On Thursday, June 7, 2018, the good people of the Jewish Whisky Company once again hosted the “Mother of all Whisky Events”, the NYC Whisky Jewbilee. This would be the seventh time that this event would descend upon Midtown Manhattan, and while the main event began at 7PM and ended at 10PM, as we’ve done in years past, we opted to make this an all day thing, hence the #WhiskyJewbileeDay hashtag.
For this year’s #WhiskyJewbileeDay recap, rather than just talk about all that went down at the main event, we’ve decided to expand our coverage and tell you about all that happened in the hours and minutes leading up to the grand tasting at Studio 450.
Grab your Glencairns and your favorite elixir, Kids! It’s gonna be a boozy ride…
G-LO: The #WhiskyJewbileeDay pre-train checklist:
- Camera? Check
- Light jacket? Check
- Change of clothes? Check
- Toiletries? Check
- Daily meds, ibuprofen, and Alka-Seltzer? Check, check, and check.
- iPad? Check
- Chargers? Check
- Extra batteries? Check
- Cash? Check
- Kids dropped off at school? Check
Looks like I’m ready to go. NYC, here we come!
Limpd: Two bags? Really? Did Mrs. G-LO finally kick him out? I can’t say I didn’t see this coming. I wonder who had today in the “When’s G-LO’s Wife Gonna Kick His Sorry Fat Ass to the Curb?” pool?
AK: Can’t blame G-LO for the two bags thing. I’m an overpacker too. Cuz you just never know.
G-LO: On the road to Hamilton Station. Why did Limpd pick the 295 entrance off of 561 when there was a perfecty good entrance 3/4 of a mile back near the PATCO station? His way is probably a shorter distance, but my way has less traffic.
Limpd: I find it curious that G-LO requested the Sirius XM Broadway Channel for the drive up to Hamilton. Maybe his musical theater loving wife and eldest Urchin are finally rubbing off on him and he’s finally acquired some taste in music? Somehow I doubt it.
AK: I had him pegged for Yacht Rock. Who knew? Though I think I saw him once sporting a Gerry Rafferty t-shirt while sipping on a Pina Colada.
G-LO: Amazing how few parking spots there are at this hour. Circling the parking lot made us miss the 9:58. But that’s ok because the nice thing about this being a heavily trafficed route is that there’s always another train. Catching the next one allowed time to pick up a Boston Cream donut. You know, for strength!
G-LO: That was a fascinating ride to NYC. We actually went backwards at one point due to a disabled train. Oddly enough, it was the 9:58(!), so I guess things have a way of working out after all, though sadly, we had to skip the stop in Metuchen. Now we’re all checked in at the hotel and headed to The Ginger Man for lunch and a drink or two.
Our room has a lovely view of some office workers.
AK: Is that guy on the 4th floor making Xerox’s of his butt? That’s so ’90’s.
This place is great at lunch time. Solid food. Fantastic beer selection. And you can actually have a conversation, hence why it’s THE pre-Jewbilee gathering place.
Limpd: They had Old Engine Oil on draught! I knew there was a reason why I love this bar. Such a good beer.
AK: Bet those pinheads are drinking at Gingerman without me. Argh.
G-LO: The One Nation Under Whisky Podcast Recording and Master Class Session has begun. So many familiar faces…
- Joshua Hatton and Jason Johnstone-Yellin from Single Cask Nation (naturally!).
- Explorers Club members, Justin Fornal and Chad Anderson, aka the guys fom The Great Islay Swim.
- Simon Brooking of Laphroaig.
- Lew Bryson.
- Matt Lurin of Water Of Life.
- David Fenkell, good friend of WhiskyCast and all around super guy.
Limpd: “To lose a swimmer would be bad. To lose the whisky would be unacceptable.” I didn’t say that! The guy that wrote the Men’s Journal article about The Great Islay Swim did. I’m not THAT heartless. Though it really would have sucked to lose the whisky.
G-LO: Started things off with the SCN Pillage Cask (bottles are $500/each with all proceeds going to the Royal National Lifeboat Institute) which has a little bit of whisky from each Islay Distillery. Thick. Oily. Briny. Peaty. Everything you’d expect from a vatted Islay whisky. Good fun! I added a little too much water so I pillaged some whisky (see what I did there?) from an open seat next to me to bring back the fire. That was a damn good move!
