I certainly don’t keep the busiest travel schedule or log the most miles among my friends and colleagues in the world of spirits, food, travel, and lifestyle journalism, but nevertheless 2016 proved to be a year well spent on the road. Here are half a dozen highlights, along with links to where you can read all about the adventures for yourself.
Ireland—St. Patrick’s Day with Jameson (March)
If anybody knows how to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day, it’s Jameson. A trip to the iconic Irish whiskey brand included a stop at their Midleton distillery, including their old facility, now a tourist attraction, as well as the new and currently operational one, which showcases the largest working pot stills in the world. Festivities in Dublin for St. Patrick’s Day included time spent at their Bow Street building, where the brand used to call home and now another visitor’s stop.
- Tales of the Cocktail: Inside the Midleton Distillery
- Eater: 7 Excellent Irish Whiskeys to Celebrate St. Patrick’s Day
- Distiller: Master Cooper Ger Buckley Keeping His Craft Alive
- (and right here): The Micro-Distillery Hidden at Jameson’s Midleton Distillery
Scotland—Lagavulin 200 (April)
Islay’s beloved Lagavulin turned 200 this year, and a proper pilgrimage was the only way to celebrate. A visit to the distillery also included stops at nearby peat fields, and Port Ellen Maltings, where all of that wonderful peat smoke gets put to use, as well as a trip to sister distillery Caol Ila.
- Tales of the Cocktail: What it Means to Turn 200, Lagavulin Celebrates its Bicentennial
- Vice Munchies: The Secret Scotch Society You Never Knew Existed
- Distiller: Inside Port Ellen Maltings
- Distiller: New Whisky – Lagavulin 8
- Roads & Kingdoms: What Kind of Monster Doesn’t Finish a Magical Dram of Scotch?
Some of the very best whisky in the world is being made in Taiwan. Of course, it’s one thing to know that, and it’s another thing to see it in person. After just a decade, Kavalan already finds itself high atop the hierarchy of global single malts, and stepping in their stillhouse and warehouses, it’s easy to see how they pulled it off.
- Eater: Why Taiwan Is Poised to Conquer The Whisky World
- The Whiskey Wash: Up Close at Taiwan’s Kavalan Distillery
- Roads & Kingdoms: Is Halfway Around the World Too Far to Travel For Whisky?
- Washington Post Express: You’ve Got To Try These Taiwanese Dishes in Rockville
New Orleans—Tales of the Cocktail (July)
Summer’s sweat-soaked spirits extravaganza in New Orleans, with all of the world’s biggest and best brands, experts, bartenders, writers, and more. The seminars are educational and insightful, the parties raucous, the distractions nonstop, and the experiences never cease to amaze.
- Roads & Kingdoms: Steven Soderbergh’s Bolivian Elixir
- Distiller: Whiskey Trends for the Year from Tales of the Cocktail
- Alcohol Professor: Sips & Sights from Tales of the Cocktail 2016
- (and right here): A New Orleans Tales of the Cocktail Food Retrospective
Scotland Part Deux—Bigger, Longer & Uncut (September)
Scotland Part Deux! This time to criss-cross the country with the Distilled Spirits Council of the United States and the Scotch Whisky Association, visiting nine distilleries representing a range of styles and regions. Yes, that is hard, tiring work. The hit list—Aberfeldy, Bowmore, Bruichladdich, Glen Grant, GlenDronach, Glenmorangie, Highland Park, Lagavulin, and Strathisla.
- Liquor.com: Why You Should Be Drinking Scotch Like the Scots Are
- Washington City Paper: From Founding Fathers to Founding Farmers
- Roads & Kingdoms: Nobody Knows Whiskey Like People in Cold Places
- Roads & Kingdoms: Our Faith In Humanity Briefly Restored at Craigellachie
- Roads & Kingdoms: Sticklers for Silly Whisky Rules Have Never Tested this Shack Whisky
- The Whiskey Wash: Are Scotch Blends Being Lost In the Mix?
- Distiller: The Debate Over Whisky Terroir on Islay
Japan—Suntory Time (November)
Japan was long a dream destination of mine, for everything from the whisky to the ramen. So an opportunity to visit both of Suntory’s two single malt distilleries—Yamazaki, outside of Kyoto, and Hakushu, in the Japanese Alps—was once in a lifetime. Much very old, very hard to find Japanese whisky was consumed. In the name of research, of course.
- The Whiskey Wash: A Visit To The Yamazaki Distillery
- Distiller.com: Japanese Whisky 101
- Liquor.com: Drinking Japanese Whisky in Japan
- Liquor.com: The Art of the Japanese Highball
- Liquor.com: The Rules of Drinking Japanese Whisky
- Roads & Kingdoms: A Whisky Cathedral In The Japanese Alps
- Roads & Kingdoms: The Preemptive Hangover Solution You Never Knew You Needed
- Tales of the Cocktail: The Art of Simplicity at Gen Yamamoto