Scotch-A-P​alooza 2011

About this time last year, I wrote about my inaugural experience at the Single Malt Scotch and Whisky Extravaganza, an annual event held here in DC each autumn.  Last year was quite a hit: I discovered a number of new expressions, smoked two fine cigars, and nursed the mother of all hangovers while suffering through work the following day.  So this year, I was determined to have as much fun while not paying for it afterwards – immediately after purchasing my ticket, I made plans to take leave the day following the extravaganza.

Although the bar was set high, the 2011 extravaganza did not disappoint.  Perhaps it’s because I’m no longer a novice whiskey drinker.  I’m seasoned now, but by no means an expert.  I know what I like, what I don’t like, and – just as importantly – can articulate my reasons for each.  Regardless, this year’s extravaganza led me to several new expressions from a number of distilleries.

I was neither able nor inclined to take extensive tasting notes throughout the evening, instead preferring to casually wander from table to table, sampling and chatting with each distillery’s Brand Ambassador.  There were many, many choices to taste (and re-taste), so it’s not surprising I liked some and disliked others.  Some were so delicious I immediately noted the name so as to locate a bottle as soon as possible.  Specifically:

– Ardmore 30 year old
– Auchentoshan Three Wood
– Oban Distiller’s Edition
– Talisker Distiller’s Edition
– Glenmorangie Signet
– The Glenrothes Vintage 1994
– Highland Park 18 year old
– Laphroaig 18 year old
– The Macallan Fine Oak 15 year old

At the extravaganza’s conclusion, cigars didn’t feel right, not this time.  No, a tall, cold, cleansing glass of dark autumn beer sounded absolutely delicious.  So rather than depart for the neighborhood cigar lounge – as in the prior year – we instead walked a few blocks to a new pizza restaurant and enjoyed a few pints of seasonal microbrews.  For me, it was Schafly Oktoberfest.

The evening ended quietly, at the end of a long bar covered in numbers.  I arrived home with a few new trinkets for my bar: another tasting glass; a glass eyedropper for adding water to scotch; a few pens; and numerous advertisement cards and pamphlets, helpful reminders to be sure.

When I awoke the next morning – after sleeping in late and meeting my wife for a three course lunch – I had the memory of a second evening filled with drinking expensive liquor with a great friend.  Mucho gusto, First Sea Lord Roberto.  I look forward to next year.

Published in: on October 31, 2011 at 10:54 pm  Comments (1)  
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Where I Should Have Been

The first month of summer is nearing its end; Washington’s notoriously hot, humid weather has arrived in full.  I’m already wishing for autumn to come and break summer’s spell.  But autumn is months away – so why not embrace the summer weather, in all its sweaty, sunburned glory?

Easier said than done.  The weather, to its credit, has been relatively cooperative; it wasn’t too hot this past week.  But my friends were another story: they were in short supply.  Between summer travel, family, and various other responsibilities of adulthood, I was the only one available for serious drinking.  And while I do occasionally enjoy drinking alone, certain kinds of events are not the type to be undertaken alone, and are instead best enjoyed in teh company of close friends. 

The Whisky Guild stopped in Washington, DC last Thursday for its annual Whisky Cruise on the Potomac River.  The cruise was a two hour sail up and down the river, during which over two hundred varieties of scotch, bourbon, and blended whisky were poured.  A buffet dinner accompanied drinks, along with views of the city, the Pentagon, and Arlington National Cemetery.  Even worse, my commute home takes me past Washington Marina, where the boat was docked; it was sad sight to see the boat docked at Washington Marina, waiting for the passengers to board and begin enjoying the evening.

Two days later – this past weekend – was the Fourth Annual Northern Virginia Summer BrewFest, a two-day event held in at Morven Park in Leesburg, Virginia, a far outer suburb west of DC.  The brewfest is billed as a “celebration of American Beer [and] features over 50 of America’s best breweries, a variety of food to complement the craft beers and great local and regional bands to entertain you.”

I attended the brewfest last year with four of my friends and it was a fantastic time indeed: an endless amount of beer; several pulled pork and chicken sandwiches; and thanks to Morven Park’s wide open fields, a horribly painful sunburn that was still visible months later.  But needless to say, one hell of a good time – the memories of which only made missing this year that much sadder.

Thankfully, missing these two summer drinking events doesn’t require waiting an entire year to pass until they return.  Rather, I’ll only have to wait until this fall – late October to be exact – to again partake of these revelries.  On October 22-23, the BrewFest holds its autumn festival in Centreville, VA; the following Wednesday (October 26) brings The Single Malt Scotch & Whisky Extravaganza, one long evening of cigars and whisky.  I attended the Extravaganza last year: that night is now simply known as “Scotch-a-palooza.”

In the meantime, I’ll embrace the dog days of summer with refreshing cocktails and tasty lagers.  When autumn does arrive and cooler temperatures prevail, I’ll have another pair of events to test my liver’s endurance.  And maybe discover a new whisky or craft beer along the way.  Assuming I can remember what I drank, of course.