Appetite: The shots heard (and tasted) 'round the world


It's fast approaching: the 11th Annual Whiskies of the World -- happening on Sat/27 -- is a must for all whisk(e)y lovers. Four full hours in the Hotel Nikko (dress respectably: no T-shirts or shorts, in keeping with the level of fine imbibements) are dedicated to sampling as much fine whisky or whiskey, scotch, and bourbon as you can. Check out the vendor list and strategize ahead of time or you might find yourself adrift in this whiskey wonderland.

It will be my first time at WOW, as it's called, though the similar Whiskyfest is one of my favorite events all year. There are seminars on the brown stuff, small batch distillers (like Oregon's excellent Bend Distillery) offering a break from and contrast to all that whisk(e)y with everything from grappa to eau di vie, plenty of buffet-style food to soak it up, chocolate and fudge pairings, mixologist booths if you want it in a cocktail, and live music from Bushmills Pipe and Drum Band, with raucous Irish bagpipes.

Line-up early for your seminar/s of choice, happening in three different rooms simultaneously, you might choose to engage in The Great Whisk(e)y Debate on the merits of bourbon vs. scotch vs. Canadian, or sit in with the wonderful Steve Beal, who'll walk you through Classic Malts of Scotland (loved his class at Whiskyfest and he says this is essentially the same class). Moonshine Renaissance is a timely topic from the perspective of Joe Michalek, founder of Piedmont Distillers in NC, and the Craft Panel Discussion is fine lineup of four distillers, like Brian Ellison of Death's Door to the great Fritz Maytag of Anchor Brewing, discussing craft distilling across the country.

There are parties (Occidental Cigar Bar and Bourbon & Branch) and dinners (Nihon Lounge) the two nights before, though note some are for WOW's Dram Club members only, which anyone can sign up for. Sip, discover and enjoy, adhering to the old Irish proverb: “What whiskey will not cure, there is no cure for.”

VIP: 5:15pm, $120
General: 6-10pm, $110
Hotel Nikko, 222 Mason, SF
(408) 225-0446

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