Festival for whiskey lovers coming to San Francisco

Joan McGinley

As WhiskyFest events manager, Joan McGinley will act as a jack-of-all-trades when the event heads to the San Francisco Marriott on Oct. 7. With tickets still up for sale, WhiskyFest anticipates 1,800 people, 11 seminars, 83 booths and 300 whiskies.

What is the goal behind WhiskyFest San Francisco?

WhiskyFest was started so that the consumer could directly interact with the whiskey maker. That was the purpose. We try to attract the true whiskey enthusiast rather than have what some people call a drunkfest. We try to find those people who truly enjoy their whiskey and want to learn and find out more.

Where did this idea originate?

This is the honest truth. [The Whisky Advocate] publisher and editor is John Hansell, and he had a dream one night … literally. He dreamt that he was in a large ballroom and that there were lots of whiskeys. He asked for a whiskey and the distillery manager himself handed it to John and told him how he made it. He woke up and that’s what he wanted to do.

What’s a common sight at one of these events?

It’s funny, you’ll meet people who say, “Oh, I’m just a bourbon guy … I’m just hittin’ the bourbon tables.” And I’ll say, “You know what, you should go try such and such.” And they’ll go try it and all of a sudden, now they like scotch, now they like rye whiskey.

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