A Review; The Single Malt & Scotch Whisky Extravaganza SEATTLE – Scotch Whisky Sunday

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The Travels of Whisky Intelligence

One hour and twenty minutes after arriving at Seattle Tacoma airport, having already checked into the hotel, we were seated at the bar in TASTE Restaurant at the Seattle Art Museum (SAM). http://www.seattleartmuseum.org/ Now that’s not a moment wasted.

Why must a moment not be wasted? Well, we were the guests of the Single Malt & Scotch Whisky Extravaganza which was commencing in a few short hours http://www.singlemaltextravaganza.com/ and hosted by the Scotch Malt Whisky Society of America http://www.smwsa.com/. So no dawdling please.

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But first we had a 2:20PM reservation to see the exhibit of “Master pieces from the Musée National Picasso, Paris” October 8th, 2010 to January 17th 2011 featuring a 150 selected works of the legendary artist. (If you go, buy your tickets on-line and print them at home because there is always a line to buy tickets at the SAM).

We had missed visiting the Musée in Paris during our 2004 visit (which nicely coincided with Whisky Live Paris) due to ‘renovations’ but this time we benefited from yet another ‘renovation’ at the Paris Museum and thus the exhibit was at the Seattle Art Museum.  

So with lunch ordered the eye naturally wandered over the very good selection of whiskies and fell upon a Hibiki 12 year old which duly arrived in a large copita style glass with a heavy base. The pour was VERY large. Thanks Tiffany! The burger and fries went very well with the Hibiki and the 2nd Hibiki went even better with the first.

"What's this wire for?"

"What's this wire for?"

Next stop was the Picasso exhibit and there were a large number of people wandering around with confused looks on their faces. To be fair many others seemed to being enjoying the exhibit greatly muttering approving comments to themselves with furrowed brows. After 20 minutes defeat was admitted and refuge was sought on the 2nd floor to view scenes from American history like “Mount Rainier, Bay of Tacoma” – (Puget Sound, 1875) by Sanford Robinson Gifford; calming and not jarring, paintings of intact people, not like they had been a wee bit to close to an IED.

Mount Rainier, Bay of Tacoma” - (Puget Sound, 1875) by Sanford Robinson Gifford

Mount Rainier, Bay of Tacoma” - (Puget Sound, 1875) by Sanford Robinson Gifford

Fast forward to 6:30PM…The Extravaganza

The Rainier Club

The Rainier Club

The Single Malt & Scotch Whisky Extravaganza is held in the Rainier Club http://www.therainierclub.com/ located in the down town area and it’s a brilliant venue for the Extravaganza. The ambiance is old world London club (with some really good art sprinkled about the place). Check in started at 6:30PM in the lobby with the event commencing at 7PM, due to the club dress code jacket and ties were the order of the day.

The second floor of the club is set aside for the whisky portion of the event and on the third floor there was the Grand Dinner Buffet in the Heritage Room with a good assortment of hot foods (roast turkey, roast pork, roasted potatoes & vegetables and pasta with beef) salads, assorted cheese and bread/crackers followed by dessert; the food was very good. Enough is good as a feast as they say. The Club staff was very attentive and kept the buffet full and the dishes cleared with efficiency so there was no wasted time; back to the drams!

The second floor main event was featured in three rooms with Macallan, Highland Park, Famous Grouse (Blend & malt with age statement), Yamazaki (with Neyah White, Yamazaki Ambassador) and Glenrothes in the Cutter Room.

Ardmore & Laphroaig (with Simon Brookings, Laphroaig Ambassador), Douglas Laing (Big Peat, OMC & Premier Barrel), Loch Chaim, Highland Stag, the SMWS bottlings of 25.51, 123.5, 39.75, 93.37 and 33.83 (with Aron Silverman, Gabby Shayne and Alan Shayne of the Society), The Classic Cask, Glenmorangie & Ardbeg (with Dr. Bill Lumsden, Head of Whisky Distillation & Whisky Creation and David Blackmore, Master Brand Ambassador), The Glenlivet (with Ricky Crawford, The Glenlivet Ambassador), Aberlour, Longmorn, Scapa & Chivas in the Cascade Room. The Cascade Room was the largest of the three rooms in use.

The Rainier Room featured Isle of Jura, Balvenie and Glenfiddich (with Mitch Bechard, Ambassador), a cigar/token exchange/collection point in front of GIANT fireplace (with a big copper top which was reminiscent of the Bowmore mash tun) and then The Classic Malts along with Clynelish and the Singleton of Glendullan which was newly introduced into the Washington market.

The Extravaganza holds a two curiosities; the first is that in attendance are a contingent that make use of unusually large ‘brandy snifters’ in place of the Extravaganza glasses that are supplied as part of the entrance fee. Large is defined as flower vase large. Do NOT ask them about their glasses. Now don’t go off on the wrong track here; they are very nice people and will talk to you all night long; just don’t ask about their choice of glass ware. One poor chap talked about the ‘higher notes’ escaping the the inside of the glass and clinging, spiderman like, to the outside of the glass. C’mon dude, that’s your after shave.  They have some funny beliefs about the magical effects of their flower vases and describe the magical properties with gleaming eyes and an intensity usually sported by….well, enough said. (Some wore black jacket & tie; they may be some form of leadership cadre).

The second curiosity is that some time ago the Single Malt & Scotch Whisky Extravaganza was told that they were not allowed to advertise the event by the authorities who govern such things in Washington State. Whisky Intelligence is pretty certain that both freedom of association and freedom of speech are being impugned in some fashion. Not to mention common sense being thrown out in the trash with the day old banana skins. However that is the situation and despite this the Extravaganza sells out every time, it seems word of mouth plays a big part in it’s success with many Rainier Club members and local scotch club members buying blocks of tickets (perhaps this is how the flower vase people infiltrated the event).

While the Extravaganza is smaller than some other events it certainly doesn’t lack for quality, it’s an entertaining evening with a good number of drams available in a comfortable venue with excellent food and attentive service. There is always something new to try and the brand ambassadors make sure that there are interesting rarities on hand. Mitch Bechard of William Grant & Sons (Glenfiddich & Balvenie) saved an older Glenfiddich and the Balvenie Peated Cask for late in the evening and worked the crowd into a high state of anticipation; both bottles were poured at light speed however Whisky Intelligence managed to try both!

Whisky Intelligence heartily recommends the Single Malt & Scotch Whisky Extravaganza and plans to attend in the future. Simply must solve the puzzle of those flower vases…

Tickets may be purchased at http://www.singlemaltextravaganza.com/ and the fall & spring tour schedule includes CHICAGO, BOSTON, WASHINGTON, DC, PHILADELPHIA, SEATTLE, SAN FRANCISCO, LOS ANGELES, and FORT LAUDERDALE. You’ll need to telephone the Scotch Malt Whisky Society of America to book your tickets for Seattle.

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