When you think of Chicago, most people automatically associate deep dish pizza. Not whiskey surely! Like many large cosmopolitan cities in America, festivals for beer, wine and whiskey are common placed. So just as I timed it right the last time for the Rosé Wine Festival, I was in Chicago for the Whiskey Festival.
Run by River North Fests with tickets available via Eventbrite, the festival featured some of the best whiskeys and bourbons from across the Mid-West and the Deep South with additions from Scotland, Ireland, France and Australia such as Aberlour, West Cork, Starward and Angels Envy. You could easily find yourself getting drunk without knowing it. Especially when you fling in Gin, Wine and Vodka Tonics into the mix as well. For those with a bit extra money, VIP tickets meant early entry and some 1-on-1 time with the distillers on show. Although for some reason, or for me that is, appearing in a short video promoting a whisky due to the fact I’m from the land of whisky.
That short video, which unfortunately I can’t find, was for Grand Traverse Distillery after drinking their Islay Rye. Now I love my malts but even I had to admit that Islay Rye was rivalling the likes of my Bowmore and Auchentoshan malts. Speaking of Auchentoshan, did you know that 12 years ago you couldn’t taste Auchentoshan’s American Oak as part of the Distillery Tour? I knew that that as Clydebank, on the shores of the River Clyde isn’t that far from my dear green city of Glasgow. So I may have shared that piece of knowledge with the bartender behind one of the festival bars where you could try American Oak.
But when it comes to whisky us Scots do it best and I did genuinely think there would be more. Alas there wasn’t however in my disappointment I tasted allowed some of the best whiskys I’ll ever taste. And that includes my penchant for the odd Japanese whisky on a night out. In fairness what would I have expected … a gallery of Malts, Blends and Bourbons? Nah. I might never have left.
The important thing was that the festival brought together some of the finest whiskys and bourbons from America and further afield. And a major chance to talk rugby with a fellow Celt despite his side winning their opening Six Nations match against Scotland.