The Hippo


Jul 19, 2019








Whistlepig Whiskey at the Distiller’s Showcase. Courtesy photo.

Distiller’s Showcase of Premium Spirits

When: Thursday, Nov. 12, from 6 to 8:30 p.m.
Where: Radisson Hotel, 700 Elm St., Manchester
Cost: $60. 

Destination: spirits
Rare spirits showcase draws connoisseurs to NH

By Allie Ginwala

Reaching just shy of the mark last year, the New Hampshire Liquor Commission hopes to surpass 1,000 attendees at the third annual Distiller’s Showcase in Manchester on Thursday, Nov. 12.

“We had 375 the first year, last year 950 and [we’re] hoping to break 1,000 this year,” NHLC spirits specialist Mark Roy said in a phone interview.
The showcase, inspired by the annual winter wine spectacular during the NHLC’s annual Wine Week, gives guests the chance to sample from over 400 premium spirits from local, national and international distilleries. The focus is on premium products, which they set as anything priced above $15.99.
“Our highest product this year is $299.99,” Roy said.
The showcase in Manchester is one of the largest of its kind in New England, becoming a regional destination for spirits connoisseurs. 
“We certainly had people that have traveled from outside the state to come to this event,” Roy said. 
Before Andy Harthcock, owner/distiller of Djinn Spirits in Nashua, became one of the faces behind the tables, he attended the showcase as a regular participant.
“This is certainly the highlight of the year because it’s all about spirits, and there is such a huge array of high-quality spirits. … It’s a whole lot of fun to see what’s going on in the industry and check out trends and taste things that you would never have an opportunity to taste,” he said in a phone interview. 
Now as one of the spirits producers — showcasing his white whiskey, reserve whiskey, vapor-infused gin, Krupnik spiced honey liqueur and perhaps an early taster bottle of Djinn’s new single malt whiskey — Harthcock sees it almost as a homecoming and chance to interact with the other New Hampshire distilleries. This year’s showcase will have a strong Granite State presence with Sea Hagg Distillery, Flag Hill Distillery, Tall Ship Distillery and Smoky Quartz Distillery attending.
“There has been a huge increase in craft and local distilleries, and it definitely has an effect on the market,” Roy said. “There’s quite a range even here in New Hampshire and [people] think it’s a small market, but with the distilleries we do have [everything] from rums and liqueurs to aged whiskey and vodka, so we’ve got the gamut of products priced right here.”
Roy anticipates that, as in previous years, brown spirits will be the most popular category, since this time of year lends itself well to sipping bourbon or whiskey, and there’s been a trend in customers seeking out limited, small batches. 
Many of the brands will be instantly recognizable, like Tito’s Handmade Vodka and Crown Royale, but given the sheer volume, guests will stumble upon brands they’ve never heard of too.
“[It’s] certainly the best opportunity to get out and taste some products you might not typically take off the shelf,” Roy said.
For example, maybe you’ve been eyeing a particular scotch but haven’t taken the plunge and made the $125-a-bottle investment. At the showcase you can taste and compare to make more informed purchases in the future.
“There are certain people who are very well-educated and have a well-developed palate,” Harthcock said. “The people that come to the show are definitely interested in the back story and what goes into the making of different [products].”
Aiding the angle of a well-rounded spirits event, half hour seminars with classroom-style tables and open doors will be held throughout the evening covering everything from mixology to product education. This year’s presenters include mixologist Lexi Leguerre, John O’Conell of West Cork Distillers from West Cork Irish Whiskey, Eve Alintuck of Barrow’s Intense Ginger Liqueur and Parker Reed, lead blender from High West Distillery.
Other features include the chance to bid on three bottles of 23-year Pappy Van Winkle bourbon, a silent auction and raffles, and menu samples from Campo Enoteca, Wild Rover Pub, Amphora, Triolo’s Bakery, Coffee by Design, Fresh Market and more. Using a mobile app, guests can purchase products with a 15-percent discount the night of the showcase and pick them up at a state liquor store. The event benefits the Animal Rescue League of New Hampshire. 

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