Whiskyfest

Appetite: Tasting spirits

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An array of new liquor tastes, and a Whiskyfest recap

NAVY STRENGTH GIN REACHES US SHORES

Unforgettable: my journey to the south of England town of Plymouth and its legendary distillery with Master Distiller Sean Harrison. Possibly the most beautiful distillery I’ve yet visited. I relished drinking Plymouth Navy Strength ($34.99) while in the UK, a bracing version of their classic gin at 57% ABV/114 proof, the preferred gin of the British Royal Navy.

Though still smooth like Plymouth gin, Navy Strength packs a greater botanical punch, enlivening cocktails. The good news is it finally arrived to the US merely weeks ago in September so drink up.

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Appetite: New whisk(e)y releases and WhiskyFest

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I'll take whisk(e)y year round. But as summer evolves to fall, it seems all the more appropriate enjoyed on crisp nights, preferably fireside. Thankfully, WhiskyFest approaches this Friday/5, in the usual massive, underground Marriott ballrooms. Recapping past years, VIP early pours of rare whiskies and seminars tend to be highlights. There's another seminar this week with the legendary, delightful Parker Beam, exploring Japanese Whisky with Suntory brand ambassador Neyah White, and I'm particularly looking forward to beer and single malt pairings with Highland Park brand ambassador Martin Daraz.

There's a number of  new pours this year, including Glenfiddich's Malt Master which I review below, Parker's Heritage Collection release for 2012, the Master Distiller’s Blend of Mashbills (Parker Beam's annual, limited edition releases are among the most exciting American whiskies made), and for the first time ever Nikka Japanese whisky, which I've long had to enjoy when in Europe, as you can't get it here in the US... until this fall, thanks to SF's very own Anchor Distilling here in SF. Anchor is importing Nikka with, as Anchor President David King told me recently, a few more Japanese whiskies to come -- a huge win for whisky lovers like myself who've been longing for more imports from Japan. I sampled Taketsuru 12 year, which will also be poured at WhiskyFest, while Anchor will soon import their 17 yr and 21 yr whiskies.

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