Tasting Report: WhiskyFest San Francisco 2010

Tasting Report: WhiskyFest San Francisco 2010

Whiskyfest has come and gone, and I’d consider it one of the best installments of the celebration of whiskey to date. It was packed, to be sure, but the crowd rolled with the frequent bumped elbows, stepped-on toes, and spilled spirits, and everyone had a good time.

Yes, there were some misses — like companies refusing to pour some spirits because they were “saving them for their seminar” and low available stock levels of others, like the Tomatin 40 Years Old, which Tomatin said was poured out a mere 8 minutes after the doors opened — but all in all the experience was spectacular. Many thanks to Malt Advocate for putting on a solid experience like this and extending the invitation my way.

As always, thoughts on everything I managed to taste can be found below.


Ardbeg Rollercoaster / A / composed of 10 years worth of Ardbeg vintages; massively peaty but I love the balance and the leafy, herbal finish

The Famous Grouse Malt 18 Years Old / A- / malty and bread-like, a lovely blend

Highland Park 30 Years Old / A / classic as always

A.D. Rattray Balblair 19 Years Old / A- / very hot, but in balance

A.D. Rattray Bowmore 18 Years Old / B-

The Glenrothes Vintage 1985 / A-

Bowmore 18 Years Old / B / heavy, peaty and rough

Bowmore 25 Years Old / A- / much better, finally balanced

Aberfeldy 21 Years Old / B+ / easygoing

Glenfarclas 40 Years Old / A / a highlight of the show, a perfectly balanced malt

Mackillop’s Choice Highland Park 1980 / B

Tomintoul 31 Years Old Reserve / A / always a favorite, decadent and full of flavor, but so light and easy

Deanston 30 Years Old / A-

Gordon & MacPhail Strathisla 1963 / A / heady with incense, citrus, and vanilla; lovely

The Dalmore King Alexander III / A- / intensely woody finish

Old Pulteney 30 Years Old / A- / essence of coal

Tomatin 25 Years Old / B+ / fruity, big apple notes

GlenDronach 1995 Cask #2045 Sherry Cask / B+ / classic malt character

Kilkerran Work in Progress 2 / B / at six years young, it’s getting there

Longrow CV / B- / peat levels are out of balance

Duncan Taylor Lonach Strathisla 42 Years Old / A / a perennial favorite at Whiskyfest, with cocoa and coconut notes

Everyone Else

Jameson Rarest Vintage Reserve / A / very malty, banana notes

St. George Barbary Coast Baby Bourbon / C- / looks nicely aged, tastes straight from the still

Van Winkle 12 Years Old / A / so smooth, really amazing value whiskey

Pappy Van Winkle 15 Years Old / A- / hot but a good and representative bourbon

Pappy Van Winkle 20 Years Old / B+ / big smokiness

Pappy Van Winkle 23 Years Old / A+ / the standby, a perfect bourbon

High West Silver High Country Single Malt / B+ / probably the best white whiskey I’ve ever had, this one from malted barley instead of corn

Charbay Pilsner Whiskey 12 Years Old / B- / amazing yet bizarre, really big beer notes

Charbay Folle Blanche 1983 Alambic Pot Still Brandy / B / lots of heat, needs more sweetness

Christopher Null is the founder and editor in chief of Drinkhacker. A veteran writer and journalist, he also operates Null Media, a bespoke content creation company.

Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.