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Los Angeles Magazine Whiskey Festival 2018 - Santa Monica Museum of Flying

My love and appreciation for whiskey took full form after the inaugural Los Angeles Magazine Whiskey Festival three years ago. Before that, I certainly enjoyed the occasional Old Fashioned, but I didn’t understand what made it so special.

I’ve talked to many people who see whiskey as a daunting drink. And they’re right. There are so many nuanced flavors, verbiage, etiquette and styles that can throw off the average drinker. That makes events like LA Mag’s Whiskey Festival the perfect place to explore. It doesn’t matter what your level of experience with the spirit is, as the evening caters to the novice and experienced.

There were a few established brands present this year from the likes of The Macallan and Four Roses, but many of the vendors this year were from smaller distillers. Having a wide variety of brands makes a perfect opportunity to mingle with a variety of brand ambassadors looking to share their knowledge. I was also glad to see a superb new local brand represented with Cali Distillery’s California Sipping Whiskey.

My favorite new discovery was Shackleton Blended Malt. This dark and sweet scotch is named after famous Antarctic explorer Sir Ernest Shackleton whose expedition left a few crates of Mackinlay’s Rare Old Highland Malt Whisky. The antique dram was discovered in 2007 and was recreated by master blender Richard Paterson as a modern counterpart. I’ll definitely have a bottle of this on my next trek in the snow.

This is also a great opportunity to try things you might not normally, such as a Root Beer Whiskey from Rebel Yell or the surprisingly delicious canned cocktails from Cutwater Spirits.

Whiskey isn’t the only draw for the festival. One of the things I love most about this particular event is the location. The festival was previously held at the La Brea Tar Pit Museum, but this year it was changed to the Museum of Flying in Santa Monica. I really enjoyed being able to explore aviation history, in particular Naval aviation history (Go Navy!), while expanding my whiskey horizon.This is also a great way to try some of the freshest cigars available as they’re rolled in front of you.

Each year the event tops itself in level of quality. That’s not an easy feat to accomplish. Now the bar is set higher and my anticipation grows yet again, thanks to the beauty that is the Los Angeles Magazine Whiskey Festival.

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