Last Night at Los Angeles Magazine’s Inaugural Whiskey Festival

Rare whiskies, cigars, and a mashed potato bar kept whiskey lovers happy

The La Brea Tar Pits were bumping last night. Those old bones haven’t seen so much action since… the Ice Age? Something like that. Los Angeles Magazine wrapped up its very first whiskey festival, which crammed about 500 thirsty whiskey lovers, more than a dozen distillers, and a horseshoe bar filled with noshables inside the La Brea Tar Pits & Museum. Sipping on spirits while standing in front of a wall of over 400 dire wolf skulls, the message of the night was clear: life is short, enjoy rare whiskey while you can.

Whiskey is a hot commodity, outperforming wine and gold as investments last year, but at last night’s whiskey fest folks had the chance to sip what’s usually collecting dust in most collections. A rare treat, I find, as a lot of festivals usually use the occasion to spread brand awareness thereby pouring off-the-shelf bottles. Meh. But this whiskey event had enthusiasts oohing over pours.

Daily Pint’s whiskey expert Chris Udhe was surprised to see Bruichladdich giving out pours of the Octomore, a super peaty scotch that’s about triple the smokiness of Laphroiag. And Bar Jackalope’s whiskey connoisseur Linh Do was nerding out over the Glenmorangie Milsean, a new release that launched just a few weeks ago. The event was clearly tailored towards serious whiskey lovers.

A cigar table hand-rolled and bagged stogies for attendees to enjoy later while a shoe shine station polished off dapper gents and ladies. There was even a photo booth where attendees could have their picture taken in a Mad Men-esque living room. A bonus was a mashed potato bar, which layered spuds and a variety of toppings in an old school martini glass. It seemed an odd addition to the festivities—and very ’90s—but proved oh-so smart as it helped drinkers lay down a base layer to soak up all that top-shelf liquor.

There were also cocktails, and decent ones at that. My personal favorite of the night was Ardbeg’s Islay R&R, a potent potable of Ardbeg 10, ruby port, Benedictine, and Angostura and orange bitters. It was smokey yet drinkable. While the fun cocktail of the night was the “bump” at the Jack Daniels table, which had guests sucking cocktail shots through a straw a la Pablo Escobar.

For a first time event, I’d say L.A. mag did right by whiskey enthusiasts. And there’s only 364 days ’til next year’s, so start doing your research.