Like so many journeys, Whisky LIVE began as a glimmer of an idea.
Dave Sweet had been (and still is) Senior Vice President at Whisky magazine and had spent upwards of 15 years involved in consumer events. Sweet’s approach to events has always been personal.
“Being a passionate whisky consumer and enthusiast myself, I can put a personal touch into each event and try to create something that I personally would want to attend and would enjoy.”
– Dave Sweet, Founder of Whisky LIVE
Whisky LIVE is the culmination of that philosophy, being as Sweet says, “the ultimate tasting with friends and teaching opportunity.”
Now yearly, the festival that circles the globe with stops in places as far flung as Singapore, Warsaw, and Buenos Aires. And, of course, it has a vital presence in the United States with events across the country and expanding each year. Currently, Los Angeles is in its ninth year and has continued to evolve from a more intimate gathering to a glitzy event that reflects the glitter of the city itself.
Chilled had a chance to sit down with Dave Sweet to discuss where Whisky LIVE was back then and where it is today.
How has Whisky LIVE changed over the years?
Whisky LIVE has become more of an event with a full dinner buffet and live entertainment. We strive to make it a complete night out. The VIP lounge is in its second year and has been very well received. Instead of just a 30- minute VIP “hour”, the VIP lounge is open all night hosting select and special pours. The number of whiskies and range of whiskies and types has expanded—all areas from American craft to exotics from around the world to boutique scotches and Irish whiskies.
What changes have you seen in the whisky world since Whisky Live started—new brands, consumers, drink culture?
Bourbon is exploding and we are proud to have a first-class range available for tasting. Also the interest in premium whiskies in general. Awareness of the less common brands of scotches. Special annual releases are watched for, and the industry is responding with more finishes, creative maturation, and bigger and better selections. The craft segment is maturing and there are now more mature craft whiskies. Watch for American Single Malts to become more prevalent. Consumers are far more educated and more willing to try new whiskies, while being far less brand loyal and even category loyal anymore. Like myself, many whisky drinkers will bounce between scotch, bourbon, Irish and so on. And there is a whole segment of consumers ever searching for the cool and different and new craft spirits. The whisky industry tends to follow the beer industry and its trends.
How does the event differ from city to city? Does each locale have a certain “flavor”?
To some extent, but more by the nature of the city itself. We try to maintain a certain level of continuity of the events with enough flexibility to embrace the differences of each market. New York is very intense and always a packed house, like the city itself. More bourbons in Louisville, of course, and a certain relaxed and open-minded feel to LA.
What are your future plans?
We always will have the Whisky LIVE identity and will be working on expanding the “whisky experience” for our attendees. We are continuously working to expand the private VIP Experience Area. Whisky enthusiasts have a never-ending thirst for premium and new, and it is our goal to provide an experience that meets the demand. That is one aspect of Whisky LIVE we will never stop expanding and improving. It goes without saying, we are always growing. This is one instance where bigger and more is always better! We strive to offer the highest quality consumer experience at each event.
To check out upcoming Whisky LIVE events, CLICK HERE.