Limpd: Tasting the Islay Pillage Cask which was matured in a quarter cask (30 gallons yielding 145 bottles). Apparently, this blend is heavy on the Kilchoman. It’s very leggy and looks like rich honey. The nose is very medicinal with iodine, mercurochrome, and a good bit of peat & pepper. The taste is hot and spicy. Quite the tongue numbing experience. Adding water made it a bit muted, and while less flavorful, it was more approachable.
Someone asked, “How were the contributions from the various distillers selected and how were the whiskies blended?”. Joshua of SCN’s response, “Part by design and part by necessity. We put thought into the whisky whenever we could, to the extent that we were allowed.”
G-LO: Our second whisky for this tasting was a Single Cask Nation bottling of a 4 Year Old Kilchoman. Licorice. Powdered sugar. Charcoal. Vanilla. Young. Fiery. Richly flavored. Really nice to visit this again (click here for my first impressions of this dram).
Limpd: Round two was a chance to try one of the distilleries that went into the Pillage Cask on its own. The color on this SCN Kilchoman bottling was a bit golden, with a nose that was all peat and burnt rubber (think a smoky rubber glove). The taste was brief sweetness followed by a cinnamon heat and a very pleasant finish. Once you get past that smoky rubber glove encased kick to the head that came courtesy of the nose, this is a very nice dram.
G-LO: More Kilchoman for round three of this tasting! This time around we tried the Kilchoman 100% Islay from Binny’s of Chicago. From field to bottle, this is 100% Kilchoman, i.e. they grow the barley, they malt the barley, and they ferment and distill the barley on-site. No outsourcing on this one! Lots of vanilla. Burnt sugar sweetness. Not a lot of bite (more of a nibble). Like quickly running your finger through a flickering flame. Long lasting, spicy/sweet finish. 100% Islay was 100% delicious!
Limpd: Do you know how I know that G-LO is a bad, bad man? Because I was actually looking forward to trying dram number three, a farm to glass bottling of Kilchoman. I used to hate the peat until G-LO kept pushing the stuff on me l ike a corner boy from The Wire pushing WMD on the mean streets of West Baltimore. “It’ll make ya feel good” he’d say. Anyway…
Dram number three looked a lot like dram number two. The nose was sweet with a plethora of heather. The taste was a bit muted for a Kilchoman. Almost soft, but oh so nice. The heat comes in at the backend on this one with a spicy, long & very pleasant finish.
Random things overheard while sampling this whisky…
- Justin: Losing the juice would be unacceptable. I said JUICE!
- Chad: Captain Angus is the saltiest man alive!
- David: How do they know that Captain Angus is the saltiest man alive? Under what scenario did they need to lick the captain?
G-LO: Port Askaig 9 YO? Is that what they said? Anyway, this is whisky number four. Much darker than the other three. Very winey on the nose with loads of dark fruit and dark sugars. Super hot and spicy at the start. All that dark fruit and sugar plus cinnamon, chilis, and a bit of bitterness. Long fiery finish. Tartness in the aftertaste. Damn good, but perhaps a bit too dry in the aftertaste, i.e. this isn’t something that I would drink often.
Limpd: A Port Askaig for whisky number four. The color is good bit darker than anything we’ve tasted so far. The nose is leathery, oily, and honeyey. Tastes like it noses. A little oily with nice sweetness, then a bit more leather, wood and tobacco. Very interesting as a component to a blend, but maybe not fully finished.
The Bowmore was very very sweet with spiced honey, oodles of fruit, licorice, and vanilla. As Speers would say, “This tastes round…”. Nicely balanced and unusually sweet for an Islay. Honey barbecue and mesquite perhaps? Yummy yummy in my tummy for sure!
Cairdeas 2018 was very light on the nose or maybe I wore out my olfactory with this peaty tasting. The flavor is lightly sweet with vanilla, powdered sugar, peach jam, anise, cracked pepper, and some orange zest. Cairdeas is always yummy. This is no exception. A fine way to end this delightful class!
Limpd: Whisky number five and number six are surprises from Mr. Brooking of Laphroaig.
Number five is the Bowmore 10 Dorus Mor Batch III (aka Tempest Batch 5). The color is light yellow with a nose that brings iodine, vanilla, and honeysuckle. The taste is a bit woody with a nice sweetness (bananas?). Really, really good. David, who was seated next to me, remarked that some of the earlier Tempests were better. If that’s the case, I’d would have liked the opportunity to try them.
