In October of 2013 I surprised many of our #whiskyfabric bloggers in New York city when I showed up for Whisky Jewbilee & Whiskyfest. That alone made the trip most memorable because I met: Susannah Skiver-Barton (@WhatTastesGood), Allison Patel (@whiskygirls), Aaron Krouse (@AaronMKrouse), Steven Zeller (@SmokyBeast), Shane Helmick (@How2DrinkWhisky), Angelo Veneziano (@boozedancing), Joe Gratkowski (@whiskyjourney) and the grand weaver of them all Joshua Feldman (@cooperedtot). I apologize if I forgot anyone...
I also figured if I was going to NYC, I might as well go big so I bought tickets to everything, including the all day seminar that Whiskyfest was hosting on Saturday October 12th. Here was the lineup for the day:
Some of the whiskies I tried were breathtaking, rare or chance in a lifetime dram and after a fantastic lunch paired with Talisker whiskies we came back to the seminar room where we were treated to, of all things Dominic Roskrow teaching the crowd about twerking (you had to be there). It was a lively, comedic and great seminar about where whisky is heading - the road to tomorrow.
|Courtesy of Whisky Advocate: John Hansell, Parker Beam & son Craig|
What happened next was a moment that touched many of us in the room. I expected the interview to be poignant and also see people moved by the grand gentleman who sat on stage. What I, and the rest of the crowd, didn't expect was the level of emotion that John Hansell shared. At one point he was rendered speechless but once he regained his composure John made no bones about how he felt about Parker Beam. You could see the pride and love he had for this man. I and many others were also moved to tears that afternoon. The coming together of seven bourbon families is the epitome of what the #whiskyfabric is all about. If you don't know what I'm talking about, please watch this video: http://www.unitybottling.com/
Everyone that was there that afternoon was most fortunate to taste the unity bottling sample before them. Many of the seven distillery heads joined Parker on stage and we all raised a toast together. The two bottles sold at auction the following day raising over $10,000 for ALS.
My little secret: I didn't taste the sample that day. I had brought several small 60ml vials with me and this is one of the whiskies I squirreled away. It was something special I wanted to hold on to and share with Graham who couldn't come with me to New York. The intent was to open it on the day Parker passes and toast his legacy with the dram that was blended and chosen by him.
My second secret: I go into my whisky room pretty much every morning and look at all my little sample bottles. The morning of my birthday, November 11th, was no different except this time when I picked up the Unity bottling sample I didn't put it back down. I stared at it in my hands and then I opened it, gave it a long lingering nose and then I took a small mouthful and just let it sit there, totally taking it in. Happy Birthday to me.
I took out my little pink book and wrote the following:
Color: Dark mahogany. Thick, viscous in the vial.
Nose: Deep vanilla poundcake, creamy and lots of caramel. Big oak at the back.
Palate: Quite intense (I think because I left it sit in my mouth for about 10 seconds), rich and full bodied. Somewhat tannic which surprised me but well balanced. Red dark fruit like juicy red cherries. Mouthwatering.
Finish: Also intense, long and lingered beautifully. A balance of sweet/hot and just a hint of spice like anise.
It was very difficult to not pour myself a real dram so that I could nose/taste it properly. I was gobsmacked at how good that mouthful was. Then again, knowing now how good it was - it will be worth the wait albeit for a sad occasion. When I do open this one again I will be brought back to that moment when one of the greatest bourbon giants stood on stage before me and we toasted him, in unity with Unity.
To Parker Beam, Greg Davis, Chris Morris, Fred Noe, Jim Rutledge, Jimmy Russell & Harlen Wheatley may you be remembered as the seven kings of whiskey who stood together on October 12 2013 and demonstrated to the world what unity truly means.
Link to Parker Beam's ALS Promise Fund: