Reporting from WhiskeyFest 2009 — Part III


MaltAdvocate.bmp IIThe Clyde Fitch Report was enormously excited and privileged to be press accredited for Malt Advocate magazine’s 13th annual Whiskey Fest New York, which took place on Nov. 9 at the Marriott Marquis Times Square. (Thank you again to Joan McGinley, Events and Publishing Manager of Malt Advocate, for this opportunity!)

I had attended last year’s Whiskey Fest and written a piece about it for the New York Press; attendance this year, if the crowds were any indication, were up this year – good news in recessionary times.

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The CFR is not a whiskey blog, per se. But I’ve acquired enthusiasm for whiskey in recent years, and so I was pleased to attend Whiskey Fest by my close friend and colleague Rik Sansone, who not only shot and edited four video interviews with distillers from around the country, but has been teaching me about whiskey’s finer points and doing, may I say, a pretty damn good job. (Thank you, Rik!)

We will present one of the four videos each Tuesday, starting today and through Dec. 22. The third interview is with Jess Graber, a former firefighter and now founder and majority owner of Stranahan’s Colorado Whiskey.

Stranahan’s was one of the whiskeys that left a truly unforgettable impression on my palate in 2008. It is not, as my grandfather might have said, for the smooth-chested, though it is a distinctively smooth, “straight” single malt.

It is also not widely available; Graber said the brand has been manufacturing six barrels a week until it purchased a new facility last May, and now it is ramping up, it is hoped, to a total production of 18 barrels — all of which is micro-brewery size by industry standards.

What it does, however, is allow the distiller to focus on the product, especially the fact that the whiskey is purified, as Graber says, in the beginning of the process, thus allowing the full complement of flavors to peak through. According to the brand’s Wikipedia page, Stranahan’s is 94 proof and the first microdistillery making whiskey in the great state of Colorado and the Rocky Mountains. “Each bottle,” the page notes, “is filled by hand and each label is hand written identifying the distiller, batch number, the youngest barrel in the batch and a unique comment.”

And now, here’s John Glaser, on behalf of his unique and memorable Stranahan’s Colorado Whiskey. Listen closely, because he’ll also tell you how to acquire some (though he means “Avenue” when he says “Street):