Stepping into the lobby preceding the large ballroom of the JW Marriott, my photographer and I were warmly greeted by the staff and given adorable miniature snifters for samples. We took a brief tour of the room, which was pleasantly but not oppressively crowded, noting with admiration not only the diverse vendors but the amazing buffet(s) (not the plural) of appetizers (cheese, crackers, nuts), entrees (sliders, macaroni and cheese), and desserts (cookies and puddings).
We then headed to our Macallan Master Class, which I kept calling, even when corrected, a "seminar," I think because I subconsciously want to get a third Master's in whiskey.
The sommelier Elyse gave a very detailed presentation regarding Macallan's history, then guided us as we sipped the distillery 12 Sherry Oak, Double Cask 12, 15 Fine Oak, and Rare Cask. These varieties ranged from the smoky and heady to the sweetly botanical, and presented in a spectrum of light and dark amber hues that often belied the dominant tasting notes, which made for some delightful surprises with each sip.
Despite Bridey's heritage, she is only a wee lass and had to pace herself and not polish off the entire contents of each tasting glass in order to leave some capacity for a couple more tasting tipples before departing for the evening.
Although I am "a whiskey person," I would urge those who don't identify as such to attend Whiskies of the World next time it stops in Houston. The sheer fun I had in discovering the variation in different whiskeys was equally matched by the infectious spirit (hah!) of the fellow attendees.