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Whiskey Obsession Festival Appeals to Fanatics, Newbies Alike

Love Kentucky bourbon? Decades-old Scotch? Iowa rye? You'll find it all on the Obsession festival's mammoth list of pours.

By Cooper Levey-Baker March 29, 2016

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I know nothing about whiskey except that I like to drink it. Luckily, that's really the only credential I need to get excited about the fourth annual Whiskey Obsession.

The three-day Sarasota festival begins Wednesday and celebrates almost every variety of the spirit you can imagine. Passionate about Kentucky bourbon? Decades-old Scotch? Iowa rye? You'll find it all on the Obsession festival's mammoth list of pours, which includes 268 varieties and specialty cocktails. That variety is both a calling card to whiskey lovers eager to seek out new tastes and an ideal opportunity for whiskey newbies to explore and figure out what they like.

The pre-party gets started at 8 p.m. Wednesday at The Gator Club, with a dance party soundtracked by the "chillwave" group Brothertiger and a salacious performance by Sarasota's Black Diamond Burlesque troupe. A $10 ticket will get you in and place one complimentary Old Forester cocktail in your paw.

The educational portion of the festival begins at 7 p.m. the following night at The Francis. Four distillers and four brand reps will guide attendees through a tasting of 16 of their favorite pours.

Then, Friday night, the big shebang: a yuge party at Michael's on East with hundreds of different whiskies to taste, plus talks on everything from the history of North American spirits to specifics on Japanese whiskies and how to pair cigars and whiskies.

A tip: Eat something! The panel discussion on Thursday will include some "light bites," but be sure not to arrive on an empty stomach. Friday's party includes a buffet and hors d’ oeuvres. Make sure to partake. Also, don't be an moron. Pick a designated driver, plan for a cab or download Uber.

Click here for ticket information.

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