Whiskies of the World is that wonderful kind of event—like a barbecue or a flower show—that you can smell from the parking lot. In this case, the aroma is that of rich, distilled malt with a heady overlay of spice. For whisky lovers, the scent is pure catnip.
And this kind of show is always a success. Yes, it gets crowded. Yes, there are whisky geeks wandering around in kilts. Yes, the participating brands show classic products that you’ve probably tasted before.
So how to make the most of Whiskies of the World? One, make use of the resources at hand. Typically, many of the master distillers who actually craft this stuff are on hand, pouring their wares. Question them, strike up a conversation, and learn something deeper about some of your dearest whiskies. Or, conversely, use the event to taste things you don’t know about. Never tasted Old Pulteney (one of my favorite Highland malts)? Well, use this opportunity to taste through the line, and make a strategic list ahead of time of other things you need to try.
As for me, I’m excited to revisit some whiskies that have piqued my interest in the past, but which I confess to not knowing as well as I’d like: Longrow, and Auchroisk, which is a young distillery that is seemingly beginning a push to make its name. The place is also going to be lousy with American craft distilling operations, which we should all introduce ourselves to, if you don’t already know them. Aside from standards like Anchor and St. George, there will be newer spirits outfits like Bendistillery (of Bend, Oregon), Old World Spirits (Belmont), and Sullivans Cove from Tasmania—all of which should be interesting stuff.
And don’t forget the the one thing you should be drinking before, during and after the show: good, old fashioned, water. Whiskies of the World Expo and Artisanal Spirits Fest, Saturday, March 31, 6–9 p.m., San Francisco Belle, Hornblower Yacht, Pier 3, $120. Buy tickets.