A couple of weekends ago I attended my first WhiskyFest, in Chicago. For those who don’t know, WhiskyFest is an annual series of events – also held in San Francisco and New York – sponsored by Whisky Advocate magazine at which whisky/whiskey makers across the spectrum offer samples of their wares. At WhiskyFest Chicago, there were more than 300 products to try, including special limited-edition spirits offered only during the VIP hour.
I had sampled most of the bourbons on offer previously, so after hitting the special items I decided to branch out a little. I had planned to try some Scotch, I really had. But I admit it: I just don’t like Scotch, and I didn’t want to dampen my sweet bourbon buzz with a mouthful of peat.
Instead, I headed to the booth offering Redbreast, an Irish whiskey I’d heard good things about (above). ”I”ll have the Redbreast 12 Year,” I said to the young man in the middle, offering my commemorative Glencairn (of course) tasting glass. “The 12 Year or the 12 Year Cask Strength?” he asked. I asked what he would recommend.
That’s when the gentleman on the right entered the conversation. (Read in wonderful Irish brogue.) “Well. If you are just starting out, I would recommend the 12 Year. And then the 15 Year. And then maybe the Cask Strength.” To his credit, he did not pat my head.
“Welllll,” I said, pulling out my best Southern drawl, “if it makes any difference, I’m a bourbon drinker, and I prefer a high-proof bourbon.”
“In that case,” he said, “you may proceed directly to the Cask Strength.”