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Whiskey Show Report: 2023 Nth Las Vegas Show

April 22, 2023, Las Vegas, NV. I stood in line at the Wynn Resort Hotel for the Nth Ultimate Whisky and Spirits Experience (or the “Nth”).  I examined the classically dressed attendees, the air of excitement leaving a palpable tension in the room, thinking, “can this really be THAT good?” As if the whisky gods had heard my doubts, a man strode into the hallway, a bagpipe wrapped in his arms, playing a traditional Scottish march. I thought “yea, this is gonna be great.”

The Nth is an annual showcase of luxury spirits, bringing together enthusiasts and industry experts. The Universal Whisky Experience company and Nth were founded by Mahesh Patel, a self-made business man and engineer, who developed an interest in whisky when he was 14. First debuting in 2011, Mr. Patel has said “I decided to do the show because no one did an event that I wanted to attend. I did a show that I would attend and other fellow high end connoisseurs/collectors would want. So the show was built really for me!”

With shows across the world, the event has clearly become popular. 

2023 Nth Las Vegas Show
We recently sent one of our writers to check out the 2023 Nth Las Vegas Show, a high end whisky luxury event held annually. (image via Jeffrey Nitschke/The Whiskey Wash)

How did I find myself here? Months prior, my good friend organized a trip to Las Vegas and recommended the Nth. Dressed in a gray button down and sporting a ridiculous horseshoe mustache,  I set off for the Wynn. The event space, with pleasant orange and gold patterned carpet, was intimate, but big enough, to accommodate 500+ guests.  There were dozens of vendors, lined up in separate booths, with both well known names and newer distilleries.

My first stop was Gordon & MacPhail, an independent Scotch maker who has been making limited expressions from over 100 different Scottish distilleries since 1895. Mr. Joel Caurso led me through an exquisite tasting, most memorably a 1989 Mortlach. The sherry matured malt smelled of molasses and dark figs with a palate of fruit cake and tobacco.

Continuing through the frenetic atmosphere, I spotted a familiar brand, Westward Whiskey, who hails from my hometown of Portland, Oregon. Westward, represented by Lauren Wildman, has become known for their outstanding American Single Malt whiskey. Nearby was Virginia Distillery Co, another brand synonymous with high quality American Single Malts, hosted by CEO Gareth H. Moore, whose father founded the distillery. A self-identified history buff, Mr. Moore spoke of a mission to marry the old world with the new, preserving tradition while defining a new brand of single malt whiskey.

As seen with Mr. Moore, the Nth is unique in whisky events as it gives attendees the chance to meet the minds behind the whiskies we so love. I was particularly taken by Kirsten Grant Meikle, a fifth generation descendent of William Grant, the family who owns The Balvenie, Glenfiddich, and Hendricks Gin, and others. Ms. Grant Meikle is an expert in Scotch, was recently appointed to the WSET Board of Trustees, and is a champion for women in the industry.

“We’re in the business of fun,” she said, while walking me through a tasting of their exquisite 36-year-old “The Lowlander” Scotch from their private House of Hazelwood collection. She spoke honestly of the unseen challenges of the industry, like making sure there simply is enough whisky in stock to send out. 

Each vendor had their staples, but also a few high quality rarities, as with the House of Hazelwood. For example, I met co-founder Leo Gibson and Jennifer Lagor from Bhakta Spirits, two charming individuals who let me try their rare Bhakta 1973 Armagnac, which recently received a 98-point-gold rating at the TAG spirits awards. It induced a sensory overload of oak, chocolate, and dark fruit which I will be forever ruined by. 

As impressive as the amazing whiskies and the industry celebrities were, it was the excitement exhibitors exuded as they discussed their work that blew me away. I asked each “what is it about your job that you love most?” A distillation of their responses was: it’s more than a job, it’s a community and a way of life. They loved the craft, the culture, and the camaraderie amongst each other. Garret Moore told me about the scholarship Virginia Distillery Co. created to support women’s education in distilling; Naomi Leslie told me of her personal journey to the Scotch world after years of bartending in New York and her gratitude to The Balvenie; and Will Schragis from Barrell Craft Spirits talked with reverence about Joe Beatrice, the founder, who has a generous spirit and an inspiring vision for the company.

By no means were these sentiments exclusive to the vendors. I spoke with  Mere Smith, who helps run Austin Scotch Club with her husband Alex Smith and others. She said “everyone here just wants to sit and talk about their passion for Scotch” and shared her excitement in building the Austin Scotch community. She likes the Nth because it’s an “experience that exposes our community and passion to a larger audience.”  

As I wandered bright eyed across the patterned floor, the warm feeling in my gut from a mix of bliss and whisky, my journey reached its zenith at The Dalmore. There, I met Mike Birkenheier, who related the history of the MacKenzie clan and asked me if I wanted to meet Richard Paterson, master blender at The Dalmore and titan of the Scotch industry. I was led to a well dressed and unassuming man who spoke with a gentle smile through a neatly trimmed mustache. He asked with genuine interest about my experience at the event and, though he’d met hundreds of people that night, gave me the same attention he had given his colleagues. A true class act.

The three hour event skipped by in a few heartbeats and at every turn I was met with expertise, warmth, and desire to share the love of whisky from those who continue an industry built on generations of tradition and hard work. Brimming with class, the Nth is an unforgettable experience and should be a bucket-list item for all lovers of fine whisky. 

Jeffrey Nitschke

I am a Portland area attorney whose career has dovetailed with a love of fine spirits and cigars. With no formal training in the field, my own interest spurred a thorough education through books, articles, visits to distilleries all over the United States, and a few deep dives into Wikipedia. Outside of my career and ever escalating pursuit of good whiskey, I can be found enjoying CrossFit, gardening, and playing music.

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