Boozehounds, mark your calendars: Bottlerocket Wine & Spirit (5 West 19th Street, 212-929-2323) is hosting its third annual Whisk(e)y Fest throughout the entire month of February. Each day of the month will be dedicated to a featured brown spirit, which you can taste for free between 5 and 8 p.m. And with every whiskey purchase of $100 or more, you’ll be entered into a raffle for a chance to buy a bottle of the infuriatingly rare Pappy Van Winkle — at retail price: ten-, fifteen-, and twenty-year expressions will be sold to the winners for $88, $149, and $198, respectively. Not bad, considering that they’re now fetching close to that on eBay…for an empty bottle.
Why does this particular bourbon command such a princely sum? Scarcity of supply is the most obvious culprit. Every October, the distillery releases around 22,000 bottles to the public. Jim Beam, by comparison, produces about 96 million bottles in one calendar year. Pappy also relies upon a wheated grain bill, characterized by a softness that tends to age well in the barrel. Not just any spirit could (or should) sit in wood for upwards of two decades. Pappy clearly benefits from its lengthy slumber, and there is at least some legitimacy to all the hype.
Beyond the ultra-exclusive expressions, Whisk(e)y Fest showcases 50 significant spirits from around the globe, with many of the distillers and ambassadors on hand to discuss what makes their brands unique. Everything from small-batch American ryes to super-peated Islay single-malts will take a turn in the spotlight.
And what better day to kick things off than Super Bowl Sunday, when Bottlerocket features some high-end pours from the Beam catalog. Booker’s, Basil Hayden, and Knob Creek should be enough to make the game worth watching. The special inaugural tasting runs early, from 3 to 6 p.m., leaving plenty of time to get home in time for the coin toss.
From there, Bottlerocket will move on to Irish whiskey and Macallan single-malt, and circle back local for Breukelen Distilling before week’s end. The only drawback to Whisk(e)y Fest is that it arrives during the shortest month of the year. Graciously, leap year is right around the corner.
Bottlerocket Wine & Spirit bills itself as a “new generation wine and spirits shop,” and the Flatiron-based outpost features a children’s play area, wine selections categorized by suggested food pairings, and an airy atmosphere designed to promote social gatherings. A full day-by-day breakdown of Whisk(e)y Fest is now available on its website.