The Whisky Extravaganza Seattle - A Pacific Northwest Whiskey Adventure
November 16, 2018
Last year I attended my first Whisky Extravaganza and since then I’ve eagerly counted the days until I’d return. Thankfully, that wait came to an end on Friday.
It was a chilly night in Seattle, but it quickly warmed with my first steps and sips in the Rainier Club.
One of the things I’ve come to really love about the Extravaganza is their choice in venues. The historic Millennium Biltmore hosts the Downtown LA event and it’s the perfect spot in the city. The counterpart in Seattle is the aforementioned Rainier Club. It’s absolutely stunning with rooms lined with gorgeous art, classic design, and impeccable staff culminating in the perfect whiskey tasting experience.
I instantly found myself surrounded by some recognizable faces from the well known brands along with a few other newfound friends. This led to an interesting discussion with a few other whiskey lovers about what they get most from coming to the Extravaganza. A few said they come almost exclusively to try premium brands that they don’t usually get to experience. Others explained that they use this as an opportunity to experience a variety of easily accessible brands they’re already interested in purchasing for their daily dram.
This is a question of choice with no right answer but serves as a starting point for how you plan on tackling the adventure at hand.
This year, I was focused on seeing what whiskies the Pacific Northwest has to offer. That made for an easy decision on which masterclass I wanted to attend.
The first class offered was “A Conversation on Whiskey” led by Rick Edwards. The lively class included a discussion on scotch and an exploration of classics from The Glenlivet, Green Spot, Redbreast, and Aberlour.
The class I attended was “Making an Authentic Pacific Northwest Whiskey” presented by Westland Distillery’s co-founder and master distiller Matt Hofmann. This was by far the highlight of the evening. The discussion began with a fascinating look into the methodologies used to create a uniquely PNW whiskey. He explained the influence from the local beer culture and touched on their use of roasted malts from across Washington state. Matt also went into depth about the distillery’s values of using trees that have already fallen, replanting additional trees, and about trying to add meaning to whatever you’re drinking.
The class also featured a tasting of some of their top spirits including their signature American Single Malt and Reverie, which is found exclusively at their distillery. The Sherry casked whiskey was a favorite with a delightful nose of oatmeal raisin cookie and a light smokey body.
It was time for the exploration to truly begin once the masterclasses had concluded.
This may seem like a daunting event at first with so many different whiskies to try. But remember, everyone here shares the same passion and interest. Take your time and enjoy the journey together with others sharing similar interests who can point you in unexpected directions. This is the perfect opportunity to gain some knowledge from friendly owners, ambassadors, and fellow guests.
There were a few other top local whiskies present besides Westland. Washington’s Woodinville distillery showcased their bourbon and rye. Both were wonderful, but I really enjoyed the rye which had a lovely body reminiscent of sweet fruit and nut.
I was also glad to see Portland-based House Spirits offering their Westward American Single Malt. This is definitely at the top of my list of quality whiskies for relaxing after a hard day’s work or sharing around a campfire.
I can easily say that after the event my palate had expanded and I had a deeper appreciation for what goes into making quality whiskey. Especially in the Pacific Northwest.
Whether you’re a novice, an expert, looking to learn or just aiming to have a good time, there’s something for everyone at the Whisky Extravaganza!