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WhiskyFest New York Draws Sold-Out Crowd To Taste The World’s Top Whiskies

November 2, 2016

The world’s most sought-after whiskies were poured at last night’s annual WhiskyFest New York, the tasting extravaganza held by Whisky Advocate magazine.More than 2,000 consumers and members of the trade attended the sold-out event at the Marriott Marquis, which featured a selection of more than 350 whiskies from around the world.

Labels from the world’s most prominent distillers—including Diageo, Pernod Ricard, William Grant & Sons, Brown-Forman, Bacardi, Beam Suntory, Edrington and a broad array of craft and boutique players—all were present at the show.

Diageo poured its top blended whiskies, led by Johnnie Walker, and a single malt Scotch range that included newly launched The Singleton as well as Lagavulin, Oban, Talisker and Dalwhinnie. At one of WhiskyFest’s numerous tasting seminars, Lagavulin program director Ewan Morgan and director of education Gregor Cattanach delved deep into the Lagavulin archives, pouring rare expressions from the distillery’s past. The packed event’s offerings included 12-year-old Lagavulin expressions from the 1970s and the 1980s; a 15-year-old Lagavulin from the 1980s; the brand’s 2013 Islay Festival bottling (aged 18 years in Oloroso Sherry casks) and the 25-year-old Lagavulin released this year in celebration of the distillery’s 200th anniversary.

Pernod Ricard was present with a full complement of Irish whiskies. While Jameson continues to achieve strong U.S. growth, Pernod is sharpening its focus on the high end—both with Jameson as well as the Redbreast, Green Spot, Yellow Spot, Powers and Midleton labels. Brown-Forman was on hand with its formidable portfolio of American whiskies, as well as new Scotch acquisition BenRiach, acquired in April for $416 million—and marking the company’s return to Scotch after an absence of a decade. William Grant & Sons, meanwhile, debuted its new The Balvenie Tun 1509 Batch 3 at the event.

High West, one of the biggest names in craft spirits in recent years, was also pouring at WhiskyFest. Earlier this month, the Utah company was acquired by Constellation Brands for a sum SND estimates at $160 million.

Elsewhere, at their Highland Park seminar, Edrington USA was offering the new Highland Park Fire Edition ($300 a 750-ml.), which launches in the U.S. this month. The special bottling (2,800 bottles produced) is a companion label to the Highland Park Ice Edition, introduced earlier this year. And Rémy Cointreau USA revealed that it’s set to launch Bruichladdich The Three Tens, a special limited-edition series of three 10-year-old whiskies: Bruichladdich 10-year-old (The Laddie Ten), Port Charlotte 10-year-old and Octomore 10-year-old. Pricing has yet to be disclosed.

WhiskyFest also offered a window into the increasing presence of traditional wine marketers in the spirits category. Companies including Deutsch Family Wine & Spirits, Ste. Michelle Wine Estates, Winebow, Palm Bay International and Terlato Distell Artisan Spirits all featured whiskies at the event.

Terlato Distell poured its Deanston 14-year-old Organic, launched on October 4th with an initial run of 1,200 cases for the U.S. market. The label will be a permanent part of the Deanston lineup, joining 12-year-old and Virgin Oak expressions. Terlato Distell also was offering Bunnahabhain 13-year-old Marsala Cask ($69.99), a limited-edition bottling for the U.S. market with only 100 nine-liter cases available.

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