Expo News, Whisky News
09-28-2012

 

We don’t want to tease you with what’s coming, but the WOW staff just can’t resist sharing some tantalizing previews to get your taste buds in the mood.

 
For the past many Expos, resourceful Diageo has been bringing its diverse collection of brands to cater to the exploratory and savory needs of whisky lovers of alltypes and levels–from the frontier Bulleit bourbon and well-rounded Canadian Crown Royal, to the all-embracing Classic Malts lineup. The Classic Malts booth at the Expo has always been a one-stop shop for all things single malts, offering a complete virtual tour of Scotland, while enchanting with a full range of whisky flavor profiles: Dalwhinnie, Talisker, Cragganmore, Oban, Lagavulin, Glenkinchie, and other ineffable but heart- (and stomach-) warming names. We welcome Diageo to our Austin show, and look forward to new precious findings from the constantly aggrandizing Classic Malts range. 
 
 
Every autumn, Diageo presents the Special Releases series to embrace some exceedingly rare, and therefore, sought-after single malts from the dwindling stocks of long-silent distilleries alongside expressions from familiar and less familiar working distilleries. While they probably won’t be available by WoW Austin, we hope to see and sip some of them at WoW San Francisco 2013. Thinking ahead: the iconic Lagavulin 21 will not disappoint those who have sampled from the previous highly-regarded bottlings, and will be a delight for those who haven’t tried it before. An ‘unpeated’ Caol Ila from ex-bodega European Oak will be fascinating. We are particularly excited about the Talisker 35–year-old—the oldest they have ever released from this celebrated distillery. 
 
 
Our ardent supporter, and famous producer of the ubiquitous Glenmorangie and Ardbeg, Moët Hennessy, will be there to share the thrill of the first WoW Austin.They will bring seven different expressions of Glenmorangie, including the brand new Signet, made with a heavy roasted ‘chocolate’ malt (this refers to the color, no Godiva has been harmed in the making of this malt), matured for 10 years in a combination of former-bourbon and new oak casks, blended with other Glenmorangie whiskies, some up to 35 years old. Dr. Bill Lumsden, whose name has become synonymous with creativity in this nothing-comes-as-a-surprise whisky world, will be there to conduct the tasting. In addition to the never-ending experimental releases of Glenmorangie, recently Bill and his team emanated a space-maturation experiment (“space” isn’t the name of the cask) with Ardbeg new make used as an astronaut. We’ll hold-off on the details here; the only thing we know is that they’ll be testing the possible effects of normal gravity on earth versus microgravity in space on maturation. Getting a little complicated, isn’t it? Ask Bill, as they say.
 
Beam Global will dazzle WoW Austin with samples from their embracive whisky-planetary (not yet recovered from the “space-maturation” news) portfolio, including good ol’ Laphroaig, parochial Knob Creek (and new Knob Creek Rye), Maker’s Mark 46, and the Irish Kilbeggan. We’ll stop for a second to make a quick introduction of the latter, as we do appreciate Irish whisky as a special category, enjoying unique distillation and blending methods. Distilled by the formerly independent and Irish-owned-and-run Cooley Distillery, 

Kilbeggan blend is a mix of Cooley’s Greenore, a single grain (corn) whiskey, and Tyrconnell, the company’s signature malt whiskey.
 
When put together, the Greenore and Tyrconnell seem to really complement each other well and the result is Kilbeggan, a delightful and extremely approachable real Irish whiskey. When sampling the palatable redhead, you may start hearing why Irish whiskey once used to be the widest consumed whisky in the world. 
 

On to the local front of ardent drinks: some of you have probably heard of Balcones Distillery, and their Baby Blue, which is not only Texas’ first whisky since the Prohibition, but—as far we know—the only blue corn whisky made anywhere. It pays homage to the American whisky tradition, while adding something new and innovative. Balcones owner Chip Tate built his distillery system from scratch with his two-person crew in an old warehouse in the shadow of the 17th Street railroad bridge. Tate has been a dedicated home brewer for 18 years and has spent the past several years learning the science behind good distillation, including an apprenticeship in Scotland. But Texas is his inspiration and his target market. “We’re using very traditional methods to distill this stuff,” he said. “But we’re very 
proud to be a Texas distillery. This is what it makes sense to do. Why shouldn’t there be a whiskey that’s good with barbecue?”
 

Why not, indeed!
 
At the Expo, sample the differentiable whisky by Balcones, including the latest release, Brimstone, claiming purification through fire, a Texas oak fire, that is. 
Rather than using Scottish peat smoke, this one-of-a-kind whisky is smoked with sun-baked Texas scrub oak using a secret process. Attend Chip’s hands-on masterclass aimed at helping whisky enthusiasts understand the spirit they love. He’ll focus on a handful of key aromas and discuss their origins in the whiskey-making process. Where do the fruity aromas come from? Coconut aromas? Solvent smells? Now you know.