by October 18, 2012 at 10:00 am 1,573 0

From Jane Alonso. Her passion for food and spirits leads her on frequent excursions into Borderstan’s land of bars and restaurants. Email her at jane[AT] 


The Scotch Extravaganza. (Jane Alonso)

As some of you know by now, I have a passion for scotch, and I relish converting others to join me in that passion. But despite the fact that whiskey is growing in popularity around the globe and interest in the spirit has never been higher in the U.S., scotch continues to be shrouded in mystery for many people. They simply don’t know where to begin the process of accessing the drink and understanding the nuances of the craft.

If you are one of those people, an excellent place to start is the Scotch Malt Whiskey Society of America’s DC “Extravaganza” at the JW Marriott on October 30. The extravaganza is easily one of the best events of the year – for the price of one ticket ($150), you can taste samples from over 30 distilleries, representing nearly all of Scotlands’s major whiskey producers.

And it’s not the cheap stuff either – you will be able to try some truly fantastic whiskies you might never even knew existed. It’s a great way to compare and contrast different scotches to determine which ones you prefer – and distillery representatives are on hand to explain regional variations, production quirks, and tasting notes.

There is nothing like all-you-can-drink saturation for two hours to kick start your scotch know-how. And to help soak-up all that whiskey, there is a buffet dinner included in the ticket – in addition to premium imported cigars, raffle prizes, and other Scotch-oriented swag (tip: keep your souvenir “snifter” glass, as it makes a handy implement for drinking scotch on a regular basis at home).

To make the most out of the event, jot notes in your smartphone (or in a notebook) as you taste each whiskey. With so many samples to try (and so much whiskey in your bloodstream), you don’t want to find yourself forgetting which ones you liked the most after the event is over. Make sure you try a range of regions and characteristics.  For a crash course in scotch before the event, check-out this handy website as a reference.

For those who aren’t novices, check-out the “Whisky Panel” that starts at 6 pm. It’s a one hour symposium prior to the major event that is composed of whiskey experts, where attendees submit questions to panel members about individual brands, whisky production and other topics relating to the “whisky world.”

The Scotch Malt Whiskey Extravaganza: The Details

  • Where Am I Going: JW Marriott Hotel, 1331 Pennsylvania Avenue NW.
  • When Am I Going: Tuesday, October 30, 2012, 7-9 pm.
  • Paycheck Pain: $150 per person for Non-Society Members; $135 for Society Members.
  • Dress Code: Business casual, jackets preferred; no denim or athletic attire allowed.
  • What am I eating and drinking: A lot of scotch, and food to blunt the buzz.

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