in the room that night!

Then over to the High West table where I met David Perkins.  David is someone I’ve been wanting to meet.  High West has been churning out some fantastic ryes for a short while now and recently started distilling oats and malted barley. David gave us a taste of some of his single malt (both new make and 1yo, matured in ex-rye casks).  Lovely, love stuff.  Other winners at the table? Double Rye, High West Silver (made from oats – like drinking liquid marshmallows!) & 21yo Rye.

Johnathan Bray of Purple Valley Imports double-fisting some fine new Blackadder whiskies!

Another memorable stop was at the Purple Valley Imports table where they were toting some fine antique Glenglassaugh whiskies, newer Glenglassaugh “spirit drinks”, Amrut Indian whiskies, Still Waters Vodka and Blackadder Indy Bottlings – the two Blackadders I had were Tomatin & Caol Ila “Peat Reek”.  Lovely stuff, lovely people.  Jonathan Bray & Raj Sabharwal; two stand up, sweet guys.

A great and rare opportunity to meet the Master Distiller of Tomatin. Thank you WhiskyLIVE!

On the opposite end of the room was the Tomatin table where I was greeted by Douglas Campbell who is Tomatin’s master distiller/brand ambassador and employee of Tomatin, now, for 50 years (shown right with yours truly).  Douglas was kind enough to share some fine, soon-to-be-released whiskies; Tomatin 30yo and Tomatin “Decades”.  “Decades” is a whisky constructed in honor of Douglas’ 50 years with Tomatin.  It contains whiskies from five decades starting from the 60’s until the 2000’s.

A 10yo Laphroaig bottled in the 60's! COMPLETELY different than the Laphroaig of today. Distilled with Laphroaig's old stills. Yum!

Oh, and this was one not to forget at all!!  I had a wonderfully surprising chance experience after talking with Ewan Morgan and Peter Zimmermann (both great guys and each a Diageo “Master of Whisky”)… a friend and whisky prophet, Joe H, showed up with his personal bottle of 60’s Laphroaig (distilled in the 50’s) and shared a sample with Stephen and I.  Amazing shit!

The advanced courses:

WhiskyLIVE 201Eat food!!  There’s a lot of whisky to try (over 150 different expressions), you best offset that with a crumb in your tumCHECK!

While I didn’t see any kosher options (there may have been some), there was some solid food with vegetarian options for folks like yours truly.  Gorgeous, delicious food.  No complaints there.

WhiskyLIVE 202 Try not to get overwhelmed with all there is to tasteCHECK!

With close to 200 different whiskies to taste, it could be a bit daunting as to what to taste.  While I find WhiskyLIVE to be completely manageable it’s always good to go there with a bit of a plan of a attack so’s you don’t leave the event kicking yourself in the a$$ because you forgot to try this or that; talk with that or this person, etc…

On remembrance…:

WhiskyLIVE 301 Take pictures!  After a few whiskies you may not be drunk but you may not remember everythingCHECK!

Special thanks goes out to Jeff Connell and Dave Sweet!

To read the Malt Impostor’s take on WhiskyLIVE NYC, click here.


Signatory Port Ellen 1982, Bourbon Cask #1202, 26 years old

Islay region – 54.1% – $339 | £? | €?

An out of the blue voicemal:

Marshall (this voicemail is completely paraphrased): “Hey Joshua, Marshall here, just checking to see if you might want a sample pour of some Port Ellen the LASC just got”

I was busy setting up a tradeshow booth so I sent a text:

Joshua: “As ‘The Dude’ would say: Does the Pope shit in the woods? Hell yes!”

The back and forth goes on from there but there are too many expletives and references to “Jewish English” that would make my reproducing of the entire transcript too risque for the JSMWS blog.  No shit.

Special thanks to Marshall and the LASC for the “bad-a$$ F&#$ing great pour” sent to me!

On the nose Lemon soap suds & sweaty canvas sneakers.

Bright smoke.  Burning, salty driftwood.

Chamomile tea and a bushel of hay on a very, very humid summer’s day.

After a while the bourbon influence is very noticeable with scents of cinnamon and vanilla even fresh corn.

