The Travels of Whisky Intelligence.
The Nth Show Las Vegas March 18th & 19th, 2011
The first we heard about the Nth Show Las Vegas was while standing in line for the Ardbeg tasting the night before Whisky Fest San Francisco where we had the good fortune to meet Nina and Mahesh Patel who were at that time planning the Las Vegas based show. http://www.whiskyintelligence.com/2010/10/whisky-fest-san-francisco-october-8th-2010-scotch-whisky-news/ There was some speculation, mutterings, musings and promises on our part about attending the Nth the following March on the night of the Ardbeg tasting at the Barber Lounge but frankly, it was a done deal. There was no way that Whisky Intelligence was going to miss the Nth.
In due course tickets were available to book on-line and this was done with ease followed by simply printing them off the office computer, this is really a trouble free method of securing tickets. The Wynn Encore had a special festival room rate and even the air line had a sale; all was looking good for the Nth. Once again it was time to wait, damn it.
——- > South…
Due to the timings of flights etcetera we arrived in Las Vegas the early evening prior to the Nth show so we took the opportunity to dine at Switch, the steak house in the Encore (it’s named ‘Switch’ due to the walls and ceiling moving position to change the appearance of the room about every 15 minutes; very Vegas.). A glass of red with dinner and a dram or two of Chivas 18 along the way rounded out the meal nicely. Both the steaks and the rest of the meal were very good and the service was excellent.
After dinner if was a quick commute across the casino floor to meet up with some friends in the hotel lobby bar and much to our delight the bar stocked Laphroaig 15 for a reasonable price. Travel is always tiring so it was with some relief when we made our way to our very large room, all the rooms in the Wynn Encore are quite sumptuous, about 750 square feet and very well appointed so they were an extra value considering the very reasonable Festival room rate.
Friday was a quiet day and we had the good fortune to meet up for lunch with whisky enthusiast Noel Buckley from Vancouver who was also in Vegas for the Nth show. Finally, after what seemed the longest day ever it was time to register for the show where we received our wrist bands and goodies bags which included our crystal Glencairn glasses engraved with the Nth logo. A nice & classy touch. While registration was quick and efficient the short time spent in the line was an opportunity to re-connect with old friends like Ed Patrick, president of the Companions of the Quaich and to meet some new ones including William C Myers who is one of the authors that updated Michael Jackson’s Malt Whisky Companion (6th Edition). Everybody was naturally quite excited about the show….
After registration a group of us made a bee line to the special event room (one of six special events held on Friday evening) that would soon be hosting the Gordon & MacPhail Glenlivet 70yo ‘Generations’ tasting led by Michael Urquhart. By rearranging the furniture in the hall way we managed to barricade & separate ourselves from any late comers thus protecting our spots in line. (Just kidding…. mostly). But wait in line we did and in due course Michael let us in a little early to wait until the 6:15 start. In front of each seat was one glass and after a short talk on Gordon & MacPhail and the history of the Glenlivet 70yo Michael asked if we thought it was time for a dram; 25 heads nodded in unison. He asked Andrew Ferguson of Kensington Wine Mart in Calgary to pour everybody a sample and the appreciative nosing started. Tasting this aged dram was only improved the experience by the whisky being so good. (As of tomorrow, April 11th, 2011, Andrew has been inducted into the illustrious Keepers of the Quaich)
After the Gordon & MacPhail Glenlivet tasting we, the lucky few, happily trooped upstairs to the ballroom for the main show and the continuation of the evening. The main ballroom was not cavernous but it was roomy enough to accomodate the estimated 250 people in attendance and the 35 stands representing a myriad of brands and at least 230 whiskies. (Duncan Taylor, GlenDronach & BenRiach, Springbank, Hirsch Anchor Distilling, Dewar’s & Aberfeldy, Laphroaig, Inver House, The Glenlivet & Royal Salute, Four Roses, Amrut & Glenglassaugh, Highland Park, Macallan, Glenfarclas, Burn Stewart, Sirius (a new independent bottling brand launched at the Nth), Gordon & MacPhail, Glenfiddich, Balvenie, High West, Dalmore, Jura, Scotch Malt Whisky Society, Glenmorangie, Ardbeg, Morrison Bowmore, Glenrothes, Suntory, Glencairn, Casa Fuente, wine and champagne tables for the non whisky drinking guests. Yes! They thought of that too!
If you couldn’t have had fun in that room, you’re doomed. Doomed. Additionally there was a superb buffet meal in the downstairs ballroom featuring meat pasta, salads, roast turkey, roast beef and vegetables. Which we took advantage of at some point in the evening, it was nice to have a break and the food was thoughtfully prepared so as not to interfere with your palate; yet another small touch that added to the whole show.
