The 4th Annual WeHa Whiskey Festival will benefit Camp Courant, and is scheduled for Oct. 15, 2016, at the Hartford Golf Club.
By Ronni Newton
The WeHa Whiskey Festival promises to be classy and fun from the moment guests arrive at Hartford Golf Club – the event’s new venue.
“We ran out of space,” said Brian Whitney, owner of Maximum Beverage which is one of the main presenters of the event. Hartford Golf Club is a beautiful space and can accommodate up to 400, he said, plus it’s an ideal site for some of the event’s “extras.”
The main event will feature tastings of more than 200 brands of scotch, bourbon, and whiskey. High end rum and tequila will also be available for sampling, Whitney said. There will be Fishers Island Lemonade (which blends vodka and whiskey with natural lemon), too. Soft drinks, water, and coffee will also be readily available for guests.
The quality of spirits available for tasting this year is unsurpassed, organizers said. “We will be opening more than $20,000 worth of whiskey,” Maximum Beverage Marketing Director Kevin Cowan said.
Tickets, available for $99 in advance of $119 at the door, provide guests with unlimited tastings in a complimentary tasting glass, as well as food catered by Hartford Golf Club. Cowan said the menu will include a custom mac and cheese bar, a filet station, bacon-wrapped scallops, sliders, and more.
Several local restaurants will also be engaged in “battle” – trying to create the tastiest dish using bourbon as an ingredient. According to Kristen Fritz of Eat in Connecticut, which is sponsoring the restaurant battle, competitors will include Plan B (West Hartford), Goldberg’s Gourmet (West Hartford), Rooster Company (Newington), The North House (Avon), and Ideal Tavern (Southington). It will up to the guests, who will have a chance to sample the dishes, to decide which creation is best.
Guests will also have the opportunity to visit the “cigar garden” on the clubhouse patio. There they can taste premium cigars from Rocky Patel and other cigar brands while sipping single malts at high top tables.
Some of the rarest bottles of whiskey, including a 23-year-old Pappy Van Winkle that sells for about $3,000, will be available at a private VIP reception held before the WeHa Whiskey Festival begins. Attendance at the VIP tasting, which is being sponsored by Laphroaig, is limited to 40 people and is already nearly sold out, Cowan said.
There’s also a raffle of single malts, gift baskets, gift cards, and other items.
Last year the event raised $13,000 for Camp Courant and Connecticut Children’s Medical Center, Cowan said. Organizers hope to exceed that this year.
“It costs $400 per kid to send them through camp,” Cowan said. When thinking about the WeHa Whiskey Festival sending 40 kids to camp, it really makes a big difference, he said.
Guests must show identification to prove that they are at least 21 years old in order to attend the WeHa Whiskey Festival, and organizers said that West Hartford Police will be on site to strictly enforce the requirement.
Organizers know that after sampling whiskey, some guests may not be fit to drive. In anticipation, the WeHa Whiskey Festival has arranged for a $20 credit for first-time Uber customers. Designated driver tickets are also available for purchase at $40 each.
The WeHa Whiskey Festival will be held from 6 – 9 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 15, 2016, at the Hartford Golf Club, 134 Norwood Rd., West Hartford, CT. It is being presented by Maximum Beverage, Prenod Ricard, and Diageo.
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