Last January, a guy named Mahesh Patel contacted K&L about helping to promote a whisky tasting event in Las Vegas. He was calling it the Universal Whisky Experience. It was going to be really expensive and we we're going to have to fly out of town, get a hotel, and spend some serious dough in order to attend it. Were we interested?
At least, I wasn't. It sounded like a snooty, overpriced party for guys who want to measure each other's.......wallets. Diamond encrusted bottles, golfing expeditions, master seminars with private tastings, and who knew what else. David OG somehow convinced me to go, however.
"Com'on! It'll be fun! We can take our wives and just go out to eat if the whole thing gets boring," he said.
And you know what happened? It was really, really, really enjoyable. Honestly. I can safely say that it was the best whisky tasting event I have ever attended - counting the many public events that take place annually in the Bay Area and any private event I've organized on my own. The bottles in that room were fantastic. They were interesting, exciting, tasty, and rare. The food was exquisite. Really top notch grub. The best part, however, was the space. There couldn't have been more than 100 people at this tasting total. You could walk freely from table to table, shoot the breeze, and casually enjoy each whisky as you went along.
In the end, the ticket price was expensive. You also have to spring for a flight and a hotel room on top of that. It's not something most people can just up and do. I get that. In fact, it's exactly this point that made me so annoyed with the idea of being asked to promote the event in the first place.
"This guy thinks all our customers can just get on a plane and fly to a fancy tasting? The nerve!"
However, when I finally met Mahesh and attended the event, my perspective was completely altered. First off, who am I really kidding? I can afford to go to Vegas for the weekend. I do it twice a year with the miles from my Virgin America credit card. Why was I suddenly being so indignant at the idea of helping others to do the same? Second of all, people spend serious cash on all kinds of shit. Many people spent $300 for a bottle of our 1979 Glenfarclas, which didn't seem obscene to me. What's so crazy about throwing down some cash on a fantastic dinner and a great tasting? Nothing, really, but I was still uncomfortable with the whole thing because it wasn't a K&L thing. I couldn't promise anyone complete satisfaction or their money back, or that whole deal.
Part of my job is to evaluate expensive bottles of booze, then give my analysis and interpretation to our customers. Basically, is this bottle of whisky worth the money? Yes or no? David, based on your experience and what you've tasted over the last few years, would you buy this bottle? Yes or no? Another January is now upon us and Mahesh has once again contacted K&L to help promote his Universal Whisky Experience in Las Vegas. He's offered K&L customers special pricing (and it's quite a significant discount) as a way to help bring more Californians out to the party. In my professional opinion (and personal one as well) the UWE is definitely worth shelling out for. However, I wouldn't just fly to Vegas, go to the tasting, and then fly home. If you know you can get the weekend off and you want to do something fun for yourself, it's a great way to spend a vacation. Last year we got rooms for the weekend, hit up a bunch of restaurants we wanted to check out (Lotus of Siam - YUM!!!), took in a show, played a few hands of BlackJack, went shopping, and then tasted some whisky. We had a complete blast and so did our wives.
This year's event will be over the weekend of March 1st - 2nd. What I like about Mahesh's approach is that he combines FUN with BOOZE. He and I both like to savor our single malt, but we also like to party a bit and let loose. Check out some of the packages you can add to your trip. I think Wednesday's event is a fucking helicoptor ride to the floor of the Grand Canyon where you can drink Glenfiddich 50 year old at the bottom of America's largest crevasse. That sounds like an awesome thing to do if you've got the time and the money. Because when you're paying for a helicoptor ride, you're getting an amazing view and an amazing experience. Not just a glass of whisky.
That's what I would take from the UWE if you're on the fence. It's more than just a tasting. It truly is an experience. That's the reason we go on vacation. To have some fun and try something new. If you're interested in attending the UWE in Vegas this year, you should definitely talk to David or myself first. You'll save the first night's hotel fee if you book via K&L.
Any other questions or comments, please ask us. We've got nothing but good things to say and we have no reason to promote this event otherwise. It doesn't benefit us in any way. We're only helping Mahesh because we think it's honestly a fun time if you want to go and, if we can help you save a few bucks in the process, then even better! Check out the link here - The Universal Whisky Experience.