It wasn’t until our airfare and hotel was booked that I realized how big of an event we were going to be attending in Chicago. Upfront, I wasn’t given much information besides, “Try to get to Chicago for the final leg of the Balvenie Rare Craft Collection”. I had seen from my fellow Balvenie fans on Twitter and Instagram that the other two locations, NYC and Houston, looked quite amazing. With various booths set up to meet and get hands on with the craftsmanship of letter press Megan O’Connell, metalsmith Elizabeth Brim, sculptor Sebastian Martorana, watchmaker Roland Murphy and head cooper at Balvenie Ian McDonald, I was already looking forward to our trip.
Shortly after booking our travel I was sent an invitation to a VIP Luncheon and Tasting and was informed that Malt Master David Stewart would be attending. At that point, my excitement shot through the roof. I was already excited, but that sent me over the edge.
When we arrived at the event, we were greeted by our good friends and Balvenie Brand Ambassadors Jonathan Wingo and David Laird, and quickly offered a dram of our choice, no better way to start an afternoon like a dram of 17yr DoubleWood. We were then shown around the room and introduced to the rest of the Balvenie family, Brand Ambassador Lorne Cousin and Brand Manager Andrew Weir. After some food and quick discussion about social media and photography I was thrown into a double introduction to both Anthony Bourdain, and David Stewart. Now there’s a social circle I never thought I would be part of. But having the chance to share a dram with the two of them was quite awesome. I even had the chance to show Mr. Stewart my lamps and explain the reason I chose the 12yr DoubleWood as my first lamp.
Shortly after, we were all led to the back room where we were all handed a dram of the Balvenie Tun 1509 Batch 2. After a quick word from David Stewart we enjoyed that dram during a Q&A Session with Anthony Bourdain led by Jonathan Wingo. But the best part of the day was the tasting that happened after the Q&A, which was led by Mr. Stewart himself. It’s not every day you get to be led through such a great range of whisky by the man who created them.
It was such an amazing afternoon, we truly felt like we were part of the Balvenie Family. We met so many amazing people and you just can’t say enough about the humble and soft natured spirit of David Stewart, the man who has contributed so much in his 50+ years in the industry. Such an honor to have taken part in this event and to have been given the opportunity to share whisky with such an amazing group of people.