To add to the experience were “super pours” every attendee received a token good for one super pour along with a second token for a Glenfarclas 1966 dispensed by Brett Pontini of Binny’s. The extensive list of super pour drams featured were Dalmore Astrum, Highland Park 40yo*, Glenglassaugh 40yo*, Glenrothes John Ramsay*, Dalmore Aurora, Laphroaig 21yo*, Ardbeg 1974, Glenfarclas 50yo*, Scotch Malt Whisky Society Cask #1.124 39yo*, Speyside (very rare bottling, BenRiach 40yo*, Glenfiddich 40yo, Yamazaki 1984*, Gold Bowmore, Balvenie 40yo, The Glenlivet Cellar Collection 1964*, Gordon & MacPhail Strathisla 1963*, Macallan 1950, Duncan Taylor Kinclaith 1941 41yo* and Glenmorangie Quarter Century 25yo*. However many stands didn’t feel the need to collect a super pour token, especially as the evening progressed. (Hence * = tried it). Of course this was only the super pour list; every stand had a complete selection of their brands ranging from standard bottlings to premium bottlings such as Dewar’s Signature which quite frankly should have been on the ‘super pour’ list, it’s that good.
Also in attendance was Tim Puett of the Ardbeg Project who seemed to loiter around the Ardbeg table for most of the evening!
Due to the schedule of the Nth, the masterclasses followed the Friday show so it’s was best to keep your wits about you since the masterclasses started at a seemingly unreasonable early 11:30 Saturday morning. However a large number of attendees couldn’t resist the pull of the Las Vegas strip and the walking wounded poured into the hotel pretty much until Saturday morning. A few were never seen again.
There were a grand selection of 19 masterclasses featuring The Glenlivet, Macallan, Glenglassaugh, Four Roses, Glenfiddich, Morrison Bowmore, Glenmorangie, Amrut, Dalmore, Glendronach BenRiach, Scotch Malt Whisky Society, Suntory, Glenfarclas, Balvenie, Glenrothes, Benromach, Highland Park, Ardbeg and High West.
We attended The Glenlivet with Ricky Crawford and the list of whiskies included a French Oak finish, two expressions of Nadurra and two aged Cellar Collection (a 37yo and a 40yo if memory serves). Ricky also explained at how he became an ambassador, the personal recollection added to the experience, it was a very good masterclass. It was made even better by the fact that the attendee to the left was hung over something fierce and passed along both Cellar Collections samples. Thanks! That’s the way to start your masterclass experience!
The Morrison Bowmore class was different altogether with a selection of whiskies from Bowmore, Glen Garioch and Auchentoshan with ambassador Jamie Mackenzie and Morrison Bowmore Senior Blender Iain McCallum. Iain’s presentation style is much like a broad side from a warship of old; however it was both informative and enjoyable.
The BenRiach and GlenDronach masterclass with Alistair Walker was also a first rate affair and featured a generous selection; GlenDronach 1995 cask # 2045 (Preiss exclusive single cask), 31yr (Grandeur), 1972 Single Cask Bottling and BenRiach 25yr plus 21yr (Authenticus – peated).
The Glenfarclas masterclass with George Grant featured four 40yo; Millennium 40yr, Family cask 40yr, 105 40yr, and the New 40 yr. George was fresh as a daisy so he must have gone straight to bed after the show the previous night. Ahem.
And finally we were invited to sample two whiskies from the newly launched Sirius label (by Nth Show CEO Mahesh Patel); a 1965 Carsebridge 45yo and a 1967 Dalmore which may or not be a 43yo, by this point in the day the palate and memory were begging for a break. The Carsebridge was sublime and the Dalmore an aged gentleman.
And thus the Nth 2011 came to a close. A new standard has been set for whisky events in the United States, well done Mahesh, Nina and Mit Patel. Whisky Intelligence heartily recommends the convivial Nth Show in Las Vegas and plans on returning in 2012.
< ——— North…
Sunday early, Las Vegas McCarran airport in the departure lounge staring across the tarmac at the “Janet” airlines white with red cheat lines 737-600’s that transport people daily to and from the Nevada Test Site (area 51) and northern California on secret defense related work. Ah, it’s Richard Paterson; he’s on the same flight and a chance for a chat…
The 2012 Nth Show is scheduled for March 2nd and 3rd at the Wynn Encore and details will appear in due course at http://universalwhiskyexperience.com/