With the popularity of whisky showing no signs of letting up, the number of whisky festivals also continues to grow. Some of these are worth the price of admission while too many others are oversold and underperform on the quality of offerings. At the end of the day, how much moonshine or honey/apple/cinnamon-flavored whisky do you really want to try? Now in its 21st year (yes, the festival can legally attend itself!), WhiskyFest remains a great way to sample the largest variety of some of the best whiskies from around the world. Plus, it’s a great venue to meet other spirits enthusiasts and speak with some of the industry’s biggest names.
For only the third year, WhiskyFest will make a stop on April 17th at the Marriott Marquis in Washington, D.C., a town perpetually in need of a stiff drink. The pour list for the festival is impressive and gets longer by the day (while everyone else is waiting in line for last year’s Buffalo Trace Antique Collection, I for one will be having some Laphroaig 30 Year with a side of Parker’s Heritage.) WhiskyFest seminars are also some of the most interesting of any spirits festival with some of the best industry names on hand to help you embrace your inner whisky geek. I’m particularly looking forward to making my own Elijah Craig blend with Heaven Hill Master Distiller Denny Potter and Brand Ambassador Bernie Lubbers. Denny has a real knack for explaining the unique aspects of distilling to even the most scientifically-challenged (and somewhat inebriated) audiences. And Bernie has a bottled-in-bond tattoo covering his entire right arm, so you know he takes his bourbon seriously.
Tickets for WhiskyFest DC are still on sale at Early Bird pricing! The VIP ticket provides an additional hour of sampling where you can discover some true unicorns; most exhibitors showcase a special bottle (sometimes literally just one) only for that hour. It makes an already expensive ticket even pricier, but you can make your money back with just a few of these ultra rare pours. Whether you splurge for the VIP hour or not, it’s a big show with a lot of great bottles so have a plan, and please don’t waste all of your time in the line for Pappy Van Winkle! See you there!