It’s been a chilly start to the new year in Alberta.
Cold. Snow. Wind. Even freezing rain.
You think you’ve had enough of winter, and then you realize it’s just January. Time for a drink, right?
Nothing like a wee dram for a winter warm-up, right?
How about a room full of whisky? Even better.
You’re in luck then, because there are still tickets available for the MS Whisky Festivals in Edmonton and Calgary, Jan 14 and 15, respectively.
This is your chance to sample more than 100 whiskies from around the world, and not just single-malt scotch, either.
From single-malt to rye to bourbon, the best of the brown spirits will be available for sampling at the Delta Edmonton South next Wednesday and at the Jack Singer Concert Hall Thursday.
Stephen Richmond with Vines Wine Merchants in Edmonton, one of the partners in the Jan. 14 event, said tickets are selling well for this year’s event.
“Ticket sales are awesome — for the last two years, we’ve kind of sold out,” he said, adding he expects a turnout of about 550 people.
The events will highlight all variety of whisky, including single malt whiskies from Japan and Taiwan.
The events are unique in Alberta as they are one of the few occasions when you will see so many principals from distilleries around the world.
“Because of the timing of the big whisky fest in Victorial, a lot of principals will cover over for the Victoria festival and they’ll stop over here,” Richmond said, meaning attendees will get a chance to meet and chat up the people who know the most about their favourite whiskies.
On top of that, there are special master classes at both festivals, special tasting sessions with brand ambassadors.
In Edmonton, tickets are still available for the master classes with Compass Box, Kavalan and a special Canadian whisky class with Dan Tullio.
In Calgary, there are still spots listed for the Laphroaig class, as well as one with Michael Urquhart, who is a whisky industry veteran.
Whisky is a growing segment in Alberta, and there are always new whiskies to try, which makes a festival like this a great chance to learn, Richmond said.
“It’s becoming an educational thing. For $85 (for the Edmonton festival), you can try as many as you like,” he said.
Key with events like this, because there are more than 100 whiskies on hand, is to plan your evening, as there’s no way you could even approach trying them all.
You could plan by region, or plan to try only whiskies you never have. Either way, it’s a chance to expand your whisky knowledge.
Better yet, the proceeds from the event go to the MS Society.
“Over the five years, we’ve raised in excess of $140,000 and it’s grown every year,” Richmond said.