Throughout the calendar year a variety of organizations work tirelessly to stage whiskey themed festivals that bring together the best personalities and products of the spirits industry. Master distillers from the United States and around the world come together in one venue to impart their knowledge and history of whiskey making and to share their products with us, the drinking public. It’s never too early to start making your plans to attend at least one of these events. So dust of your Glencairn nosing glass and make sure you get a reservation and tickets to the event nearest to you. This is not intended as a complete list so feel free to leave a comment if you are aware of an event that is not covered here. Be sure to check back regularly as updates will be made when more information becomes available.
Whiskies of the World Expo
For the 11th year running the WoW Expo will be held in San Francisco at the Hotel Nikko. The event will be staged on March 27th 2010. Ticket prices range from $110 to $120. Whiskeys will be represented from The United States, Scotland, Ireland, Canada and Japan, featuring single malts, popular blends, bourbons and now American artisanal whiskeys. Enjoy over 200 whiskeys, seminars and live music. The expo brings together “people who enjoy sampling and nosing in a festive and highly educational atmosphere”. The Hotel Nikko, noted for its cuisine, will provide WoW guests with an assortment of food in the form of a full buffet dinner, from hors d’ouevres to carving boards. This year a limited number of tickets can be won by entering an essay contest. See website for all the details.
Whiskey Live New York
Held at pier 60, The Chelsea Piers. 23rd Street on the Hudson River, ‘Whiskey Live’ presents an evening of great whiskey, fine food and lively entertainment in the heart of New York. Taste whiskey from Scotland to Kentucky, mingle with the producers and Master Distillers and meet the stars of the industry. Dedicated areas known as ’Whiskey Experiences’ will provide education and entertainment with demonstrations of cocktails, whiskey blending and coopering. Master Classes, tutored by experts in the industry will be available to tasters for a nominal fee per class. Class schedule will be available closer to show date. Ticket prices for the event, to be held on Wednesday, April 7th, 2010, are $105 to $135 advance and $120 to $155 at the door.
Malt Advocate's premiere event kicks off in Chicago on April 23rd, 2010. Billed as America's largest whiskey celebration, the event will feature “the worlds finest, rarest and most expensive, single malt and blended scotch, Irish, bourbon, Tennessee, Japanese, Welsh, Canadian and other whiskies from around the world to sample in one grand ballroom”. Representatives from the distilleries will be available to answer questions in the pouring booths as well as a full roster of seminars presented throughout the evening by the industries leading personalities. Visitors to Whiskey Fest are treated to a full gourmet buffet that will run throughout the evening with coffee, tea, soda and water also provided. Ticket prices for the event are $110 to $150 and include a commemorative Glencairn nosing glass. If you enjoy this event you can follow it to San Francisco where it will be replayed on October 8th, 2010 or to New York on November 9th, 2010.
Kentucky Bourbon Festival
The bourbon Super Bowl, this event will be held over a whopping six days from September 14th to September 19th, 2010, in Bardstown Kentucky, the bourbon capital of the world. Six days of bourbon, good food and entertainment with a “healthy dose of Kentucky Hospitality thrown in for good measure”. This is billed as a family event and will provide activities for all ages from historical tours to black tie galas. Strictly a bourbon whiskey event you won’t find a dram of scotch for miles. What you will find over the course of the week is a golf tournament, a bourbon barrel relay, an auction, a breakfast, a mixed drink challenge, a bourbon cooking school, a horse shoe pitch, a nighttime hot air balloon glow and a corn hole tournament, and that’s just to get you started. All the major distilleries will participate in the festival, which now draws more than 50,000 people from all over the world. A lot of the activities are free; some require a reservation and some will charge admittance. The Kentucky Bourbon Festival website will have a full list of events as the date approaches.
Beer, Bourbon and BBQ Festival (Nashville edition)
This one looks like more fun than one pig can have in an oversized mud puddle. Brew it, taste it, sip it, pork it. More than 60 beers, 40 bourbons and lots of barbeque. The Beer, Bourbon and BBQ Festival wants you to enjoy a great day of beer sippin’, bourbon tastin’, music listenin’, cigar smokin’ and barbeque eatin’. Attend seminars and gourmet cooking demonstrations in the Tasting Theater. Admission to the event costs $30 to $40 and includes a tasting glass so you can enjoy an ALL-YOU-CARE-TO-TASTE sampling of beer and bourbon. Their will be live music all day. This event will be held in the Nashville Municipal Auditorium on November 6th, 2010. Before arriving in Tennessee this festival will travel to six other states throughout the year. Dates and times can be found on their official website.
Some or all of the festivals listed here offer a ‘designated driver’ admittance at drastically reduced prices. Check official sites or call the organizers to get exact dates, times, locations and seminar schedules. Reserve early as some events sell out quickly.