WhiskeyFest Chicago, sponsored by Malt Advocate Magazine, is Chicago's only major whiskey event. It is held each year at the Hyatt Regency downtown. This year it is on Friday, April 23, from 6:30 pm to 9:30 pm.
For the second consecutive year there is no increase in ticket prices. Regular tickets are $110 each and early admission VIP tickets are $150 each. But order now (through Sunday, January 31) and pay just $100 for the standard admission ticket. Go here to order your tickets or here if you want more information.
They've also arranged for special room rates at the Hyatt. Unless you're like me and can get home on the #145 bus, staying there is a good plan.
If you've never been to one of these events, it goes something like this.
When you arrive and register, you receive a commemorative Glencairn Scottish crystal nosing glass. Then you enter the ballroom, which looks like you're at a trade show, with rows of booths. Each booth is hosted by a different whiskey producer and they are pouring one or several of their whiskeys. Sometimes the person doing the pouring is the master distiller or master blender.
There's also a substantial buffet, one at each end of the hall. It's a typical hotel buffet, but you can make a dinner of it.
In the adjacent meeting rooms, distillery representatives give presentations, most of which include guided tastings.
Most of the whiskeys you can buy in the United States are represented. Bourbon, rye, scotch, Irish, Canadian, Japanese, it's all there. Naturally, new expressions are often featured.
It can get pretty crowded. So it doesn't get too crowded, they limit how many tickets they sell. They always sell all of them in advance, so don't think you're going get tickets at the door.
I'll be there, though not in any official capacity. Once, a few years ago, I asked myself if I was there to work or there to drink and I opted for drinking.