Re: SMWSA Extravaganza
I visited the SMWSA Whisky Extravaganza in Houston this past Wednesday evening. I had a great time and it was a very enjoyable experience. My past experiences with this type of event is the NY Whisky Fest three years ago and the Chicago Whisky Fest last year. So Whisky Fest (WF) will be my bench mark here. In general the Extravaganza is very similar to WF, on about a two-thirds scale of WF. As I recall, there were no bourbons, and one Irish, one Canadian, and one Japanese represented, the rest being Scotch (not surprising being sponsored by SMWSA). SMWSA had a table and the rest of the tables were the big boys of the Scotch World, although not quite as many as at WF (again, about two-thirds, mostly missing the smaller players). The food was not quite as nice as WF, about half the quantity.
The event began with a discussion panel where guests submitted written questions and about eight company reps and ambassadors responded. This was actually very informative and entertaining. For the actual tasting event, accessibility to company representatives was much better than WF. There were a lot of people at the Extravaganza, but nothing like at WF. Therefore, you were able to talk more and ask more questions. The reps were all very knowledgeable (most were the same reps you see at WF) and very open to your inquiries. The time was not as long as desired - the opening discussion panel was one hour beginning at 5:30. The actual tasting was from 6:30 to 9:00.