On a blistery cool evening in DC The Macallan put on a tasting at Ibiza which is best described as a night club that is in a more distant area than most events around the nations capital. It was too my surprise that these tastings had multiple times on the evening but that went into disbelief when I saw how large this event was. The setting itself screamed “nightlife” and you were just wondering when a DJ was going to pop out, Macallan poured and a mob dance break out.
Instead of the DJ there were multiple servers swimming around with trays of tasting glasses and a stage set up with a large LED screen and Iconic looking bottles of Macallan lined up. Then out popped the DJ, er, well Martin Daraz actually. Now having seen Martin before at work, I knew that the right guy was sent to a large crowd that was probably hoping the DJ would show up. Martin is highly entertaining and extremely well informed. I actually wish more large brand distillers could follow Macallan’s lead. This was a very well done event and I think everyone went away knowing, as many do, how well Macallan products taste and are presented.
There wasn’t anything presented at this event that I wasn’t familiar with but because of the well execution and sheer entertainment value of Martin I left with a smile on my face. If you have not had The Macallan products, which I don’t know how you could avoid such a task, you owe it to yourself to try out their 12 year offering which is quite ubiquitous. The Macallan is one of those rare products that although found almost anywhere you go, is always worth the pour.
The annual event of the Single Malt Scotch Whisky Extravaganza was held on October 13 at the JW Marriott Hotel in Washington, DC and as most of these events there was an abundance of booze, food, and giveaways. I’ve taken awhile to write about this event but the most exciting thing about this event for myself was that I actually won something! One of the raffle winnings was a box of Siglo cigars and somehow out of hundreds of entrants I actually won it! This made me happy on two counts, free cigars, good, and it actually helps defray the cost of going, better!
If you have never been to one of these large events I would encourage you to go. It is a great place to see that there is a LOT more scotch whisky out in the market than what you typically see in your local store and if you are like me and spend most of your time in Virginia (an alcohol controlled State “ABC”) you are not use to a lot of variety. I typically run through the Washington DC stores to find the non-typical offerings and offerings even from well-known brands that do not make it to ABC stores.
The evening actually started out with an hour with the brand reps which actually was more collegiate upstaging by one another and friendly insults at each other. What sticks out in my mind from the Q&A session was the importance of selecting casks for distillers. If you don’t know, most all of the taste that your favorite scotch has is due to the wood cask it is placed in. This is more tricky for scotch than bourbon because you are using a spent bourbon or other whiskey cask to entrust your distilled liquid to.
After this the doors were opened and the multitude was sent in to mob the tables where the reps stood by. This is not my favorite thing. Partly because there is far more people than there is time for the reps to address and often you have uninformed reps helping out. Even if you know a lot about scotch it is quite dizzying to sample each table and then remember which offering from which brand you actually enjoyed. I would encourage you to bring something to write with and a small piece of paper, trying to record it on your iphone is quite time consuming. The event give you a Tour Journal but I find it large and cumbersome fighting through the crowds. I like to take pictures of offerings that I really find interesting.
Here are a couple of pics of some of the offerings I found interesting.
If you have not tried Jura products, you must! Their youngest offerings are excellent also.
There were many I did not get pictures of because the crowds were just overwhelming! I’d like to make mention of Glen Grant’s 10 year which is a great “first” scotch and their 16 year old will be liked by the more experienced scotch drinker. The Scotch Malt Whisk Society bottlings were of course very good and probably were the best offerings there.
One of the freebies given were two cigars from Altadis U.S.A. and they were the VegaFina brand which is a light to medium cigar and I actually enjoyed it. The other was a H.Upmann Sun Grown that is medium-ish and I really didn’t find any satisfaction in it.
I have added a new section or page to theScotchlife blog. Notice the tab up top labeled Cigar and Whisky events. I will be adding the events that I intend on going to as well as ones I learn about that I think you would enjoy. The events will be primarily events held in the USA for now. Also, most of the local events will be located in Washington DC/Virginia area as that is where I live.
If you have any events please let me know. There is such a large community of Cigar and Whisky lovers and it would be a shame to not know of great events happening in your own backyard!
Please notice the 2012 Nth event. This is upcoming in March in Las Vegas, NV and is the single greatest scotch tasting event in the States available, not to mention it’s in our favorite city! The same organizers of this are having several city events and you will be able to taste scotch that is ONLY available through these events!
Also, make sure you are subscribed to my twitter feed which will also alert you to things going on. @theScotchlife