We’re Sponsoring A Whisky Event and It’s Selling Out Before We Can Talk About It

I suppose that the new Whisky & Words is having an enviable sort of problem.

February 4, 2019

By Neal McLennan / Photo: Ronnie Lee Hill

When you work at a magazine you get approached to sponsor a lot of things: some are well known, like the recently completed Dine Out Festival, and some are kids birthday parties (that’s maybe hyperbolic, but not by much). The idea is to find a common goal with an event that meshes with our area of expertise; then, we help spread the word. So when we were approached by the Vancouver Writers Fest (an organization we love for bringing in world class authors on one hand and supporting local youth educational outreach programs on the other) to help spread the word about their non-profit whisky fundraiser Whisky & Words, we jumped on board—we love that the VWF is a 100% non-profit organization and we love drinking whisky.

The only problem? They’ve almost sold out of their 350 tickets before we got around to singing the event’s praises. But even with the last few remaining 50 or so tickets left, we decided to take this opportunity to posit why the initial batch flew off the proverbially shelves so quickly. The funny things is that these days there are more whisky festivals than practically whisky, but, without naming any names, a raft of them are shite. They’ve either become so huge and commercial that they’ve lost all sense of personality or the ability to have any sort of meaningful interaction with the brand ambassadors, or they’ve become debauched piss-ups that seem to cater to the binge drinking bro-y crowd—and neither fit our bill of what a great night of whisky should be about.

My guess is that many of the big brands feel the same, because that would account for the stellar line-up Whisky & Words has assembled: The Macallan, The Balvenie, The Glenlivet, J.P. Wiser’s, Suntory, Highland Park, Japanese whisky like Shinobu and Shin, Glenmorangie, Ardbeg, Abelour, Scapa, Bruichladdich (and Octomore!), Laphroaig, Glenfarclas, Glenfiddich, Lohin McKinnon and more…And if you like Irish Whiskey, Jameson and Green Spot. Craft whisky? Odd Society, Victoria Caledonian and a whole swack of American craft bourbon like Oppidan and Kings County. And beer from Bomber Brewing. And there’s food from Tuc Craft Kitchen, Cibo Trattoria and The Origo Club as well.

The auction items—with again 100% of proceeds benefitting the Vancouver Writers Fest—include some impossible to find whisky rarities, but also dynamite experiences too: a private whisky tasting at the Parq Vancouver; a night out with a few of your pals at Earls; a chef’s dinner for two at Joe Fortes, dinner at the Origo Club, dinner for four at the new (always packed) Elisa and a Highland Park themed dinner at Boulevard amongst others.

(Photo: Ronnie Lee Hill)

General admission costs $100, but, as a non-profit, you get a tax receipt for $75, which makes attending the event about the same price as valet parking at the Victoria Whisky Festival. Whisky & Words is at Performance Works on Granville Island on Friday, March 8th, but don’t wait to buy your ticket. I’d buy them because, I’ll be honest, when an event moves tickets this quickly it generally means they’ve priced them too low. Or it’s really bespoke. Or both. There’s also an onsite pop-up store from Legacy Liquor where you can buy the whisky you’ve just sampled and they’re donating 5% of their sales back to the VWF, which is very decent. Whisky & Words has just announced they’re going to launch 6 masterclasses at various pop-ups around Granville Island before the start of Whisky & Words because the demand has been so great—assuming those don’t immediately sell out, we’ll update you about those too in the coming weeks (or you can sign up here for updates).

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