Portia Crowe for Business Insider
Whiskey is taking off in America. So it’s no surprise that New York City’s annual Whisky Live expo, hosted by Whisky Magazine, was a huge hit this year.
“New York is actually the biggest and most significant whiskey city in the world,” event organizer Dave Sweet told Business Insider.
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The fair, which took place at Pier 60 on Wednesday, featured 80 different brands, distillers, and local bars, which poured more than 300 whiskey expressions. About 1,200 people turned up and the crowd was a mix: suits and ties vs. plaid shirts and hipster beards; amateurs looking to learn about the spirit and whiskey aficionados hoping to taste the next level.
A big theme this year was local craft and flavored whiskies – whether maple-flavored varieties from Vermont or honey-infused blends from the Catskills.
“Craft whiskey is enjoying a huge upswing in popularity,” said Sweet. “There used to be a very limited number of whiskeys that people were aware of, whether it be bourbon or scotch or Irish. Now you have this huge range, and a lot of different flavor profiles.”
He said more and more industry experts are starting to take craft whiskeys seriously, especially now that many have been around for a few years and have had a chance to mature.
Of course, the established names were at Whisky Live too, as well as a ton of master distillers and legendary brand ambassadors.
The fair was held at Chelsea Pier and kicked off with dinner and live jazz music.
Some of the booths had really fun displays, like Monkey 47′s.
Brooklyn distillers ‘Breuckelen Distilling’ got creative with their display.
Scotland’s Usquaebach had their porcelain Old Rare bottle on display.
Michter’s won Distiller of the Year in 2012.
Forty Creek rep’d the Canadian Whiskey.
Teeling Whiskey’s Stephen Teeling had a great view of the Hudson River from his corner booth.
Teeling is launching their Single Grainf or the first time in the US.
Four Roses’ brand ambassador, Al Young, who made the Whisky Magazine Hall of Fame this week after 47 years with the company, told us that young bourbon drinkers should sample lots of different bourbons before settling on the one they like.
Japan’s Suntory showed up – and we may have had the last sip of their award-winning Hibiki 21 year old.
We learned about the differences between Tennessee Whiskey and Bourbon.
All the usual names were there.
Saxtons River Distillery’s sapling Vermont maple whiskey and bourbon are 1/3rd maple syrup. ONE THIRD.
Whistle Pig’s master distiller, Dave Pickerell, announced that they’re releasing a handful of old wood finishes this year.
American Whiskey handed out swag and served some delicious cocktails.
Daddy-O’s bar was serving up cocktails too.
Guests stopped to listen to live jazz from double bass-player at Flatiron Room’s cloaked-off booth.
The fair also featured some non-whiskey booths (Scotch Ale, of course).
The brand ambassadors knew how to captivate a crowd (like Ardbeg’s Samia Mounts).
Ardbeg brought a super cool whiskey vaporizer.
St. Andrew’s bar had an ultra-Scottish display.
Balblair released their new batch of vintages (2003, 1999, 1990, and 1983).
Guests could escape the expo and have a bite to eat on the gorgeous Hudson River.
The Glenlivet had a very popular booth.
They had the Guardian’s Chapter on display, but not for sampling.
We sampled Aberlour’s limited A’bunadh (Batch 49). It had a sweet, soft flavor.
We were big fans of Laphroaig’s display.
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