In the three years we’ve been lucky enough to attend the Universal Whisky Experience, aka the Nth, I’d have to say it just keeps getting better and better. This year we covered less ground (husband and I split the room – at the Wynn in Las Vegas – in two) and still only tasted maybe a quarter of what was being poured. And even though we each had two tickets for Super Pours, the brand ambassadors offered us everything they had – or it at least seemed that way! (If you just want a synopsis you can go here for photos alone.)
This year I spent my first hour giving some attention to a few Bourbon tables; though I usually make a beeline for the oldest single malts in the room, I mixed it up this time. It might be because there was a large table set up with pre-measured pours, pens and tasting notes drawing my attention to the back of the main hall.
The table I’m referring to was set up Maker’s Mark Bourbon. The tasting experience that Maker’s Mark “Diplomat” Phil Olson talked me through was amazing. I learned about the different oak expressions, and the aromas and flavors each had. I noted that I liked the Seared French Cuvee, Maker’s Mark 46 Cask Strength (46 is the name of the particular wood), Roasted French Mocha and Toasted French Spice – this final one was my favorite. All four used French oak. I also noted that as my palate “warmed” so did my preferences. (Phil had me go back and revisit a couple.) I could’ve spent the entire evening there, and never made it to his finale where you are meant to blend your favorites, then get a few pals to agree with your choice = your own 15k barrel!
Moving on, though it was hard, I was in the mood for Bourbon and quickly found a Las Vegas based distiller, Smoke Wagon Bourbon. I enjoyed all three bottles they poured, and could see why they had won several gold and double gold medals at the San Francisco Wine and Spirits Competition.
Alpine Distilling, located in Park City, Utah, was a surprise for me. The botanicals in their “Summit Gin” slayed me. Now I just have to figure out how to get it from Utah here in So Cal! Also of note for me was their “Spur” Whiskey.
Then I got very much side-tracked by That Boutique-Y Whisky Company. I tasted everything in their line-up. Completely blown away with whiskeys from Japan, So. Africa and England. I think there were a dozen I tried, and a few in the back I got my hands on too. If you ever have an opportunity to taste this whisky brand don’t miss it.
The Scotch Whisky Syndicate 58/6 was a new thrill for me to taste, according to their Facebook page it is “an award-winning 12 Year Old specialist Blended Scotch Whisky, finished in Sherry butts for a distinctly richer fruity character.”
Glenfiddich had 12, 14 and 15 year olds, but I went straight to the 21 year old – as I had visited the distillery in Scotland and had done more than my fair share there. (If you ever get to Scotland don’t skip Glenfiddich – very generous pours. And while you’re at it reserve your kilted driver, aka tour operator, via Rabbie’s.)
I definitely had to stop at the Dewars’s blended Scotch whisky table, as Brand Ambassador Georgie Bell had made me a fan at a past Universal Whisky Experience event where we tasted through all of the single malts that go into Dewar’s. This year I sampled 21, 27 and 32 year olds, all “double double aged for ultimate smoothness.”
Had to taste from Westward American Single Malt Whiskey…when whisky pal and leader of the So Cal Whiskey Club Ries Michael manned the booth.
Finally, I’d like to give a special shout out and thanks to founder Mahesh Patel and organizer Mit Patel, can’t imagine anyone else pulling anything like this off but the Patels and their team.
More Brands Seen at the Show (keep in mind that each of these brands had several pours.)
Glencairn Crystal (Great nosing glass!)
Highland Park and Glenrothes
Gordon and MacPhail
John Dewar Malts
And even though I was lucky enough to be featured in the 2019 Facebook banner ad and don’t expect the honor again, I will be stalking the website and Facebook pages listed below to see if the event photographers caught me “in the act” of having the time of our lives. See you in 2020!
Eve Bushman has a Level Two Intermediate Certification from the Wine and Spirits Education Trust (WSET), a “certification in first globally-recognized course” as an American Wine Specialist ® from the North American Sommelier Association (NASA), Level 1 Sake Award from WSET, was the subject of a 60-minute Wine Immersion video (over 15k views), authored “Wine Etiquette for Everyone” and has served as a judge for the Long Beach Grand Cru and the Global Wine Awards. You can email Eve@EveWine101.com to ask a question about wine or spirits.