After this, it gets a bit dank and dewy.

On the mouth The ABV is barely… wait a sec.  Wow, this is really…really heating up on me.

Oh crap!  This goes from oily, soft and sweet then onto being thin, hot and fiery in a matter of 6-7 seconds…

Let’s have another go at this:  Grassy, earthy, flinty, almost electric.

It starts off with freshly bitten plum then moves into pink lemonade.

This is evolving with every single sip.

Soapy, like on the nose and growing into sugary tart Sweetarts.

Honeyed teas and salted, baked lemons.

Finish Lasting and evolving, hot, spicy and lemony sweet.

In sum Nicely balanced.  I really dug the way the flavors exploded and evolved with every second.  A late summer’s night dram if you have a shit ton of cash to spare!  Very enjoyable.  For the $$ tag on this one, I can spend less on another whisky that can also be enjoyed on a late summer’s night.

Unpacking the whisky and tools to make the BEST (hopefully) Master of Malt blend!

I was so excited to receive and open my box of blending tools and whiskies from Master of Malt, I had to make a video.

I’d, of course, like to thank G-d but would like to also give special thanks to Master of Malt, my wife, our crappy little point & shoot, iMovie, our compost bin and our kids pictures (both of which can be seen in the background of the video) for making this possible.

I hope after this my video will be considered for a “Drammy”!

An intimate evening with Scott’s Selection and 8 of their single cask whiskies

A couple of weeks ago I sent out a Facebook message on the Jewish Single Malt Whisky Society’s Facebook page that I would be in Chicago for a week or so (on one of my many business trips to Chi-Town) and had an evening, **maybe two**,  where I could do some whisky stuff.  Well, my two evenings turned into one and to my surprise, I had a few offers to hang out and dram with this person or that.  Sadly, I had to pick and choose only one of the offers and the only way I was able to make my one whisky night work was to select the one that would allow me to stay at my hotel.

My selection was Scott’s SelectionBrian Dvoret, US ambassador for Scott’s Selection, and I have shared a few emails over the past year or so but have seemed to somehow miss one another at every go.  Luckily for me, it was not the case this time around.  What’s more was Brian said he was able to bring his wares right to my hotel – I didn’t have to make one bit of effort!  Brian really played to up my laziness (laziness, my ass!  I had been working a tradeshow for many days straight; 7am up to 10pm down Saturday to Thursday – I EARNED this whisky night!  Thanks again Brian – I could not have had this great experience without you!!).

So, what is Scott’s Selection and who is “Scott”?  While there’s more info on this website, here’ the gist:

Robert Scott has been immersed in the Scotch Whisky trade since he left school at the age of sixteen. Starting first as a lowly distillery worker responsible for cleaning the stills, he rose steadily through the ranks, gaining extensive knowledge of all aspects of the distilling trade. By the time he had reached bis 32nd birthday, not only had he gained an enviable reputation as an accomplished all-rounder in whisky production but, more importantly, he had become one of the most respected “nosers” of Scotch Whiskies.

In the 1970s Robert Scott was appointed Master Distiller, a position he held in the finest traditions of this ancient craft until retirement beckoned. Prior to caring full time for his garden in Glasgow, Robert was to be given one final assignment, namely to create a personal selection of his favorite single malt whiskies. Thus, Scott’s Selection was born.

Robert’s criteria for choosing his Selection is rigorous:

  1. Only top quality malts (and one top quality grain) are included, with an optimum level of aging.
  2. The greatest care is taken during bottling to ensure that the malts are maintained as closely as possible to their natural state in the cask. Thus whiskies are filtered but not chilled prior to bottling; nor are they diluted by the addition of water. Only by following the strictest quality controls can the individual characteristics of each malt be fully appreciated.
  3. The consumer packaging should reflect the heritage and character of the whiskies and distinguish the three distinct distilling areas: Highland, Lowland, and Islay.

Scott’s Selection is a tribute to the great tradition of distilling whisky in Scotland and above all to the knowledge and expertise of Robert Scott, Master Distiller.

