Awards & Events

First among piers

We review the recent Whisky Live New York.
By Rob Allanson
For the first time in years, the weather was perfect. From inside the main hall of Pier 60, the view of the Hudson, the NY skyline, and Lady Liberty was incredible. The stage was set. With all the bottles prepped, food ready, the band tuned up, and the masters of whisky at the ready; a pair of bagpipes announced the start of the fifth anniversary of Whisky Live New York.Being far more than just an arbitrary tasting event, Whisky Live is an entire evening out. The band MacTalla Mor rocked the evening with their own special sound. An innovative and lively blend of traditional Scottish and American pop music kept the energy level high all night. With more than 100 different expressions of whisky being poured, the evening was a tremendous success. Regarded by exhibitors and visitors alike; Whisky Live New York 2009 was by far the best yet!In addition to having the finest whiskies in the world available for tasting, the visitors enjoyed several special attractions, among them, the food pairing demonstration on the main stage by Laura Quinn of St. Andrews restaurant. Teamed up with Ricky Crawford from The Glenlivet, the demonstration was not only interesting and delicious to those in the area around the stage, but also gave a great insight into the combined world of whisky and food.One of the more noteworthy highlights was the US launch of the superb 30 Years Old blend Black Bull by Whisky Magazine’s Independent Bottler of the Year Duncan Taylor & Co. This was reinforced by Euan Shand and Mark Watt wearing aptly emblazoned “No Bull – Just Whisky”T-shirts all evening!Lombard Scotch Whisky was in attendance with Pebble Beach 12 Years Old. Of course there was a fantastic range of independent bottlings which were the highpoint of the show for many of the visitors.The broad and full range of whiskies present at the tasting is always impressive.Not only were the finest single malts and exquisite blends represented from Scotland and Ireland, but also a wonderful California rye from Anchor Brewing , some great bourbons, and whisky from Japan, as well as many others.Very seldom is one afforded the opportunity to taste and evaluate the major brands and the small independents from around the world side by side.As always at Whisky Live, there were master classes for visitors to enjoy. With six very different presentations, something of interest was offered for all tastes and levels of whisky experience.Kevin Smith, master distiller for Maker’s Mark led off with a tasting of Maker’s Mark from new distillate to over matured.Dr Bill Lumsden of Glenmorangie, and 2009 Innovator of the Year; lead a tasting through the award winning New World of Glenmorangie including Astar and Nectar D’Or.US brand Ambassador for the Glenlivet, Ricky Crawford lead visitors through the nuances and subtleties of the Glenlivet range.A real treat was Evan Cattanach, master distiller emeritus of Diageo spoke to a full class about the Distillers Collection for the Classic Malts range and Spike McClure of Diageo took his audience through the Bushmills Range.Finally, Martin Daraz of Highland Park was on hand to express the range of Highland Park to an overflowing class, to include one or two diehards who were more than willing to take a seat and make themselves comfortable on the floor, rather than miss out!“Just like he is at home”was one spouse’s comment as she headed back towards the main hall and her own sampling.One other item worth mentioning,by keeping the focus on education and sampling, and maintaining a controlled drinking environment, there were no signs of over indulgence or unruly behaviour. You know you have the right formula when the only bored people of the evening are the security staff at a 1000 person whisky tasting! Responsible drinking and true whisky enjoyment can go hand in hand.To experience and have explained by the masters the differences between a Lowland and Highland scotch, to compare four or five different aspects of the whisky industry, all in one night, under one roof, surrounded by great food, live music, and others that share your passion; is the epitome of the Whisky Live Experience!It was our pleasure to bring it to you.