Whiskey festival coming to Sarasota

srocco@bradenton.comMarch 16, 2014 

SARASOTA -- After visiting whiskey festivals all over the country -- the finest in Las Vegas, New York -- whiskey enthusiast Turner Moore was inspired to bring one here.

The misconception, he says, is that people who live in Florida, famous for beer and beach, don't drink whiskey. But last year's inaugural Whiskey Obsession drew plenty of fans who paid a pretty penny to sip, sample and shoot all night long.

After last year's success, Whiskey Obsession is back for a second run. The festival will begin at 7:30 p.m. March 28 at Michael's on East, 1212 South East Ave., Sarasota.

"We have so many wine events in Sarasota, so I figured let's do a big whiskey festival," said Moore, 45.

A slew of master distillers and brand ambassadors from all over the country will travel to Sarasota to serve more than 200 types of whiskey from all over the world. Attendees can sample all the whiskey they please. To clear the palette, Michael's on East will dole out appetizers and small bites.

Education not intoxication

"This event is really about education, not toxication," Moore said. "You can get loaded for $5. This is for people who really want to learn."

Five seminars will be offered during the grand tasting, each lasting 30 to 45 minutes.

One class will center around West Virginia-based Smooth Ambler Spirits. John Foster, a Smooth Ambler distiller, will talk about the company's history, its whiskey and a few versions that are in the works. Class participants will get a chance to taste bourbon that might not be on the shelf for another two years.

"A small company like us, we're basically like the farmer's market of whiskey," Foster said. "The big guys makes great whiskey. We're just different because we're hands on. All the inherent nuances and special care that goes into a smaller producer."

Tickets are $95 for general admission, which includes one branded Glencairn glass, unlimited tasting, seminar seating as available, wine, soft drinks and the buffet. VIP admission is $195, which includes the general package plus entrance one hour earlly, priority seating at seminars and a $50 voucher for purchases and special orders placed during the tasting. A $45 ticket is available for food and wine tasting only.

Last pour is at 10:30 p.m., followed by an 11 p.m. after party at Made Restaurant, 1990 Main St., Suite 112.

For more information and to buy tickets, visit whiskeyobsessionfestival.com.

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