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Craft: Spirits & Beer, Miami, Saturday, November 9, 2013

What is craft? What does it mean to ply one’s craft? These were questions that would be asked throughout the Craft Spirits & Beer event held in November at Soho Studios, in Miami.

Craft, in the strictest sense, is defined as an activity involving skill in creating things by hand. During this inaugural event this idea was evident in the distillers and brewers in attendance. Complementing the craft beer and spirits were chefs and food purveyors that also embraced that ideal.

Over 30 artisans attended the event, though it never felt overly crowded in the warehouse space.  It was a treat to sample some of the stellar and rare offerings.

In addition to the tasting portion of the event, there were panel discussions, bringing experts in the field of beer brewing, distilling, as well as the bar and restaurant industry.  We attended a panel discussing the idea of craft and what the future holds for the craft ideal. Craft is a highly subjective term that means many things to many people, but this panel focused on what they defined as craft as it relates to their particular industries. Is it quality over quantity? The artisan creating something unique in a world of cookie cutter products? These questions may not have an easily defined answer, but the conversation is worth having.

Although it may not have been the intention of the organizers (perhaps it was due to lack of advertising) but the event was not a crowded affair. We were able to try samples at each booth or table without a long wait. This gave us an opportunity for more personal interaction with the representatives.

We’re hoping that the crowd present was at least enough to give event organizers a reason to hold it a second year. Maybe craft is too subjective a term to define in black and white, but we’re eager to learn (and try!) more.  Cheers to the artisans who epitomize the true essence of craft.

House Of Walker Event Temple House, Miami Beach 11/10/12

Johnnie Walker

House of Walker

When you’re Johnnie Walker, one of the oldest, most well established whiskies in the world, staying fresh in a rapidly changing world of distilled spirits and marketing your product to the next generation of loyal consumers isn’t always easy – especially to hipsters with their hands clasped firmly around cans of PBR.

Still, with its well-earned reputation for creating fine spirits (and deservedly so) Johnnie Walker is a favorite amongst whiskey drinkers today, and has been since the 1800’s. Now Johnnie Walker has taken its name and reputation on the road with a unique branding campaign called “House Of Walker.” This particular Saturday’s HOW event took place at a beautiful South Beach South Beach residence called The Temple House.Johnnie Walker

The event was gratis, so we Wanderlushes made our way down to South Beach and pulled up to the front of the Temple House where a valet (sporting all black and a heavy Russian/Eastern European accent) gave us directions where to park (strange, but doesn’t valet involve someone parking your car for you?). After a few turns down some side streets we finally found the parking lot, dropped the car off with the next “valet” (who proceeded to drive the car two spaces back) and made our way back the three blocks to the event with trepidation.

Black Label Wild Scot Cocktail

Black Label Wild Scot Cocktail

Upon entering we were greeted by several young women who gave us wristbands and four “tickets for each of the whiskies we would be sampling during the night. We were then seated in a small room and told we would be watching a brief introduction video featuring actor Robert Carlyle (“Johnnie Walker: The Man Who Walked Around The World) focusing on the history of Johnnie Walker. After the video, we were ushered into a small room with about eight bar-height tables containing two small glasses of Johnnie Walker whiskey, ice and water. The host for the evening, Stephen Wilson, Johnnie Walker Ambassador, entered the room and spoke briefly about Johnnie Walker the whiskey brand, how and where it’s made – but most importantly, tasting and appreciating this famous whiskey.

Black Label Tasting

Black Label Tasting

When the tasting was over we were led into a large concrete-floored room with a high ceiling and a loft area on the far end. It was here where we redeemed our tickets for various samples of Johnnie Walker whiskey (Red Label, Black Label and the top-shelf $200 a bottle Blue Label). All were delicious and went down smooth. As for the venue, Temple House (www.thetemplehouse.com) was perfect for this type of event. The residence is chic, tastefully designed and offered more than an ample amount of room for the 75 or so attendees who were there this particular Saturday. There were bottles of Johnnie Walker signature whiskies on display, including a bottle dating from 1808 that was for sale at the budget-friendly price of $30,000. And yes, that price is in dollars, not pesos, in terms of whiskey currency. Ouch.

The event ran until around 11 p.m. The event staff wasn’t shy about letting everyone know it was time to drink up and get out. They weren’t out and out rude about it, but this clearly was a case of being told in no uncertain terms, “You don’t have to go home, but you can’t stay here.” All in all, we Wanderlushes enjoyed the “House Of Walker” experience. I personally am not a huge whiskey drinker, but I do appreciate Johnnie Walker more after learning its history and sampling some of its amazing offerings.

 

 

 

 

Wanderlushes

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