The first Houston Whiskey Festival is upon us. On Saturday, March 15, at the Julia Ideson Building, you can sample more than 60 whiskies from around the world (other spirits and cocktails will also be available) while enjoying the cigar lounge, live brass bands and more. (No tickets will be sold at the door, so if you want to attend, visit the site above and get your general admission tickets for $65 or VIP tickets for $125.) I spoke with Tim Briscoe, organizer of the event, about what visitors to the festival can expect, his vision for the event and more.
"The [Houston Whiskey Festival] isn't going to be your typical festival," Briscoe explained. "We wanted to create an elegant, fun, educational and eventful festival." To that end, the event will feature such entertainments as a series of live brass bands and a burlesque show, fitting for what Briscoe calls "the most revered spirit category in the world." Serious whiskey enthusiasts will also be able to attend seminars on the spirit at the festival.
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Briscoe chose to hold the festival in part because of the rise in craft distilleries in Texas. "For a long time, the world has only focused on Scotland and Kentucky whenever whiskey was the topic of conversation," he explains. He hopes to highlight how that is changing by introducing a variety of whiskies from other U.S. regions and other countries, including Alabama and Canada. Of course, Texas will be represented: Briscoe plans to have whiskies poured from multiple Texas distilleries, including Balcones, Yellow Rose and Whitmeyer's.
With a VIP ticket, patrons will be allowed in the tasting room an hour early, giving them extra time to sample whiskeys and more time to talk to distillery representatives; they'll also receive a gift bag.
Briscoe planned the event because, as he puts it, "I'm very passionate about whiskey, and I figured I couldn't be the only one who felt this way." He hopes the event will bring whiskey enthusiasts together, believing there are enough of them to make the festival an annual happening: "This will be the first year for the Houston Whiskey Festival, but this will certainly not be the last." As a fellow whiskey lover, I hope he's right.
The fun begins at 6 p.m. for VIPs and 7 p.m. for general admission, and it will last until 10 p.m.