Spirits Confidential with Max Solano
“Nth 2019 Ultimate Whisky Experience Wows Again!”
Without question, whisky across the globe continues to experience an incredible ascent into all-time popularity. I’m not even sure if we’re even close to having it reach its pinnacle, but this brings me to the subject of this year’s Nth Ultimate Whisky Experience which was held, once again, at the majestic and beautiful Wynn Resort on April 26-27. It was approximately nine years ago when I had first received a call from a gentleman by the name of Mahesh Patel telling me he was thinking of putting on a unique high-end whisky event in Las Vegas. Little did I know that Mahesh was not only the owner of a very successful commercial development and construction company in Atlanta, Georgia, but was also an extreme whisky enthusiast and one of the largest private collectors of whisky in the world.
When I first met Mahesh and his lovely wife Nina in 2010, they kindly took the time to sit down with me and describe their new concept in detail. In my mind, I already knew this was going to be a game changer and Las Vegas was the perfect setting for something of this caliber. This idea had stemmed from Mahesh having hosted some of his closest friends over the years at his house and occasionally, he would open some of his very high-end whiskies from deep within his vault and offer them up. At some point, it was suggested to Mahesh by one of his closest friends that he should consider creating an experience such as this, but on a larger scale.
It was during this time that the largest and hottest of the North American whiskey events such as Whisky Live and Marvin Shanken’s Whisky Fest were the must-attend events for all whisky enthusiasts, old and new. Whereas these popular events catered to large crowds, Mahesh’s vision was to create an exclusive and quality-focused event where the world’s most renowned whisky brands would showcase their whisky personalities (whether it was the master distiller, blender or some other high-profile name), and their high-end drams in a very limited and intimate setting. Hence, the Nth Ultimate Whisky Experience was born.
This year marked the Nth’s ninth year of existence. And, once again, it did not disappoint! Over the years, the Nth has continued to grow and expand its offerings into additional nights of smaller intimate events for those who can’t get enough whisky pampering as a precursor to the show’s two main nights of tastings. For example, a couple of years ago Mahesh held a very exclusive whisky tasting on one of the nights at the Grand Canyon where an extremely limited of individuals were flown out via helicopter. This year, there was a very cool and intimate crawl for only a dozen or so enthusiasts which included a special interactive experience and tasting at the Mob Museum, dinner at Pierro’s hosted by former Las Vegas Mayor Oscar Goodman and a special dessert that followed at The Golden Steer. Fuhgeddaboudit!!!
If you are not already familiar with the show’s format, the first of the main tastings took place on Friday evening 4/26 and is known as the High-Roller event. About 100-125 very hardcore aficionados attended this event with the purchase of a hefty fee that will gain them admittance to not only this evening but the next evening as well. Only super high-end drams of ultra-rare whiskies and other aged spirits are offered during Friday’s night’s exclusive tasting, with no limit as long as stock remains. Simply put, there really isn’t another forum in North America that will provide you with this kind of tasting experience and one-on-one interaction with the whisky celebrities. There were just way too many highlights to name this year, but the one pour that stole the show for me was the independently-labeled Crabbie 40-year-old single malt Scotch, which was from an undisclosed Speyside distillery aged in both ex-Bourbon casks and ex-Spanish Oloroso sherry butts. We also got to sample the newly-released and super rare MaCallan M Black using some very old stocks that were made from peated maltings as old as 70 years of age in the vatting (only 800 released worldwide). Other amazing standouts were the Chivas Regal 62 Royal Gun Salute, Craigallachie 23 and 33 year and Gordon & MacPhail single malts (practically, every one of them) just to name a few.
The Grand Tasting, which was held the next evening, was included with the purchase of the High-Roller ticket package or could be purchased on its own under the Connoisseur ticket price. This evening hosted between 400-450 spirits fanatics and featured quite a few more distilleries pouring their mainstay offerings, including some magnificent craft distilleries such as Park City, UT-based Alpine Distillers, Garrison Brothers Bourbon based in Hye, TX and Woody Creek Distillers located in Basalt, CO just to name a few. Also, everyone who attended were given two tickets in their bag that they could redeem for any of the ultra-rare high pours from the evening prior (if available). Attendance was strong once again this year. But, even more impressive was the growing number of female consumers in attendance this year!
As usual, I have way too much information to provide and just not enough column space to fit it all! So, I will leave you with this. Mahesh has already promised me that next year’s 10th showing of the Nth will be something truly special and not to be missed ... Not that for a second I was ever actually contemplating whether to attend. So, hopefully, I will see you all at the end of April 2020 at next year’s show. For more information please feel free to go to www.universalwhiskyexperience.com.