By Jenn Punch, Account Supervisor & Haleh Amiri Ghaemmaghami, Account Director, Client Services
On an unseasonably warm winter night, my colleague and I headed to Whisky Live, held at Pier 60 of Chelsea Piers, NYC. Never before having been to a spirits trade show, I was not sure what to expect. Upon entering though, both myself, a spirits marketing newbie, and my colleague Haleh, a seasoned spirits professional, were welcomed with the mayhem one could expect at an event such as this.
With males aged 30 – 60 making up about 90% of attendees, females in this crowd were few and far between. After receiving our credentials and checking in, we hurried through the dining room, which was surprisingly full of dinner entrée stations. Although we knew we needed some fuel prior to imbibing, the lack of finger foods made it almost impossible for us to do so.
Upon entering, Haleh did a beeline for a virtual reality set-up at the Ardbeg booth.
The presentation took the viewer on a journey through Islay, a unique and rustic setting where the peaty scotch is produced. Islay is home to several other whisky brands including SoHo clients, Bruichladdich and The Botanist.
While the virtual reality presentation was interesting but not necessarily thrilling, we later grew an affection for the Ardbeg team after crashing (blame it on poor directional signage!) a private sampling hosted by Ardbeg Distillery Manager, Mickey Heads.
Although we were supposed to attend The Glenlivet “Nothing Added, Nothing Taken Away: Cask Strength Whiskies” tasting, we stumbled upon Mickey and his colleague, Ambassador David Blackmore who went above and beyond to make us feel welcome.
Thanks to the extremely tiny space and the fact that we were the only two women in the room, we were welcomed with big smiles, and a lot of scotch…My favorite of the night was Ardbeg’s newly released Kelpie.
Prior to attending, I, a marketing professional new to the spirits realm, wondered if there would be anything at this event besides whisky and scotch. Turns out…yes! There was a diverse set of offerings outside of the whisky realm including Regatta Beer, rum, dessert-type spirits like Cooley Swan (an Irish cream liqueur), Sam Adams & Angry Orchard. There was even a cocktail book display from Greenlight, a local independent bookstore in NYC.
The whisky offering itself was naturally very intensive, as they provided staples including Laphroaig, Lagavulin, Yamazaki (a trendy Japanese whisky), Jack Daniels, and newly popular locally hand crafted whiskies such as Whiskey Jane, and Van Brunt Stillhouse Rye Whiskey, both made in Brooklyn, NY.
My personal favorite display of the night was Whiskey Jane’s. They had their “Heirloom Collection” Gift Set on display, which featured mini bourbon samples packaged in a wood cigar box. All featured bourbons are New York State-grown farm-to-bottle distillations of mixed yellow and red endosperm corns. The booth table was very kitschy and unique, full of vibrant colors and corn accents.
I was very surprised (and delighted!) to find an Angry Orchard table at the show. When I’m not sampling hard liquor, I do appreciate a good hard cider.
Angry Orchard has a new release of The Cider House Collection, their new line of “artisanal hard ciders” including The Muse which drinks like a Prosecco and Walden Hollow, a mild dry cider that showcases the character of our native New York State apples. They were also sampling “Easy Apple” which tasted to me more like a home-grown/farm-to-table Hard Cider. Reminded me of some fermented cider I’ve had from a farm in Upstate New York.
We were also pleased to see Regatta Beer in attendance! We at SoHo Experiential are familiar with them due to their longstanding relationship with Mount Gay Rum and the sailing community.
All in all, we had a great time at Whisky Live NY! I would definitely attend in future.