The Great Whisky Debate

The Great Whisky Debate

Greetings, faithful readers.

Just wanted to pass on the word about an upcoming event here in Calgary.  I’ll be checking this one out, and most certainly sharing a few words here on ATW afterwards, but for those of you interested in an evening out, tasting a few drams and hearing some of the industry’s key insiders share some insight…grab a ticket and come say hi. 

This debate format has been done in both Ontario and Las Vegas already, to what I’m given to understand was rousing success, so it seems only logical to bring it into one of North America’s most prevalent and thriving whisky markets:  Alberta. 

Our friends at Beam Global have picked a great venue for this one too.  For those of you who’ve yet to attend a Willow Park event, rest assured, they do ’em up right. For those that HAVE attended a tasting at WP…well…nothing more need be said, I imagine.

To save me the wordsmithing, I’ll simply rely on the event press to fill you in:

“While all bourbon is whisk(e)y, not all whisk(e)y is bourbon! (…..or Scotch, or Rye, or…) The debate rages on as Matt Jones (Canadian Bourbon Ambassador for Beam), Dan Volway (The Macallan/Highland Park Brand Ambassador) and Dan Tullio (the Godfather of Canadian Whisky) go head to head in a debate, detailing the differences and benefits of American, Scotch, and Canadian Whisk(e)y. This is always entertaining, and never will there be a dull moment while these 3 topics are literally on the table! There is no offside in this discussion, so let the debate begin!! Enjoy tastings of all three types of whisky and maybe more!”

No offside discussion, huh?  Hmmm…we’ll see about that.  😉

While I’ve yet to meet the other two gents (though looking forward to it), I can absolutely say that a night with Dan Tullio is a blast.  Looking forward to this one.


“The Great Whisky Debate” at Willow Park Wines & Spirits

Oct 21st, 2013  7:00 pm

Tickets available HERE for $25. 

Get in quick, as there are only 100 seats for this event.

See ya there.

14 thoughts on “The Great Whisky Debate

  1. Kae Anton

    This is probably the most fun you’ll have at a Whisky event. Dan Tulio, Matt Jone and Dan Volway will debate the finer points of Bourbon, Canadian Whisky and Scotch in a very entertaining fashion. You will be glad you had the opportunity to see this live. Please click the youtube link below to see a preview of Dan Tulio’s Great Whisky Debate rebuttal at New York Whisky Fest in 2008.

  2. Marek

    What is the point to debate about ” the differences and benefits of American, Scotch, and Canadian Whisk(e)y.”
    This is purely academic discussion. And why is it cost $25.
    I will pay $50 to hear about why:
    cost of whiskey skyrocketed
    quality went south
    Macallan thinks, that color is more important then age
    more and more whiskey is NAS
    promotions offends intelligence of customers( vide Ardberg Galileo)
    consumers are left with so little information about what they drink

    1. ATW Post author

      Wow. That’s a lot of hostility, my friend. Let’s see if I can help…

      These discussions take place much like a survey course in school. It allows people who may not be familiar with all three styles to expand their knowledge and hear some informed individuals engage in dialogue. The cost, at a VERY reasonable $25, covers the cost of the whiskies you’ll drink…the staff to pour them…the set-up and tear down crew…etc. Going to a whisky tasting event pretty much always costs something. Can’t imagine there are many out there less than $25.

      As to your questions…this would be a perfect opportunity to ask about things like Macallan’s color policy, age statements, quality consistency, etc,

      Why not come out and find out? At the very least…you’ll likely have a couple decent drinks and meet some people.


      1. Marek

        Thanks for answer !!!
        1. English is my second language( Polish is first one)
        2. I like to write short and to the point
        3. Where do You see ANY hostility in my comment.

        Money…I meant about what kind of information I would get for $25, not about cost of drinks. You try to say that is worth it because I could drink for much more then cost of ticket.Well, this will be intellectual debate, discussion, sharing information or just another infomercial ??? I will repeat again: I will pay $50m to get answers for my question and no drinks to serve.
        Pure and simple.
        Probably they need this kind of consumers, who just come there because is so chip to drink and probably this is all about sales.You wrote, that I could ask my question there. I am not sure, because debate have different subject and my questions would be off topic.
        Then You would call this questions not only hostile but also rude.
        Now let me cite Jeff( he is much better then me to articulate my point of view): “To have this called The Great Whisky Debate when there is no real (scheduled) intention of dealing with any issues requiring critical thinking, much less assigned criticism, is irritating when there is so much else worthy of discussion which gets so little (or no) play at all.”

        I hope more people will join this discussion.
        By the way – why on great wiskey blogs( like this one) is so many visitors but so few commentators ???

        Cheers with glass of Laphroig 10 Cask Strength

  3. Jeff

    While I agree it would be a good place to rake some poor soul from Macallan over the coals for the colour silliness (for which he, in turn, can claim to have no direct responsibility), by the same token I do believe it would have to be an audience member who would have to bring it up.

    Nothing against the people involved (they are doing their jobs), but clicking on Kae’s link above, you get Mr. Tullio answering a joke question about how Canadian Club can help save the US economy from the 2008 Banking Crisis. Looking at other clips on YouTube, the format of the central debate seems to be arguing the merits of one spirit over the other (not really down-and-dirty “be it resolved that..” material) via historical/product talking points, nothing touching on current industry issues. Again, people are doing their jobs, the event probably has good value for money in terms of the whiskies presented and it would be a good time – all to the good. But where I think Marek has a point, if brusquely presented, is this: the industry HAS created a number of issues for itself and consumers (and his list is a good one) and one really can’t expect those issues to be dealt with in this event without raising them yourself and getting a lot of people miffed (“what’s THAT guy’s problem?”). To frame a mini rep show as a debate while sticking to industry lines does stretch the definition of the term and adds insult to injury to consumers who care about these things. I’d pay $50 to hear the real thinking at these companies as well, but that doesn’t look to be what’s offered, even at twice the price. And if you’re not hearing the real thinking, what is it you ARE hearing?

