Whiskey here and in India

Don't bother waiting in line tomorrow night -- Friday, Nov. 18's fifth annual Pittsburgh Whiskey and Fine Spirits Festival is sold out, making this the first time since the festival began that all 1,300 tickets were sold before the doors opened.

At the Heinz Field East Club Lounge, guests will be sampling from among 250 spirits, including Sazerac's 18-year rye, Glenfiddich 21-year Scotch, Hudson Corn Whiskey (from New York's Tuthilltown Spirits), Abraham Bowman's Virginia whiskey, and Samaroli Italian whiskey, as well as a variety of vodkas, rums, cognacs and tequilas.

Wigle Whiskey -- being produced in the Strip District, in Pittsburgh's first whiskey distillery since the Prohibition era -- will not be among the spirits sampled. Though the festival had advertised Wigle's presence in press releases, Wigle won't be pouring tomorrow, because the federal government has not approved Wigle's bottle labels.

But the distillery's first batch of "white" whiskey, unaged, will be ready for bottling in the next few days. And the distillery also will be hosting a grand opening, regardless of the label approval situation, on Dec. 2.

Fest attendees will, however, be able to try Boyd & Blair's latest offering, "Professional Proof 151," a vodka-based spirit meant to be used as a base in homemade liquors and bitters. Boyd & Blair has been making vodka at its Shaler distillery since 2008.

As in previous years, this year's silent auction will benefit the National Multiple Sclerosis Society. The festival is produced by the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board.

Those who weren't able to get tickets to the Whiskey Festival can check out one of India's premier labels, Amrut Spirits, next month.

Dreadnought Wines, at 2013 Penn Ave. in the Strip District, is planning a $20-a-head tasting for 6 p.m., Dec. 8.

Amrut whiskies, from Bangalore, have been available in America since 2010, and "Amrut Fusion" was rated the third-best whiskey in the world by whiskey expert Jim Murray. These single-malt whiskies carry a flavor profile similar to Scotch, rather than like American or Irish whiskeys.

Amrut brands are now available in Pennsylvania, but only by special-order -- meaning that if you want to try a bottle, you have to buy six of them, because the PLCB doesn't maintain an Amrut inventory.

So, to recap, if you want to take this highly-rated whiskey for a test drive, instead of buying one bottle of Fusion for $67, you have to buy six, for $400.

Pre-paid reservations for the tasting are required. Call 412-391-1709 for details. Bill Toland: btoland@post-gazette.com or 412-263-2625.


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