October 4, 2018. It’s Autumn in Boston. The air is crisp, the leaves about to change color. Despite the cooler evening air, crowds of shoppers surround me as I walk through the famed Downtown Crossing shopping district.
Although I love this place at any time, this evening I’m here once again for the Whisky Extravaganza, held in the Hyatt Regency Boston. It is a whisky lover’s dream. One can choose from masterclasses, and tastings of over 100 whiskys from around the world. The Whisky Extravaganza is a travelling show hitting cities such as New York, Chicago, Washington D.C., Seattle, and more.
Confession, I selfied with my “vintage pro blogger vest”. Evening starting? Game on.
From 6 to 7pm many people choose to attend masterclasses, each specializing in learning about and tasting a select family of whiskys.
At 7:30 the main room opened – and guests were first treated to tables of gourmet foods – meat dishes and vegetarian.
(The only sour note to this area was that their Starbucks coffee, prepared ahead of time, wasn’t at all up to snuff. I personally would have gone with Panera.)
When one first sees all the tables, each with multiple options, where to start? I passed the table with Kilbeggan and a plethora of Tyrconnell offerings. Scotch whisky in particular was everywhere: Laphroaig, Bowmore, Ardmore, BenRiach, Knappogue Castle, Glen Moray, Glendronach, the list went on and on. Years of careful tastings have taught me that I’m not generally of peated whiskys, so I concentrated on sampling unpeated offerings – and especially the American classic whisky styles: bourbon and rye. (I think that there was a Canadian whisky here as well, which I avoided. Don’t judge.)
Something special was that a couple of recognized liquor establishments – Gordon’s Wine and Spirits, and Norfolk Wine and Spirits, came here with their own special barrel picks. Those can’t be found in most stores, so they are very much worth trying. You can read our article on store picks/barrel picks to learn how they offer an experience which differs from standard offerings.
Here I finally got a chance to try ryes from Sagamore Spirit. They are a newer distiller, and that’s a topic worth exploring New bourbon distillers face steep uphill battle. Long story short, it can take a long time for a new distiller to make a truly good product, and some of the new craft whiskeys are over-priced & not yet ready for prime time. One thus has to balance taking the occasional risk – one does want to support new distillers – while recognizing that some products may turn out not to be read for prime time. That’s why I was so pleased with what I tasted from Sagamore Spirit! I can now safely put them on my “to buy” list 🙂 The four year old bourbon from Taconic Distillery in New York? Also good – and I can’t wait to see how their product develops with deeper aging.
One of the most interesting finds was a barrel pick made by Gordon’s Wine: Boone County 12 year straight bourbon, $100. (They are already sold out of this.) Yet what caught my eye from Gordon’s was their Russell’s Reserve Single Barrel, the “B” version. I’m not a fan of the regular Wild Turkey Russell’s Reserve, but this was quite nice!
Fans of single malt Scotch whiskys had a plethora of choices, but I found that some newer American single malts were just as good. I’d suggest that readers pick up a bottle of Westland American Oak (their standard malt whiskey)
From Glen Moray and Glengoyne I compared pours from their younger to older offerings, experiencing how longer aging leads to a deeper, more complex product. I experienced the same with new American rye whiskey such as Old Potrero.
There’s just no place I have been with such a breadth of options to choose from. A great way to discover what is out there. Looking forward to this event returning next year.
Here you can check out our reviews of bourbon, Scotch, Irish whiskey, Canadian whiskey, ryes or flavored whiskys. We have articles on science & health, and a plethora of other topics. Feel free to learn more about me, Distilled Sunshine.