The Edgewater Hotel of Madison, Wisconsin hosted the stars of the spirits world at the Madison Malt Society's second annual Celebration of American Distilling. For any cocktail or spirit enthusiast out there, it was remarkable. It was like the movie stars on the red carpet at the academy awards. Or maybe it was political junkies walking amongst the star-politicians at a party convention in a presidential year. Or maybe a better example is a banquet served by the whole battalion of iron chefs.
As a celebration of American distilling-particularly if you love whiskey-there was almost nothing more one could ask for. The big players were there with Jim Beam's full line of Small Batch Collection and the finer Russell's Reserve products from Austin Nichols. The elite distillers were there with Buffalo Trace's entire antique collection, Four Roses entire line of five boutique whiskeys, and Kentucky Bourbon Distillers full line of craft whiskeys.
As if that wasn't enough, small craft-distillers from all over the country-with a particular concentration of those blossoming in the upper Midwest-came with their full lines as well. There were vodkas, grappas, liqueurs, gins, absinthes as well as things we'd never hear of or seen before distilled from rose hip or horseradish, millet seed, and pumpkin. And for those with the stamina, one was free to taste everything.
We could not... but we tried.
It was an absolute embarrassment of riches showcasing what truly is a the onset of a golden era in distilling within the United States. Follow us as we recount our tour and discussion through each of our visits in the three-plus hours we had at the event. And please forgive us if our notes tend to lapse towards the unspecific and potential digression.
See Part I for a whirlwind recap of:
See Part II for a coherent-as-possible recap of: