Over a month has past since I went to the Single Malt and Scotch Whisky Extravaganza in Boston. And although a month and a half has past, I can tell you I often think about that night.
Is it the whisky served at the tables that have me thinking? Not really. Don’t get me wrong. There are some fine whiskies poured at the show. Personally, I got to taste some very interesting stuff like Glen Spey 21yo, Cragganmore 21yo, new to the US Hakushu 12yo, The Balvenie’s new Tun 1401 Batch 3, and many, many other whiskies including five new SMWS bottings (coming up in the next few of weeks I will have reviews of all five of the SMWS bottlings).
What got me from the get go? I think it’s Alan Shayne – the President of the SMWS in the USA. A warm and personable guy who was more than happy to give me a preview of what to expect for the night:
After my talk with Alan, and still before the show got underway, I saw David Blackmore of Glenmorangie/Ardbeg and he gave me an early preview of what he’d be pouring that night:
As mentioned in a previous review of this show, the best part of it all is the Whisky Panel which is something completely unique to any of the other shows I’ve been to.
The Whisky Panel is a one hour session before the show starts where about 10 or 12 Brand Ambassadors take questions from the audience. It’s fun, HIGHLY informative and a total wild ride to see all of these guys and gals up there busting one another (in a very light-hearted way). For a whisky anorak like myself, I can pass on all the whisky in the room just to be a part of a conversation with other whisky folk and just totally geek out. Seriously… whisky and fine food (even some insanely good stuff for vegetarians like me) aside, the Whisky Panel is worth the trip to Boston.
For the majority of the evening, I popped in and out with my friends, the geniuses at Malt Impostor; John, Bill and Stephen (and Stephen’s friend Kim). When I go to a show, it’s usually alone so it’s times like these when having friends there pays. A pleasure hanging out and talking with you guys!
After the panel and eating some great food (as previously mentioned), trying this whisky and that, I ran into Gardner Dunn of Suntory and he gave me the low-down on the latest Suntory whisky being imported into the US:
After this, I went over to the Diageo tables and ran into my friend Ewan (who you might remember was one of the good folk that reviewed the GlenHatton blend).
He not only provided good cheer and great jokes, he poured me some of those Glen Spey and Cragganmore 21yos I mentioned earlier (they were not just for press, mind you, that super-fancy stuff was for all attendees).
And quickly over to the Usquaebach table (perhaps one of my favorite blends – especially the 15yo pure malt) to sip on some of their whisky and have a laugh or two with my friend Noah Goldstein (as you can tell by the name, a nice Irish boy).
Speaking of Irish, I spent some time at the Bushmills table just long enough to fall in love with their 16 & 21yo whiskeys. I was taken through the entire line and with the exception of the entry level whiskey, I found their line to be quite good (especially, again, the 16yo & 21yo whiskeys).
As the old saying goes, time is fun when you’re having flies. The night ended a lot quicker than I expected. I always leave this (and other) show(s) wondering where the time went. I will say, however, that due to the smaller size of the show I was able to do everything I wanted to do and talk with everyone I wanted to talk with. The Single Malt and Scotch Whisky Extravaganza is a show I look forward to every year.
A big thanks goes out to Gabby Shayne for the press pass and samples for review (again, those SMWSA reviews will pop up in the next few weeks).