NYC Autumn Whisky Fest 2019

 

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On November 16th I attended the New York Whisky Festival. This was one of the many spirit-centric festivals that are taking place around the New York area at this time of year.

The festival was held at The Tunnel at 269 11th Avenue on the West side of Manhattan. It’s a former indoor rail terminal that has been used as a nightclub, event venue and commercial space.

There are many such festivals held around this time of year and like most things some are better than others. Some of the festivals are geared toward the experienced drinker who are looking to experience some high end and esoteric spirits while other festivals are geared more to the novice drinkers that are looking for more of a party with some spirits thrown in. The latter tend to showcase 2nd tier or unknown labels for the spirits. This festival was more of the latter than the former. In my opinion, the most interesting whisky at the event were the single malt French whisky from Rozelieures, while solid stalwarts such as Taconic Distillery, Koval and Slaughter House were on hand to pour some quality spirits. I attended the afternoon session and the crowd on hand were enjoying themselves.

Some of what I sampled:

 

Rozelieures  Single Malt French Whiskey Springbrook Rye, Bourbon
Slaughter House, Straight Edge, Whipsaw Catoctin Creek Bourbon, Roundstone Rye
Glen Grant Single Malt Scotch 12yr, 15yr, 18yr Taconic Distillery Founders Rye, Cask Strength Rye, Barrel Strength Bourbon 
Koval  Oat, Millet, Bourbon, Single Barrel Duke Bourbon, Founders Reserve
Uncle Nearest 1856, 1884 Whisky Coppersea Rye, Straight Whisky
J. Riddle Peated Bourbon American Craft Distillers 1420 Bourbon
Town Branch Single Malt Whisky, Bourbon Black Button Distillery Bourbon
Catcher’s Rye Misunderstood Ginger Spiced Whisky

 

 

Bourbon at Belmont

 

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On Saturday May 4th I attended the Bourbon at Belmont whiskey festival.

The event was held at Belmont Park which is located at 2150 Hempstead Turnpike in Elmont, just over the New York City border in Nassau County. Belmont Park is one of the remaining thoroughbred horse racing facilities in the New York City area that at one time had several. The raceway was opened in 1905 and hosts the Belmont Stakes which is the 3rd leg of the Triple Crown. The first leg of the Triple Crown, the Kentucky Derby was held on this Saturday.

The festival was held in the Grand Stand overlooking the racetrack and featured over 30 whiskey.  Though advertised as a Bourbon event, it was an all-American (with one outlier, a Mexican distiller) whiskey event that featured many Rye and whiskey blends as well as Bourbon whiskey. In addition to whiskey, Bourbon barrel aged craft beer was served.

It was a “live” racing day with horseracing throughout the afternoon and a live simulcast of the Kentucky Derby later that afternoon. Of course while sipping on whiskey, you had the option to place a bet on any of the races.

There was a good selection of high end whiskey with a couple of new producers that I had never tried before.

Some of what I sampled:

 

Clyde May’s: Straight Rye, Straight Bourbon

Elijah Craig: Small Batch Bourbon

Finger Lakes Distilling: McKenzie Bourbon, McKenzie Bottled in Bond, McKenzie Wheated Bourbon

Hudson Whiskey: Baby Bourbon, Manhattan Rye, Maple Cask Rye

Hillrock Estate Distilling: Estate Single Malt, Solera Aged Bourbon

High West Distilling: American Prairie Bourbon, Double Rye, Campfire

Jefferson’s: Ocean Aged, Very Small Batch, Very Old Small Batch

Kings County Distilling: Straight Bourbon, Bottled in Bond

Larceny: Very Special Small Batch Bourbon

Montauk Hard Label: Original Whiskey

Russel’s Reserve: 10yr Straight Bourbon, Single Barrel Bourbon

Splinter Spirits: Slaughter House American Whiskey

Sierra Note Mexican Whiskey: Yellow, Black

Taconic Distilling: Dutchess Private Reserve, Barrel Strength Bourbon

Widow Jane Distilling: 10yr Bourbon, American Oak and Applewood Aged Rye

Whistle Pig Distilling: 10yr Straight Rye, 12yr Old World Cask Finish

Wild Turkey: Longbranch

 

 

Albany Chef’s Food & Wine Fest 2018

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The 9th annual Albany Chef’s Food & Wine Festival was held on January 11-13. The event raised money for the arts in Albany and was three days of seminars, dinners, grand tastings and culinary and bartender competitions which included a cooking challenge and a Bloody Mary contest.

This year the event partnered with the Indonesian Diaspora Network which inspired the artwork on the poster and provided the food theme for the dinners.

The event was held at the Empire State Plaza, a 1970s era complex of monolithic state government buildings which cost around $2 billion to build at the time. I attended the grand tasting on Saturday afternoon which featured food from local restaurants, wine, spirits and craft beer as well as the chefs and bartenders competition. There was also a one seminar which I attended.  Like many consumer tastings, there was a lot of mid level wines but there was a table with some high end juice and I tasted some interesting whiskey.

Albany is the capitol of the state of New York but it’s a small town and the downtown area was pretty much a ghost town on the Saturday afternoon I was there.

Some of what I sampled:

 

Whiskey

Jack Daniels’s: single barrel rye, single barrel select, Sinatra select

Hudson: Manhattan rye, four grain bourbon

Eagle Rare bourbon 10yr

Ironweed rye

 

Wine

2015 Steele Chardonnay Cuvee

2015 Cartlidge & Browne Pinot Noir

2013 Twonmey Cellars Merlot

2013 Gaja “Sori Tilden”

2012 Il Poggione Brunello di Montalcino

2014 Chateau La Nerthe Chateauneuf du Pape

2016 19 Crimes Red Blend

 

Seminar: Willamette Valley Vineyards Pinot Noir Horizontal

The tasting room is just south of the city of Salem, Oregon and is one of the larger producing wineries in the state. I did stop by the huge tasting room when I visited Willamette Valley last Spring.

2014 Pinot Noir “Estate”. A blend of grapes from several vineyards, clear, dark red with a delicate perfume of dark cherry, some earth and petroleum, dusty fruit ending with tart black cherry.

2014 Pinot Noir “Tualatin”. Clear, medium dark red, red licorice on the nose, tight, bright delicate fruit with smoky notes on the finish.

2014 Pinot Noir “Elton”. Clear, dark purple, cherry and leather on the nose, tight fruit, firm acids with charred notes on the finish.

2014 Pinot Noir “Bernau Block”. Clear, dark red with mint, green herbs and strawberry jam on the nose, delicate and earthy notes and black licorice on the finish.

 

 

Beer, Bourbon & BBQ Fest 2017

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The 8th annual Beer, Bourbon & BBQ festival kicked off its multi city tour this past Saturday, January 28th in Manhattan. Their motto is, Brew it, Taste it. Sip it. Pork it. It was a day of “down home Southern fried good time” to benefit the Spirit of Hope children foundation. There was plenty of beer, cider, whiskey and bbq for the crowd in addition to a DJ, cigars and beer games.  The event was held this year as in last at The Tunnel event space at 608 West 28th Street on the far West side of Manhattan.

After feasting on ribs, chicken and pork belly it was time to try several ryes, bourbons and ciders. Of the ciders that I tried, Angry Orchard wooden spoon was the most interesting, bone dry with wood notes on the finish.

 

Seminar: High End Whiskeys

Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Whiskey Single Barrel-Barrel Proof

Booker’s Bourbon Barrel Strength

Wild Turkey Bourbon Master’s Keep 17 Year

Bib & Tucker Bourbon

Jefferson’s Bourbon Ocean Aged

Sagamore Spirit Rye