    It’s interesting timing, because Oliver Klimek has just written about his own defense of being “negative” with regard to commenting on the industry in his blog Dramming, and find I some resonance between that and this topic. There isn’t enough serious discussion about the “downside” of whisky industry issues and I do think that Klimek’s description of people wearing “rose-coloured glasses” is often appropriate. I’m far more negative than most I read, but I just don’t see much positive trending, particularly in Quality/Price Ratios. Some might say there’s no point in being negative anyway, it won’t change anything, so smile, but to me it’s just simple denial of the truth. Certainly there are more important issues that surround us every day, but those won’t be corrected or improved without clear debate either.

    1. ATW Post author

      Love your articulate manner and well-constructed logic. These sorts of discussions are a BLAST for me. You hit the nail on the head regarding the event itself, but no one suggested it would be otherwise. It is a night of entertainment for a great price.

      Regarding this event and all the key points raised by you/Oliver/Marek…I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again…we DO have the power. Vote with your wallet and watch how fast things change. Look at how many single malts out there are now NCF, 46% (and higher) and touting no coloring. That’s cause of loudmouths like us.

      BTW…Jeff…where are you located?

  4. Kae Anton

    I know that a lot of folks that follow “All Things Whisky” are incredibly knowledgable about whiskies. Most tasting events, food pairings etc are meant to educate the audience. This is not the norm in a tasting platform. This is pure entertainment while educating at the same time. I’ve attended two of these events in the past and I will attend this one too. You will get the opportunity to ask your questions, enjoy some delightful drams and be entertained by three very knowledgable gents. You will not be disappointed.

  5. Jeff

    Certainly consumers have the power to vote with their dollars, but that has always been true. What has been largely lacking in a great many venues is the vital discussion/debate which would encourage people to “get out the vote” or change their purchasing patterns, and it’s something ignored or actively discouraged at every turn by the industry and its supporters out of understandable self, but not consumer, interest. I would never say that the event was misrepresented in any real way, I just point out a false debate format is frustrating in that, while avoiding talking about these larger issues, it plays quite comfortably into what the industry would much rather talk about: how great its brands are, how “exciting” times are, and how well it’s doing, as if its interests were somehow parallel to those of consumers instead of quickly diverging from them. I’m sure I wouldn’t be disappointed by the event if I went in with very realistic expectations, yet I think I would be disappointed if I made the mistake of expecting a debate, and would that be entirely my fault, given the name? To have this called The Great Whisky Debate when there is no real (scheduled) intention of dealing with any issues requiring critical thinking, much less assigned criticism, is irritating when there is so much else worthy of discussion which gets so little (or no) play at all.

    There have been legitimate improvements in whisky through craft presentation, but the argument can certainly be made that it was a direction in which the industry wanted to go all along. No chill filtration and no E150 actually saves producers money, and they can give you 6% more ABV from what they save on Angel’s Share if they can convince you that a 9 is as good as a 12 (or, far better, convince you that age is irrelevant altogether through NAS marketing and then pare down age and quality over time). If craft presentation came about because consumers demanded it, it should be just as easy to shout down NAS and Macallan’s “colour means quality” leap in logic yet, again, these subjects usually get short shrift in many discussion forums. Many just don’t want to talk about these things or have them talked about, preferring instead to “accentuate the positive”, leaving the impression that’s all they see or, indeed, and more importantly, that’s all there is TO see.

    I’m in the slightly Greater Toronto Area.

    1. Robert

      I, for one, do not get so upset with NAS scotch, as long as it is quality. Abunadh, most Compass Box, and others are NAS and are quite good. Others that are are 18 yo are not as good. It’s a matter of keeping the quality high that should be a concern. If you think Mac is on the wrong tack with their “color” whiskies, just avoid them. I generally avoid all their line, except CS (isn’t it NAS?), more due to the price vs quality reason. In fact, most of the scotch I drink is 10-15 yo because of the taste is better than many older ones.

      1. Jeff

        I don’t contend that there aren’t good NAS bottles, regardless of how defined by personal taste; I just contend that they made no better for lack of an age statement and are designed, by virtue of that lack of age statement, to get younger, and yes, worse, over time without notice. Some people may prefer drinking younger whisky and, if so, the future is indeed bright for them, but I doubt they’ll ever know just how much of it they’re drinking, or how just young it is with NAS.

        As for the approach of “don’t like ’em, just avoid ’em”, that’s quite beside the point specifically about the Macallan 1824 Series, or what ANYONE thinks of them: if quality doesn’t vary with age (and Serge Valentin in “So, Does Age Matter, A Backed Up Answer For Once” shows there IS a correlation –, it most certainly does not vary with colour and those who say differently are simply lying, and that of course includes Macallan, and I’ll say so even if no one else will.

  6. ATW Post author

    Some great conversation here, folks. And again…welcome to the fold, Marek. I think I need to start posting a few more controversial articles here on the site in order to get the masses talking. Not that I thought this was one of those controversial pieces or anything.

    Debating some sort of discussion feature here on the site. Just a chance for commenters to dissent or have a voice. Still in early think tank stage.


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