Here is a quick shot episode on our coverage for WhiskyFest Chicago 2017
WhiskyFest Chicago 2017
This is a multiple city festival that has been around for 20 years. Several of our hosts have attended over the years, but this our first review and coverage. It’s well organized. Easy crowd control, easy in/out, good info before and during the event. Great venue. Lots of things you would expect that after such a long time producing such an event.
One major distinction in this event are the people. There were lots of master distillers there and some we don’t see out and about that often. Some notables Jimmy and Eddie Russell, Julian Van Winkle, Denny Potter, Paul Hletko, and Brendan Coyle. So if you are into pressing the flesh with the producers, this is a great event to catch them. We spotted several distillers pouring, snapping photos, and we even got in on some of the fan boy crush. The other people were the attendees with not just a massive crowd but such diverse whiskey fans. There were several whiskey clubs. Fans of bourbon, scotch, Japanese whisky, and plenty of newbies. We spent quite a bit of time just taking to the crowd and everyone was having a great time. There was not even a hint of complaints in these conversations.
We still shake our head at the door rush to get some of the entire Old Rip Van Winkle lineup including the coveted Pappy 23. We walked calmly to the Beam booth and grabbed Bookers Rye. The VIP pours were great quality and there was time to get most of them in the 1 hour before the general admission. One of the few times we can say the VIP upgrade is worth it. Lots of old, rare, and unicorn blood during the VIP hour. We rarely see an event with the entire Buffalo Trace Antique Collection, Pappy, Hibiki 21, Macallan Edition No. 1 ,and Laphroaig 25 2013. That is a really small list of a room of extraordinary juice flowing. Even the non-VIP offerings were extensive with most of the global spirits companies bringing large portions of their product lines. We even tasted some things that we have never seen.
Some here are some products that caught our attention:
Hibiki 21 – wow, what a buttery decadent whisky. This is worth every penny and a major best buy. Please bury me in one of these bottles so I can enjoy eternal bliss.
Redbreast 21 – we have not covered much Irish whisky on the show yet, and I was already a Redbreast fan, but this moved to a whole new level. Wood, honey, citrus, and quite complex.
Aberlour 18 – it’s been awhile and I’ve been working on a couple batches of A’bundah. Don’t forget how good this is. It’s one of the flavor profiles that captured my heart for Scotch and continues to deliver.
Some new to us products that were impressive – Connemara Cask, Kelbeggan 18, Few Spirits Flaming Lips Rye, Octomore 7.
Brendan from High West had that look of great anticipation all over him of something very cool on the horizon. He reported nice things post acquisition by Constellation, but it was that other thing on his mind that was intriguing.
The food was outstanding, although there is not really enough time or room to enjoy it.
Our SS&S Fest Report Card™
Ratings 1-5 with 5 being the best
Venue – 5
Whisk(e)y – 5
Food – 5
Audience – 5
Overall – 5
Would we come back – Yes
Tips for next year: Grab something to eat and hydrate well before the event, it’s a bit of a sprint. Take the time to meet a fellow whiskey fan while you are in the short lines. Stay at the hotel venue the night of the event. Coat check the bag they give you.