Last weekend was the very first Buffalo Whiskey Fest, an event that sold out super quick. I had never been to a whiskey tasting event before, so it was a pretty cool experience, with the obvious annoyances one would expect. The event packed in around 1300 people into the Hotel Lafayette, a gorgeous rehabbed classic hotel in downtown Buffalo, NY.
The event was about $35.00 plus taxes and fees, and I would say definitely worth it. Each ticket got you unlimited tastings, a free whiskey glass, one free Manhattan, and one Old Fashioned. I really had no idea what to expect because you could essentially go to this thing and get completely inebriated.
I found the real challenge to be trying to get as many samples in as possible, while trying to gauge where your sobriety is. I would taste and spit the samples that weren’t any good, but after 10 or so, you start to feel it quick.
The first sample I had was the single barrel 4 Roses, which was a bad move because it was so outstanding, that nothing could touch it in terms of quality and flavor all night. It was incredibly smooth, no burn, and you could really identify the flavors in it. It was an impressive whiskey for sure.
One observation I gathered from this event was that there is an explosion of distilleries in the area. Don’t get me wrong, it’s extremely cool, however you could see that many of these places seem to be rushing out their product. In the end you have a bunch of whiskey that burns and is more like moonshine.
The Yamazaki 12 year was probably the second most impressive. It was my first taste of Japanese Whiskey. This seemed to be universally praised by festival goers throughout the afternoon.
I would give the third best to the Russell’s 10 Year. This was the last one I sampled so my taste buds were shot, but it seemed to go down nice and had some great flavors.
With this many people crammed into this space, it became obvious quickly when the majority of people started losing their peripheral vision. Going from table to table involved bouncing off of multiple glassy-eyed people.
Overall, The Buffalo Whiskey Fest appeared to be a huge success. I’m not sure I would go to it again, but I see the appeal. It was pretty cool being able to go in and sample all those distilleries as it will make my next trip to the liquor store more productive.