View Full Version : Going to a whisky convention. Any recommendations?
02-07-2008, 06:45 AM
On Sunday, I will be going to Whisky Magazine Live (http://www.whisk-e.co.jp/live/2008/index_e.html), (here's the list of participants (http://www.whisk-e.co.jp/live/2008/corp_e.html)) being held at Tokyo Big Sight. I was going to go anyway as I've recently gotten interested in single-malt scotch, but I've since been recruited by my office to go as a photographer for some PR work we're doing. In addition to free admission, this means I'll also get to sit in on a couple of the "Master Classes" where the distillery reps give a seminar complete with lots of samples.
Since I have to do some work, I'll be taking it easy on the free samples, at least in the beginning, although I hear that pretty much everyone is handing out drinks and by the end of last year's event, there were limp bodies scattered everywhere.
This will be my first time at an event like this, and the only attendees I'm familiar with are Blackadder Whisky and Bulleit Bourbon. Are there any spirits aficionados here who can recommend which booths I should make a bee-line for?
02-07-2008, 07:46 AM
I suspect you will have a great time whichever booth you find yourself at.
I will say this: I learned to drink in Scotland, ending up there as a Junior in University. My experiences drinking before then usually revolved around cheap beer and quarters. Anyway, I wanted to learn how to appreciate Scotch. After asking a lot of locals in Stirling and Edinburgh, it seemed pretty clear that Scots really thought The Macallan and Glenmorangie (rhymes with "orangy") were the two best (not counting peaty, Islay malts - those are a different category altogether).
That was before the Single-Malt boom blew up in the U.S. in the late 80's - after than, many distilleries "upped their game" and some really great Scotches have been produced and made more readily available. I am a big fan of Oban.
But for regularly-available, you-should-always-have-a-bottle-in-the-house-for-the-right-occasion Scotch, nuthin' beats Macallan 18.
02-07-2008, 02:30 PM
Most participants seem to be Japanese distilleries that I'm unfamiliar with. Of the few that I know about, I very strongly recommend Talisker.
02-07-2008, 02:39 PM
Recommendations? Yes. Take me with you.
My wife will drive us. She's awesome.
02-07-2008, 03:03 PM
Actually, Lost in Translation aside, there are a lot of good Japanese whiskys. I have bottle of Suntory Yamazaki I really like, and I'm sure at something like this you could find more of their limited edition stuff.
02-07-2008, 03:28 PM
There are some good Japanese whiskeys these days with very distinct flavors. Since they're hard to get in the US, if it were me, that's what I'd be trying.
02-07-2008, 10:44 PM
Thanks for all the feedback. I picked up a copy of Jim Murray's Whisky Bible and have been thumbing through it in my free time. He also highly rates many of the Macallan and Talisker whiskies. I'm not familiar with Glenmorangie or Oban, but I'll read up on them before I go.
Murray was extremely impressed with the whiskies in Japan, rating at least three of them (from Yoichi and Hakushu) just a percentage point below the best Scottish ones. I'll try to balance my photography duties with getting a good range of samples and taking some notes.
02-07-2008, 11:15 PM
Don't miss Highland Park, too. It's an accessible scotch that's well-rated and has some complexity.
02-10-2008, 12:58 AM
02-10-2008, 01:28 AM
Either it was a good convention, or you found something better to do with your time!
02-10-2008, 02:23 AM
Good times...good times...
02-10-2008, 08:09 AM
Ok, I think I've recovered somewhat.
The event was a lot of fun, and I learned a lot about whiskies and bourbons. I think I tried about 20-odd different varieties, including some of the Taliskers, Laphroaigs, Arran, Jura, BenRiach, Springbank, MacDuff, Highland Park, plus some Yamazaki and Nikka samples. Since I was sitting in on our client's bourbon seminar taking pictures, I got to try samples afterwards of seven different varieties.
Thank god for auto-focus.
I have to say though, at the end of it all, I honestly didn't care much for the taste of most of the whiskies I tried. The bottle I received from my wife for Christmas (Blackadder 15-y.o. Raw Cask from Macallan) has a very sweet aroma and a very smooth flavor that's easy to drink straight, even at 63% alcohol. Many of the ones I tried today had an aroma that I couldn't place at first, but then realized they smelled almost exactly like very dry sake. They weren't unpleasant tasting, but weren't something I'd seek out. As for the others, I'd heard of a number of whiskies being described as "smoky" but had no idea just how literal that was supposed to be. The aroma and flavor of these were smoky enough to be off-putting, and I'd swear I could still taste smoke in my mouth six or seven hours later.
The bourbons I tried, on the other hand, were all excellent. Even the ones billed as the driest bourbons were very smooth and easy to drink.
02-10-2008, 04:13 PM
I like the Japanese whiskeys but do think they're kind of flat/grainy at times.
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