There are many whiskey festivals each year, but few are as well attended and well stocked as the annual WhiskyFest. Taking place in Chicago, New York, and San Francisco, the popular whiskey show features a full slate of educational seminars and tasting opportunities, with this year promising more than 400 different bottles. And, naturally, I plan to taste as many as I possibly can. That said, I’ve narrowed down some priority targets.
Below are the 10 bottles I’m most excited about trying at WhiskyFest New York, which kicks off on December 3. If you’d like to try these for yourself, I’ll do my best to save you some.
Several of these whiskeys are only available to those attendees who purchase VIP tickets.
1. E.H. Taylor Amaranth Grain of The Gods
This one is surprisingly not on the VIP pour list. This is the newest expression released from the well-known Sazerac Co. and their popular Colonel E.H. Taylor brand, and I am really curious to see how amaranth influences the bourbon’s flavor. Amaranth is an ancient grain that was harvested by the Aztecs as a staple part of their diet and used in their religious ceremonies.
2. Jim Beam Distiller’s Masterpiece PX Cask
This particular whiskey is one I saw almost every day for a year sitting in the “reference section” of my old bar, but never had the pleasure of trying. This is not a new whiskey from Jim Beam and their parent company Beam-Suntory, but it is a fairly rare one. My research tells me that this bottle is likely 10 years old, at minimum. It’s finished for an undisclosed period of time in barrels that used to hold Pedro Ximenez sherry.
3. Little Book Chapter 3
I’ve been interested in the Little Book range of whiskeys since I first had the pleasure of tasting Chapter 1 with Beam Family 7th Generation Master Distiller Fred Noe a few years back. I unfortunately haven’t had the chance to taste Chapter 2, but I hear that Chapter 3 is amazing. It’s also the range’s first Kentucky Straight Bourbon, whereas the other two were blends of different whiskeys. Chapter 1 was a blend of corn, rye, and wheat, while Chapter 2 was a blend of Canadian and American whiskeys.
4. Woodford Reserve Master’s Collection Chocolate Malted Rye
I love Woodford Reserve. The whiskey they produce is consistently delicious, and if you had asked me two years ago to name a favorite from their lineup, I’d have said Double Oak. But recently, I had their new wheat whiskey and fell in love. Every year, Woodford releases a new limited-release as part of their Master’s Collection. Assistant Master Distiller Elizabeth McCall teased the newest edition, a chocolate malted rye whiskey, so I obviously need to taste it.
5. Mossburn Blair Athol
Mossburn is a new-ish independent bottler on the whiskey scene. They are also a distiller under the name Torabhaig, which is located on the Isle of Skye, and their scotch should be coming of age very soon. I don’t get the opportunity to taste a Blair Athol dram very often, so color me excited.
6. FEW Alice In Chains Tequila Barrel Aged Bourbon
Paul Hletko, the head distiller and founder of FEW Spirits out of Evanston, Illinois, never ceases to make really neat stuff. I once had a Breakfast Whiskey from FEW that tasted like maple syrup and pancakes. When I heard they were releasing a bourbon aged in a tequila barrel (for context, it’s usually the other way around), I knew I’d have to try it.
7. Deanston Dragon’s Milk Stout Cask Finish
Dragon’s Milk is a popular stout beer from New Holland Brewing out of Michigan. Usually, when one thinks of stout cask-finished whiskeys, you’ve got a much heavier distillate than the light Highland-style malt that is Deanston. And that’s precisely why this pour interests me so much.
8. Jim Beam Repeal Batch
Jim Beam made in the same style as the brand’s whiskey from the early 20th Century, just after the repeal of Prohibition? Sign me up! I’m excited to taste this recreation of bourbon history, so will be making a beeline for Repeal Batch at the Beam Suntory booth.
9. Virginia Distillery Company Port Cask Finished VHW
I’m always excited when I get to try a new distillery, and I’ve heard good things about this outfit from multiple friends and colleagues. Virginia Distillery Co. has a few expressions being poured at WhiskyFest, so I’m looking forward to trying each. But this particular expression merges American whiskey with Scottish whisky, and marries it all in a port cask. Intriguing.
10. Weller Full Proof
The infamous Weller Full Proof makes whiskey nerds everywhere foam at the mouth and chomp at the bit for a taste of this elusive bourbon. Clocking in at 114 proof, this is the newest offering in the Weller range. I’ve been wanting to try it, and now I’ll have the chance. This whiskey is sure to delight, and thankfully, it’s not a VIP pour, so there should be enough to go around for everyone.
Are you coming to WhiskyFest New York? What are you looking forward to the most? Let us know in the comments below or get at me on Instagram.