The Scotch Whisky Festival in Chicago

by Jan Simon

If sampling single malts, blended or liqueur whisky appeals to your taste buds, you might consider attending Whisky Week, held in April of each year in Chicago. There are many activities held at different venues throughout the city. However, the highlight of the week is WhiskyFest, a three-hour event held on Friday.

Whisky Week

If you have traveled to the Windy City for Whisky Week, there are many events to keep you busy. An agenda may range from launch parties, tastings and even a throwdown. During the April 2011 event, Mrs. Murphy & Sons Irish Bistro hosted the "2nd Annual Whisky Throwdown," an evening of games, trivia challenges and tastings all for the nominal charge of $10. For another ten spot, you could join a tour of the Koval Distillery, a boutique distillery in the city. Samplings during the tour included white whisky and liqueurs. At the Fountainhead, an eating establishment known for its distinctive selection of whisky, five-course meals were served paired with whisky and beer. Educational seminars and first-barrel tastings are held throughout the week.


The WhiskyFest on Friday draws a sizable crowd. If you are thinking of attending, get your tickets early. The popular event held in April 2011 was sold out in February. Some whisky aficionados formed very lengthy lines to try a sampling of the very rare 30-year-old Laphroaig brew, while others appreciated the many micro-distillers. This event offers the opportunity to sample over 250 whiskies from 50 whisky distillers. It runs from 6:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m., with a "last call" at 9:15 p.m. A gourmet buffet is available all evening, with coffee, tea, water and soda. Every guest receives a commemorative Glencairn whisky glass to use for tastings.

WhiskyFest Seminars

Individuals anxious to learn more about their favorite brands can register for seminars at the event. In the past, seminars have ranged from detailing the steps to create one of Scotland's prime single malts to teaching the art of Japanese whisky. Some seminar speakers hold the title of master distiller. These professionals are in charge of the distillery operation. The seminars run 45 minutes. Additionally, distillery representatives pouring samples at designated booths are a source of information. Most are happy to detail how their whiskies are processed.

Other Events

If you cannot wait until the next Whisky Week, you might enjoy a one-day, spin-off event. The Single Malt and Scotch Whiskey Extravaganza is held in October at the Union League Club of Chicago. This gala includes tastings and a gourmet dinner.

About the Author

Jan Simon is a career and life coach with more than 20 years of experience in corporate human resources. She holds a bachelor's degree from Central Michigan University. Simon enjoys writing career articles and is a columnist for the CV Weekly. She also publishes a weekly blog called Life on the Sunny Side.

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