The Pittsburgh Whiskey & Fine Spirits Festival returned for its 10th spectacular year, and this time, it brought a taste of the islands to the 1,200 guests that gathered at Rivers Casino on Friday, October 28, 2016. Locals enjoyed sampling more than 250 varieties of whiskey, scotch, vodka, gin, rum, tequila, and cordials, all laid out by the finest purveyors of distilled spirits from around the world at the Hawaiian themed event. Also on hand, a roster heavy with the most knowledgeable mixologists, distillers, brand ambassadors and industry personalities to help guide and inform guests on their buying choices.
“It was definitely a night of food, fun, and festivities Hawaiian Style,” said Ed Harrell, President, Pittsburgh Wine Festival. Attendees felt the island vibes with a setting that included palm trees, hula girls and other island themed entertainment in addition to casino games and a delicious dinner.
The highlight of the evening was definitely the 70 different distributors on hand representing more islands than just Hawaii.
Take Islay for example, one of the southernmost of the Inner Hebridean Islands located off the west coast of Scotland. The island boasts nine distilleries including Laphroaig, the number one producer of single malt scotch. This year’s festival featured a new Laphroaig scotch, Lore, which has been getting rave reviews. Lore has a “Distinctive smoke, peat, and seaside minerality, utilizing selections drawn from first-fill sherry cask to make the richest Laphroaig to date,” says Stephen Jamieson, the Western Pennsylvania Manager for Beam Suntory.
Also on hand – Cruzan Rum, produced on the islands of St. Croix. The single barrel edition includes five, eight and twelve-year-old rum blended together into a single cask. “We will bring the islands to life at this year’s festival, by using a wide whiskey selection to create high-ball and effervescent cocktails,” Jamieson says.
These and many more spirits could be purchased at an on-site Fine Wine & Good Spirits store. Some vendors in attendance even had an engraving machine on hand to personally engrave purchased bottles just in time for the holiday season.
An additional treat of the evening was an incredible auction where guests had the opportunity to bid on items of interest to them. Auction proceeds will benefit the Pittsburgh Whiskey Festivals’ charity of choice this year – Animal Friends. That means guests being “spirited” are also “thinking outside of the cage” and supporting a nationally recognized non-profit companion animal resource center that provides humane rescue, shelter and adoption services for homeless pets, humane education, pet behavior classes, pet therapy, wellness programs and more.
“Animal Friends relies on donations from the community to support the many programs and services that we offer; as well as to care for the nearly 2,500 animals we find homes for annually,” said Cassandra Dixon, Director of Events and Corporate Giving at Animal Friends. “Events such as The Pittsburgh Whiskey Festival are a vital part of our community efforts not only to raise funds, but to introduce people in our region to our mission. The Whiskey Festival provides a platform to meet 1,200 new potential donors, adopters, or program users. It is a fun and exciting way to raise funds in a totally new way! We are so grateful to the organizers of the event for thinking of us!”