Whisky number six is the Laphroaig Cairdeas 2018 which is first fill bourbon casks and then Fino Sherry casks. The color is clover honey with a very muted nose that brings some menthol & vapors. The taste is sweet, oily, and peppery, almost in that order, along with some nuts and sea salt. After that, there’s a good bit of heat which leads to a rather long finish.
G-LO: Uh-oh! Jason and Joshua are throwing “Ok ok! You lads can leave now as we have to set up for the main event!” dagger eyes at us. I guess the Masterclass/One Nation Under Whisky Podcast session is over! Definitely good fun with oodles of booze, yucks, and tales of Islay Swimming by the guys that swam those frigid waters last summer. Not a bad mid afternoon pre-game before the Big Game!
Limpd: G-LO spoke very highly of last year’s Masterclass session, so I’m super pleased that I was able to make it to this year’s session. For the record, the guys that did The Great Islay Swim are clearly out of their minds. There isn’t enough whisky in the world to convince me to do something like that. Then again… And, then, then again… all of the titanium in me might begin to dissolve in the sea water, so, I might be best that I remain content with staying on dry land with the whisky that I already have.
G-LO: Time for more pre-gaming. This time at American Whiskey on 30th Street. Limpd, David and I ordered fried sweetbreads with spiced honey, fries, and deviled eggs to share. I had a Bells Oberon to wash it all down. The Lads didn’t care for the sweetbreads. More for me I guess! Did we need this stop? Probably not. But we had time to kill and I really like this place. So we’re here and enjoying every minute of it.
Limpd: Sweetbreads? Who the hell orders sweetbreads as a pre-game snack prior to a whisky event? Some things just aren’t supposed to be eaten. Sure, YOU can call if offal. I’ll just call it awful. Just so you know, offal is defined as “the waste or by-product of a process: such as trimmings (such as the belly, head, and shoulders) of a hide, the by-products of milling (as of wheat or barley) used especially for stock feeds, the viscera and trimmings of a butchered animal removed in preparing it for market or for consumption, and/or rubbish” by the good people at Merriam-Webster. Need I say more?
AK: I’ve been semi-off the grid for 24 hours but the ghost has returned, and now venturing south along the calm Hudson River down the winding West Side Highway from… Riverdale, NY. This is not a long lost chapter from The Lord of the Rings. Just life. The middle offspring has Orientation at Manhattan College up yonder near Yonkers. But she let me get away to join the Home Office Fellowship of the Drams (and Damned too!) at Jewbilee where there will be no Dwarves, Orcs, or Hobbits, if you believe the ancient scrolls. The Uber driver is giving me a nice tour and telling me about how NYC loves President Trump and don’t say otherwise to his wife or, “she kill you”.
G-LO: Waiting for The West Coast Office (aka The WCO aka AK) outside the event. There’s quite a line forming. He better show up soon. We’re thirsty for more!
AK: Stepped out of my carriage at the event to meet up with G-LO and Limpd, but alas, no G-LO or Limpd. Where the hell are they?! Is this the right place? The right night? The right chapter in the sequel? Luckily I meet The Malt Imposters in the lobby, then moments later, Susannah Skiver-Barton (aka SSB) arrives and she is giddy as ever. Familiar faces! Good times have started. Minus G-LO and Limpd.
G-LO: Just got a text from AK. Turns out he’s waiting in the lobby with Malt Impostors Stephen, Bill, and John.
6:38 PM to 6:59 PM
G-LO: Looks like Joshua is gonna let us in to get a quick sneak preview before the crowds show up. We’re going in! Wait. What happened to David? He was right here. Oh well. We’ll catch up with him inside at some point. I have photos to take!
AK: The slowest elevator in New York City arrives at our destination: 12th floor. Ladies undergarments, housewares, umbrellas… whoops, wrong cartoon. Whisky Jewbilee! And who do we see first? Guess. C’mon, guess. Bigger than a breadbox. No, not a thing but you’re warmer? Oh, heck. I’ll just tell you. G-LO, Limpd, and some guy I don’t know! You could’ve guessed if you tried a little harder. Slacker!
7:00 to 10:00 PM
G-LO: As is usually the case when the NYC Whisky Jewbilee rolls around, the stars aligned and all of the pieces that make this event so special fit together perfectly.
We’ve discussed past Jewbilee events ad nauseum, so rather than bore you with a bunch of words (many of which we make up), we’ll just show you what we saw throughout what would prove to be yet another great whisky event…
A fantastic variety of whisky and other spirits: