6 Great Bourbon and Rye Picks for WhiskyFest D.C. 2018

WhiskyFest returns to the Capital City on April 17th, and—with hundreds of whiskies to choose from—it’s going to be an unforgettable night for whisky lovers. Whether you want to go deep on scotch, Irish, craft whiskey, or other styles, there will be plenty of delicious drams to tempt your palate. For lovers of American whiskey, use this guide to get started, and consult the full list of pours to determine your can’t-miss whiskeys.

As you’re planning your evening, check out our guide to making the most of the event. And if you haven’t gotten your tickets yet, get them here!

Elijah Craig Barrel Proof

There’s a reason this whiskey was number one in the Top 20 Whiskies of 2017—and you can taste that reason at WhiskyFest. Master distiller Denny Potter will be on hand pouring Elijah Craig and many other Heaven Hill whiskeys—plus he’s leading a seminar where you’ll be able to blend your own version of Elijah Craig Small Batch.

Four Roses

Although WhiskyFest is the best place to try new (or new-to-you) whiskies, it’s also a great opportunity to revisit old favorites, especially when you want to recalibrate your palate with a familiar whiskey. If you already know and love Four Roses, we don’t have to tell you why it’s so special—and if you’re not familiar with it, well, go and taste for yourself, starting with the original “yellow label” (recently redesigned so that it’s more of a taupe color) and continuing through the Small Batch and Single Barrel expressions.

Bulleit Barrel Strength

Originally available only in Kentucky, Bulleit’s higher-proof bourbon started rolling out to other states last year, but it’s still a limited commodity. If you like regular Bulleit, you have to try this amped-up version, which—according to reviewer Fred Minnick—boasts flavors of cinnamon rock candy, crème brûlée, and marshmallow.

Basil Hayden’s Dark Rye

Basil Hayden’s has taken some bold steps in the past year, first launching a limited-edition rye in the spring of 2017 and then unveiling Dark Rye last fall. The “distilled spirits specialty” is a blend of Kentucky and Canadian rye whiskeys with California port-style wine—and the result is unlike anything else in the Beam Small Batch Collection.

George Washington Distillery

Our first president was famous for many things: his valor in battle, his political leadership, his inability to tell a lie. In his time, Washington was also a major distiller, making rye at Mount Vernon, and the historical site continues that legacy today. Both the unaged rye—made of 60% rye, 35% corn, and 5% malted barley, and unaged because that’s how most whiskey was sold in the 18th century—and 2 year old straight rye will be poured at WhiskyFest, with the 4 year old straight rye available during VIP hour.

WhistlePig FarmStock

In the Winter 2017 issue of Whisky Advocate, WhistlePig founder Raj Bhakta boldly declared that Farmstock’s first batch (dubbed Crop 001) will someday be worth $10,000 a bottle. Want to see if he’s right? Taste it for yourself to decide. Farmstock is a blend of WhistlePig’s own young rye with older rye sourced from Canada and Indiana.

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