This Memorial Day Weekend, Big Smoke Meets WhiskyFest returned for its second run, offering a night of superb cigars, outstanding whiskies, and opportunities for pairings aplenty. The event took place at the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Hollywood, Florida on May 28th, kicking off with a series of cigar-focused seminars for All-Access pass attendees. It concluded with a grand tasting of whisky and other spirits, supplemented by over 25 cigars, and live music.
On the morning of the 28th, All-Access pass attendees enjoyed a Cigar Seminar program that included four seminars that highlight industry legends, among them Rocky Patel of Rocky Patel Premium Cigars, Carlos Fuente Jr. of Arturo Fuente Cigars, and Rafael Nodal of Tabacalera USA (which markets famous Cuban cigar brand Montecristo). A cigar-and-whisky pairing seminar also took place, with Whisky Advocate’s 2021 Whisky of the Year—Lagavulin 11 year old Offerman Edition: Guinness Cask Finish—featured alongside Cigar Aficionado’s 2021 Cigar of the Year, Padrón 1964 Anniversary Series Torpedo. Alan Rubin, founder of Alec Bradley Cigar Co. (a newer addition to the cigar industry, though now in its 26th year), led a seminar along with his sons Alec and Bradley.
Let the Whisky Pours Begin
But of course for us whisky lovers, it was the nighttime portion—where a ballroom full of whiskies ripe for the tasting awaits—that took the cake. A VIP hour will commence at 5:30 p.m.; an exclusive selection of whiskies was available during this time, as were a number of cigars. After the VIP hour, general admission began, and here all attendees had a variety of whiskies at their fingertips. While American whiskeys from the likes of Texas stalwart Balcones, Tennessee mainstay George Dickel, and rye and bourbon bulwark Heaven Hill was available, so too will Scottish, Irish, and French whiskies, coming from Tamdhu, Glendalough, Brenne, plus Japanese and Canadian whiskies. Craft distillers like Chicago-based FEW Spirits and New York City’s Widow Jane also were present. Additionally, for those who craved something different during the night, Bacardi, Cincoro tequila, and Diplomático rum offered up some alternative drinks throughout the night.