Saturday, December 1, 2012

SMWSA Extravaganza, pt. 1: The past is prologue

A few years back, my brother and I received, as birthday presents from our wives, tickets to the Scotch Malt Whisky Society of America's Whisky Extravaganza in Philadelphia. It was an enjoyable event, and I learned a lot about Scotch whisky that night -- such as that I should have Bowmore and Glenmorangie in my whiskey cabinet; and yes, a whisky can spend too long in the barrel (as, for example, the ~30 yo SMWSA bottling that tasted like medicine -- and not the good kind, but the sort a doctor in St. Louis in 1901 would give a patient he didn't much like); and that one of Ardbeg's expressions (can't recall which it was) could say "Bacon Flavored" on the label without misleading the public; and that a dozen or two single malts is not the way to prepare your palate for Tullamore Dew, which under those circumstances came off tasting a bit like ditchwater.

In the ensuing years, the SMWSA made sure I was informed whenever the Extravaganza was coming to town -- which wasn't strictly necessary, since I know it always comes to town (Washington, DC, in my case) on or about my wife's birthday, which is not the week I feel comfortable dropping $150 on a gift to myself (and I'd be worse off giving my wife Extravaganza tickets for her birthday than giving her an ironing board).

Still, year by year the pressure built, and a few months back I finally cracked and said, "Nuts, this time I'm going." The Extravaganza was an almost-decent full week after the Birthday, and I am after all trying to work my way up in the whiskey world from a hobbyist to a dilettante, and I've learned a lot since the last time, and... well, dammit, I wanted to go, and my wife said I could.

Then Hurricane Sandy said I couldn't go, or at least not on the scheduled date. (Making it two years in a row that a hurricane passing through Washington spoiled my plans to taste whiskey, which isn't weird or anything.)

Though Sandy amounted to little more than a drenching rain and high winds in my neck of the woods, I certainly don't mean to write it off as nothing more than an inconvenience to me. A lot of people are still pretty badly off, and would welcome whatever help they can get. And a lot of people are still trying to help them; for instance, there's a whisky auction scheduled for tomorrow, December 2, in New York City, to raise money for victims.

In any case, the Extravaganza was rescheduled for November 28, this past Wednesday, and I was able to attend. Remind me to tell you about it some time.