Extravaganza in Atlanta – 2010

Last night was the Single Malt and Scotch Whisky Extravaganza held in Atlanta. Was there Apostle representation? Whisky…in Atlanta…of course I was there. Here’s my take on the event….

Location
The event was again held at the Intercontinental Hotel in Buckhead. It is a great location that is easily accessable from Peachtree Street, major interstates, and MARTA. It’s an Intercontinental Hotel so the facilities are very nice, as you would expect. There’s not too much more for me to say on that.

What Was Poured
There were a good number of scotches on offer as well as single malt Japanese and Irish offerings. I didn’t specifically count the exact number but it was a lot. A quick summary includes Dalmore, Laphroaig, Ardmore, Glenlivet, Chivas, Glenrothes, Yamazaki, Glen Garioch, Bowmore, Macallan, Highland Park, Longmorn, Famous Grouse, Glenfiddich, Balvenie, Talisker, Glenkinchie, Dalwhinnie, Lagavulin, Oban, Cragganmore, Michael Collins, Bushmills, and several others that escape me at the moment.

I didn’t try everything on offer. With that much variety you have to be selective or you will be on the floor in no time. I started with Dalmore because I felt like I didn’t give the new range a fair shake at WhiskyFest NY 2009, possibly due to palate fatigue. I limited myself to the 12 Year Old and the Gran Reserva because I felt they had changed the most from their prior incarnations. I was informed that the change was mostly an increase in sherry aged casks in both bottlings. I found the 12 meatier than the older version and the Gran Reserva to be dryer than the old Cigar Malt. Both were better than I remembered from WF. More exploration is required.

From there I went over to the Bowmore/Glen Garioch booth. I hit the 12 Year old and 15 Year old Bowmore expressions first. The 12 seems to get better every time I try it. (mental note: we need to do a review soon) The 15, not as much. Formal tasting is difficult in a large setting like this but there was something offputting that I can’t place. From there I scooted over to try the Founder’s Reserve and 12 Year Old Glen Garioch. These are both newly released expressions that are just making it to Atlanta. The Founder’s Reserve was more vegetal on the nose but both were very nice and had a good balance of sweet and spicy on the palate.

My next stop was to try the new 15 Year Old Single Barrel Balvenie. Very nice! I hit the 21 Year Old Portwood again while I was over there and that was very good too. After that I did a trio of 25 Year Olds going from Glenlivet (thanks Randy!) to Highland Park to Laphroaig. The cheeky bastards at Laphroaig had it hiding in a boot and you had to know to ask for it. They did the best overall talk on process and whisky in general of all the booths so I can’t give them too hard a time.

I rounded the evening out with a few selective stops by Macallan and others. All things I was familiar with but just wanted a taste of. Unfortunately, I couldn’t get dates on when Hibiki and Glen Grant would be coming to Atlanta and thus they weren’t poured last night. That’s kind of the paradox of the way the Society does their events. They don’t allow the pouring of anything that isn’t available in the city where the event is held. On the upside, it’s nice to know that you can buy locally everything you taste. On the downside, there’s a lot of great stuff that doesn’t get poured depending on where you are.

Who Was There
The Extravaganza events seem to have more distributor representatives rather than whisky makers. I don’t think any Master Distiller’s were there last night. The crowd ranges from the young and hip to the well seasoned and everything in between. It was a good mix. I always find the Pour Bunnies rather amusing. I’m not really sure what the term is for the ladies that work the booths for show but I call them Pour Bunnies. Their knowledge varied greatly depending on the booth. Even between the girls at the same booth. Somebody has to pour the drinks, right?

Other Offerings
The food was good again this year. Carving stations for roasted meats, pastas, risottos, salads, deserts, coffee and various other things. Everything I tried was very good. They were again giving out cigars to attendees again this year which I find a nice touch. My one real gripe about the event as a whole was the food service. It would be nice if they had two separate stations so that everyone didn’t have to wait in line forever in a big circle that never went anywhere.

Summary Thoughts
In summary I thought the event was great. In the spirit of full disclosure I will note that I was a guest of The Society this year and that courtesy is greatly appreciated. There are very few whisk(e)y events that come to Atlanta each year. This is definitely one not to be missed.

Drink wisely my friends,

Richard

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