Speyside Distillers Company Ltd was crowned the Independent Bottler of the Year 2008 at the annual Whisky Magazine awards held on 2 November in Glasgow. We were also awarded the regional title of Independent Bottler of the year for Mainland Scotland. Scott’s Selection and Private Cellar received a total of 8 awards including 5 gold, 2 silver and 1 bronze medals.

On to the tasting:

On top the the whiskies tasted that night (shown on the left with Brian, 9 in all; 8 Scott’s Selection and The Speyside 12yo) I was able to share this experience with my boss, Charlie.

Charlie (shown to the right and happier than a whisky drinker at a private tasting), on top of being a great boss, is a sucker for a good whisky but has never really had the opportunity to have a private whisky tasting.  He worked the tradeshow right along with me and I thought that my whisky reward should be his whisky reward as well.

So, as I mentioned, Brian was nice enough to bring 9 different whiskies and while I didn’t take any notes on the whiskies I tasted, I can tell you that most were lovely single casks whiskies. Brian is a very knowledgeable guy who has been in the industry for years.  He did a great job teaching us about the Scott’s Selection range as well as the 12yo Speyside single malt.  How were the whiskies?  To be honest, they were some of the better single cask whiskies I’ve had with a couple that really stood out for me…

The whiskies were:

  1. 1977 Glenlivet (Bourbon cask, bottled in 2004), 53.1%ABV – A sweety of a whisky with a good deal of vanilla and citrus
  2. 1980 Glenrothes (Bourbon cask, bottled in 2005), 55.8%ABV – like other single cask Glenrothes I had, I found it to be sweet and woody with odd notes of household cleaners
  3. 1967 Longmorn-Glenlivet (Bourbon cask, bottled in 2004), 53%ABV – A gloriously creamy dram filled with caramels, Rolos and other chewy treats
  4. 1986 Highland Park (Bourbon Cask, bottled in 2007(, 54.1%ABV – Like every other single cask HP, I never know what to expect.  The HP single casks are never anything like their standard OB’s.  In the end, it was nice.  I was hoping for a touch more smoke but there was a good deal of honey and, if memory serves, a note of sweet BBQ sauce.
  5. 1989 Aberlour (Bourbon cask, bottled in 2007), 52.8%ABV – perhaps the biggest surprise of the night.  Aberlour shines as a sherried whisky so I wasn’t sure what to expect with an 18yo bourbon cask Aberlour.  It was perhaps the best whisky of the night (neck & neck with the 1967 Longmorn-Glenlivet, I have to say).  Brilliant, fruity, touches of mint, citrus and cream.
  6. 1990 Bruichladdich (Bourbon cask, bottled in 2004, pre-Jim McEwan distilled whisky), 58.1%ABV – Creamy, light & vegetal.  The smoke was almost imperceptible.
  7. 1984 Caol Ila (Bourbon cask, bottled in 2007), 54.7%ABV – SCORE!!  I’m not sure what was best about this whisky; the fact that it was the first heavily peated/smoky whisky of the bunch and therefore stood out like you would not believe or that it was just damn good & balanced wonderfully between the smoke, fruits and wood.
  8. 1964 North of Scotland (Port cask, bottled in 2003), 43.2%ABV – A wonderful single grain whisky that’s older than most of the people reading this here post.  Chocolatey, sweet and grainy, light and orangey goodness.  A word to the wise, and not that you would given the lower ABV of 43.2%, do not add even one drop of water to this one as it fizzles like you would not believe.  A very, very delicate whisky.
  9. 12yo Speyside (Bourbon cask), 43%ABV – review to come – Brian was nice enough to leave me with a sample.

If any of these whiskies sound good to you and you’re planning on being at WhiskyLIVE NYC on April 6th, Brian will be there as well pouring some of these beauties.  If you do plan on going to WhiskyLIVE, be sure to take advantage of my 10% discount to you & use the voucher term “jewmalt2011” when getting tickets. Details on WhiskyLIVE and how to take advantage of my discount to you are here.

Brian – thanks so much for the private tasting!  Charlie, I’m glad you could join in – it was a pleasure having you in on the whisky fun!